Author: Kathy Hepinstall
Published: April 10, 2012
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Amid the mayhem of the Civil War, Virginia plantation wife Iris Dunleavy is put on trial and convicted of madness. It is the only reasonable explanation the court can see for her willful behavior, so she is sent away to Sanibel Asylum to be restored to a good, compliant woman. Iris knows, though, that her husband is the true criminal; she is no lunatic, only guilty of disagreeing with him on notions of justice, cruelty, and property. On this remote Florida island, cut off by swamps and seas and military blockades, Iris meets a wonderful collection of residents–some seemingly sane, some wrongly convinced they are crazy, some charmingly odd, some dangerously unstable. Which of these is Ambrose Weller, the war-haunted Confederate soldier whose memories terrorize him into wild fits that can only be calmed by the color blue, but whose gentleness and dark eyes beckon to Iris. The institution calls itself modern, but Iris is skeptical of its methods, particularly the dreaded “water treatment.” She must escape, but she has found new hope and love with Ambrose. Can she take him with her? If they make it out, will the war have left anything for them to make a life from, back home? Blue Asylum is a vibrant, beautifully-imagined, absorbing story of the lines we all cross between sanity and madness. It is also the tale of a spirited woman, a wounded soldier, their impossible love, and the undeniable call of freedom.
Finally, a book set in the Civil War that is not automatically against the Confederacy! I was a little hesitant to read Blue Asylum, just because I’m sick and tired of the PC “the Confederacy is evil” crap that everyone is spewing nowadays. Thankfully, this book handled it very well; it talked about the evils of slavery combined with loyalty to the South and to states’ rights, without mixing them all together. I appreciated it very much. I also loved the setting of Sanibel Island, off the coast of Florida! I already looked it up and apparently it is a popular vacation destination. Ivan and I might have to go . . . Cuz it sounds beautiful and tropical and sunny and warm! And of course, an asylum!
Unfortunately, there were no illegal experiments going on, but I did like the look into true insanity vs. true sanity. I think the most interesting, if annoying, character is Dr. Cowell. I liked seeing him grow and his viewpoints change as he meets new patients. He is a very realistic character who seems to fit the historical setting around him. As much as I like Ambrose, his character was a bit predictable for me. He has a simple case of PTSD, there, mystery solved. His story of war time horrors was also a little on the bland side. The one surprise element of his story did indeed surprise me, hence I didn’t write him off completely. Iris was ok. I wonder what it’s like to literally have multiple men chasing you . . . I really hate women like that. Especially when they act like they don’t know it. Give me a break.
Overall, this was an interesting read. Definitely not a YA book; way too many sexual elements. But I did enjoy reading it, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good historical fiction book.
Author: Sally Hepworth
Published: TODAY, April 23, 2019
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 11-20, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Someone once told me that you have two families in your life – the one you are born into and the one you choose. Yes, you may get to choose your partner, but you don’t choose your mother-in-law. The cackling mercenaries of fate determine it all.
From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana is exquisitely polite, but Lucy knows, even after marrying Oliver, that they’ll never have the closeness she’d been hoping for.
But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Lucy had wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.
That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something…
We are pulled into this novel of mystery from the first line as we know something has happened: I am folding laundry at my dining room table when the police car pulls up.
The Mother-In-Law does have the mystery of what happened to Diana, but it is more of a women’s contemporary fiction book. If you are looking for a psychological thriller, this is not it.
Both Diana and Lucy are our narrators and they go between the present and the past over a 10 year time period. Diana and Lucy never really had a chance to get to know and like each other. Their personalities just did not mesh. Diana is very guarded with ‘high walls’ that take effort to break down, and with good reasons. I actually liked Diana more than Lucy, as I understood Diana.
This book was a page turner with short chapters. As the novel progresses, it really began moving and the chapters became even shorter. The last quarter of the book really moves fast and I stayed up late to finish it. I had made my decision as to who the guilty party was but I was wrong! Everyone has their secrets in this novel and finding out all these secrets is part of the pull of the novel.
I am fortunate to get along with my mother-in-law, but not everyone has that. Do you get along with your mother-in-law? If you don’t would you want to kill yours? Did Lucy kill Diana? Did Diana kill herself or was it something else entirely?
The Mother-In-Law is recommended. I received a copy of The Mother-In-Law from St. Martin’s Press via a Goodreads giveaway.[Top]
Of Blood and Bone: Chronicles of The One (Book 2)
Author: Nora Roberts
Published: December 4 , 2018
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: March 17-25, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
They look like an everyday family living an ordinary life. But beyond the edges of this peaceful farm, unimaginable forces of light and dark have been unleashed.
Fallon Swift, approaching her thirteenth birthday, barely knows the world that existed before—the city where her parents lived, now in ruins and reclaimed by nature since the Doom sickened and killed billions. Traveling anywhere is a danger, as vicious gangs of Raiders and fanatics called Purity Warriors search for their next victim. Those like Fallon, in possession of gifts, are hunted—and the time is coming when her true nature, her identity as The One, can no longer be hidden.
In a mysterious shelter in the forest, her training is about to begin under the guidance of Mallick, whose skills have been honed over centuries. She will learn the old ways of healing; study and spar; encounter faeries and elves and shifters; and find powers within herself she never imagined. And when the time is right, she will take up the sword, and fight. For until she grows into the woman she was born to be, the world outside will never be whole again.
Year One was the first in this series and now we have book two in the trilogy with Of Blood and Bone. The story continues and the books focus is on Fallon, who is nearly thirteen, and she knows what her future will be in being The One. And let me tell you, even in a post-apocalyptic world, teenagers will still be teenagers! At times it was humorous to read. We do see Fallon grow as she undergoes her training with Mallick. It was good to see some of the other characters returning from the previous book to see what is going on in their lives. My favorite character is Arylis, so I liked being ‘updated’ on her life.
Now, I am not a fantasy reader and the fantasy element really kicks in for this book. It’s the story of the people and living in an apocalyptic world that intrigues me. I couldn’t care less about the faeries, magic, etc, so Of Blood and Bone isn’t really for me. Because Fallon is the focus, Of Blood and Bone has a YA feel to it, but remember she IS a teenager! I am still surprised that this series is written by Nora Roberts, who writes romance. I have never read any of her other books, but wow, she can write!
Year One dealt with the ‘end of the world’ and I am thinking the final book in this series will heavily focus on the future battles and will have a significant fantasy element, so I might skip out on it. There is nothing wrong with the novel, I am just not the demographic reader for this series. If you enjoy fantasy books, then The Chronicles of The One series will be for you![Top]