Review: Daughters of the War by Lizzie Page

daughters of the war
Title: Daughters of the War
Author:
 Lizzie Page
Publication Date: November 12, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
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An emotional tale of wartime love and sacrifice, inspired by an incredible true story…

As a teenager in Chicago, May always dreamed of travelling the world. So when she meets handsome George Turner, she jumps at the chance to return to London as his wife. Ten years later, May is wondering if she’s made a terrible mistake.

It’s 1914 and war has been declared in Europe. All around, brave young men are being called up to serve. George, banned from conscription himself, has taken to the bottle, and May suspects he’s seeing other women too. She longs for a way to escape.

The chance comes when May meets veteran nurse Elsie, who persuades May to join the war effort. May knows nothing of nursing – it will be difficult, dangerous work, but her heart is telling her it’s the right thing to do.

But then George does the unthinkable and May’s future is put at risk. Will she have to make the impossible choice between duty to her family and her promise to the soldiers on the front line? And can she live with the consequences if her husband goes through with what he’s threatening to do?


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Daughters of the War is the second of three books by Lizzie Page focusing on female nurses during WWI, all of which can be read separately (although I suspect there were a few Easter eggs included tying in the first book which I missed). The actual subject of this book is what drew me in and made me request a copy. Female war stories are my favorite to read about, and it’s fairly rare to find a WWI story with the market so saturated by WWII at the moment.

Unfortunately, this book and I weren’t as well suited for each other as I had hoped. May, the main character, was a bit too gloomy and morose for me. I’m very appreciative of the fact that the author chose to depict mental illness, especially in a time period where it was still very taboo, but it drug the story down a bit for me. The plot of the story (nursing wounded soldiers, an unhappy marriage, etc.) was grim already, and while it’s understandable that a character faced with a life of grim realities would be depressed, I felt that there was too much doom and gloom. Because I had such a hard time connecting with May, I had a very difficult time engaging in the story and I found myself skimming for the action-y bits.

If you’re a fan of WWI or female war stories, I would encourage you to give this a try in spite of my qualms. It’s been very well received by others. If only May and I had gotten along better!

2.5 stars

ARC provided in exchange for an honest review

Review: Susanna’s Christmas Wish by Jerry S. Eicher

Susanna's Christmas WishTitle: Susanna’s Christmas Wish
Author:
Jerry S. Eicher
Publication Date: September 1, 2012
Genre: Amish Romance, Christmas
Rating: 3.5 Stars


From the pen of bestselling Amish fiction author Jerry Eicher, (more than 350,000 books sold), comes a truly delightful and inspiring Christmas novella. Fans will be delighted by this peek at an Amish Christmas, complete with the romantic wish of Susanna Byler to spend the holidays with the man of her dreams. But who is the man of her dreams? Is it the competent but plain Amish man she married for convenience…or is it her first love-an Englisha man with whom she has recently had an unexpected encounter-and who wants her back in his life? A perfect holiday delight for lovers of Amish fiction…and those who love a heartwarming and tender Christmas tale.


Review_ (1)Susanna’s Christmas Wish was a quick, cute, Christmas-y read!

The story centers mainly around Susanna’s internal conflicts as she tries to adjust to a new marriage – including her new husband’s strict views on Christmas – and her first love popping into town at the most inconvenient time possible. As she works through her dismay at missing her family’s Christmas gathering she’s also trying to come to terms with being jilted by the man she thought she loved and, as if that isn’t enough, she’s trying to grow her love for her new husband and prove to him that she’s committed. She’s got a lot on her plate.

I really enjoyed the story line and all of the Amish culture sprinkled throughout the book, but it took me a while to warm up to the characters. Susanna came across as a bit weepy and emotional, while Herman initially seemed a bit cold and distant. The polar opposite personalities were a bit jarring and made some of their first interactions a bit odd, but endearing nonetheless. By the end of the story I’d come to enjoy them both though, so maybe that’s a testament to their character growth! Their love was sweet and so pure, and I think Eicher did a great job of capturing the period of adjustment that every newlywed couple goes through, Amish or not.

I don’t read very much Amish fiction, although I know it’s a popular alternative (and sometimes subgenre) to historical fiction. When I picked this novella up I wasn’t familiar with Jerry S. Eicher, but I’ve since come to learn he’s one of the biggest authors in the genre. I got subtle Janette Oke vibes as I was reading and I absolutely love everything I’ve read from her so far. I definitely want to check out some of his other series – and I really hope there are more stories about Susanna and Herman in store!

