abuse · book review · Family · reading · secrets

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie {Review}

Blurb:

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They’re completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home—a home that is silent and suffocating.

As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father’s authority. Books cram the shelves, curry and nutmeg permeate the air, and their cousins’ laughter rings throughout the house. When they return home, tensions within the family escalate, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together.

Review:

This is the second novel I have read by Adichie and because I enjoyed Americanah so much, I had very high hopes for this story. I was not disappointed. In fact, I was even more blown away with her beautiful prose and style of writing.

This story is told from the perspective of a fifteen year old girl named Kambili. She is the daughter of a well to do businessman and a religious fanatic. From the outside, the world believes that Kambili, her older brother Jaja, and her mother live the perfect life of happiness. In reality, their home life is everything but that. Kambili’s father has horrifying standards for his family and they often pay in pain when they disappoint him.

Although I did like the story being told by Kambili, there were moments when I wanted to get Jaja’s perspective on what they were going thru especially when they went to visit their aunt, Ifeoma.

Adichie draws you in and forces you to connect to her characters in such a way that you don’t even realize it’s happening. The story flows at a remarkable pace. The dynamic nature between the characters is astounding. I admit when I first started reading this story, I didn’t think I would connect with Kambili and I thought her character wouldn’t develop like it did.

Reading this story and seeing what Kambili and her family went thru, broke my heart in many ways. This story makes you think about how an outside perspective can often cause disillusionment when it comes to someone’s life and what they may be dealing with or going through. You also think about how much you are willing to take or deal with when it comes to your loved ones. How much you are willing to sacrifice. Does being a religious figure or devout believer really separate you from those you believe to beneath you for being non believers when you aren’t living as perfectly as you think?

I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of Adichie. I still can’t believe that this was her debut novel.

This book was the first of my backlist buddy read that I’m hosting on Instagram this year.

Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio.

Advertisements
book review · books · Family · secrets · World War 2

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman {Review}

Blurb:

Two estranged sisters, raised in Brooklyn and each burdened with her own shocking secret, are reunited at the Springfield Armory in the early days of WWII. While one sister lives in relative ease on the bucolic Armory campus as an officer’s wife, the other arrives as a war widow and takes a position in the Armory factories as a “soldier of production.” Resentment festers between the two, and secrets are shattered when a mysterious figure from the past reemerges in their lives.

Review:

The main setting of this story is at the Springfield Armory during WW2. This was a place that I had never heard of before and after reading this story I definitely want to learn more about it. I am thankful that the author chose this for her setting. Definitely something different for a WW2 novel.

Having read and enjoyed Loigman’s debut novel, The Two-Family House, I was very happy to see that she was about to publish her second novel AND it was a historical fiction!

This story mainly follows two sisters, Ruth and Millie. They are complete opposites of each other in all aspects of the word. As they grow up, their relationship becomes almost non existent. After the death of their parents, and Millie’s husband comes up missing, Ruth invites Millie to live with her and her family at the Springfield Armory. From there we are then introduced to Lillian and Arietta who both have experienced life changing events.

The experiences that each of the four women have dealt with bring them together in some form or fashion. But what is a good story without there being some type of secret? Omitting the truth about something is just as detrimental as telling a lie. This is observed in this story.

Loigman uses WW2 as a perfect backdrop for this story. Although these women aren’t fitting battles directly on the line, their every day lives during the war are constant battles. They are fighting their own pasts, secrets, and even some of the very people they love.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook

I am so thankful to St. Martins press for sending me an advanced copy of this book to read and review. I look forward to seeing what else Lynda Cohen Loigman is going to write.

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.

book review · Family · World War 2

The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams {ARC Review}

Blurb:

In the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island as a schoolgirl from the margins of high society, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose summer house on Winthrop overlooks the famous lighthouse, Miranda’s catapulted into a heady new world of pedigrees and cocktails, status and swimming pools. Isobel Fisher, Miranda’s new stepsister–all long legs and world-weary bravado, engaged to a wealthy Island scion–is eager to draw Miranda into the arcane customs of Winthrop society.

But beneath the island’s patrician surface, there are really two clans: the summer families with their steadfast ways and quiet obsessions, and the working class of Portuguese fishermen and domestic workers who earn their living on the water and in the laundries of the summer houses. Uneasy among Isobel’s privileged friends, Miranda finds herself drawn to Joseph Vargas, whose father keeps the lighthouse with his mysterious wife. In summer, Joseph helps his father in the lobster boats, but in the autumn he returns to Brown University, where he’s determined to make something of himself. Since childhood, Joseph’s enjoyed an intense, complex friendship with Isobel Fisher, and as the summer winds to its end, Miranda’s caught in a catastrophe that will shatter Winthrop’s hard-won tranquility and banish Miranda from the island for nearly two decades.

