Friday, August 26, 2016

With Love From the Inside - Book Review


Grace has been on death row for over 17 years, sentenced for the murder of her baby son William. The new governor has declared a hard line on criminals and the date of her execution has been set. Grace has always maintained her innocence. She didn't murder William. She loved him deeply. Her last wish is to reconnect with her daughter Sophia and let her know just how much Grace has always loved her.

Sophia has tried to put the awful history of her family behind her. After her father died of a heart attack, Sophia left for college and stopped visiting her mother in prison. Now, Sophia is married to a handsome and successful doctor from an upper class family and her story cannot include this tainted history. On the first date, she told him that her parents were dead. But now, her mother's attorney has found her.

With Love From the Inside by Angela Pisel is a tender and emotionally rich novel about the love a mother feels for her child and how that love can sustain someone even in the most horrible of circumstances. This novel looks behind the stereotypes of women in prison and shows Grace as a strong and compassionate woman in spite of a system that is trying to break her. She is nearly powerless and yet she does what she can to maintain her personal goodness. It's so fantastic and different from our typical perceptions, that at times it was hard to believe. After reading the novel, I found myself in an online rabbit hole of reading of the women on death row and their convictions.

The writing in With Love From the Inside is taut and passionate, immediately engaging. The characters were sympathetic and I felt their pain, suffering and the powerful feeling of love that binds them together. For her debut novel, Angela Pisel offers an impressive novel.

With Love From the Inside by Angela Pisel is published by Putnam and released on August 9, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of the book. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**






Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Couple Next Door - Book Review


Every day these last few weeks has been exhausting. Getting kids ready to go back to school; cramming in the last summer activities and fighting the heat has left me so ready for bed. The other night I finished reading a book at exactly 12:15 and thought for sure the second I closed my eyes I'd be out cold. But I tossed and turned for an hour. I tried to read an ebook on my phone under the covers but only a few pages in I knew it wasn't for me. I tossed and turned some more. Finally, at three in the morning, I completely gave up on sleeping. I didn't want to wake Randy so in the dark I grabbed a random book from the shelf in my bedroom and headed downstairs to read. I happened to grab The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. Within an hour, I was engrossed in the story. I finished the book the next day and was surprised that even without sleep, I managed to read without falling asleep during the day.

The babysitter called to cancel at the last minute. It's just next door, they reason. We will check on her regularly. We'll have the monitor. She'll be fine. Anne and Marco leave their baby sleeping in her crib and go to the dinner party next door. But their worst nightmare is just beginning when they come home to an open front door and an empty crib. Their baby is missing. The police don't seem to be doing enough to help and the parents are the top suspects. Anne is simply in shock. Who would want to take her baby?

The writing in The Couple Next Door is pretty basic. Initially, I was not impressed and thought it a bit juvenile. However, the story is so gripping that I excused the lack of writing skill and quickly became engaged in the twisting tale of intrigue. Lapena takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of intensity that keeps the reader guessing.

The Couple Next Door is fun and thrilling and a quick read. It's a perfect read for the doctor's waiting room or an airplane flight because the writing is simple enough that a few distractions won't leave you too confused. Overall, I rather enjoyed the novel. It was nice to just get lost in it for a day.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena is published by Pamela Dorman Books and released on August 23, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of the book. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Swear on This Life - Book Review


Emiline is struggling to write and fulfill her dream to be a published author. Her long-time relationship with her college boyfriend is dull. Uninspired and depressed, her roommate hands her the latest literary sensation. As soon as Emiline starts reading the novel by J. Colby she recognizes her own story within the pages.

Emiline has been haunted by her tragic childhood for years but now she's confronted with it in the pages of a best-selling novel. Her childhood best friend has published a book with her story. Devastated, she knows she must see him and face the past she has been trying to forget.

Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino is the story of a young woman reconciling her past and finding peace and hope in forgiveness all while discovering a true love. It's a sweet story. Initially, I had trouble getting into it and stalled about a quarter of the way into the novel. After a few weeks when I wondered if I would completely abandon it, I decided to give it another chance. I read the remainder in a matter of hours.

It's a cute story. I wasn't blown away by the writing or the predictable plot or flat characters. However, for an easy, feel-good read, I found Swear on This Life rather enjoyable.

There is quite a bit of swearing and a few scenes that get a little steamy.

Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino is published by Atria Books and released on August 9, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Decades of Doubt - Book Review


In 1969, 15 year old John McCabe didn't come after the dance. His parents drove around searching for him. The next morning two young boys found John's body, tied up and abandoned in an empty field. The investigation would stretch over forty years before two men were finally charged with his murder.

Decades of Doubt by Eric Wilson and John Turner focuses on the investigation of John McCabe's murder and the defense of those charged with the crime.

It's not often that I read true crime books but Decades of Doubt was immediately intriguing. The details of the horrific crime that shocked a small Massachusetts community and kept the detectives guessing for so many years were equally gripping and appalling. Just like everyone else in the community, I wanted to know who killed John McCabe. The first part of the book is an easy read, comfortable style and it wasn't long before I was completely immersed in the mystery.

The second portion of the book covers the trial of one of the men eventually arrested for the murder. In this portion, the defense attorney (Eric Wilson) inserts his own first person chapters and perspective of the trial. I actually found these sections awkward and disruptive to the flow of the book. I found them completely unnecessary.

It was interesting how the defense poked holes in all the evidence. The book became a study on the justice system. However, by the end, as a reader, I was completely unsatisfied. It felt like a very one- sided defense of the defense and I wasn't convinced.

Overall, the book started out with promise. It was a fascinating mystery with fairly solid writing that kept my interest. The book lost it's way with the loss of objectivity and it's new focus on the defense and the defense attorney's ego.

Decades of Doubt by Eric Wilson and John Turner is published by Waldorf Publishing and releases on August 15, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Reading in July


July was one of those crazy months where we were so busy having fun that I didn't have time to do anything else. Since I didn't have as much time to read, I'm so glad that I was able to enjoy fabulous books with that precious time.



Champion of the World by Chad Dundas follows a cast of rich and fabulously larger-than-life characters through the fascinating world of wrestling during the 1920's. I couldn't get enough of this epic novel that showed the underbelly and mob involvement of the professional sport.

Pepper Van Dean and his wife have been making their living in the traveling circus since his humiliating loss as the former lightweight champion. Each night, he performs the dangerous hangman's drop and then wrestles the locals. Pepper is bored and anxious for an opportunity back into the sport he loves. When he is offered a chance to train the African-American heavyweight wrestler for a chance at the Heavyweight title, Pepper can't resist the lure of the wrestling world.

The plot and characters were thrilling enough to keep me reading late at night when the excitement of our busy days finally settled down. Dundas expertly captured the era in this fascinating historical fiction. It quickly made it to the top of my favorites of 2016 list.

Champion of the World by Chad Dundas is published by Putnam and released on July 12, 2016.



In a completely different shift, The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan took my breath away.  In language that is stunning and powerful, Flanagan tells the story of Australian POWs forced to built the railroad through the jungle during World War II. It is a brutal story that details the suffering and torment of individuals at the hands of other men caught up in the horrific war.

Flanagan's characters are not necessarily likable and are bent to their very breaking points. I couldn't stop reading and I can't stop thinking about the stupidity of war. I finished the novel late last night and I can't even fully articulate my thoughts. I'm not sure I'll be able to ever put my reactions into clear and concise thoughts. It's so overwhelming to realize what people went through. Even when their bodies survived, their souls were so damaged. Yet, there was always hope.

I loved Flanagan's writing--it was beautiful and sometimes I had to read a passage over to try to glean the full and rich meaning. It was compelling and thought-provoking and exhausting. The Narrow Road to the Deep North was absolutely unforgettable.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan was published by Vintage and released in April 2015.

**I received complimentary copies of both books. These reviews reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Light of Paris - Book Review



Madeleine goes home to Magnolia to visit her mother simply out of familial obligation. She and her mother have never really gotten along. Now Madeleine's marriage is struggling and she knows she's disappointed her mother once again. During her visit, she discovers her grandmother's journals. Her grandmother was a stoic woman, always perfectly behaved in every situation, so Madeleine is shocked to learn that her grandmother had quite the time in Paris when she was young.

Margie feels completely out of place in the debutante world that she has been raised to embrace. When her only option for marriage is simply one of convenience and a good business deal, she rebels and flees to Europe for a grand tour with her cousin.

In The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown, both Madeleine and Margie need the strength to pursue their goals and dreams and break free from the mold their mothers and society has fashioned for them. Paris may just be the answer.

Both main characters really need a push to take back their own destinies. They have spent their lives as passive women, making decisions that they felt would please others instead of what would make themselves happy. It's the age-old story of mother vs. daughter but Brown gives it a fresh voice and a new life in her lovely new novel.

With a lyrical writing and a sassy tone from women who keep their true voices hidden from the world, I fell for The Light of Paris. Madeleine and Margie are real women--struggling with weight and appearance issues, lack of love and the confines that society has used to define the proper role of women. Essentially, they both have huge self-esteem problems. Yet, they are funny and interesting and saucy and women that I would absolutely want to be friends with.

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown is an enchanting novel with characters so honest and true the reader can't help but root for them.

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown is published by Putnam and released on July 12, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Light of Paris. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**


Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Winner of the Nitro World Games tickets


The winner of the first Nitro World Games 
on Saturday, July 16, 2016
at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City is...

Rheanna

Congratulations! Please contact me by Tuesday, July 12th with your information to claim your prize.

Don't miss this exciting event.
You can buy tickets here : http://nitrocircus.com

Monday, July 4, 2016

Nitro World Games are Coming to Salt Lake - Win Tickets!



The inaugural 
is coming to 
Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah 
on Saturday, July 16, 2016. 
The biggest event in the history of action sports, the Nitro World Games is a riveting three-hour experience – airing live in the U.S. on NBC during prime time – that marks a revolutionary transformation of action sports competition. Created by extreme sports icon Travis Pastrana with Nitro Circus CEO and Creative Director Michael Porra, the Nitro World Games will feature the best athletes from across the globe in action sports’ most exciting and popular disciplines, including freestyle motocross (FMX), BMX, skate, inline, scooter and more.

This is exciting event can't be missed and it's coming to you!
I am giving away a pack of Four Tickets to the Nitro World Games to one lucky winner. 
Take your family. Take your friends.  But go see this show.
Let's make this simple. To enter :
1. Leave a comment on this post.
Contest will be open to entries until Friday, July 8th at 11:59 pm MST. The winners will be chosen randomly from the entrants and announced on Saturday, July 9th.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Before the Fall - Book Review



I finished reading Before the Fall by Noah Hawley late last night, huddled under the covers, long after Rand had fallen asleep. I promised him "just one more chapter" but I couldn't put it down until I finally finished the last page.

A chartered jet crashes into the ocean en route between Martha's Vineyard and New York City. The only survivors are an artist and the four year old son of a media mogul. His parents and sister are dead in the crash, as well as another wealthy couple who is being investigated by the SEC

After swimming to shore with the boy, Scott is initially hailed as a hero but investigators aren't so sure. What was this hapless, unknown artist doing on a private jet with these wealthy people? Was it just an accident or was this an attack? As the investigators continue to dig and search for the pieces of plane and the black box, the facts will emerge.

Going back and forth between the post-accident investigation and into the back stories of the passengers, Before the Fall by Noah Hawley keeps the reader immersed in theories and clues to the cause of the crash. I was completely intrigued. I love a good character focused story and it was especially exciting to have a thriller focus primarily on the people and their choices instead of just the action. Besides the main characters, Hawley focuses on human nature and the reactions people have to disasters and sensational new stories.

