book review · books · dedication · reading · secrets · World War 2

The Light Over London by Julia Kelly {ARC Review}

Blurb:

This poignant women’s fiction novel tells the present-day story of Cara, an antiques dealer who would rather bury herself in the past than confront the dilemmas of her present. So when she finds an World War II diary from 1941, she delves into the life of Louise Keene- a small town girl on the outskirts of the war, uninterested with the mundanity of her days.  Desperate from a larger life, Louise defied her parents and joined the women’s branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit.  As Cara, journeys through Louise’s life on the page and tries to figure out what happened to her, Cara just might uncover some truths about herself as well.

Review:

Historical fiction is probably one of my favorite types of genre so when I am able to get my hands on an advanced reader’s copy of historical fiction, I jump at the chance. This book is compared The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah(I read and loved) and Lilac Girls (I have not read but plan to do so soon). I did not allow those comparisons to build my expectations because I was afraid of being disappointed and I also wanted this book to make it’s own impression on my reading experience. I am so glad that I went into reading it with that mindset.

This story weaves Cara’s present day story with Louise’s past day story thru a diary that Cara finds while on a job assignment. Cara has gone thru some emotionally trying events in her life events in her life and all she has left on this earth in her loving, but strongly spirited grandmother who has a secret of her own. Cara’s devotion to finding the owner of the diary gives her the strength to ask her grandmother about her military past, but nevertheless, Iris shuts Cara out. Cara doesn’t allow this to deter her away from her mission.

Throughout the story, you see how Cara develops a more independent mindset and you see her confidence build. At the same time, thru diary entries and an alternate point of view, you see Louise’s growth as a woman during a time of war and during a time when women were expected to not have confidence or a mind of their own.

While reading the story, I began making my own assumptions about who the owner of the diary was and how it could possibly relate to whatever secret Iris was hiding from her granddaughter. Needless to say, my assumptions proved to be incorrect and I am okay with that.

Of course, what would this type of story be without a bit of romance? I appreciated how Julia Kelly intertwines the romance of the story into the plot without making it a hardcore historical romance novel. The romance in the story is not your run of the mill everyone lives happily ever after. The romance in both Louise’s and  Cara’s lives are the types that are seen every day and are relatable instead of far fetched.

What made this novel stand out for me is that I learned about a part of World War II that I was not familiar with. Learning about the women in the anti aircraft gun unit made me want to do more research about it.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, but you don’t want to read one that will completely weigh you down emotionally, I highly recommend checking this novel out.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

January 8, 2019 in hardcover, ebook and audio.

I received this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

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book review · reading

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib {ARC Review}

Blurb:

The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list.  Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.  Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears-imperfection, failure, loneliness-she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Julia, always hungry. Together they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

Review:

This book was everything I was told it was going to be. I started reading it on Saturday and finished it Sunday. I was so engrossed in the story. The way the story is structured, with vignettes of her life building up to her admittance to the house is just remarkable.  Yara Zgheib tells this story in such a beautiful fashion that connects you with the characters, especially Anna. You get an inside look at someone suffering from a disease but doesn’t fully understand the impact that it is causing on her life. Not only do you see how life can be with someone who has a support system, you also see from some of the other girls how life can be without a support system.  The denial, the pain, the suffering, and the victories(yes, there are some joyous moments). The way this story is written would make you think that it is actually a memoir instead of a fictional story.

If you are looking for a read that is going to pull at every emotion while also making you think, this is the story for you. I am a big fan of realistic fiction. I love reading a story that hits close to home and reality. Mental illness and eating disorders are not subjects that are easily discussed and are often times overlooked.

This is a phenomenal debut novel and I look forward to reading what Yara writes next.

This story does come with trigger warnings so if eating disorders and depression are subjects that you are sensitive about I would strongly suggest taking that into consideration before reading this story.

Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

February 5, 2019

*I received this advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

book review · books · diversity · middle grade · reading

Ghosters 2: Revenge of the Library Ghost by Diana Corbitt {Review}

Blurb:

It’s been a year since Theresa and her English friend, Kerry, won the Ghosters contest. Now her little brother, Joey, has stumbled on a mystery in the school library. Blasts of cold air, lights that flicker, and books flying off the shelves start Joey and his friend, Elbie, searching for the reason. Elbie lives above his family’s mortuary and is very comfortable around the ghosts that troop through its halls.  He’s a prankster and doesn’t mind Joey’s Asperger’s behaviors.  When the boys discover a ghost holding Joey’s bug book hostage, they team up with Theresa and Kelly to decode the ghostly messages found in the titles of the books thrown by the library ghost.

Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! You can’t help but love the friendship between Joey and Elbie. They don’t let Joey’s Asperger’s get in the way of them having fun or getting into a bit of mischief while solving the mystery of their school library and principal. The comfort level they have around the ghosts is admirable as well. I know for myself  I wouldn’t have been that great at handling the special ability to see and communicate with ghosts at their age. This story also involved my love of books and the library. It was refreshing to see Diana incorporate the importance of libraries, books, and reading into her story while keeping it light and fun. You also learn about acceptance and treating people with respect even if they do have a developmental disorder or any other disability for that matter. Elbie’s family living above the mortuary took me back to Vada in My Girl. In fact the friendship between Joey and Elbie reminded me quite a bit of the friendship between Vada and Thomas J.

Although this is a sequel and I had not read the first book, I was still able to follow along and enjoy the story. So you are able to read it as a standalone. Also, the style of writing is perfect for younger readers but not so juvenile that adults can’t enjoy the story.  Now that I have finished it I definitely want to go back and read the first book, Ghosters. I also think that if another book is published for this series, I will have to check it out.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

Available in paperback and ebook

Extra:

I was actually contacted by Diana Corbitt, the author of this book, to see if I would be interested in reading and reviewing it for my blog. I said yes after reading what the book was about and because I have not featured any middle grade books on my blog before.

I will admit that I was very nervous once the book actually arrived because that meant I needed to read it and I haven’t read a middle grade book on my own in I don’t know how long. I usually read middle grade or YA to my children. I was also nervous too because I have never had an author reach out to me directly to review their work. Let me tell you, the pressure was on! After finishing this book, my youngest was excited to get his hands on it, lol. He’d been eyeing it ever since it came in the mail.

Thank you Diana Corbitt for reaching out to me and sending me this awesome story!

book review · psychological thriller · secrets · suspense

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen {ARC Review}

Blurb:

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. Bus as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told  what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking….and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no long trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Review:

When I learned that these ladies had teamed up, I had to jump on the wagon of trying to get an advanced copy to review. I really enjoyed their first novel, The Wife Between Us and was anxious to find out what else they have up their sleeves.

An Anonymous Girl also drew my attention because it has a storyline that I have not really seen before in a thriller. I am not usually one who enjoys a thriller with an unreliable narrator but this story was different for me. Not only is there one unreliable narrator, there are two! I found that to be so fascinating. Both viewpoints of the story kept me guessing. Each time I thought I had something figured out, one of the narrations would throw me for a loop. I thoroughly enjoy a thriller that can keep me guessing and I enjoy when there is a storyline that I haven’t seen before. This story gave me a Fatal Attraction and Single White Female vibe.

The only complaint that I have with this story is that there wasn’t as big of a twist in this book as there was in The Wife Between Us but that doesn’t take away from everything else that this story has to offer. Once you start reading it, you will want to keep reading because you are going to want to know what is about to happen next and if it is going to line up with what you have in mind.

This story will also have you questioning your own moral compass. How far are you willing to go? What lies are you willing to tell and what secrets are you willing to live with?

This is going to be a good thriller to kick off the thrillers that are going to be published in 2019.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

Available January 8, 2019 in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook.

Thank you St. Martins Press for this advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

abuse · book review · books · Family · secrets · suspense

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen

Blurb:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Review:

I bought this book during one of my impulse book buying sprees back in August and had been itching to read it because the storyline caught my attention. Needless to say I was pretty excited that my local book club decided to read it for our October book.

 The first thing that caught my attention with this novel was the style of writing. I loved the prose and how the story just flowed on the pages. Delia’s style of writing is lovely on its own, but the added poetry throughout made it even better. This is one of those stories that you just can’t help but fall in love with because you can feel what the characters are going thru and you want everything to work out for them.

 Kya experiences so much heartache at a young age. She witnesses and experiences the abuse of her father and she is slowly abandoned by each of her family members. When she tries to go to school she is bullied by the children and in town she is treated unfairly by the adults who assume she is nothing more than swamp trash instead of trying to help her. Kya has to learn how to fend for herself. She has to cook, clean, shop, and grow into her womanhood.

 As Kya grows older, she develops a fascination with nature that is hard to describe. She starts a collection of items that eventually helps her survive. Kya seems to be alone but she isn’t. She develops a friendship with Jumpin’ and his wife Mabel. She also develops a beautiful friendship with Tate. I loved the relationship that Kya and Tate have even though things don’t play out the way that they would have if Kya wasn’t considered swamp trash.

