The Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas

The Last MidwifeThe Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas

It is 1880 and Gracy Brookens is the only midwife in a small Colorado mining town where she has delivered hundreds, maybe thousands, of babies in her lifetime. The women of Swandyke trust and depend on Gracy, and most couldn’t imagine getting through pregnancy and labor without her by their sides.

But everything changes when a baby is found dead…and the evidence points to Gracy as the murderer.

She didn’t commit the crime, but clearing her name isn’t so easy when her innocence is not quite as simple, either. She knows things, and that’s dangerous. Invited into her neighbors’ homes during their most intimate and vulnerable times, she can’t help what she sees and hears. A woman sometimes says things in the birthing bed, when life and death seem suspended within the same moment. Gracy has always tucked those revelations away, even the confessions that have cast shadows on her heart.

With her friends taking sides and a trial looming, Gracy must decide whether it’s worth risking everything to prove her innocence. And she knows that her years of discretion may simply demand too high a price now…especially since she’s been keeping more than a few dark secrets of her own.

With Sandra Dallas’s incomparable gift for creating a sense of time and place and characters that capture your heart, The Last Midwife tells the story of family, community, and the secrets that can destroy and unite them.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a powerful, emotionally charged novel that will keep you turning pages even when you should have been in bed hours before.

“I guess I know more than she does, because the baby don’t come out of your foot.”

I dare you to read this book and not fall completely in love with Gracy. She is the kind of character that works her way into your heart and refuses to leave. I find that I am still thinking of her, long after the last page has been read.

Really, I can’t say enough good things about this novel, or the author’s writing. I’m struggling to find words that will do it justice.

What I loved: Gracy’s life in the various terrains and her midwifery skills, including the struggles she faced with weather and other folks in the community were wonderfully descriptive. I really felt like I was there with her, travelling the bumpy roads and helping these women through their birthing trials.

What I loved even more: Gracy is forgiving, kind and understanding, but she can also be as tough as nails, as one would expect a woman living at the time and doing the duties she performs would have had to be.

This story doesn’t waste time delaying the events that shape the story, and by the time the important stuff happens, it feels like a natural progression. This author has an excellent handle on language and her writing is smooth and flows easily. I was particularly impressed with the dialogue.

There are a lot of books out there, but few that I can find no fault in–this is one. Read it, you won’t be sorry.

This review is based on a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

Countdown to Death by Iain McChesney

Countdown to DeathCountdown to Death by Iain McChesney

Ten strangers are lured to a remote Scottish island at the invitation of a reclusive industrialist.

Stranded on Lord Black’s wondrous estate, the disparate guests have more in common than they first realize.

Accused in a mysterious letter of having committed crimes in their past, one by one they are hunted down. But who is the killer? Will any of them live to find out?

***A modern retelling of the Agatha Christie classic–with a surprising twist.***
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

And then there were none…kind of. I really liked this book. I became hooked on this author’s writing with his first novel, so I was definitely curious to see what he would do next. I’m excited to say that he surprised me in a pleasant way.

This book is a modern retelling of a classic work, and although they are different enough that they can’t be directly compared–I have to say, that for once, I liked this story better than the original.

One of my favourite things about McChesney’s writing, is the way he blends dark humour into an ordinary scene, making it fun. I like the ironic things that happen to his characters and the way he gets an already quick plot moving even faster with unexpected events.

I couldn’t figure this one out until the very end, and I laughed when I realised that the clues were there all along–but I was so involved with the writing and the characters that I didn’t see what was right in front of me.

I truly like this author, and recommend his work to anyone looking for a great read.

So much fun!

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and was provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

Science of the Magical by Matt Kaplan

Science of the Magical: From the Holy Grail to Love Potions to SuperpowersScience of the Magical: From the Holy Grail to Love Potions to Superpowers by Matt Kaplan

From the author of The Science of Monsters, this engaging scientific inquiry provides a definitive look into the elements of mystical places and magical objects—from the philosopher’s stone, to love potions to the oracles—from ancient history, mythology, and contemporary culture.

Can migrations of birds foretell our future? Do phases of the moon hold sway over our lives? Are there sacred springs that cure the ill? What is the best way to brew a love potion? How do we create mutant humans who regenerate like Wolverine?

