Monday, June 18, 2018

A Battle Between Goblins and Humans

The human army, Hanorians, is at the gates of Kiranok, the goblns’ stronghold, threatening to wipe them out and kill all of them. Billy, the reluctant goblin king, is worried about how he can save the situation. Billy with the help of his goblin commander, Hob, won the Goblin Crown, defeating General Sawtooth, but not all goblins are happy with the situation, so Billy is facing problems both from the Hanorians and from some goblins.

Billy’s friends, Lexi and Kurt, who arrived unexpectedly in the goblin kingdom along with Billy, are doing their best to help. Lexi’s magic continues to improve, and she fights a battle with the powerful wizard, Mig. While all these things are happening, the friends see a falling star. Falling stars are important to the goblins, so Hob and Kurt set off to see if they can find it.

This book is aimed at middle grade readers. The characters are well done for this age group. Billy and to an extent Lexi were outcasts in their school. Now they’re shouldering serious responsibility and protecting Billy’s subjects. Kurt was an insider but now that he is with the goblins, he has become a faithful supporter of Billy.

The book is an enjoyable fantasy with plenty of action, but also some philosophical questions that will make young readers think.

I received this book from Turner Publishing for this review.

Monday, June 11, 2018

A Plucky Heroine in a 1930’s Logging Camp

Lizzie had a sheltered childhood with he beloved father; however, the Wall Street Crash in 1929 caused him to commit suicide. Lizzie goes to live with an older sister who is struggling to provide for her own family and sees Lizzie as another mouth to feed.

Wanting to help, Lizzie jumps at the chance, to accept her uncle’s offer to be a governess to his children at a logging camp north of Vancouver, but when she arrives her uncle and his family are gone. Lizzie is now forced to make her way in a camp of rough men where the boss is not only ruthless but dishonest. Lizzie wants desperately to be accepted. She has one skill that is useful, climbing trees which she uses to gain respect from the loggers.

This is a delightful historical novel that will appeal to young teenage girls. Boys might also enjoy the setting, a logging camp in the 1939’s but the girls would be most likely to identify with Lizzie. Young teens want to be accepted in the adult world. Lizzie is not exception. She feels lost until she is able to use her tree climbing skills to gain acceptance.

I enjoyed the book. It’s well written and taps into the feeling of a young teen who has to use her wits to survive in a hostile environment.

I received this book from Turner Publishing for this review.

A Mistake Can Haunt Your Life

Geo, has it made. She’s a vice president at a Seattle pharmaceutical company, engaged to the CEO: her future is bright. Then the unexpected happens and her world comes crashing down.

Fourteen years ago Geo and Angela were best friends. One night after heavy partying, Angela disappears. Geo knows the truth of what happened, but she keeps quiet until, Kaiser, a friend from high school and now a detective with the Seattle PD, wants to know what happened. Angela’s remains have been discovered in the woods behind Geo’s childhood home. She was a victim of Calvin James, the Sweetbay Strangler. Calvin was a serial killer, but more than that he was Geo’s obsession. Now she’s entangled in his prosecution and looking at jail time herself.

This is a dark psychological thriller. There is plenty of violence both current and in the past. The plot is filled with twists. However, it’s easy to follow because the author gives hints so the twists don’t come out of the blue. I like that about a thriller.

The characters didn’t appeal to me. Geo was not a sympathetic character. Her best friend was killed. She had a hand in it, and she lived with that knowledge for fourteen years. The other characters seemed rather one dimensional. I did like Kaiser, the detective, but he seemed too much a stereotype for my taste. The story is told in flashbacks between present and past, but it’s easy to follow.

If you enjoy dark thrillers with lots of violence, you may enjoy this book.

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Weather and Your Garden

How many of us discover the weather from the screen of our cell phone, or television. Wohllbean challenges us to look out the window. This is excellent advice. If you’re a gardener or farmer, you know that the weather five miles from where you are can be rain while you’re having sun. I have friends in Florida who live in an area they call the desert because they get so little rain while those of us ten miles away have a relatively good amount.

