Monticello by Sally Cabot Gunning-Review

Monticello cover

Title: Monticello
Author: 
Sally Cabot Gunning
Rating:
3.5/5
Release Date: 
09/06/2016

About Monticello:

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 27, 2017)

From the critically acclaimed author of The Widow’s War comes a captivating work of literary historical fiction that explores the tenuous relationship between a brilliant and complex father and his devoted daughter—Thomas Jefferson and Martha Jefferson Randolph.

After the death of her beloved mother, Martha Jefferson spent five years abroad with her father, Thomas Jefferson, on his first diplomatic mission to France. Now, at seventeen, Jefferson’s bright, handsome eldest daughter is returning to the lush hills of the family’s beloved Virginia plantation, Monticello. While the large, beautiful estate is the same as she remembers, Martha has changed. The young girl that sailed to Europe is now a woman with a heart made heavy by a first love gone wrong.

The world around her has also become far more complicated than it once seemed. The doting father she idolized since childhood has begun to pull away. Moving back into political life, he has become distracted by the tumultuous fight for power and troubling new attachments. The home she adores depends on slavery, a practice Martha abhors. But Monticello is burdened by debt, and it cannot survive without the labor of her family’s slaves. The exotic distant cousin she is drawn to has a taste for dangerous passions, dark desires that will eventually compromise her own.

As her life becomes constrained by the demands of marriage, motherhood, politics, scandal, and her family’s increasing impoverishment, Martha yearns to find her way back to the gentle beauty and quiet happiness of the world she once knew at the top of her father’s “little mountain.”

Review: This was a slow going and at times difficult book to read but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. It took me far longer to read this book than it would have most books of this size but I still enjoyed the story. This was much different than the other books on Thomas Jefferson that I have read and I was impressed with the attention to detail that was included as well as how believable the fiction aspect was; I kept looking up events listed in the book, to find that they were historically correct.

The reason this was slow going and took me longer was that it didn’t have a lot of gripping or stimulating plot twists. This was a steady-paced historical novel with simple characters. The story flowed well, but without the resolution of problems that usually occurs within stories. It was filled with plenty of problems, but the solutions and resolutions were few. I understand that this reflects real life, and the life of the people represented, but it made for less compelling story.

I was excited to read a story about Thomas Jefferson, but I actually found his character boring. The story was mainly told through the eyes of Martha, not really anything from Thomas Jefferson. I was disappointed that there wasn’t more about him in this book. He was present, but we didn’t really get his take on things. This was basically the story of Thomas Jefferson’s daughter, rather than of father and daughter, as the title proclaims.

Martha was likable most of the time, she really took care of business when the men were away, she was a strong, clear headed woman that would make any of us proud. She was able to successfully manage multiple households far better than her husband and was incredibly underestimated by him. I loved how she rose to almost every challenge and was not easily defeated.

Recommendation: I did enjoy the story, the plot was interesting and like I mentioned earlier, very historically accurate. I learned a great deal from this and found the story line of Thomas Jefferson and Sally fascinating, though it was difficult to see past Martha’s objections. Overall, I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Sally Cabot Gunning:

Sally Cabot Gunning AP Photo by Jack Tower

A lifelong resident of New England, Sally Cabot Gunning has immersed herself in its history from a young age. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Satucket Novels—The Widow’s War, Bound, and The Rebellion of Jane Clarke—and, writing as Sally Cabot, the equally acclaimed Benjamin Franklin’s Bastard. She lives in Brewster, Massachusetts, with her husband, Tom.

Find out more about Sally at her website, and connect with her on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

 

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

 

 

 

 

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck- Review

9780451499578

Title: Here and Gone
Author: 
Haylen Beck
Rating:
4/5
Release Date: 
June 20, 2017

Description from Goodreads: “Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother’s desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities.. It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone than she must have done something with them… Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.”

Review: This was a very interesting story. I haven’t read anything like it before and was impressed by the depth of the story. You know what happens from the get go so it’s not really mysterious, but you can’t help but keep reading to see how it all plays out.

As you get to read from multiple points of view, you get a feel for the entire story. You see what Audra is going though, what the children are going through, and you read what Sherriff experiences. It also included correspondence between chapters to further your understanding of all parties in play.

