(Review) Harvest Moon: By the Light of the Moon Series Book #4 by Jenny Knipfer

Publisher and Publication Date: Independently published. November 23, 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction. Native American literature. Christian historical fiction. Romance. Ojibwe history. Women and literature.
Pages: 291.
Format: Kindle Unlimited e-book.
Source: Even though I am apart of the book tour, I received the e-book via Kindle Unlimited. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of Native American historical fiction.
Rating: Very good.

Buy Links:

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU
Barnes and Noble

Additional links for further reading:

From the ThoughtCo about the Ojibwe People.
The Ojibwe People’s Dictionary.
From Publisher’s Weekly, 10 Essential Native American Novels.
From Native American Writers, Early Native American Literature.
American Indians in Children’s Literature.
Social Justice Books. This website provides a long list of Native American literature for children of all ages.

Author Information:

Jenny Knipfer lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Ken, and their pet Yorkie, Ruby. She is also a mom and loves being a grandma. She enjoys many creative pursuits but finds writing the most fulfilling. Spending many years as a librarian in a local public library, Jenny recently switched to using her skills as a floral designer in a retail flower shop. She is now retired from work due to disability. Her education background stems from psychology, music, and cultural missions. Her By the Light of the Moon series earned five-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, a book review and award contest company. Their praise: “Ruby Moon is entertaining, fast-paced, and features characters that are real. Blue Moon continues a well-written and highly engaging saga of family ties, betrayals, and heartaches. Silver Moon is a highly recommended read for fans of historical wartime fiction, powerful emotive drama, and excellent atmospheric writing. Harvest Moon is probably one of the best historical fiction novels I have ever read. I have come away deep in thought, feeling somewhat like I’ve had a mystical experience and one I will never forget.”
She holds membership in the: Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, Wisconsin Writers Association, Christian Indie Publishing Association, and Independent Book Publishers Association.
Jenny’s favorite place to relax is by the western shore of Lake Superior, where her novel series, By The Light of the Moon, is set. She is currently writing a new historical fiction series entitled, Sheltering Trees. The first title in that series, In a Grove of Maples,—inspired by the lives of her grandparents in the late 1890’s—is slated for fall of 2021.
Connect with Jenny:
WebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagram


Summary:

In the wilds of 19th century Ontario, Maang-ikwe, a young Ojibwe woman, falls into a forbidden love, breaks her father’s honor, and surrenders her trust to someone who betrays it. The abuse she suffers divides her from her tribe and causes her to give up what she holds most dear. 
Niin-mawin must come to grips with his culture being ripped away from him. Brought up in a “white man’s” school, he suffers through an enforced “civilized” education and separation from his family. When a man he respects reveals a secret about Niin-mawin’s past, he embarks on a search for the person he hopes can mend the part of his heart that’s always been missing. 
Both Maang-ikwe and Niin-mawin wonder how a harvest of pain and sorrow will impact their lives. Will they find the blessings amongst the hardships, or will they allow the results of division and abuse to taint their hearts forever?

Fans of historical fiction, Native American fiction, Christian historical fiction, clean romance, and literary fiction will be moved by this deep, heartfelt novel.

My Thoughts:

It is rare for me to read a book with characters (or even one character) who are Native Americans. Less than 1% of children’s books have Native American characters. I’m shocked and disappointed. Native Americans are the first Americans. They are the original people who settled in North America. Their stories were first told through oral history. Now, they are also told in book form, but few books share their rich knowledge of history and culture.
After reading Harvest Moon, I performed a web search of Native American literature. The statistics, types of children and adult books, the history in their literature, and the injustice of this people group who have been ignored by publishers are some of the facts I found. Obviously they’ve been ignored because I rarely hear about Native American literature. Other people groups are examined in detail and with media attention. Why not Native American literature?
What I have written in the above section is the first reason why I love Harvest Moon. This is an important story. It is important because it shares true history, in historical fiction form, of how the Ojibwe were treated in the 19th century. Everything about their culture was impacted by white people who wanted the Ojibwe to become like them. This type of indoctrination happened among the other Native Americans in North America.
A second reason why I love this story is it brings a valid but sordid point in the Christian mission work of the 19th century. This point is abuse will never bring a person to belief in God. Christians are to share the gospel message with people. Christians are not to “force” someone to become a believer. Christians are not to scold or beat a person because they are not the “right” color or culture. We are to respect and love people. Native Americans are our neighbor. Jesus commanded us to “love our neighbor.” And, love is not just a word. Love is a word that requires action.
Harvest Moon is a story showing the trauma and after-effects of sexual abuse. I am both a survivor, and a mentor for women who have been traumatized by sexual abuse. I know that healing is something we work towards. One of the ways we work towards healing is by telling our stories. Harvest Moon is one young woman’s story who speaks for so many other women.
Harvest Moon is the story of a mother’s bond with her children, and the bond between children and their mothers.
Harvest Moon is the story of relationships between men and women. Specifically the power of attraction, miscommunication, loneliness, the need for affirmation, and blending a family together.

What I did not like about Harvest Moon is the use of the quotes at the start of each chapter. I love quotes. I love the quotes used. But these quotes do not create a harmony between the content, and using American and European writer’s quotes. I’m sorry if I come across as nit-picking, but it’s like trying to place a puzzle piece in a puzzle that doesn’t fit.

A second point in the story I don’t like is the jumping back and forth in time. This is a common form in historical fiction-dual time periods. Harvest Moon has multiple time periods. I want to clarify. At no point in the story did I become lost by the various time periods. I believe they cause too many breaks in the reading of the story. Breaks can halt or pause a reader to the point of not becoming apart of the story.

This book is not strong in typical Christian fiction themes. There is a Christian theme, but I feel it is not a dominant theme.

Themes in the story: sacrifice, love, bravery, courage, death and dying, self-worth, shame, and family honor.

Over-all, Harvest Moon is a splendid story. It is an important story.

A 46 minute video on the The Ojibwe’ People: Anishinaabe – History, Culture and Affiliations.

(Review) A Sword Among Ravens, The Long-Hair Saga Book 3 by Cynthia Ripley Miller

Publisher and Publication Date: BookLocker. December 9, 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction. Mystery. Romance.
Pages: 267.
Format: Pdf copy.
Source: I received a complimentary pdf copy from The Coffee Pot Book Club. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction.
Rating: Very good.

Link @ Amazon/US
Link @ Amazon/UK
Link @ Amazon/CA
Link @ Amazon/AU
Link @ Barnes and Noble
Link @ Kobo

About the Author:

Cynthia Ripley Miller is a first generation Italian-American writer with a love for history, languages, and books. She has lived in Europe and traveled world-wide, holds two degrees, and taught history and English. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthology Summer Tapestry, at Orchard Press Mysteries.com, and The Scriptor. She is a Chanticleer International Chatelaine Award finalist with awards from Circle of Books-Rings of Honor and The Coffee Pot Book Club. She has reviewed for UNRV Roman History, and blogs at Historical Happenings and Oddities: A Distant Focus and on her website, www.cynthiaripleymiller.com

Cynthia is the author of On the Edge of Sunrise, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns, and A Sword Among Ravens, books 1-3 in her Long-Hair Saga series set in Late Ancient Rome, France, and Jerusalem. Cynthia lives outside of Chicago with her family, along with a cute but bossy cat.

