Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill
My review: 4 of 5 stars
An exciting read filled with tension and desperation, Ever the Hunted immediately draws the reader into its world. The story features a feisty, independent and intelligent heroine. Though not complex, the main characters are developed enough to create interest. The plot is simple but action-packed and fast-paced. The premise is not all that unique, but makes for an enjoyable read nonetheless. I picked it up and read it straight through in one day, unable to put it down. I appreciate that it contains no foul language or overt sexuality. It is what I call a clean read, appropriate for teens of all ages. I recommend it for teenage fans of fantasy, adventure and romance. The ending entices the reader to want to continue in the series.
“…doubt has a way of making quicksand of stable ground” (p. 70).
“Motivation is a dangerous tool” (p. 238).
“I watch the seagulls fighting against the wind as they make their way closer to the cliff. I feel like I’m one of them, fighting against my position in life, fighting against the solitude, and now fighting for my freedom” (p. 253).
“Fear is bred of that which we don’t understand” (p. 267).
About the Book:
After David Summers enlists with the Confederate cavalry, his delusion of chivalry is soon crushed when he witnesses the horrors of battle. Shot by a Union picket, he winds up at a stranger’s farm. Four girls compassionately nurse him back to health. David learns his comrades have deserted him in Pennsylvania following the Battle of Gettysburg, but his dilemma becomes much worse. He falls in love with the older sister, Anna, who entices him with a proposition. To his dismay, he must make a decision. Should he stay and help Anna with her underhanded plan, or return to the army and risk capture?
She dropped the darning in her lap. Her sister called her name again, this time with more urgency. Springing from the rocker, Anna ran from the room and scurried down the wooden staircase.
Maggie clung to the newel post. “There’s someone in the barn!”
“Who is it?” Anna asked, but her younger sister was already racing from the house with a lantern in her hand.
Anna followed her out the back door, lifted her ankle-length skirt, and hurried across the dark barnyard. She entered the warm, musty building.
The lantern’s glow illuminated the barn’s interior. A saddled, spotted steed stood nearby, its eyes an eerie, glowing, brownish-green. The horse snorted and stomped. Something in the corner moaned.
Anna’s heart skipped a beat. Stifling a scream, she clamped her hand over her mouth to suffocate the sound.
“He’s over there,” Maggie said and pointed at a heap in the corner.
Anna squinted in the dim, flickering light. She cautiously made her way over. Her sisters and Claudia, the little girl they were in charge of, followed so closely behind they all seemed to be attached.
“Stay back, Abigail,” Anna commanded. “You too, Claudia.”
“Who is he, Anna?” Abigail asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “But he’s bleeding.” Anna drew closer.
The stranger’s horse snorted threateningly, but allowed her to advance.
The interloper moaned. He opened his eyes and gazed around at them, either confused, delirious, or both. “Please,” he groaned, nearly in a whisper, “please, can y’all help me?”
The girls stood frozen, looking down at their quandary.
Anna came to her senses. “Come on, Maggie,” She kneeled down beside the young man. “Help me get him inside.”
Maggie failed to react. “I don’t think we should touch him.”
Anna glared at her, forcing Maggie to give in under her stare and pull him up. Anna reached around his other side. The soldier cried out in pain. Balancing the young man between them, they made their way out of the barn and past the sentry steed.
“Girls,” Anna called out over her shoulder, “give that horse some hay, lock him in, and bring the lantern.”
Staggering toward the house in the dark, Anna and Maggie dragged the weak man across the barnyard toward the house. Two dogs, one a black-and-white sheepdog, the other a sable collie, approached to sniff at the stranger.
“Colby,” Maggie hollered in annoyance. “Floyd! Go lay down.”
The dogs scurried off into the dark.
Entering through the back door, Maggie asked, “Where are we going with him?”
“Upstairs to Father’s bedchamber,” Anna replied.
Maggie’s eyes widened, but she complied.
The sisters made their way through the kitchen and struggled to hoist the man up the long wooden flight of stairs. Abigail and Claudia ran into the kitchen and followed the others upstairs. At the top, Anna opened a bedroom door. Its hinges squeaked loudly. They led the wounded stranger over to the four-poster bed. Carefully, they eased him down, lifted his legs, and gently swung him up onto it. The young man moaned in agony.
“He’s too long for the bed,” Claudia commented.
Anna noticed his feet hung over the end. She quickly turned to light a kerosene lamp on the bedside table while Maggie pulled the windows open to let out the hot, stale air. Flickering lamplight illuminated the soldier’s condition. The front of his shirt and his right trouser leg were soaked with blood. Anna’s heart clenched.
