The Secrets Between Us, Laura Madeleine

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Title: The Secrets Between Us

Author: Laura Madeleine

Pages:385

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance,

Is this Part of a series?  No.
Published: April 19th, 2018 in paper back, though Goodreads says it has been available since January…. maybe in the UK

Summary: 

When Annie if finally given the green light to find her estranged grandmother nothing else seems to matter.  Not the low level clerical job she has instead of the librarian or archivist she should be, not the fact that she pilfered a government file, and not the fact that the only address she has is twenty years old.

Little does she know that finding Grandma Celeste is only the beginning, that it will lead to a mad-cap escape from a retirement home and a trip into the past.

Celeste, for her part, can’t get over her past.  She has made so many mistakes and missed so much, kept so many secrets.  It’s time, with her granddaughter, to go back home.  To see if there isn’t someone waiting for her after all, or if it will only be memories.

Told in dual timelines we are treated to Annie’s world of 1993, and Celeste’s of 1943- the summer she knew the greatest hunger, fear and love.

My thoughts:

I have such an author- crush on this woman.  Every time I read one of her books I feel broken and made again.  There’s so much beauty in her stories.  Emotions- highs and lows.  The descriptions are amazing, the plot rich and seamless.  Madeleine has an amazing way of bringing her characters to life.  They are gloriously multifaceted, even the “villains”  of a story are not without pieces of humanity.  I think I love that most about her stories.

Celeste was a really interesting character to me, strong and determined.  At times she seemed very naive as well, but had a core of strength that I really admired.  I liked how she saw the refugees coming into town- Daniel and Myriam Reese along with the young Wolf and all the others.  The love story aspect really surprised me.  I adored it, as I feel like it added a lot to the story.  I felt deeply for Myriam’s plight, her fear and feeling of being trapped.

Honestly, I just loved all of it.  My words aren’t enough…. they never seem to be with her stories.  Instead, at the bottom of the post I will be placing a quote I loved that, to me, showcases her amazing descriptive abilities.  For me, this is a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there is a little language- nothing major, violence, and some sexual content.  It was artfully done and not very explicit, so I would still give this to an older teen.  Let’s give it a four.  Parental Guidance

The book is out, have you read it?

If interested, I have reviewed her other books: The Confectioner’s Tale, Laura Madeleine and Where the Wild Cherries Grow, Laura Madeleine .

Link to book:

Amazon

And now…. the quotes:

‘….It has been a summer stolen.  A summer of sky.  A summer of riches.  Of clear water tasting of far-off winter.  Of meat and blood, the flesh of the mountain, carved from bone.  Of wild fruit, ripe as honey, sundering at a touch.  A summer of wheat, ground by stone and transformed by an ancient recipe, of bitter herbs and oil as old as distant land across the sea.

Mountain and flesh, sweat and skin, bread and salt: life.  Love.  This summer has drained me, drenched me, wrung me dry, but still I reach for more….’  Myriam on her summer with Celeste in Saint-Antione.

Happy Reading,

Amber

Advertisements

The Choices We Make, Karma Brown

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Title: The Choices We Make

Author: Karma Brown

Pages: 336

Genre: women’s fiction

Is this part of a series?  No.

Published: July 12th, 2016

Summary:

Hannah and Kate have been…. well, Hannah and Kate… since the fifth grade- inseparable BFF’s.  They found love, married and started trying for families; always clinging to one another along the way.  Is it any wonder that when one has trouble getting her heart’s desire- a baby- the other would want to step in?

Kate watched her friend try literally everything to start a family for six years.  It’s too much, and she doesn’t know if Hannah will survive without the family she wants.  She can’t stand seeing her best friend shattered.  She herself has a great husband and two healthy girls…. so we know the pieces work, so to speak.  Why not contribute to the baby making?  With her egg and body to carry the child she sees no reason why this wouldn’t work.  Except no one else is on board.  It’s too much, there are too many risks…. and would she even be able to give up a baby?

The choice seems pretty simple to Kate, but what is brings into everyone’s lives- good and bad- is something no one could ever dreamed of having to handle.  Can they make it with relationships in tact?  How far would you go to keep your family?

