Seek These Things

a blog discussing Celiac Disease, & the Gluten Free Diet, Books, Parenting, Politics, Religion, Pets, Product Reviews, and whatever else catches my interest

The Bracelet Series – Book Series Review March 3, 2009

The Bracelet Series

  • by Jennie Hansen
  • published by Covenant
  • 4 volumes
  • hardcover, softcover, and audio cd
  • $15.95 – $21.95 USD

This series, aptly named for the first book, follows a set of 5 jewels that are stolen, abandoned, and carried to the new world by a Mormon immigrant. Jennie Hansen is a prolific writer and weaves beautiful stories around the bracelet and each of its precious gems.  This is one series I would say truly can be read out of order. Each book relates the tale of new characters that live independent of the characters in the other novels.

While the series could easily contain two more books, both the author and publisher have announced The Ruby concluded the series, a pity. But if you like The Bracelet series, you may consider reading one or more of Hansen’s other 20+ books.

The Bracelet

  • 296 pages

This book tells the story of a girl named Georgiana, a servant in 1840’s England. Running from the antagonist of the story, her mistress’s son, to protect her life and virtue, she justifies stealing from the rich family. She sets precious gems in a worthless brass bracelet, a gift from the aforementioned villain.

Settings and descriptions are beautiful throughout the series, but especially so in this first novel. It also includes heartwarming conversion stories of characters who invite God into their lives through sincere repentance.

There were some unresolved threads in the first book that never get touched on in detail in the latter books.  

The Emerald

  • 248 pages

Picking up the story of the bracelet from when it was abandoned, a widowed Mormon immigrant and her two children protect the bracelet in hopes of returning it to the nameless woman who hid it in the baby’s possession. Running from the abusive home of her Scandinavian in-laws after her husband dies, Margarette uses everything in her power to keep her children from being reclaimed by detectives hired by her battering father-in-law to return his “property” to the old world.

Aided by a young English Mormon immigrant and a childless Scandinavian couple, Margarette’s family is finally able to make their way to Nauvoo where she finds employment as a housekeeper for a childless English widower.

When it comes time to flee the city, and she has been unable to locate the woman who abandoned the bracelet, Margarette separates the gems as she is inspired by God to part with them. The topaz is sent with a Mormon Quaker, to help a black family flee slavery. The diamond and ruby are traded to outfit her family for their journey to Zion. The sapphire is sent with the childless Scandinavian couple to help them settle in Salt Lake. And the emerald, the baby’s favorite stone, goes with the family as they march in the Mormon Battalion.

The Topaz

  • 289 pages

The Topaz tells the story of Serenity, Hannah’s daughter. Hannah was murdered and the topaz ring stolen while she was aiding fugitive slaves using the underground railroad. Serenity is desperate to learn what her father knew about the incident that brought about his own murder five years later.

Like approaching a rabid dog, Hansen is able to approach the unsavory topics of forced marriage, murder, attempted rape, abuse of spouse and offspring, and substance abuse without offending the sensibilities of her readers. This is true in all her tales, but the ability is best showcased in The Topaz.

The Ruby

  • 329 pages

This final novel details the story of Charlie Mae, who witnesses her father murder a non-mormon living in Nauvoo as a mob ransacks the city. Believing the man may not be dead, she goes to view her father’s handiwork and sees a coal that doesn’t burn out. She picks it up. Afraid her father or the other mobbers might return, she absconds with the ruby. Fleeing her abusive home with her brother, the novel describes her life as they make their way to California to find gold.

This last book is the most poorly edited. There are time sequence errors through the first 6 chapters. The sections are dated and in one part of the novel it says it has been 5 years when it has only been 2.


Rhea Jensen Novels – Book Series Review February 28, 2009

Filed under: Product Review — seekthesethings @ 4:21 pm
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Rhea Jensen Novels

  • by Sheralyn Pratt
  • self-published by Spectrum Books
  • 3 volumes, trade paperback (4th volume available only in PDF e-book format)

The Rhea Jensen novels are a series of fun mysteries with a Mormon audience in mind. Jensen is a great story teller and you will be engrossed enough in what is going on to ignore the prevalent syntax errors where two ways of saying the same thing get muddled into one sentence and were not corrected by an editor before printing. This flaw (ie: lack of sufficient editing) is most blatant in the second book where Rhea mentions that the stalker has access to the victims medical records 2 chapters before she decodes the message that reveals that the stalker has accessed the victims medical records.

Pratt weaves a great mystery and it is often difficult to tell where the case is going. Personal relationships (friendships and dating) abound in all the books. While they are easy to follow because they so closely resemble relationships in real life, it it that same true-to-life aspect that introduces suspense when the chords that bind the characters to one another are plucked.