“Oh,” Claudia exclaimed at the sight. “He’s all leaky.”
Abigail pulled her long, blonde hair back from her face and drew closer to him. “Eew!” She pinched her nose shut with her thumb and forefinger. “He smells like a horse!”
Claudia giggled at the sound of her friend’s voice.
“Abigail,” Anna said. “Go downstairs and boil some water. Claudia, please fill that pitcher on the dresser and bring it back up with the prongs, a long knife, and some clean towels. Go quickly!”
The two girls scampered off downstairs. Their feet thumped like sticks on a snare drum.
“Maggie, help me remove these filthy clothes from him,” Anna said.
“Do we have to?”
“Yes.” Anna was reminded of how she had tended to their ailing father not so very long ago. The recollection made her shudder.
Both sisters gingerly lifted him. They pulled off his shirt, boots, socks, and belt. Anna noticed the letters “CSA” embossed on his belt buckle.
“Anna.” Maggie’s voice caught on her breath. “He’s a…Rebel soldier.”
Pursing her lips, Anna nodded. “He must have come from the battle at Gettysburg. “But that’s over ten miles away. How could he have made it this far in his condition?”
The girls exchanged cautionary glances. They carefully set his gun and holster on the floor and removed his trousers, but left him with his drawers for modesty’s sake. Anna passed the limp, frail soldier to her sister, and thought he felt like an oblong sack of potatoes. He fell back onto the bed and moaned again.
Anna’s heart ached at the sound of his agony. Stifling a sob, she covered him with a sheet. “Fetch two large needles and some heavy thread.”
Maggie winced but did as she was told.
Looking down at the failing soldier, Anna summoned her strength. It was all too sudden and overwhelming, but she had to be strong—for herself and her sisters. “You’re going to be all right, sir,” she comforted him.
The soldier opened his eyes and tried to speak. She understood he was asking for water.
Claudia returned with the supplies. Anna took them from her and laid them on top of the dresser. She poured the pitcher’s cold well-water into the glass and porcelain bowl. After dipping a towel into the bowl, she placed it across the suffering soldier’s brow and helped him take a sip of water. He faintly smiled at her.
About the Author:
J.D.R. Hawkins is an award-winning author who has written for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, e-zines, and blogs. She is one of a few female Civil War authors, uniquely describing the front lines from a Confederate perspective.
Her Renegade Series includes A Beautiful Glittering Lie, A Beckoning Hellfire, and A Rebel Among Us. All three novels are award winners, and tell the story of a family from north Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war. Ms. Hawkins is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the International Women’s Writing Guild, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Pikes Peak Writers. She is also an artist and singer/songwriter. Ms. Hawkins is currently working on a nonfiction book about the War Between the States, as well as another sequel to her series.
Contact the Author:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest * Goodreads * Amazon
Other Books in the Series:
Like a River from its Course by Kelli Stuart
My review: 4 of 5 stars
Like a River from its Course begins intensely with a bombing raid, so the book is immediately arresting. The tragedies and horrors that unfold as the Germans invade the Ukraine are reflected through four characters experiencing a myriad of emotions and reactions. Three of the narrators are Russian citizens and one is a young German Nazi. The author personalizes the stories in such a way as to cause the reader to experience events as the characters do. I felt the horror. I felt the fear. And later, I also felt the hope. The book is well-written and obviously well-researched. Though the characters were fictional, their experiences were compiled from those of real people. The reader feels this in the way the stories are told. My only complaint is that I was left hungry for more information. Stuart obviously knew the history of the Babi Yar event quite well, but it was also clear that she knew other historical truths about the war in the Ukraine that she only shared a bit of in the book. The Ukrainian nationalists or rebels were mentioned only once when a character expresses the opinion that they were worse than the Nazis. The author also mentions, almost as an aside, that some in the Red Army could be trusted and others could not. No other details were given about this, and I was disappointed that the author didn’t share more. While each character is fully fleshed out and their experiences detailed and well-told, the overall war raging around them was not always as clear. Nevertheless, it was a fascinating, emotional read that kept me turning the pages well into the night. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in WWII historical fiction. In fact, I already have a friend in the wings waiting to borrow it.
“This cruel age has deflected me, like a river from its course. Strayed from its familiar shores, my changeling life has flowed into a sister channel” – Anna Akhmatora, Leningrad 1941 (title quote).
