Veiled in Smoke

Hello, my friends. It suddenly occurred to me that although I’m fairly busy helping my family who recently moved, this is also a great time for me to work on catching up on my reading for review.

I’ve got about five more books on my to-be-read-asap-list, so get ready to be introduced to some pretty great books. ūüėČ

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THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 416
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Title: Veiled in Smoke
Fiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store.

The sisters become separated from their father and make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend was murdered on the night of the fire. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum.

Though homeless and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

As soon as I saw Jocelyn Green had released another book I requested it from NetGalley. Miss Jocelyn has a way of making history come alive in the most dynamic ways, and I’ve learned so many cool facts from her books.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Once I had downloaded the book and actually paid attention to the cover, I was struck by two thoughts 1) That the cover was one of my favorite of all time and 2) That the book¬†must¬†be about the Great Fire of Chicago. It turns out I was right (which I would have known if I would have read the back cover), so I put the book away for several months so I could get into the right mood to read it.¬†I’m not sure why it is, but the Great Fire has long been in my top three least favorite periods/events in history to read about.

Eventually, I felt ready to delve into the book, so I began reading and was reminded once again why I like Miss Jocelyn’s writing so much. Much like when I read¬†A Refuge Assured,¬†this book was able to take a time period that I intensely dislike, and turn it into an interesting¬†story.

We have four points of view that we follow, and the story is written in third person. We follow passionate and loyal Meg, logical and then infatuated Sylvie, calm and inquisitive Nate, and high-strung and desperate Stephen. Meg’s story was the main focus, although she only gets a little more page time than the other three.

There are so many little details in the story that makes the time period come alive – like how dead birds, overcome with smoke, fall from the sky during the fire. Reading that description transported me from a cold spring day in Ohio to a dark night surrounded by chaos and flames in Chicago. I highlighted a couple other descriptions as I read them, delighted by Miss Jocelyn’s word choices.

Clouds of dust turned her skirt a sepia tone below the waist, as if she were climbing out of a daguerreotype. 

and

The moment of his need and her meeting it was embroidered on her memory in shining thread. 

In addition to her lovely writing, Miss Jocelyn’s books always stand out to me because of how well researched they are. Plus, her plots are never dull, filled with enough momentum to keep the reader intrigued but never enough to overshadow the character’s growth and development. There’s a whole mystery to delve into, plot to uncover, and truth to find. The plot twists didn’t shock me, but they were well-written.

Based solely upon personal preferences, this book was not one of my favorites. I’m very aware that each element I disliked is probably a reason someone else would¬†like it, and that’s the beauty of reading a wide range of books and authors.

The things I disliked in Veiled in Smoke include:
-Stephen’s narrative. He has great character growth, and I see the importance of his story, but it wasn’t for me.
-One of the characters is hurt in the fire, and although I think it added a very important element to the story, was tastefully written, and assuredly did¬†not¬†add too many details… Well, I’m very squimish about little things like the words¬†scar tissue¬†(yes, that’s silly of me, I know), and so that part of the story made me grimace.
-As mentioned before, the time period isn’t one of my favorites, so that sadly took the book down in rating for me. That doesn’t mean that I think the book isn’t well-written, researched, or executed, it just lowered my enjoyment of the story.

CONCLUSION

Although this story wasn’t a personal favorite, it was clean, free from too many details regarding violence and destruction, and tackles some pretty serious things with grace.

It takes place during a huge fire, there’s chaos, people die (and are killed), there are injuries, homelessness, pain, suffering, one of the characters has some pretty serious PTSD from the Civil War. Plus, the book features an insane asylum. Despite all that, the book isn’t overly dark – although obviously, it isn’t light and fluffy.

RATING

I‚Äôm giving¬†Veiled in Smoke¬†3¬†out of 5 stars, although if I didn’t dislike the time period so much it probably would have gotten a higher rating. I’m thankful for NetGalley for sharing a copy of the book with me.

Book Recommendations (Historical Fiction Edition)

It’s always fun to find a list of books to read, right? So, today I’m posting a list of Historical Fiction books (my favorite genre!) I recommend, along with a link to my review of them on Goodreads which makes it nice and simple for you to get a more in-depth view of the book. Enjoy!

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Goodreads Link 

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Goodreads Link 

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Goodreads Link

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them?

Learning from History – Top Ten Historical Fiction Books

Today I‚Äôm linking up with The Broke and Bookish for a¬†Top Ten Tuesday¬†post. The prompt for today was Back To School Freebie: anything “back¬†to¬†school” related.¬†I’m doing ten of my favorite Historical Fiction (and Biblical fiction) reads, because as a homeschooler I read a¬†lot¬†of Historical Fiction for school, then would research things I’d read about.