In Science of the Magical, noted science journalist Matt Kaplan plumbs the rich, lively, and surprising history of the magical objects, places, and rituals that infuse ancient and contemporary myth. Like Ken Jennings and Mary Roach, Kaplan serves as a friendly armchair guide to the world of the supernatural. From the strengthening powers of Viking mead, to the super soldiers in movies like Captain America, Kaplan ranges across cultures and time periods to point out that there is often much more to these enduring magical narratives than mere fantasy. Informative and entertaining, Science of the Magical explores our world through the compelling scope of natural and human history and cutting-edge science.–Goodreads

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Need a bit of personality with your nonfiction? Enter Matt Kaplan. If you are on a quest to expand your brain and find magic, mythology, ancient lore and religion all to be interesting topics but can’t handle one more dry, unemotional observation, you should really consider giving this book a go.

I can’t honestly say that I have ever read a nonfiction book where the footnotes were funny, until this one. Matt Kaplan approaches science through a different perspective. Clearly he is intelligent and interested in many facets of the world around us and that comes through in his writing, but he approaches things in a way that makes the reader feel involved and keeps you wondering what he is going to conquer next. Through his recounting of personal experiences interwoven with scientific fact, he gives us a broader view of the topics at hand.

You’ll feel smarter after you read his work, but you won’t feel that usual brain burn that tends to follow reading a serious text. This would be a great book for older students, as it won’t put them to sleep. The author included a variety of different topics and made each one of them interesting and easy to understand.

Honestly, this is the most fun I’ve had with a nonfic in a long time, possibly ever. Highly recommended. Looking forward to checking out the author’s other work now.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath by Kimberly Knutsen

The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath: A NovelThe Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath: A Novel by Kimberly Knutsen

Set in the frozen wasteland of Midwestern academia, The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath introduces Wilson A. Lavender, father of three, instructor of women’s studies, and self-proclaimed genius who is beginning to think he knows nothing about women. He spends much of his time in his office not working on his dissertation, a creative piece titled “The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath.” A sober alcoholic, he also spends much of his time not drinking, until he hooks up with his office mate, Alice Cherry, an undercover stripper who introduces him to “the buffer”—the chemical solution to his woes.

Wilson’s wife, Katie, is an anxious hippie, genuine earth mother, and recent PhD with no plans other than to read People magazine, eat chocolate, and seduce her young neighbor—a community college student who has built a bar in his garage. Intelligent and funny, Katie is haunted by a violent childhood. Her husband’s “tortured genius” both exhausts and amuses her.

The Lavenders’ stagnant world is roiled when Katie’s pregnant sister, January, moves in. Obsessed with her lost love, ’80s rocker Stevie Flame, January is on a quest to reconnect with her glittery, big-haired past. A free spirit to the point of using other people’s toothbrushes without asking, she drives Wilson crazy.

Exploring the landscape of family life, troubled relationships, dreams of the future, and nightmares of the past, Knutsen has conjured a literary gem filled with humor and sorrow, Aqua Net and Scooby-Doo, diapers and benzodiazepines—all the detritus and horror and beauty of modern life.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This can be a difficult book to read at times, since you know from the beginning that everything is not going to come up roses, but it is also unique, moving, funny and heartfelt.

I love books that can mirror real life so accurately that you feel like the author really poured their heart and soul into them. You definitely feel that when you read “The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath.”

Kimberly Knutsen writes with a passion and it is felt through each of her carefully worded passages. I enjoyed reading this and found myself nodding my head in agreement with many of the characters thoughts and much of the dialogue. This author is able to put into words what many people must think but not be able to voice.

The characters are strong and believable and the emotional link between them is apparent from the beginning. These are not one-dimensional characters and it is obvious that the author put a lot of work into each of them.

If you enjoy realistic dramas, and books that can make you forget about your own worries and become involved with the characters, this one is likely something you will enjoy.

This review is based on a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

Masters of the field by John L. Herberich

Masters of the Field: The Fourth United States Cavalry in the Civil War by John L Herberich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Just wow. I have got a massive collection of Civil War related books, but this is truly the first one I have seen that deals with an individual regiment in such depth.

This book took some serious research and it is obvious whilst reading it that the author really cared about using the actual words of the people involved to tell the story of these important historical events.

Although the author admits to a family history based bias, I didn’t see that he was particularly opinionated one way or the other in most cases, and felt he made an honest effort to tell the truth based on the variety of documents he researched and provided.

This is an exciting book, with a lot of value for anyone interested in this period of history and I cannot recommend it strongly enough. I will definitely be adding this to my personal collection.

Excellent.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Greythorne by L.M. Merrington

GreythorneGreythorne by L. M. Merrington

How did Lucy Greythorne die?

From the moment Nell Featherstone arrives at Greythorne Manor as a governess to eight-year-old Sophie, she finds herself haunted by the fate of the mistress of the house, and entranced by the child’s father, the enigmatic Professor Nathaniel Greythorne.

When a violent storm reveals Lucy’s body is not in her grave, Nell becomes suspicious about the Professor’s research. But what she discovers in his laboratory will turn all her ideas about life and death, morality and creation on their head.

Enthralled by a man walking a fine line between passion and madness, Nell must make an impossible choice between life, death, and life after death, where any mistake could be her last.

Perfect for fans of Daphne DuMaurier, Susan Hill and Kate Mosse.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First of all–great cover!

This book is written in a traditional, creepy, Gothic style that I have always enjoyed. The author did a good job of setting a remote location where one expects something frightening to happen from the very beginning. I actually thought it had a slight Frankenstein feel to it, and I liked that.

The characters were mysterious and made you want to know more about them, especially the jack-of-all-trades man that worked for the owner of Greythorne.

I turned pages quickly in this book, eager to know what was going to happen next. There were parts of this book that I thought were very original, although I did feel that some spots could have been filled in a bit more.

Overall, this was an enjoyable book with great atmosphere and good dialogue. If you like darker books, this one should satisfy.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

In the Land of Giants by Max Adams

In the Land of GiantsIn the Land of Giants by Max Adams

The five centuries between the end of Roman Britain (410) and the death of Alfred the Great (899) have left few voices save a handful of chroniclers, but Britain’s ‘Dark Ages’ can still be explored through their material remnants: buildings, books, metalwork, and, above all, landscapes.

Max Adams explores Britain’s lost early medieval past by walking its paths and exploring its lasting imprint on valley, hill and field. From York to Whitby, from London to Sutton Hoo, from Edinburgh to Anglesey and from Hadrian’s Wall to Loch Tay, each of his ten walk narratives form both free-standing chapters and parts of a wider portrait of a Britain of fort and fyrd, crypt and crannog, church and causeway, holy well and memorial stone.

Part travelogue, part expert reconstruction, IN THE LAND OF GIANTS offers a beautifully written insight into the lives of peasants, drengs, ceorls, thanes, monks and kings during an enigmatic but richly exciting period of our island’s history.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a breath of fresh air. Seriously, you feel like you are right there, walking alongside the author as you are reading, experiencing everything through his rich descriptions and historical knowledge.

If you are curious about the “Dark Ages,” but do not want to read a boring, stuffy book full of facts, this is a perfect choice. There are photos and maps in each chapter and the author does an excellent job of describing how the locations have changed over the years.

I was absorbed by this book early on, and definitely want to make it a permanent part of my collection. I could see this being a great addition to travel guides and maps if you were planning a trip to these areas and wanted to take a tour. The author offers many little-known facts and details events in a way that makes them seem important and relevant even today.

Highly recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Hitler at Home by Despina Stratigakos

Hitler at HomeHitler at Home by Despina Stratigakos

Adolf Hitler’s makeover from rabble-rouser to statesman coincided with a series of dramatic home renovations he undertook during the mid-1930s. This provocative book exposes the dictator’s preoccupation with his private persona, which was shaped by the aesthetic and ideological management of his domestic architecture. Hitler’s bachelor life stirred rumors, and the Nazi regime relied on the dictator’s three dwellings—the Old Chancellery in Berlin, his apartment in Munich, and the Berghof, his mountain home on the Obersalzberg—to foster the myth of the Führer as a morally upstanding and refined man. Author Despina Stratigakos also reveals the previously untold story of Hitler’s interior designer, Gerdy Troost, through newly discovered archival sources.

At the height of the Third Reich, media outlets around the world showcased Hitler’s homes to audiences eager for behind-the-scenes stories. After the war, fascination with Hitler’s domestic life continued as soldiers and journalists searched his dwellings for insights into his psychology. The book’s rich illustrations, many previously unpublished, offer readers a rare glimpse into the decisions involved in the making of Hitler’s homes and into the sheer power of the propaganda that influenced how the world saw him.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For all of those who have only seen the one side of Hitler, represented in popular media, this book will be a real eye-opener.