My thoughts:

This is my online book club read for the month, and I am so glad because I had never heard about it before and I would have been devastated to have missed out on this.  This is a gorgeous and heartbreaking tale of two best friends trying to make a family.  I liked that it was told in both Hannah and Kate’s POV’s.  The premise was amazing and the writing style was smooth and easy to keep track of.  The characters were well developed and I adored Kate, David and Ben.  I have to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with Hannah.

Hannah was hard for me because, while I could relate to her desire, I hated the things she did at times.  I hated that she had been willing to go to a surrogate mother without Been or Kate.  I mean I know Kate’s just a friend- a best friend since fifth grade!- But Ben’s her husband!  She already knew he wasn’t on board.  Oh, she feels bad later after every single misstep…. but they are still there.  Besides, she is obviously what the other two lives revolve around.  Kate wants to do this for Hannah.  She isn’t really even comfortable with the title of surrogate, and all the paperwork it involves but she will do this for Hannah.  And she stopped taking her migraine meds, talked to her estranged father and had the mother-of-all-fights with David just to make Hannah a mother.  I love her for this, but it’s a lot.  When mother and child are in danger, Hannah’s first thought isn’t for Kate…. and that upset me too.  She did a lot of things in the book I didn’t agree with; and yet it seems entirely in character for someone who had been trying for a baby as desperately as Hannah.  Even when the steps were wrong, they were believable and you could see her motivation.

In the end, I just loved the book.  I loved the emotions, the characters, the plot.  I was not ready to let the story go.  For me, that is the sign of a fantastic book.  It’s five stars all the way.  normal star rating  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale there’s language and sexual content.  It’s not over the top but it is fairly…. descriptive.  I give it a six.  Parental Guidance

The book is out!  Have you read it?

Link to book:

Amazon

Happy Reading,

Amber

Happy New Release Day! 6-26-18

I am so excited about one of the books out today!  There are actually two, but one of them, while good, wasn’t able to really set itself apart from the pack… not like this one.

I almost feel guilty, because it is going to seem like I threw one away; but in all honesty, one is a five star book for me, and one’s a three.  In fact, I bought the book so that I could add some quotes.

Anyway, today’s books are:

one for the rogue1.  One for the Rogue, Manda Collins.  This was a great, quick read with some awesome characters.  It was fast paced and had the type of dialogue- play between characters that I adore.  The plot was interesting, if far fetched at times- par for the coarse with these types of books.  In the end, I guess it was good but there was nothing to make it memorable.  I still enjoyed it, but it wasn’t a must-have-or-I’ll-die book.

 

 

 

 

 

all we ever wanted2. All We Ever Wanted, Emily Griffin .  A picture shot at a drunken party forces a community into an uproar.  Nina, the mother of the boy that posted, is sickened and disheartened.  Is this how they raised him?  Tom, the father of the girl, is going out of his mind wanting to find the best way to shelter his daughter from the ugliness coming forward.  When circumstances force them all together, can they find a way to make it through with their lives in tact.  How far would you go to protect your child?

Is it any wonder that this is my must-have-or-I’ll-die book of the week.  I loved it.  I loved the layout of the story, the plot, the characters… More than anything I love how the author worked with the issue of harassment and debasing women in culture.  I  loved how I got to see it through several eyes.

I bought the book so that I could share some small parts that were really important to me, either to defining the characters or the book in general.

“I think this is a real fork in the road for Finch… And I know Kirk is thinking in terms of Princeton…. But there is so much more at stake here.” -Julie.

I loved this part, where Nina is talking to her best friend because it doesn’t sugar coat what Finch did, but there’s room where, if done correctly, this could be something for him to learn from and become the man Nina wants to see.  It’s easy to see this boy as all bad…. and I admit he has few admirable qualities…. but he’s just a boy still and not done growing.  Here, Julie isn’t condoning his actions, nor diminishing Lyla’s pain; just hoping for the future as anyone who cared about the boy would.

“My son had taken advantage of an innocent girl who was in a vulnerable situation.  He had exploited her.  Used her.  Treated her like trash.”

Here, I see all that Nina is.  This is her son she’s talking about.  She loves him, but she is able to be horrified at what he has done.  There’s the ability to truly emphasize with Lyla that I adored, especially when I found out why it was so important to her.

“C.mon, Nina! You need to be an advocate for your own child!”

