Tag Archives: cayla kluver

April/May 2021 Book Reviews

30 May

Hello all! I’ve been putting this together for at least a week. Where does the time go, honestly?

There is quite the variety from the past two months, I’d love to know if something catches your interest!

Legacy by Cayla Kluver – Princess Alera of Hytanica is expected to marry now that she’s reached her seventeenth year – and that man will be king. In her country, it’s not her that will inherit the throne but her husband. Her father’s choice of suitor, however, leaves her distressed. Uncertain how to get out of the expectations building up around her, she turns her attention to finding out just who the castle guard captured recently. A boy about her own age that comes from her country’s sworn enemy, and full of secrets and appeal that she can’t understand. But their clandestine meetings will open up intrigue and danger that she never could have guessed.

~This was given to me by a friend and I knew nothing about it, other than it was the author’s very first book and the cover was gorgeous. (Seriously, look at that cover). London (her bodyguard) quickly became a favorite character for me – and I enjoyed the unfolding of who the boy (Narian) was. I found the story with the chosen suitor to be a good backdrop, and with some twists that were surprising. I liked Alera but found her to be a bit too childish at times- however she is only seventeen, so there’s some excuse for her behavior! But, there was far too much descriptions of the palace and other things. I would skip ahead just to get to the story…The other thing that made this not as enjoyable for me was that it could have been edited better. Now, I say that hesitantly and with the most love that I can. I understand just how much work it is to write and edit a book. But it’s got a definite first-book feel to it and it could have really surpassed that. I’m curious to read the sequel just to know what happens with London, Narian and if the writing improves… I recommend this with the proviso that you either prepare to skip lots of descriptions or maybe that sort of thing doesn’t bother you like it does me.

Passionate Pilgrim: The Life of Vincent Van Gogh by Lawrence and Elisabeth Hanson – This biography follows the story of Van Gogh from his birth in 1853 in a small Dutch village through his struggling teen years and onto the years of being supported by his brother Theo while he tried one vocation after another. Finally, he settled on painting. Finding his true calling didn’t exempt him from trials however. He moved from London to Brussels where he fell in love; to Paris and living with Theo and meeting Gaugin; to the south of France in 1888 where he struggled to put all that he wanted on canvas. Ending up alone and struggling for sanity, he said “Oh! If I could have worked without this accursed malady, what things I could have done!” When he died of suicide, his brother soon followed. Theo’s wife alone lived to see the recognition of Vincent’s genius.

~I’d previously read Dear Theo, so had a good idea of how his life went. And the heartache and struggles that went with it. BUT- I’m so glad to have read this as well. It gives a clearer picture on how things really were- from how his parents treated him to many other people and situations. We all see things through our own prejudices and feelings, and even more so for Vincent who struggled with sanity as he got older. He desperately wanted love – but the world could not give it to one who was so rough and abusive and clearly didn’t fit in. He knew that he presented a rough exterior of one who couldn’t be trusted, he admitted it. And yet, his longing was to have a home and a family. Anyway, the Hansons wrote a biography that was engaging all the way through. I did have to read it in small doses simply because the story itself is so overwhelmingly sad. If you are interested in Van Gogh at all, I recommend this biography for sure.

Nicholas St. North and the Nightmare King (Guardians #1) by William Joyce- Nicholas St. North was a swashbuckling warrior- his abilities with his double scimitars had garnered him quite the reputation. He is called to aid a small village called Santoff Claussen and the greatest wizard, Ombric Shalazar. The village is said to hold the greatest treasure in the East but when he arrives, there’s a greater threat that he could have imagined. He has to decide whether he’ll get the treasure or help fight the Nightmare King and his fearlings.

~Okay you guys. Rise of the Guardians is my favorite animated movie, and it’s based, with William Joyce’s help, on this series of his. I’d been wanting to read this series for years but never got around to it. So when this was gifted to me, I was so excited! It was just as good as I was hoping it would be. The writing style! The story itself! I clearly can’t say anything any more coherent than, just read it.

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris- Set in 1931.When struggling artist Ellis Reed sees the sign on a farmhouse porch, he’s stricken with memories of his own family’s dark past. He snaps a picture of the sign and children near it – ‘2 children for sale’ and leaves. He had no intention of it getting published, but when it does and turns into his big break, causing his career to finally get moving, he can’t believe it. He also has no idea that the consequences of that photo will be so devastating. But it’s not just Ellis who feels the guilt of what happened. Lillian Palmer is haunted by her role in it, she’s far too aware of the heartbreak of unwanted children. She and Ellis have to decide how much they are willing to risk in order to mend the fractured family.

~This story was inspired by an actual photograph that was published in a newspaper, and man, does it just pull at your heartstrings. I had seen this one flood social media a few years ago when it came out. I’d been marginally interested but no further. Finding it at a thrift store a few months ago, then, I decided it would be worth trying out. And, it was. McMorris wove a story of redemption, suspense and love that I found hard to put down. I got halfway through and realized that I HAD to know what happened. And spent the rest of that saturday afternoon/evening reading. If you’re wanting a book to just captivate you with well-rounded characters, suspense that keeps you turning the pages, and a satisfying ending, go pick this one up. SO GOOD. (I held back on the all-caps for as long as I could, you guys.)