Before the Fall was completely engaging and though essentially a thriller, I thought it was very smart. Hawley keeps the action going but allows for some introspection and down times when the reader can really get to know the characters.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley is an exciting choice this summer. Tuck it in your beach bag or backpack or like me, just hunker down under the air conditioning and enjoy the suspense.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley was published by Grand Central Publishing in May 2016. It is also a SheReads selection this summer. Read more reviews at SheReads.com  

**I received a complimentary copy through SheReads. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Under the Harrow - Book Review



Nora and her sister Rachel have been looking forward to their shared vacation, so Nora is completely shocked to arrive at her sister's home and discover that Rachel has been brutally murdered. Years ago, as a teenager Rachel was also the victim of a violent attack and Nora is convinced the two crimes are connected.

Increasingly obsessed with solving her sister's grisly murder, Nora stays in her sister's village and begins stalking the man who last saw Rachel alive. Nora uncovers additional secrets as she investigates Rachel and her life in the countryside. She's unsure of who she can trust and who would want her sister dead. Is Nora safe in the village? Does someone want to kill her too?

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry is a psychological thriller told by a narrator who the reader isn't sure is honest and as time goes on becomes more depressed, more erratic and more risky. The writing is terribly engaging. Every word is necessary and hauntingly beautiful in this spare but thrilling novel. I found myself reading passages over to make sure I had gleaned every important bit of information. Nora was a fascinating character as she struggles to solve the crime and understand her sister's life. She experiences the varying emotional stages of grief.

I love short chapters. They keep the action moving. In Under the Harrow, I simply couldn't put this book down after "just one more chapter" at night. I read late into the night, absolutely captivated by Nora's search for the truth.

Under the Harrow is engrossing and frightening and keeps the reader perpetually off kilter. It is definitely a book to read this summer!



Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry is published by Penguin Books are released on June 14, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Tumbling Turner Sisters - Book Review


Gert and Winnie are still trying to finish high school when their mother pulls them out of school to join their older and recently widowed sister Nell and their gigantic younger sister Kit on the Vaudeville Circuit. After an injury to his hand, their dad is unable to work at his regularly job stitching boots and their resourceful mother comes up with an act that will pay the bills and put her daughters in the limelight, a place she has longed to be.

The sisters discover on the road, that they rather enjoy the spotlight too and the people that they meet. Vaudeville in 1919 was an unusual band of characters with a wide variety of acts. People flocked to the theaters looking for cheap entertainment that was clean enough for families. Along the journey, Gert and Winnie will find love and danger and a world they didn't know in their hometown of Johnson City, New York.

The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay immediately appealed to me. I love the historical setting and the potential mishmash of unique characters along the circuit. Fay's research is in-depth and I especially loved the facts and the real characters thrown in among the fiction. I actually learned a few things that I found rather fascinating.

The characters were well developed and I appreciated that the sisters were unique enough for me to immediately distinguish between them. The story lines are timely for the historic period and by meeting a wide variety of characters and traveling, the reader is exposed to many of the period's issues.

The writing is tight and the pace is steady. Exciting things are constantly happening but it lacks the sort of passion and momentum that might have kept me reading all night. Overall, it was a satisfying  and entertaining novel. It definitely made me want to take a seat in a Vaudeville theater and enjoy the show.

The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay is published by Gallery Books and released on June 14, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Tumbling Turner Sisters. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**

Monday, June 13, 2016

Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen - Book Review





Katherine of Aragon is the daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain and is one of the most desired royal matches. King Henry VII is delighted to secure her hand for his son and future king, Arthur.  Katherine is just a girl of sixteen when she leaves her homeland to embark on this journey that will lead to a marriage and a strong alliance between England and Spain. Only tragedy will strike the young prince and soon Katherine will be a young widow stuck in an unfamiliar and occasionally hostile land. Who can she trust? Does anyone have her best interests in mind?

I am fascinated by all things Tudor and I'm a fan of Alison Weir. Over the years, I've read several of her books--both nonfiction and fiction. Once again, Weir does not disappoint with her newest novel Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen. Because I've read other books about Henry VIII and his wives, I was worried that it would be dull but reading the entirety of Katherine's story was eye opening and thoroughly entertaining. So often books focus on the story after the king becomes obsessed with Anne Boleyn and the Great Matter. I liked learning more about Katherine's early marriage to Arthur and then to Henry VIII. Then, the Great Matter from Katherine's painful perspective was very interesting.

The novel is very long but very thorough. There were times that I felt like maybe things could have been edited out but most of the time I was enjoying the novel so much that I didn't mind it being so long. Weir's research is fabulous. All this information and her skilled writing combines for a great read. After spending awhile reading it, I'm missing the book. I'm anxious to read the rest of Weir's planned series of novels focusing on each of Henry the VIII's wives.

Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen by Alison Weir is published by Ballantine Books and released on May 31, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of Katherine of Aragon. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Gilded Years - Book Review


Anita Hemmings was a gifted, intelligent girl completely worthy of attending Vassar, the premier and elite girls college. It had been her dream since childhood and she had worked hard in school to pass her exams and gain entrance at the school. Only in the 1890's Vassar didn't accept African American students. With her fair skin, Anita's heritage as an African American was not as obvious and so she listed only her English and French heritage on her application.

Passing as white and being voted "the most beautiful", Anita excels at Vassar. With an incredible singing voice and a gift at the ancient languages, her professors and the other students value her friendship and opinion. In her senior year, she is picked to room with Lottie Taylor, the richest and most popular girl at the school. Anita and Lottie quickly become best friends and Lottie introduces her new friend to the splendor and glamour of the richest of New York.

Torn between the world Anita knows when she is white and her family and friends at home in Boston where she is known in the African American community, she struggles to find peace and love and an understanding of who she is and who she wants to be. Her secret is perilous and her ultimate goal of graduating from Vassar is in jeopardy.

In The Gilded Years, Karin Tanabe spins a fictional account of the first African American woman to graduate from Vassar. Tanabe is a wonderful writer who tells this compelling story and details in a very personal way the struggle that African Americans faced in their quest to be recognized as equal.

Though at times lengthy and a bit wordy, I was enraptured with Anita's story. While some details have been fictionalized, Tanabe pays homage to this brave and inspiring woman.

