Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow

Synopsis: Charleston, South Carolina is a lively, bustling city in 1779. While other parts of the country fight for Independence from Great Britain, Charleston remains safe. Celia works as a dressmaker at the most fashionable dress shop in town. When she falls in love with a wealthy lawyer and becomes the personal dressmaker to a fabulously rich society matron, she thinks her life will never get better. But then Charleston falls to the British, Tarleton terrorized the surrounding plantations and those she loved face the dark maw of death. To survive, Celia must call on courage she never thought she had. She must decide if she will stand for what she knows is right, even though it cost her everything.

Review: I picked this up in a $1-a-bag sale at a local thrift store. I'm not sure why. Perhaps the cover caught my attention. Whatever the reason, I read the first page to see what it was about. Hours later, I realized I didn't want to put it down. Bristow deftly weaves the fictional story of Celia through the true strands of history - the Siege of Charleston, the terror of Tarleton, those who took the King's Oath and those who did not, those who received the houses of displaced patriots as rewards for service to the King - and what happened to those patriots. Bits of historical facts about culture and society gives the story a wonderful depth. And her characters - each is flesh-out, well-rounded, with flaws and depth and emotions. They feel real. They feel true. As if they might have really lived. The plot is a breathless - taking the reader through a gambit of emotion.
To anyone interested in American History, the Revolutionary War or Colonial Life, I highly recommend!

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8/16/2013
Pages: 320

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Review: Standing in the Light: the Captive Diary of Catharine Carey Logan by Mary Pope Osborne

Synopsis: Catharine Carey Logan is twelve years old, living in a Quaker community in the Delaware Valley of Pennsylvania in 1763. She and her brother Thomas are kidnapped by Lenape Indians, living with them for over a year before being returned to her parents. She wrote a diary during her time with them. This is a faithful reprinting, smoothing out her language to make it easier for modern audiences. This is part of the Dear America Series.

Review: While I own a dozen of this series, this is the first one I've read. It was haunting. This is not a happy book. It is full of anguish, heartbreak, death, confusion, anger and redemption. Catharine comes back a different person and must deal with how the truth she learns doesn't fit into her old world. I highly recommend.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8/8/2013
Pages: 179

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review: The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers

Synopsis: In one horrific, terrifying moment, Dynah Carey's perfect life is shattered by rape, her future irrevocably altered by an unwanted pregnancy, her doting family torn apart. Her seemingly rock-solid faith is pushed to the limits as she faces the most momentous choice of her life - to embrace or to end the untimely life within her. (From the back of the book)

Review: I'm inclined to read anything by Rivers. While I'm partial to her Redeeming Love and the Mark of the Lion Trilogy, I haven't been disappointed by any of her other work. This was not exception. Although I found The Atonement Child a bit clichéd, a bit happily-ever-after, and a bit preachy, overall, I enjoyed this work. Rivers tackled a controversial subject - rape, abortion and the church's response. I thought she did an excellent job writing about this, saying what she believes, but not doing so in an abrasive manner. Her characters, while a bit shallow, struggled with real issues - God's forgiveness, mercy, judgement and family. I thought the resolution was a bit predictable and clichéd and convenient, but it ended the way a book should.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8/02/2013
Pages: 367

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Aquisitions: The Glorious Dangers of Online Auctions

I purchase books via online auctions. Mostly auctions via our local franchise of CaringTransitions, which a friend of mine works for. You bid online then go pick up your wins at the estate being auctioned.

Last week, I bid on several lots titled "Shelves and Shelves of Books". There were four lots and I purchased them all for about $80. From the pictures, I expected about 20-30 books per lot, making each book about $1 - which is reasonable to me. Most were sci-fi books I wanted to read or knew I could turn in for credit at my local used bookstore.

This is what happens when you misinterpret the title when bidding online:

That's a lot of books. It took 10 garbage bags to move them from the estate to my house, filling the entire back of the SUV - approximately 300 or more volumes. Which means they cost about a quarter a book. Included were stacks of classic sci-fi books - Nebula, Hugo and Lucas award winners, original works from the sci-fi greats like Larry Niven, Robert Heilein, Poul Anderson, Gordon Dickson, Arthur C. Clark, Andre Norton, Frank Herbert, Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov, Orson Scott Card, Lois McMaster Bujold and several others. There was also a matching set of Tolkien for reading (which I've been wanting) and several non-fictions that look interesting.

One of the greatest book hauls of my entire bookish career!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Reveiw: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Synopsis: In a world where a small percentage of people have an extreme skill called a Grace, King Leek's Grace allowed him to tell lies that everyone believed. When Bitterblue become queen at ten years old, she thought her father's murder meant the end of his violent, sociopath influence. She was wrong. Now eighteen and believing her advisers are overprotecting her, Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle at night to walk the streets of her own city, disguised and alone - risking her life as well as her heart. (from the back of the book)

Review: I was eager to read this, to return to this world, to these characters. Bitterblue is first introduced in Graceling - and many of those characters return. This didn't feel like another story in the world, merely a continuation of the same story begun in Graceling and continued in Fire. Bitterblue, as a character, felt real. She began the story unsure and lost, but grew into a confident woman, sure of herself. It was lovely to see characters from the other stories play pivotal roles and the new secondary characters were dynamic and flesh-out. While it is not necessary to read Graceling and Fire to read this book, I would highly recommend that you do.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 7/18/2013
Pages: 539