I was greatly impressed with this book. The author could have chosen to go a lot of different ways with this, and I have great respect for the route she chose. I felt, whilst reading this, that she chose to remain as impartial as possible. Rather than trying to make the audience see the softer side of this man, or try to paint him in an overall different light, she let the facts and historical documentation speak for itself. Neither making him look bad, nor good, just–human.

I was surprised to read much of this book, as I had not realised before what an important role his homes had played in his life. Nor had I realised what a big part of his life Gerdy Troost was. I found the chapter on what happened to her after the fall of the Reich fascinating.

This book allows the reader inside a private world of long ago, and offers them the chance to see first hand the insecurities, nuances and personality quirks of one of history’s most infamous men.

There are many photos that I have not seen elsewhere, and a lot of information that was more than just a simple repeat. If this is a subject that interests you, you can’t go wrong with this book.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley.

A couple of quick reviews

My first review:)

Poetry by Pamela

A couple of really quick reviews:

The Secret Sense of Wildflower by Susan Gabriel was an easy read. It tells the story of Wildflower (Louisa May) and her sisters adjusting to life without their father. It begs for a sequel, which was indicated will be forthcoming. A light book, yet engaging. Four out of five stars

Thursday the Twelfth by Ionia Martin is a short story. It is a spoof for all of those “Friday the 13th” type movies and books. This book had me laughing out loud in several places. It was ridiculous, as are the movies it was spoofing. But I think one of the lines I laughed the hardest (no pun intended) was Master Bates. Really, this is the kind of humor you can expect from this story. I literally laughed out loud. Best 99 cents I have spent in weeks. Hilarious. Five out of five stars.

View original post

The Latest Reason To Be Ashamed Of Myself

horror cover

Available now on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited

Description:
“Thursday the Twelfth” is a 15k word parody about a down-on-his-luck killer in a horror book. Filled with absolute silliness, it is not recommended that you read this book if you are concerned with your sanity. For everyone else who is okay with being crazy, please proceed.

Blurb:
What happens if the star of the horror book, the masked murderer, is arrested before he has the chance to kill anyone? A failing college student steps in to take his place. Can it really be that simple? Does the masked killer just walk up to someone and kill them?

Not quite.

Along with following all of the horror monster rules he learned at Psychotic Killer Camp, like:

The killer always gets up again
He always takes the stairs
He must never lose his weapon
He must enter through the most impossible entrance

He also has to decide what his motive is, and if he can really manage to kill anyone, especially those closest to him. Thank goodness for the help of some famous movie monsters, or his bad luck just might do him in before he ever gets the chance to make something of his new career.

With two bumbling cops on the lookout, a group of friends who are more concerned with partying than the killer on the loose, and an angry bear and rabid squirrel competing for body count, John has his work cut out for him.

Excerpt:
He came charging through, straight at Marissa and her boyfriend, Todd. Both of them looked up and said, “Hey John,” but neither of them appeared the slightest bit terrified.

He blew out an exasperated breath, and sat down on the end of the bed, tugging his mask up again.

“Look, I’m not John anymore. I am now a deranged, blood-thirsty killer, and it would really do me a huge favour if when you see me charging through the door, you could scream and run. Otherwise, I will feel really bad when I kill you.”

“But we’ve known you forever. You’ll always be John to us,” Marissa said.

Todd nodded.

The killer rolled his eyes. “I know that, and we can all get together for some beers and a BBQ after this is over, but for now can you just play along? I have to kill you in this book or the author will fire me.”

His two friends considered his words. It made sense. If he got fired he wouldn’t be able to afford the beer. “Okay,” they agreed.

Marissa looked at him curiously. “Should we like, start having sex or something?”

Todd looked hopeful.

John shook his head. “There’s no time. The author wants to go make dinner.”

Todd looked defeated.

“I’m going to go back out in the hall and jiggle the door handle a couple of times. That’s your cue to act scared when I come charging in, and try to flee. Screaming and running. That’s all you gotta do.”

They both consented.

John went back into the hallway, and jiggled the door handle twice before entering. He came rampaging in, and his two friends opened their eyes wide and pointed, both screaming and diving for opposite sides of the room. John tripped over Marissa’s handbag, and pitched head first out the window.