Tag Archives: juliet marillier

Book Reviews – Dec 2018

5 Jan

So as I sat down to start this post, I always list all the books I read (thanks Goodreads, for making this easier than pounding my head on the desk trying to remember) and then go back and write the synopsis and my review of them. But as I started listing one after another, I couldn’t believe how much I’d read! So many books. I love it.

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Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

Only the River Runs Free book 1 of Galway Chronicles by Bodie Thoene – set in Ireland in the 1830’s, the feelings were bitter between the English landlords and the Irish tenants. Laws intended to distance the Irish from their heritage tore at the already struggling people. Hope was a distant thing for many – except for one woman, called Mad Molly Fahey. She promises that a miracle is on it’s way to their small village.

~I have read this one since I was a teenager and still enjoy it. The story tugs at your heart and you end up wanting poor Molly to be understood, for Kate to release her anger and Joseph to find his redemption. I have one confession to make, I’ve only read the second book – no more of the series. I’m not sure why, but there it is. This book has a satisfying enough ending that while you do of course, want to know what else happens to the characters, it’s well done in that you can close the cover content. I do need to read the rest of the series one of these days though! 

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier – As the seventh child, and only daughter, of a disinterested father, Sorcha is protected and loved by her older brothers. But when their father remarries and is bewitched by his new wife, Sorcha’s life is plunged into uncertainty. The evil enchantress puts a spell on all of Sorcha’s brothers – one that only she can break. By keeping silent. To speak is to lose her brothers. But her task is made more difficult when she is kidnapped by the enemies of her father and taken overseas. When a tender love surprises her, she is torn between saving her brothers and grabbing hold of it.

~I love Marillier’s books. So, grabbing this one from the book store a few months ago was a no-brainer for me. I quickly dived into it and loved it. All the way til…. about halfway through. Now, I understand why this particular event was in the story. It created obstacles, fears, etc for Sorcha and others to deal with. It moved the plot forward. I suppose it was more in the way that it was handled  – described – that bothered me. Descriptive and blunt. Too blunt for my taste. I put the book down for days before I decided to finish reading it. (which I normally don’t do.) And aside from the mentions/memories of that event, and a few…. overtures that she was forced to deal with, the book was great. It could easily have been a new favorite. But. That portion of the story was just too blunt and awful for my taste. Sadly, I won’t be reading it again.

Sisters of Bethlehem Springs Series by Robin Lee Hatcher separate post here – check it out, it was a great series!

The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen – I reviewed it here  a few years ago. Go check it out – it is a very good read! I grabbed it at a used book store recently and loved it just as much this time!

Mara : Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw – In order to gain freedom, the beautiful slave Mara, juggles the dangerous role of double spy to two arch enemies. Each are vying for contenders for the throne, intent on destroying the other. As she finds herself falling for one master, the charming and sly Lord Sheftu, she starts to want his plan of placing Thutmose III on the throne, to succeed. But her duplicity is revealed before she can bear her soul to Sheftu and soon, it’s not only Egypt’s fate that hangs in the balance, it is Mara’s very life.

~Mara’s daring and confidence are fun to watch as she navigates the different situations that her …position brings about. Reading a story set in ancient Egypt of political upheaval is unique and Sheftu is a delightful character. I probably read this one a few time a year (which makes me wonder how I haven’t reviewed it here on SGL before?!) Read it, I know you’ll love it. 

The Power of the Light: Eight Stories for Hanukkah by Isaac Bashevis Singer – The author shares a story for each night of Hanukkah – sweet stories of love triumphing, faith prevailing and miracles occurring.

~I immensely enjoyed these short stories. The pictures that went with each were charming as well.

The Art of Hanukkah by Nancy Berman -“A rich celebration of Hanukkah, featuring centuries of extraordinary art and artifacts… Menorahs, paintings, dreidels—all the wonderful elements of the celebration of Hanukkah from around the world and throughout the centuries have been brought together in this one marvelous book. Clear, insightful, and thought-provoking commentaries make this book a perfect complement to the holiday.” – from Goodreads

~Forgive my sharing what Goodreads had to say about it  but I just couldn’t figure out how to word this synopsis! This book is a treasure trove and I intend on buying it one day. The art and history was very interesting. 

