Light Across The River, by Stephanie Reed – Book Review

light-across-the-riverThe Light Across the River: A Novel, by Stephanie Reed
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Publication Date: April 30, 2008
Format: Trade Paperback, 216 pages

As the seventh of thirteen children Johnny Rankin is eager to establish a place for himself in his large family, and wants to prove himself by helping in the family business of conducting slaves through the Underground Railroad. But Johnny has trouble keeping secrets, and based on the way that he blurted out information in the past, neither his father nor the rest of his family, thinks that he can be trusted to help with such an important and dangerous undertaking.

One night when a slave woman, Eliza, arrives at the Rankin household looking for help, Johnny gets to see firsthand the way his family springs into action and each plays their part in rescuing slaves, but afterward Johnny is sent to live with his brother for a time so that the family can continue to protect their secret. A couple of years pass and once again the Rankin family has to help a woman in need. Will they be able to depend on Johnny to help and more importantly will he be able to keep quiet?

I enjoyed this wonderful book about the Underground Railroad and the Rankin family. The fact that the story was closely based on real events added to the impact that it had as I discovered more information about how the story of Uncle Tom’s Cabin came into existence. I loved the rich use of detail and was fully drawn in by the vivid descriptions of the safe houses and the methods that the families used to help the escaping slaves to safety in other locations. The real joy however comes from the rich characterizations of the Rankin family and the inhabitants of the town, getting to experience the different personalities and eccentricities and also seeing the way the community comes together to help the Rankin family.

The novel unfolded through a series of narratives that alternated with Johnny Rankin and also a slave, Eliza, whom the Rankin family helped to escape. Having Eliza speak in the novel anchored the story to just how much was at stake, and I was riveted by her experiences in trying to escape and saw the danger firsthand as she took the necessary steps to get herself family to freedom.

Written for young adults, and advertised in the Religious/Christian genre, this novel offers much to those beyond those audiences. The story was written in such a complex way that even an adult would be fascinated and eager to see how everything worked out. The religious aspect of he story came across in the faith of the Rankin family (the father was a preacher), and I enjoyed the way the family was consistent in applying their religious faith to their life, and is non-intrusive to those who don’t usually read this type of fiction. This novel is a great mix of love, duty, mystery, suspense and history. The Light Across the River by Stephanie Reed was an exciting read, and definitely a page turner.

Have you reviewed The Light Across The River? Please e-mail me your link or leave it in the comments, I’d love to have it here.

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Weekly Geeks: Come Bearing Links

weekly-geeks1This week, Weekly Geeks is resurrecting one of the first projects that Dewey encouraged among bloggers to build community, link sharing.

This week I am supposed to write a post encouraging readers to share their links with me.  I usually do this at the end of each post, and some of you have already stopped by with links to your reviews for me to post in mine (thanks for that!).  Now I’m asking that you take the time to look through my archives (books reviewed in 2008 & books reviewed in 2009), and either leave me a link in the comments or send me an e-mail with your links at nicole [at] linussblanket [dot] com. Cool? Cool.

I always love it when bloggers link to other blogs because not only do I get an additional perspective about the book, but I discover great new blogs that I continue to visit.  So, please don’t be shy. Just a note, this isn’t just for Weekly Geek participants, it’s for everyone.  I want all of your links.

For the rest of the week  this is what I will be doing:

  • Editing my reviews to include links I receive in the body of my review post.
  • Visiting  other Weekly Geeks to go through their reviews. Leaving links for them.
  • Leaving a note somewhere on my blog to let people know this is my policy.
  • Writing a post later this week letting you know how my project is going!
  • Having fun!  This is a big undertaking but as Dewey put it, it’s ‘community building’.

What do you think of this idea? Do you have a link exchange policy?  Do you like it when people link to other reviews?  To your reviews?

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Mailbox Monday

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This week I actually had the presence of mind to note when things came! Here’s what was in my mailbox last week:

Wednesday

The Darwin Conspiracy, by John Darnton

The Ruling Class, by Francine Pascal

The Trudeau Vector, by Juris Jurjevics

Dakhmeh, by Naveed Noori

Thursday

Wild Life, by Molly Gloss ~ Jen from A Garden Carried in the Pocket and I traded books!  I got this one in exchange for Two Guys Read Jane Austen.

Shanghai Girls: A Novel, by Lisa See

Friday

The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times, by Jennifer Worth

To see what came in other mailboxes and to play along visit Marcia at The Printed Page.

What came in your mailbox last week?