Now, in the landmark summer of 1969, Miranda returns at last, as a renowned Shakespearean actress hiding a terrible heartbreak. On its surface, the Island remains the same–determined to keep the outside world from its shores, fiercely loyal to those who belong. But the formerly powerful Fisher family is a shadow of itself, and Joseph Vargas has recently escaped the prison where he was incarcerated for the murder of Miranda’s stepfather eighteen years earlier. What’s more, Miranda herself is no longer a naive teenager, and she begins a fierce, inexorable quest for justice for the man she once loved . . . even if it means uncovering every last one of the secrets that bind together the families of Winthrop Island.

My Review:

I am a big fan of historical fiction. I was surprised and happy to receive a copy of this book in the mail several months ago and am very upset with myself for taking so long to get to it.

I liked how the story moved between the past(1930 and 1951) and the present(1969) and was told from the point of views of Bianca and Miranda. Miranda wasn’t what you called a woman from money, she was one who was married into it since her mother’s second husband, Hugh, was one of the Island families. Miranda is thrown into this world of privilege, money and class. She does have her stepsister Isobel, who was born into this lifestyle to lead her along but she doesn’t always seem to have Miranda’s well being in mind. Or so it seems.

Everything in this story isn’t really what it seems. You think it is just a story about summer fun and young forbidden summer love but it is so much more than that.

You get to experience the summer from both classes in society (although years apart), see how they live together, survive together. You see the secrets that they have to keep. Secrets that make you wonder how far are you willing to go to protect “one of your own” even if they are guilty of sin or crime. How long do you keep these secrets?

This story flowed and was well plotted. I loved the pace. It’s main setting was the summer season but Beatriz weaves in other important and relevant information with ease. Miranda’s life after that fateful night during the summer of 1951. Bianca’s life after her summer of 1930.

I think what I liked most about this story is that it is set in a time after the war. You see how losing the lives of so many men affected the women left behind. Would Miranda have been in the same predicament if her father hadn’t died in the war? Would she have experienced her first love like she did that summer? She went to school with Isobel, but would they have ever been in that close of a circle?

This is my first novel from Beatriz Williams and I look forward to reading more of her novels. I definitely recommend this read for the summer, especially on the beach.

I received this copy from William Morrow in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, ebook, and audio.

Ballantine Books · book review · Family · social media

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin {ARC Review}

Blurb:

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenage girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

Review:

What can I say other than that I am so excited that Emily Giffin has a new book coming out and that I was able to get my hands on an advanced copy? Ok, okay I know that is not a good enough review so here it goes.

The story is told from the voices of Nina, Lyla and Tom. Nina appears to be your typical trophy wife who married money but we quickly find out that there is more to her than what is on the surface. Tom is a single dad who is out here trying his best to make it work for himself and his daughter, Lyla. Lyla is your typical teenager who winds up in a scandal that will rock her world.

Nina is the wife of a very wealthy man and this scandal hits her close to home and puts her in a very compromising position since her son Finch is involved. She wants to believe that he is her innocent child still but she starts to notice things that make her realize that he is not the person she thought he was. She also finds out much more about her husband than she bargained for and will have to make decisions that are most definitely going to affect all of them.

Tom is a single dad who is doing his best to make sure that his daughter has the best education possible but he also wants to protect her from the world. You can only imagine his devastation when he has to defend his daughter in the light of this scandal. Without Nina’s mother really in the picture, things get more difficult for him before they get easy. He has to deal with being just a regular working class man up against a family of money and power.

Lyla has to learn a very valuable lesson about life. One simple mistake can make a detrimental impact on your life. Even though it was not her mistake and she is the victim, she gets the worse treatment just because of where she lives and because of what people assume about her. Even through all of this she still tries to protect who she can. You definitely see how naïve teens can be.

Nina, Tom, and Lyla must fight thru this and figure out how to come out in one piece. They are forced to find allies where they wouldn’t have necessarily looked before.

I feel that this story is relevant to today’s society with all the dependence on social media and technology. It also focuses on race, class, and how society perceives it all. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what isn’t elaborated is how those words will follow you and how it will be perceived differently by each person who comes in contact with it.

This novel makes you ask the questions of how far are you willing to go to protect your child? Your place in society? How much of an impact does entitlement have on decisions that you make?

Although this book is an adult fiction, I recommend that teens read it as well if approved by their parents. Teens need to understand that there are consequences to their actions, not matter how much they think what they have done isn’t a “big deal.” Things do not just blow over.

My only complaint about this book is that the ending seemed a bit rushed but hey, books can’t go on forever and must end somewhere right?

I received this copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:

4 stars

Availability:

Available June 26th, 2018 in hardcover, ebook and audiobook.

book review · Family · reading

My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley {ARC Review}

Blurb from book:

David Hedges is having an unusual mid-life crisis. His boyfriend has left him for an older, albeit more successful, man. His job-helping the spoiled children of San Francisco’s elite get into college- is exasperating. As his life reaches new lows, his weight has reached new highs. The only good thing he has is an under-market-value apartment that has a view so stunning he is the envy of all of San Francisco. But when his Realtor and supposed best friend sells it out from under him, David hits rock bottom.

