[Book Review] An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry

An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry

[Book Review] An Echo of Murder: A William Monk Novel by Anne Perry

One day last fall, this book just showed up in my mailbox. Best day ever, right? I’m assuming it came from the publisher, but I’m not sure? So, thank you to the mystery sender! I hope you enjoy my book review of An Echo of Murder: A William Monk Novel by Anne Perry. And feel free to send me books any time you want to!

Blurb:

“In this riveting new William Monk novel, Anne Perry delves into the diverse population of Victorian London, whose disparate communities force Monk to rethink his investigative techniques—lest he be caught in the crosshairs of violent bigotry.

In the course of his tenure with the Thames River Police, Commander Monk has yet to see a more gruesome crime scene: a Hungarian warehouse owner lies in the middle of his blood-sodden office, pierced through the chest with a bayonet and eerily surrounded by seventeen candles. Suspecting the murder may be rooted in ethnic prejudice, Monk turns to London’s Hungarian community in search of clues but finds his inquiries stymied by its wary citizens and a language he doesn’t speak. Only with the help of a local pharmacist acting as translator can Monk hope to penetrate this tightly knit enclave, even as more of its members fall victim to identical brutal murders. But whoever the killer, or killers, may be—a secret society practicing ritual sacrifice, a madman on a spree, a British native targeting foreigners—they are well hidden among the city’s ever-growing populace.

With the able assistance of his wife—former battlefield nurse Hester, who herself is dealing with a traumatized war veteran who may be tangled up in the murders—Monk must combat distrust, hostility, and threats from the very people he seeks to protect. But as the body count grows, stirring ever greater fear and anger among the Hungarian émigrés, resistance to the police also increases. Racing time and the rising tide of terror all around him, Monk must be even more relentless than the mysterious killer, or the echoes of malice and murder will resound through London’s streets like a clarion of doom.”

 

My Book Review:

I haven’t read a murder mystery in a long time, so I enjoyed this fun change of pace. As a reader, I thoroughly enjoyed delving back into Victorian London and learning about the Hungarian population there. Monk and his wife Hester seem like they’re very good for each other. It would be difficult to be a detective, especially when a murder is so gruesome. Consequently, having a good support system around you would be a necessity.

Along with the murder mystery comes the story of Crow and Will. Will is the adopted son of Monk and Hester, and he is one of my favorite characters. Will works as an apprentice for Crow, who is a doctor in a clinic. When they need a translator, Will finds Fitz, and he turns out to be quite helpful. I liked both Crow and Fitz as well. They work well together, and it’s fun to see Will learn and gain more responsibility.

At first, all the different characters confused me, but it didn’t take long to figure it out. I liked the writing style and thought it flowed well, was easy to read and understand, and did a good job of grabbing hold of your attention. Ms. Perry developed the characters very well. Although each has a hint of mystery with an uncertain past, I thought that added to the story. The title, An Echo of Murder, fits the story well. It doesn’t smack you in the face, but it doesn’t take a long time to figure out either.

I kept changing my mind about who I thought committed the murder, which is a sign of a good writer. There was a bit of a twist at the end, which made figuring it all out more difficult. I enjoyed this book a lot; it made me remember how much I enjoy reading mysteries.  

 

Content Rating PG-13+Rating: PG-13 + (There’s some profanity, and although there aren’t any “intimacy” scenes, there are a few innuendos and things are implied.  There is a little bit of violence, but the thing that warrants the higher rating is that the murder scenes are quite graphic and gruesome.)

Age Recommendation: 16 years-old and up

Rated 4/5 Stars

4 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten  The Last September by Nina de Gramont
 
 

[Book Review] Overcoming and Avoiding Illness by James Lilley

Overcoming and Avoiding Illness by James Lilley

[Book Review] Overcoming and Avoiding Illness by James Lilley

James Lilley approached me last fall to review his book Overcoming and Avoiding Illness. At the time, my son had been sick for a very long time, and we still didn’t have a diagnosis. I agreed to read his book in hopes of finding help for my son. Before I was able to read his book, however, my son spent a couple nights in the hospital, where he finally received a diagnosis. Although the information in this book didn’t end up helping in that particular situation, James Lilley has a lot of great information about how to overcome and avoid illness; he’s definitely done his research!

Blurb:

“Based on six years of research this is the remarkable story of one man’s obsession to overcome serious illness. When doctors failed him, James Lilley succeeded by applying common sense and an extraordinary level of dogged persistence.

