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Book Review: Icefall By Matthew J. Kirby

Book Review: Icefall Matthew J. Kirby

Genre:

Children’s Action and Adventure

Synopsis

Critically acclaimed author Matthew J. Kirby deftly weaves a stunning coming-of-age tale with chilling cleverness and subtle suspense that will leave readers racing breathlessly to the end.

Trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen sea, Solveig–along with her brother the crown prince, their older sister, and an army of restless warriors–anxiously awaits news of her father’s victory at battle. But as winter stretches on, and the unending ice refuses to break, terrible acts of treachery soon make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst. Solveig must also embark on a journey to find her own path. Yet, a malevolent air begins to seep through the fortress walls, as a smothering claustrophobia slowly turns these prisoners of winter against one another.

Those charged with protecting the king’s children are all suspect, and the siblings must choose their allies wisely. But who can be trusted so far from their father’s watchful eye? Can Solveig survive the long winter months and expose the traitor before he manages to destroy a kingdom?

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Heidi’s Hot Take

Based on the cover, I thought there would be magic in the story. Though there isn’t, I still absolutely loved this historical fiction story. I really related to Solveig’s struggle as the middle child who felt out of place and not as important in her family dynamics. I loved watching her grow from just a shadow trying to fit in by helping where she could, to blossoming into a heroine who inspired others to be greater than they thought they could be.

The Nordic setting and the story were also fascinating and well-researched. The teases of mysticism and prophecy as well as the question of whether it was real or whether people’s belief was enough to make it seem like it could be real are pretty heavy concepts for a book aimed at pre-teens and teens. I’ve been on kinda a nordic kick with my entertainment lately and really appreciated the level of research the author did, given this was written 10 years before most of the stuff I’ve been enjoying.

An excellent coming-of-age tale with real depth for the right readers and a lot of interesting action and suspense for the average reader. Highly recommend.

 

Until Next Time, 

Keep Reading!

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Book Review: Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

Book Review Conjure Women

Hello Lovelies,

I actually finished reading Conjure Women, a historical fiction novel based in the reconstruction era south back in the end of May right before all the protests. It was the book of the month for The Reading Den. I really enjoy what Lin is doing with her reading group and if you would like to find an eclectic group of readers, this is the place for you. Lin is an eclectic reader and she lets all of us vote each month on the group read. We’ve been getting regular suggestions of historical, scifi, fantasy, and romance so far.

But I digress.

Genre:

Historical Fiction / Historical African Fiction/ Mystery Thriller

Synopsis:

A mother and daughter with a shared talent for healing—and for the conjuring of curses—are at the heart of this dazzling first novel

“Lush, irresistible . . . It took me into the hearts of women I could otherwise never know. I was transported.”—Amy Bloom, New York Times bestselling author of White Houses and Away

Conjure Women is a sweeping story that brings the world of the South before and after the Civil War vividly to life. Spanning eras and generations, it tells of the lives of three unforgettable women: Miss May Belle, a wise healing woman; her precocious and observant daughter Rue, who is reluctant to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a midwife; and their master’s daughter Varina. The secrets and bonds among these women and their community come to a head at the beginning of a war and at the birth of an accursed child, who sets the townspeople alight with fear and a spreading superstition that threatens their newly won, tenuous freedom.

Magnificently written, brilliantly researched, richly imagined, Conjure Women moves back and forth in time to tell the haunting story of Rue, Varina, and May Belle, their passions and friendships, and the lengths they will go to save themselves and those they love.

Praise for Conjure Women

“[A] haunting, promising debut . . . Through complex characters and bewitching prose, Atakora offers a stirring portrait of the power conferred between the enslaved women. This powerful tale of moral ambiguity amid inarguable injustice stands with Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An engrossing debut . . . Atakora structures a plot with plenty of satisfying twists. Life in the immediate aftermath of slavery is powerfully rendered in this impressive first novel.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

My Thoughts

I went into this story with no preconceptions. I didn’t get a chance to vote that month, but I wanted to participate and I do enjoy historcal fiction, so I was ready to go.

I’m glad I went into it blind. There were a couple of people in the group who had a hard time with some of the topic matters. Abortion, miscarriages, child sickness. It hit hard for several of us. We might not have chosen it if we’d known it covered those topics.

But I am glad I ready it, and glad we read it before all the protests. It was wonderfully well researched by the author, felt very authentic to my recollections of what I learned in school when we went to the plantations every year for a school field trip (welcome to the South.) The startling reality I recognized as I read the story is that a lot of the issues that the author addresses still plague women today. Certainly not in the same light, but they are certainly still a struggle and especially so for the impoverished.

While the main focus on the story is the plight of black women going from slave to freed, they’re not the only woman who’s story is told. While their white mistress’s life was seen as better, her life was still not much better and in some ways was exactly the same as theirs.