The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe is published by Washington Square Press and releases on June 7, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Gilded Years. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**

Friday, May 27, 2016

Kick Kennedy : The Charmed Life and Tragic Death of the Favorite Kennedy Daughter - Book Review


Kick Kennedy was her father's favorite. Vivacious and funny, she had already dazzled her brothers' friends in America, when she moved with her father on his assignment as ambassador in England. Unlike any girl they had met, Kick soon wowed the London set of "The Cousinhood" and found herself quickly included in all their fun and romances.

Enchanting and ambitious, Kick led a life of luxury and wealth but was after influence and power. Following her life from her love affair with England and its men, through the war and finally her tragic death, Kick Kennedy by Barbara Leaming was a quick and enjoyable read.

I haven't read biographies on the Kennedy clan in the past. My sole information has come from People Magazine that I occasionally read in my mother-in-law's bathroom. (Seriously, it's a choice between People and the Ensign and I get the Ensign at home.) Anyway, the biography on Kick sounded intriguing and I wasn't terribly disappointed.

The book doesn't share much about the Kennedy family. It starts telling Kick's story at about the time she is spreading her wings and looking for her own identity (unless she needs her father's help and then she's totally willing to go running to him). More than Kick's personal story, I enjoyed reading about those years leading up to World War II and the influences the politics and war had on the young gentry classes.

Leaming is a good writer. Her prose flows easily and and before I knew it, I'd read a hundred pages. After reading it, I'm not any more interested in the Kennedy's but I found her Kick's story very entertaining.

Kick Kennedy : The Charmed Life and Tragic Death of the Favorite Kennedy Daughter by Barbara Leaming was published by Thomas Dunne Books and released in April 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of the book. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Railwayman's Wife - Book Review


The Railwayman's Wife
By Ashely Hay

From the cover :

In 1948, in the strange, silent aftermath of war, in a town overlooking the vast, blue ocean, Anikka Lachlan has all she ever wanted—until a random act transforms her into another postwar widow, destined to raise her daughter on her own. Awash in grief, she looks for answers in the pages of her favorite books and tries to learn the most difficult lesson of all: how to go on living.

A local poet, Roy McKinnon, experiences a different type of loss. How could his most powerful work come out of the brutal chaos of war, and why is he now struggling to regain his words and his purpose in peacetime? His childhood friend Dr. Frank Draper also seeks to reclaim his pre-war life but is haunted by his failure to help those who needed him most—the survivors of the Nazi concentration camps.

Then one day, on the mantle of her sitting room, Ani finds a poem. She knows neither where it came from, nor who its author is. But she has her suspicions. An unexpected and poignant love triangle emerges, between Ani, the poem, and the poet—whoever he may be.

My thoughts :

Sometimes I have the hardest time writing a reviews when I really really love a book. I can't think of the write words lovely enough to describe it. Here's the simple list--beautiful, melancholy, haunting--to describe The Railwayman's Wife by Ashley Hay. Focusing on the inner turmoil of the characters who are trying to get back to living post-World War II, the novel is more introspective than plot driven. I found the language lovely and heartbreaking. 

I was touched particularly by Anikka's struggle to heal following the accidental death of her husband. As well meaning people approach her to share her loss and emotion, they tell her stories of her husband and she is shocked to find that she didn't know every little bit of his life. The idea of two people sharing their lives together and yet still maintaining their individuality was thought-provoking.

The Railwayman's Wife by Ashley Hay is a thoughtful novel concentrated on the characters and their process of grieving and healing. It is poignant and rich with emotion and sentiment.

The Railwayman's Wife by Ashley Hay is published by Atria Books and released in April 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Railwayman's Wife. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Christ-Centered Home - Book Review


Early in our marriage, Rand and I lived in New Hampshire. We made our home in a humble little townhouse with dated wallpaper and filled with hand-me-down furniture and the beginnings of our book collection. In just the first few months that we lived there, several people--from the TV repairman to the Kirby salesperson to our next-door neighbor--commented on the special spirit in our home. We were surprised and the two of us regularly discussed what it was that people were feeling when they came into our home. We hoped that we had successfully created a mostly Christ-Centered Home and it became our goal for our future home.

Add five children with their own fiery personalities and demands and a busier schedule and sometimes it seems that regular family home evenings, scripture study and prayer are not enough to keep our home constantly centered on Jesus Christ.

In her new book Emily Belle Freeman The Christ-Centered Home, she has divided it into reasonable monthly plans with a lesson focused on the scriptures and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. She includes ideas for devotionals and discussions to have with your family. With chapters on everything from gratitude to service, Freeman focuses on the principles we know but helps make them approachable and accomplishable.

I like that while using lessons from the life of our Savior, Freeman makes a proactive book that asks the reader to search their own life and turn their focus to creating a home they would feel comfortable inviting Jesus Christ to enter. I especially appreciate that this book involves the entire family in the process. There are even included recipes to keep your family at the table long enough for a meaningful conversation.

The Christ-Centered Home : Inviting Jesus In by Emily Belle Freeman is published by Shadow Mountain and released in April 2016. 

**I received a complimentary copy of The Christ-Centered Home. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Enchanted Islands - Book Review


Frances Conway and her husband Ainslie move to the desert island of the Galapagos during the 1940s. They gave up their relatively comfortable life in San Francisco to live in a ramshackle hut and grow their own sustenance. In Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend tells the story of Frances Conway beginning with her childhood in Duluth, Minnesota as Frances Frankowski at the turn of the century. The novel follows her adventures that eventually lead to her drastic move with her husband to the famous islands. Though Frances and her husband were real people and they did live on the islands, Amend tells a fictionalized version of the events.

Though I expected the novel to spend more time with the Conways on the Galapagos Islands--they didn't actually arrive there until page 154--I actually really enjoyed the early part of Frances's history. Amend crafts a beautiful story of friendship, betrayal and a desire for acceptance and love. The writing flows so smoothly, that I was able to easily get lost within the story and the characters. Frances was a vulnerable character with the odds against her, yet she continuously shows her grit and self-preservation.