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Items of Interest: Links that Caught My Attention This Week

weekly-link-round-up1Reviews & Recommendations

  • The 14th Book Review Carnival is up at Book: Thirty.  Be sure to check out all of the wonderful reviews at Stacey’s site.
  • Daphne at Tanzanite’s Shelf reviewed The Sisters Who Would Be Queen, by Leanda Lisle, and now I am all excited to read this book.  Unfortunately it’s not out in the U.S. until September.  Boo!
  • Jen at Devourer of Books has great new layout and a historical fiction recommendation in The Tory Widow, by Christine Blevins. This is Jen’s second time reading this author, and she has enjoyed her works.  I am mighty tempted to pick one up.
  • Shelly at Write for A Reader has a great review up for Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson  I have been seeing this one around and am looking forward to getting my hands on a copy to read.

Giveaways

  • Carrie at Books and Movies Today is giving away a copy of The Laws of Harmony by Judith Ryan Hendricks.  You’ve got until Friday, April 3rd to win this one, so stop by and check it out.
  • I am giving away a copy of David Bach’s new book Fight for Your Money here at Linus’s Blanket.  Interested in wrangling your money away from people who want to take it from you? Then click here to comment on this post by April 11 at midnight for a chance to win.

Misc.

  • I just find this picture to be so funny because these were my shoes of choice all last summer.  They are comfortable, so sue me!

Find anything interesting in your internet travels this week? Leave me a link.

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Giveaway ~ Fight For Your Money, by David Bach

fight-for-your-money

I have two copies of Fight For Your Money: How to Stop Getting Ripped Off and Save a Fortune, by David Bach, so I am going to keep one and give one away. I haven’t finished reading all of the book, but I have read some of the chapters relevant to me and skimmed around a bit, and have found some useful information (like how I should be checking my Social Security statements and what to look for).   Here is the description from Amazon.

A war for your money is raging and it is time to fight back!

In a book that will forever change how you spend your hard earned money, America’s favorite financial coach, David Bach, shows you how to save thousands of dollars every year by taking on the “corporate machines.” In these times when every dollar counts, big businesses are using dishonest tricks to rip you off, making themselves billions while they keep you living paycheck to paycheck. David Bach knows that until you learn to fight for your money, you will overpay for almost everything you buy. In Fight for Your Money, he gives you the tools to FIGHT BACK and WIN.

Bach shows you how every dollar you spend is really a battle between you and the businesses—and the government—who want to take it as profit. When you know how the system is rigged –the extra points, the hidden fees, the late charges, the unused tax breaks, the escalating rates—you can fight back against the pickpockets and save literally thousands every year—money in your pocket that can help you live your dreams.

Fight for Your Money shows how you are being taken on your cell phone contract, cable bill, car purchase, credit card, life insurance, healthcare, 401(k) plan, airfare, hotel bills, and much more. Bach gives you all the tools you need to fight back, with websites, phone numbers, sample letters and real-life stories of ordinary people who have fought for their money and won.

You’ll learn how to:

Beat the credit card companies at the games they play that cost you thousands annually in interest and fees
Make your bank accounts work for you with higher yields and lower fees
Save thousands by pre-paying college tuition at TODAY’s prices
Raise your credit score and pay thousands less in mortgage interest
Cut your life insurance premiums in half by making one call
Save hundreds on air travel, hotels, and car rentals—just by being an informed consumer
Avoid huge rip-offs like bank-issued gift cards, medical credit cards, 401(k) debit cards, and sneaky renewals of your cell-phone plan.

David Bach knows that when you are being taken financially, you work harder than you have to, for longer than you need to. This book helps you fight for your money, so you can live your life doing what you really want to do.

This is my first time hearing about David Bach but he has written several books, including, Start Late, Finish Rich; Go Green, Live Rich and The Finish Rich Dictionary.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post. If you blog about it, Stumble, Twitter, Digg, subscribe to this blog, etc you will receive a surprise bonus book if you win. Giveaway is open internationally, but I don’t know if it helps for anyone outside the US to own this one as most of the info is geared toward folks in the US, but I’ll leave that for you to decide- you could get the bonus book too.   Giveaway ends at midnight on Saturday, April 11, 2009 EST so make sure to enter by then.  The winner will be announced on Monday, April 13, 2009.

Good Luck!

