Seasons of the Heart by Janette Oke

fiction-books-2 nadine keels

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Five Gold Stars

seasons-of-the-heartSeasons of the Heart/Four Complete Novels in One Book by Janette Oke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(4.5 rating for the whole four-book series)

When an orphaned boy is raised by his Aunt Lou, Gramps, Uncle Charlie, and Grandpa, the boy’s life is bound to be anything but typical.

I don’t read book blurbs when I don’t have to, and I had no intention of looking at any blurb or other beforehand to know what Seasons of the Heart was about. Janette Oke’s name and the fact that I’ve known for years that the series exists was enough.

I was in for three noteworthy surprises from the first novel.
1) The story is told in first-person, which, even considering her Canadian West series, isn’t the most common for Oke’s novels.
2) The protagonist is an adolescent boy, Joshua, which isn’t common for Oke’s novels.
3) Josh’s perspective (along with the well-intentioned but not-the-best-idea scheming of his grandpa and uncle) actually had me laughing  out loud, something I’m not used to doing with Oke’s novels. I mean, sure, I’ve enjoyed light moments she’s handled with a light hand before, but some of the stuff here is just downright hilarious.

I liked seeing the dynamics of the different kind of family Joshua has. Though the tone of the writing gradually changes through the series as Joshua grows, it’s well worth it to follow his story right on into his adulthood.

Simple novels of faith and love and learning through trials–and prairie life and the like–are what I count on this author for, and I’ve not been disappointed. There’s genius in telling uncomplicated but engaging stories that just get the job done.

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Me and my oftentimes old-fashioned self. Yes, the Seasons of the Heart book covers have been updated over the years, but I’m partial to the cover images from the 80s, back when the books were first published.

seasons-of-the-heart-pics

Unveiling Love: Episode III by Vanessa Riley

regency-books-3 nadine keels

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Five Gold Stars

unveiling-love-3Unveiling Love: A Regency Romance by Vanessa Riley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“Not a victim any more. No more. I won’t be. Monster, you will have a name.”

Even a delicate vase when broken had sharp shards.

She’s still battling the terror of a hazy past incident that haunts her. Yet, Amora Norton is determined to help her barrister husband, Barrington, uncover the truth concerning a string of horrendous crimes. Doing so may or may not help bring the Nortons’ marriage back from the brink of disaster in Unveiling Love, a Regency suspense tale by author Vanessa Riley.

Here I am, plunging through this tale a good deal faster than I expected to. Can’t really help it, since Episode II left me on the edge of my seat (figuratively, as I was actually on my feet), and Episode III here had me engrossed from the get-go.

Yes, this is why I had to download the complete series at once, as I wouldn’t be able to stand the virtual cliffhanging sensation this story would surely leave me with if I had to sit waiting for a following episode.

Really, though, I’m as anxious as Amora and Barrington are to get to the bottom of the troubling mystery that’s left several victims in its wake. And I appreciate how Amora is consciously pushing back against victimhood.

She and Barrington still frustrate me–Barrington jumping to drastic conclusions at lightning speed, and Amora resisting him in various ways when it’s as plain as day how they really feel about each other, how well they fit together. But, hey, their marital missteps play into the need for a true “unveiling.”

I could say more, but I’m ready to just get on with the unveiling, now…

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Unveiling Love in all four episodes

unveiling-love

Summer’s List by Anita Higman

fiction-books-6 nadine keels

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Publishers for an honest review.
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summers-listSummer’s List by Anita Higman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Summer has spent so many years of her life taking care of her family’s needs while her own dreams have drifted off. But her gravely ill grandmother wishes for Summer to recapture some of those dreams with an important To Do list. Completing the list may even take seeking the help of Martin, the childhood friend Summer lost but has never forgotten in Summer’s List, a novel by author Anita Higman.

I’ve quite enjoyed a couple of this author’s Middlebury stories. Although I’m known (at least to myself) to not always read the blurbs of books by authors I’ve enjoyed before, I did read the blurb for this novel, and I was intrigued by the idea of Summer’s quest.

Unfortunately, after the beginning, which I really liked, the story fell pretty flat for me. I was waiting for a kind of “ah-ha” moment, for one of the items on Summer’s list to really pop, to add a twist or an angle I wasn’t expecting, but it didn’t happen. The story develops in an “all of a sudden” kind of way at a number of points, much of it based on events from the past. But I found it difficult to care about those events. A lot of them aren’t foreshadowed or given a realistic build-up before they’re mentioned or remembered “all of a sudden.”

Also, although Martin is quirky and noble in some ways, I found him to be a rather weak hero, overall. And I wasn’t expecting so much of the novel not to be about Summer’s quest at all but to be about Martin and his rather bratty brothers. I couldn’t really get into their whole family drama when so much of it revolved around characters I found little reason to root for.

Still, while this book turned out not to be my favorite, I’m sure it won’t be the last that I read by this author.

Unveiling Love: Episode II by Vanessa Riley

regency-books nadine keels

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Four Silver Stars

unveiling-love-2Unveiling Love: A Regency Romance by Vanessa Riley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Two months to woo a wife, find a missing person, and capture a killer was an incredibly short period of time.

Barrington Norton has cases to investigate and a reputation to maintain as a barrister in the English courts—particularly as a barrister of mixed ethnicity. Hence, more than love is at stake in the midst of the ominous trouble brewing between him and Amora, his wife. They’ll have to decide how much (or how little) their marriage matters in the grand scheme in Unveiling Love, a Regency suspense tale by author Vanessa Riley.

Episode II of this story picks up right where Episode I left off, so I was all in as soon as I started reading. I found the second episode to be somewhat darker than the first as it deals with the effects of events as traumatic as war. Although I felt some of Barrington and Amora’s discussion became a bit redundant, I liked to see them digging into the complexities of their marriage, where easy answers and quick fixes may not be available.

There’s a minor aspect of the plot that didn’t quite line up to me, and there are small errors and inconsistencies in the writing. Also, in both episodes, it seems the narrator may be less than impartial about the story’s villains, perhaps calling them names too often. The antagonists begin to seem less authentic that way, like wicked caricatures.

Still, the author’s style is sensitive, evocative, and poetic in its imagery. There’s an aching kind of beauty in even the dark images. And as much as Barrington and Amora frustrate me sometimes, I can’t help but to forgive them because they’re not clueless or just being dramatic. They’re aware of themselves, which keeps them interesting.

I’m looking forward to moving on to Episode III.

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Unveiling Love in all four episodes

unveiling-love