This was a very quick read, I was able to read it in a day, so this is a great lazy day book. The tone of this book was quite dark and creepy, a perfect book for a dark and rainy day. This is not a psychological suspense book, so I was impressed with the way this book was able to keep attention and suspense, without the psychological aspect.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend this to anyone who loves thrillers.

 

* I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

 

 

Dark Deception by Nancy Mehl- Review

Dark Deception

Title: Dark Deception
Author: 
Nancy Mehl
Rating:
5/5
Release Date: 
June 6, 2017

Description: When Kate was 19, she and her twin sister were attacked by a serial killer in St. Louis. After her sister was murdered, Kate escaped and became the only person who could identify the killer. After testifying against Gerard, Kate went into witness protection.

Tony, the U. S. Marshall who helped Kate through the trial, is assigned to bring Kate back to St. Louis after Gerard was released from prison following new evidence pointing to a different killer. When Tony arrives in Shelter Cove, Arkansas, a new threat to Kate’s life surfaces and they both get far more than they bargained for.

Review: I loved this book. I really loved Justice Delayed so I was really excited to get my hands on this sequel; I was not disappointed. This was a very suspenseful and exciting book with some well written romance and faith included. The Christian theme was evident but like the romance, it was relatable and not overpowering. These were mere backdrops to the adventure and adrenaline pumping action.

The writing was so vivid it took me some time after reading this book to disassociate myself from this small mountain town and crazy serial killers. I can still envision the cabins and mountains that were so wonderfully described.

The characters were well developed and felt very real. I loved how protective Tony was of Kate and how Kate’s strength continued to grow throughout the book. They were a perfect match and I enjoyed their journey together. These felt like people I could know in real life and for a while I felt as though I really did know them.

This was a quick read for me. I read it in two sittings and was genuinely surprised when I saw I was at the epilogue. I was disappointed it was over, but now I will just have to look forward to the next book in the series!

Read an Excerpt HERE

 

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

Book Review-Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber

Title: Any Dream Will Do

Author: Debbie Macomber           

Rating: 5/5

Release Date: August 8, 2017

Description from Goodreads: A woman finds the strength to overcome a painful history and faces the challenge of learning to trust and love again in this powerful and uplifting novel.

Shay has never had a happy life. After growing up in an abusive home, she finally secures a job at a bank when her father passes away. Her brother, Caden, quickly falls into the wrong crowd and finds himself indebted to a dangerous drug lord. In a desperate attempt to rescue her only living family member, Shay risks everything, and finds herself sentenced to two years in prison.

When she’s finally released, even the brother she gave everything to save has abandoned her. Dejected and alone, Shay wanders into a church. She catches the attention of Pastor Andrew Douglas, a leader in the community and recent widower. Together, she and Andrew find healing and remember how to open their hearts to a brighter future.”

Review: This book is so full of love and hope that you can’t help but be inspired. I loved every second of this book and was extremely disappointed when I all too soon turned that final page. This book is about redemption and forgiveness, both of which we all need a little more of from time to time. It’s easy to hold other’s past mistakes against them, but as children of God, we are suppose to love as God loves, which means looking at the person they are now, not who they were before. I was impressed with how much Shay changed throughout this book and how she inspired people. Way too many people get into trouble when they are young and then feel as though they can’t make anything of themselves because of their path. Shay made no excuses and, with help from some truly amazing people, was able to make a wonderful life for herself.

The homeless population is a huge problem in our country right now and I loved how Debbie Macomber tackled this issue with this book. It is easy for us Christians to look the other way but we need to remember that the Bible tells us to take care of the homeless and poor. There are many times when churches seem to forget this so I was glad that was showed in this book. The way the elders tried to condemn Drew for associating with Shay and Richard was a perfect example of how even Christians forget how to love like Jesus.

I love how these huge issues were called to attention in such a loving, entertaining, and brilliant way. I have loved Debbie Macomber’s books since I picked up the first one, but this one probably got moved up to one of my all time favorite books. This is a book I will reread when I start to feel down about my life. We could all use the reminders that not only could our lives be worse, but God has a plan for our lives and plenty of grace to go around.

 

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

 

 

 

 

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker- Review

Title: Emma in the Night
Author: 
Wendy Walker
Rating:
4.5/5
Release Date: 
August 8, 2017

Description from Goodreads: From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back…

One night five years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.