Across the country, Julie Fiske isn’t having much of a better time. The woman her second husband left her for is more likeable than her ex. The bills are piling up- so much so that she has turned her rambling home into an illegal Airbnb. Her sullen teenage daughter, Mandy, adamantly refuses to apply to college. And Julie cant seem to quit smoking weed ( she can stop anytime she chooses. Truly. She can. Right after this one last joint.).  The last thing she expects is for David, her first husband, to come back into her life.

My Review:

I received this book in the mail from Flatiron Books and I would like to provide them with an honest review.

I immediately fell in love with David and Julie’s stories that are taking place apart and fell even more in love with their stories as they came together. David is in San Francisco attempting to live his life even though it is falling apart while at the same time across the country, his ex wife, Julie is doing the same thing. They have both lost their second significant others and are dealing with trying to stay afloat. David seems to use food as his escape seeing as how he has gained weight since his boyfriend has left him. Julie is using weed as her escape.

While Julie is dealing with what is and is not going on in her life, Mandy, is trying to find herself all while being the typical teenager. She has a summer job that she hates and she doesn’t have very many friends and she tries to hide that from her mother. She knows her mom smokes and wishes that she would stop. It is Mandy who brings David back into her mother’s life after coming across some old memorabilia in all of her mother’s junk. She decides to call him after her father has given Julie an ultimatum about the house and Mandy.

When David arrives, helping Julie and Mandy is just what he needs to come out of his funk. It is also what Julie needs to get back on her feet and to literally clear her head. All while they are working on getting the house together so that Julie doesn’t lose it, Mandy is living an undercover life that she thinks no one knows about.

The story follows them on their journey of becoming comfortable in their own skins and finding their identity, once again for the adults, and the initial self discovery of the teen.

I found this story to be quirky and cute, yet thoughtful at the same time. I enjoyed the development of the story and characters, even the annoying neighbor Amira. Stephen McCauley is an excellent storyteller and this is my first novel by him. This has been a great introduction to his style of writing. I highly recommend this book for those vacation reads seeing as summer is upon us. This story may or may not make you go out to buy toss pillows(read the book to see what I am referring too, lol).

Rating: 

4 Stars

Availability:

This book will be available May 8, 2018 from Flatiron Books in hardcover, ebook and audio.

book review · Family · hockey

Beartown by Fredrik Backman {Review}

WIN_20180423_21_26_48_Pro

 

Goodreads Blurb:

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever-encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded town. And that rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior hockey team is about to compete in the national championships, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of the town now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.
A victory would send star player Kevin onto a brilliant professional future in the NHL. It would mean everything to Amat, a scrawny fifteen-year-old treated like an outcast everywhere but on the ice. And it would justify the choice that Peter, the team’s general manager, and his wife, Kira, made to return to his hometown and raise their children in this beautiful but isolated place.
Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semifinal match is the catalyst for a violent act that leaves a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Hers is a story no one wants to believe since the truth would mean the end of the dream. Accusations are made, and like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

My Review:

I will admit although I love Fredrik Backman’s writing style, I was a bit leery about reading this book because it is focused around hockey and I am not a big fan of hockey. Well, I joined yet another social media forum dedicated to books called Litsy and decided to participate in this month’s read-along and Beartown was the novel. Boy, am I glad that I did.

This book captivates you with the first chapter which is literally only a few lines long but because of Backman’s writing style, more isn’t needed. This story develops around Beartown and it’s youth hockey teams. Hockey is the heart of this town like football would be in other towns. As the story develops you get the feeling that this youth hockey team carries the fate of the town on its shoulders. The A-team has a big game coming up and if they win it could mean more opportunities for the town itself. The boys have been groomed to be winners. They train hard and play even harder. About a week before their big game, Kevin, one of the best players on the team throws a party while his parents are out of town. At this party there is an incident. Although nothing is said right away about it, there is a witness to the incident. Of course at this party, drugs and alcohol are involved.

Everyone involved in this particular incident tries to go on as if nothing has happened but then the dam breaks and the secret is brought to life, the day of the big game for the team and their star player is taken away. Once the secret is brought to life, you get to see how far some of the people in the town are willing to go to protect their hockey program.

This story also makes you question loyalty. How far are you willing to go to be loyal. What type of loyalty should you have and does loyalty not involve being loyal to yourself?

The town in divided with some thinking and feeling kids will be kids and the other half who doesn’t feel that way are too scared to speak up on what they think is right. How far should adults go when trying to protect their children or even just their own livelihood? You get to witness parents sacrifice everything they have and believe in. You see parents who question their own parenting styles. Blind eyes are turned, deaf ears are tuned in.

Backman’s writing style and development of the story grabs you and takes you on an intense ride that you don’t want to end. He also writes stories that make you think.

This story features bullying, intimidation, fear, strength, courage, secrets and most of all family dynamic.

I highly recommend this novel for fans of Backman and even those who haven’t read his writing yet. This is a story that is happening everywhere in real life and needs to be addressed one way or another.

I gave this book 4.5 stars and I am looking forward to the sequel.

Availability:

Available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio from wherever you purchase books.