(Review) Scenes of London Life: From Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens

Scenes of London Life

Publisher and Publication Date: MacMillan Collector’s Library. February 13, 2018.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 184.
Source: Library.
Rating: Very Good.

Amazon
The Kindle edition is $1.24.

For the full edition of Sketches by Boz, Penguin Classic.

Scenes of London Life is a perfect gift book. It is the length of my small hand (6.2 inches.) It has a lovely front and back cover. A light blue ribbon is sewn-in for easy use. The book easily fits in a purse, or backpack. For a Dickens fan, this is a great gift for a graduate, or Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day.
Twelve chapters are included that are excerpts from the Charles Dickens book, Sketches by Boz.
J.B. Priestly wrote the introduction. It’s a solid introduction piece on the book, and also the man and works of Charles Dickens. The introduction shows Dickens’ personality and writing style. It shares the reason for this bite size book.
Illustrations are included in the book by George Cruikshank. Cruickshank was a “British artist, caricaturist, and illustrator.” If you click on the highlighted name in the previous sentence, you can read an interesting biography from Britannica.
One of my favorite chapters is “A Visit To Newgate”. Newgate was a prison in London. Dickens is probably the most descriptive writer of fiction stories. It is a huge reason why I love his books. David Copperfield is my number one favorite book of Dickens. In the story, “A Visit To Newgate”, Dickens gave me a panoramic view of the prison and occupants. Then, he gave me a close-up view by showing a relationship between a mother and daughter. Their mannerisms, facial expressions, and how they respond to one another is captured. Dickens made a point of showing how the different classes of people are segregated even in a prison. The respectable class was confined in a separate area from the “other” people.
Dickens is king for long sentences:

There are strange chords in the human heart, which will lie dormant through years of depravity and wickedness, but which will vibrate at last to some slight circumstance apparently trivial in itself, but connected by some undefined and indistinct association, with past days that can never be recalled, and with bitter recollections from which the most degraded creature in existence cannot escape. Page 108.

Sixty-one words in one sentence!

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(Review) Julie by Catherine Marshall

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Publisher and Publication Date: Republished by Evergreen Farm, April 2017. Originally published 1984.
Genre: Fiction.
Source: Complimentary ebook from Just Read Tours and Evergreen Farm. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Very good.

Landing page for the book tour @Just Read Tours.

Links for purchase:
Amazon
Christian Book
Goodreads
Book Depository
itunes

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Giveaway Info:
(1) Winner will win
· $25 Amazon Gift Card
· Bookmark Swag
· Necklace (exact or similar & *subject to change)
· Print Copy of Julie

(Only Gift Card open internationally. Others open to US Mailing Addresses)

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/7425d38e146/?

Author Info:
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Catherine Marshall (1914-1983) is The New York Times best-selling author of 30 books, and is best known for her novel Christy. Based on the life of her mother, Christy captured the hearts of millions and became a popular CBS television series. Around the kitchen table at Evergreen Farm, as her mother reminisced, Catherine probed for details and insights into the rugged lives of these Appalachian highlanders. Catherine shared the story of her husband, Dr. Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the United States Senate, in A Man Called Peter. A decade after Dr. Marshall’s untimely death, Catherine married (1959) Leonard LeSourd, Executive Editor of Guideposts, forging a dynamic writer-editor partnership. A beloved inspirational writer and speaker, Catherine’s enduring career spanned four decades and reached over 30 million readers.

Summary:

*A New York Times bestseller*

Will the dam hold?

Julie Wallace has always wanted to write. Trying to escape the Great Depression, Julie’s father buys the Alderton Sentinel, a small-town newspaper in flood-prone Alderton, Pennsylvania, and moves his family there. As flash floods ominously increase, Julie’s investigative reporting uncovers secrets that could endanger the entire community.

Julie, the newspaper, and her family are thrown into a perilous standoff with the owners of the steel mills as they investigate the conditions of the immigrant laborers. As the Alderton Sentinel and Julie take on a more aggressive role to reform these conditions, seething tensions come to a head.

When a devastating tragedy follows a shocking revelation, Julie’s courage and strength are tested.
Will truth and justice win, or will Julie lose everything she holds dear?

