Quick Review(again): The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Magical, enchanting and fantastical!

I’ve heard lots of people talking about this book since it released last year, especially Urania. And I know it’s already been reviewed, but I just had to shout it’s praises for myself. To be honest, The Bear and the Nightingale didn’t seem like something I’d like, since I mostly read romance, but it was always in the back of my mind. When I decided to start a book club, this book was one of the books I was hoping we’d get to read this winter. So for our December book we chose this. I just finished reading it and I can’t believe I waited so long. Seriously.

“All my life, I have been told to ‘go’ and ‘come’. I am told how I will live, and I am told how I must die. I must be a man’s servant and a mare for his pleasure, or I must hide myself behind walls and surrender my flesh to a cold, silent god. I would walk into the jaws of hell itself, if it were a path of my own choosing. I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed to me.”

That quote pretty much sums up the reason I loved Vasya. She is done waiting and sets out to do something for herself.

I can’t put my finger on why I loved this book. Perhaps it’s the Russian folklore aspect. Or maybe the odd characters. Or it may be that I can tell that there’s more epicness coming and that’s what made it such a page turner. Not sure, but this is definitely in my top 10 of this year. I can’t recommend it enough.

And now I need to read book two. I need to know what happens next!!

~Melpomene

Buy The Bear and the Nightingale https://amzn.to/2L6qBbL

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Review: The Light Before Day by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The saga continues! Siblings Hetty and Henry love their home on Nantucket, but it all goes topsy turvy when their stern grandmother leaves them her fortune upon her passing – with stipulations, of course.

It was fun to read about how Henry and Hitty wanted to spend their inheritance – and eye opening to watch progress create division among the islanders. I also enjoyed watching that progress – from muddy paths to cobblestone streets, from no safety protocols to lightships and fire supplies. As usual for the Nantucket Legacy books in this series, I learned a few things about the Quaker religion, and how non-Quakers were drawn in to the light and spirituality they saw in the Friends.

My favorite parts of the book were the tender moments between couples who didn’t even consider themselves couples – but as the reader I could see the love between them.

Engaging and entertaining historical fiction, with comedy, tragedy, and a happily ever after.

-calliope

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Review: Phoebe’s Light by Suzanne Woods Fisher

I’m not usually a historical fiction fan, but this book was terrific, with its focus on Nantucket and the Quaker religious sect. I grew up in Massachusetts, so reading this book put me back in grade school, on fun-filled field trips to Plymouth Rock, the whaling museum in New Bedford, and Sturbridge Village.

Phoebe isn’t your average young lady. She has a plan. The plan involves not hanging out with her poverty stricken dad who can’t finish a plan or a project. The plan involves not playing games with her childhood crush. The plan involves marrying a handsome, rich, prestigious Captain of a whaling boat.

Phoebe makes some headway on her plan, but the childhood crush crashes her party a couple times, and the Captain is much more (or way less) than he appears to be. Lucky for Phoebe, she has her great grandmother’s journal as her personal treasure map, leading Phoebe toward the light, the righteous, and the Divine. Phoebe takes her successes and multiplies them, much to the blessing of the rest of Nantucket.

-calliope

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Review: The Ladies Of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen

I simply loved this book, and when I realized it was book 2 in a series, I wished I had read book 1!

Rachel and Mercy share a home with the two elderly Miss Groves. The young ladies try to keep out of trouble, contribute to society, and progress their lives educationally, socially, and romantically. The Miss Groves try to help without butting in too much!

Not surprisingly, my very favorite part of this book is Rachel’s homegrown library. I’m envious! I mean, opening up a library by yourself, getting to organize all those books… sigh. Love love love. And good for Mercy standing up for herself and her school for girls. These are my kind of ladies!

-calliope

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Review: The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

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I must admit, I don’t read many books with a circus as the setting.  So I guess you could say this one was a bit of a stretch for me.  Still, it’s historical fiction which is my favorite genre so…

Two women thrown together in the unlikeliest of circumstances.  Young Noa finds herself cast out and alone after a one night stand with a Nazi solder leaves her pregnant and a disgrace to her family.  Astrid finds herself in the same situation after her marriage ends.  They both find their way to the circus.  Astrid has been here before.  She did, after all, grow up as the child of circus performers.  For Noa, it’s all strange and scary.  But she has to protect not only herself but the young baby she’s caring for.  Both women have much to lose.

This is a story of friendship, of love and loss.  It’s a story of hardship and resilience.  But most of all, it’s a story you won’t soon forget.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Orphan’s Tale

Review: All That Makes Life Bright by Josi S. Kilpack


I’ll admit, I had no idea who Harriet Beecher Stowe was before I picked up this book. Thank you, Google, for enlightening me. Once I started reading, I realized that this was not the usual fictional account of her entire life, but more of her life as a mother and wife.

Harriet wanted to be a writer, but when she finds herself a mom of three children under the age of 2, it’s more than she can handle. At first I was a little mad at her for not “stepping up” and being a mom first, but the more I read, the more I realized that she was doing the best she could. And when she could do no more, her body gave up for a while and she was forced to step back and relinquish her duties and recoup. Times were different back then. You were “supposed” to do it all and not complain, but I bet there were many struggling just like her, but were too afraid to do anything about it.

Her marriage was again, just like many marriages at the time. The man expected to walk in and the house be clean and food on the table, but without having to do any of the household duties. As I was reading, I wanted to ring Calvin’s neck for not helping, but then I had to remember the times were different. But, I will say that after a while he stepped up and did what needed to be done, in order to have a healthy wife and a happy family.

This was not my usual romance, in the sense that they were already married. I felt this story was more than about love, it was about life, real life. This touched me very deeply. I, as with many moms out there, struggle with finding a balance being a wife and mother while not losing our own identities. Harriet struggled with that greatly. Watching her was like looking in a mirror. Or better yet, being a fly on my wall, when my children were toddlers.

~Melpomene

Buy All That Makes Life Bright http://amzn.to/2wOBRUZ

Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

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Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother forty whacks.  When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.

Most of us are familiar with that eerie little rhyme, maybe not being completely aware of the meaning.  Some of us even know the story behind it, knowing that it’s based on a true crime occurring in the late 1800s.  But have you ever wondered about the dynamics behind the family tragedy?

When Lizzie discovers first her father and then her stepmother brutally murdered, everyone immediately feels sympathy and concern for her.  To have witnessed the aftermath of such a gruesome scene surely must have been a shock.  As time goes on, however, events come to light casting doubt on her innocence.  And the family itself surely wasn’t a happy little group.  There’s enough suspicion to go around.  Was it Lizzie?  Or was it the mysterious man sent by her uncle?  Or maybe one of her father’s business associates?

The story weaves itself back and forth between the day of the crime, the days leading up to the murders, and the aftermath.  It’s fascinating for the criminal investigation procedures of the time if nothing else.  The author does a great job of creating an entirely believable story that very well could be the true story behind an unsolved crime.  And it absolutely made me want to read more about it!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  See What I Have Done