Thursday, March 27, 2014

Under the Wide and Starry SkyUnder the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction




Fanny’s life is anything but ideal for beneath the surface of what on the outside looks like a normal marriage is a husband who can’t keep his pants on. Fanny and the children escape to Belgium because Fanny’s pride cannot stand a philandering husband plus it will give her a freedom she has never known. But Fanny’s plans to study art goes bust when the art school that she and her daughter, Belle, wanted to attend declared that they don’t allow in women. Their stay in Belgium soon turns into a trip to Paris in search of a good doctor for Hervey the youngest of Fanny’s children has become quite ill. The women get to study their art and as Belle’s artistic flourish blossoms, Hervey’s health declines. Unspeakable tragedy ensues and Fanny finds herself on the way to the Hotel Chevillon, in the French countryside, to ease her mental breakdown brought on by such a tragic loss.

Unbeknownst to Fanny her life will be forever altered by this mental vacation for in the glorious beauty of the French countryside is where she meets Robert Louis Stevenson, whom everyone calls Louis. Louis is absolutely besotted with Fanny from the get-go but Fanny is not quite sure how she feels at first about this loud, adventurous Scotsman. Friendship soon sets in for Fanny and Louis, even though Fanny knows she should stay away from Louis to discourage his infatuation with her, but she cannot help but be drawn in by his love of life and his wonderful soul.

{This is one of my favorite parts of the book, that first hint of new love and even better yet a forbidden love. Fanny and Louis proceed cautiously in their new feelings for each other which teases the reader by building up the suspense of when the “magic” will happen!}

An affair begins and Fanny and Louis try to keep it a secret for as long as they can to avoid scandal because Fanny is still a married woman but a love that burns that brightly cannot stay secret for long. Fanny returns to Paris and is surprised by a visit from her husband, Sam, not long after she returns to the city. Afraid that Sam will find out about Louis they decide not to see each other while Sam is in town and even though this is tortuous for them they know it is a sacrifice that needs to be made. Sam eager for his family to return to the U.S. gives Fanny an ultimatum, either return with him or risk losing her children in the divorce. So of course as any mother would do she returns with Sam.

{Oh what a low-down thing for Sam to do, thank God times are different now but this seemed a common occurrence in those times when men would keep their wives in unhappy marriages by using the children as pawns.}

Devastated by the news that Fanny has returned to the U.S. with Sam, Louis soon finds himself on a ship headed for the same destination; but will he make it there alive with his health being so poor? Near death Louis is able to find Fanny and after much protestations on Fanny’s part about whether or not she would be able to divorce Sam or not Fanny finally decides that she cannot live without Louis.

{AAHHH! So romantic Louis is. His health has always been poor but he didn’t care if he died he had to get to Fanny. (Sigh!) Fanny is a little irritating in this part because here is the man you love who risked death for you yet you are not sure to the possible last second if you are right for each other or not. So even though I find this irritating it was a good move on the author’s part for it draws out the suspense of what Fanny is going to choose to do.}

I could go into great detail about what follows but I won’t I am just going to touch on the big events in hope that you will get to enjoy the little morsels I have left out.

Fanny and Louis obviously stay together for this is their love story! Against adversity and the tribulations that followed them all their lives, Louis and Fanny’s love is so enduring that it withstands all. I am not saying their marriage is perfect but when it is weighed down with issues that cause their marriage stress their marriage bends where others would break.

They live an adventurous life which is full of spirit and love.By the end of the book I was face deep in tissues sobbing like a baby and I felt that feeling you get when you read a really great book and you sigh out loud because it enchants your soul!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Summer of Letting GoThe Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: YA Contemporary




REDISCOVERING LIFE’S BEAUTY AFTER AN UNSPEAKABLE TRAGEDY…
Francesca is bogged down with so much guilt and anger that she is drowning in it. Blaming herself for the death of her brother, Simon, Francesca carries more baggage with her than any teenager should have to. Most people,well, would be a hot mess if they had to deal with all this baggage, but Francesca is a great teenager regardless of her circumstances. Francesca must find the courage to not only forgive herself but she must find the strength to combat her fears and the people that are blocking the way to a beautiful life .

Francesca and her mom have a rift that has been between them since the day Simon drowned. Francesca’s mom has been unable to understand the loneliness and guilt Francesca feels since Simon’s death. Francesca’s mom throws herself into running a foundation for water safety, basically, ignoring not only Francesca but also Francesca’s dad. Francesca finds the strength and courage to confront her mom about all of it, even though she did it out of anger it still took a lot of guts to confront her mom like that. This confrontation of course opens her mom’s eyes to how awful she has been to her family and a new but still tentative relationship with her mother takes seed.