Inside you’ll find the strategies he used to rebuild his own health brick-by-brick. Covering more topics than a Swiss army knife, these techniques are easy to implement and apply to a wide range of ailments.

With an exceptional ability to breakdown the complex, James shares his many insights using a blend of empathy and humor. This is an inspiring story which will open your eyes to a whole new way of thinking about wellness.

This isn’t just another hyped up health book designed to look good sitting on the shelf, it’s an empowering, comprehensive, problem solving tool. ~James Lilley

In every sense of the word, this is a truly independent book. There was never any slick marketing campaign or big launch date to draw on. It’s actually quite remarkable that you even found this book or perhaps this book found you.”

My Review:

As I stated previously, my son was super sick for most of last year. He’s still not fully recovered, but has come a very long way. Life is almost back to normal, although it is something he will probably always deal with in some way. James Lilley reached out to me in the middle of all of the craziness, so I was excited to read his story and see what he was able to do to overcome his illness. He spent many years researching solutions to his health problems, and it definitely shows; this book is packed with information!

For the most part, I liked his writing style; it’s easy to read, humorous, and casual. He does use quite a bit of profanity, which I didn’t love or think necessary, but that’s just my opinion. Mr. Lilley does have a knack for taking difficult medical terms and procedures, and making them easy to understand. He includes advice that is very common sense like eating your vegetables every day and good nutrition, but then he’ll add something about testing your blood’s acidity levels or detoxifying the metals in your body. There are some very in-depth and technical things that he advises, and a lot of them are things I’ve never heard of.

I liked reading his story. The one about how he was so sick that he had to be in a wheelchair, and now because of these strategies he’s walking again. I wished that there had been more of that story because I felt at times that it was just a huge information dump. It would have been great if he had included how doing each of those individual things had helped him overcome his illness. Something to the affect of, “Doing A helped decrease this…” or “After six months of doing B, I started to see this…” Without those little pieces of information, I was left feeling overwhelmed with all the information.

James Lilley put many years into this research, and there is so much to learn from his book. On the one hand, I trust him because he has read and researched for many years, but on the other hand, he’s not officially a doctor. What I decided to do was to take what he said, and if I thought it would help or I liked the concept, then I would talk to my doctor and research it myself as well.  By doing this, I feel it’s a good compromise.

One little nitpicky thing that annoyed me was the cover. Mr. Lilley put an acronym on the cover. The acronym is: What’s The Formula? Well, as we all know, that acronym is used in texting to say something very different.  I didn’t feel comfortable with that acronym big and bright on the cover of a book that I read in front of my children and took to many different places, so I took a sharpie and covered it up. I know it’s little, but sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference.

Overall, I thought this book was okay. There is a ton of information; some of it seems great, and other things seem kind of way out there. I wish he had connected the dots more along the way, but if you’re looking for information on how to overcome or avoid illness, this could be a very good resource for you.

Content Rating R

Rating: R (There is a lot of medical jargon and quite a bit of profanity.)

Age Recommendation: Adult

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

[Book Review] Devil in the Microscope by Ryan Decaria

Devil in the Microscope by Ryan Decaria

[Book Review] Devil in the Microscope by Ryan Decaria

 Blurb (from goodreads.com):

“When “science-fair-geek” Anika goes to live with her scientist father in a town built around his mysterious genetics laboratory, she is determined to prove herself worthy of his legacy. But all preconceptions about her new life are thrown out the window when Anika discovers her father is a megalomaniac living in a town populated entirely by mad scientists. Now Anika will have to navigate her way through a high school filled with vindictive evil geniuses, deadly science projects, and unspeakable human experimentation. Relying on her wits, scientific know-how, and talented allies, Anika fights for her very life, and the lives of her new friends. Will Anika have to become like her mad scientist father in order to save the day?”
 

My Review:

Anika is a fun character. She’s smart, witty, sassy, and doesn’t put up with anything. She’s a good, strong, female leading character. I liked her voice a lot, and thought she was well developed. It’s always good to have a science nerd as a main character. Her mom isn’t in a lot of the book; even though she’s a bit mysterious, you find out more about why she is the way she is as the story goes on. I did think that Anika was a bit quick to disregard her mom after all they’d been through together, but teenagers are never predictable. I liked Billie a lot, and felt so bad for her and the situation she was in. Anika’s father is quite the interesting guy. I didn’t feel like he was developed as much as Anika was, but part of that is the mystery that surrounds him. Anika doesn’t know him very well either, so I guess it’s fair that the reader is also kept in the dark.
 
