Friday, August 26, 2016

Review: Blue Moon by Wendy Corsi Staub

Blue Moon (Mundy's Landing, Book #2)
by Wendy Corsi Staub
Release Date: July 26th 2016
2016 William Morrow
Kindle Edition; 448 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062349750
ASIN: B017H6Y0XC
Genre: Fiction / Murder
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Summary
A century ago, the Sleeping Beauty Murders terrified picturesque Mundy’s Landing. The victims, like the killer, were never identified. Now, on the hundredth anniversary, the Historical Society’s annual “Mundypalooza” offers a hefty reward for solving the notorious case.

Annabelle Bingham, living in one of the three Murder Houses, can’t escape the feeling that her family is being watched—and not just by news crews and amateur sleuths. She’s right. Having unearthed the startling truth behind the horrific crimes, a copycat killer is about to reenact them—beneath the mansard roof of Annabelle’s dream home . . .


My Thoughts
Blue Moon is the second book in the Mundy's Landing trilogy and I quite liked this one far more than the first book, Blood Red.  I also took a liking to the villains, the killer and the somewhat shady historical keeper, as they were far more interesting than Annabelle and Trib who I just wanted to throttle half of the time.  And I rather liked how the author built up to the crime, leaving the reader wondering if anything was going to happen or not, which was suspenseful on its own.

From the beginning, although the author set up the chapters the exact same way as the first novel, with excerpts pulled from an old diary as well as thoughts from the killer, the whole atmosphere seemed a bit different.  There was this layer of suspense over everything that wasn't there before which I rather liked, and to be honest, I really didn't figure out who the killer was until the very end.  The person did come up on my radar once, but I dismissed it as not possible because it would have been too obvious so I turned my attention to other possibilities. I don't think I would have made a good detective.  So I was a bit surprised when I discovered who it was and full of praise for the author as it's not often that I can't figure out who the person is - I am always a fan of an author who can pull a surprise like this.  

I really enjoyed trying to figure out the Sleeping Beauty Murders as a lot more information was revealed in this installment; I liked the historical information on the previous owners of Annabelle's house, trying to figure out what happened there along with her, and although I thought I had it figured out, it was a bit worse than I originally thought.  I definitely liked how the clues were laid out and given to the reader; it is a suspense novel after all, and not a historical one so they should be given out that way. I am not always a fan of reading a killer's POV, but this was rather interesting and well done.  I was glad to see the brutality was also kept to a minimum as that is one of the reasons I am not crazy about following the killer's POV - it can sometimes be rather brutal.  I also enjoyed Ora in this one especially as she could be somewhat deceptive in her dealings with documentation regarding the original murders; I found her to be quite interesting and always wondered what she would do next to protect information and material regarding the murders.  A sneaky old lady, to be sure.

I am still not sure why Sully and Barnes were in this one though.  They really had no purpose, and although I enjoyed their chapters, it did take away from the overall effect of the novel as they had no use here.  Although I suspect the author may be setting up for something in the last novel of this trilogy, I felt her efforts were wasted and these two characters kind of slowed down the overall effectiveness of the plot.  

I also have to mention that I was not a big fan of Annabelle, especially with regards to how she treated her son who suffers from GAD.  The author may have wanted to introduce readers to the anxiety disorder, but I really feel she didn't do justice to it in this novel.  She made Oliver seem like a lost little boy who was scared of everything, and his parents coddled him like a two year old.  Neither of Oliver's parents ever tried to talk him through situations or made him face his fears safely, rather they just avoided situations or treated him like a baby. Having personal experience with anxiety, it was a bit frustrating to read and I definitely think it could have been handled better.  And Kim? I don't even want to go there.

Verdict
Blue Moon is a rather interesting story that kept me engrossed most of the time.  I enjoyed the diary entries by the original killer, the POV of the modern killer, and the search for answers by today's townspeople who are still wondering what happened 100 years ago.  I was not a big fan of the main character though, and I think it says a lot when I was looking forward to reading others' POV instead of Annabelle's as she was annoying.  I am a big fan of Ora's just because I find her so interesting and a bit devious, which I never suspected in the first novel, and I am now wondering what she will do in the next novel, Bone White.

