Category: Review

Blue Asylum

Author: Kathy Hepinstall
Published: April 10, 2012
288 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

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.

Kim’s Review:

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.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Release Day Review: The Mother-In-Law


Author: Sally Hepworth
Published: TODAY, April 23, 2019
352 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 11-20, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

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…

Jessica’s Review:

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. 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Batman: Nightwalker

Author: Marie Lu
Published: January 2, 2018
272 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city’s elites are being executed as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he’s forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

Kim’s Review:

I was so disappointed in this book and it made me sad. We are 1 for 2 on the DC Icon series so far. I loved Wonder Woman: Warbringer, not so much Batman: Nightwalker. My biggest issue was that this was not a Batman story, so it shouldn’t be called one. Batman has a very set timeline, Wonder Woman and Superman can be played with a little more since they have inborn super powers. You can’t do that with Batman. So this was not a Batman story. My other big problem is that, although this story was interesting, it could have been about anyone.

Marie Lu is an excellent story teller, we all know how much Jessica and I loved Warcross. But throwing Bruce Wayne into any old story doesn’t work for me. Batman is a detective, some of his greatest stories are based on his ability to solve mysteries and crimes in concise, genius, Sherlock Holmes type ways. It felt like everything just happened to Bruce. He never seems to know anything until someone told him. The story itself was good, I liked the plot and the twist, so thankfully it wasn’t a total loss. But this is not a DC story, it’s not a Batman story, therefore, I have to give it such a low rating. And believe me, it hurts! I’m not gonna go so far as to say that I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, I think teen boys would enjoy this book. I just can’t say that I liked it.

Kim’s review of Wonder Woman: Warbringer is here.
Kim’s review of Warcross is here.
Jessica’s review of Warcross is here.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US: Batman: Nightwalker is currently $1.99 for Kindle.
Amazon UK

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