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Mailbox Monday

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Here’s what was in my mailbox last week:

Deep Trouble (Classic Goosebumps), by R.L. Stine

Sag Harbor: A Novel, by Colson Whitehead

The Crimes of Paris: A True Story of Murder, Theft, and Detection, by Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler

The Obama Revolution, by Alan Kennedy-Shaffer

Will Marry for Food, Sex, and Laundry: How to Get Him – and How to Keep Him, by Simon Oaks

To see what came in other mailboxes and to play along visit Marcia at The Printed Page.

What came in your mailbox last week?

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Booking Through Thursday: Worst Best Book You’ve Ever Read

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Suggested by Janet:

How about, “What’s the worst ‘best’ book you’ve ever read — the one everyone says is so great, but you can’t figure out why?”

I’m on blog punishment, which means that I had told myself that I couldn’t participate in any memes or fun stuff until I caught up with my reviews, but I just have to answer this question and say Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I managed to get through the whole thing but I thought it was too simply written and didn’t hold any surprises for me.  I had been thinking that it might be a suggestion to read with my book club, but once I finished the book I quickly found something else to recommend.  It was loved by blogger everywhere and it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2005.  I just don’t get it. I definitely thought it was one of Ishiguro’s lesser works, but what do I know?

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Sleepwalking in Daylight, by Elizabeth Flock – Book Review

sleepwalking-in-daylightSleepwalking in Daylight, by Elizabeth Flock
Publisher: Mira Books
Publication Date: February 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages

Sleepwalking in Daylight is the story of mother-daughter duo Samantha & Cammy Friedman.  Once a mother and daughter with a strong relationship and loving bond, the two have hit a rough patch. Samantha wakes up and finds herself in a passionless marriage where she can’t connect with her husband.  Though her husband was her best friend in college and they had done everything together, their relationship always lacked something and now, whatever common connections that they once shared have long since evaporated and they are lucky if they share intimacies once a year.

Another person with whom Samantha can’t connect is her teenage daughter Cammy.  Cammy was once a compassionate little girl who was her mother’s confidante and comforter.  Now her daughter is angry and bitter, with conflicting feelings over the fact that she was adopted. Cammy struggles, feeling like she is different and doesn’t into her family or anywhere else. Samantha gets glimpses of the girl that Cammy used to be, but for the most part she finds her to  be unrecognizable.  Cammy,  thinking that she would be better off if she finds her birth mother,  forges documents to start the search to find her without her parent’s knowledge or permission.  What she finds out will have far reaching effects for her and her family.

This book has a deliciously pink cover; it’s like cotton candy or something, but do not let that fool you.  Elizabeth Flock has done a deep exploration into a familial world where communication has broken down, and self-involved family members miss opportunities to connect with each other.  The novel is told from the alternating viewpoints of Samantha and Cammy, and both are extremely flawed, grappling with some of the same issues- like finding a place where they feel they belong.  Samantha turns to an affair and Cammy to  sex and drugs, each trying to anesthetize the pain they feel. Unfortunately neither Samantha or Cammy knows how to build on the relationship they once had to reach out to each other.

I equally felt for and understood these characters and was frustrated by them.  I wanted to hop in the book and shake them.  I wanted Samantha to ask her husband questions and make him answer, I wanted Cammy to give her mom a break and to talk to her.  Samantha’s deep self-absorption is troubling and the only thing that bothered me more was her husband’s complacency and inertia.

Though this is her fourth novel, Elizabeth Flock is a new-to-me author, and suffice it to say that I am definitely interested in checking out her other work, and seeing what else she has up her sleeve.  Sleepwalking in Daylight was no easy read for me.  I didn’t always like what I was reading and I was frustrated by the characters, but I have to say that they  held my interest and involved me to the very end, even if it was only to scream at them to wake up. If you are looking for positive and upbeat, then don’t read this book. But if you want a deeply realistic drama about what happens when a family falls apart at the seams, then this just might be the one.

Read More Reviews At:

Lori’s Reading Corner ~ Booking Mama ~ Love to Read

Have you reviewed Sleepwalking in Daylight? Please e-mail me your link or leave it in the comments, I’d love to have it here.

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Galway Bay, by Mary Pat Kelly – Book Review

galway-bayGalway Bay, by Mary Pat Kelly
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: February 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 576 pages

Honora Keely is a seventeen-year-old girl, living in Galway Bay and bound for the convent to become a nun when Michael Kelly walks into her life in the most novel of ways.  Even though Michael had been on his way to find and take part in a great adventure, it’s love-at-first-sight when the two see each other and they know right away that they want to be married.  Honora’s family puts up some resistance, but once the couple are married they go on to set up a life together and have children and a happy life until the blight strikes their potato crop two years in a row, and they have to face up to the fact that they might have to leave their beloved Galway Bay behind.