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Dragon Knight's Ring by Mary Morgan



Dragon Knight’s Ring
Order of the Dragon Knights
Book Five

Mary Morgan
Genre: Paranormal Time-travel Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Date of Publication: August 12, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-5092-0983-5
ASIN: B01HDWY852
Number of pages: 366
Word Count: 89,500
Cover Artist: Debbie Taylor

Book Description:
Death destroyed their love. Yet, can a trio of Fenian warriors roll back time to reunite two lost souls?

Crusader, Adam MacFhearguis is on one last quest to the standing stones in Scotland where he seeks to bury the past. However, a silent prayer sends him to an unknown future and to his beloved Meggie. When he uncovers a shocking revelation, Adam questions everything about the woman he thought he knew and loved. He may have traveled the veil of ages, but time is now his enemy.

Margaret MacKay lives a life in the future without the memories of her past—her death. When Adam arrives at her door confessing he knows her, she is confused and wary. With each passing day, she yearns to learn more from this stranger. Yet, when a truth is revealed, can she trust the man to unlock the chains from her mind and heart?

Will love free the bonds to unite the two lovers who were doomed centuries ago? Or will evil finally claim victory over the Dragon Knights?

Amazon       BN      Kobo     The Wild Rose Press     ARe



First Excerpt:
Meggie brushed her fingers over the leather pouch. “It feels empty.”

“Are you not tempted to take a wee look inside?”

She snatched her hand back. “I’m not peering inside the man’s belongings. As soon as he wakes, he and his horse can leave.” Giving the horse a firm pat, Meggie walked out of the stall and away from her smirking cousin—only to run smack into her other cousin, Lena.

“Blast,” snapped Meggie, grabbing her cousin by the arm to help steady them both. “Sorry, didn’t see ye,” Seeing the excitement in Lena’s eyes, she stepped back. “What?”

“I hear you have a Highlander in the guest room,” she replied, giving Meggie a wink. “Are you going to share?”

Meggie placed her hands on her hips. “He’s not my Highlander. Feel free to have him, though as soon as he wakes he’s gone from here.”

Lucas strode out of the stables, wiping his hand on a cloth. “I think I’ll go introduce myself, since I think this man bothers you. You keep stating he must leave as soon as he wakes.”


Monday, August 22, 2016

Review & Giveaway: Time and Regret by M.K. Tod

Time and Regret
by M.K. Tod
Release Date: August 16th 2016
2016 Lake Union Publishing
Ebook Edition; 353 Pages
ISBN: 978-1503938403
ASIN: B01CGBC7CE
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from HF Virtual Book Tours

4 / 5 Stars

Summary
When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long-buried family secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determined to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her…

Through her grandfather’s vivid writing and Grace’s own travels, a picture emerges of a man very unlike the one who raised her: one who watched countless friends and loved ones die horrifically in battle; one who lived a life of regret. But her grandfather wasn’t the only one harboring secrets, and the more Grace learns about her family, the less she thinks she can trust them.


My Thoughts
Time and Regret is the author's third novel and it definitely doesn't disappoint.  A huge fan of Great War literature, I was pleasantly surprised by the Canadian content in this one and was thrilled by the Canadian focus given in the journals as the main character was from Toronto.  Although I enjoyed Grace's discovery of the diaries and her trip to France, it was definitely the journal pages and the subsequent trips back to the Great War through Martin's POV that was the highlight for me.

War diaries and journals are nothing new in the world of war literature, nor is a quest or search for something that grandpa may have kept hidden from the rest of his family; in fact, these types of stories are quite rich in literature.  Tracing Martin's life through his journals gave us a unique insight into his personality and allowed the author to make those POV changes without too much disruption to the story.  As a history teacher, especially one who teaches Canadian history and the two world wars, I couldn't wait to go back to Martin's story.  What I especially liked was the focus; it was on the human side of the war, the cost of life, and the effect it had on the men day in and day out as they continued to fight what they saw as a useless war.  There was a lot of anger towards the politicians and the higher-ups for their poor decisions and the resulting cost of life. And reading again the effect The Somme, Vimy Ridge, and Passchendaele had on these men is mind-blowing. No matter how many times I see the stats and read the different accounts, it will always blow me away.  The author's research was meticulous in this area, and I have to commend her for this.

I was also impressed by Grace.  Coming off a difficult divorce, she was quite insecure and unsure about herself and what she was going to do with her life.  I really loved this about her as it made her seem real and approachable; the author chose a main character to whom you could really relate, and understand her insecurities as it made you want to root for her to succeed.  Maybe because I have children close in age to Grace's, I could appreciate her life and the struggles she might be having. I was also jealous of her trip, having been to many of those places, wanting to be there again. I enjoyed the many descriptions of France and the different monuments as I could picture them in my head and see myself there.  

I did have a difficult time relating to Grace's grandmother, Cynthia, however.  I found her to be quite stubborn and manipulative and cold although I admired the way Grace treated her.  The Cynthia in the journals seemed to be a very different person, and I wondered what trials in life would have made a person this way.  I do wish we had learned more about her and her life as I'm sure it was quite interesting.

Verdict
Time and Regret is a very satisfying novel.  Accompanied by short chapters, a sweet romance in the form of a sexy curator, a charming mystery, and diaries of the Great War, this novel is very rich in detail and quite interesting.  My only complaint would be about the ending as it felt rushed, allowing the emotional factor to drop quite a bit and it was the emotional factor that gave this novel its edge.  The mystery was quite easy to solve for those of you who are mystery readers, but that wasn't why I liked the novel; I liked the intensity of the emotions.  That being said, I really enjoyed this novel, including the ending, and would definitely recommend it to my fellow readers.  

Time and Regret Blog Tour
Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Giveaway: A Mighty Fortress by S.D. Thames

A Mighty Fortress

by S.D. Thames

August 2nd, 2016 BOOK BLAST

Synopsis:

A Mighty Fortress by S.D. ThamesIn Tampa, the only thing more crooked than the mob is the police…
Milo Porter leads a happy life in Tampa, Florida. The Iraq war veteran runs routine private investigations by day and coaches powerlifting at night. When Chad Scalzo, the grandson of a rumored mob boss, goes missing, Milo takes the seemingly easy case. After Chad turns up dead, Milo goes from investigator to suspect.

As he seeks to clear his own name, Milo finds himself at the crossroads of two crooked investigations -- one by the mob and the other by the police. With the body count climbing, Milo discovers the key to the case in the last known person to see Chad alive.

But can Milo get to her before someone else does?

A Mighty Fortress is the first book in the Milo Porter mystery series, a set of gritty crime thrillers that will remind you of the characters from Robert B. Parker and Robert Crais. If you like gripping suspense, hardboiled crime-solvers, and heart-stopping action, then you’ll love the powerful series starter from S.D. Thames.

Buy A Mighty Fortress to get caught up in the mystery today!

Book Details:
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Published by: Independent
Publication Date: July 2016
Number of Pages: 458
ASIN: B01FMWET52
Series: Milo Porter Mystery Series, #1
 Purchase Links: Amazon Kindle Unlimited Goodreads

Author Bio:

S.D. ThamesS.D. Thames is the author of Foreclosure: A Novel, A Mighty Fortress, and other works of crime fiction exploring the dark side of the Sunshine State. Born in Dayton, Ohio while Jimmy Carter was president, S.D. grew up in the suburbs of Cincinnati (with intermittent stints in the bayous of Louisiana and on the riverbanks of Indiana). In 1992, his family relocated to Florida’s gulf coast, about an hour north of Tampa, where he blossomed as a rock guitarist and all around miscreant. While trudging his way through school, he held various odd jobs, including, in no particular order, working as a pizza cook and deliveryman (though never concurrently), dishwasher, newspaper salesman, custodian, carpenter, bookstore clerk, guitar instructor, and manual laborer.