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson-As a Forger, Shai can copy and recreate any item by using its history with magic. Her skill is considered an abomination by many. So when she gets captured when trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she’s certain an execution awaits her. But instead they offer her the chance of freedom if she creates a new soul for the emperor. As she delves into who Emperor Ashravan is, she finds a way to exploit it. But her only possible ally is an old man who is fiercely loyal to the emperor. Gaotana must look past his prejudices and see Shai as a skilled, intelligent young woman who creates art- as well as deception.

~I decided that I needed to read more of Sanderson’s books instead of just rereading the ones I love, and this short story was a good introduction to doing that. I could have enjoyed it as a full book, but that’s how I normally am with short stories. I really enjoyed the idea of Forging- and how it was explained was quite interesting. Shai was unique and fun to read. The twists and turns were So good. Highly recommend if you like a bit of fantasy.

Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson – I’m pulling the synopsis from Goodreads for this one – Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It’s his hallucinations who are mad. A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people—Stephen calls them aspects—to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to give advice, interpretation, and explanation. He uses them to solve problems. . .for a price. His brain is getting a little crowded and the aspects have a tendency of taking on lives of their own. When a company hires him to recover stolen property—a camera that can allegedly take pictures of the past—Stephen finds himself in an adventure crossing oceans and fighting terrorists. What he discovers may upend the foundation of three major world religions—and, perhaps, give him a vital clue into the true nature of his aspects

~ I felt like this one was quite different from the other Sanderson’s that I’ve read, as well as being out of the norm for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. How Stephen dealt with his different aspects was interesting, as well as how they interacted with him and the world around them. A bit psychological thriller, this was a quick read for me because I simply couldn’t put it down. I’m not sure really what else to say about it. Give it a try, I’m guessing you’ll like it!

Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help you Grasp God’s Purpose in your Suffering by Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton – Both Kristen and Sarah know that suffering is real. But they want you to know that so is hope. They have walked -and are walking – in difficult times. They’ve shared thirty truths from the Bible – reflections on how to live through hard times with our faith intact- because hope is here for us.

~I read this with my sister-in-law and we both got so much out of this study. Each chapter has verses, prayers and questions at the end of them. There was something about knowing that the authors truly understand what it is to go through long-term suffering – they truly know what they are talking about in that area. But that they’ve also been able to keep their faith and hope strong was an extra encouragement. That doesn’t mean that one could only benefit from this book if you’re going through long-term suffering. Heaven knows, life in general tosses enough struggles our way. I think anyone could learn from this book. Plus, its cover is pretty.

Twice Shy by Dick Francis – When Jonathan Derry, a physicist, is handed a set of computer tapes by a friend, he’s surprised but accepts them. He doesn’t know what he’s getting into though. The tapes hold a computerized horse-racing betting system. One that actually works. But having them, puts him in a dangerous position. There are those that will stop at nothing to obtain them. Jonathan must think outside the box to stay alive, and keep the computer tapes out of the bad guys’ hands.

~This book was given to me with a decent recommendation. It’s another of those that sat on my shelf for at least a year. Oof. Anyway, I’d never read anything by Francis, so I had no idea what to expect. I was quickly engrossed in the story- it helped that it was about horses and horse racing (something that has always been of interest to me). But the way that Francis wrote was engaging and the twists! Ahhh, I heartily enjoyed this story. However, there were a few swear words sprinkled here and there… which was a shame because they could have easily been left out/replaced with another word. There was also a bit of suggestive material about halfway through that I didn’t appreciate but it never crossed the line so far that I put the book down. Again, something that easily could have been toned down and wouldn’t have damaged the story at all.

The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill – When Piper Sail’s best friend, Lydia, goes missing, the only thing she knows is that she can’t just sit around waiting for the police to find her. Especially when it seems that they are looking in all the wrong places. She sets out on her own investigation, with the aid of a young detective, into the underbelly of Chicago in 1924. She’s determined to find Lydia, no matter what. But she soon has to decide exactly what that means as the truth just might upset her privileged life.

~I first read this the beginning of last year. My full review is here. My feelings are the same about it, in case you’re curious how I felt after reading it a second time. Also, I decided to just buy it, so now I have a lovely copy of my own.

Currently Reading:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne (It’s taking me entirely too long to finish this)

In My Father’s House by Ann Rinaldi

The Patriot Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower #4) by Kimberely Woodhouse

Up Next to Read:

book 5 of the Daughters of the Mayflower series

Watership Down by Richard Adams

OR Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

I mean, really, it’s always a mystery what I’ll end up reading next. I’m very much a mood reader.


What are you reading?

A Musing Maverick

Ilse Davison

Elaine Howlin

lost in the pages of books

See Jayne Run

Navigating with Chronic Illness in a Self Absorbed World

1 Write Way

Places where you can find my writing, knitting, photographs, and cat collection.