Posted in reviews

What I’ve been Reading

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. It’s Father’s Day weekend and it’s my last week of school. I’m so ready for the summer break. So today I thought I’d share with you a book I finished some time ago. It was very good and I’d recommend it to anyone who feels like escaping into a good story.

 

Before We were Yours

 

Before We Were Yours: A Novel by [Wingate, Lisa]

 

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale comes a “thought-provoking [and] complex tale about two families, two generations apart . . . based on a notorious true-life scandal.”*

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

*Library Journal

Praise for Before We Were Yours

“A [story] of a family lost and found . . . a poignant, engrossing tale about sibling love and the toll of secrets.”People

“Sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year. . . . Wingate is a master-storyteller, and you’ll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the wake of terror and heartache that is Georgia Tann’s legacy.”Parade

“One of the year’s best books . . . It is impossible not to get swept up in this near-perfect novel.”The Huffington Post

“Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power.”—Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of Circling the Sun

My Thoughts:

 

This story was a heartbreaking tale of a family broken apart by a money-hungry, evil woman. Although the characters are fictional, this story is based on actual events. It’s based on the real life scandal of Georgia Tann who kidnapped poor children and sold them to wealthy people. She defended her actions by stating that these children had better lives, but she never addresses the heartache she caused and the destruction she left in her wake when she tore these families apart.

The main character, Rill is a fighter, but she’s left with the guilt of not being able to keep her family together. How horrible to grow up and know you’ve got brothers and sisters, but not know where they are or what happened to them. I didn’t want to put this book down.

This is a must read for everyone. It will make you appreciate your family, especially your siblings.

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Posted in Reading, reviews

What I’ve been Reading

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today as winter storm Xanto rains down on us here in the Midwest. I plan on getting a lot of writing done this weekend as I huddle beneath my blankey and wait out the storm. It’s supposed to be historic, and I’m praying for at least one snow day out of it.

But enough about the weather, I’m back to talk about one of my favorite things in the world. Books. I’ve just finished a couple of great ones, and I thought I’d share them with all of you.

The first one is a new to me author. I haven’t read any of her previous stories, but she has a great reputation so I thought I’d give her latest release a try. It’s a young adult story so if you have any teens looking for something to read, check her out.

The title is “Still Life with Tornado” and the cover and blurb are below.

 

Still Life with Tornado by [King, A.S.]

 

Sixteen-year-old Sarah can’t draw. This is a problem, because as long as she can remember, she has “done the art.” She thinks she’s having an existential crisis. And she might be right; she does keep running into past and future versions of herself as she wanders the urban ruins of Philadelphia. Or maybe she’s finally waking up to the tornado that is her family, the tornado that six years ago sent her once-beloved older brother flying across the country for a reason she can’t quite recall. After decades of staying together “for the kids” and building a family on a foundation of lies and domestic violence, Sarah’s parents have reached the end. Now Sarah must come to grips with years spent sleepwalking in the ruins of their toxic marriage. As Sarah herself often observes, nothing about her pain is remotely original—and yet it still hurts.
 
Insightful, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful, this is a vivid portrait of abuse, survival, resurgence that will linger with readers long after the last page.

 

My thoughts: (spoiler alert)

I didn’t get the title until I’d finished reading the story.  Needless to say, it makes perfect sense. I loved the story. It’s about a family and how domestic violence affects everyone in the family. It’s told from two viewpoints and one of them is Sarah. The only person who hasn’t experienced her father’s fists. In the beginning of the story, she has lost the ability to create art. Her passion. She’s also no longer attending school and that has everyone worried. No one knows why and the story is intricately woven together as the author takes us through Sarah’s journey. We learn about her love for her brother who moved out and the incident that sent her into a spin and brought her world crashing down.

The second viewpoint is Helen, Sarah’s mother. She’s a nurse and she’s the person stitching the family back together when her husband’s rages tear it apart. She doesn’t know what caused Sarah to slump into a depression, but she’s got her own issues to deal with. She’s the one who tries to keep her husband on an even keel and avoid his punches at the same time. She’s walking a tightrope so she isn’t able to give Sarah the attention she needs, but she’s trying.

