Book Review: A Wish to Build A Dream On by Vivian Vaughan

A Wish to Build A Dream On by Vivian Vaughan

A Historical Romance Novelette published by Diversion Books (03/22/15)

Summary:

Andie joins a cattle drive as a cook so she can earn enough money to keep the ranch her late husband left her. With her 9-year old son, Jordan, in tow they join the cattle drive headed to Kansas. But the trail master didn’t realize he’d hired a woman. Women aren’t usually the cooks on a drive. Will she be able to keep her job and the men in line? Will self-proclaimed bachelor and trail master, Mr. Catlin, fall in love with cookie?

Keywords:

Romance, Historical, Ranch, Cattle Drive, Cook, Tension, Men v. Women, Gender Roles, Love, Cattle, Disaster, Widow, Mother

My Review:

I held onto all the details of life in the late 1800’s and wish there were more details. This story was too simple to be truly engaging. I wanted to see more of the interactions between the men and herself to really show the life of a chuck wagon cook and life on a cattle drive. Each little detail was interesting, but there weren’t enough of them!

This story was too repetitive. We hear over and over again that Reese doesn’t need a wife and won’t be cornered into it and that Andie thinks he’s attractive. If this story was longer and had time to become fully developed and fully immersed in the little details, I would have been much more interested. If you’re looking for quick historical romance read and don’t mind the repetition, you may enjoy this fast-paced read.

This novel was published by Diversion Books on 03/22/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.00

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Advertisements

Book Review: Scripting the Truth by T.A. Henry

414Z3XL3KBL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

Scripting the Truth by T.A. Henry

An Historical Fiction Novel published through Amazon Digital Services (10/09/2015)

Summary:

“Sometimes I wonder why you put yourself through all this when clearly you knew nothing about the business.” (p. 152).

Lady Margaret Leighton aka Molly doesn’t want to marry whomever her mother approves because she already had her heart broken when the soldier she nursed during World War II vanished. Then she spots his face on a movie poster and she decides right then and there that she’ll do whatever it takes to find him and reconnect. But he’s a famous actor and she can’t even get into the studio without a reason. After failing at pretending to be an actress she finds out that the director’s looking for scripts. Margaret spends a feverish few days learning how to write a script and writing up the proceedings of her time as a QA in World War II. When this gets her in the door, no problems will stop her from finding the missed soldier and her happily ever after, or so she thinks.

Keywords:

World War II, London, QAs, Nursing, Soldiers, Love, Romance, Pursuing Romance, Movie, Actors, Script Writing, High Born, Suitors, Overbearing Mother, Brothers, Hunting Party, Career Woman

My Review:

How far would you go to see your crush again? She wrote a script about qa’s in the war that went unrewarded and then wrote a new script all about a love story without the war. After rewrites and negotiations she gets herself on set and her crush as leading man. What could go wrong?

Molly is determined, witty, clever, knows when to forge ahead and when you admit defeat. She’s amazingly stubborn when an idea grabs hold of her. She’s set herself up for a rude awakening of a failure.

Great balance between the actual script and the real story so I felt I knew what the script was about and how it paralleled Molly’s real experience without getting too much into the story-within-the-story. It was fun getting some real world and excellent script writing pointers for people who’ve never done it before, like Molly.

The dialogue was amazing, clever, and funny.

Overall this was a delightful novel and I can’t wait to read what T. A. Henry comes up with next

This novel was published through Amazon Digital Services 10/09/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Goodreads

T.A. Henry’s Blog

Book Review: Bread for Pharaoh by Jason Black

 41vb73dOOLL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Bread for Pharaoh by Jason Black

A Middle Grade Historical Fiction Novel published by Elder Road LLC (12/02/13)

Summary:

“Have I started to forget that she is a noble? Or was I forgetting that I am just a peasant?” (Page 45).

San is the baker’s son and in Egyptian times that means he is the boy who delivers the bread and is destined to become the baker when his father retires. You would think delivering bread would be boring, but for San, he steps into the middle of a plot to kill high members of the nobility. San is intrigued by more than just plots, he discovers Aja, a girl who wants a friend as much as he does. Together they will have to uncover evil plots and figure out if they can remain friends from different classes of Egyptian society.