My Thoughts:
Recently, I read and reviewed the first fiction book Catherine Marshall published, Christy. Christy and Julie have both been republished by Evergreen Farm. Christy is based on Marshall’s mother, and Julie is based on Marshall’s life. The time period for Christy is 1912. The time period for Julie is 1934-35.
It’s been a while back, but I read a nonfiction book about the Johnston Flood of 1889. Later, I found out a family friend had relatives who survived this flood. She grew up in this same area of Pennsylvania. I have seen photographs of her relatives who lived to tell their own harrowing stories of survival. There were several floods in this same area. One of the floods was in 1936. A worse flood came in 1977. More people died during the horrific flood of 1889, than the 1900 Galveston hurricane. I wanted to mention these statistics and history, because a significant part of Julie’s story is centered on a flood. Even in the first pages of the book, Julie begins her story with a heavy downfall of rain, the lake and the spillway. Throughout the book, there is a feeling of dread about the terrain, lake and dam. The references to these worries builds to a crescendo. This is a large plot in the story: “will the dam hold?”
Julie is 17-18 years old in the novel. She is the oldest child of three. Her father had been ill. Their family moved to a new state and began a new life. Her father is now the publisher and owner of a struggling newspaper. These are the years of the worst of the Great Depression. People her age had a maturity that future generations did not have. The maturity shows in Julie. She is a young woman who cares about her looks, boys and life after high school. She has experiences that cause angst. However, she feels a strong responsibility to her family and to do the right thing. I love it that she too is a writer, poet, and proofreader for the newspaper. Her personality is a blend of resilience, beauty and intelligence. She has emotion, but she thinks logically.
In Julie, I saw the town and its people. This includes the steelworkers, and those men who run the mill. The politicians of the town and what control they had over it is displayed.
References are made to the southern state they’d lived in. The racial divide and the problems it caused in their home church. This incident had left bad memories.
Sharing stories like racial discrimination, poverty, economic class levels, education, employment, travel, and the culture of the 1930s gave me a well-rounded view of this era.
A strength in the writing style of Marshall’s is the descriptions of scenery and people, and because of this the story came alive, and I felt an investment in Julie and her family.

(Review) Little French Bistro by Nina George

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Publisher and Publication Date: Broadway Books. 2017.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 368.
Source: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
Rating: Good.

Blogging for Books is no longer in the book review business. For several years, I’d signed up for books through their program. This is the last book and review I’ll do for them.

Amazon

Summary:
Marianne is age 60. She’s been married to Lothar for 41 years. They don’t have children. They live in Germany. She has one friend. Marianne’s life is void of intimacy. She is in a dark place. To say she is unhappy is an understatement. Lothar is selfish and controlling. He’s treated her as chattel. She and Lothar travel to Paris, France. She attempts suicide by jumping into the Seine River. She is rescued and hospitalized. In an impulsive moment, she leaves the cruel life behind and relocates to the Brittany coast.

My Thoughts:
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, Marianne’s life and turnaround kept me immersed. I read this book in about two days. I had to know what would happen to this little mouse of a woman. I wondered if she had the perseverance to reinvent her life? I wondered if she planned to attempt suicide again? I wondered if she would eventually return to Lothar?
Another aspect of the book I loved is the opening line:

“It was the first decision she had ever made on her own, the very first time she was able to determine the course of her life.”

I loved the scenery descriptions of Brittany, the coastline, and the town where she resides.
What I did not like is the predictability of the story. What I hoped to read is she reinvented herself internally without the need to find happiness in another person. In my opinion, there is joy in life without depending on a romantic interest. She had a wonderful vocation, friends, and a dreamy place to live. She had a new outlook on life and a new view of herself. She had the chance to enjoy understanding who Marianne is at this point in life. I am disappointed she focused outside herself to find that happiness. Stories like this are a dime a dozen. Why not have a heroine who becomes strong without depending on a man? Why not focus on her developing character?
I want to clarify. I love romantic stories, but Marianne had spent over 40 years in an abusive relationship. I feel she needed to find herself, and drink in the life she’d not even noticed before.

My favorite quote from page 24.

My husband neither touched my soul nor charmed my body.

 

(Review) The Cold Light of Dawn, The King’s Greatest Enemy Series, Book Four by Anna Belfrage

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Publisher and Publication Date: Troubador/Matador. February 16, 2018.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 434.
Source: Complimentary paperback copy from Anna Belfrage. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.