The one negative I have about this story is that I didn’t feel that the mother’s voice and Sarah’s voice were distinct enough. There were a few chapters where I was half way down the first page before I realized the narrator had switched. This pulled me from the story and created a. bit of confusion. We all know it’s a bad thing to frustrate our reader, but that’s the only negative I have. Otherwise, it’s a great read especially for teens.

 

The other book I read was an adult suspense written by the author of “Luckiest Girl Alive.” This second story did not disappoint Its title is “Into the Water” and the cover and blurb are below.

Into the Water: A Novel by [Hawkins, Paula]

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

GOODREADS CHOICE AWARD WINNER FOR MYSTERY/THRILLER

An addictive new novel of psychological suspense from the author of #1 New York Times bestseller and global phenomenon The Girl on the Train

“Hawkins is at the forefront of a group of female authors—think Gillian Flynn and Megan Abbott—who have reinvigorated the literary suspense novel by tapping a rich vein of psychological menace and social unease… there’s a certain solace to a dark escape, in the promise of submerged truths coming to light.” —Vogue

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

My Thoughts:

This one is written with a non-linear time line so you have to pay attention otherwise it gets confusing. It’s the heartbreaking story about a single mom who’s investigating some strange deaths in her town. She’s a photographer and she has become intrigued by the mysterious deaths surrounding the river winding it’s way through the tiny burg.

Her daughter’s best friend commits suicide and her daughter, Lena, is the only one who knows why. Katie, Lena’s best friend, does this by jumping off the cliff and into the river. Months later it appears as if Lena’s mother, Lorna, has done the same thing.  Lorna’s found dead in the river as well, and so the mystery begins. Did she commit suicide? Was she murdered? The story pulls you in and it goes deeper and deeper into the tragedies of this small town, revealing secrets and uncovering the ugly truth. It’s a great read and Paula Hawkins has just become one of my favorite authors.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my reviews. How about you? Do you have any great books you’d recommend? Leave a comment. I love to hear from you!

Posted in Reading, reviews

What I’ve been Reading

 

Hello everyone I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a productive week. I’ve reached the 30,000 word mark on my latest WIP and I’m excited about it, especially since I started this one over twice. Oy!

I’ve got it back on track and I’m hoping to finish this WIP by the end of the month. I don’t know if I’ll make it or not, but I’m giving it my best shot.

I’ve also been doing a lot of reading because we all know the best writers are also avid readers. I’ve read two books recently that I thought I’d share with you because they were so good in different ways.

The first one is “The Poisonwood Bible.” The cover and blurb are below.

 

The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

 

My Thoughts:

This book was an amazing story. It was so sad. I believe it’s an accurate depiction of what the people in Africa were going through at that time.

I did not like Nathan Price in this story at all. His zealotry put his family in danger, and it’s unfortunate that his wife, Orleanna was so beaten down by his fanaticism that she couldn’t see clearly before tragedy struck. I felt sorry for her and her girls. They were always hungry and dirty.

This was a tragic tale and there were times I had to put it down because I would get upset with Nathan’s zealotry or Orleanna’s passiveness. I’m a strong advocate for children so the parents’ inability to be good parents really hit home for me.

This was a long read as well. It took me a while to get through it, but I feel it’s an excellent depiction of what was going on in Africa at that time. Excellent historical fiction, but some of the characters were hard to take.

 

I also read Nicola Yoon’s, “The Sun is also a Star.” The cover and blurb are below.

 

The Sun Is Also a Star (Yoon, Nicola) by [Yoon, Nicola]

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

 

My Thoughts:

This was an amazing love story. I devoured this book and I’m looking forward to reading her other novel, “Everything, Every thing.” I loved both the main characters in this story. Natasha and Daniel. I loved how they fell in love. I loved how they dealt with their families and I loved how Daniel stood up to his father and followed his dreams. I also loved the ending and that’s all I’m going to say about that. If you’re looking for a great feel good story this one is for you.

