Author: Scott Kauffman
Title: Revenants - The Odyssey Home
Genre(s): Historical; Historical fiction; War
Review: This novel starts out as a slow burner that quickly ignites and develops into an enthralling tale full of twists and turns that will keep you turning the pages. As Betsy begins to work through the stages of grief after the loss of her beloved brother, she finds herself at the VA hospital surrounded by reminders of him. Scott really portrayed how loss can heavily impact a young person through Betsy's sudden shift from being cheerful and inexperienced to heartbroken and oppositional. Although her brother's death clearly takes a hard toll on her well-being, she eventually finds distraction when secrets within the VA and her hometown begin to unveil themselves. The beginning of the novel sets the stage for Betsy's potential growth and development and as the story progresses, Scott unleashes a wicked tale of lies and deceit that helps Betsy to find strength and power in the loss of her brother. Her motivation to find the truth evokes her ability to move through the stages of grief and to use her experience as a tool to work through other difficult things that come to be. Overall, I enjoyed the development of this novel as it started out with heartbreak and loss, then turned into a mystery and an adventure to find the truth. Those who like historical fiction with interwoven mystery and intrigue will find Revenants: The Odyssey Home to be quite enjoyable!
Book Description: "ONLY BETSY CAN GET HIM HOME IN TIME; ONLY HE CAN BRING HER BACK BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE. A grief-stricken candy-striper serving in a VA hospital following her brother’s death in Viet Nam struggles to return home an anonymous veteran of the Great War against the skullduggery of a congressman who not only controls the hospital as part of his small-town fiefdom but knows the name of her veteran. A name if revealed would end his political ambitions and his fifty-year marriage. In its retelling of Odysseus’ journey, Revenants casts a flickering candle upon the charon toll exacted not only from the families of those who fail to return home but of those who do."
Author: Connie Lacy
Title: A Daffodil for Angie
Genre(s): Young adult; historical; historical fiction; Coming of age
Review: This well-written coming of age novel is sensitive, charismatic, and insightful. Angie is a teenage girl growing up in a time when social issues are prominent and there is movement for change. Connie paints each scene with a delicate hand conveying what it would have been like to navigate through a difficult time in American history while also becoming a young woman. I really enjoyed how she created Angie's character as someone who normally would have easily belonged with the "in crowd," but due to her conscientiousness and desire for positive social changes, readers see glimpses of her inner struggles when she witnesses daily injustices. Angie has a lot of depth and strength for a young teenage girl, especially given the era she grew up in. The supporting characters also helped the plot develop and I think they each added a stroke to the painting that created more life and realism. Overall, my favorite part was witnessing Angie's character navigate through incredibly difficult situations, as well as how Connie brought this time period to light in a very meaningful way. I think readers who enjoy coming of age novels with depth and great supporting characters will have a good time reading A Daffodil for Angie
Book Description: "It's 1966. Mini-skirts are in. Beatlemania is in full swing. And Angie Finley is starting high school with frosted hair and contacts, ready to find a boyfriend. But her dad's in Vietnam as young men burn their draft cards. School integration turns ugly as a black classmate is bullied. Her mom pushes her to be a cheerleader while the women's rights movement is heating up. And a pushy antiwar activist in her class is driving her crazy. But a handsome quarterback thinks her new look is perfect. And he wants to do a lot more than just make out. Set against a backdrop of the tumultuous 1960s, "A Daffodil for Angie" is a vivid coming-of-age story about a teenager grappling with what kind of person she wants to be. Should she trust the adults who sent her father to Vietnam? Should she try to do something about attacks on the first black student in her class? Should she let her sexy boyfriend score a touchdown? The 1960s comes alive as Angie tries to make sense of the social upheaval around her while struggling to keep a lid on her raging hormones."
Author: Gail Ward Olmsted
Title: Second Guessing
Genre(s): Romance; Contemporary
Review: At first thought, I found this book to be really fun, humorous, and enjoyable. Both the main characters, Jill and Ben, were charismatic and extremely likable. Jill is a recently widowed single mother who is in the process of finding out who she is without her musical star husband. Ben is a young man who comes across as grounded and genuinely mature for his age. In the relationship they develop after working together on Ben's solo album, both characters contribute to the relationship by helping the other one grow and develop. Gail definitely has a knack for creating a relationship that is relatable in the sense that we all are likely to question our partner and how well we know them at some point in the relationship. Another aspect I enjoyed were the side stories and the supporting characters. Gail provided a lot of information about her characters' backstories, as well as stories related to the supporting characters. This added an extra touch to each character, as well as depth to the overall plot. As far as things that took away from my experience of reading Second Guessing, the biggest issue was connecting with the characters on an individual basis. Although I found them each to be enjoyable, there were situations discussed throughout the novel that were painful and heartbreaking. However, I never felt what the characters were feeling in those moments due to lack of description. The situations were presented and glossed over, so I wish there would have been more emotional descriptions during those scenes. Additionally, there were a few scene shifts that I found hard to follow exactly which period of time the characters were in. I had to re-read a few pages to make sure I knew what time period the situation occurred in. Overall, I had a fun time reading Second Guessing for the relationship scenario, subtly steamy romance scenes, and charisma.
Book Description: "Jill Griffin & Ben Fein are meant to be together… said no one ever! Jill has built a successful career writing romantic ballads for many of today’s top performers. Since the tragic end of her marriage a couple years back, the 40-something single mom has all but abandoned hope for a love story of her own. Ben is a brash, young boy-band singer seeking a solo career who hires Jill to write for him. He’s got a dark secret from his past that he wants to keep hidden. The attraction between the two is red-hot and when Ben falls hard for Jill, he doesn’t care who knows it. Jill’s been burned before and wants to take things slow, keeping their relationship out of the glare of the media. After a gossip columnist exposes their affair, she’s forced to decide if she can risk letting go of her past in order to build a life with Ben. When Ben’s past makes headlines, Jill begins to wonder how well she really knows him. But as Ben climbs to the top of the pop charts, he’s determined to succeed… at convincing Jill to take a second chance on love. Second Guessing is the love story of Jill and Ben, who are so wrong for each other that they may actually be right!"
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