Tuesday, May 24, 2011


In Lily Haswell, Klassen has created a fascinating heroine and placed her in a setting that intrigued me. Lily is The Apothecary's Daughter. She helps her father in his shop, although at the time the story is set, women are not allowed to be apothecaries. Lily is blessed with a memory that forgets nothing, so the blending of herbs is a task she performs with skill.

However, when an offer comes to leave her small village and live in London with a wealthy relative, she is introduced to a life quite different from anything she's ever known. Although Lily has any number of men interested in her, her background in the apothecary shop is considered shameful and something to be hidden.

Klassen tells the story in the style of Jane Austen, with the manners and mores of the Regency period. Each chapter is headed with an authentic quote about herbs or their uses,which serves as an introduction for the events to come.

How all the twists and turns in this plot resolve themselves makes this book a treat to read. In addition to The Apothecary's Daughter, I've read Klassen's other books, The Silent Governess, The Lady of Milkweed Manor, and The Girl in the Gatehouse, and thoroughly recommend them as well. I’ll be posting a review of The Girl in the Gatehouse in a future blog.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

UNBROKEN, by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken is sub-titled "A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption." It is all of that and more. When I finished Hillenbrand's remarkable recounting of Louis Zamperini's saga, I missed Louie. The author so involves the reader in Zamperini's life that I felt intimately connected with him.
As a boy, Zamperini had been a wild delinquent, but when he hit his teens his older brother guided him to channel his energy into running. Zamperini's talent carried him to the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Then when war came, he enlisted as a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps.
Two years later, his plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean, and as far as the world knew, Louis Zamperini was dead. For the reader of Unbroken, the story is just beginning. Along with two other surviving crewmen, Zamperini struggled to a tiny life raft and began his extraordinary odyssey.
If Unbroken were told in pedestrian prose, it would still be a captivating story. However, Hillenbrand's gifted writing raises this book to the highest level. As an example of her literary skills, here are a couple of sentences from the book:
"Gathered in drifts against the buildings were some two hundred whisper-thin captive Allied servicemen. . . . They were as silent as snow."
I highly recommend Unbroken, both as a history and as a celebration of the human spirit. The book does contain graphic and heart-wrenching scenes depicting Zamperini's ordeal, so I don't recommend this story for younger readers.
Once you’ve read Unbroken, I'd love to hear your opinion. You can contact me through Facebook or through the contact page here on my website.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Revell's blog tour for THE DAWN OF A DREAM--A few more reviews

I'm so grateful to Revell for sponsoring this blog tour. It's been fun visiting these and other blogs. Be sure you follow the links. You could find a new blogger you'll enjoy following.

From Lulu at Knitsandreads:

Loved this book . . .a new story line instead of just husband leaves, wife is sad and finds new man! This book had some depth and adventure. Luellen is one woman who simply is NOT going to give up her dreams and fights for herself even when the odds are against her. Luellen is definitely not a weak character but one who has gumption and I think you will like her, as well as the other characters, although she does have a rather silly sister, but then again if everyone in the book had the same personality it would make for a pretty boring book! This book does have a few different stories going on at once but they are all intermixed and make for a very good read. The only thing I didn't like about this book was that it ended!


From Pam at Daysong Reflections:


Although I had read the first two books in the At Home in Beldon Grove series, I found that The Dawn of a Dream quite easily stands alone. Returning characters are only incidental to the story and it is not necessary to know their history to understand and enjoy this book.

This tale begins with a bang and continues with one surprise after another. This is definitely not your typical historical romance novel. In fact, romance almost takes the background against the trials encountered by Luellen's determination to earn her teaching degree no matter what. Throughout most of the book, her brother's friend Ward is a constant and sympathetic support to Luellen as she struggles to hold her head up in society after her disgrace. It is only later that she realizes how important he really is to her but sees no way to overcome the obstacles between them. Although Luellen is the primary focus of this story, a secondary romance is sure to delight the reader.