After meeting the love of his life in 1995, he matured five years in one semester and eventually enrolled at the University of Florida, where he majored in English and studied about everything from Chaucer to the Twentieth-Century novel, along with a healthy dose of literary theory. After graduating, he spent a school year teaching German in high school. His life would forever change when he returned to the University of Florida to attend law school, the traditional fallback for despondent English majors. After completing his J.D., he went to work as a litigation associate at a Tampa law firm.

The ensuing seven years are a bit of a blur, but suffice it to say that, unlike the protagonist of Foreclosure, S.D. made partner the first year he was eligible, and did so without having to lie, cheat or otherwise bend the professional rules of conduct. Most days he enjoys the practice of law. He’s had the pleasure of working for a diverse array of clients, including Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, small business owners, real estate developers, venture capitalists, non-profit organizations, parents in Central America seeking the return of their abducted children, and death-row inmates.

He still lives in Tampa, Florida, where he’s married to the love of his life (yes, the same one he met in 1995). They have one daughter, who is 8 years old and a more prolific writer than her dad.

Catch Up: author's website author's twitter author's facebook

 


Don't Miss Your Chance to Win!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for S.D. Thames. There will be TWO (2) winners for this tour. Each winner will receive one $10 Amazon.com (US) Gift Card. The giveaway begins on August 1st and runs through August 5th, 2016.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


 


Friday, July 29, 2016

Review: The Hidden by Heather Graham

The Hidden (Krewe of Hunters, Book #17)
by Heather Graham
Release Date: September 29th 2015
2015 Mira
Ebook Edition; 301 Pages
ISBN: 978-0778318583
ASIN: B00TXDO22C
Genre: Fiction / Paranormal / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Summary

Estes Park, Colorado, is a place of serenity. But it wasn't always so serene. Shortly after the Civil War, Nathan Kendall and his wife were murdered there, leaving behind a young son. The crime was never solved.

Now…historian Scarlet Barlow is working at a small museum attached to a B and B, the same building where that murder occurred. She recently came to Colorado, reeling after her divorce from FBI agent Diego McCullough. Diego—who's just been asked to join the Krewe of Hunters, a unit dealing with "unusual" situations…

When Scarlet unwittingly takes pictures of people who've been murdered—just like the Kendalls a hundred and fifty years before—the police look at her with suspicion. Then the museum's statues of historic people, including Nathan Kendall, begin to talk to her, and she knows it's time to call her ex-husband. Diego heads to Estes Park, determined to solve the bizarre case that threatens Scarlet's life—and to reunite with the woman he never stopped loving.

My Thoughts
The Hidden is the next book in the Krewe of Hunters series, a series that I have enjoyed quite a bit.  Reading these books is a guilty pleasure of mine, and I tend to indulge in between the heavy hitters as a way to relax and get my mind off those deeper novels as let's face it, these novels tend to be light, beach-worthy material, but they can also be a lot of fun too.  I do have to admit that I was a bit disappointed in this one though as it felt like Graham's usual magic wasn't there; too many cliched moments, too many coincidences, a lack of Graham's trademark paranormal skill, and a missing chemistry between the characters just didn't make me like this one as much as the others.

First of all, I couldn't wait to find out Scarlet and Diego's story having met Diego in a previous novel. While I definitely understood their issues which are common in a lot of marriages, I didn't quite get their reunion and how quick they were to jump into bed without resolving any of the issues; and the resulting internal monologues were actually a distraction from the story.  Do I or don't I?  How about the characters sitting down and discussing the issues that tore them apart in the first place?  Don't get me wrong, I love the romance in Graham's books, but here it seemed forced and phony and I wasn't too keen on the way it was done and resolved.