Social Media Links:
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Summary:

In a grave, on the edge of a Roman battlefield, an ancient sword has been discovered. Legend claims it belonged to King David of Israel and carries a curse—those who wield it will tragically die—but not the chosen. AD 455. Arria Felix and her husband, Garic the Frank, have safely delivered a sacred relic to Emperor Marcian in Constantinople. But now, Arria and Garic will accept a new mission. The emperor has asked them to carry the sword of King David of Israel to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem where Arria will dedicate it in her murdered father’s memory. As Arria and Garic travel into the heart of the Holy Land, they face many challenges and dangers. Their young daughter is missing then found in the company of a strange and suspicious old monk. A brutal killer stalks their path. And a band of cold-blooded thieves is determined to steal the sword for their own gains. But when Arria confronts the question of where the sword should truly rest—old friendships, loyalties, and her duty are put to the test like never before. At every turn, Arria and Garic find themselves caught in a treacherous mission wrapped in mystery, murder, and A Sword Among Ravens.

My Thoughts:

I felt drawn to read this book because I am a Christian and enjoy reading early Christian history. I also enjoy reading stories about the Roman Empire. The time period for this story is the late period of the Roman Empire (27 B.C. to 476 A.D.) It is the early part of the Byzantine Empire (330 A.D. to 1453 A.D.)

Several things I love about this story:
1. “The Author’s Note” shares helpful information about Roman names for the months and days; and background information of the “Places” and “Points of Interest.” I love the websites that are included to read further history. I believe it is important for an author to share at least a little about what they’ve learned during the process of writing a book. Miller has shared in brief her research.
2. The female lead character is Arria. She is an intelligent, wise, and capable person. She is respected and admired by all except one family member. Arria is a character who I admire because she already has positive traits, but she continues to develop as a strong person and leader.
3. The object of every character’s interest is the sword of David. Some characters are out for their own agenda. Arria genuinely cares about doing the right thing. She and Garic make a commitment to the emperor. Their mission sets in motion a busy story with other characters who come in to play. I love the form and direction of the story. I love the plot. I love the conflicts in the story. The conflicts are both internal and external. I love the mystery of the sword.
4. The violence is graphic. This is a violent culture. Roman soldiers and the Huns were barbaric in their fighting and torture. It is important to depict the reality of the time period. I believe Miller has achieved this.
5. I enjoyed reading about the descriptions of historical places.

What is passable in the story is the romance of two couples. I’m not moved by either pair. I like to read about tender affection in a loving couple. Affection is not necessarily sex. Sex is one form of affection but there are other forms.

What I didn’t like about this story:
1. When “He” or Nemesis is suddenly introduced I felt completely lost. Who is this person? Why does he matter in the story? Is he actually another character but going by a different name? It took a while but his purpose is revealed.

Themes in the story: courage, death and dying, revenge, love, honor, marriage, ambition, and loyalty.


(Review) Those Who Are Saved by Alexis Landau

Publisher and Publication Date: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. February 23, 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 432.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: I received a complimentary hardcover copy from G. P. Putnams’ Sons. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction with a World War II time period.
Rating: Okay to good.

Link @ G. P. Putnam’s Sons. This link has an audio sample.

Link @ Amazon

Link @ Barnes and Noble

About the Author:

Alexis Landau is a graduate of Vassar College and received an MFA from Emerson College and a PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. She is the author of The Empire of the Senses and lives with her husband and two children in Los Angeles.
Website/ Instagram


An interview by The Poisoned Pen bookstore:

Summary:

France. 1940.
Vera is a Russian Jew who is living in France with her husband and young daughter. Vera’s husband is Max. Their daughter is Lucie.
After the German Nazi’s occupy France, Vera and Max are sent to an internment camp. They leave little Lucie with a friend named Agnes. Vera feels this is the best place to ensure Lucie’s safety. Vera meant to return soon for Lucie. What Vera didn’t know, until the opportunity is upon her, is she has a chance to escape France and relocate to America. She is hoping Max will follow her. Vera cannot take Lucie with her, she must leave her with Agnes.

The story is dual time periods. Vera reflects on memories of France and the departure, and her new life and relationship in America. Some of the story is Lucie and her experience. Some of the story is Sasha’s life.