Enchanted Islands is an unusual tale of intrigue, love and relationships. Secondary to that, is Frances and Ainslie's time on the island. The islands are fascinating and the idea of living a quiet existence bent mostly toward daily subsistence is at times appealing. By moving to the islands, Frances is denying herself certain comforts and luxuries but found a peace and amount of joy there to fully sustain her. Similarly, Frances's personal relationships mirror the lessons of the islands.

Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend was quickly devoured as I enjoyed reading more about the Frances. As formed by Amend, she was an engaging and inspiring character.

Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend is published by Nan A. Talese and released on May 24, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of Enchanted Islands. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Yoga of Max's Discontent - Book Review

 

Max has a great job in New York City. A job that he has worked hard to get. Crawling his way out of the projects and into an Ivy League School. But following the death of his mother, Max can't get rid of this feeling inside that he is missing the meaning of life. Leaving his job and home, he heads to India to find a guru who will help him find peace and fulfillment.

Max's initial story is captivating and I was immediately intrigued by his struggle to find meaning in his existence and curious about where this path would lead. Bajaj writes well and brings the readers along in Max's journey in The Yoga of Max's Discontent. Max's experiences in India are interesting. I liked reading more about the landscape and the people. Then, Max started doing yoga and starving and then I got bored. I'm not going to discount the spiritual fulfillment some get from yoga and solitude and torturing their bodies in caves in the Himalayas. Go ahead. Knock yourself out. I don't get it. 

There is some foul language and some random and unnecessary sex scenes.

The Yoga of Max's Discontent by Karan Bajaj is published by Riverbed Books and released on May 3, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Yoga of Max's Discontent. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**



Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Carving Out Some Reading Time


Over the last few weeks I've been in an interesting reading place. I haven't had much time to read as I've been running to different events in my roles as mom, wife Primary leader, PTA mom, photographer and friend. In the midst of all the crazy, I was lucky enough to take some time for myself and go to BYU Women's Conference with some good friends. It was relaxing and wonderful, inspiring and brilliant but didn't allow me much time to read.

I've been reading Valiant Ambition : George Washington, Benedict Arnold and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick. It's absolutely fascinating and as usual Philbrick writes well but I can only read a few chapters before I fall completely asleep and it doesn't lend itself well to being read in quick snippets while I wait in the car to pick up Neal after tennis or in dentist appointments. I tried and I found myself reading the same page over and over after I was repeatedly interrupted. I needed something enjoyable to read that I could squeeze into those short available moments.

I first picked up Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase. Compared with Daphne du Maurier, I was anxious to get my hands on this gothic, psychological thriller. Black Rabbit Hall has been a magical getaway for Amber and her family for years. Their estate is weathered but filled with love. Tragedy strikes when Amber's mother is suddenly killed in an accident. Her father isn't the same and Black Rabbit Hall becomes a place of grief and suffering for the young family struggling.

Years later, Lorna is drawn to Black Rabbit Hall. She has brief glimpses of spending times there with her mother when she was a child. Now that Lorna is engaged, she'd like to have her wedding there. As she explores the dilapidated estate she uncovers it's secrets and mysteries.

With solid writing that captures that strong emotions of both Amber and Lorna, Black Rabbit Hall kept me entertained and entranced. It had that dark, eerie feeling without being scary. Though the setting is important to the novel, the characters and their relationships with each other are central to the developing story. I appreciated that and the exploration of their mourning and grief for the loss of loved ones and how they interacted with those still alive.

Black Rabbit Hall was thrilling and absolutely readable. I didn't want to put it down.

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase was published by Putnam and released in February 2016. 

I read Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner in just two days. Though I've heard of Weiner for years and follow her on Twitter, this is the first time I've read one of her novels. It's a delightfully quick and enjoyable read with realistic characters and a fateful plot full of coincidences and chance meetings.

Rachel is just a little girl, recovering from heart surgery when she meets Andy in the hospital emergency room. He's alone and her comforting story helps him get through his fear of being injured and separated from his mother. Rachel can't forget him.

Throughout the years, though their lives take very different paths, Rachel and Andy find each other and their relationship grows. They are soul mates. Meant to be together.

I especially liked the characters in Who Do You Love. Sometimes I rather disliked them. Weiner allows them to grow and explore and become adults. Occasionally, they make mistakes and rather bad choices. In other words, they are pretty realistic people.

Some may say that the coincidences are unbelievable and unrealistic, but if you buy into the idea of soul mates (even just in the context of this novel and don't we regularly suspend our normal beliefs to enjoy stories) than it would make sense that the world would conspire to regularly put them together.

Who Do You Love is not a style of book that I regularly read. It was enlightening to read it and find it rather enjoyable. While it is essentially a romance and has more sex scenes than I'm really comfortable with, Weiner does more than just write a love story. She explores people--what inspires their choices, good and bad.

Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner is published by Washington Square Press and the paperback edition released on April 5, 2016. It's also one of the Spring Book Club Selections for SheReads.

I'm so glad I've been able to squeeze in some fun and entertaining books to keep me reading while I continue to work through the history from Philbrick. At some point my life will get less busy and I'll have more time to read, right? Not likely.

**I received complimentary copies of both books. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Assistants - Book Review



For six years, Tina Fontana has worked as an executive assistant to Robert Barlow, the wealthy head of a media empire. Though she's fabulous at her job and enjoys the perks, she's frustrated that her career hasn't advanced to where she had once envisioned and her massive student loan debt is still weighing on her soul. When an accounting error delivers a check just big enough to pay off her loans, Tina knows it's wrong but can't resist the lure of being debt free. In a moment of weakness, she cashes the check and pays off her loans. The feeling of relief from being free of her debts is quickly overshadowed by the feeling of guilt. Tina plays by the rules. Until now. And someone else knows what she's done. As other assistants in the company approach Tina about help in paying off their loans, Tina gets sucked into a black hole that seems inescapable.

A witty and fun contemporary Robin Hood story, The Assistants by Camille Perri tackles the idea of wealth distribution. She touches on feelings and sentiments shared by many who struggle financially while being surrounded by those who have an overwhelming amount of wealth. While it's a touchy topic and politically divisive, the novel keeps the subject light and humorous and Tina Fontana is a fabulous character--completely torn by the crushing guilt of breaking the law and the desire to help others.

Perri is a great writer. I enjoyed the nutty cast of characters and the inner struggle that Tina faces. There's never a dull moment and the story is completely believable. The Assistants brings up a lot of interesting topics and I can imagine a lively debate at book club.

The Assistants by Camille Perri is published by Putnam and released on May 3, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Assistants. My opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**

Everyone Brave is Forgiven - Book Review





I enjoyed Little Bee and Gold by Chris Cleave so I was excited to see a new book from his this spring.  Everyone Brave is Forgiven is his newest book and I was immediately enamored with this World War II novel. How can one possibly write something fresh and new about this time period? I've read many novels centered on World War II and I love several. So many different people suffered through the war and everyone had their own story, so I suppose the opportunities are limitless. Cleave writes a new story in Everyone Brave is Forgiven by focusing on an unlikely heroine and the early days of the war in London and on Malta.

Mary North is a young, wealthy idealist ready for adventure on the eve of World War II. As soon as war is declared, she signs up and is assigned to teach at a local school in London. Though she is initially disappointed by the assignment, she discovers a love for the children and for teaching. When the children are all evacuated from the city, Mary is left with a classroom of children who for one reason or another just don't "fit" in the country.

As Mary navigates through love and danger and friendship, she is often foolish and sometimes self-serving. She's naive and regularly makes destructive choices, yet she's a character that gets under the reader's skin and one sincerely hopes for her survival and success. I enjoyed her quick humor and clever wit as she banters with her best friend and with Tom, the administrator of the schools. It is disheartening to watch the dreams of the young shattered by the brutality of war. Cleave wrote a very poignant and beautiful novel that I found meaningful and emotionally stirring.

I found myself reading large sections of this book each night, unwilling to stop. I was compelled to read more of Mary, her friend Hilda, Tom, and his friend Alistair. I was especially interested in learning more about the Siege of Malta. Previously, I was not familiar with this event in World War II. Cleave writes with dignity and power and shows both the brutality and the compassion of man; the desire to at once cease to exist and simultaneously survive.

I've read some great books this year that I really enjoyed but Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave is definitely at the top of my list.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave is published by Simon and Schuster and released on May 3, 2016.

Monday, April 18, 2016

All The Winters After - Book Review


Kache hasn't been home to Alaska since his parents and brother died in a tragic plane accident twenty years ago. All these years he's been carrying around the grief and burden of losing his family but now his grandmother is dying and his aunt Snag has asked to come home.  Kache expects to find the old homestead in rubble and decay since it has stood empty all this time.

Kache and Snag didn't know that the homestead has actually been cared for by Nadia, a young woman hiding out from her clan of Old Believers. Used to a life of solitude, Nadia hasn't left the homestead for nearly ten years. She's kept up the place and left it essentially the same as it was the day Kache's family died.

Kache, Snag and Nadia must all face their personal fears and guilt and find a way to heal their hearts and move on with their lives.

I love a book set in Alaska. There just seems to be an extra bit of magic and wonder, danger and fear when a story takes place in the majestic and rugged beauty of Alaska. So, I was expecting a lot when I picked up All the Winters After by Sere Prince Halverson. Though the novel took a different direction from what I was initially expecting, I did enjoy reading more about the characters and their experiences and adventures in Alaska. Part of the fun of the Alaska setting is that certain plots really only work there. I appreciated the addition of the Old Believers, a Russian religious sect that immigrated to Oregon and then Alaska. I have never heard of them before so I found it rather interesting. The characters were unique enough to be interesting. Aunt Snag was so likable in her vulnerability and sensitivity hidden behind her facade of strength. The strengths of the novel are  definitely characterization and setting.

The plot line gets hijacked by romance for too long and it starts to drag in the middle. There was foreshadowing of a thriller but the climax and ending were abrupt and lacked the intensity I was hoping for. Overall, All the Winters After was a fairly good read that started out strong but lost momentum for the conclusion. I enjoyed reading more about Alaska.

All The Winters After by Sere Prince Halverson was published by Sourcebooks Landmark in
February 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of All the Winters After. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**

Monday, April 11, 2016




The Imagination Movers are coming to Utah!

Satuday, April 16th at 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm

Eccles Center for the Performing Arts
1750 Kearns Blvd.
Park City , UT 84060


http://www.imaginationmovers.com/

I'm giving away a Family Four Pack of Tickets to the Imagination Movers event in Utah. Check out my Instagram account to enter.




The Imagination Movers story is the ultimate example of the power of imagination. In 2003, four New Orleans friends – Rich Collins, Scott Durbin, Dave Poche and Scott “Smitty” Smith – had an idea. They thought kids wanted and deserved music that spoke to them, not down to them. So, they started gathering after their kids’ bedtimes to write songs and brainstorm ideas about a children’s television show. Two years later, they had become the latest sensation of their musical city, attracting parents and children alike with an eclectic pop sensibility and lyrical turns about healthy snacks and playing catch and conquering childhood fears of bedtime. Lines to the Movers’ shows stretched for blocks.When the levees broke after Hurricane Katrina, the far-reaching disaster turned the Movers’ world upside down, but it didn’t put an end to their dream. Even while band members salvaged their belongings from flooded homes – and Smith reported to his day job as a fire fighter and first responder – they never stopped living according to the Movers’ motto: “Reach high, think big, work hard, have fun!”

This motto has served the band well. Not even the Imagination Movers themselves could have fully imagined their breakthrough success. The Movers partnered with Disney in 2007 and filmed 75 episodes of their Emmy Award-winning series over three seasons. The show aired in more than 55 countries and they’ve sold half a million CDs and DVDs to date. 

Critical acclaim for the Movers includes nods from Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times, which reported the Movers are “prized by many parents for non-condescending lyrics and music that evokes the Beastie Boys or Red Hot Chili Peppers.” Parenting magazine praised the band’s “dash of rebellion” and songs that are “fresh and treacle-free.” National television appearances include The View, Live with Regis & Kelly, and Good Morning America. The Movers are currently developing an animated series “Super Movers” in partnership with Toronto-based 9 Story Media Group. 