I was a little worried when I started reading this novel. I had a difficult time getting into it. Unfamiliar words and a large cast of characters had me struggling to figure who was who and what they were saying.  Both the Keeleys and the Kellys had families that set a lot by storytelling and stories of Irish Warriors and their Queen Mav dominated Michael and Honora’s courtship.  Luckily for me Kathy from Bermudaonion pointed out that there was a glossary in the back, and it’s definitely worth it to stick with the story.  After I was bale to get my bearing I thoroughly enjoyed this equally heart-warming and heart-wrenching drama.

This was a story about a very stong family who helped each other through the good times and the bad.  It loved seeing Honora and Michael’s love for one another grow stronger and the sacrifices that they made to see their family through some very hard times.  It was so touching that both the Keeleys and the Kellys were all like that, as well as the village where they often did things as a community and helped each other raise houses and harvest crops on the farm.

Honora’s grandmother is the storyteller of the family and she prepares Honora to take over this role from her.  The stories that they tell illustrate not only the strength of the warriors but also the strong women in Irish culture.  Honora and her sister Maire carry on the tradition of strong Irish women.  They stay right in the thick of things, having their say and guiding their families.

Galway Bay is set against the backdrop of one of the most interesting yet devastating events in world history.  The Great Starvation from the potato blight epidemic in Ireland caused the death of 1 million people and sent another 2 million to the United States as immigrants, where the Irish faced discrimination.  The Kelly family survived the potato famine to face prejudice, brutal jobs and working conditions, and also Civil War (where they fought neighbors from home who had enlisted on the other side).

Much can be found between the pages of Galway Bay, it’s an engaging story based on very tragic and real history and most of the time I couldn’t put it down. There is truly something for everyone, whether you are looking for a historical drama, romance, action and adventure, they can all be found here.

Read an excerpt here.

Mary Pat Kelly will be on BlogTalkRadio today, March 17th at 11am EST.

Galway Bay is on blog tour today, for more stops along the tour, visit one of these sites:

At Home With Books ~ Bermudaonion ~ Booking Mama ~ Books by TJBaff ~ Medieval Bookworm ~ Pudgy Penguin Perusals ~ The Book Nest

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Items of Interest: Links that Caught My Attention This Week

  • weekly-link-round-upI like to read short stories, but mostly I go through phases where I read them all the time or then not at all.  Harper Perennial is celebrating the short story this year and as such they are publishing a short story a week on the website Fifty-Two Stories. I think I can catch up, there are ten on the site now, and then read one a week going forward.
  • Beth over at Beth Fish Reads is excited to be hosting her very first giveaway!  She is offering a copy of two different books; The Secret by Beverly Lewis and The Scavengers’ Manifesto by Anneli Rufus and Kristan Lawson.  Both look great so stop by and check it out.
  • Do you judge people that you meet by what they’re reading?  The Guardian has a piece that says that we do just that when we’re meeting someone for a date.  Not only that but great pains are taken in choosing just the book to be seen with.  And the verdict is, chick-lit sends men running.  Now, I don’t know if I believe that.
  • Jen at Devourer of Books is tracking her progress as she follows the book Throw Out Fifty Things by Gail Blanke.  Looks like she is making some good progress. I should really start on a program like that.  I have been making a huge effort to de-clutter since I moved.  I threw out a lot beforehand, but I still find that I have way more stuff that I need.  That does not include books.
  • Lisa over at Books and Cooks is wondering just how many of us keep reading journals. I would like to keep one more often, but I am definitely guilty of keeping one sporadically.  I find it’s a great way to keep track of my feeling and responses over the course of the book.
  • I wish that I had more time to re-read books.  It’s always such a struggle for me to re-read the old books that I have loved because I am constantly hearing abut great new stuff that I want to read.  Carrie at Book & Movies reminded me that I read Dragonfly In Amber, and other books in the Outlander series.  I remember devouring these books when they first came out, but now I don’t remember all of the details besides how much I loved them.  Maybe some day I will get back to them.
  • Phyllis Scheiber, the author of Willing Spirits, stopped over and guest posted at My Friend Amy’s blog and and had some interesting words to say about how much of novels are autobiographical.  I enjoyed reading about the characters that she created, The Egg Sisters, based on women that she knew growing up in Washington Heights.  I also love reading about different perspectives on New York City neighborhoods.

Find anything interesting in your internet travels this week? Leave me a link.

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