Happy almost winter solace! I know I’m a few days early, but with it being so close to Christmas I will be busy with family and preparations. Know how hard it is to pick from all the books I read. This year I came in at 75 books read on the Goodreads Challenge. There are a few I read that didn’t get included in that number. Each book has its own flavor that tugged at my heart, opened my eyes, or just entertained me. These types of books always leave that lasting impression and why I do this four times a year as the seasons change, I change reading these books. Here are my winter choices:
This set in the Bay Area where I grew up was exciting for me. I loved knowing the areas and learning more of the history. I think about my great uncles and grandparents talking about this time frame, too. But it wasn’t just where the story was located, it was the story itself that made this such a great read for me. I loved the author obvious love of animals, especially dogs that came through strong in the story. Mixed in the with the history and insights was mystery and plenty of action to keep a reader entertained. It’s just a great all-around read.
By Mary Adler
This is the second novel in the Oliver Wright Series set during World War ll in the Bay Area. I loved the first book, but I think I was drawn even deeper into this story. It’s 1944 and Oliver is tasked to protect a Polish speaker, Sophia. I liked the interaction between these two characters even though Sophia didn’t want Oliver as a bodyguard. As in the first book, I loved the relationship between Oliver with his dog, Harley, who had served in the war, too. Within that storyline is another narrative about a young girl trying to assist a friend’s dog Blue. I enjoyed seeing the world through Blue the dog’s perception and his devotion to the young girl helping him. This is not only a well-written story but well researched. I appreciated the attention to details and history that Ms. Adler infused into the story. What happened in Poland during the war is hard to accept and painfully real. It kept me awake late into the night thinking about human cruelty, apathy, and the brave heroes mixed in. “Shadowed by Death” can be read as a stand-alone or as a series. I highly recommend this book especially if you love mystery, suspense, action, history, and of course dogs.
I have to warn you this is a hard read, but an important one to read. Starting with a young girl being abused and finally standing up for herself makes you want to cheer for her and want to see justice. The treatment is cruel and had me up thinking about it at night. Talking about her experience with homelessness will make you rethink how you look at people who have to live on the street. To know the author survived this and became a successful author and a wonderful human being is inspiring on so many levels.
“Empty Chairs” is the story of the author’s life when she was a very young girl in Australia. I can’t say I’m shocked very easily, but this was shocking. The woman who gave birth to Stacey– Gwen, because she certainly didn’t deserve the title of mother, sold her YOUNG daughter’s body to provide for her. If Stacey didn’t comply she’d be beaten and locked in a closet. The woman was sick on so many levels, but I had to wonder about the people that paid for sex with a girl not old enough to be in school? What were they? Even when one of these clients insisted that Stacey get some education, that wasn’t enough to erase what he did to her. Then, finally when Stacey had enough she exploded. I felt no empathy toward Gwen getting beaten by her 11-year-old daughter. Here is where Stacey became Sassy-Girl and now is living on the streets. The one thing that made this slightly easier to read was this girl’s attitude and strength. I loved her wisdom and feistiness, yet I kept thinking how does this go on around us? I believe the real strength of this book is educating people it’s happening. This is well-written, and you can’t help but fall in love with Sassy-Girl/Stacey. There is a second book that finishes the story of young Stacey and I will be reading it. It is a very tough read, but one I highly recommend you try.
Like I said in the review, I have never read this genre before. So this was completely fascinating to me all the research and details this author provided. You can really understand the different lifestyles they had. Although, my usual genres are more fantasy based I also love historical fiction and now prehistorical fiction. The storyline is very strong and this is well written which makes this a fantastic read and a series I plan to continue. I now think about how it used to be way, way, way back when.
I’ve never read a novel set 850,000 years ago. The details and obvious research were amazing, as was the story. Xhosa is a strong female in times when males rule the tribes. I loved her character and how she looked at the world through her senses, instinct, and duty. It repulsed me when they ate their kill without cooking it, but I had to remember they didn’t have control of fire yet. Ms. Murray takes the reader deep into that period, where I could easily imagine how it might have been living then. I was rooting for Xhosa and her tribe as they tried to survive other tribe’s attacks and nature. I loved the relationships that developed as they met up with others fleeing the same situation. I’m completely hooked on this moment in history and storyline. I will definitely read the rest of this series and highly recommend it.
Here is a short story/novella for the holidays:
I love cats and Christmas so what could be better than both paired together. I’m rereading it again because I enjoyed it so much the first time. I always love how this author researches and comes up with legends to mix into her work. Really adds that extra depth and gives it some holiday magic.
by Mae Clair
What starts off as a sweet Christmas novella abruptly changes course, and the reader is taken on a thrilling and unexpected ride. Quinn and her newly adopted black cat, Poe, find themselves in a huge snowstorm driving home Christmas Eve. After sliding off the road and passing out, Quinn wakes up in the house of handsome Breck and his unwell daughter, Sophie. The attraction between Quinn and Breck is immediate, but the story takes an unusual turn. Christmas magic and the dark side that comes with it are introduced. I loved the pureness of a new love–and the shadowy twist of the mysterious thrown in. This is a very different Christmas story that I highly recommend if you love paranormal added into the mix of a holiday love story.
Happy Holidays and Winter Solace! Embrace your inner child by reading a life-changing book! D. L. Finn