Review: This book was intense and I was drawn in from the first few pages. I read almost this entire book on one lazy Sunday; I finally had to put it down to go to bed with less than 100 pages left. I finished it quickly Monday. My interest did waver a bit towards the end, it started to feel a bit drawn out, but then it was quickly brought back in and all the loose ends tied up neatly.

This was one of those books where you can’t figure out what’s going on. As soon as you think you have it all figured out, something shifts and you start to doubt again. There was only one piece of the puzzle that I was able to discern and I even started to doubt that a couple times.

I was apprehensive about this book because I really did not enjoy The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl but I really enjoyed this one.

Recommendation: I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys physiological thrillers. Even if you didn’t enjoy The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl, you very well might enjoy this one.

 

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

 

Book Review! Flood by Melissa Scholes Young

Title: Flood     
Author: 
Melissa Scholes Young 
Rating:
4/5

Description: This book is the story of what happens when you leave town, and then come back. Laura Brooks left Hannibal, Missouri, (hometown of beloved Mark Twain) after high school graduation in pursuit of a nursing degree. After her job in Florida is cut due to budgets, she has nowhere to turn but back home, only it’s not the soft landing spot she had hoped. Her mother is less than welcoming, her best friend Rose is going through a messy divorce and is adamant on putting Laura in the middle, and her godson Bobby captures her heart in a way she didn’t expect.

Review: I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would when I read the description. The characters were both relatable and exacerbating. Rose and Josh drove me insane and I wanted to slap both of them almost every time they were mentioned. Laura was decent and I liked her most of the time. She was in a rough and very confusing time of life and I have definitely been there before. She was working on trying to be better and figure out her life. Bobby was super sweet and a kid that most parents would adore. I love how he was the most mature person in this whole book and he was 12.

This book is basically immature adults dealing with the realities of life. They struggle to make ends meet and fight the flood all the while passing the blame for the problems in their life. This book felt like real life, messy, chaotic, and utterly confusing.

The writing was vivid and I could imagine the town of Hannibal and all the wacky residents.  The only thing I didn’t like about it was all the Mark Twain information between chapters. Some of it was interesting but then it just started to feel tedious to me. Luckily for me, these were really short and easy reading; It just didn’t seem pertinent to me.

Overall, I would recommend this book. It’s not a book that I couldn’t put down, but it held my attention and kept me wanting more.

 

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

Enjoy Your Journey by Joyce Meyer- Review

Title: Enjoy Your Journey: Find the Treasure Hidden in Every Day
Author: 
Joyce Meyer
Rating:
3.5/5
Release Date: 
June 6, 2017

Description from Goodreads: Are you enjoying every day of your life? Or do you tell yourself and others that you will find happiness once you have achieved a specific goal or position? Jesus came so that you might have and enjoy life (John 10:10). In this compact abridgment, Joyce Meyer combines biblical principles with personal experiences to explain how you can enjoy every day on your journey through life. You will learn such lessons as how to make the decision to enjoy life, how to rid yourself of regret, how to experience simplicity in life, how to find joy during times of waiting, and much more! Enjoying life is an attitude of the heart, and you can learn how to enjoy where you are on the way to where you are going.

Review: There was a lot of good advice in this book, and none of it was complicated. I feel as though this could really make a huge difference in many lives and the way that Joyce Meyer connected the advice to her life, made it easier to understand.

 

I also really liked that she specified that what works for some people doesn’t work for others so listen to God’s guidance in your own life and don’t worry about what others are doing. So many people try to pressure you to do what they do and that doesn’t work for me. This was a no-nonsense approach that really spoke to me.

 

One thing I do not like about everything I have read from Joyce Meyer is that when she quotes Bible verses, she always has to add her own words in there in parenthesis, or she is using a different version of the Bible that ads extra. Not only does that disrupt the flow of reading, but it’s usually just a synonym for the word that’s already there, and a lot of times, it’s either a more complex word she uses or she does it to a simple word. An example is during a Bible verse it has the word joy then following it are (gladness, delight), like we don’t know what the word joy means. To me, it’s not helpful; it’s just frustrating and demeaning.

 

Once I got beyond that, I did enjoy this book and found it helpful. I think there are many people who would benefit from this book.

 

 

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*