I liked the story line a lot at the beginning, with the science fair and all that. It was when Anika got to Moreau that the story became a little unbelievable to me (you may not feel the same way). It’s sci-fi, and you know I love a good sci-fi, but this definitely bordered on fantasy, and was a little hard to believe. I liked her friends at school, especially Misty and Sasha, and I did think they were well developed and likable characters. Victor is scary, creepy, and intimidating, but his situation is a bit on the unimaginable side. Well, honestly, a bunch of the characters have sides of them that are unimaginable. On one hand, it gives the story a lot of action. It’s definitely full of action, Anika is a go-getter for sure! On the other hand, some of the scenarios are a tad on the strange/inconceivable side.
 
I liked that the teenagers took matters into their own hands because they really didn’t have anyone they could turn to for help, but at the same time, that included them doing some things that I don’t think teenagers should have to do. I wanted to scream at their parents for putting them in that situation. You never really heard anything about their mothers, either. Where were they in all of this? The ending wasn’t my favorite, either. It just ended. I’m assuming that means that a second book is in the works, but there were still quite a few things that could have been tied up a little better. Overall, the book was ok for me. There were some parts of it that I really enjoyed, and some parts that I had a hard time believing. If you’re a science nerd then you will definitely enjoy this book.
 
Content Rating PG-13

Rating: PG-13 (There is some profanity, and there are times where they don’t actually say the “f” word, but they say a word that is VERY similar, so you know that’s what they mean, which is a tactic I don’t particularly care for. There isn’t any “intimacy,” but there is a lot of violence. There are a few characters that are killed, and there is a lot of fighting.)

Age Recommendation: 14 years-old and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Also, the author is the son of my good friend. 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card   Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention (Book #1) by J. Scott Savage  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
 

[Book Review] A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake

A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake
Photo Credit: Goodreads.com

A Tangled Mercy

by

Joy Jordan-Lake


Blurb:

“Told in alternating tales at once haunting and redemptive, A Tangled Mercy is a quintessentially American epic rooted in heartbreaking true events examining the harrowing depths of human brutality and betrayal, and our enduring hope for freedom and forgiveness. After the sudden death of her troubled mother, struggling Harvard grad student Kate Drayton walks out on her lecture–and her entire New England life. Haunted by unanswered questions and her own uncertain future, she flees to Charleston, South Carolina, the place where her parents met, convinced it holds the key to understanding her fractured family and saving her career in academia. Kate is determined to unearth groundbreaking information on a failed 1822 slave revolt–the subject of her mother’s own research. Nearly two centuries earlier, Tom Russell, a gifted blacksmith and slave, grappled with a terrible choice: arm the uprising spearheaded by members of the fiercely independent African Methodist Episcopal Church or keep his own neck out of the noose and protect the woman he loves. Kate attempts to discover what drove her mother’s dangerous obsession with Charleston’s tumultuous history are derailed by a horrific massacre in the very same landmark church. In the unimaginable aftermath, Kate discovers a family she never knew existed as the city unites with a powerful message of hope and forgiveness for the world.”

My Review:

The other day I was looking back at the list of books I have read this year. It’s not as long as it has been in years past, because my son has been sick for so long, but I have read some very good books. This book, however, is my favorite of the year. It’s so well written. The narrative transitions between 2015 and 1822, and it’s not hard to figure out where you are; it flows and transitions very well. Usually in books where it goes back and forth between the present and the past, I have a favorite. I like one better than the other one. In this book I loved both story lines! The descriptions in this book are amazing. I haven’t ever been to Charleston, but after reading this book I’d love to go there. I actually did “google” Charleston, though, and looked through pictures of the skyline. I can’t remember the last time I did that with a book. The city just came to life on the page, and I wanted to see it for myself. Each of the characters are developed so well. They are so realistic and lifelike, and you become a part of their lives as you read the story. Kate, Gabe, Dan, Scudder, Rose, Tom, Dinah, Emily, and Angelina become your good friends as you read. Many of the characters in the 1822 story line are real people, and it is so interesting to think of them and their lives. I love that real events are also woven into the book; both old events and very recent as well. The topics discussed in the novel are current and not without controversy. Ms. Jordan-Lake brings it up in way that provokes contemplation and a good soul-search. This book is intriguing and engaging; it will make you laugh and cry, and will make you take a good look at yourself and your beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions. I could not put this book down, and I highly recommend it!

