Monday, June 22, 2020

The Darkest Evening (Vera Stanhope #9) by Ann Cleeves

The Darkest Evening (Vera Stanhope, #9)The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Vera Stanhope is one of my favorite detectives both on TV and in Ann Cleeve's mysteries. This latest The Darkest Evening is my favorite of the novels so far!

SPOILER ALERT!
The Darkest Evening differs from the others in the series because it reveals so much about Vera. Vera comes across an emergency situation and must interrupt a dinner party to seek help. This encounter occurs at the Stanhope family estate.

We know Hector was a difficult father - distant, mean, miserly, and belittling with strange habits. We know a little of how Hector lived and the small cottage that he had, where Vera lives now. But in The Darkest Evening we learn about Hector's family, his heritage, and how his family members regarded him. We learn Hector was a black sheep, the disappointing younger son who made scenes during family reunions and the awkwardness and discomfort Vera felt around her relatives.

But this time around Vera is the detective in charge of the investigation. As she seeks answers to the suspicious death, Vera uses her insights into the area and the people. This added complication for Vera gives this particular mystery an added dimension and it is a treat!




Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park


Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park
  • ISBN-10: 132878150X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1328781505 Hardcover $16.99
  • Clarion Books (March 3, 2020), 272 pages.
  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years. Grade Level: 5 - 7

The blurb:
April 1880, LaForge, in Dakota Territory, strikes Hanna as promising.  It's a growing town with a railroad depot, a main street where Papa can open a business, and -- best of all -- a school.  Papa is ready to put down roots, and Hanna is more than ready to stop traveling.  She hopes they can make a home here.

But Hanna is half Chinese, and she knows from experience that most white people don't like to have neighbors who aren't white themselves.

Hanna has a plan, however.  She will go to school, find a friend, and then figure out how to reach the people who aren't friendly.  She is determined to make the people of LaForge see past her surface.

Review:
I recommend Prairie Rose whether or not you enjoyed Little House on the Prairie as a young reader.
Prairie Rose takes us to the Dakota Territories in 1880 and Linda Sue Park tells us a story of hope, adversity and perseverance from the point of view of a young girl.

In Prairie Lotus introduces us to Hanna, a half Chinese and half Caucasian young girl just as Hanna and her father reach the town that they have hoped to settle in. We learn that it has been a difficult journey and that it began soon after Hanna's mother died in Los Angeles after the riots.  Hanna's father sells supplies and has worked in railroad towns.  Hanna and her father have set up different shops ranging from dry goods to clothing supplies but they have chosen this town because they know the justice of the peace and know him to be a fair man.  They hope this means they can build their business and lives here.

This new town has a school and Hanna hopes to attend school and get her diploma. She dreams of work as a dressmaker, using the skills that her mother taught her and her own love of materials and design.  Hanna's been homeschooled all her life. Her father wants them to settle in, to avoid drawing attention, to bypass the hostility that comes when the other settlers learn that Hanna is half Chinese.

I found that I liked Hanna from the start.  It isn't just because she's the underdog, but because she has a strong sense of justice.  She's smart and cautious - she doesn't open up too quickly or reach out to be rebuffed. But she's always willing to make friends and is generous in her actions.   Hanna's hopes and worries are relatable. I like that Hanna is a planner - she dreams of school and making friends but prepares for rejection and mean pranks.  Hanna thinks of ways to avoid trouble but she isn't a doormat. It might scare her but she will pull herself together and speak up even when it is risky.
Park captures so well the emotions, the small moments that make a friendship and the injustices that bury underneath the skin.   I read Prairie Lotus straight through and was sorry when it ended.

About the Author:
Linda Sue Park is the author of A Long Walk to Water and the Newbury Medal winner A Single Shard.  She lives in Rochester, New York, with her family.  Visit her online at www.lspark.com and on Twitter @LindaSuePark