My Thoughts:

When I read a story with multiple characters, especially a child, I wonder how the story would read if the voice of the story is a child? A child reveals a story with a unique voice. Their perspective of life, people, and themselves reflect a different viewpoint. Further, there is an innocence that brings a heavy emotional atmosphere to the story.
When a story is told from an adult perspective almost always a romantic element is attached. A romantic element can add to or take away from the heart of the story. Those Who Are Saved is already an emotional story because parents have been forced to leave behind their young daughter in a country at war and with a pogrom of killing Jews. But, Vera is the main voice of this story. Her thoughts, fears, insecurities, and loneliness is a heavy burden she carries. Her inner life is back in France, but she is living in sunny California. I don’t care about Vera’s new life in America. I don’t care about who she has now decided to have sex with. I don’t care what kind of clothes she wears or the parties she attends. I care about Lucie who has been left behind. Lucie is the reason I felt pulled to read to the last page. Lucie is the heart of the story. Everything else is chicken feathers.

Sasha is a character I like from the first moment of introduction. He loves his mother. He is hard working. He is a man of grit and determination but with a touch of tenderness. He serves his country in a time of war with perseverance and distinction. He has a dream that gets a setback, but he chases that dream like many Americans. He needs a hug and a kiss.

Poor Max. I hardly know him. His character is more like a prop that’s used every once in a while. He shows little emotion. His character is not developed. He is just there. However, Max shows one example of how people grieve.

I love the writing style, the choice of words, and the arrangement of those words that bring a smooth rhythmic sentence.

Those Who Are Saved has both internal and external conflicts the characters act to overcome.

Themes in the story: grief, sacrifice, honor, courage, love, bravery, war, marriage, and perseverance.

Over-all, Lucie and her plight is the main reason I wanted to read to the last page. The rest of the characters circle around with their own individual stories. Sasha’s story is my second favorite-after Lucie. Vera not so much. Max not at all.

I feel Those Who Are Saved shifts too much away from Lucie, and takes on adult situations and agendas.

(Review) Gentleman Jim: A Tale of Romance and Revenge by Mimi Matthews

Publisher and Publication Date: Perfectly Proper Press. November 10, 2020.
Genre: General fiction, Historical fiction, Historical romance, Regency romance.
Pages: 376.
Source: I received a complimentary eBook copy from NetGalley and Perfectly Proper Press. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of proper Regency period romance stories.
Rating: Very good.

Links to purchase the book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Book Depository
Indiebound

Goodreads

Author Info:
USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library JournalPublishers Weekly, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats. Her next romance, The Siren of Sussex, will be out in 2022 from Berkley/Penguin Random House.
Website/ Twitter/ Facebook/ Pinterest/ BookBub/ Goodreads

Summary:
She Couldn’t Forget…
Wealthy squire’s daughter Margaret Honeywell was always meant to marry her neighbor, Frederick Burton-Smythe, but it’s bastard-born Nicholas Seaton who has her heart. Raised alongside her on her father’s estate, Nick is the rumored son of notorious highwayman Gentleman Jim. When Fred frames him for theft, Nick escapes into the night, vowing to find his legendary sire. But Nick never returns. A decade later, he’s long been presumed dead.

He Wouldn’t Forgive…
After years spent on the continent, John Beresford, Viscount St. Clare has finally come home to England. Tall, blond, and dangerous, he’s on a mission to restore his family’s honor. If he can mete out a bit of revenge along the way, so much the better. But he hasn’t reckoned for Maggie Honeywell. She’s bold and beautiful–and entirely convinced he’s someone else.
As danger closes in, St. Clare is torn between love and vengeance. Will he
sacrifice one to gain other? Or, with a little daring, will he find a way to have them both?

My Thoughts:
The setting is England.
In the first part of the story, the time period is the spring of 1807. The second part of the story is 1817.