“I forgot the melody that joy could make like a summer song on a rainy day, exhilarating, and fresh” (p. 134).
“You don’t have the power to create perfection” (p. 300).
“Life is a series of trials, all strung together by moments of beauty. But when the string of joy and beauty breaks, what is left to hold life together if there is no God?” (p. 300)
Kelli Stuart on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kellistuart
Author’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/kellistuartauthor/
Author’s Website: http://kellistuart.com/books/like-a-river-from-its-course/
Please note, in accordance with FTC guidelines, I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Video Of Babi Yar, Ukraine – Jewish Holocaust Massacre
“A short story is a love affair, a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film.”
― Lorrie Moore
A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories (Barnes and Noble Modern Classics edition) by Flannery O’Connor (Georgia Author and winner of the National Book Award for The Complete Stories in 1972)
My review: 5 of 5 stars
With authentic southern dialect, O’Connor manages to shock the reader in a way so matter of fact that the effect is stunning. Good and evil, religious themes, and the dark side of humanity are explored and exposed, but not without a healthy dose of dry humor. Readers will appreciate her excellent use of imagery, metaphor, and personification, all of which magically convey character, tone, and theme in a few short pages. I believe O’Connor is the foremost example of a short fiction writer, particularly of southern writers. She’s a master of the form. Highly recommended!
“In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady” (p. 2, A Good Man….).
“They looked like the skeleton of an old boat with two pointed ends, sailing slowly on the edge of the highway” (p. 22, The River).
“True genius can get an idea across even to an inferior mind” (p. 134, Good Country People).
The Isle of Youth by Laura Van Den Berg
My review: 4.5 of 5 stars
The Isle of Youth is a collection of short stories featuring a variety of women mired in secrecy and deception. Most live quiet lives of desperation. The female characters are well-imagined with much depth. Each story contains conflict and tension. Many of the women make bad choices and must live with the consequences. This collection is imaginative and sensual with an immediate sense of conflict and tension in each. The characters are unique. These are not stories of the average woman in normal situations. Such is the draw and fascination with this collection. Definitely recommended.
“Other people’s lives were no less impossible to understand than my own” (p. 15, I Looked for You, I Called Your Name).
“We knew what it was like to want something so badly, it burned a whole inside you” (p. 33, “OPA-LOCKA).
“It was a terrible flaw, our ability to see where our lives were leading us” (p. 62, OPA-LOCKA).
“It felt very strange to not know where I was in time” (p. 121, Antarctica).
Voice of America by E.C. Osondu (Nigerian author and Winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing)
My review: 4 of 5 stars
In this collection of stories, Osondu portrays Nigerians (both in his homeland, and here in America) in an honest, unflinching light. He uses fascinating details to underscore the violence and desolation like how displaced children in refugee camps, the result of civil wars, name each other by the T-shirts they receive from foreign aid workers offering help. He offers intimate portraits of desperation and judgement, as well as insight into cultural differences and beliefs. He highlights the differences between Americans and Nigerians that result in cultural misunderstandings, and he doesn’t sugarcoat the problems in Nigeria. An illuminating read. Strongly recommended.
“Any white man that eats peppers must return to Lagos” (p. 31, Our First American).
“…the sky was wide enough for many birds to roam without their wings touching each other” (p. 36, Jimmy Carter’s Eyes).
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (3 starred reviews and winner of the Pulitzer Prize)
My review: 4 of 5 stars
Olive Kitteridge is unique among short story collections because the stories are connected by a single character; Olive links everyone together. Except for the fact that each story has its own beginning, middle and end, Olive Kitteridge could just have easily been read as a novel. While the writing is excellent, and the characters well crafted, the pace of the book is rather slow. I think the short story format slowed it down. Rather than one chapter pulling the reader greedily into the next, stories played out individually and made the book easy to set down. On the other hand, each story captivated the reader. So, I enjoyed the read; it just took me awhile to complete it. Though I will say that the clever use of foreshadowing created some suspense and helped to move the book along.
Olive Kitteridge is a book for people who enjoy short fiction and character driven stories. The stories are about the people in a small town in Maine and how their lives intersect with Olive. Depending on the point of view, Olive can be seen as judgmental, rude, and bitter while at other times she is sympathetic, honest, observant, almost wise. She is a complex woman, and as such, opinions vary widely about her. Crosby, Maine is also a character shaping the lives of those who live there. The author captures the sounds, the smells, and the essence of this small coastal town.
quiescence: dormancy, inactivity
corporeality: existing in bodily form
“He wanted to put his arms around her, but she had a darkness that seemed to stand beside her like an acquaintance that would not go away” (p. 6, Pharmacy).
