2018 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, Book Reviews

Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson

207144-m

I first fell in love with this book when I was around 14, which honestly was probably too a little too young to be reading this book…LOL. It probably held the title of favorite book for many years and is still in my top five. I’ve been meaning to re-read it for several years and finally managed to work it in to my schedule. I was determined not to skip ahead or to just read the parts I knew I felt like reading – I was going to re-read the book in its entirety this time.

It was somewhat different than I remember. The last time I read it had to be probably over ten years ago and I know I skipped through a lot of it. The premise for the story is the life of Cynthia Ann Parker, a young girl captured by the Comanche and raised among them, eventually marrying a great chief and raising several children before being recaptured by her family. As a historical fiction, there is some creative license taken and her life among the Comanche pieced together by old passed down stories, history, research and imagination. The author builds a very real and believable life for the young girl and what it may have been like for her among the Comanche. I doubt it is how it actually happened, but that is not the point of historical fiction. What I had forgotten about, was how many secondary and even tertiary story lines are wound throughout the book. There are sections that follow the girl’s family, a US Marshall, a squad of rangers, other members of her tribe, and even from the perspective of an Indian chief of an enemy tribe.  It sounds hard to follow, but the author wove it so seamlessly together it is not a problem. You get a whole variety of views, beliefs, events, and interactions from the time frame and what life was really like. Some of it is particularly brutal, some heart-breakingly sad, some joyful, and others just brutally honest everyday life.

You learn a lot about the time frame, Comanche life, Comanche politics, the fighting against the Indians, political moves and promise breaking in Indian politics, and the views and beliefs of several different types of people at the time. I find it a difficult, but rewarding read, even though it ends sadly. All the characters are relateable, reminding you of someone. The story line is easy to follow and makes sense. The events make you emotionally invested in the book and the characters. With getting to see both sides of the time frame, it can be difficult to hate the various characters in the book.

I’d recommend it to anyone interested in Native American life, western history, classical fiction, or a historical story with a small romance in it. The romance is not explicit at all and is only alluded to once. Mostly it is just a heavily emotional book with characters who are extremely well-developed, a story line that builds strongly, and a book that will make you remember what was in it.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.27.43 PM

 

 

Advertisements
2017 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, Book Reviews

The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright

twl_cover

This book I have to say was exactly as advertised. It is described as a literary fiction book focused on family secrets. Not something I usually go for, but the premise of the book caught my attention – a couple who wrote letters to each other every week pass away and their children find the letters. That seemed quite interesting to me, so I picked it up.

The story follows the three children of Jack and Laurel. Matthew is the eldest and lives with his wife in New York where they are having trouble getting pregnant. Samantha is a single mother who took a job with the local police force to stay close to home and raise her daughter. Malcolm is a hothead who fled the country after getting in a fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. All three descend on the bed-and-breakfast their parents ran after their death and unwittingly discover the letters their father, Jack, wrote to Laurel every Wednesday since their marriage night. Within the letters, family secrets are discovered, hearts are broken, and family ties strained. Old loves add more strain to the situation. The epilogue at the end is actually an envelope glued to the back cover with a letter inside.

I can’t say the story line was very surprising, but there was enough interest to keep me reading. The book was full of emotion and easy to relate to. It’s actually interesting that through the whole book, you are rooting for Malcolm. There were a couple twists and turns, but it was fairly straightforward. It was really nice to read letters from Jack to Laurel throughout to gain information as the children were. It broke the book up nicely and gave you different perspectives on the events in the book. The end result of all the secrets and family drama was surprising in a way you wouldn’t expect.

The characters were amazing well-developed, particularly Jack who was only known through his letters. You don’t really get a feel for Laurel because everything you learn about her is second-hand. Aside from Jack, Malcolm and Rain are the next mostly developed characters. Matthew is probably the least developed of the siblings, but you get an image of him easily. The other characters in the small town are brought to life through simple interactions with the members of the family and through the letters being read. The story flowed well and moved nicely. There were no awkward areas where the story was dragged along. Between the letters, people arriving for the viewing and funeral, and Malcolm’s issues with his history, there was always something to move toward.

If you like literary fiction or family fiction, this would be a great book for you. I thought it was good, but not something I would pick up again. I feel like it would be more for people in their thirties or older. I’m almost thirty and I think a little more life experience would make the book more connectable and memorable. It does teach some great life lessons and gives some good advice on love.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM

2017 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, Book Reviews

The Chamomile by Susan F. Craft

51rg6npuc4l-_sx331_bo1204203200_

I wasn’t all that sure I’d like this book when I started to read it. It seemed a little too simple and it drug a little bit. However, a couple chapters in the story line really picked up. I was actually impressed with how much happened in the book without it seeming packed with ridiculous events pilled on top of each other.

The story follows Lilyan and is told solely from her point of view. She lives in Charleston with her brother, Andrew, and her companion, Elizabeth. After her brother is arrested for joining the Patriots, Elizabeth begins to work as a spy and pass along information. She meets Nicholas, a Patriot captain, and the two have a slow building, cleanly written love story.

The author did a fabulous job of incorporating some history into the story line. You didn’t learn a whole lot of history through the book, but you got enough to get a sense for the time period, learn some interesting tidbits, and follow the story and its place in history. The story line moved at a great pace, not too fast and not too slow. After the first few chapters, which kind of dragged on a little bit, the content really propelled the story along. I can’t really say action because a lot of the book was talking and getting information.

The characters were quite complex for a shorter book. You got a real feel for the characters and their personalities right from the start which is somewhat difficult to do. The book also really pulled you in to what Lilyan is feeling throughout the story and you feel what she’s feeling and hoping for her dreams. It’s also not a book where you start yelling at the characters because they’re doing something stupid. You don’t really feel that they are acting counter-productively to their wish, which is what happens in some books. The events happen in a logical order and are plausible enough that you don’t start wondering if this could actually happen.

I strongly recommend this to people who like historical fiction. It’s supposed to be for teens and young adults, but it can be read by adults as well. The story is complex and this would be a great read to start historical fiction. There is a love story wrapped up in the more complex war story line. It’s also a clean book, so it would be good for anyone. There is some violence, but it’s not over-the-top and it’s in a normal context. There are some rough scenes so I probably wouldn’t recommend it for below middle school. It was a great book, but probably not a re-read.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM