Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Five in Five: Heroine Edition

Strong literary heroines stay with the reader long after the book has been closed. These heroines are strong female characters who embody characteristics which the reader seeks to emulate.

It is hard to pick only a select few, but I'm going to try to narrow down the list to my personal top five favorite literary heroines. Although you may not agree with my list, here are my top five favorite (although not all famous) literary heroines.


5) Molly from Gene Stratton-Porter's Keeper of the Bees

4) Josephine "Jo" March from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women

3) Valancy Sterling from L.M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle. This is one of Montgomery's lesser-known works and one of her few 'adult' works of fiction. Written in 1926, set in the early 1920's in Ontario, Canada. Most of Montgomery's books were written on Prince Edward Island. While Montgomery typically writes about heroines who are young girls, Valancy's character is 29.

2) Elizabeth Bennett from Jane Auten's Pride and Prejudice. No favorite literary heroine list would be complete without at least one Austen heroine on the list. I would argue that Elizabeth "Lizzy" Bennett is one of Austen's most well-known and beloved literary heroines. She is a very complex character. She is intelligent and independent thinker. In Austen's time, women were not known for these qualities.

1) Anne Shirley from L.M. Montogomery's Anne of Green Gables. The reader is first introduced to Anne, the spunky, red-headed orphan when she is adopted by older, spinster siblings- Marilla and Mathew Cuthbert. She is continually getting into scrapes but learns lessons along the way. Part of what makes Anne so appealing to readers is her outlook on life. She doesn't see things the way an ordinary person does, rather she has a fanciful and fun imagination. And because Montgomery wrote 8 books in the Anne series the reader is allowed into Anne's world. She grows up, goes to college, gets married, becomes a mother, but through all these wonderful changes in her life she still reminds the skinny, freckle-faced, red-headed orphan that readers fell in love when Montgomery published Anne of Green Gables in 1908.



I'd love to hear your list of top five favorite literary heroines! I would love to know your favorites and we can discuss them further in the comments! 

Reading is an Adventure,

Emilee 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

The Year of Goodbyes and Hellos is Powerful and Emotional


    The Year of Goodbyes and Hellos needs to come with a PSA label that you are going to need lots of Kleenex. Also, don't read this story in public if you're prone to waterworks, aka crying. I was crying by chapter two and ugly crying the last few chapters. That being said, I'm so glad I picked this book up on a friend's recommendation and read it. 

Oncologist Kristine Tremaine has built a reputation for being one of the best cancer doctors in Texas. When her older sister Sherri Reynolds is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she pours all her knowledge into helping her sister.

The bond between the sisters was my favorite part of the story. I loved how they quoted from favorite movies and had this us against the world mentality. It reminded me of how powerful the connection we can have with our brothers and sisters. Siblings see you at your best and worst, but they still love you and sometimes know you better than you know yourself. A quote I read about the relationship we have with our siblings summed it up. " Siblings are like branches of a tree. We grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one." 

The theme of the book was how do you hold onto your faith when your prayers seem to go unanswered? This book just made me reflect on my trials in a different light. Although we may not know why God brings various tribulations in our lives, He will never give us more than we can bear, and God is good! 

Having lost loved ones to cancer, I feel like the author took every emotion I ever had about losing friends and family and put it into this story.  The Year of Goodbyes and Hellos was such a cathartic book for me to read. So much so, that I had some trouble moving on to read other books. 

Thank you so much Kelly Irvin for penning this beautiful story of family, loss, and forgiveness. 

Reading is an adventure,

Emilee

 

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Of Love and Treason is a Moving Debut


 Debut author Jamie Ogle's Of Love and Treason is an emotional and moving read. One I won't soon forget. To be honest, I'm still trying to process my feelings and emotions after reading the last page. 

Years ago, I remember my violin teacher Mrs. Klotz giving us a one-page sheet on the origins of Valentine's Day and the story stayed with me all these years. A man named Valentine who doesn't agree with the emperor's marriage ban continues to marry couples in secret.  He's arrested for treason and ends up falling in love with the jailor's blind daughter, he prays for her, and her sight is restored. Before his execution, he left a love letter for her that was signed from your Valentine.  The origins of Valentine's Day is tragically romantic.  Nowadays Valentine's Day is so commercialized I don't think people even know or give a thought to how it began. When I saw that Of Love and Treason was an origin story of February 14th, I knew I had to read it! 
 
One aspect of this story that I appreciated was how passionate and steadfast Valentine and the other Christians were in their faith. It made me want to have the same zeal and fervor for the Lord. I also loved how despite the dangers of being in Christian in 3rd century Rome they still boldly proclaimed Christ and the gospel to others. 

Ms. Ogle's question and thread throughout Of Love and Treason was will we trust Him even when things don't turn out the way we want? And this was so exceptionally and beautifully told. When I really love a book it's sometimes hard for me to put into words my reasons why. 

I was cheering when I got to a certain scene on page 301, and I shed some tears in the last couple of chapters of this book. I don't want to give any spoilers, but if you read Of Love and Treason, I would love to hear your thoughts on that certain scene on page 301 : ) 

If you've read and loved Francine River's Mark of the Lion series, you need to put Of Love and Treason on your list. This book is definitely on my 'to keep' shelf. All I can say is Jamie Ogle please write faster because I can't wait to read your other books. 