There was a soulful oneness woven at the end that left me too touched to even do a first thoughts video and by then we were swept up in the protests and loss and it felt like my voice was not the voice that needed to be heard right now. But that sense of oneness has not faded as life moves on. That sense of all humanity being tied by binds that may seem invisible but can be felt as life goes through so much upheaval still holds onto my heart. While I have moved onto another read, my heart often flickers back to Rue and Varina and how they represent all women.

Despite many of the tough themes, I really suggest that you take a look at Conjure Women.

Until next time,

Keep Reading!

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Book Review: Dark Omens

Book Review Dark Omens

Hello Lovelies,

Man, my reading passion has been reignited! It was such a delight to so thoroughly enjoy Charmed and Lethal. I took a day to embrace the shock of how it ended and then dove right into Dark Omens by Rosemary Rowe, which my eldest asked me to read eight months ago.

Genre:

Historical mystery

Synopsis:

A perplexing new mystery for Libertus set against the backdrop of a Roman Britain in turmoil after the death of the Emperor…

Libertus accepts a contract to install a pavement for Genialis, a self-important citizen from a nearby town, in the Glevum house of the customer’s intended but unwilling and young bride, Silvia. However, the weather is exceptionally severe, and although the pavement is laid in time to receive the promised bonus, Genialis goes missing in the snow before payment can be made.

Meanwhile, at an important feast, the sacrifice is spoiled as an aged priest lets go of the sacrificial ram- and when news arrives that the emperor is dead, it seems that these dark omens are being realised. The subsequent discovery of not one, but two local mutilated corpses only adds to this. Who holds the answer to these mysteries? Libertus attempts to solve the puzzle of the deaths against the backdrop of a superstitious fear of auguries, and public riots following the confirmation of the Emperor’s death.

My Take

I am not sure what to make of my feelings of this novel, published in 2013. The first I must say is that I appreciated the foreward greatly. I have a hard time with historical fiction of late, especially when often they are not so historical. However, in this case a lot of the story elements have been very well researched and the author clearly made a great effort for accuracy.

I also didn’t realize until a bit further into the story that this was not the first book in the series, and the author obviously made a fine effort to make them independently readable. I appreciated the story, enjoyed it even, though I have really struggled with mysteries since I was a teenager because I always figure it out beforehand. When the mystery is gone, one is left with an annoyance that it takes the main character so long to see the answer, despite them having the same information before them.

Despite that, I did enjoy the world-building and the historically accurate portrayal of life in the Roman-held outposts of Britain at that time.

Would I read more of Libertus’s stories? Probably not. I found it exceedingly frustrating that there were repeated errors in the story that had nothing to do with the differences between American and British grammar rules. No, there were blatant spelling errors.

Also, the story was quite drawn out and doddered along, much like the main character. But if you enjoy cozy mysteries and/ or Roman-era settings then you may find Libertus and his Patron Marcus quite enjoyable. Take a look inside and see if Dark Omens is for you.  

Until Next Time,

Keep Reading!

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Aroon Book 1 in the Duncullen Saga by M.B. Gibson

Aroon M.B. Gibson

Hello Lovelies,

I am excited to share with you a bit about Aroon by M.B. Gibson. I was honored to receive a free paperback in exchange for an honest review and to use in my booktube and bookstagram channels.

You can see just how excited, as I open the shipment!

Genre:

Historical fiction/ 18th Century Ireland

Synopsis: 

Amidst the lush beauty of Tipperary, a darkness runs through Duncullen Estate. Young heir Richard Lynche is suffocating. Between his father’s disgust and mother’s plunge into drug-induced lethargy, his only solace are the arms of the new maid, Eveleen. Yet, mounting pressures give rise to chillingly ominous visions. Richard must destroy his parents’ chokehold and create a life with Eveleen whilst maintaining his sanity. He will eradicate the torture. Whatever it takes. Aroon is a cauldron of old-fashioned Irish stew. Spiced heavily with Downton Abbey, sprinkled with Shakespeare’s Hamlet and a dash of The Godfather’s Michael Corleone, it explores the underbelly of life during the Protestant Ascendancy.

My Take:

I have been on a bit of an Irish kick, lately. I loved and hated Aroon. It is rich, hauntingly accurate to the time period, and full of intrigue. As I read it, it reminded me of a crazy mash up of Downton Abby, Poldark, Jane Ayer and Wuthering Heights. It was interesting to see Richard and his mother through their eyes, and how they viewed Richard’s father and the servants, then to later see how others viewed them was quite a telling view of the world we live in today. I liked Richard to start, but much as Heathcliff and Poldark change (and not for the better), the classsist demands twist Richard into something I did not much care for. Gibson plays with some dark themes demonstrating how even knowing our past doesn’t necessarily allow us to escape becoming the very things we despise. She looks at it from every perspective. From the upper class, down to the poorest servant. Definitely a book that you will need a day or two to digest after reading. 
If you are a fan of dark period pieces, this is right up your ally. Take a look inside today!

Until next time, 

Keep Reading!