The Movers' ninth release, “Licensed to Move” debuted in early 2015. The CD is bundled with a DVD that contains a live concert performance as well as music videos.

The Movers are known as a high-energy, interactive live music act. Over the last decade they have entertained more than a million fans in North America, Europe and Asia. Their “In a Big Warehouse” tour attracted 150,000 fans and was one of Pollstar magazine’s top 100 tours of 2011 (one of only two family acts on the list). According to thousands of fan reviews on Ticketmaster.com, Imagination Movers ranks as the No. 1 rated major touring act for families. 

Over the past several the Movers have rocked packed houses in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Guam, Spain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates. They are playing select North American cities in 2016.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Gates of Evangeline - Book Review


The dreams! Not long after the untimely and sudden death of her little boy, Charlie started having very intense dreams of children and future events. She's a bit freaked out when the events in her dreams come true. When she dreams of a little boy in a bayou, she decides to accept the writing job in Louisiana. She's been hired to write a book about a thirty year old unsolved mystery of a kidnapped little boy. Perhaps with her dreams she can finally bring closure to the case.

The Deveau family is one of Louisana's most prestigious families so when the little boy went missing, it became a world famous case. To conduct research, Charlie moves onto the Deveau estate of Evangeline and meets the eccentric members of the family. As she uncovers the secrets and mysteries of the Deveaus she might even find friendship and love and healing from her own grief.

I was almost immediately captivated by the writing and story of The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young. The plantation in Louisiana was a great setting for the otherworldliness of Charlie's dreams and the intrigue that surrounded all the characters. Thrilling and at times romantic, The Gates of Evangeline kept me reading late into the night. I loved the Gothic style and the ghostly nature of Charlie's dreams.

Before reading The Gates of Evangeline, which is a She Reads Book Club choice, I had heard a lot of praise and I wasn't at all disappointed. It was a quick, thoroughly enjoyable read, perfect for solving any book slumps.

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young is published by Putnam and released in September 2015.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Gates of Evangeline through the She Reads Book Club. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**


Forever and Forever - Book Review


The love shared by Henry Longfellow for his wife Fanny Appleton is legendary. We all know the story of her tragic death and the pain he experienced at her loss. We know how his grief  inspired him to pen the poem that eventually became the beloved Christmas hymn "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." Because I knew and loved this story, I had to pick up and read Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack. I rarely read romance novels of any variety and if I do, it's generally because someone picked it for my local book club. However, perhaps because of the historical nature of Forever and Forever since it is based on real historical figures that I admire, I enjoyed the novel.

Henry Longfellow was still grieving the death of his first wife, when he first met the eighteen year old Fanny Appleton during their tours of Europe. Henry admired her intellect and her interest in literature. He couldn't get enough of the girl. Fanny was less sure of her new suitor. He was a bit awkward; older and certainly not of the same social class. Their courtship is long and unusual and I really enjoyed reading about how the two finally came together in a mutually loving and committed relationship that would transcend time.

This is the first time I've read a novel by Kilpack and I was impressed by how she paid homage to these inspiring people. Well researched, she is faithful to their story and legacy. I appreciate that she included chapter notes at the end of the book. I must admit that I found some sections and dialogue lengthy and unnecessary to the advancement of the story.  Overall, I enjoyed the novel. I liked the characterization and how Kilpack successfully shows the maturing and growth of her characters. Forever and Forever is definitely a novel I would recommend, especially to those who appreciate an enduring and realistic love story.

Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack is published by Shadow Mountain and released on April 5, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of Forever and Forever. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**




Friday, April 1, 2016

Eleanor - Book Review


A horrible car accident kills Esmerelda but her identical twin sister Eleanor and her mother survive to bear the unbearable loss. Shattered by grief, Eleanor's mother turns to the drink and descends into a world that neither Eleanor nor her father cannot penetrate. Alone and responsible, Eleanor is forced to grow up quickly as she attempts to hold her family together.

One day, Eleanor walks through a door and simply disappears. She finds herself in a new world. She comes too later locked in her school in the middle of the night. Over and over, she leaves her reality and eventually meets someone who will help her heal her family.

The first eighty pages of the novel Eleanor by Jason Gurley read like a family saga. The writing is lovely and I could literally feel the weight of the depression and grief experienced by the characters. Hurley successfully creates characters that the reader cares about as they suffer.

As Eleanor moved into the more supernatural sections, I was initially frustrated and contemplated giving up on the novel. It's not my typical read so I started skimming but the writing enraptured me and soon I was completely captivated by the story telling and fantastical world Gurley builds. I also had to go back and read some of the sections that I had skimmed through.

Eleanor by Jason Gurley really is a beautiful story of healing and peace. I loved the characters and hoped for a good resolution. I actually ended up enjoying the phenomenal aspects of the plot line. I'm glad that I picked it up and took a chance on something different.

Eleanor by Jason Gurley is published by Crown and released in January 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of Eleanor. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Day in the Life - March 22, 2016

I wanted to participate with Trish from Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity on her annual "A Day in the Life" blogger hop again this year. I chose to write about yesterday which was a bit unusual but as I've been looking at my life lately is emblematic of the craziness I keep getting myself involved in.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My parents and my two and three year old nieces spent the night at my house. I have forgotten how often toddlers wake up during the night. I spent a restless night listening to them and worrying that they were too cold.

5:37 am : My mom woke me up because I forgot to put out towels.

6:15 am : The alarm goes off. I nudge Randy to get up and wake Neil up to get ready for school. My parents leave for their doctor appointments in Salt Lake.

6:30 am : My alarm goes off again. I get up and start making breakfast for Neil. He requests Ritz crackers with peanut butter and his usual glass of chocolate milk.

6:51 am : After constant coaxing to get moving; to load his back packs; eat his breakfast; brush his teeth; Neil leaves for school. It's raining like crazy. Good thing he just runs next door to catch a ride to the high school from his friend. I wake up the other kids and tell them to start getting dressed.

7:10 am : I do Lilly and Molly's hair.