And here it is, Melanie talking to Nina- obviously terrified for her own son because the party was at her place.  It shows the different mind sets perfectly.  Melanie and Kirk believe that being an advocate for their children means making problems disappear- however possible.  Nina, I feel is the better advocate for Finch in so far as she wants him to have repercussions, and she wants to be there to support him through them.  She refuses to make Lyla “go away” because she wants her to be okay, and because she wants Finch to see that what he did, who he was becoming, was not acceptable,

 

E-Card 2

The books are out now- check them out!

Happy Reading,

Ambert

Top Ten Tuesday! Books I have given up on/ don’t plan to finish.

Ah, the DNF pile- one of my great shames (that and the overflowing TBR list).  I try desperately to give each book- especially ones I request as ARC’s a fair shake.  Once upon a time I had an 50% rule- I had to get through at least 50% before I could let go, to be sure that it wasn’t just a slow burn book that got better in progression, I was sure I would miss out if I gave up too soon.  Then my husband found a site that sold bundles of ebooks and thought he’d find some cheap gems.  Under “romance” I found same sex voyeuristic bondage play.  It was too much for me and broke that rule forever.  You won’t be finding that title on the list because I don’t remember it, nor the author.  I just… couldn’t do it.

Anyway, onward and upward.  My DNF list:

the original dream 1. The Original Dream, Nukila Amal.  (Summary from Goodreads) For Maya, history is like a dream, and her dreams are like a history of her life and how it relates to others. Effortlessly defying and calling into question time and space, Maya inhabits fantastical realities filled with shamans, romantic longing, a daughter’s struggles, and a flying dragon.

Lyrically flowing between Maya’s multiple realities, The Original Dream is the story of a young independent Indonesian woman trying to break free from cultural and social conventions while also searching for her place among family and friends. With guidance from her parents, coworkers, and sister, along with a newborn filled with the wisdom of elders, Maya navigates her perceptions, looking for answers to unknown questions. Whether soaring through the nighttime sky, caring for her nephew, or tending to guests at the hotel where she works, she tries to delineate the difference between dreams and reality and if such a difference even matters.

Truth?  I thought I loved magical realism in books, but this was just way too much for me.  I don’t even remember it much because it was so very long ago, but I remember the writing being a bit choppy and the dragon being too far fetched.  It was all very much like a drug induced dream and I couldn’t do it.
George rr martin2. A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin.  My entire family is obsessed with GOT, and to be honest I never saw the appeal.  I thought maybe if I read it first I would understand the attraction.  I don’t remember there being anything wrong with it when I got the first four books from the library….. I just couldn’t get into it.

 
the invention of exile3. The Invention of Exile, Vanessa Manko.  A Russian immigrant is falsely accused of being an anarchist and gets deported back to Russia along with his wife and three children.  Later, finding themselves in Mexico the family, sans father, is able to move back to America but the wife must fight for the right to have her husband come home.

On paper this sounded amazing.  For me, though, it was just poorly executed and I quickly realized I didn’t care about the characters at all.  It was not worth moving forward.

 

impossible views of the world4. Impossible Views of the World, Lucy Ives.  (Summary from Goodreads) Stella Krakus, a curator at Manhattan’s renowned Central Museum of Art, is having the roughest week in approximately ever. Her soon-to-be ex-husband (the perfectly awful Whit Ghiscolmbe) is stalking her, a workplace romance with “a fascinating, hyper-rational narcissist” is in freefall, and a beloved colleague, Paul, has gone missing. Strange things are afoot: CeMArt’s current exhibit is sponsored by a Belgian multinational that wants to take over the world’s water supply, she unwittingly stars in a viral video that’s making the rounds, and her mother–the imperious, impossibly glamorous Caro–wants to have lunch. It’s almost more than she can overanalyze.

This seemed like a super busy, jumpy book where nothing ever really happened and the writing style just wasn’t for me.

pond5. Pond, Claire-Louise Bennett.  (Summary from Goodreads) Feverish and forthright, Pond is an absorbing chronicle of the pitfalls and pleasures of a solitudinous life told by an unnamed woman living on the cusp of a coastal town.

So, this one again sounded amazing and I was just thrilled to be able to get my paws on it.  Sadly, it just did not live up to the blurb for me.  Glacially slow, the writing style was perhaps too descriptive (to the point of being absurd) and I found myself horribly bored.