Rating: PG 13+ (There is very little profanity and no “intimacy.” There is quite a bit of violence, though. A couple of scenes, especially, are very violent, graphic, and descriptive. Many people die, and it’s horrendous and very tragic. The scene that relates a more recent event is especially brutal and graphic to read.) 

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up, at least. (If the teenager is sensitive to violence then I would definitely wait. There is some value in having a teenager read it-it definitely gets you thinking about real life situations, and helps you think outside your box. I would not recommend it for anyone younger than 16. For sure.)


Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

shereads.com logo




[Book Review] Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage

Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage
Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Jesus the Christ
by
James E. Talmage

Blurb (Credit: Amazon.com):

Considered one of the all-time great classics of LDS literature, Jesus the Christ is a comprehensive look into the life and ministry of the Savior. Written at the request of the First Presidency by the Apostle James E. Talmage, and penned from an office inside the Salt Lake Temple, this volume is more than a simple outline of the Savior’s life. It presents a far-reaching view of the Savior-including His life in the flesh, His antemortal existence, and His activities across time as the world’s Redeemer. Allow this unparalleled work to enhance your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as it magnifies your understanding of the scriptures.

My Review:

Every once in awhile a book comes along that changes your life. As you read it, the words influence you so much that you will never think the same way about the subject again; you will never be the same. A few books I’ve read in my lifetime have made me feel this way. Believing Christ by Stephen Robinson was one, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo was another. And today I add Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage. It’s hefty, for sure! The edition I read has 793 pages, and it is not an easy read. It took me months to read. James E. Talmage was a very intelligent man, and his vocabulary is off the charts. I had to look up the definitions of many words. It’s strange, because at first it took me forever, but by the end I was in the groove, and his style and language became easier to understand. This is the most comprehensive book on the life and mission of Jesus Christ that I have ever seen. It’s incredible. It begins with why we need a Savior. Then it takes you through many of the prophets of the Old Testament that prophesied about the coming of a Savior. A Messiah. It delves into the lives of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. Talmage takes you step by step through the New Testament and the life of Jesus Christ here on earth. He is very comprehensive in his writing. He discusses Christ’s teachings and miracles. I loved learning about life in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas; who the different groups of people are and how they came to be. The events take on different meanings when you know more about the context in which they happened. Sometimes when I’m reading the parables of Christ I understand their meanings and sometimes I don’t. This book explains them all, and it helped me so much. He goes into detail about the symbolism in the writings of the New Testament, which, once again, is very helpful in finding new meaning in the words on the page. One thing in particular that helped me was learning about the difference between the Pharisees and the Sadducees and scribes, the Samaritans and the Jews. It was also extremely helpful to learn about the structure of the Roman government in Jerusalem, and who was in power over what. The detail Talmage puts into his description of Jesus Christ’s Atoning sacrifice helps you to understand the importance of this moment. 

 Christ’s agony in the garden is unfathomable by the finite mind, both as to intensity and cause. The thought that He suffered through fear of death is untenable. Death to Him was preliminary to resurrection and triumphal return to the Father from whom He had come, and to a state of glory even beyond what He had before possessed; and, moreover, it was within His power to lay down His life voluntarily. He struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible. It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing. No other man, however great his powers of physical or mental endurance, could have suffered so; for his human organism would have succumbed, and syncope would have produced unconsciousness and welcome oblivion. In that hour of anguish Christ met and overcame all the horrors that Satan, ‘the prince of this world’ could inflict.

Next, Talmage takes you through Jesus’ arrest and trials before Herod and Pilate. Then he thoroughly discusses Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. At the end, he goes into some detail into the lives of the eleven apostles and what occurred after they were all gone, and he even goes a little into the dark ages. 

This is an amazing book! It takes a long time to get through it, but it’s worth it. It was written by a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes known as Mormon or LDS), but anyone wanting a better understanding of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ will benefit from reading this book. I promise it is worth the effort. Your understanding and love for the Savior will grow tenfold. Reading this book changed my perceptions and increased my love and appreciation for my Savior, Jesus the Christ. 

Rating: PG (Clean)

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up. (A younger person could read it, as it is taken from the Bible, but Talmage’s language is difficult to understand because of his awesome vocabulary, so I think 16 and up are more likely to understand it.)