Most of Francesca’s new courage comes from a cute, four-year-old boy, Frankie Sky, I know he’s cute because he talks cute, he loves frogs, and he thinks he can fly! Who couldn’t love a kid like that? Francesca lets Frankie Sky into her life along with Frankie Sky’s mom, Brooke, who is also having a hard time dealing with the loss of her husband and the challenges of being a single mother. Together Francesca forms almost like a second family with Frankie Sky and his mom.

Francesca suddenly finds herself doing things she has avoided since Simon’s death, she has been visiting the beach, going to the pool and even swimming, which she loved to do before Simon died but couldn’t bring herself to do after his death. All of these triumphs are slowly healing Francesca’s burdened soul and though she will always have her brother and the way he died etched into her memory forever she realizes that she must stop walking around like a ghost and must shake off the shackles of the past and grab onto life’s beauty in the present.

Even though some things are going right in Francesca’s life some things are tormenting her, Why does Frankie Sky look so much like her brother, Simon? Is it her being weird? Or maybe a strange coincidence? But there are other similarities to. Could Frankie Sky be Simon? Reincarnated? Transmigrated? All the signs throughout the book point to it and Francesca is having a hard time letting go the possibility of it.

Then there is Bradley, the boy that Francesca loves but who is also her best friend, Lisette’s. boyfriend. There is some secret kissing, hand holding, and talking about crabs ( the seafood kind not the other kind!) and even though Francesca knows it’s wrong she cannot seem to stop doing it, then Lisette finds out.

I found this book to be a soul-warming read and I feel in love with many of the characters, especially little Frankie Sky. Well written with the story flowing along as if a teenager was really telling it to you, some YA books the narrators sound more like adults then the teenagers they are suppose to be.

Sometimes life just seems to work itself out for the best and this is what happens to Francesca’s life. Finding the beauty of life all around you instead of drowning in the past is how Francesca will have to live her new-found life because “Not even the ocean can drown our souls.”

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Mapmaker's DaughterThe Mapmaker's Daughter by Laurel Corona
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction




Not many know how King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella treated the Jews of Spain and that is what drew me to this book for we are bombarded with books about European Jews during World War II and even though they represent a large portion of my reading list it is refreshing to see a book that still highlights the history of the Jewish people without the word Hitler anywhere in the text.

How unimaginably difficult it must be to make that choice: To either pretend to be a Christian or to live openly as a Jew in those times? It seems either way the Jewish people could not escape the wrath of us Christians, we were a biased people back then so much for loving your neighbor and all. The Jewish people of Spain, even though they obviously suffer, take this persecution and eventual expulsion from Spain with great strength and faith that God will be there with them throughout it all. I must admit I am a little jealous of Amalia and the strength and sense of home that she finds within her faith even in the house of the Lord I feel somewhat outside everything that is occurring inside the church, so I am quite jealous of Amalia’s sense of faith.

When she was little Amalia’s family converted from Judaism to Christianity to ensure their safety but even for those who converted they were still viewed with suspicion and hatred but more unlikely to be killed then someone whom practiced Judaism for all to see, so Amalia’s mom made sure that they practiced their true religion in secret. The story follows Amalia throughout her life with all of its triumphs, trials, joys, and disappointments through a horrible marriage and into a loving affair, Amalia is someone who lives life to the fullest all while maintaining her sense of self.

Just like her grandfather’s atlas, Amalia has drawn her own map, not one you can see visually for it spans a lifetime, but one of life and love with its own mountains and valleys, stormy seas and calm meadows. A marvelous tale about a wonderful woman’s love of faith and family!

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Little Girl Lost (DS Lucy Black, #1)Little Girl Lost by Brian McGilloway (DS Lucy Black #1)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery/Crime/Thriller



I was first drawn in by the cover of Little Girl Lost, when I first saw it up over at Partners in Crime Book Tours for review,it has this disconnected dreaminess about it that shouted to me "Sign Up" and then of course I read the summary and I was hooked And well here we are some weeks later to let you know to always trust your instincts, that sometimes you can judge a book by its cover!

From the first chapter this book gave me goose bumps, the good kind that is. Imagine not being able to go anywhere in your vehicle due to the icy roads and while your steamy over this problem you see flashes of something in the woods. These woods surround both sides of the road and you are scared out of your mind. Not to sure what is out there in the woods watching you , when all of a sudden out pops a figure from the woods it stops you short for a second because what would a little girl be doing running around in her p.j.'s at this time of night in the woods alone. And then just as fast as she appears shes gone again.

DS Lucy Black finds herself the first to arrive at the scene to interview the motorist and to help to start the search for the little girl. Once DS Black finds the little girl she realizes that the girl is covered in someone else's blood and also that the little girl is not who they hoped she would be, Kate McLaughlin a recently kidnapped teen who's father is one of the area's wealthiest businessmen. The little girl and Kate have more to do with one another than anyone could have imagined.