About The Author:
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Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she’s multilingual and most of her reading is historical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past. She was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive…
For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she’s still there.
Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Direct link to the giveaway:
https://gleam.io/bgx29/the-cold-light-of-dawn
Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Summary:
After Henry of Lancaster’s rebellion has been crushed early in 1329, a restless peace settles over England. However, the young Edward III is no longer content with being his regents’ puppet, no matter that neither Queen Isabella nor Roger Mortimer show any inclination to give up their power. Caught in between is Adam de Guirande, torn between his loyalty to the young king and that to his former lord, Roger Mortimer.
Edward III is growing up fast. No longer a boy to be manipulated, he resents the power of his mother, Queen Isabella, and Mortimer. His regents show little inclination of handing over their power to him, the rightful king, and Edward suspects they never will unless he forces their hand.
Adam de Guirande is first and foremost Edward’s man, and he too is of the opinion that the young king is capable of ruling on his own. But for Adam siding with his king causes heartache, as he still loves Roger Mortimer, the man who shaped him into who he is.
Inevitably, Edward and his regents march towards a final confrontation. And there is nothing Adam can do but pray and hope that somehow things will work out. Unfortunately, prayers don’t always help.

The Cold Light of Dawn is the fourth book in Anna Belfrage’s series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord and his king.
The series of The King’s Greatest Enemy:
All ebooks are free through Kindle Unlimited.
In the Shadow of the Storm-price for Kindle edition is $2.99
Days of Sun and Glory-price for Kindle edition is $4.99
Under the Approaching Dark-price for Kindle edition is $4.99
The Cold Light of Dawn-price for Kindle edition is $4.99

My Thoughts:
I love this story! I became immersed in it from the first page!
I’ve not read the previous three books in this series, but didn’t have a problem keeping up with the story.
The main characters are Adam and Kit. They are a married couple with several children. He is a minor knight. He is a person who is strong in body and mind. He is a man who loves and adores his wife. I’m happy to read a story where the married couple always place the other first. Even though Adam has duties and allegiance to Edward III. Adam’s thoughts are never far from Kit. Both Adam and Kit are a committed couple who enjoy each other’s bodies, and who depend on one another for comfort and strength. Their love is beautiful and endearing.
A plot is building between Edward III, and his mother and Mortimer. They are Edward’s regents. He is a grown man with a wife. He wants full control as king. Time is running out for the old ways.
In fact, The Cold Light of Dawn gave me a solid perspective of life during the 1300s in England. Through the story I learned about their attire, living quarters, travel, eating, holidays, pregnancy and birthing.
Belfrage is a wonderful storyteller. The crafting of the characters, narration, and plot pushed me along to the last page. I felt apart of the story. I felt a strong investment in the outcome of Adam and Kit.

(Review) Trade Your Cares For Calm by Max Lucado

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Publisher and Publication Date: Thomas Nelson. December 26, 2017.
Genre: Christian nonfiction. Anxiety and worry.
Pages: 208.
Source: Library.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon
Calm is a small book compiled from previously written books by Max Lucado. The theme is anxiety. The previously published books are Anxious for Nothing, Facing Your Giants, Fearless, Max on Life, 3:16: The Numbers of Hope, Traveling Light, You’ll Get Through This. Max Lucado is strong in using illustrations to prove his points. One of the illustrations is from the book: How Loving Our Neighbor Led Us into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic. Dr. Kent Brantly was a physician in Africa who became sick with the Ebola virus. I’ve not read this book, but am familiar with the story.
Calm is a book holding memorable quotes.

The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional. Page 6.

Is it possible that the wonder of Heaven will make the most difficult life a good bargain. Page 11.

The widest river in the world is not the Mississippi, Amazon, or Nile. The widest river on earth is a body of water called If Only. Page 120.

The good life begins, not when circumstances change, but when our attitude toward them does. Page 121.

Max Lucado teaches two points in helping combat anxiety: attitude and gratitude. My attitude in response to the worry and being grateful for blessings. I remember several years ago when I had cancer, the season was autumn. The things I was thankful for was the fall foliage, blue sky, cooler weather, and the birds who sang outside my bedroom window. Being thankful is not always focused on the big things in life, often it is being thankful for the small everyday wonders.