“You get use to things, he thinks, without getting used to things” (p. 16, Pharmacy).
“–oh, insane, ludicrous, unknowable world! Look how she wanted to live, look how she wanted to hold on” (p. 47, Incoming Tide).
“People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it” (p. 162, Tulips).
In 2013, Rick Yancey promoted his new book The 5th Wave at the AJC/Decatur Book Festival. I bought two signed copies. One for my son and the other for my son-in-law. My husband ended up reading the book too. They all loved it. Not being a sci-fi fan, I didn’t read the book until recently. My reason for finally reading it was because we all went to see the movie and came away feeling quite differently about it.
The 5th Wave the movie: Enjoyable enough if you haven’t read the book and have no idea how badly it’s been massacred. Typical teen dystopian flick that pales in comparison to The Hunger Games, but not bad. The best my son and husband could say about it was that it was so-so. They were obviously disappointed. After reading the book myself, I can easily see why. Some of the key plot points were changed entirely; the complexities of the characters in the books were reduced to stock characters in the movie, and other really good stuff was plain left out.
The 5th Wave novel rates 5 out of 5 stars.
Featuring a spunky heroine with a snarky sense of humor, the premise of the book (an alien invasion) is captivating, well-executed and believable to the point of terrifying. The book also poses a fascinating existential question: “What makes us human?” Engrossing, exciting, and suspenseful, I immediately wanted to read book two after turning the last page on book one.
“You can only call someone crazy if there’s someone else who’s normal” (p. 4).
“How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity” (p. 12).
“It’s hard to plan for what comes next when what comes next is not something you planned for” (p. 28).
“Too many people say something when they really have nothing to say” (p. 271).
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
My rating 5 out of 5 stars
This second book in the trilogy gives the reader a generous helping of mystery, suspense, thrills and complex characters faced with impossible choices trying desperately to survive while holding on to their humanity. The teen attitudes felt authentic, and the characters evolve with the story. The action is packed and riveting. Surprisingly philosophical as well. Explores love and sacrifice in a deep and meaningful way with many twists and turns. An unpredictable and fascinating read. Bring on book 3!
“When you look death in the eye and death blinks first, nothing seems impossible” (p. 5).
“If there was any hope left, it lay in love’s hopeless promises” (p. 90).
“You make your whole existence dependent on another human being and you’re asking for a world of trouble” (p. 158).
“I am drowning in an infinite sea” (p. 207).
“It isn’t that the lies are too beautiful to resist. It’s that the truth is too hideous to face” (p. 220).
The Last Star by Rick Yancey
My review: 4 of 5 stars
The mood of The Last Star is set with a final communion. Somber and philosophical, this final book in the 5th Wave trilogy features shocking actions, complex and secretive characters, and lots of action and suspense. Some action sequences echoed action from the first book, but the author seems to have done this on purpose. He repeatedly writes that the journey is a circle. That truth held out in the book. Although it was appropriate, the repeats made this final book slightly less exciting than the first. Still I highly recommend this series to fans of dystopian teen books.
“Even the longest journey is a circle, and history will always cycle back to the place where it began” (p. 4).
“More than the sum of our experiences, our memories are the ultimate proof of reality” (p. 51).
“Empty the vessel of hope and faith and trust and you can fill it with anything you like” (p. 161).
“Urban vomit” (p. 68)
Norma Hayes has always tried to make Christmas special for her family, but this year it is going to be difficult. Money is tight, and wartime rationing is taking its toll as well. Harder still, her oldest son, Glen, is on the front lines of the battle in Europe.
Glen Hayes wants nothing more than to be home for Christmas. He holds a sprig of lavender in his pocket. The scent reminds him of his mother. The memory of home may be the only thing that is keeping him alive and sane during the horrors of war.
Dennis Hayes is sixteen and longs to see his older brother again. He also longs to have a relationship with his father, but most important, Dennis is determined to buy something special for his mother this Christmas–the one gift he feels certain she deserves.
So many families have had their hopes dashed in World War II. Will the Hayes family make it through?