The historical setting and details of The Dawn of a Dream added a rich backdrop to an already intriguing storyline. Characters were well thought out and dialogue was natural. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend any and all of Ann Shorey’s novels to historical fiction fans.


From Jennifer:

If you want a really good book that will keep you so intrigued until the very end, get this book! Lullen is a woman after my own heart. She goes through so much to achieve her dream–regardless of all the opposition she must face from every angle. People tell her she can’t because she is a woman, but she shows them that she can because of her determination and her desire to rise above what others think.

You cannot help but fall in love with a true gentleman, and that is what you get when you meet Ward. I immediately fell in love with his sweet and charming gestures, especially after he finds out what all Lullen has been through. Most men during this time would have turned their noses up at a woman like her, but not Ward. If you read this, you will see what I mean!

This is definitely a book you will not want to miss!


From Brenda:

While this is the third book in the Beldon Grove series it can easily be read as a stand alone work, I hadn't read the first two books in the series but had no problems jumping right into this story. Luellen was a character that was very easy to relate to, she seemed very realistic, she even wore eyeglasses When Brendan so easily tells her of his betrayal my heart broke for her. Deciding to divorce and get on with her life by going on to school, showed just how strong she really was. I enjoyed learning about college during that time period.
I love reading historical fiction and this one certainly didn't disappoint, with a few interesting topics that we don't normally see during this time period. There are a few plot twists that kept me interested. There is an inspirational message woven into the story, but the story doesn't come off as preachy, instead I felt like it was inspiring. Because I enjoyed this story so well, I intend to go back and read the first two books in the series.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Revell's blog tour for THE DAWN OF A DREAM

Right now Revell is sponsoring a blog tour for The Dawn of a Dream.
Here are a couple of the early reviews:

From Michelle Vasquez's blog--Life in Review

The Dawn of a Dream by Ann Shorey is book 3 in her series called At Home in Beldon Grove. It's a beautiful historical novel set in the mid 1850's that’s full of hope and inspiration.
If you have read the other books in this series, then I know you're going to want to read this one, but if you haven't read the series, don’t worry, it can definitely be read as a stand alone as well. I have really enjoyed this series and I do think this one is my favorite, although I have thought that each time, with each new book in the series. Book one is The Edge of Light and it's a free ebook download right now (I don’t know how long it will last, so check it out quickly)! Book two is The Promise of Morning.
Luellen is one of my favorite characters in the whole series. She's independent and determined,but she’s not fearless. For me that's what made her such a realistic character and easy to relate to. She has hopes and dreams and aspirations, and she is bound and determined,but she's still scared, and for a long time she let that fear allow her to keep putting off her goals. Now that it seems her life has hit rock-bottom, she realizes it's time that she finally go after her dreams like she has always talked about. It won't be easy, though. This is during 1857 when things are still very difficult for a woman to do anything on her own.
I VERY highly recommend this book! It is beautifully written and I was hooked from the very start and could not put it down! This series has made me a big Ann Shorey fan! Her books are rich with historical detail, the characters are so life-like and very much like real people that you would know and would want to know. The characters face real-life situations that we can relate to here and now, even though the stories take place in another time and place. The messages are uplifting and leave you full of hope. This book, as well as the others in the series, is a great total package, that's very entertaining as well as inspirational. I hate to see the series end and I look forward to seeing what’s next from Ann Shorey.

From Rel Mollet in Relz Reviewz

My take:~

The third book in Ann Shorey's At Home in Beldon Grove series, The Dawn of a Dream, is my favourite of the trilogy. I enjoyed Luellen's tenacity in her efforts to become a teacher at a time when it was difficult to say the least, even without the additional pressures she faces following her husband's desertion. She is far from perfect and her decision making isn't always well considered. Such a character stands out in an historical novel, a genre where angelic, passive women are over represented! Luellen's brother Franklin and his friend, Ward Calder, both Army men, provide interesting insight in to the life of soldier during the time period and offer a contrast to the community of Beldon Grove and Luellen's student lifestyle. The Dawn of a Dream has all the elements historical romance readers enjoy with a uniqueness of character I thoroughly enjoyed.