DS Black has her hands full, she needs to I.D. the girl, continue to help find the McLaughlin girl, care for her father who has dementia and avoid her mother who is also her bosses boss! Relentless she pursues every lead even the ones that go right into her station house.

I was mesmerized by McGilloway's well spun characters. The way that a past case and the present day cases are woven together like a well spun spider web. Vivid imagery describing the settings so that you were transported to them visually in your mind. A fast-paced thriller that is the first in this series has hooked me and I cannot wait to set my eyes on Hurt, the next book in the series, which I have added to my to-read list on Goodreads.

Just a wondrous read!



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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Don't Even Think About It (Don't Even Think About It, #1)Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski (Don't Even Think About It #1)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal



ESP and high school kids. Wow! I would have loved to have had ESP in high school. We were all terrified of at least one thing about high school and there were some like me that just entering the build was mentally exhausting, but to have ESP, well lets say I would have gladly showed up everyday with a smile on!

The Espies are not the most popular kids nor the richest they are a mix of all different types of personalities that consisted in one homeroom class. The playful and sometimes not so playful banter flying across to each other through their minds is what you would expect most high schoolers to talk about and this helps the reader to be able to relate more to the characters given the fact that they all have ESP at the end of day most of their problems are just like any other teenagers.

I think this book is appropriate for older middle school kid, high school kids, and other young adults. Due to the sexual content I wouldn't find it appropriate for older elementary school kids who read at a more advanced level. The "Younger Me" loved this book it would have been one I would have hid under my covers to read with a flashlight past my bedtime.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

The Weight of BloodThe Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery/Crime/Thriller




Each chapter of the book is an individual character's point of view of the events that happened in the past and the events happening in the present and how all these events are related to each other.

Lucy's summer is spent working in her Uncle's store, hanging out with Daniel and Bess, and trying to uncover what really happened to Cheri, a friend that was murdered, and how does it all relate to her mom's own disappearance when Lucy was 1.

This story will rip your heart out and have you cursing humanity and the wickedness that exist in it but it also shows you that there is still good in people it is not all bad. I wasn't truly shocked by the ending but it was hard to read because all the pieces were together the puzzle was complete and the heaviness of raw emotion is unreal. There is violence towards children in this book which I hope explains my emotions while reading it and even still after your done it sits on you, the awfulness of such acts, but it is a rare thing when a book can make the reader feel that emotional.

There was a tie for favorite character between Birdie and Ray. Birdie is a protector of Lucy's and the fact that she can wield a shotgun and use it makes this girl smile. Ray just seems like a sweet heart!

I am glad that Lucy found what she was looking for even though it changed her forever.

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Sunday, March 09, 2014

City of the SunCity of the Sun by Juliana Maio
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction




A Jewish women on the run and an American journalist acting as a spy become star crossed lovers in Egypt while Rommel's Afrika Corps marches forth with its eye on Cairo.

Maya inhibited by the horrors she faced as she and her brother and father escaped first Nazi Germany and then Vichy France ending up in Cairo after being on the run for some time seems willing but unsure of whether or not to let Mickey into her heart.

Mickey who is not long out of a relationship that ended after 3 years and an engagement plus who is trying to find a scientist for the American government as well so he must keep secrets from Maya which endangers their relationship.

Full of war, desperation, love, pain, and anguish City of the Sun covers a part of World War II that you don't often see in historical fiction and that is the setting in which the book takes place, the African Theatre.

The relationship of Mickey and the Nazi spy, Kesner, and the hatred that they felt to each other represents how their nations felt towards each other and I find that their battles against each other in pursuit of the nuclear scientists are particularly well written.

My favorite character was Dorothy, who was the American Ambassadors secretary, she was brash and full of sass which endeared her to me greatly! And maybe to call her just a secretary would be humbling her position within the embassy a bit.

The ending surprised me a little.

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Friday, March 07, 2014

The Sound of Broken Glass (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James, #15)The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #15)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery/Crime/Thriller



The past and the present intermingle in this mystery making for a plot line that will keep you on the edge of your seats!

The Sound of Broken Glass is #15 in Deborah Crombie's Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series and even though I have never read any of the other books belonging to this series for about 90% of the book I felt in the loop and would mark this as also a great stand alone read but there was that 10% of the book that left me confused particularly about Duncan and Gemma's family situation especially in regards to their foster daughter Charlotte. This 10% had me wishing I had read the previous books in the series.