The only problem with Wohllbean’s discussion of the weather is that in he discusses European weather rather than what we experience in the US. However, what he says about where weather comes from can be translated usefully to the US. The book also has interesting information about pests in the garden and discusses aspects of the weather. I found the formation of hail particularly interesting.

Wolhllbean talks about sensitizing us to how what we do affects the environment. Most of us wouldn’t think about it, but painting your garden furniture with wood preservative means the stain will wash away if the furniture is left our during the year allowing the chemicals to seep into the soil. Chemicals in the soil will affect insects and worms some of which you want to foster in your garden. A better idea is to use natural pigments or more durable wood.

If you are a gardener, this is a good book. You may know or practice many of Wohllbean’s recommendations, but I’m sure you’ll find new interesting ideas.

I received this book from Dutton for this review.

Friday, June 1, 2018

A Devastating Plane Crash Changes Lives

In July 1962 an Air France jet crashed at Orly killing over a hundred people, most of them the elites of Atlanta, Georgia. These were the art lovers of Atlanta: lawyers, doctors, architects, and their wives. The crash left children bereft and the city in shock.

The story is based on an actual event, but the characters are fictional. The story is filled with troubled characters: the Mayor of Atlanta, who must also care for his wife: Robert, whose mistress dies in the crash leaving him so guilt ridden he can hardly function; and Robert’s friend, Raif, whose parents were killed in the crash but he couldn’t be happier spending their money.

The book is a study in how people react to tragedy, grow, and change their lives. One of the interesting parts of the book involves Piedmont, a young black-man, and his interactions with the upper crust of Atlanta. Set in the Civil Rights era, it gives a perspective on how people viewed the intermingling of the races in that era.

I enjoyed the book. The historical perspective was compelling. However, I felt that too many stories were interwoven. The main one, for me, was between Robert, Lily, his wife, and Piedmont. I felt that their story was what the book was really about. The others characters were there for atmosphere.

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Following a Dream in 1912 New York to become a Fashion Designer

Annie Wood, an English woman, started as a housemaid. She came to New York with high hopes, but things didn’t work as planned. Instead of returning to England to realize her goal of becoming a ladies’ maid, she found a job at Butterick designing patterns.

In this second book, Annie is married to Sean Culver, who also works at Butterick. Things are going well, but when Annie is given the chance to design clothes by a New York couple, her friend Maude with Sean’s blessing pushes her into taking the chance. Annie worries that they will fail and all be out of jobs, but Sean has faith and pushes her to continue when her first collection is not well received.

This is a story of faith and striving. Annie, Maude, Sean, and Edna, a mother figure, support each other and their strong faith keeps them together. They’re striving to do something they believe in. It isn’t easy. There are setbacks, but they don’t lose sight of what they want to do.

This second book relies on information from the first book, The Pattern Designer. I recommend reading that book first for full enjoyment of the second. The characters are people you’d like to know. They have a shared dream and together they are able to work through all the hardships to make that dream a reality.

I received this book from Barbour Publishing for this review.

Romance During the French and Indian Wars

Mercy Lytton is the product of two cultures, her white mother and her Mohawk father. A very independent woman, Mercy was born with the gift of extremely good eyesight which gives her an advantage in acting as a scout for the British. She returns tired from a mission only to learn that the general has another mission for her. A wagon load of gold must be taken to a nearby fort. This is a dangerous mission, but even more threatening to Mercy is the stipulation that she must wed.

The choice of bridegroom is Elias Dubois. He’s been condemned as a traitor and is scheduled to hang. However, he’s given a reprieve to act as Mercy’s husband in the small contingent escorting the gold to the fort.

Mercy and Elias are sympathetic characters. Each is fighting inner demons. The attraction between the two is immediate, but neither is ready to accept it. I thought the author did a good job showing their growth during the novel.

If you enjoy historical fiction, this is an interesting period. The French and Indian Wars saw two cultures, the British and the Mohawks, cooperating to drive out the French. It makes for a story with lots of cultural and historical detail.

I received this book from Barbour Books for this review.