[Book Review] Hum If You Don’t Know The Words by Bianca Marais

Hum If You Don't Know The Words by Bianca Marais
Photo Credit: Goodreads.com
Hum If You Don’t Know The Words
by
Bianca Marais

Blurb:
“Life under apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl growing up in a mining town in the 1970s Johannesburg. In a rural village, worlds apart, Beauty Mbali struggles to raise her children alone in the blacks-only Bantustan of the Transkei. Their lives are divided by the colors of their skin, and their paths should never have crossed…until the historic Soweto uprising, where government forces violently crush a protest by black students, igniting reprisals on both sides. Their worlds shatter in the aftermath when Robin’s parents are found dead and Beauty’s daughter goes missing. After Robin is sent to live with her irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin, and, for the first time in her sheltered existence, Robin learns about life beyond the white, upper-class privilege she has always known, discovering in Beauty the love and support she desperately craves. While Beauty’s frantic search for her beloved activist daughter puts her in contact with whites and blacks secretly combatting apartheid, her growing responsibility and affection for Robin, whose loss mirrors her own, forces painful choices on them both. When it becomes clear that Beauty could be lost to Robin forever if Beauty’s daughter is found, Robin makes a risky decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery that brings to light the harsh truths and injustices of a society she thought she knew.”
My Review:
Growing up as a white girl in the United States hasn’t always been easy, and my parents, and now my husband and I, have worked very hard to get where we are. After reading this book, however, I realize that I’ve definitely lived a sheltered and fairly easy life. My eyes were opened while reading this book. I’ve learned about apartheid in school, but I had no idea that things like the Soweto uprising occurred. I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. The writing draws you in and captivates you. Ms. Marais’ descriptions and writing style are very well done. To be drawn into this time and place, and to be a part of such a difficult and harsh period in South Africa’s history, is surreal. The emotion seeps from the pages. Beauty is a difficult character to understand; she leaves her sons alone in order to go find her daughter. She thinks this journey will be a quick one. When it’s not, she doesn’t give up. Her sons are being taken care of by the community at home while she continues to search for her daughter. I love her determination and love for her child. Robin is just a child, but she and Beauty are bound together by the grief they share following the uprising. I had to keep reminding myself that Robin was just a child; she made some choices that, as an adult, made me scream at her through the pages. How could she be so selfish? Thankfully, she realizes her mistake and tries her best to fix it. The growth of both of these characters throughout the book is amazing to watch. It’s unthinkable the atrocities that occur around the world today, and those that have occurred in the past, and it’s when we step out of our own worlds, our own boxes, and truly see around us that we can begin to make things right. I loved that this book took me out of my comfort zone. I loved the lessons learned. This book is very well written. The characters come to life on the page, and you feel like you are there, living the story along with them. There are so many lessons to be learned in this book. We are all the same. We may look different, come from different places, speak different languages, have different experiences, but we are all the same. We just want to live, provide for our families, be loved, and be safe. Selfishness may seem ok when we rationalize it, but it can cause so much pain and heartbreak. Doing what we know is right, even when it is difficult. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it. 
Rating: PG-13+ (There is a little bit of profanity, but not much. There is no “intimacy,” but there is violence. The Soweto uprising was difficult to read because of how many children were killed or injured. There was a character beaten almost to death, and there was also some domestic violence.)
Recommendation: 16 years-old and up. This book is not appropriate for younger readers. 
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
I have a free copy of this book to give away!
(All you need to do is “like” my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheReadathon/ 
then comment on this post (below) with your name and email address 
so I can contact you if you win.)

[Book Review] Marysvale by Jared Southwick

Book Review of Marysvale by Jared Southwick

Marysvale 
by 
Jared Southwick

Summary:

“John Casey was ten years old when his mother was murdered…and ten when his father hid the truth from him. Without that knowledge, he has no idea of the enemies that lie in wait. Now grown up, John lives a solitary life, in a world enslaved by ignorance and superstition, when anyone unusual is treated with distrust and even killed…and John has some very unusual gifts. When he is accused of witchcraft, John does the only thing he’s ever done–Run! That is, until he meets Jane who lives in the bleak, imprisoned town of Marysvale. Life outside the safety of the town walls means certain death from the brutal monsters that hunt there. However, life inside, under the rule of a tyrannical leader, means no life at all. As the love between John and Jane grows, the dangers of Marysvale unfold; and for the first time in his life, John discovers that there is something worth dying for.”