Which leads me to let you in on a little tidbit in case you have never read any of the books from this series and that tidbit is that Duncan and Gemma are not partners in the police sense they are husband and wife. When I first read "A Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James Mystery" at the bottom of the book I assumed and I was wrong but maybe they were originally partners, oh goodness as I am sitting hear telling you what I think I am actually intriguing myself about the characters lives before book #15; looks like I will be adding quite a few books to my Goodreads list tonight!

The book had a wonderful fast paced story line and I thoroughly enjoyed this book with the only downside being that 10% of feeling a bit confused about some of the characters relationships with one another.

I am giving this book a 4-star rating even though for awhile there I was contemplating a 3-star review because of that darn 10%; but the weaving of details from the shadows of the past with the dangerous dealings of the present made up for that lousy 10%.

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Thursday, March 06, 2014

When We FallWhen We Fall by Peter Giglio
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Horror




I normally don't read books with dark subject matter because they just don't really appeal to me. However, I was searching around on Netgalley one day and found this dark novella that intrigued me with its cover, saying "read me!"

Ben loses his best friend and his bully within a year of each other. Constantly walking around on eggshells with his parents, particularly his mom, because she is constantly pestering him about his mental status with all the loss he has had to endure Ben finds relief in a friendship with Aubrey.

Aubrey and Ben's friendship is unique because Aubrey is four years older than Ben and she is also his babysitter. Wanting to find absolution from past sins Aubrey hopes that her friendship with Ben will be her salvation.

When Aubrey's sins come back to haunt her is her already fragile psyche going to be able to handle anymore?

My favorite character was of course Ben and I routed for him the whole time. I was surprised when the specifics of Aubrey's sins came to light through her diary entries I definitely wouldn't have guessed any of that. The scene where Ben finds Aubrey in bathroom is really well written and also the hardest to read, I was like no way I just couldn't believe it.

I found some parts of the story frustrating because I did want the story to be a little more developed but considering it being a novella instead of a novel I can understand why so things just were not delved into very deeply. I also found the idea of a ghost put me off of the story a little I am not sure why it just didn't seem to fit I think just seeing it in the film would have been better than actually having a late night visit with it.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

AboveAbove by Isla Morley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Dystopian/Sci-fi




The beginning of Blythe's story is one of sadness and survival. This part of the book chronicles Blythe's life as a captive of Dobbs Hordin, the length of her captivity and the things that she endured inside an abandoned missile silo is heartwrenching to read. Blythe must get above but will she be able to learn survive up there as she learnt to survive in the silo.

The second half of the book chronicles Blythe's life above the silo and this is where the book turns into dystopian fiction. What Blythe didn't know is that not only was she dragging herself into a collapsed world but she was also taking her son into a world that would like to harvest his perfection from him. Luckily along the way the find people willing to help them and finally there is hope.

Some parts of this story, particularly those in art one, are hard to read due to the subject matter and then there are other parts that seem monotonous.
My favorite character was Arlo because he never gave up on trying to find Blythe. Of course most hated character was Dobbs and in my opinion he died in a more peaceful way than he should have. I don't know about anyone else but when a character is evil defined it is always nice to see justice done to them in a particularly heinous way but Dobb's death was not like this but there was a small consolation that at least if anyone did it it got to be Blythe that did him in even if he was right about the end of the world and all.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

First Night of SummerFirst Night of Summer by Landon Parham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Thriller/Suspense




As a parent the subject matter of this book hit a nerve and scared the crap out of me, needless to say I checked on my children multiple times during the night. Child abduction and the results of these abductions is a hard subject to approach but Parham's did a great job walking the line about it by not going into graphic detail but still letting you know that it did happen. Favorite character would have to be Josie, not only did she lose her twin sister she herself was abducted but she remained strong. Best part was of course when Ricky got what was coming to, Mr. Parham you couldn't have ended it any better than that!

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Saturday, March 01, 2014

Beyond JusticeBeyond Justice by Joshua Graham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Christian Fiction/Thriller




Even though I believe in God I am not outwardly showy that I have faith, which fits with my personality as the world's biggest "I" (Introvert, in case you didn't know what the I stood for) and I am okay with that but I don't know why but it makes it harder for me to read Christian-based books, not sure why but it does. So I wasn't to sure going in about this one but I always give it a shot and I am glad that I did with this one. The story line for this one is amazing!!! Wrongly accused, wrongly prosecuted, wrongly convicted, poor Sam cannot seem to catch a break until he finds God. And even though after he was born again Sam's life wasn't all ice cream and rainbows, which I think is why I liked this book because even after you have found God life is still hard sometimes and this book really showed that whereas some Christian novels I have read have happily ever afters that just leave you feeling disillusioned, but Beyond Justice is a new breed of Christian novel out there that not only reinforces our beliefs but also that entertains us!

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