Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"What I'm Reading" Wednesday #28

                 What an interesting reading week this has been. I've worked at a Victorian-era Renaissance Fair with two girls with family issues, went back to the early 1900s and grieved alongside a woman who lost her only child then went mad, and now I'm on a rebel pirate ship outside Boston in 1775 just before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War...

The Rebel Pirate by Donna Thorland
1775, Boston Harbor. James Sparhawk, Master and Commander in the British Navy, knows trouble when he sees it. The ship he’s boarded is carrying ammunition and gold…into a country on the knife’s edge of war. Sparhawk’s duty is clear: confiscate the cargo, impound the vessel and seize the crew. But when one of the ship’s boys turns out to be a lovely girl, with a loaded pistol and dead-shot aim, Sparhawk finds himself held hostage aboard a Rebel privateer.

Sarah Ward never set out to break the law. Before Boston became a powder keg, she was poised to escape the stigma of being a notorious pirate’s daughter by wedding Micah Wild, one of Salem’s most successful merchants. Then a Patriot mob destroyed her fortune and Wild played her false by marrying her best friend and smuggling a chest of Rebel gold aboard her family’s ship.

Now branded a pirate herself, Sarah will do what she must to secure her family’s safety and her own future. Even if that means taking part in the cat and mouse game unfolding in Boston Harbor, the desperate naval fight between British and Rebel forces for the materiel of war—and pitting herself against James Sparhawk, the one man she cannot resist.

Why I Chose This Book / What I Think of it so far:

So there I was in the middle of the fiction section of Half Price Books searching for a copy of Leo Tolstoy's War & Peace. As I'm searching the "T"s I spot an intriguing looking spine standing out from the other books, so I knelt down and there was The Rebel Pirate. I love historical fiction, especially historical romance, so I left good old Tolstoy behind and picked up The Rebel Pirate instead. 
"The gold was Spanish, the chest was French, the ship was American, and the captain was dead."
With an opening line like that, how could you not want to keep reading? I'm immediately drawn onto the Charming Sally as if the ship were real and I was a mouse in the corner watching the first exchange between Sparhawk and Sarah. The sparks are flying and I can tell that this story has potential to be a really great read. I haven't read many books set in the Revolutionary-era but I'm really enjoying this story. I can't wait to see where it goes...

Now on to those other interesting reads since last week...

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara's fate, she discovers that she's not the only person who's desperately looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

What I Thought of This Book:
There is no greater love than a mother's love. A mother will do anything for their child, go to any length. And if that mother were to lose that child? She'd do anything to have that child back, even though the consequences may be deadly. That's the message I gather from The Winter People. 

Sara Harrison Shea loved her daughter more than life. After multiple miscarriages and a son dead at only a few months old, Sara finally gave birth to her miracle child, Gertie. She loved that child more than she loved anyone else, even her husband Martin. 

When Gertie follows her father into the woods on a winter day and disappears only to show up dead the next day Sara finally snaps. In her madness, she decides to awaken her daughter from the dead using the instructions her beloved Auntie (a part native American witch) left her on how to awaken sleepers. 

In doing so she begins a chain of events that will eventually end in her "death." 

More than one hundred years later 19-year-old Ruthie's mother is missing. In search for her mother, she comes across two wallets belonging to a man and a woman she's never seen before... or has she? Along with the wallets, Ruthie and her six-year-old sister Fawn find a gun and a book about Sara Harrison Shea. 

This discovery will have Ruthie learning things about herself beyond her understanding and the hunt for her mother will merge with two other women's search for the truth and for the missing pages of Sara Harrison Shea's diary. 

I really liked this book, even the parts that left me with a creepy feeling like I didn't want to turn off the lights at night. The story overall reminds me heavily of The Legend of Lucy Keys, of a mother so in love with her missing child she never stopped looking for the child until her dying breath. But unlike The Legend of Lucy Keys, Sara had her child and killed to keep her happy. This book shows the strong bond between mother and child through the many different characters, although I thought the Katherine character was a little unnecessary. Sure, Gary was her husband and he held a crucial role in solving the mystery but she was just asking for trouble. And how does that make her any better than Candace? Also, was "Auntie" really Sara's Aunt? The book mentions Sara's mother's sister Prudence coming to talk to Sara's father to get him to send Auntie away but if Auntie was Sara's mother's sister wouldn't that also be Prudence's sister? Surely she couldn't be Sara's father's sister if they were sleeping together...

This book is perfect for anyone looking for a gripping, creepy historical mystery filled with unbelievable twists and turns. Don't start this book unless you have all night to finish it because you won't want to put it down until the final page has been read.
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

as you've probably seen this week I also read...

Victorian by Jordan Elizabeth
Celeste struggles with finding her way from a dark past until she gets a summer volunteer gig at the local historical fair. Enter outrageous actors, dominating psychics, and ghosts stirred by a medium’s presence. 

With the help of the psychic’s son, who isn’t at all what her dream date would look like but rather endearing all the same, Celeste uncovers secrets about the village left hidden amongst the dilapidated buildings. Searching deeper will mean opening her heart, a part of her she’s locked up tight and been petrified of freeing.

What I Thought of this Book:
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Of the books I've read by this author, this is one of my favorites. I liked the idea of the Festival and the history of the village the festival is set at.

We meet the two main characters Weronika and Aeltye "Celeste" when they meet at a teen therapy group. Weronika likes to push the envelope while Celeste is kind of mousy and skittish. Both girls have dark pasts they don't want to talk about but each handles those problems differently. Weronika acts out to tick her family off while Celeste clings to her grandfather like a safety blanket and hovers over her younger brother who has "selective mutism."

As the story progresses the two girls take jobs at a Victorian-era style Renaissance Fair held on the grounds of a historic village. But the village is haunted and Celeste sees ghosts everywhere. 

Taking it upon herself Celeste decides to help the ghosts and solve the mystery of how everyone died with the help of a guy named Zander, the son of the festival's transgender "spiritual healer." 

Meanwhile, Weronika struggles with her demons and struggles to perform her duties at the festival. 

Will Celeste and Zander solve the mystery? Will working at the festival help Celeste and Weronika heal? Will they still be friends after the dark secrets they hide are revealed?

I liked this book but a lot of the chapters were in Celeste's perspective and I would have liked to see more in Weronika's perspective. Another thing I noticed was it seemed like everything was jammed in at the end; the resolve of the ghost issue, the reveal of Celeste and Weronika's pasts, and a major curve ball regarding Celeste's grandfather were all in the last few chapters. 

At the end of the book I, a romantic at heart, hope that after the story ended Zander and Celeste got together, Nate and Weronika stayed together, and Weronika either had a better home life or emancipated herself to get away from those jerkoffs masquerading as parents.

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

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