I know it isn’t ten books but that really is my list.  There are a few books I read in order to see the movie that I feel like I should have DNF’ed though:

I have to say that these were the few instances where the book was not, in fact, better.  I got through them, but I hated all of them in part.  The Princess Bride was good and nearly didn’t make that list, except that Goldman kept veering from topic and adding in snippets I just didn’t care about.

Lastly, and I know that this one is going to make a lot of people mad….. Lord of the Rings- the whole series.  I remember trying to get through Return of the King and finding like three paragraphs about the sweat off of a horses flanks.  Now I like description and world building as much as the next person but that was absolute overkill.

What about you?  What’s on your list?

Happy Reading,

Amber

All We Ever Wanted, Emily Griffin

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Title: All We Ever Wanted

Author: Emily Griffin

Pages:  400

Genre: Women’s lit, family drama

Is this part of a series?  No

Publish date: June 26th, 2018

Summary:

Have you ever stopped and wondered how you got somewhere?  With this man, living this life?  Nina Browning should be ecstatic.  She is part of the Nashville elite with a charismatic husband and a son that was just accepted into Princeton.  It all seems wrong, though.  The preoccupation with material wealth, the inability to really connect with her husband or son… this just isn’t who she is.  Any of it.

Tom is desperately trying to be a good father to Lyla, his beautiful and intelligent daughter.  When she got a scholarship to Windsor Academy he is a bit worried, but very proud.  Lyla is trying to keep up with her classmates both academically and socially.  It’s a different world and sometimes the differences are glaring.

A picture snapped in a moment of drunkenness spins out of control.  Windsor Academy is going insane with rumors and casting blame.  In the eye of the scandal are Tom, Lyla and Nina.  Each one is forced to question the relationships of those closest to them, and who they really are.

My thoughts:

I could not put this book down.  It was gorgeously written, and moving.  The trio of  narratives was an interesting touch.  I really enjoyed being able to see more of these characters, their thoughts and motives.  These were really interesting, well developed characters.  I loved Lyla especially.  Tom with the chip on his shoulder and Nina who desperately wants to be seen as a good woman.

As far as the plot goes, I found it really intriguing and I loved the different twists and turns that kept me guessing.  Through out the book I both loathed and loved certain characters, wanting to believe in them, but not knowing if I can.  It’s definitely a different world.  I also like how they portrayed the young victim- it was very believable.  The horror, shame, inability to believe, and the desire to let it all just fade away.  Her strength was also something I really loved.  I feel like this book has a lot of adult moments, but also a lot that older teens would like as well.  For me, this is a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, this is pretty high.  There’s a lot of language and sexual content as well as drinking.  While I would, as I said, see no issue with an older and more mature teen reading it, I have to say it’s meant for adults.  I give it an eight.  Parental_Advisory_label.svg

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Random House Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks!  pro_reader_120

The book comes out 6-26-18.  Is it on your TBR?

Link to book:

Amazon

Happy Reading,

Amber

 

One for the Rogue, Manda Collins

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Title: One for the Rogue

Author: Manda Collins

Pages: 320

Genre: historical romance

Is this part of a series?  Yes, book #4 in A Study In Scandal

Publish date:  June 26th, 2018

Summary:

Gemma, chosen by the late Lady Celeste to be one of her heiresses due to her knowledge of Geology, has it all figured out.  She wants to make a name for herself as a lady scientist and has no interest in marriage.  She wants to make her aunt and Lady Celeste proud!  Even the annoying Cameron Lisle won’t get in her way!  A Geologist himself, and head of a scientific paper, they find themselves butting heads a lot.

When danger comes knocking on Gemma’s door, though, it is Cameron that will stand by her side and protect both her and her findings.  The more time Cameron spends with Gemma, the more he respects her for her mind and admires her beauty.  He knows a marriage between them would be amazing, and she is the one he wants.  Can he convince her that taking him on won’t mean loosing herself and her studies though?

My thoughts:

I requested this book without realizing that it was far into a series and I have actually only read one other book: Ready, Set, Rogue, Manda Collins .  I do this a lot with the historical romances because I don’t always see them when they first come out, or on the ARC sites; and also because historical romances aren’t my go-to genre.  I love them, but will often only read them sporadically, preferring cozy mysteries, contemporary fiction and thriller/ suspense.  That said, when I grab one, I love them.

