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 →
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 →
This story begins at the end of Cinderella’s fairy tale, when Ella is engaged to marry Prince Charming. With the wedding only two months away, Ella is forced to learn restrictive palace protocol, sit through endless embroidery lessons, and learn the boring history of the royal family. Her meetings with the Prince are awkward and silent, and her only friends are the poor serving child, Mary, and the philosophy tutor, Jed. Ella begins to wonder if she really loves the Prince at all, and if she can tolerate the confinement of the palace for the rest of her life.
I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! (I really hate the cover art, and made the mistake of judging the book by its cover.) I read it all in one sitting, because I could not put it down.
Ella is fiery and energetic. She longs to do courageous deeds and have close relationships with people, but the royal protocol is so restrictive that no one can have a meaningful conversation, much less actually connect with anyone or do anything of real consequence. I loved the way she beat her wings against those cage bars and finally escaped to build her own life. Continue reading →
In her magic underground kingdom, Princess Quinn has always longed to visit the Outer Earth and gazes up through the bottom of a wishing pool to see ordinary non-magical people just out of reach. When a magic spell sends her to the Outer Earth, she must learn to fit in with the modern world of cars and airplanes, and determine who she can trust with her secret. The Wizard Melikar is working night and day to bring her home, but Princess Quinn is having too much fun in the Outer Earth and questions whether she ever wants to return to her kingdom underground.
I liked the basic plot of this story, and the characters are fairly good with some depth and development. It’s not amazing, but it kept me entertained. The writing is engaging and fairly imaginative, and I liked the clear and tidy style of the narrative. The characters aren’t particularly deep or complex, but they are amusing for awhile.
There is also insta-love that I found annoying, but it IS a fairy tale, so I sort of expected that. Continue reading →
Alec is heading home aboard a steamship, when the ship sinks in a storm and there are only two survivors: Alec and a spirited black stallion. The two are washed ashore on a small island, where they forage for food, and Alec tames the wild stallion.
I was completely riveted while reading this book! I couldn’t put it down, and read it in one day. The writing has such good pacing, and the action moves swiftly along, pulling the reader into the next chapter and the next.
I adored Alec’s character. He’s smart and tough and resilient.
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 →