Most of the characters were likeable, but again, nothing really stood out for me in this one.  While I can clearly remember the first few books in this series, I doubt the same thing will happen for me here.  While I like Diego, I think I actually preferred him in the previous novel as I thought he was more interesting.  My biggest character issue had to do with one of the local police officers; he had a total change of personality part-way through the book and I still can't figure out why.  I actually thought he was more interesting when he was questioning Scarlet or questioning the people at the B and B rather than completely caving in and agreeing with everything.  At least it shows he was thinking events through rather than just aimlessly following the FBI agents along like a puppy.  I've never minded tough or strong characters as long as it's justified and makes sense and not just thrown in the novel to create tension.

Verdict
The Hidden is definitely not the strongest entry in this series. Overall I thought the writing was not on the same level as the previous entries and the mystery left me questioning a lot of things at the end; you tend to leave a certain level of believability behind when you read paranormal novels but Graham has usually been pretty good at tying up loose ends and making things sound pretty credible. I don't think she really succeeded with this one, and I don't think the ending helped.  There was definitely an intriguing premise though, and it's too bad the novel didn't quite live up to it.  Will I read another one by this author?  Of course.  I've read quite a few that I've enjoyed tremendously, and I'm hoping the next one will be up to her usual standards. 

 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Review: The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King

The Murder of Mary Russell (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, Book #14)
by Laurie R. King
Release Date: April 5th 2016
2016 Bantam
Kindle Edition; 384 Pages
ISBN: 978-0804177900
ASIN: B00UEL0KV4
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Historical
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Summary
Mary Russell is used to dark secrets—her own, and those of her famous partner and husband, Sherlock Holmes. Trust is a thing slowly given, but over the course of a decade together, the two have forged an indissoluble bond.

And what of the other person to whom Mary Russell has opened her heart: the couple’s longtime housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson? Russell’s faith and affection are suddenly shattered when a man arrives on the doorstep claiming to be Mrs. Hudson’s son.

What Samuel Hudson tells Russell cannot possibly be true, yet she believes him—as surely as she believes the threat of the gun in his hand. In a devastating instant, everything changes. And when the scene is discovered—a pool of blood on the floor, the smell of gunpowder in the air—the most shocking revelation of all is that the grim clues point directly to Clara Hudson.

Or rather to Clarissa, the woman she was before Baker Street.

The key to Russell’s sacrifice lies in Mrs. Hudson’s past. To uncover the truth, a frantic Sherlock Holmes must put aside his anguish and push deep into his housekeeper’s secrets—to a time before her disguise was assumed, before her crimes were buried away.


My Thoughts
The Murder of Mary Russell is the fourteenth book in a very delightful series, and one which I somewhat enjoyed although it is very different than some of the previous Mary Russell novels. I do have to admit that I thought the mystery in this one was not up to par, and I do think the title is very misleading. 

Although I love the escapades of Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell, it was nice to read about Mrs. Hudson's background and how she got involved with Holmes; and it was not quite what I would have expected either. I mean, Mrs. Hudson has always just been there, whenever she was needed, and to be honest, I never really gave it much thought as to how she ended up there, but I should have known it would be something interesting. Most of the story is Mrs. Hudson's backstory, and while I did find it quite interesting, it didn't really draw me in like the previous novels in this series; there were times when I started flipping forward to see when we would get to the parts that involved Holmes and Russell, and I hate doing that.  I also thought the author tried too hard to make Holmes and Mrs. Hudson seem too naive and young during the earlier years, and it didn't come across the way I think it was meant.  I think the author was trying to show that Holmes was not always the cool, calculated person he was now, but in his youth was somewhat inexperienced and tended to panic, but somehow it didn't quite come out the way it was meant, and I found myself shaking my head a few times over some of the scenes.  