The characters here were interesting and well developed.  Even though I had missed two previous books it was easy to pick up.  I like that about these books- you have a better understanding of characters and some back story if you read them in order, but it isn’t necessary in order to get a good picture of the current novel.  The premise was good, and the problems between Gemma and Cameron were believable as was the attraction.

I will admit that I wasn’t thrilled with some of the side characters.  Everard seemed very one dimensional,  nearly cliche.  He was the typical horses ass and had no redeeming qualities.  I would have liked to find something interesting in him.  Paley as well, wasn’t fleshed out as much as I would like.  We spent more time on the girls and their partners, which is understandable because the author had a whole other novel to flesh each one out.

The talk of the collections was interesting, as well as Gemma trying to find her inheritance.  I loved how the women supported one another.  The idea of a house full of scholarly pursuits being given to four ladies of different interests for a year was interesting.  I feel like Lady Celeste’s motives were brought out well.  It was a quick, fun read with some great characters and dialogue.  My issue was that, for me, there was nothing that grabbed me, making this different from the hundreds of other historical romances.  For me, this is a three star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there’s some language and violence, along with several in depth sexual encounters.  Definitely for adults there.  I give it an eight.  Parental_Advisory_label.svg

I was given an eARC of this book from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks!  pro_reader_120

The book comes out 6-26-18.  Is it on your TBR?

Link to book:

Amazon

Happy Reading,

Amber

Call Me American, Abdi Nor Iftin

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Title: Call Me American

Author: Abdi Nor Iftin

Pages: 320

Genre: memoir, autobiography, cultural, history

Is this part of a series? No.

Published: June 19th, 2018

Summary:

This is the story of a boy that grew up in war-torn Somalia and dreamed of the freedom of America.  The land where he could talk like in the movies he watched, listen to music, dance, and dream without fear.  Watching his family starve, his neighbors get killed or beaten, what drove him forward was his love for American culture- something that would often get him in trouble.

When he is one of the lucky winners of a Green card- or rather, the chance to apply, he cannot believe his luck.  With the help of a lot of friends that he met when he did stories and interviews about his life in Somalia he eventually got through all the bribes and red tape to make it to Maine.  Here, he was more free and happy, but quickly noticed differences from his dream.  Those back home believed he was rich now, yet he could not find a job to send back money.  There were cultural differences, and the ongoing issue of being true to himself and his beliefs while adjusting to American culture and keeping both halves of himself whole.   Hard hitting and heartrending, this is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the plight of a modern immigrant.

My thoughts:

I have no words.  I finished this book at about noon and I have been floored.  Told by an expert story teller, the bush of Somalia come alive as his mother’s favorite place and happy life.  Even though it is far different than what he himself wants, he managed to make her story magical and focus on her intelligence and bravery.  The cities, the culture, the clan wars and the civil war are all brought to life within these pages.

It’s hard hitting, making the violence of the war in Somalia far more real than any half page news article can.  I think that’s why I love books like this so much, really.  For me, if I can’t emphasize it becomes harder for me to understand.  I learn more about the world from memoirs, blog posts and even novels than I can from most news sources.  Not to say that I don’t read them, I do, but I never really get a feel for what the people go through.  Here it can’t be ignored.

Abdi, with his love of American culture and loyalty to his family is extremely easy to love and root for.  I loved the stories about his family, how he spoke of them; and I loved the stories of sitting on the dirt floor learning English by watching The Terminator.  His bravery in telling his story, first in Somalia and then once he immigrated, was amazing to me.  While nothing was sugar coated, he still managed to infuse the story with his own optimism and perseverance.   I recommend this book for anyone wanting to know either what a modern immigrant goes through, or why someone would want to immigrate.  It’s also a great showcase of a man wanting to keep his beliefs and culture while still wanting to be part of the American culture as well and how one can have it all.  The American Dream, indeed.  For me, this is a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale there is a lot of violence, and language- it does, after all, take place in a war area.  I would still buy this book for my niece but I consider her an older teen even if she is fifteen.  I would say a parent should read it first to decide, and it would also allow them to have a great discussion afterwards!  Still, let’s give it a six.  Parental Guidance

I was given an eARC of this book to read from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  I am beyond grateful!

The book is out, have you read it?

Link to book:

Amazon

Happy Reading,

Amber