2017 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, Book Reviews

Highland Healer (Highland Healer #1) by Florence Love Karsner

Highland Healer B.C.

I got the impression this may have been the author’s first book. I can’t say it was written poorly or that the story line needed developed, but it was a little choppy in places and areas were a little hard to follow. This story follows two women. The description and such explain it as just following one woman, Caitlin, but early on it begins a parallel story line with Millie. For a while I wasn’t sure if Millie’s story line was a history of something that needed to be known for something in Caitlin’s story to be understood, but the two women meet each other about half-way through the book and the story continues on with them together.

The story begins with Caitlin settling in to a new home she finds after fleeing an angry Captain who thinks she is a witch who killed his son. As she is a healer, she has work in the nearby village and a quiet life. She is interrupted one night by the MacKinnon brothers, whose youngest has suffered a terrible injury and must have his leg amputated. While they wait for their brother to recover enough to be moved, the eldest brothers, Jack and Alex, begin to know the healer. Alex in particular becomes attached to the healer and after hearing her plight about the Captain (and also an enraged Lord who she overheard talking treason) is determined to help her. After they leave, the Captain finds Caitlin and she takes off for the northern MacKinnon lands in search of help.

That all seems pretty simple, but the author weaves a second story line into the  book. Millie is the wife of the Lord Caitlin angered. The story encounters Millie as she is devising a way to flee her abusive life and return to her family’s land in Scotland. She makes her escape while heavily pregnant and encounters Caitlin in her flight.

Also, Caitlin’s uncle Wabi is a wizard and has been trying to teach Caitlin about the powers she holds within herself. He pops in and out of the story, being quite skillfully depicted and lively. When Caitlin’s powers do finally emerge, the shock of them leaves her reeling and seeking guidance.

This book is part fantasy, part classic romance, and part woman power. Each chapter you are following and different character, which is confusing at first, particularly when they start introducing Millie’s story line. However, after the two story lines combine it gets easier. For the most part you are following six different characters and each usually gets their own chapter or part of a chapter in a cycle. The characters are extremely well developed. You have a definite feel for each character and what they are going to do. She even makes the people who aren’t there real through memories or stories of the other characters. The story could have used a little more down time and a little less conflict. I think she could have cut out one less enemy and still been fine. The accent of the brothers is heavy Scottish brogue, so if you’ve never read or heard it before that can be confusing as well.

Overall, not a bad book. It was good, just really complex. Anyone who is sensitive toward domestic abuse probably shouldn’t read it. If you like fantasy books that aren’t too out there, this is a great book. If you like reading fiction that takes place in Scotland, it is also a great book. I can’t say I’d recommend this for anyone getting into the genre because it can be confusing and it’s not quite built up well on the magical end (Wabi explains his abilities and powers well, but when it comes to Caitlin it’s very confusing). Overall, a decent read.

My rating:

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2016 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, Book Reviews

Nurse, Come You Here! by Mary J. MacLeod

I found this book in the Kindle store on sale a few months ago. I hadn’t really read anything from Scotland, but I really like books based in Ireland so I thought I’d give it a shot. Also, I thought the idea of reading the memories of a country nurse would be interesting as I live in the country.

I was not disappointed by the book. It was in turns hilarious, heartbreakingly sad, full of life, and honoring death. The characters were very real, the landscape and weather had a life and spirit of their own. You actually could picture yourself in the places she describes with the people she talks about. This is one of the rare books that actually made me weep. It is a powerful book that teaches you all about life on an older Scottish isle.

The core of the book takes place on Papavray Island off the Scottish coast in the late 70s. It is actually the second book by MacLeod. The first book covers Mary, her husband, and their two sons moving to the island and Mary taking up the job as the county nurse for the island. In this book, she is settled into her position and you hear the love she has for her patients through the stories she tells of her visits and exploits with them. Her love for the people and animals shines through the whole book. Her different struggles and entertainments she takes in stride and you get a true feel for her personality. Cows in the kitchen, missing children, the local vegetable cart, and broken down cars are only a couple things described and talked about in living, breathing color.

Her writing is elegant and full of rarely used words (in my opinion) and several Scottish terms. I loved reading it because of her writing and the vocabulary she used. You could also hear the Scottish brogue as she wrote by the why she phrased and spelled different words. I think it would be a fabulous book to listen to if you could get a Scottish voice actor.

The only part I was disappointed by (SPOILER ALERT!) was when the family moved to the states at the very end of the book for her husband’s job. However, you still find her love for her family in those pages as well. As it is a memoir, of course there is not a settled ending as I would have made it.

I would recommend this book for anyone who likes reading about Scotland or Ireland. Also, anyone who enjoys a good memoir or even lovers of fiction. It is not a fictional story, but it keeps you entertained just as a fictional book would. It is an enjoyable read that gives you a new outlook on life and a greater appreciation for nurses.

My rating:

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