7:25 am : Breakfast for everyone, including my nieces who woke up when the other kids went downstairs.

7:40 am : We pray and Amberley leaves to catch her bus to the junior high.

7:45 am : Thomas, Lilly and Molly leave to walk to school. Normally I would shut the door with a great sigh of relief and probably climb back into bed but my nieces are here. I help them get a banana. While the eat, I unload the dishwasher and load it again.

8:00 am : I turn Inside Out on for the girls and hurry upstairs to take a shower. Can I take a shower with two toddlers in the house? I get dressed and do my makeup and hair.

8:45 am : I get my nieces dressed and do their hair. They are very adorable. My mom calls to suggest that instead of driving the girls to Salt Lake to meet them (it's snowing and windy in Salt Lake) that they will meet me farther south and closer to my house. That means I get to hang out with the girls longer. We finish watching the movie.

10:00 am : I load the little girls in my car and am thankful to have the built-in car seats that haven't been used in quite awhile. As we drive over the mountain into the valley, the rain changes to snow. The wind is wild.

10:15 am : I meet my parents in the Walmart parking lot. They get the girls and prepare to drive back to Vernal. I go home.

10:30 am : I get a text that Neil's afternoon tennis match has been rescheduled due to weather and I am so happy.

10:35 am : I get home. My house is cold. I climb into my warm bed intending to read Code Name Verity. I fall asleep.

1:00 pm : I wake up. It was a lovely nap. Rand and I have a Greek salad for lunch.

1:30 pm : I actually read Code Name Verity. It's the pick for book club this month.

2:00 pm : My friend calls. It startles me because she never actually calls. We are marathon texters. She's had an emergency with her daughter and can't get back to town (did I mention that we live in the middle of no where) in time to pick up her son for his dentist appointment. I drive to the school and check him out. We drive over to meet his mom in the grocery store parking lot.

2:30 pm : I get home. Thomas, Lilly and Molly have just gotten home from school. We work on homework and sign field trip permission forms.

4:00 pm : I go get dressed and fix my hair and makeup which is a disaster after my long nap.

4:50 pm : My friend picks me up. We drop off her kids at her mom's house before heading to the junior high to prepare for the caucus meeting.

5:00 pm : Our precinct will meet in the library. We have to rearrange the tables and the chairs to accommodate the crowd we are expecting. We prepare the registration tables. My good friend is the precinct secretary and I have attending trainings with her to help with registration and vote counting.

6:00 pm : People start arriving. We are constantly busy with registration. We quickly exceed our expected numbers of people attending.

7:00 pm : Our caucus meeting starts on time but people are still arriving.

7:30 pm : I help count the votes for the election of Precinct Chair. I am nominated as a State Delegate so I can't help count that vote. I wander the hall because it is so crowded and hot in the library I am wondering what in the world possessed me to wear a sweater. I visit with friends.

8:20 pm : The vote is announced and I am an alternative State Delegate. I am nominated as a County Delegate and win my vote of acclamation because only six people have been nominated for the six positions. Three of my good friends are also elected as County Delegates.

9:00 pm : With record attendance at least double what we have seen in other exciting election cycles, our precinct caucus wraps up.

9:15 pm : I am disappointed in the Presidential Preference vote count. It is expected but I find the result frustrating.

9:30 pm : We clean up from the precinct and go over the registration forms. Send the counts and tallies to the state.

11:00 pm : I get home from the caucus meeting. I didn't eat dinner and am starving. I have a bowlful of cottage cheese and tomatoes. Rand and I vent over our political frustrations.

11:30 pm : I start a batch of laundry.

12:00 am : I'm still on Twitter checking the results of the Utah caucuses and regretting getting political online.

1:00 am : I put the laundry in the dryer. Take out my contacts and brush my teeth. It's time for bed.


Be sure to check out the blog hop on Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity to see how a day in the life looks for a variety of other bloggers. And see what my day looked like last year *here*.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Jane Steele - Book Review



The summer I turned fifteen my family packed all our camping gear onto our horses and into our backpacks and hiked in three miles from the truck to camp at Dry Fork Twins in the High Uintah Mountains. It was our yearly tradition but that year I carried a heavy copy of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte in my backpack. Over the week, we hiked all over the mountain, fished in the lakes and streams and played countless hours of card games. And every afternoon when it rained, I sought shelter in my tent and fell in love with Jane Eyre. (Incidentally, I also packed in my entire Caboodle case full of make up because a horoscope said I would meet the love of my life that week. I didn't even see a single Boy Scout on that camping trip.)

The last time I read Jane Eyre was a few years ago and I fell in love yet again with the Gothic romance between the simple governess and the grisly Mr. Rochester.  Additionally, I am also a huge fan of Lyndsay Faye's novels. Her character Timothy Wilde in The Gods of Gotham series is my second favorite lawman following close after Raylan Givens. So, when I heard that Lyndsay Faye had written an imaginative adaptation of Jane Eyre with a more gutsy heroine and a morbid theme, I was so excited to get my hands on a copy.

Jane Steele is also a fan of the novel Jane Eyre. She's an orphan living with an unkind aunt and a leering teen aged cousin. When he attempts to sexually assault her, she kills him. While her life parallels the life of Jane Eyre in many ways, Jane Steele becomes a different kind of woman who leaves those that torment her or her loved ones dead.

Though perhaps a heavy-handed farcical take on the beloved classic, I loved Jane Steele. It was fun. It was dark and morbid. Jane Steele was a heroine that I could cheer for. Her early years were a closer parallel though she simply takes matters into her own hands when she comes across horrible people. I found this so much fun. Once she meets Mr. Thornton and the story turns towards love, it loses some of that earlier fun. However, I was still completely engaged in Jane Steele's story.

Including the history of the Sikh Wars was fascinating. It did take away from Jane's story but I enjoyed reading more about it. I liked Faye's writing with the classic style. I was thoroughly entertained and amused by this charming novel. Jane Steele is just so much fun.

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye is published by Putnam and released on March 22, 2016. 

**I received a complimentary copy of Jane Steele. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**