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: Amy Lukavics
Published: September 25, 2018
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
At seventeen, June Hardie is everything a young woman in 1951 shouldn’t be—independent, rebellious, a dreamer. June longs to travel, to attend college and to write the dark science fiction stories that consume her waking hours. But her parents only care about making June a better young woman. Her mother grooms her to be a perfect little homemaker while her father pushes her to marry his business partner’s domineering son. When June resists, her whole world is shattered—suburbia isn’t the only prison for different women…
June’s parents commit her to Burrow Place Asylum, aka the Institution. With its sickening conditions, terrifying staff and brutal “medical treatments,” the Institution preys on June’s darkest secrets and deepest fears. And she’s not alone. The Institution terrorizes June’s fragile roommate, Eleanor, and the other women locked away within its crumbling walls. Those who dare speak up disappear…or worse. Trapped between a gruesome reality and increasingly sinister hallucinations, June isn’t sure where her nightmares end and real life begins. But she does know one thing: in order to survive, she must destroy the Institution before it finally claims them all.
Lukavics is easily becoming one of my favorite authors. Every book has been a home run! She is able to capture the creepy and scary so effortlessly and I’m freaked out after every reading. Nightingale even has a psychiatric facility . . . Y’all know my affinity to facilities. The 50’s setting added a nostalgic feel and actually helped to soften my one problem with the story. The only thing I didn’t like was the attitude towards traditional women’s roles. I know that during the 50’s it was expected to stick to those roles and it was greatly frowned upon to deviate from them. It just felt like Lukavics overcompensated by looking down on those traditional women. I am a wife and homemaker, in and slightly less traditional capacity, but I decided that my husband, his career and our home outweighed any job I could get. That doesn’t make me any less of a strong, opinionated, free thinking woman. But I also understand that the 50’s were a different time and women back then had to fight harder for their independence. So it did not by any means ruin this book for me.
I really enjoyed the alien element. Normally, I don’t find aliens to be that scary, but in Nightingale, I was freaked out by them!!! They were terrifying!! June was a sympathetic character that I liked and completely believed. Burrow Place Asylum had all the elements of the perfect asylum, complete with experimentation, disappearances, and lobotomies. And thankfully, the resolution was completely satisfying and answered my questions and I was content! Overall, a great, scary read with all the stuff I love in it! I would save this for older teens, due to some adult elements but I’m sure those older teens would love this book!
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Published: October 2, 2018
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: January 3-11, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back.
Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby’s heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline’s part.
And all for the love of her unborn child.
A rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother’s quest to save her child, unite her family, and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget.
I can now say this: The Dream Daughter is my favorite book EVER! Whenever I am asked about my favorite book, I can’t give an answer other than mentioning the book that got me reading again so long ago. The Dream Daughter has taken its place and is perfection for me! This was the first book by Chamberlain I have read and it will not be my last.
The advice I can offer up to you is this: Read the book description, but other than that go into this book knowing nothing. After finishing it, even reviews give away the angle this novel goes, which I will NOT do. Due to the angle the novel moves, this one is different from other Diane Chamberlain books. All I will say is that there is a sci-fi angle. I listened to the audiobook version and I was skeptical about the novel when it got to the point where you realize the direction the novel was going, but then you are taken for a roller coaster of a ride! In fact I am still thinking about the novel a few days after finishing it! My mind was truly blown in a very good way!
Though a few parts were predictable for me, I still loved every bit of The Dream Daughter. I did not know how it was ultimately going to end and then we have that last line: SO powerful! I am not a mother, but this is a novel for mothers: it shows the unconditional love that a mother has and that Caroline (Carly) will do whatever it takes to save her child.
The narrator, Susan Bennett, captured Carly’s voice perfectly. She conveyed all the emotions needed.
Again, I can say that this is my favorite book ever, so needless to say it will be my number one read of 2019. Thank you so much to St Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio for sending me a copy to review.
The Dream Daughter is very highly recommended![Top]