Monday, February 17, 2020

West - Carys Davies

Summary: When widowed mule breeder Cy Bellman reads in the newspaper that colossal ancient bones have been discovered in the salty Kentucky mud, he sets out from his small Pennsylvania farm to see for himself if the rumors are true: that the giant monsters are still alive and roam the uncharted wilderness beyond the Mississippi River. Promising to write and to return in two years, he leaves behind his only daughter, Bess, to the tender mercies of his taciturn sister and heads west.

With only a barnyard full of miserable animals and her dead mother’s gold ring to call her own, Bess, unprotected and approaching womanhood, fills lonely days tracing her father’s route on maps at the subscription library and waiting for his letters to arrive. Bellman, meanwhile, wanders farther and farther from home, across harsh and alien landscapes, in reckless pursuit of the unknown. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review:  I must admit that I don’t read a lot of westerns. I used to love the Storm Testament series when I was in junior high and high school. They were written by a Utah-based author, Lee Nelson, and although I’m not from Utah, my grandparents lived there and when we would go visit them and stay for a week in the summer I would raid their basement bookshelves (even back then I was reading All The Things) and just devoured that series. When they passed away, I took all of those books for my own bookshelves and I look back at them with fond memories. A few years ago, I inadvertently met Lee Nelson’s daughter and I have to tell you, I was fangirling majorly! I was trying to keep my cool and still get an invitation to meet her dad, but I never quite got around to asking. Oh, the missed opportunities.

When I saw this little book I decided to check it out. It is written like a Western, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve always been interested in books that do a good job creating a time and place, and I feel like this book did just that. I could feel the loneliness of the isolated countryside, and the simplicity of life and the complexity to pull off living during this time. The writing style was really unique. It was written third person, but the omniscient feeling was almost disconnected. This made for a very beautifully rendered reading that felt like both the simplicity and complexity of Western life I described above. There is an art to being able to achieve both things at once—both simplicity of writing and a depth of meaning, and Davies does just that. It is also a rather short book, and yet a lot was achieved in that short little span. Again, sometimes it doesn’t take a whole ton of words to get a whole ton of things said.

I really enjoyed the story in this book. I felt like it had an almost fantastical feel to it, although obviously there was not fantasy. I could imagine what this adventurer was thinking of when he headed off to find huge beasts whose bones had been discovered, and I can’t help but think that to him, he would have felt this same feeling of excitement and magic that Davies conveyed to the reader when he set off to see if he could find these unbelievable animals. He was able to capture so well the feeling of excitement and discovery that one would have felt while crossing into unknown territory. That was one of the things I enjoyed about this book, actually, is that it did a good job of capturing the wonder and excitement of discovery in a vastly uncharted land. Those lands still exist today, but those of us who will experience actual physical exploration of them are very few as opposed to those who lived back in the time of new land and new territory.

This story had some really sad elements in it, and they were resolved in interesting ways. Davies pulled no punches when it came to her characters, and it paid off. I feel like I have a natural inclination to wanting things to work out the way I think they should at the end of a book, and yet an author like Davies can give the characters a more natural character arc that works and makes sense in the end.

A short little book that packs a lot of story and interest in just a few pages, I recommend this book to fiction readers who enjoy a good story with a highly developed time and place. I enjoyed it and I think that other readers will find it interesting and a good read as well.

My Rating: 4 stars

For the sensitive reader: There are some limited incidences of sexual abuse without a lot of intense description, but it still may be triggering.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Freeform Friday: Reading For Sanity's 65 Favorite Romantic Book Recommendations


Looking for a little something a little swoony 
to read this Valentine's Day?

We've got you covered.  In no particular order, here are

 Reading for Sanity's
Romantic Reading Recommendations!

Below you'll find SIXTY-FIVE of our favorite books that have a romantic feel...

Most of them are sweet (re:fairly clean) romances, but not all.
We've linked the titles that we have reviewed, so be sure to check out
 each review's 'sensitive reader' section, to make sure they are your kind of romance.

Ella  - Jessilyn Stewart Peasleey

The Princess Bride - William Goldman
(Because who doesn't love Wesley and Buttercup?!)

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes
(I read this book ^^^ while on a reviewing 'break' 
but I think I'm still hungover!)

Kilmeny of the Orchard - L.M. Montgomery

The Shoemaker's Wife - Adriana Trigiani

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson

The Hundred-Foot Journey - Richard C. Morais
(I read this while on hiatus but TOTALLY 5 stars)

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce

and it's sequel
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy - Rachel Joyce

Finding Beauty in the Beast - Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee

The Blue Castle

The Caraval series (Caraval, Legendary, Finale) - Stephanie Garber


The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Orczy

P.S. I Love You -Cecilia Ahern

The Anne of Green Gables series - L.M. Montgomery
(Because Gil was my first book crush...)

Warm Bodies - Isaac Marion

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
- Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

The Beast of Ten - Beth Brower

The Far Pavilions -M.M.Kaye

Shadow of the Moon - M.M. Kaye

Goose Girl - Shannon Hale

The Black Witch - Laurie Forest

The Golem and the Jinni - Helene Wecker

The Giver of Stars - Jojo Moyes

A Bend in the Stars - Rachel Barenbaum

Stepsister - Jennifer Donnelly

The Wrath & The Dawn - Renee Ahdieh

The Reluctant Heiress - Eva Ibbotson

House of Oak series by Nichole Van

Summers at Castle Auburn - Sharon Shinn

The Lunar Chronicles - Marisa Meyer
(Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Winter, Stars Above)

Beguiled - Deanne Gist

Graceling, Fire, & Bitterblue - Kristin Cashore

Persuasion: A Latter Day Tale AND
Sense & Sensibility: A Latter Day Tale - Rebecca H. Jamison

Agent in Old Lace by Tristi Pinkson

Archangel series (Archangel, Alleluia Files, Jovah's Angel)


The Lucky One - Nicholas Sparks

These is my Words - Nancy Turner

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

Evernight - Claudia Gray

The Host - Stephanie Meyer

A Countess Below Stairs - Eva Ibbotson

The Notebook - Nicholas Sparks

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

Edenbrooke - Julianne Donaldson

Blackmoore - Julianne Donaldson

Symphony of Ages series (Rhapsody, Prophecy, Destiny) - Elizabeth Haydon

The Wedding - Nicholas Sparks

Hourglass - Myra McEntire

Delirium series (Delirium, Pandemonium, Requiem) - Lauren Oliver

Divergent series (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant, Four) - Veronica Roth

Enclave - Ann Aguirre

The Season - Sarah Maclean


A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness

Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick

Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell

Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespear

Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen

Under the Never Sky - Veronica Rossi

The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

Girl with a Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier


We hope you found something to swoon over on this list!

What Romantic Reads to YOU recommend!  
Leave us your recs in the comments!

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