This month, we have three book reviews for you in three very different genres. First up, a review of Silent Legacies, by local author and fellow member of the Pocono Liars Club, John Abel:
John Abel’s Silent Legacies takes the reader on a gentle but powerful journey through the trauma of war, and the power of forgiveness and reconciliation for those who survive it. The American Civil War remains the bloodiest conflict our country has known, pitting brother against brother. Neighbor against neighbor. It left a wake of physical destruction, personal loss, and guilt in its aftermath. But the victims of war are not only those who fought on the battlefields. Those left behind suffer even more as they rebuild their lives. Although John calls his book historical fiction, the facts have been carefully researched and gracefully presented. The story remains emotionally engaging while historically accurate. I highly recommend it.
The novel “Hang the Moon” by Jeannette Walls narrates the story of the Kincaid family, who hold a prominent position in Claiborne County for generations. Duke Kincaid, the family’s patriarch, manages his household, business, and the county’s affairs with fairness and firmness. He earns widespread respect for his authority and often lends a helping hand to those in need, despite putting his interests first. The story is set in Virginia’s East Appalachia region during the Prohibition era, with the Kincaids playing a crucial role in the area’s growth and administration.
After nine years of being banished from the Kincaid family home by her father Duke Kincaid at her stepmother’s request, Sally is summoned back. Jane disliked Sally and used an accidental injury to Sally’s younger brother Eddie as an excuse to remove her. Following Jane’s death, Duke brings Sally back to Claiborne County to take care of her younger brother. Sally is determined to establish herself in Kincaid Holdings, consisting of real estate, lumber mills, a hauling company, an Emporium store, and a bootlegging enterprise.
After Duke’s passing, a power struggle ensues, but Sally ends up running the entire business due to unfortunate circumstances. However, conflicts arise between Sally and certain family members who support the temperance movement. They destroy the supply of whisky received in rent payments by the poor, thereby ruining the family’s primary source of income. Eager to restore the family’s wealth and help those dependent on whisky, Sally becomes a successful bootlegger. The novel keeps the reader turning pages with car chases, shootouts, feuds, family secrets, and land disputes.
The character Sally Kincaid in the novel is depicted as determined and persistent in her efforts to revive her family’s business. She learned these qualities from observing the Duke, whom she views as remarkable and exceptional. The phrase “hang the moon” fittingly describes Sally’s own exceptional nature.
I almost stopped listening to Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros several times. Uncounted times. The production quality annoyed me the most. The narrator obviously had a bad cold and well into the first half of the book, her nose seemed to be completely blocked. To say it was distracting would be an understatement. Add in the fact the story wasn’t really doing anything new and different and I felt pretty unsatisfied.
But I kept listening. And when Violet attained her first victory, I became just a little bit more invested. I started to believe she’d not only survive her training but actually bond with a dragon. That her dragon would be far from ordinary. That her signet power, when it finally manifested, would be kick ass. And that Xaden (I never fully got over the fact his name was Xaden…) was her One. True. Love.
Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with this book. I laughed, I cried, and I held my breath through the entire second to last chapter – metaphorically, of course. It’s a LONG chapter. When I thought back on why I’d enjoyed the book so much it came down to two things: character and story. Violet isn’t a unique heroine. We’ve all read at least one book where the smallest, most frail, yet smartest character triumphs against the odds. It’s a story we like. It’s as familiar as our favourite baked mac and cheese, which is why we’re always happy to visit again. And again. Similarly, Xaden’s broody handsomeness, his sad backstory, and his secrets are the stuff romance is made of. He’s a bad boy with a good heart. Of course we’re going to love him (even if his name is just… well, it is what it is).
Then we have the story. Again, nothing new here. But knowing the outcome of every small adventure didn’t detract from my enjoyment. Remember, we like mac and cheese! I will say, though, I did not see the final twist coming. The one that happens in the last paragraph of the last page. I had already decided to preorder the sequel, but that little nugget had me grinning ear to ear.
I love the dragons, I loved Violet and Xaden’s friendships – all the of the characters, really, even the annoying ones who deserved to die. Many of their deaths were very satisfying. (Sort of a spoiler, but not really?) I also enjoyed the world-building which isn’t too heavy-handed. Neither was the plot too complicated. All in all, I really enjoyed the book and heartily recommend it – in print or ebook versions. Save the audio for when the publisher decides to rerecord the first half.
Writer of love stories. Bibliophile. Gamer. Hiker. Cat herder. Waiting for the aliens.