Sophie’s Heart by Lori Wick – When Sophie arrives to keep house for Alec Riley and his kids, she isn’t all that sure what she’s getting into. Having come from Czechoslovakia as a language translator, she wonders if she’ll be content being a housekeeper. But the broken hearts of Alec and his children prove a worthy mission field.

~Ah, Lori Wick. A sweet story that I’ve read since I was a young teen, this book still encourages me to live out a day by day faith and trust in God. I enjoy the growth that you see in each of the Riley family, and in Sophie herself.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – If Ebenezer Scrooge could have cancelled Christmas, he would have. But on one cold Christmas Eve, he is visited by his late business partner, who warns him to change his ways before he too has the same fate. Scrooge is visited by three Spirits who show him what has been, what is, and what will be.

~ It has been years since I read this short book by Dickens. It is definitely going to have to be a yearly Christmas-time read for me.

 

Currently Reading:

The Strange Case of Dr. Couney by Dawn Raffey

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope

The Dragon Reborn -Wheel of Time series book #3 by Robert Jordan

Constantine’s Sword by James Carroll

Dear Theo by Irving Stone

(finishing these last two are high on my priority list!)

Go check out My 2018 Year in Books  on Goodreads and add some great reads to your To-Read list!

To Read: 

Blood Moon Redemption by Judy DuCharme

Amish Peace by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson

Secrets by Kristen Heitzmann

Goodbye, Lover by Rachel Britz

 

Books I’ve been thinking about:

Mrs. Mike by Benedict Freedman

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Eve Blackwell series by Dee Henderson

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

 

I have a Favorite Reads of 2018 planned for the next few weeks! Really, it was supposed to be up already (as was this one) but life (like nuclear migraines) happens and you’ve got to rearrange things.

~Laura

~What are you reading lately?~

Series Review – Shadowfell

24 Oct

As promised, a review on a new favorite series of mine! I’ve read it twice now and it’s set onto my must-own-one-day-soon list. Juliet Marillier has written twenty (!) historical fantasy novels and has won many awards. If you’ve been following SGL for any length of time, you know that Wildwood Dancing is one of my all-time favorite novels. When I first found this at the library, I was interested but nervous as my experience with fantasy was still limited to Brandon Sanderson. But, almost immediately, I was sucked into this story and never wanted to put the books down! It’s a three book series and at the end of it, you want it to continue! I really enjoyed Marillier’s descriptions of the world of Alban – the different regions/topography. But, on to a synopsis of the series!

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Photo by Niilo Isotalo on Unsplash

Shadowfell:

Left on her own at sixteen, Neryn must put to use her knowledge of keeping hidden as she evades the king’s soldiers that are hunting her down. In the kingdom of Alban, anyone with canny skills is considered an enemy, and treated accordingly. Her ability to see the Good Folk – the wee fairy-like creatures behind that rock or in that tree – is something she’s always striven to ignore, knowing exactly what the consequences are for her ‘gift’.  After being rescued from certain death by the mysterious Flint, Neryn decides to set off for a place that she’s only heard of. Shadowfell. The only place left in all of Alban that is free of the evil of King Keldec – the only place that is planning on overthrowing him. Her journey is dangerous and her helpers are the Good Folk and Flint who tell her that she is the only one who can save Alban.

Raven Flight: 

Having reached Shadowfell, Neryn can finally rest. But too soon she learns that she must leave her new rebel friends and seek out each of the four Guardians to learn how to be a Caller. To learn how to use her canny gift to call the Good Folk to help them in their battle against Keldec. To do this is to risk compromising herself and the cause but remaining at Shadowfell is impossible because her skill will mean the failure or success of their venture. Her path will take her to the four corners of Alban, far away from Flint. Her companion is the warrior Tali, whose main allegiance is to the cause.

The Caller: 

Having journeyed to the mountains of the north and the isles of the west, Neryn has learned of water and of earth, but now she has to continue her training to learn of Air from the White Lady in the freezing winter. But when the White Lady isn’t what Neryn expected, plans must change and Neryn has to make a tough decision. Stay where it’s safe, or do what she knows she must. When another threat looms against the rebellion, she must enter into Keldec’s court and watch every step, for one wrong move will mean her death – as well as the death of the rebellion. She has to make it to the moment that she’s been training for, standing up against a stronger enemy than she ever imagined.