  1. Saving Amelie – This one felt especially potent because it showed me how easy it is for people to be blinded and to accept prejudices. See My Review (Set during WW2)
  2. Counted With the Stars – Watching the world flip upside down from the perspective of an Egyptian slave girl. See My Review (Set during Exodus from the Bible)
  3. Tattler’s Branch – Living in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains has made me very interested in realistic portrayals of the life of coal miners, and this book hit home. See My Review (Set in 1911)
  4. The Mark of the King – The beginning of this book shocked me and made me scurry for the internet to see if the setting was real to life – it was. See My Review (Set in the 1720s)
  5. Shadowed in Silk – Set in India this book was sad but so well-written. I felt as if I’d been transported to India. See My Review (Set in 1918)
  6. So Shall We Stand – This whole trilogy is well written, interesting, and full of espionage. See My Review (Set in WW2)
  7. Egypt’s Sister – I was instantly transported into Egypt whenever I picked up this book – fantastic world building. See My Review (Set during Cleopatra’s life)
  8. In the Field of Grace – Ruth is one of my favorite Biblical people to read about, and this made me imagine so many more possibilities about what her life might have been like. See My Review (Set during Ruth’s life in the Bible)
  9. My Daughter’s Legacy – Going back and forth between modern time and history doesn’t always work for me in a book, but these authors really pulled it off. See My Review (Set during the Civil War)
  10. The Lost Girl of Astor Street – With perfect world building, an intriguing mystery, and well-developed characters, this book is a winner. See My Review (Set in 1924)

Have you read any of these books? Which looks the most interesting to you, and what is YOUR favorite Historical Fiction read?

(And remember! If you haven’t signed up to read my book¬†Where Dandelions Grow¬†in exchange for review, you can do so right here.)

Pursuing Gold – Book Review

Pursuing Gold

By Cynthia L. Simmons

Find it on:

Goodreads 

Third¬†Person¬†‚ÄĘ Multiple Points of View ‚ÄĘ Fiction¬†‚ÄĘ 308¬†Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

With his father dead and his business partner incapacitated, Peter Chandler inherits the leadership of a bank in economic crisis. With only a newly-minted college degree and little experience, Peter joins his partner’s daughter, Mary Beth Roper, in a struggle to keep C&R Bank afloat while the Civil War rages around Chattanooga. Political pressure for unsecured loans of gold to the government stirs up trouble as tempers and prices rise. Their problems multiply when Mary Beth discovers counterfeit money with Peter’s forged signature. Can they find the forger before the bank fails? The two friends must pursue gold on behalf of their business, as they learn to pursue their heavenly Father to find hope and peace.

 

Why I Choose this Book: 

I rarely comment about covers, but this book pretty much dictates I do so. When I received an email asking if I wanted to¬†review this book the cover hadn’t been released yet. The premiss looked interesting because Historical Fiction without too much romance is pretty much my favorite. So, after reading the blurb several times and deciding that there weren’t any red flags, I excitedly signed up.

Then the book arrived with the above cover. And, well, I kinda lost interest in the book. (Sorry!) I’m sure there are some people who would find that cover promising, but to me it made the book look boring. It was with reluctance that I finally settled down to read the story. Then, crazily enough, the book was really interesting and drew me in right away. So, this is one book I wouldn’t have signed up for¬†if I had seen the cover, but happily I¬†hadn’t.

What I Thought about this Book:

I enjoyed it a lot – it wasn’t what I expected, and that’s a good thing. The book felt very well researched but without too many details to bog the story down. At the end of the book I felt like I understood some of what happened during the Civil War better, so yay.

I especially enjoyed Peter and Mr. Roper’s interactions. Mr. Roper was probably my favorite character even though his scenes were rather brief. The characters were fairly different from each other, and for the most part their actions were believable.

Peter and Mary Beth had a some romance intertwined with their character arch (obviously), but it was done in such a way that, although it wasn’t always completely believable, I actually appreciated it. I hate it when the romance in books is¬†founded on misunderstandings and non-communications, and that was blessedly absent (from what I can remember) in this story. So yay, Miss Cynthia! I applaud you.

The book held my interest and made me want to find out what would happen next. The plot wasn’t incredibly unique, and there were a few things that made me go riigghhhhtt, but for the most part it was well-written.

Conclusion

The book takes place during the Civil war and there’s some violence and threats and people killed¬†(although no direct war scenes). It¬†wasn’t too graphic though, so that was nice.¬†There were also several places in the book that weren’t edited as well as I would have liked, but nothing too horrible.

Overall I appreciated the book, and would like to read more from this author in the future.

Rating 

I’m giving Pursuing Gold 3 out of 5 stars, and 7 out of 10.

*I received this book free from Litfuse*