 

Keywords:

Egypt, Ruler, Pharaoh, Pyramids, Bread Maker, Messenger, Running, Evil Plots, Power Hungry, Sphinx, Stone Work, Cruel, Priest, High Priest, Family, Friendship, Playing, Children

My Review:

Bread for Pharaoh was a fun and imaginative book that I enjoyed reading. San was a fun character with personality. He was a protagonist that grabbed life and made it what he wanted. Though he came from the peasant class, he didn’t let that stop him from making a friend in the nobility, going out of his way to help those around him and in different classes, taking risks, pretending to be above his station to accomplish his goals, and being an all-around active protagonist. I was pleased to read about him as a character and was extra pleased that though he was a boy, his character and Aja’s could have been gender reversed in the same story. Neither character was ultimately defined by their class or their gender and this makes for a worthwhile read, especially for young impressionable readers.

This book excelled in its simplicity. The setting was simple and geographically enclosed, though the reader got an understanding of Egypt in that time period. The cast of characters wasn’t too large. The events weren’t too out of the ordinary, though exciting enough to keep the reader’s interest. Overall it was a well-done story.

This novel was published by Elder Road LLC on December 2nd, 2013 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.00

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Book Review: The Crossing Hour by Quoleena Sbrocca

10792088

The Crossing Hour by Quoleena Sbrocca

A Science Fiction (Historical Fiction) Novel published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform(1/29/15)

 

Summary:

“Oh Travis, child, what is fear ? Fear ain’t nothing but a thing that moves us forward and makes us fight ’till we ain’t afraid no more.” (Kindle Locations 4362-4364).

After he discovers the phenomenon of one way time travel, Stanley Graf sets his granddaughter Leigh upon the task of personally welcoming a Traveler from the past. They don’t know who will appear or what year they will come from, but the Grafs do know that the time travel doorway opens up every four years and that there are other restrictions on those who travel. The next Traveler to enter through the doorway in Delaware may be the Graf’s most important discovery yet! When plans to send the Traveler back in time at the appointed hour, exactly one year after the doorway first delivered the Traveler, start to unravel, could history itself be changed? Leigh has the important task of making sure time and history are not altered and the weight of this responsibility rests heavily on her shoulders, “To protect our visitors from the past, so that we may preserve history as we know it, and the future as we hope it will be.” (Kindle Locations 5303-5304).

 

Keywords:

 Time Travel, Harriet Tubman, Historical Fiction, Female Main Character, Independent Women, Strength, Fear, Hardship, Inner Strength, Family, Loyalty, Science Fiction, Destiny

 

My Review:

Time travel is completely bogus and entirely unbelievable as a premise, but Sbrocca takes the concept and convinces me of its truth. She gives underlying scientific technological explanations that had me believing in her time travel theory being plausible. And who better to travel through time then the historical figure she chose! Sbrocca’s premise and usage of time travel were both clever and riveting. The author chose a good idea and then made it into an excellent book.

From the very first pages, Sbrocca delivers tension and intrigue in a powerful beginning to her novel The Crossing Hour. If I were to choose one word to describe this book it would be ‘authentic.’ The characters were believable and felt real, even the ones from other times and places. The characters’ motivations and desires were real and authentic. The dialogue was authentic and sassy and fun.

I am absolutely smitten with Sbrocca’s clever idea of using a time traveler to introduce a specific speech pattern (19th century runaway slave) while still being set in modern, familiar USA. The reader is given a teaser into the past and how people spoke, but is not overwhelmed by this perspective.

Every character has their own story and personality without being over the top or overly unique. The characters from the past stayed true to what I know of them historically. I loved that their personalities and actions stemming from who they were matched my perspective of how I thought those particular people would talk and act and what they would do in certain situations. This is a super cool technique and makes for great historical fiction writing.

Two specifics: The chapter that went back in time to 2011 was a great idea and worked quite well in clearing up any questions that still lingered in the back of my mind. Second: after spending some time in present day technology cluttered USA, wouldn’t any curious time traveler simply ‘google’ themselves to find out why they are so important? This question nagged at me so persistently, but I was able to suspend my disbeliefs in sight of such an entertaining and well written story.

This novel was published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on January 29th, 2015 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

 

Links for more information:

Quoleena Sbrocca’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: An Unlikely Goddess by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

18713534

An Unlikely Goddess by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

A Historical Fiction Novel published through Createspace Independent Publishing Platform (10/14/13)

 

Summary:

“A straight man who won’t sleep with you because he wants to be serious? Marry him,” Manoj said, “Be happy and have lots of babies.” (Kindle Locations 3601-3602).