Praise for Home and Away
”It’s 1944 and teenager Dennis Hayes longs to join his older brother Glen, who is fighting in Europe..When his family receives word that Glen has been wounded, Dennis realizes that going to war is not so glamorous. Christmas isn’t the same without Glen, but the Hayes family members hope and pray that they’ll be reunited soon. Hughes’s faith-filled, old-fashioned story feels like it could have been written during the period in which it takes place.” –Library Journal
”Home and Away is far and away the best story I have read this year. Awesome and moving.” –bestselling author, Obert Skye
Author Dean Hughes
Dean Hughes is a bestselling and prolific writer who published his hundredth book in 2014. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Weber State College and master’s degree and PhD from the University of Washington. He has attended post-doctoral seminars at Stanford and Yale Universities and taught English at Central Missouri State University and Brigham Young University.
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
[simpleazon-image align=”left” asin=”0825443873″ locale=”us” height=”500″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51JpnMaMUvL.jpg” width=”324″] [simpleazon-link asin=”0825443873″ locale=”us”]The Methuselah Project: A Novel[/simpleazon-link]
My review: 4 of 5 stars
Imagine being held captive as a POW for 70 years and never aging. Such is the premise of The Methuselah Project. Because we know that Nazis performed medical experiments on humans, the idea of the story isn’t as unbelievable as one might think. Though the science was vague and unconvincing at times, The Methuselah Project remained fascinating as a narrative. Despite stilted and awkward dialogue which improved as the story progressed, there was unexpected and welcome humor to counter the darkness of the story. The characters are conceived in such a way that it isn’t always easy to connect with them. Nevertheless, they each demonstrate intelligence, humor, and courage which makes the reader root for them. Though I found holes in the story and had many unanswered questions, The Methuselah Project was still a page-turner with a unique and entertaining premise.
Please Note: In accordance with FTC guidelines, the publisher provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
[simpleazon-image align=”left” asin=”0312263767″ locale=”us” height=”500″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51czai5HgdL.jpg” width=”326″][simpleazon-link asin=”0312263767″ locale=”us”]The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945[/simpleazon-link] by Władysław Szpilman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Pianist is not the average memoir. Szpilman tells his story of endurance, horror, and survival without emotion. He is matter-of-fact in his recitation which somehow makes the reading more shocking. He himself appears to have been in shock, writing down the events of 1939-1945 in Warswaw, Poland as if in an attempt to purge himself of the unimaginable. As a pianist before and after the war, Szpilman provides an insiders view to the artistic community that was active in Warsaw, and an accounting of some of the tragic losses incurred by him and the world at large as the result of Jewish persecution. While he tells of the destruction of the great city of Warsaw and the horrific persecution of the Jewish population, his story is intensely personal. While I felt there were some loose ends to the story, I was astonished that he could tell it at all. His vivid recollections were painful to read. The stories, the images, become those of the reader. His nightmare is bared to the world, but so is his ultimate triumph. Some stories must see the light of day despite all odds. This is one of those stories.
“I lost two illusions here: my belief in our general solidarity and in the musicality of the Jews” (p. 13).
“Several centuries of humanitarian progress were to be cancelled out, and we were back in the Middle Ages” (p. 54).
“I had to laugh at the ingenuity of fate” (p. 158).
“This time my situation was absurd. I was going to be shot by Polish soldiers in liberated Warsaw, on the very verge of freedom, as the result of a misunderstanding” (p. 185).
For more information:
The Pianist – Wladyslaw Szpilman – Homepage
For Book Clubs:
READING GROUP GUIDE
[simpleazon-image align=”center” asin=”B000FVQLRA” locale=”us” height=”500″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51DQCQEN6NL.jpg” width=”358″]
[simpleazon-image align=”left” asin=”0547628404″ locale=”us” height=”500″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512mxwQjPvL.jpg” width=”348″][simpleazon-link asin=”0547628404″ locale=”us”]Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin Trilogy)[/simpleazon-link] by Robin LaFevers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Beautiful wrap-up of an engaging trilogy highlighted by strong female characters and historical drama. The storytelling is heartfelt and well-researched, layered in mythology, history, and ancient religion. The writing is intelligent and rich in vocabulary with language reflecting the time and country. Annith, the final assassin, is headstrong but compassionate and mature beyond her years. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction and fantasy.
“Every word she utters is like a long bony finger wrapping itself around my heart, squeezing until there is no hope left within it” (p. 47).
“This is what freedom feels like, and it is exhilarating” (p. 83).
“It is as if I can put my hand out and feel the shape and contours of the lies, but I am unable to discern the whole of it” (p. 294).
“I feel like a snake must when he has accidentally swallowed a goat and is struggling to digest it” (p 390).
“We are all of us, gods and mortals, made up of many pieces, some of them broken, some of them scarred, but none of them the sum and total of who we are” (p. 395).