Review: A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

A Holiday by GaslightTitle: A Holiday by Gaslight
Author: Mimi Matthews
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating:5 Stars


A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion—or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.

A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there’ll be no false formality. This time they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.


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Okay, before I even get into this review can we please talk about this cover? That dress, that lettering, the mistletoe rimming the sides, the snowy, gas-lit background…

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It’s only made better by the fact that every single detail on the cover plays a part in the story. I think I’m in love.

So, to be completely candid, Victorian Christmas stories are sort of my kryptonite. I work in a Victorian house that decorates to the hilt for a period-accurate Christmas, I wrote my final thesis for my bachelor’s degree on Victorian Christmas traditions… you get the idea. So when I saw this book on Netgalley I had it requested and loaded on my Kindle before I knew what was happening. I’m sooooo glad I broke my no ARC rule for October and snagged it because it was hands down one of my favorite reads of the year.

At risk of sounding like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Mimi Matthews did everything just right. The romance wasn’t too strong or too subtle and the side characters weren’t too involved or too obscure. Sophie, the main female character, was strong and confident without seeming to be from a different time period, but not so demure that she was boring and bland. I really, really enjoyed her personality and thought that it was a perfect fit for the time period and the situation she was in. Ned was just as likable, especially given the fact that the poor man was a fish out of water. I’m obviously a fan of dual perspectives, especially from romance, and I was thrilled when I hit chapter two and found myself reading from Ned’s perspective. It added so much depth to the story and made the dance the characters were doing around each other that much more enjoyable to read.

There was an interesting mix of Victorian Christmas traditions and current events happening in the background, and the author did a great job of using them to push the story along instead of info-dumping and then moving back to the story. Darwin, the spread of gaslighting, plumbing, and Prince Albert all make appearances, not including all the Christmas-y bits.

The thing I loved most about it was its length. Not because I was ready for it to end (I’m actually desperately hoping that Mimi Matthews writes more about these characters), but because it was just the right length for the story being told. It wasn’t stretched thin over 250 pages with a bunch of extra stuff bogging the story down. It was short, sweet, and perfectly innocent.

I’m planning on buying a few hard copies of this for my coworkers this Christmas. I know they’ll love it as much as I did!

5 Stars

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ARC provided in exchange for an honest review

 

5 Reasons I’m Participating in NaNoWriMo for the First Time

With just over a week left in October, the annual NaNoWriMo craze has begun – and this year I’m joining it! If you’re one of the few people who have never heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), it’s a 30 day writing spree that starts November 1st and ends on November 30th. To ‘win’ you have to write 50,000 words, or around 1,666 words a day.

So why am I participating in NaNoWriMo?

1. I’m on a time crunch

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My first book, The Rancher’s Runaway Bride, was written at a slow and steady pace while I went to school full time and worked full time. The sequel needs to be written at a much faster pace and November is conveniently the easiest month for me to sit down and put my nose to the keyboard.

2. It makes me accountable

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Let’s be honest, there are days when you know you should be typing away at your computer but Netflix sucks you in. We’ve all been there, and NaNoWriMo is going to (hopefully) keep me from going there for a solid month. If I have a set number of words to reach in a set number of time I’ll be able to tell when I’m falling behind and need to put the remote down.

3. The community is amazing

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My first book was written in secret, so naturally I’ve decided to blog about the writing process for the second. Soooooo many people participate in NaNoWriMo and the atmosphere is amazing. Being a part of a group of people going through the same thing as you is inspiring a motivating, making it that much more likely you’ll actually finish your 50,000 words.

4. I’m competitive

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This goes hand in hand with reason #2. I’m a super competitive person, so if I can find a way to put pressure on my word count and make it a challenge I’ll push myself that much harder.

5. It’s fun!

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The last and most important reason! NaNoWriMo is just plain fun. I’ve always been jealous of those who participated, and now I’m finally going to do it!


Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?

Review: Paper Wife by Laila Ibrahim

Southern China, 1923. Desperate to secure her future, Mei Ling’s parents arrange a marriage to a widower in California. To enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife—a paper wife.

On the perilous voyage, Mei Ling takes an orphan girl named Siew under her wing. Dreams of a better life in America give Mei Ling the strength to endure the treacherous journey and detainment on Angel Island. But when she finally reaches San Francisco, she’s met with a surprise. Her husband, Chinn Kai Li, is a houseboy, not the successful merchant he led her to believe.

Mei Ling is penniless, pregnant, and bound to a man she doesn’t know. Her fragile marriage is tested further when she discovers that Siew will likely be forced into prostitution. Desperate to rescue Siew, she must convince her husband that an orphan’s life is worth fighting for. Can Mei Ling find a way to make a real family—even if it’s built on a paper foundation?