My Review:

I really liked this book. I like Mr. Southwick’s style of writing. It is fast-paced and keeps you on your toes. I couldn’t just stop at the end of the chapter, I’d have to keep reading, which turned into some very long nights. I really liked the character development in this book. I felt connected to each of the main characters, and even to some of the characters that only appeared once or twice, like the man who saves John when he is running from the town authorities. The descriptions Mr. Southwick uses to describe the characters make you feel as if you are actually face to face.  I liked the story line even though I sometimes have trouble relating to “monsters.” In this book the “monsters” seemed plausible and were scary. I read a lot at night when I can’t sleep, and can usually read on the couch, but with this book I had to read in bed with my husband next to me because it kind of freaked me out in the dark.

I liked that there was none to very little language in this book. I can’t remember any profane words, but there may have been one that I can’t remember. There is violence, and some of it is scary and graphic. There is a lot of “monster” killing, and fighting. There is a section that talks about human slavery, which I didn’t really like, and thought it was graphic, but it only lasts a page or two. There are deaths in this book, and it can be dark at times, but there are also light-hearted and tender moments. There is some romance going on with kissing. One part that was quite disturbing was when John had to listen to two of his girl friends (not girlfriends) be tortured. You find out that it was only physical, not sexual, but during the scene it is almost implied. That scene was disturbing.

Overall I really enjoyed the book. There is a theme going on about how people will choose to lose their freedoms in order to be safe. I know this argument goes on every day here in the United States of America, and it was interesting to see why these people chose to give up their freedoms, and then how they wished they had them back, but it was too late.

Rating: PG-13+ (almost R) No language, but violence and death. There is the scene where the women are being tortured and there is also a scene about human slavery. It is also scary. At least it had me freaked out during some scenes.

Recommendation: I’m going to have to say maybe 15 or 16 and up. My 9 year-old who has read all the “Harry Potter” books asked if he could read it and I said no. It’s not because of language, it’s just that there are some scenes that I think would be too much for that age group. I don’t want him reading about women being tortured and people being sold into slavery. I know that happened in history, but seeing it through Mr. Southwick’s descriptions made me cringe. And, I don’t want him coming into my room with nightmares of the “monsters.”

I highly recommend this book. I hope I didn’t make it seem too bad. It’s not, it’s just those couple of scenes. I loved it. I loved the tension, the scariness, the characters, the twists and turns, and the writing style.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

*Note* I originally published this review on 8/9/11, updated on 10/29/14 and 10/31/17.

An Unseen Angel

An Unseen Angel
by
Alissa Parker

Blurb:
“When Alissa Parker lost her daughter Emilie in the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting, she started a life-changing journey to answer soul-searching questions about faith, hope, and healing. As she sought for the peace and comfort that could help mend her broken heart, she learned, step by step, how to open her heart to God’s grace and will. One step brought her face to face with the shooter’s father, where in a pivotal and poignant meeting, she was given an opportunity to forgive. Another step brought her into the sheltering compassion of her community as family, friends, and even strangers reached out to buoy her up with their shared faith. And several miraculous manifestations of Emilie’s continued presence and influence lifted her heart and will validate the faith of every Christian. The story of Alissa and Emilie reminds us that the bonds of love continue beyond this life and that despite tragedy and heartache, we can find strength in our family and our faith.”
My Review:
I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard about the Sandy Hook mass shooting. I was driving around town running errands; I had the radio on when a breaking news story came on. Immediately I turned the station to my local news station, and listened in shock to the details. I was sobbing as I drove; tears streaming down my face. There had been shootings before, and they were horrible, but this, this was beyond that. This was pure evil. When I had the opportunity to review this book I accepted because I was so drawn to that story. I knew it would be difficult to read, but I wanted to hear Alissa’s story. Well, I was correct-this is not an easy book to read. I cried most of the way through it. However, it is well written, touching, and full of faith and hope. Alissa did a very good job of telling the story with all it’s ups and downs, and with its hard days and good days. I liked that she was very real in the book. There are darling pictures of Emilie throughout the book, and it just breaks your heart to recall the tragedy of her death. I think the real story in the book is how Alissa and her family were able to heal and find hope after Emilie’s passing. I loved that she opening spoke of her faith, and how it may have even wavered, but in the end it brought her comfort and peace. I truly believe that we will see our loved ones again, and that hope helped Alissa through the difficult days. Hearing about the small miracles brought me to tears. Even though this is a heartbreaking story to read, I was glad I did. Alissa and her family are truly an inspiration.