This is a great series with great stories and great characters and I hope Pratt is able to print additional Rhea Jensen novels.

Spies, Lies & a Pair of Ties (2003)

  • 213 pages
  • $13.95 USD

Introduces our protagonist, Rhea Jensen. Trained in journalism, Rhea uses her unique talents, including a gut feeling that never leads her astray, to solve the cases no one else can touch, and she makes it all look so easy! However, this flawed female is hopelessly pining after her high school sweetheart/best guy friend. She competes withher best gal pal, the hottest reporter in the city, by tagging one another with career boosting news stories or leads that crack difficult cases wide open.

In this novel Rhea goes about finding the employee who embezzled 200K from Jock Stock. Will she forfeit her life to catch the villain?

Welcome to Stalk Lake City (2004)

  • 285 pages
  • $14.95 USD

Someone is stalking a well-known Salt Lake City anchorwoman. While on an extended vacation in Utah, recovering from her recent near-death experience, Rhea is compelled to take the case, as a favor to her friend Kay. This guy has had police detectives baffled for nearly a year, and Rhea will have to use all her skills to track him. But will she be able to overcome her new self-imposed limits on who she “should” be to save this anchorwoman’s life?

Idle Playgrounds (2005)

  • 239 pages
  • $14.95 USD

Back in Utah, Rhea is targeted by a secret society. Would they kill her and everyone she loves to keep their secret safe?

In this book Kay tells Rhea to reveal to her boyfriend how the two girls “met in college”. But Pratt doesn’t go into the details in this book. I assume that is included in book 4.

Kay’s Story

Is an online e-book (in PDF format). I haven’t read it yet. You can buy it from the author’s website for $7.50 USD (click the link above). I think the author should consider a new title for this one, it’s not nearly as catchy as the others.


Hit the Road – Book Review February 20, 2009

Filed under: Product Review — seekthesethings @ 3:16 pm
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Hit the Road

  • by Caroline B Cooney
  • published by Delacorte Press (hardcover), Laurel Leaf (paperback & ebook), website: Random House
  • 192 pages
  • US $15.95 / CAN $21, hardcover; US $6.50, paperback & ebook

Sixteen-year-old Brit is compelled by her grandmother, Nannie, to participate in a senior kidnapping so that Nannie may attend a college reunion with her college roommates. When one of “the girl’s” violent adult sons learns his mother has been removed from the Nursing Home he has bribed to drug her and make her incompetent, a suspenseful pursuit ensues across state lines.

This book discuses some great issues. Often Brit’s new freedoms, a driver’s licence, making her own decisions, are contrasted with the older ladies losing theirs. Because these freedoms are so new to Brit, she is acutely aware of the pain it causes the older women when their grown children intrude into their lives– sometimes with pure motives, and other times with covetous greed.

The story ends abruptly, like the author ran out of pages to fill. It’s hard for the reader to believe that the villian which so doggedly persuied his runaway mother would roll over in submission once she got the tiniest bit of leverage against him.

But I liked the book. I think most girls who has reached a certain level of maturity (middle school, jr. high), when they have been given some new freedoms from their parents, would be able to relate to the main characters feelings and would enjoy the book too.


Dear Jane Austen – Book Review February 7, 2009

Filed under: Product Review — seekthesethings @ 3:00 pm
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Dear Jane Austen: A Heroine’s guide to Life and Love

  • By Patrice Hannon
  • Published by Penguin
  • 176 pages, paperback and e-book
  • USA $12.00

Dear Jane Austen: A heroine’s guide to Life and Love reads like an imaginative term paper. It is full of literary insight and examples from Austen’s collective works to support Hannon’s main tenants. While the style makes this a somewhat dry read, Hannon succeeds in infusing the book with Austen’s stylized wit.

Unlike Austen’s novels, narrated from the third person point of view, this book is narrated from the first person, in Jane Austen’s own voice. In this fantastic tale, Jane answers letters from 21st century women, giving them advise on being proper Austen heroines today.

While the book itself may not appeal to the masses, the 23 “Saysisms”, or Heroine lessons, embodied therein are essential for every modern Heroine. Here are some examples.

Jane Austen Says:

  • When a Heroine is satisfied that she has exercised judgement with clear vision, moral principle and common sense, she need not acquiesce to opposing viewpoints.
  • A Heroine needs good friends as much as she needs a Hero.
  • A Heroine seeking marriage does not live with a Hero until he is her husband.
  • In a good marriage, husband and wife bring out the best in each other.

It is my hope that Hannon and Penguin extend the reach of these “Saysisms” by creating a coffee-table book where each -ism is illistrated by a piece of beautiful artwork celebrating the stories of Jane Austen. That book would make a beautiful gift for any Jane Austen fan.