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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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in MoscowA Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed “A Gentleman in Moscow”. This story had captivating characters and the writing was superb. The author’s descriptions were so vivid; reading became an experience for my senses. I could almost taste the food as I read. After the Russian revolution, the main character, the Count, is living in the Metropol hotel under house arrest, yet he manages to have such a full life. The Count lives through significant political and cultural changes in his beloved Russia, and yet he is able to remain positive and always a gentleman. This story is lengthy, at 480 pages, but the story never lags. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fiction.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris

The Edge of LostThe Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not sure what I expected when I chose this book, but as a fan of historical fiction it sounded intriguing. With twists and turns along the way, this is a story of Shan, a young boy struggling to get by in Ireland after his parents both die. Shan winds up with his angry uncle, and he uses his talents to earn money in Irish pubs as a gifted singer and entertainer. Shan finds himself alone on a boat to America and an Italian family takes him in. The author weaves a great deal of historical detail into the story, including the life of immigrants, the mobster gangs that controls sections of the city and the less than glamorous life of vaudeville stars. Shan finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, but his strong belief in loyalty prevents him from turning in the real criminals. Shan winds up alone and in prison, but he is able to hold on to his humanity and not only rescue himself, but he helps to reduce a young girl who needs him. For me, the low point of this story is the lack of believability at times, but the characters are interesting, and the settings of speakeasies and Alcatraz island add a novelty that make the story more interesting.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ove is difficult, Ove is frustrating, Ove is cranky and at times downright awful and Ove is the kind of person that will restore your hope in humanity. I absolutely loved this book. Frederick Backman has a gift of making the most cantankerous characters into lovable and memorable ones with just a few incredibly well placed words. I have become a huge fan of this author. This little gem of a book is a perfect escape to a place where rules matter and people like Ove do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. All of the characters in the book are quirky and lovable, but you will have a special place in your heart for Ove. Sometimes I am skeptical if a book has a ton of excellent ratings, I worry that I will be disappointed, but A Man Called Ove lived up to the hype. I highly recommend this book.

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Orphan's Tale: A Novel by Pam Jenoff

The Orphan's Tale: A NovelThe Orphan's Tale: A Novel by Pam Jenoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Orphan's Tale follows two different women, Astrid and Noa, as the ravages of war and the consequences of their decisions finds them both in need of protection in an unlikely place, at a circus. Astrid is a jew hiding from Nazi's and Noa has been thrown out by her family after becoming pregnant from a german soldier. Both women are full of secrets, and unable to hide from their past. To make matters worse, Noa has rescued a jewish baby, who she calls Theo. Astrid begrudgingly agrees to train Noa as an aerialist, and Noa finds a way to move past her fear, sailing through the air on the trapeze. The Orphans Tale is an interesting new look at occupied Europe through the lens of a circus and all who find shelter under the big top. I enjoyed The Orphans Tale, and I would recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fiction.

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

In the Fullness of time: One Woman's Story of Growth and EmpowermentIn the Fullness of time: One Woman's Story of Growth and Empowerment by Katherine P. Stillerman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the Fullness of Time is a rich and well researched story that weaves the struggle for women's suffrage with the personal story of Hattie Barton, a young wife and mother in South Carolina. Hattie feels strongly about suffrage, and finds herself at the crossroads of history. With her extraordinary sister-in-law Alice, Hattie witnesses firsthand the passion and commitment of suffragists and decides to get involved. The story is full of interesting historical details, references to obvious events like the Spanish Flu epidemic and the U.S. entry into World War 1, the book also pulls from more obscure references like the work of renown physician Joseph Lister and the infamous 'redeemers' of the reconstruction era south. The details add a richness to the story, from the purple and gold of the suffragists to the red rose of anti suffragists, the author paints a picture of history that is detailed and interesting. As Hattie struggles with her feelings for her ex-fiance, her husband Charles is forced to deal with his unresolved feeling for his first love, Julia. Although the relationship between Hattie and Charles is central tot he story, the author does seem to rush through their relationship details, and tends to focus more on the fight for suffrage. Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

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