Rating: PG-13+ (Although there isn’t an profanity or “intimacy,” she does talk about and describe how her daughter was killed during the school shooting.)

Recommendation: 16-17 years old and up. This may even be too much for some 16 year-olds.

The Vicar’s Daughter

The Vicar’s Daughter
by
Josi S. Kilpack

Blurb:
“Cassie, the youngest of six daughters in the Wilton family, is bold, bright, and ready to enter society. There’s only one problem: her older sister Lenora, whose extreme shyness prevents her from attending many social events. Lenora is now entering her third season, and since their father has decreed that only one Wilton girl can be out at a time, Cassie has no choice except to wait her turn. Evan Glenside, a soft-spoken, East London clerk, has just been named his great-uncle’s heir, and though he is eager to learn all that will be required of him, he struggles to feel accepted in a new town and in his new position. A chance meeting between Evan and Lenora promises to change everything, but when Lenora proves too shy to pursue the relationship, Cassie begins to write Mr. Glenside letters in the name of her sister. Her good intentions lead to disaster when Cassie realizes she is falling in love with Evan. But then Evan begins to court Lenora, thinking she is the author of the letters. As secrets are revealed, the hearts of Cassie, Evan, and Lenora are tested. Will the final letter sent by the vicar’s daughter be able to reunite the sisters as well as unite Evan with his true love?”

My Review:

This is a fun new addition to the proper romance genre! It is well written, has good character development, and a sweet love story. Although I usually liked Cassie, there were times when I wanted to scream at her; she could definitely be strong willed and had a tendency to make poor choices. Lenora was more complex than you think she will be the first time you meet her, and she could also drive me crazy at times. Evan was a great character. I actually liked him a lot. He wasn’t perfect, but he was a gentleman and did his best. I like how he protected his family, and how he felt he had to take care of them. This story was a bit predictable, and cheesy in some parts, but that’s what we love about romances, right? I think it ended a little too perfectly, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like the ending. 🙂 If you’re a Josi Kilpack fan, or if you enjoy the proper romance genre, you will definitely enjoy this book. It was entertaining and was a cute story.

This book is clean! There may be a kiss or two, but the only scandalous thing in the book are a few secret (clean) letters. Boy am I glad times have changed for dating and marriage!

Rating: PG (It’s clean!)

Recommendation: YA and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Viking Age: Everyday Life

Viking Age: Everyday Life
During the Extraordinary Era of the Norsemen
by
Kirsten Wolf

Blurb:
“The Viking age comes alive in this vivid, abundantly illustrated exploration of its people and their world. What kinds of houses did the Scandinavians live in? Were they literate? What kinds of clothing did they wear? How did they view death? Filled with a wealth of information on every aspect of the Viking age, this fascinating and informative book answers these questions and many more. You’ll explore all aspects of line, including marriage, settlement conditions, crafts and industries, language, health and medicine, food and drink, boatbuilding, politics, warfare, and sports.”
My Review:
This is the third in the Everyday Life series that I have read. I’ve read Ancient Egypt and The Middle Ages, and this, surprisingly, has been my favorite! It’s crazy because I thought I’d like the Egypt one the best. Learning about the Vikings has never particularly interested me, but this book did a great job of explaining everything and making it interesting. One of the reasons I didn’t love the other books as much as I thought I would was because the writing was very technical and difficult to read. It took me forever to read them! This book was actually written very well. It brought the Vikings to life, and even though the writing was still a bit technical, it was understandable! I thought it flowed well, was fairly easy to read and understand, and it did a good job of explaining everything in a way that readers could enjoy. There are many pictures and illustrations, and I found it so fun to look at and study them. I liked learning about their coins, jewelry, homes, and their raids. I hate to say it, but “How To Train Your Dragon” is about as much as I did know about the Vikings before reading this book. Now though, I feel totally educated! Ms. Wolf did a great job with this book! 
Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity in this book. There is talk of marriage and the things that go with it-not too detailed, but it is discussed. There is a little bit of violence when they discuss raids and warfare and such, but once again, it’s not too graphic.)
Recommendation: 12 or 13 years-old and up (The language may be too difficult for some of the 12 and 13 year-olds, and younger children most likely won’t be interested anyway.)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.