I normally love the Mary Russell mysteries and have enjoyed all of them, but sadly, this one was not for me.  Every author can have one of those books in a series that doesn't hit the mark, and this one is it for me; the mystery, the pacing, the clever dialogue, everything felt off.   I thought the mystery was poorly plotted, at least compared to the previous ones, and while Mrs. Hudson's relationship with Holmes is full of secrets, the mystery of Mary Russell is also one full of secrets, both of which kind of left a bad feeling in my mouth. I was a little disappointed in how Holmes and Mrs. Hudson's relationship was perceived by the author; Mrs. Hudson's value actually rose in my eyes after learning more about her and I'm not quite sure what to think about Holmes after this.

Verdict
The Murder of Mary Russell is definitely not up to the quality we are used to seeing in a Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes novel; in fact, I was kind of disappointed.  While the writing was up to par, the clever repartee between the characters was missing, and I wasn't a big fan of the mystery.  And while I never really thought too much about Mrs. Hudson's background, I would have hoped for something a bit better than threats would have kept her at Holmes' side through the years, so I was a bit disappointed in her story line.  Because I have been a fan for such a long time, I am hoping the next book in the series will encapsulate what we all love about the Holmes and Russell series, and that this one was just a misstep, but one that I would definitely not recommend to others.    
Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Book Blast & Giveaway: As Death Draws Near by Anna Lee Huber

02_As Death Draws NearAs Death Draws Near (Lady Darby Mystery #5) by Anna Lee Huber

 

Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Berkley Harcover & eBook; 336 Pages
Series: Lady Darby Mysteries
Genre: Historical Mystery      

The latest mystery from the national bestselling author of A Study in Death tangles Lady Kiera Darby and Sebastian Gage in a dangerous web of religious and political intrigue.

 July 1831. In the midst of their idyllic honeymoon in England’s Lake District, Kiera and Gage’s seclusion is soon interrupted by a missive from her new father-in-law. A deadly incident involving a distant relative of the Duke of Wellington has taken place at an abbey south of Dublin, Ireland, and he insists that Kiera and Gage look into the matter.

Intent on discovering what kind of monster could murder a woman of the cloth, the couple travel to Rathfarnham Abbey school. Soon a second nun is slain in broad daylight near a classroom full of young girls. With the sinful killer growing bolder, the mother superior would like to send the students home, but the growing civil unrest in Ireland would make the journey treacherous.

Before long, Kiera starts to suspect that some of the girls may be hiding a sinister secret. With the killer poised to strike yet again, Kiera and Gage must make haste and unmask the fiend, before their matrimonial bliss comes to an untimely end...

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iBooks | IndieBound

Praise for the Lady Darby Mysteries

“Riveting…Huber deftly weaves together an original premise, an enigmatic heroine, and a compelling Highland setting for a book you won’t want to put down.”—Deanna Raybourn, New York Times bestselling author “[A] history mystery in fine Victorian style!”—Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times bestselling author “[A] fascinating heroine…A thoroughly enjoyable read!”—Victoria Thompson, national bestselling author “[A] clever heroine with a shocking past and a talent for detection.”—Carol K. Carr, national bestselling author

03_Anna Lee HuberAbout the Author

Anna Lee Huber is the Award-Winning and National Bestselling Author of the Lady Darby Mystery Series. She was born and raised in a small town in Ohio, and graduated summa cum laude from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN with a degree in music and a minor in psychology. She currently resides in Indiana, and when not working on her next book she enjoys reading, singing, traveling and spending time with her family.

For more information please visit www.annaleehuber.com. Connect with Anna Lee Huber on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Tuesday, July 5

100 Pages a Day
Passages to the Past
Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, July 6
Layered Pages
Buried Under Books
CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, July 7
The Lit Bitch
The Book Junkie Reads
A Dream within a Dream
To Read, Or Not to Read

Friday, July 8
History Undressed
Diana's Book Reviews

Saturday, July 9
A Chick Who Reads
Reading Is My SuperPower

Sunday, July 10
Book Drunkard

Monday, July 11
It's a Mad Mad World
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, July 12
The Reading Queen
Curling up by the Fire

Wednesday, July 13
Brooke Blogs
Queen of All She Reads
History From a Woman's Perspective  

Thursday, July 14
Book Nerd
A Literary Vacation

Friday, July 15
A Holland Reads
Beth's Book Nook Blog

Giveaway

To win a paperback copy of As Death Draws Near by Anna Lee Huber, please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. Two copies are up for grabs!

Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 15th.
-  You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

As Death Draws Near Book Blast


 
Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Review: The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson

The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder
by William Anderson (Editor)
Release Date: March 8th 2016
2016 Harper
Ebook ARC Edition; 395 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062419682
ASIN: B00ZP5WMTW
Genre: Nonfiction / Historical / Memoir
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Summary
This is a fresh look at the adult life of the author in her own words. Gathered from museums and archives and personal collections, the letters span over sixty years of Wilder’s life, from 1894–1956 and shed new light on Wilder’s day-to-day life. Here we see her as a businesswoman and author—including her beloved Little House books, her legendary editor, Ursula Nordstrom, and her readers—as a wife, and as a friend. In her letters, Wilder shares her philosophies, political opinions, and reminiscences of life as a frontier child. Also included are letters to her daughter, writer Rose Wilder Lane, who filled a silent role as editor and collaborator while the famous Little House books were being written.

Wilder biographer William Anderson collected and researched references throughout these letters and the result is an invaluable historical collection, tracing Wilder’s life through the final days of covered wagon travel, her life as a farm woman, a country journalist, Depression-era author, and years of fame as the writer of the Little House books. This collection is a sequel to her beloved books, and a snapshot into twentieth-century living.


My Thoughts
The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder was an interesting and absorbing collection of her personal letters to fans, family, friends, colleagues, and so on.  I will admit to being fascinated by the details they gave us about her later life, and couldn't get enough information about family and friends mentioned from the Little House books.  Having grown up on these books, to the point where they were so dog-eared I had to buy another set for my own children, I have always been fascinated by Laura's life.  I even got a chance to visit some of Carrie's old haunts while visiting Keystone several years ago, and often regret not stopping in De Smet while driving through South Dakota to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes Tour.  

What was nice about reading this collection was reconciling Laura as a child with Laura as a mother and author. You definitely got a much better understanding of the relationship between Laura and Rose as well as what Laura thought about a myriad of things, including simply the weather.  It was also nice, as an adult, to learn more about Laura's family and friends, and I definitely looked for those names I recognized from the novels, hoping for more information.  Unfortunately, as in a lot of families, including my own, so many things get thrown out over the years, including correspondence, and I am frankly amazed that so much was left from Laura's papers.  Although it was a shame that so much was destroyed, it is a reality; I didn't really take much interest in my own grandparents' letters and things although now I wish I had, especially as my grandmother tended to keep a lot of things.  In her letters, Laura seemed to live quite frugally and often commented on the materialism of young people, which I found quite interesting, and she found disturbing, often echoing the same thoughts going around today.

I thought Anderson did quite a good job putting together these letters and I imagine it wasn't very easy to do.  For the average person with little knowledge of Laura Ingalls, I don't think the collection will be very interesting, and some of the letters to fans were a bit repetitive, but to someone like me who adored the Little House books, I loved reading this collection.  It definitely gave you a new understanding of the adult Laura, some of her political and religious viewpoints, as well as what she thought of friends and neighbours. What I really liked was the writing process between Laura and Rose as she edited her books; I also liked learning about how the drawings were developed for the books as well, quite interesting. My only disappointment with the letters had to do with how little new information we learn about Almanzo, but it is possible many of those letters were lost over the years.  You do however, get a real appreciation for how attached she was to Manly and how much she adored him. 

Verdict
The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder gives us a more in-depth understanding to Laura as an adult through letters written by her own hand.  I liked how Anderson laid out the book and gave little snippets of information in order to help understand the letters.  For anyone with an interest in the adult life of Laura Ingalls, I highly recommend this book; she was just as charming as the little girl we grew up with in her famous books.