Thursday, February 14, 2019

Dickens Would Be Pleased ~ A Review of The Seamstress by Allison Pittman

Allison Pittman has written a fabulous work of historical fiction set during the French Revolution, in which she uniquely portrays the revolution from the years leading up to and during the event, and from both inside Paris and in the outlying French countryside.

I had to wait a few days to write this review. I had to take it in—the story, the bigness, the voices of the characters. This ambitious novel is what I would classify as real literature, told from the points of view of cousins, one in first person, one in third. The first-person point of view almost prevented me from picking up the book, not because I’m against first person, it’s just not my favorite. HOWEVER, Ms. Pittman not only wrote the first-person voice beautifully, she moved seamlessly between the first and third character, giving a whole new depth of perspective to the story.

I also loved that all the characters are flawed, some in big obvious ways, others more subtly, yet even the subtle flaws have huge impact on their lives. They are human. So human in fact, that this is only the second story in a long time to make me cry.

People, it's SO GOOD.

The Seamstress is based upon a minor character in Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities. I believe Mr. Dickens would be pleased to be associated with Ms. Pittman’s work. I think it will end up at the end of 2019 as one of my favorite books of the year.

As of the date of this review, it's on mark-down sale on Amazon.

(I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, which I am happy to give.)

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Longing, Change, and Love Deferred ~ A Review of A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

When I found out that one of my favorite authors, Laura Frantz, was releasing a new novel with a highlander hero coming to Colonial America, I let out a peal of delight. I admit that part of that reason was because I was in the throes of penning my own highlander-come-to-the-colonies novella, and I wanted to see how a popular author like Ms. Frantz handled it, but largely, it was because she always, always comes through with a marvelous story. A Bound Heart is no exception. Spanning the Atlantic Ocean from Scotland's craggy shores to Colonial Virginia and the Jamaican Islands, Ms. Frantz weaves a story the longing for home, of change when the future isn't ours to control, and especially of love deferred.

In A Bound Heart, the author not only touched on a spectacular tale of romance, peril, and adventure, but she delved into another era of history I've long enjoyed studying, that of the indentures that came to the new world for so many reasons and were "bound out" for so many more. In A Bound Heart we find characters from various stations of society, all bound together as prisoners from Scotland. First their is the Laird of Kerrara--Magnus Macleisch--and what a hero he is. He is conflicted, intelligent, and oh-so-handsome. His love interest, Lark McDougal, lives in a humble croft with her granny, but she has long had links to life in the Macleisch castle and brings life-saving healing to the people on her island. Another character who I really liked was "the captain" - Rory MacPherson. Rory was a dangerously intriguing character, handsome and devilish. Below is a spoiler about Rory.

SPOILER ALERT: Don't read this if you haven't read the book yet. But if you have, go ahead. 
I'd like to know your thoughts. 

I feel like Rory was very complex, and he brought something really special to this story, even though we all knew he wasn't right for Lark. I was sad to hear that he was killed at the end. Unless...does Ms. Frantz have a sequel in mind? Is it truly the last we've heard from the notorious captain? I really have no idea, but if this were my book, I'd definitely bring him back for some redemption.


Monday, December 31, 2018

My Pick for Favorite Fiction of 2018 - A Book Review, with Insight for Writers

As many books as I've read and enjoyed in 2018, none have touched me as profoundly as Joanne Bischof's Sons of Blackbird Mountain. In fact, I just finished the ARC of Book Tow on my Kindle, and OH. MY. GOODNESS The combo should be a movie. So good. You really want to read both to go the full circle of the story. Book two is available for pre-order.

Read book one now! Book two releases March 12, 2019.

Ms. Bischof's story of a young Irish woman finding a new beginning in the home of three Norwegian brothers, who live on a farm in the wilds of Appalachia, is perfectly plotted and beautifully written. Set in the 1890s, every character grabs you with a depth of feeling and personality in a truly unique story--especially the three Norgaard men. (Okay, they rather reminded me quite a lot of my three rough and tumble sons who also farm together and whose birth order and personalities coincide almost bizarrely with these characters. Maybe I was biased the moment the Norgaards started cleaning their guns on the kitchen table and one of them climbed up on the high beam to have a look-see down his rifle sight at the Klan approaching their mountaintop home.)

I heard rumblings all around social media about this story before I finally go it on my TBR list, but I'm so glad I finally did. There are so many nuances to this story that will touch you deeply, from the mounting conflict between the main characters as well as outsiders, to the beautiful and tender love story, to the realism and rich history... If you haven't gotten hold of this one yet, add it to your list!


As I mentioned above, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is perfectly plotted. Ms. Bischof does an exceptional job of illuminating back story in a way that advances the plot and character development yet never dumps information on the reader. She also takes us deep into the characters' points-of-view by consistently showing without telling. The way she presents the POV of a deaf-mute is artistic.

Read it, highlight it, take notes to see how it's done. If you want to develop your own voice and writing style, it's imperative to read good writing. Ms. Bischof is the kind of writer whose works you want to have on your shelf or Kindle just to study the craft well done.