Author: Lisa Wingate
Published: September 1, 2015
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
Wingate’s third Carolina book follows the highly reviewed, The Prayer Box and The Story Keeper as well as related three novellas.
From modern-day Roanoke Island to the sweeping backdrop of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains and Roosevelt’s WPA folklore writers, past and present intertwine to create an unexpected destiny. . .
Restaurant owner Whitney Monroe is desperate to save her business from a hostile takeover. The inheritance of a decaying Gilded Age hotel on North Carolina’s Outer Banks may provide just the ray of hope she needs. But things at The Excelsior are more complicated than they seem. Whitney’s estranged stepfather is entrenched on the third floor, and the downstairs tenants are determined to save the historic building. Searching through years of stored family heirlooms may be Whitney’s only hope of quick cash, but will the discovery of an old necklace and a depression-era love story change everything
A pattern seems to be emerging with Wingate’s works: I find them unsatisfying. It seems that when I read her books, I get really involved in the story, I like the characters, I want to find out what happens, the description draws me in, I’m fascinated . . . And then I’m left hanging. It’s not that all the questions aren’t answered, they are, they just aren’t answered satisfactorily. For example, Child is sent to an orphanage, Child disappears from orphanage, brothers and sisters of Child grow up, other lost children from the family reappear, at the end of the book, it’s implied that Child is dead, end of book. That’s it?? Cmon you gotta give me more than that!!!! And this book was exactly the same. The bones of the historical mystery come to light at the end of the book, but no details and no real resolution. End of book.
The story was really interesting and I wanted to learn as much as possible and I couldn’t wait to see what happened . . . And then nothing did. I think I may have to DNF any more of her books because I just can’t live with this emptiness inside!
Everything really was good, until the end. She captures the beauty and mystery of Appalachia, and after reading this book, I wanted to go out to Manteo to spend a weekend. I even mostly liked the characters. It was just unsatisfying.
Author: Gita Trelease
Published: February 5, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…
When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.
But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…
First off, let’s all take a moment to admire this cover! It makes my skin tingle!!! Definitely in my Top 5 fave covers of the year! I predict it goes pretty far in Series two at the end of the year for our Most Gorgeous Cover competition! Unfortunately, the cover is far better than the story. It has its good elements, but overall, I wasn’t impressed with the story. I’ve said before that I like more condensed scope that feels more intimate and manageable. However, if the situation calls for it, a wider scope works and works well. This book felt like it should have been far wider in scope than it was. For Camille, it never seemed to get farther than getting money so they can survive. I get it, that’s obviously a good goal, but in the middle of the French Revolution? I expected more to happen. She talked a good game about wanting equality and down with the nobles and all that, but she never DID anything. When you look at the story as a whole, it’s literally a tiff between teen nobles . . . And that’s pretty much it.
Yes, there was magic, but you never learn anything about it. The characters, while mostly likable, felt very static. I found myself pulling for the bad guy and looking for a twist that never happened. Most of the facets of the story felt like they didn’t fit in with each other. The balloon didn’t really fit with the revolution, the magic didn’t really fit with Versailles, the villain’s motivation seemed so shallow and flat compared to the times. I’m glad I read it, and I liked hearing about the fashion and life at Versailles, but I don’t think I’ll ever read it again. I also wouldn’t really recommend it to too many people. Maybe readers with a deeper imagination than I have would like it better.
Author: Kip WIlson
Published: April 2, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
A gorgeous and timely novel based on the incredible story of Sophie Scholl, a young German college student who challenged the Nazi regime during World War II as part of The White Rose, a non-violent resistance group.
Disillusioned by the propaganda of Nazi Germany, Sophie Scholl, her brother, and his fellow soldiers formed the White Rose, a group that wrote and distributed anonymous letters criticizing the Nazi regime and calling for action from their fellow German citizens. The following year, Sophie and her brother were arrested for treason and interrogated for information about their collaborators.
We are on a roll with all these covers in 2019! The Most Gorgeous Cover Tournament is going to be impossible this year!
I enjoyed this book very much. I’m a bit conflicted about my rating, simply because I like how the verse formatting allowed me to get through it quickly, hence I felt super accomplished, but I also am not a huge fan of verse formatting in general and I think it took something away from the story. It felt so impersonal. And the story was emotional and passionate, so it’s sad that I didn’t get all the feels like I should have.
This story also made me aware of something that has always been right under the surface, but keeps popping up and ruining wonderful things. Politics. Y’all know I hate politics in fiction. Fiction should be an escape from real life and usually you’re either on one side or the other and therefore, politics is a no win situation for half the population. Just keep it all out so everyone can enjoy stuff! The sad thing is that everything has become so saturated with politics and which side you’re on and who you voted for is your identity, that it seems to affect everything, even things that shouldn’t be politics related. I find myself comparing everything to our current political climate and in my mind, create problems that aren’t actually there. I’ve even starting looking for political jabs in books about WW2 and Nazi Germany that shouldn’t be there and aren’t there. I hate it. I don’t want to think this way. And what was nice about White Rose is that Wilson kept current politics completely out of it. Any comparisons made were completely out of my own mind. She didn’t even add any little lectures in her acknowledgment section. I really liked that. I felt rebuked by my own imagination and for doing things that I criticize others for.
So even though I doubt the author intended it, I learned more about myself and my perceptions and hopefully become more mature in my reading. So I did enjoy this book, I learned a lot, and I absolutely recommend it. I would also say this is one of the fiction books that belong on high school history teachers shelves! Very good book!