I tried not to give too much away ( I absolutely hate it when I learn too much about a series before even reading the first book, it makes me not want to read it at all. Anyone else have that reaction?), but to give enough info so that it intrigues you and makes you want to read it. Really, you should. Even if you’re not much into fantasy fiction. The romances are so lovely and sweet, although there is a bit of delicate sexual content in them. Marillier  wrote it well and mild but I do like to share with you that it’s there so you’re aware of it if you’re going to share it with a young reader – pre-read it first so you know if it’s appropriate!

I so appreciate the moral lessons woven through each of the books and the adventures that Neryn and her band of friends (fey and human) are so engrossing. I HIGHLY recommend this series!

~Laura

 

 

~ While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers. ~

 

Aug/Sept 2018 Book Reviews

29 Sep

Looking at July’s review, I realized that I ended up reading exactly what I had planned to on my to-read list! That doesn’t normally happen, so I’m a little pleased with myself. My list of books is rather short for two months but most of the novels I’ve been reading have been LONG. The Shadowfell series are about 400 pages each, and the Robert Jordan one I’m currently enjoying is about 700 pages. . . I like the extra story development that is allowed in these longer books though! I’m not sure I could ever write that in-depth though.

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Shadowfell series by Juliet Marillier – separate review coming in the next few weeks

Gifts of the Spirit by FFOZ – as of right now, I’m going to just direct you to First Fruits of Zion’s website that gives great info into this well-written and informative book about the gifts of the Spirit and different perspectives on them.

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson -Two princesses’ lives are thrown into turmoil. While both scramble to learn the ways of their new environments, political upheaval is on the horizon.

~The first time I read this, I wasn’t sure if I would read it again but I decided to give it another shot. (I’m a sucker for Sanderson apparently). The way he weaves together a story is just incredible. The political and personal struggles of the different characters is engrossing. You can read my original review here.

Unspoken by Dee Henderson – Almost twenty years later, Charlotte Graham still hasn’t spoken about her past. A past that includes her being the center of the most famous kidnapping in Chicago’s history. A past that includes such pain and fear that she’s never risked telling anyone. Can she finally take that risk?

~You might notice that another Henderson kick is beginning… This one is ‘connected’ with Full Disclosure and Taken. While there was a lot of detail about coins, I appreciated how much she researched it out – it didn’t take away from the novel for me. As usual, some of the faith struggles of the characters hit a bit too close to home for me – but that is one reason I appreciate Henderson’s books. She writes not only good fiction, she gives real-life faith struggles to her characters. I highly recommend this book!

 

Trouble in Store by Carol Cox – When her prime governess position is abruptly ended, Melanie Ross sees no other choice but to travel to Idaho to the mercantile her cousin left her in his will. But someone else feels he has the same rights to the store, and Caleb Nelson isn’t about to just step aside and give up his new life to her. He sees her as the newest obstacle to the new life he’s carving out for himself, and he’ll try just about anything to get rid of her.

~ I borrowed this book from a friend as it is by a new-to-me author that I just read a book of hers earlier this year – Truth be Told.  I like Cox’s easy-to-read style and how she actually made me dislike Melanie for a little bit! I was so put off by her actions at one point that I had to keep reading to see how Caleb dealt with her. Brilliant move on Cox’s part. Highly recommend as a relaxing, faith-focused novel.

Traces of Guilt – An Evie Blackwell Cold Case by Dee Henderson – Watch for a separate review of this series! (I know, I said that about the Shadowfell books too but bear with me, the wait will be worth it!) 

Currently Reading:

Dear Theo by Irving Stone

Constantine’s Sword by James Carroll

The Eye of the World  book 1 of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

Undetected by Dee Henderson

 

To Read:

The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan (book 2)

Traces of Suspicion by Dee Henderson

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

 

While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.

~Laura

~What have you been reading lately? I’d absolutely love to hear about it and add them to my to-read list!

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