 

So there you have it. What I’ve been reading lately. How about you, do you have any good book recommendations? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Reading, reviews, Women, World War II

Winter Garden: A Review

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a short blogcation last week. I’m halfway done with my second WIP of the summer and I’m excited about this one just as much as I was excited about the first one I finished. I’m also back to work. Sob. Summer is over.

I didn’t get all three books done like I planned. Sigh. However, that can be summed up in one word. Kids. 🙂

So to ease myself back into the blogosphere. I thought I’d share my thoughts on one of the books I read over the summer. The title is “Winter Garden” by Kristen Hannah. The cover and blurb are below.

 

Winter Garden by [Hannah, Kristin]

Can a woman ever really know herself if she doesn’t know her mother? 

From the author of the smash-hit bestseller Firefly Lane and True Colors comes a powerful, heartbreaking novel that illuminates the intricate mother-daughter bond and explores the enduring links between the present and the past 

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard; the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. As children, the only connection between them was the Russian fairy tale Anya sometimes told the girls at night. On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise from the women in his life: the fairy tale will be told one last time—and all the way to the end. Thus begins an unexpected journey into the truth of Anya’s life in war-torn Leningrad, more than five decades ago. Alternating between the past and present, Meredith and Nina will finally hear the singular, harrowing story of their mother’s life, and what they learn is a secret so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the very foundation of their family and change who they believe they are.

 

My Thoughts:

 

I loved this story. It was emotional and well written like all of Kristen Hannah’s books are. The first one of her books I read was “The Nightingale” and it was good, too. In “Winter Garden” the main characters are two sisters who are polar opposites. One who takes on all the responsibilities of her family orchard and one who runs away.  She does a great job of showing their two distinct personalities and the conflicts they incur because of them.

This is a tale of a complicated relationship between a mother and her two daughters. The mother is cold and unloving and her daughters resent this, but as the story unfolds, they learn the heartbreaking story of why their mother is so reserved. They come to understand her and understand the love their father had for her.  They also grow to love her.

I don’t want to give too much away so I won’t give away any more details, but I will say there is a surprise twist at the end so have your tissues handy!

If you’re looking to add something to your TBR pile for the long winter months. This would be a great addition. How about you? Have you read any good books this summer that you’d like to share? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Reading, reviews

Book Review: “The Devil’s Dance”

 

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today reveling in the fact that I have the whole summer off. I plan on doing a lot of writing this summer. I’m hoping to get three books finished. I know. Huge goal. Let’s see if I can do it. 🙂 One of them is almost done and I must say this story has evolved so much from the one I originally started with. I’m ecstatic to finish it and start the editing process.

I’m also planning on doing a lot of reading. I just finished an awesome debut novel and I thought I’d share it with you. If you like crime thrillers then you’ll love Kristen Lamb’s novel “The Devil’s Dance.” The cover and blurb are below.

 

The Devil's Dance by [Lamb, Kristen]

 

When Romi Lachlan’s fiancé disappears with half-a-billion dollars stolen from his company, she finds herself broke, blackballed, and the FBI’s prime suspect.

Forced to take refuge with her crazy-as-a-bag-of-cats family at the Cactus Flower trailer park in Bisby, Texas, Romi’s sure her life can’t get any worse until Special Agent Benjamin Sawyer shows up, determined to recover the money and put her away.

It turns out that persuading the hard-nosed G-man she’s innocent is the least of her worries. The body count in Bisby is rising, and Romi must uncover the secret to the town’s newfound prosperity before the secret buries her.

Grab your copy of this intense mystery-thriller today!

