Review: At Season’s End by Eric Hendershot (coming out in May!)

I got a preview copy of “At Season’s End” by Eric Hendershot through Net Galley. This story, releasing from Sweetwater Publishers in May, tells the story of the an itinerant family of farm workers, trying to survive during the Depression. Sal, a teen, and her brother Tim and their parents travel throughout the US, looking for work as fruit pickers. Sal and Tim befriend the children of other workers and Sal falls in love with a young boy whose life her father saves. However, tragedy strikes and Sal and Tim must use their wits to survive, while Sal worries that she’ll never see her beloved Ben again.

I really enjoyed reading this novel, which seems geared towards YA but is billed for “all ages”. The family at the heart of this story is so committed to each other. Their faith is obvious as well (this book has a strong Christian bent). What I found so interesting was how much they enjoyed their migratory existence and how they pretty much went from month to month, not always knowing where money would come from, yet happy nonetheless.

Hendershot’s resume lists several family-friendly books and movies, and I would consider this novel to be among his family-friendly works. It has an emphasis on strong morals and values, and, as noted, an emphasis on Christianity.

It will be coming out in May. Thank you to Net Galley for my copy!

Review: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

While on vacation, I downloaded and read “The Winter Sea” on my Kindle (actually my Kindle recommended the title to me). This was a new author for me and the genre was one I don’t often read – historical romance.

In “The Winter Sea”, author Carrie McClelland is visiting the coast of Scotland to get ideas for a historical novel she is penning. Carrie starts having vivid dreams and strong feelings about the different places she sees and even the people she meets. Carrie’s ancestor lived in this area, though she has little information on her, and Carrie eventually comes to believe that she is channelling the memories of Sophie, her ancestor from the 1700’s. In current day, Carrie feels drawn to the son of the man from she rents a small cottage; and both his sons show romantic interest in her. Sophie’s story and her history become Carrie’s quest, and she learns about Sophie’s life as she tells her story through her novel.

This lengthy (over 500 pages) book was an interesting read, especially as it was really two stories in one, with alternating chapters (Carrie in present day; Sophie in the 1700’s). I did find some of the story rather flat: everyone seemed in love with Carrie and I wasn’t exactly sure why. She was an “okay’ character, but not particularly compelling or extraordinary. In the 1700’s, Sophie had her share of suitors as well, though she professed an undying love for one man. I did find some of the events in the story – particularly those of 1700 – rather unbelievable. And of course, it all tied together neatly. however, if you enjoy historical romances, you would probably enjoy this novel.

I have to say that the most interesting part of this novel to me was the idea of “genetic memory” and memory being handed down. At one point it is said that some believe that people who think they have past lives are actually having genetic memories from their ancestors. An interesting concept!

I thought perhaps this story would be similar to “Outlander” – the Diana Gabaldon series which I adore – however, I consider the Outlander books to be more of a saga (and one in which I have learned a ton about what life was like in the 1700’s in Scotland) while I would categorize this book as a story.