An Unlikely Goddess focusses on the cultural traditions of an Indian family in both India and America, with a specific focus on the first born daughter Sita. From her very birth, where she was supposed to be a boy and not a girl, she disappoints her mother, father and herself. She must figure out what she believes in order to find her way in a world where she is considered an outsider. Sita’s family is seen by Indian relatives and neighbors as the opulent immigrant family in America, where wealth is taken for granted, but their reality is far different. Sita’s family struggles to stay afloat in America and this borderline poverty affects Sita and her own struggles to be American and fit into the unforgiving expectations of the American schoolchildren.

 

Keywords:

Culture, South Asia – India, Immigrants, Fitting In, Breaking Away, Poverty, Expectations, Faith, Stuck, Happiness, Freedom, Female Main Character

 

My Review:

I will jump right in and say that Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is like the South Asian version of Amy Tan. Rajakumar’s story in Unlikely Goddess is about a young girl growing up as a woman, an Indian immigrant displaced into a vastly different culture than the one she grew up in, parents who want their children to stay true to their culture and traditions, the oppression against females and their independence, and more. Unlikely Goddess is a brilliantly written, masterfully told, powerful story about Sita.

Rajakumar was able to weave a story that was as fascinating and informative as any of Amy Tan’s novels about Chinese immigrants or turn of the century China. An Unlikely Goddess was a story alive that gave me an unusual insight into Sita’s life. Sita was a fascinating character. Her story was the main focus, but through her the reader is privy to the angst a teen feels in America as culturally and ethnically and financially set apart from her peers. Sita’s discomfort was the reader’s discomfort. Rakajumar is able to translate the book’s emotions so that the reader is involved in Sita’s life and her emotions and desires.

It is not just Sita that the reader feels compassion and understanding toward, but also her mother Mythili. Through books like these readers can gain a true understanding of what it’s like to be thrust into an environment where you are the one apart, where you are the one that is different, where expectations are placed on you for your gender and your culture and your skin color.

This book blew me away and I appreciated Rajakumar’s prose and style and story so much that I plan on reading everything else she has written.

This novel was published through Createspace Independent Publishing Platform October 14th, 2013 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar’s Website

Facebook

Book Review: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China by Amy Kwei

concubine

A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China by Amy Kwei

A Historical Fiction Novel published by Tats Publishing (August 2, 2012)

 

Summary:

 The Huang family is without an heir… In early to mid 19th century China, this has grave consequences for the old traditions. Purple Jade has the humility, dignity, and pragmatism to bring an heir to the Huangs in any culturally justified means available: a Concubine for the Family.

 

Keywords:

 Family, Tradition, Honor, Respect, Dignity, China 1937-1941, cultural shock, East Ocean Devils, West Ocean Devils, Western philosophies

 

My Review:

The violence in this book was softened. The cultural shock was softened. The bad guy was ambiguous. Amy Kwei chose to soften the blow of the violence in this book by using a mellowing narrative voice. I thought it was fitting for the author to soften her words and perspective (softening the truth perhaps), because the characters and persons in the book showed considerable restraint. Where you or I would lash out in voice or action, Purple Jade held her peace and showed that she was considering both sides to a situation (in her thoughts). The author describes this as a concept of fixing yourself before fixing the world: “By cultivating oneself, we can regulate the family; by regulating the family, we can govern the state; by governing the state, we can bring peace on earth. When order and kindness direct the world, heaven will be pleased.” (Page 326). What a wonderful concept that everyone should adopt, at least in part, and the world would be a better place.

Perhaps the bad guy was not a single person, but actions of people or actions of a country. Perhaps it is fate or old traditions. Perhaps it is the concept of war. Kwei gives the reader much to ponder by not handing us a simple and easy character to despise and blame. The characters are just as much prone to their fate as we are in real life.

I get a little lost in the politics of a country’s history I know nothing about and a country’s culture I am quite unfamiliar with, but that’s what makes this book so fascinating. Kwei describes the proper way to eat and what is proper to eat. She describes when and who speaks, political gains and favors, and the halting way of speaking (as if it’s been translated just for our eyes). I am peeking into a world I would normally not have insight into and it is described in enough detail to give me a taste without having overwhelming flavor.

I very much enjoyed Kwei’s descriptions of cultural traditions and the differences between modern living and traditions of the past. The concept of “saving face” was intriguing, as was the struggle between culture and shame.

“If we can agree with their concept that each person is endowed with thoughts and feelings worthy of singular attention, more opportunities and developments would surely follow.” (Page 298).

 

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a political element, culturally rich stories, novels featuring Chinese in China, or a novel with a strong female lead.

This novel was published by Tats Publishing August 2, 2012 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TLDR Star Rating: 4.50

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Tats Publishing

Facebook