Reading is an Adventure,

Emilee


~~I purchased a paperback copy of  Of Love and Treason from Baker Book House in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.~~

Friday, January 19, 2024

The Divine Proverb of Streusel is a 'Must Read' for 2024


 Author Sara Brunsvold's exceptional debut novel The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip topped my favorite reads of 2022 list. I had great expectations for her newest book and was eagerly anticipating her newest story, The Divine Proverb of Streusel. I read this book in three days and would have finished it sooner had life responsibilities not gotten in the way. Three chapters in I had an inkling that this story would land on my "favorite reads of 2024" and I am happy to say that it definitely did!

Devastated and reeling from her parents' divorce, literary teacher, Nikki Werner seeks comfort on her uncle's farm in Missouri. Spending the summer there, she discovers a longing to know more about her lineage and finds an old handwritten German cookbook among her grandmother's belongings filled with knowledge and long-forgotten recipes. As she cooks her way through the recipes, inviting townsfolk to share in the meals and memories of the town and her grandparents, Nikki starts to heal from her parents' divorce.

Emotions ranged from tears of sadness to tears of joy coupled with laughter. While I enjoyed Nikki's story, I found myself slightly more invested in her uncle's story. That's all I want to say because I don't want to give any spoilers. You'll have to read the book. 

There are so many aspects I loved about this book, the characters, the way the story will make you long for a simpler time, wanting to know more about your own ancestors and the cadence of the brilliant writing. Ms. Brunsvold is an accomplished writer, and her stories speak to your heart and soul and stay with you long after you've closed the book. A few of my favorite quotes can be found on pages 100, 165, 296, and 306. 

The overall theme of "do the next thing" resounded with me that life will have hard trials and challenges and sometimes all we can do to move forward is to do the next thing. 

The Divine Proverb of Streusel had so many intricate layers to dealing with heartbreak, family, redemption, the wisdom found in the book of Proverbs and healing. I feel like I needed to re-read it a second time to fully appreciate all the subtle nuances. This book is a must read for 2024! 


~~I purchased a paperback copy of The Divine Proverb of Streusel from Baker Book House in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.~~

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Juliet Code is Whodunnit Mystery

 


Fellow bookworms have raved about author Pepper Basham's books to me for a few years and after reading The Juliet Code I can see why. I'm a little late in jumping on the Pepper Basham bandwagon, but better late than never. 

The Juliet Code is the third book in A Freddie and Grace Mystery following The Mistletoe Countess and The Cairo Curse

Fredrick and Grace Percy are finally on their delayed honeymoon in Italy when they are unwittingly pulled into an art heist mystery when they discover their friend Detective Jack Miracle is in the city asking for their help. 

I loved Grace's passion and recall of the novels including referencing characters and places. This trait made her such a unique and delightful heroine. 

Freddie and Grace as a couple, I so enjoyed their quick-witted verbal interactions and how well they know each other, but also have a deep love and affection for one another. Their relationship was probably my favorite feature of the story. Not sure if this was the author's intention, but Fredrick and Grace reminded me of the fictional silver screen husband and wife sleuths Nick and Nora Charles portrayed in the Thin Man movies.

 As we begin a new year the theme throughout the book of Christ being the Author of our lives and in control of all struck a chord with me and I thought was a good reminder going into 2024. 

Author Pepper Basham's style of writing in The Juliet Code reminded me somewhat of popular mystery author Agatha Christie. If you're a fan of this author whose name is synonymous with mystery you need you check out The Juliet Code. I will definitely be adding The Mistletoe Countess and The Cairo Curse to my TBR pile!

Have you ever read any Agatha Christie books? Did you like them?  

Reading is an adventure, 

Emilee 


Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Double Take is a Solid Suspense Read

 


Starting off the new year in 2024 with a suspenseful thriller by USA Today bestselling author Lynette Eason promises an exhilarating journey into the world of heart-pounding suspense and gripping mysteries that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Double Take kicks off her newest Lake City Heroes series following Physician's Assistant Lainie Jackson who survives an attempted murder plot by her ex-fiancĂ© in which she managed to defend herself killing him in the process. Nightmares and PTSD from the incident follow her and she "thinks" she's seeing her dead ex-fiancĂ©. Is he returning to finish the job? 

Detective James Cross was that tough, run-to-the-rescue good guy that you want him to be when you're reading a suspense thriller. I loved that he was always there when Lainie needed him and that his character was actually masculine which I feel is being lost in a lot of the current writing scene. 

I like how the author paces James and Lainie's relationship. It's realistic considering the intense circumstances the author put the characters in and also their relationship history (how long they've known one another.) I also liked that neither James or Lainie was perfect. They both have moments in the story that make you see they are human and it made you as a reader feel like you can relate to your characters more.  

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time you know I like to be honest with my book reviews overall, so with that said, Double Take was a solid suspense read, however there were a few things that took me out of the story: 

  1. There were a few written moments where props were suddenly just gone. You didin't know what happened to them, but suddendly, when least expected they were brought back into the dialogue. Without revealing any details, there was a horse that just kept coming and going, lol. 
  2. There were also a few times where the dialogue was too tell instead of show. This limited your ability to get into the characters head and it slowed the story down. 

Whenever I read Christian fiction, a clear faith thread/element is important to me and I felt that the author was able to weave this into the story. I didn't feel it was added as an afterthought and I appreciate that. 

Double Take will have you turning pages in this suspense-filled dangerous cat and mouse game.  It was a good "curl up with on a snowy day underneath my bookcase quilt" book (Thanks, mom ; ) 


~~Double Take was provided to me by the publisher in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of the book.  I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~