The Illustrated Boatman’s Daughter by Tom Durwood (Goodreads Author) 2 out of 5 stars In 1860s Egypt, Salima helps her father with his ferryboat business, but she longs for more education and wants to travel and see the world. Hoping to make some money to pay for school, she applies for a clerk position with a company overseeing the construction of the Suez Canal. She becomes entangled with the corruption and danger surrounding the various European and Egyptian powers struggling for control of the new canal.
The writing style is really excellent, and made me care deeply about the characters. However, it could use a copy editor for little things like punctuation.
The plot was exciting, and the adventure was interesting. However, there were times when I couldn’t understand why the plot took the direction it did in some scenes. It wasn’t clear why the characters chose to do what they did, or how they got to a certain point, or how they gained particular knowledge. It was just some little things that didn’t quite add up, but it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the overall story.
Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O’Neal 1 out of 5 stars and Did Not Finish Priya has Lyme disease, and wakes up every morning with pain and fatigue. She joins a support group online with other people who have chronic illnesses, and discovers that her best friend might be a werewolf.
In the first 50 pages of this book, nothing happens at all. Well, we get to see some sweet character introductions of Priya and her siblings for about 3 pages. And Priya joins the support group. That’s it. The entire first 50 pages could have been condensed into 5 pages.
And that’s when I got bored and stopped reading. I have a rule that I have to read at least to page 50 before I will let myself DNF a book, knowing that I gave it a fair chance.
This beautiful guided journal prompts the reader/writer to answer questions, contemplate quotes about peace and mindfulness, practice meditations, focus on the breath, embrace personal affirmations, and write down their thoughts.
The best thing about this book is the beautiful design and calming colors on each page. It makes me want to open the book and notice every little leaf and fruit design around the edges while I do the meditations.
The prompts begin with a simple noticing of your emotions, your body, and surroundings, and then move into more deep contemplations and journal instructions about your insecurities, your strengths and fears. Continue reading →
Ember is a young witch with a great deal of untapped power. Jack is a supernatural being, who keeps his soul in a pumpkin lantern and guards the crossroads to a magical realm. Jack is determined to stop Ember from crossing to the OtherWorld where her power could be stolen from her, but he has a hard time guarding his heart against her sweet charms.
There were so many things that I loved about this book, and a few things that annoyed me.
First, the world-building and magic systems are wonderfully imaginative and interesting. I was entranced with the magical setting and the witches, warlocks, vampires, werewolves, goblins, and succubi that populate the OtherWorld. They each have particular powers and traits that were fascinating to discover as they are explained through the plot. I also really loved the steampunk feeling of the world, and how automatons and clockworks are integrated with magic power. Continue reading →
Mabel is done with high school and ready to teach her first year of school at a little country one-room schoolhouse. Her boyfriend, Russ, is pressuring her to make plans for their future wedding, but Mabel isn’t ready to commit to a formal engagement. Meanwhile, Mabel has trouble with her country students when there is a scarlet fever scare, a break-in at the schoolhouse, and a blizzard runs through the area. Another young man seems to have feelings for Mabel and she has to decide between a new love or the steady old relationship with Russ.
I just love how spunky and energetic Mabel is! She is always getting into the most ridiculous situations with her best friend, Sarah Jane. Just because she is grown-up now, doesn’t mean she isn’t still mischievous and playful, but her problems are bigger and require a deep solution now that she can’t rely on her parents and teachers to bail her out of scrapes. Continue reading →
Ardwin is the youngest in his family, cursed with one arm that is a swan’s wing. He is feared and reviled by the world, and sets out to seek an adventure that will lead him to his true home. But he will never find peace until he learns to accept himself, wing and all.
This is a continuation of the fairy tale of the brothers who are transformed into swans and saved by their sister who weaves shirts of nettles to break the curse. One little brother’s shirt is unfinished, missing a sleeve, and that arm remains a swan’s wing.
I loved Ardwin’s character! He’s a very deep thinker, and he puzzles through many ideas about identity, instinct, belonging, love, and hate, and forgiveness. There are so many wonderful themes that he wrestles with, but he ultimately finds where he truly belongs.
The plot is wonderfully fantastical, full of wizards, enchantresses, talking animals, deep earth magic, and impossible plot twists that kept me guessing and wondering and perfectly in awe. Continue reading →
Paula travels with her merchant father to Istanbul, hoping to acquire a religious artifact of rare and precious value. There is fierce competition for the artifact, and unscrupulous merchants will use violence to get their hands on it. Paula’s father hires a bodyguard, Stoyan, to keep his daughter safe on the dangerous streets. Paula befriends a wayward pirate captain, Duarte, hoping to get information from him about the artifact. The powers from the Other Kingdom send Paula on a quest, to retrieve the artifact, to unravel the riddles surrounding its history, and to learn from her perilous voyage the meaning of love and friendship.
My heart is too full! I can barely think, my mind is still reeling with all the complex details of the story. I have cried and laughed and clutched the book with white knuckles. What a journey! My heart just went on a rollercoaster ride, and I am still gasping for breath. Continue reading →
Kitty Hawk meets up with her old friend, Charlie, in Rome, and the two become involved in a mysterious international intrigue. They befriend a group of Italian siblings whose father has a dark past, and it’s up to Kitty to follow the clues through secret codes, hidden rooms, and the disturbing history of several long-lost paintings by famous artists.
As always, I adore Kitty’s character. She is better than Nancy Drew! Her incredible kindness and insatiable curiosity propel her into the most marvelous adventures. I love that her reaction to almost everything is, “Let’s go! Let’s find out! Let’s jump in!” She is such an energetic character, and that energy shines off every page. Continue reading →