I love to dissect characters in a story. I peel apart their (at first) shown personality from what their words and behavior continue to display. I observe them as if I am in the same room.
Some questions I ask:
Do they reveal the same personality to all the other characters?
Is this person trustworthy?
What is their mission or agenda?
Are they hiding something?
What are their fears and insecurities?
John Beresford, Viscount St. Clare is a fascinating character. He is entertaining to read and picture in my mind. His masculinity, energy, and sex appeal made my heart flutter.
The story reveals St. Clare and there is pleasure in the conclusion.

I’m not as impressed with the female lead. In the first part of the story she is a tiger. She has a strong personality. The second part of the story she looks weak and has become weak in personality, or has she matured? I understand the reasons behind her dramatic change. I also see the polar difference in the love duo: his strength and masculinity versus her petite nature. Their traits are also magnified because of one another. There are moments when she rises to the occasion, but she is not like the first part of the story.

They are a passionate duo. They are a formidable couple because of their passion and great love. I love their chemistry. It is reflected brilliantly.

Gentleman Jim reflects strongly the society and culture of how females were treated in the Romantic period. Females who had a lover or was suspected of impropriety. Females were to respect, honor, and obey their father and his wishes, or their guardian.
People didn’t always marry for love. The marriages were arranged by family. People married in their own economic class. And, behind the marriage was financial gain. What did the marriage bring financially to the couple, especially the man? It was a blessing when the arranged marriage brought happiness and love.


(Review) Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Publisher and Publication Date: Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 2013. First published in 1937.
Genre: Fiction. Women and literature. African American literature. Classic literature. Romance. Relationships between men and women.
Pages: The story has 219 pages. An additional 40 pages for the “Foreword”, “Afterword”, 2 bibliographies, “Chronology”, “P.S.” section, and an excerpt of Barracoon.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of women and literature. Readers of classic literature.
Rating: Excellent.

PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick

Christian Book link
Abe Books link
Amazon link

Zora Neale Hurston, 1891-1960

Summary:
Their Eyes Were Watching God is the story of Janie Crawford. She is a light-skinned African American woman living in a rural area of Florida. The time period is the early 20th century. She is raised by her maternal grandmother. The first part of her life is determined by her grandmother and first husband. Then, like a sudden direction change in the wind, Janie is married to another man who takes control of her life. Later, Janie’s life take a different direction.

My Thoughts:
Janie is independent, rebellious, bold, and resilient. She is a person who ponders. She is a person who makes up her mind about a decision and moves forward with determination.
I enjoyed reading the “Foreword” by Edwidge Danticat. It provided well thought-out questions and answers about the story itself. Also, Janie’s choices versus women of this era’s choices. And, has she been a solid “role model for women” and “is this important?”
Their Eyes Were Watching God is a character driven narrative. Janie is a character that provides through her thoughts, attitude, words, behavior, and actions everything needed to make the story dramatic and memorable.
The narrative structure is chronological. The story begins when Janie is a child and progresses to midlife.
This story is less about “what is going to happen next” and more about how Janie is transforming as a person.
This is a story that is full of things to review. It’s a story heavy with further conversations. It is a book highly worthy of a book club.

Questions I have about the story:
~If Janie had children would she have made the same choices?
~Did Janie (at some point) understand her grandmother’s reasoning?
~Why did she tolerate certain behavior from one husband, but not the other husband?

Further Thoughts:
The dialogue is difficult for some readers. They become bogged down in the southern sayings, dialect, and accent. It’s best to read through the dialogue quickly and don’t stop to try and enunciate each word.
The story has author contributions. For example, the behind the scenes information and wise observations.
The story is filled with beautiful quotes. The opening line is beautiful, poetic, and memorable.

Their Eyes Were Watching God is a story that provokes my mind and heart. The choices I have made. The experiences I have had. And, my response to those.

Their Eyes Were Watching God is now a favorite book of mine. It’s a story I treasure.