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I haven’t read very many (if any at all) historical fiction books centered around Asian culture, so Paper Wife was very alluring. The story starts in the early 1920’s and is rich in historical detail – both Chinese and American. If you’ve never heard of paper wives (I hadn’t either until I read this book) and you’re a history nerd like me, you should do a quick Google search. It’s pretty interesting stuff.

Mei Ling, the feisty main character, is thrust into a marriage that she neither wants nor chooses and finds herself on the way to America as a paper wife. She’s not being honest about her identity with her new husband and before long she realizes he’s not being honest with her either, which sort of sets the foundation for Mei Ling’s internal conflict. Aside from that, there were plenty of subplots to keep the story moving right along and quite a few secondary characters that accompanied them. Some of the subplots were a little harder to believe than others, not because they couldn’t happen but because by the third or fourth unusual thing it seemed like the main characters had the worst luck in the world! Overall I think they did add to the story, though, and also furthered my understanding of the Chinese experience in the 1920’s.

What impressed me the most about this book was the extraordinary amount of research that must have gone into it. Just the research Ibrahim would’ve had to do for the small portion of the book that actually took place in China is staggering. Add to that the research for immigrant experiences on the ship over, detention before being admitted to the country, and daily life in California for a Chinese immigrant in the 1920’s…. phew. That’s a lot of work! I also loved the way the author used ‘——‘ when Mei Ling was around someone speaking English. It’s so nice to have an author acknowledge that a MC that doesn’t speak the language they’re listening to wouldn’t understand what’s going on!

3 Stars

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ARC provided in exchange for an honest review

 

Review: Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller

CarolineIn this novel authorized by the Little House estate, Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship, and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction, a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient, and loving pioneer woman as never before—Caroline Ingalls, “Ma” in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved Little House books.

In the frigid days of February, 1870, Caroline Ingalls and her family leave the familiar comforts of the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the warm bosom of her family, for a new life in Kansas Indian Territory. Packing what they can carry in their wagon, Caroline, her husband Charles, and their little girls, Mary and Laura, head west to settle in a beautiful, unpredictable land full of promise and peril

The pioneer life is a hard one, especially for a pregnant woman with no friends or kin to turn to for comfort or help. The burden of work must be shouldered alone, sickness tended without the aid of doctors, and babies birthed without the accustomed hands of mothers or sisters. But Caroline’s new world is also full of tender joys. In adapting to this strange new place and transforming a rough log house built by Charles’ hands into a home, Caroline must draw on untapped wells of strength she does not know she possesses.

For more than eighty years, generations of readers have been enchanted by the adventures of the American frontier’s most famous child, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the Little House books. Now, that familiar story is retold in this captivating tale of family, fidelity, hardship, love, and survival that vividly reimagines our past.

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I was raised on Little House on the Prairie. The book series was my very first boxed set and the TV show was ALWAYS on at my house (and let’s be real, it still is). When I read the books for the first time I wasn’t too much older than Laura was and it was easy to relate to her sense of adventure and excitement over all the changes in her life. As I got older I found myself wondering more and more about pioneer life from the adult perspective. Enter Caroline: Little House, Revisited.

I was so excited when this book popped up on my Amazon recommended page, and it didn’t disappoint! Sarah Miller expertly blends fact with the fiction Laura created – like beloved character Mr. Edwards – to give readers a glimpse into what a trip to the prairie would have been like for an expectant mother who already had two young children. While I was reading it felt like I had tapped directly in to Caroline’s thoughts and emotions. Her outward stoicism and inward reflection perfectly captured the ideal Victorian woman of the time. I scrolled through a few reviews on goodreads and there were quite a few people who didn’t appreciate the internal struggles as much as I did, but I found them to be completely authentic. It did make the story a little slower, but that just gives you more time to savor the prose-like writing.

I think the thing I appreciated the most about Caroline: Little House, Revisited is that it is very clearly geared towards an adult audience. Chamber pots and outhouses are addressed, Caroline’s fear of the Native Americans is front and center, and the nature of childbirth on the plains is clearly laid out. Can you imagine traveling hundreds of miles without knowing if there would be someone to help you give birth at the end of your journey? And then, even if there was someone to help, it would be a complete stranger.

It was so refreshing to revisit these familiar stories from an adult perspective. It was such a nostalgic experience, it felt like getting a hug from Caroline herself.

5 StarsSee the source image