Review of The Tale of Hawthorn House

The Tale of Hawthorn House by Susan Wittig Albert

Genre – Mystery, Historical fiction, Adult

Series – 4th in The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter

Rating – PG – for mild language and drama

Synopsis –

During a summer festival, baby Flora suddenly appears on Miss Potter’s doorstep. The villagers begin a search for the Flora’s parents, but to no avail. Meanwhile, Jemima Puddle-duck tries her hand at motherhood. Will Miss Potter be able to get down to the bottom of the mystery?

My thoughts –

Compared to the first three books, this one felt a little repetitive. There was a lot of recapping what had happened in previous books. From the start of the book, you have a pretty good idea where its headed. Not really any surprises.

Now, its not all bad. There is still some magic to the quaint village of Sawrey. I enjoyed the bit about the town’s meddling in personal affairs and chuckled at how the inhabitants had decided on who Miss Potter would marry.

Now I did struggle with the whole Thorn Folk. In The Tale of Holly How, the fairies felt real and not pushed on you. While here, I feel forced to believe that these Thorn Folk exist. Maybe it was the way the author used them, but I did not care for it.

To me the whole animal side-plot works for me. I enjoy hearing the animals talk among themselves about the big folk. I enjoy hearing about their adventures. Although Jemima could be annoying at times. I struggled to believe that she would run off with a fox. It connects the stories Beatrix Potter wrote to this series.

Violence – None

Innuendo – At the beginning, it is insinuated that a character had a baby out of wedlock, but that turns out not to be the case.

Language – A few mild curse words, maybe 4 at the most.

Conclusion –

I appreciate having a series of books that are clean and aren’t filled with a bunch of superfluous content. Although, this addition to the series wasn’t up to par as the previous books were, it still had that small town charm. I’m hoping the rest of the series will improve.

Review for Offworld

Offworld by Robin Parrish

Series – Book 1 in Dangerous Times

Genre – Christian fiction, science fiction, Dystopian

Rating – PG-13 for perilous situations and violence

Synopsis –

Four astronauts return from a 2 year mission on mars to find no one on earth. Odd things start happening on their voyage through the atmosphere. To make matters worse, Commander Burke starts having visions of a shifting void. Will they figure out where everyone went before its too late?

My Thoughts –

Science fiction is one of my favorite genres as there is an unlimited supply of possibilities and who doesn’t love space travel? Plus the author makes this mission feel fresh and different. It like if you throw Interstellar and War Games into a blender with a dash of end of the world situations.

On the whole I would say this is a plot driven novel. It’s action packed, but leaves a little bit wanting in the character background department. Giving an astronaut Fibromyalgia was interesting and I wish we could have had more detail describing how it affected her. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be left on earth without your family. It would be devastating. The author does a great job exploring how it affects the astronauts differently.

Although the book was classified as Christian fiction, there were only a few mentions of God. A couple brief discussions on whether God exists and a few prayers. There is mention of a divine rift in time and a piece from the heavenly realm has somehow fallen on earth and wreaked havoc. That felt a little bit implausible as God is omniscient, but its science fiction.

Language – A couple references to living in hell.

Innuendo – Some mild talk about how the astronauts would have to repopulate the earth. Later on a character professes his love via a phone call.

Violence – Several of the astronauts get injured during their landing. A character dislocates his arm and has to wear it in a sling. Another character gets buried under a building during its collapse. Several characters die due to getting shot. A few shootouts between characters (not much detail). During an explosion, a character dies self-sacrificially to save the world.

Conclusion –

This book was hard to put down as questions keep building until the end. A perfect science fiction thriller for an afternoon read. I wish there was a sequel as there are unanswered questions. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. It had some interesting points on the lengths we would go to get answers.

Do you have any favorite science fiction novels? What are your thoughts on Offworld?

Review for Will’s Red Coat

Will’s Red Coat by Tom Ryan

Genre – Nonfiction, memoir

Rating – PG-13 for brief strong language

Synopsis –

The author tells the story of an elderly dog named William who had a rough live before being put up for adoption. After hearing about William, Tom Ryan decides to adopt him. Little does he know of the hardships and baggage that Will brings with him. William goes on a journey that transforms him.

My Thoughts –

I had previously listened to the audio book Following Atticus last summer, and it came as a complete surprise when I received Will’s Red Coat for Christmas.

I enjoy the author writing style! It is laid back and personal. We get a glimpse into the wilderness of the New Hampshire mountains. Anytime I read a book like this, it inspires me to go hiking and spend time in nature.

I love Will’s redemptive story. With a little patience and understanding, we can plant seeds that may later lead to a change in person’s life (or an animal in this case). Reminds me how patient Jesus is with us and how he is always ready for when we turn to him.

The chapter about Will’s last days had me in tears. Will’s transformation affected so many lives. I was astounded at how the Facebook group reached out and filled the home with flowers.

Now, the author has an interesting theology and I cannot say that I agree with everything he says especially were salvation is concerned. I also believe the Holy Spirit is the one that does the transformation in our lives. I just wanted to mention that it is there.

Language – There wasn’t a ton, but the F-bomb was used three times. As well as some other uses of colorful language.

Violence – None

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

Looking for a book that combines picturesque descriptions of landscapes with a dog’s friendship, then this is the book for you! This is a thought provoking novel about dogs impact on our lives. Aimed at adults, but nothing that a mature teen couldn’t handle.

Do you love dogs? Have any favorite dog books? Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Anna

Review for The Girl who Said Goodbye

The Girl who Said Goodbye by Heather Allen

Genre – A Memoir

Rating – PG-13 for descriptions of atrocities committed and violence

Synopsis –

This book tells the story of a young women named Siv Eng who survived the Khmer Rouge takeover in Cambodia. It goes back and forth between when she was little and during the take over. The author walks through the what Siv Eng went through from the years 1963-1980.

My Thoughts –

Before reading this book, I had never heard of the Khmer Rouge takeover. They were basically a communist group that was able to completely over throw the previous government and separate families to dehumanize them by taking away everything from religion to language. I was surprised at how effective they were in moving a whole country’s people to camps.

Siv Eng goes through so much in the 7 years of the take over. Its heartbreaking to read of her separation from her family. The people like Siv Eng who lived in the cities were forced to work in jungle labor camps collecting rice or digging trenches. Just imagine what it would be like to survive on just getting a bowl of soup. They had to supplement it with whatever they could steal.

Throughout the book you can see evidence of how God protected her even in her darkest days of illness. In one of the chapters Siv Eng cried out to the God. We find out that later in life she comes to accept Jesus as her Savior. We see how God provided kinder chiefs who would help Siv Eng find missing jewelry, move her to work in the gardens, and find certain missing family members.

Language – None

Innuendo – At one point in the book, the author mentioned that it was common for soldiers to rape women, but nothing happened to any of the characters. Other then the one mention, there was nothing inappropriate.

Violence –

Now due to this being a memoir Siv Eng mentions things she saw like rotting corpse, soldiers shooting the prisoners, or beating that happened. Also she mentioned how leeches who latch onto their feet. In one chapter it discuss how they had to detach a leech. A few sections mentioned mass murders or digging a mass grave. Several mentions of soldiers killing people.

Other –

There are many instances where individuals had to lie to the soldiers or to the Khmer Rouge in order to survive. Also, there is a mention of how the prisoners used helmets to relieve themselves.

Conclusion –

I really enjoyed this memoir! It opened my eyes to something that had happened in history. To me it is fascinating reading survival stories. The human body can endure so much pain and heartache with God’s help. This would be a good book for teens on up due to some of the content mentioned. I highly recommend reading it!!

Anna