 After Kya learns to open up and trust, she is hurt again. Unfortunately this hurt makes her a vulnerable target for local heartthrob, football star Chase Andrews. I did not like anything about Chase from the beginning and hate to say that he deserved what became of him. He was a pretentious jerk.

 This is a story about abandonment, abuse, racial and class prejudice, and love. All of these tie together as a child grows up and a murder has to be solved.

 Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

Available in hardcover, ebook and audiobook

book review · Family · reading

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle {Review}

Blurb:

When Sabrina Nielsen arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also her favorite professor from college, her father, her ex-fiance, Tobias, and Audrey Hepburn.

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Sabrina contends with in Rebecca Serle’s utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as Sliding Doors, and The Rosie Project.

As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together, and as Rebecca Serle masterfully traces Sabrina’s love affair with Tobias and her coming of age in New York City, The Dinner List grapples with the definition of romance, the expectations of love, and how we navigate our way through it to happiness. Oh, and of course, wisdom from Audrey Hepburn.

Delicious but never indulgent, sweet with just the right amount of bitter, The Dinner List is a modern romance for our times. Bon appetit.

Review:

When I first started hearing about and seeing The Dinner List I will admit I was not immediately drawn to the story. It was almost close to publication date before I was finally convinced that it would be a novel that I could read and possibly find myself enjoying.

I am a mood reader so I was happy and pleasantly surprised when a copy of this novel showed up in the mail one day. I was in the mood for a “light” read. Within the first few chapters I quickly found out that this was going to be a much deeper read that what I was expecting. I should have known that when one of the blurbs I saw contained a comparison to Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I was still not prepared for the emotional journey that I was about to endure.

This novel makes you think, it makes you feel. Several times I found myself stopping to think about who I would invite to a dinner if I had the opportunity. I made several revisions to my own personal dinner list while reading.

I don’t ever recall reading a contemporary novel with a plot twist. I was more blown away with the plot twist in this novel than I have ever been with a thriller, which always contains a plot twist. It gave my heart a serious jolt. I felt it in my soul.

There were so many quotes in this novel that stood out to me, but there was one that stayed with me and I had to put the book down for several days before picking it back up.

“When someone leaves, remembering the joy is far more

painful than thinking about the misery.” (page 37)

This book has the potential to be a “one sitting” read but I highly recommend taking your time to ingest and enjoy it.

I received this book from the publisher in promise of an honest review. I also won a copy from Booksparks along with a very cute tote bag.

Rating:

4 stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, ebook and audiobook

book review · books · dedication · Family · hockey · reading

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman {Review}

Blurb:

After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach.

Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.

As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.

Review:

Once again Backman strings your emotions along as we return to the beloved Beartown and hockey. Okay, if you haven’t read Beartown, I suggest that you add it to your TBR soon. I did a review of it earlier this year and even if sports stories aren’t your thing, you can still enjoy the story. Okay back to the book at hand, I didn’t think that Beartown needed a sequel but none the less, I was excited to learn that there was going to be one. I didn’t know where Backman could take the story considering the first book looked into the future of some of the characters, but he managed to pull it off. I didn’t enjoy this novel quite as much as I enjoyed Beartown, but it was still a good story. I felt that the style of writing changed some with this novel, but I could be alone with that opinion. It is still a well written story. I have to say that even though this is a sequel, it could be read by itself.

Although I appreciated a look into some of the minor characters from Beartown, there were moments I felt the story was too drawn out. Once again, I fell in love with Benji and Amat and wanted to protect them as best as I could. With this story we are given more information on “The Pack” and given another character to fall in love with, Vidir. Who doesn’t love the outcast or the underdog? Alongside with characters that you fall in love with, you seem to always have those who make you want to shake them. Mostly it was the adults who made me want to shake them.

The story moves along at a decent pace but there were some parts I wanted to move a bit faster, especially toward the end of the book. Once I got to the end however, I could see that the rest of the story was just a build up for the climax. Let me tell you, I could hardly make it thru because my emotions were going all over the place. The end of the novel is probably my least favorite out of all Backman’s novels.

With that being said, am I disappointed that I read it? No, I am not and yes, I would still recommend it to those who enjoyed Beartown.

This is the type of story that makes you think about growing up, the difficulties that children face, and the moments of doubt that parents may have, and sacrifice. In the end, we see how important family is and how loyalty plays a role in life on and off the ice.

Rating:

3 stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook.