Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Sandy's Seashell Shop Christmas by Lisa Wingate

A Sandy's Seashell Shop ChristmasA Sandy's Seashell Shop Christmas by Lisa Wingate
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A poignant and thoughtful look at the struggles of grief, especially during the holidays, and the courage it takes to open up and try something new. A young military widow escapes with her young son to Hatteras Island for the holidays, but her grief follows her to the deserted beaches. A random flier inspires her to take her son to a local Christmas Eve party to see Santa at the charming seashell shop. The party turns out to be just what Tiff and her son needed. This sweet little short story will warm your heart.

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Coming Home for Christmas

Coming Home for ChristmasComing Home for Christmas by Jenny Hale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you are in the mood for a fun little holiday romance, this is the book for you. The main character Allie finds herself out of work and back at home with her mother just a few weeks before Christmas. Allie's sister Megan find Allie a temporary job working for a wealthy family as the house manager. The story is sweet, yet very predictable. The descriptions of Ashford Manor are stereotypical and unrealistic, but the author manages to weave the characters into a loving yet dysfunctional family unit. I did enjoy this story as a perfect prelude to the holiday season.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

When I'm Gone by Emily Bleeker

When I'm GoneWhen I'm Gone by Emily Bleeker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the funeral for his wife, widower Luke Richardson begins to get letters that she wrote him in the year before her death. At first the letters feel like a comfort, but then they begin to bring up questions about his deceased wife and secrets that she kept from him. Luke struggles with the challenges of being a single father, dealing with the grief and all the feelings that entails, and then he has to deal with the mystery that his wife left behind. The story was well written, but I was frustrated by the ending. The end of the story felt both rushed and unfinished.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Turtles All the Way DownTurtles All the Way Down by John Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had been looking forward to John Green's new book and was excited when a friend loaned me a copy.  It was a quick read. The story is engaging and moves along at a good pace. The central character of the story is Aza, a young woman who struggles with obsessive thoughts and bizarre compulsive behaviors. Aza struggles to function in the world despite these obsessive 'thought spirals' as she describes them. Aza has a caring mother and a wildly improbable best friend named Daisy. Aza and Daisy decide to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a local millionaire, who just happens to be the father of a boy Aza met at a children's grief camp. With Daisy's encouragement, Aza rekindles a friendship with Davis and finds herself having strong feelings for him, but her strange thoughts and behaviors keep getting in the way. Davis and his brother are struggling to deal with their father's disappearance, and despite her own issues, Aza feels compelled to help them. The author does a great job of exploring the chaotic world of mental illness by giving it a real face and a name, and he shows how devastating mental illness can be to live with. Once again John Green delivers a story of teen angst that feels much deeper and richer than the average young adult novel, and he leaves the reader with difficult questions to sort out on their own. I found the ending to be somewhat jarring and unfinished, but overall I enjoyed this book.

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Great AloneThe Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was lucky enough to win an advanced copy of Kristin Hannah’s new novel, The Great Alone. This novel is a lengthy read at 438 pages, but this story holds the readers attention from page one through the end.

The Great Alone is the story of Leni, a young woman who moves up to the wilds of Alaska with her mother and father in search of a new life. Leni faces not only the dangers of life in the Alaskan wilderness, but also the dangers within her own family dealing with her father’s unpredictable angry outbursts. Leni’s father was a P.O.W in the Vietnam war and he faces inner demons that often erupt into violence. Leni’s mother is unable to protect herself or Leni from his anger.

Leni begins to find herself as she learns to deal with the harsh Alaska climate. One of the bright spots of the story are the odd characters that live alongside Leni and her family in her small Alaskan town. Together with her Alaskan neighbors, Leni begins to thrive and find her place, until tragedy pulls her family apart and changes everything.

I really enjoyed The Great Alone. It was a challenging read at times, causing feelings of anger and frustration at the struggles that Leni is forced to deal with, but this captivating story will stay with you long after you finish reading it.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

The Life She Was GivenThe Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Life She Was Given is a frustrating and sad story about a young girl who is forced to stay in her parent's attack and then she is sold off to the circus. The author's descriptions of the 'Freak Show' characters and their lifestyle is vivid and shocking. The young girl, Lilly faces unimaginable abuse, yet she still manages to have a deep compassion, especially for animals. The author alternates between the story of Lilly and the story of Julia, another young girl who faced the cruelty of her parents. After the death of her parents, Julia begins to unravel a mystery about a sister who died, but she struggles to make sense of the clues she discovers.

I really enjoyed this book, and the only reason I am giving it 4 stars is because the ending felt awkward, the resolution dragged on and left the reader with so many unanswered questions.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fiction.

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before We Were YoursBefore We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This haunting tale will stay with you long after you finish reading, especially when you realize the story is based on real events that actually occurred. The book is split into a modern day story and a story set in 1930's Memphis Tennessee. Twelve year old Rill and her little siblings were happily raised on the Mississippi River by two loving parents, but when something goes wrong with her mother's pregnancy Rill is left to fend for her siblings as her parents rush off to the hospital. Rill and the children are taken by the police and brought to the Tennessee Children's Home Society, an orphanage run by a despicable person named Miss Tann. The children there are mistreated and sold into illegal private adoptions. Rill is powerless as she watches her siblings being taken from her. Avery Stafford was born into wealth and privilege, her father the esteemed Senator is grooming Avery for her eventual turn to run for office. Avery faces pressure from her family to carry on the Stafford name, and she struggles to meet everyone's expectations until she has an encounter with a very strange woman in a nursing home named May Weathers. Avery begins to uncover a connection between May Weathers and her grandmother, and she knows she has to uncover the truth. This story is captivating. At times I felt like reaching through the pages to comfort these poor children and to fight the injustice they faced. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

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