Praise for The Devil’s Dance:
“Kristen Lamb is a word demon. Sardonic, humorous and afoul of propriety, her fiction takes no prisoners. This is fun stuff, written by a born novelist with a maverick sensibility.” Joel Eisenberg, Hollywood producer & award-winning novelist

My Thoughts:

This story opens with Romi Lachlan in the unemployment office frustrated because she can’t seem to find a job. She’s an independent woman with a soft heart and I immediately liked her. In the beginning she’s unaware of the person pulling the strings behind the scenes. She believes the reason she can’t find a job is related to the fact her fiancé embezzled millions from his company and ran off with the cash, leaving her and everyone else holding the bag.

She decides to return home to her family and finds things have changed in the small town where she grew up. That’s when FBI agent Ben Sawyer reappears, following her from Dallas. He believes she’s just laying low until things cool down and then she’s going to meet up with her fiancé. They’ll disappear together with all the money and live happily ever after.  This is the furthest thing from the truth as far as Romi’s concerned, but she can’t seem to get that through Ben’s thick skull.

However, his inability to see the truth is the last thing on Romi’s mind when people start dying in Bisby.  Ben and Romi become an unlikely team as the body count starts to rise. There are plot twists that keep you guessing and you won’t want to put this book down. I won’t give any more of the story away, but check it out. It’s the perfect summer read!

How about you? Have you read any good books lately? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you and I’m putting my TBR pile together for this summer so I’m looking to make additions to it!  🙂

 

Posted in raising kids, reviews

My Thoughts on “The Keepers”

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m talking about a difficult subject. I binge-watched the new Netflix series “The Keepers” recently, and it’s the story of a couple of women who’ve been investigating the murder of one of the nuns at the local Catholic school. This happened in Baltimore back in 1969.

 

Why we need more women like Gemma and Abbie from The Keepers

 

The murder occurred forty seven years ago and the case remains unsolved. The series follows the two women and their investigation and what they uncover.

The investigators uncover sexual abuse at the hands of Father Maskell. There is one student who claims Sister Cathy was murdered to prevent her from talking about this abuse. This student confided in Sister Cathy and told her about the abuse, naming the priest.

The real story behind Netflix's new true crime series 'The Keepers'

 

The theory is that the nun was murdered to cover up the horrific acts of Father Maskell. The investigators continued to dig and they found more victims. The first victim is still experiencing repressed memories coming back. There is one person she can’t put a face to and that’s Brother Bob. I think once she remembers who he is, all the puzzle pieces will fall into place.

It’s a heartbreaking story to watch, but you can’t tear yourself away. It reminded me of the movie, “Spotlight,” because the pattern is the same.  In both stories, as soon as complaints of abuse were raised the accused priest was relocated to another parish. However, “The Keepers” is more horrific because you’re seeing the actual victims speak, they’re not actors.

The investigators found other victims who corroborated the story. Father Maskell has since passed away and the case of the murder of Sister Cathy remains unsolved.

The question I have after watching both “The Keepers” and “Spotlight” is why isn’t the church held accountable for the acts of their priests?

 

I feel they should be. They not only covered up the abuse, they didn’t stop it. All they did was move these priests from one parish to the next allowing them access to girls so they could perpetuate the abuse.

I do know some of the victims in the “Spotlight” movie accepted a settlement from the church, but in the case of the victims of Father Maskell the case was thrown out of the system because the statute of limitations for abuse had passed.

This type of abuse is such a violation, not only of the adult-child relationship, but of the priest-student relationship. These priests are supposed to be the moral compass of our society. We’re supposed to be able to trust them. After watching “The Keepers” and listening to the stories from these victims, I realize how manipulative this priest was and it makes me angry. Angry that the church allowed this man and all the other priests who were abusing children to continue practicing. They should’ve been arrested and held accountable.

Photo via Visual Hunt

This was a difficult post to write. I urge you to watch the documentary, it’ll open your eyes to the dark side of organized religion. Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How do you feel about these priests? Do you think the statute of limitations should be lifted if women come forward with repressed memories? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Reading, reviews

Book Review: “The Luckiest Girl Alive”

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. Summer’s coming and I’m looking forward to doing a lot of reading so I’m putting together a Summer Reading List. I’ll post that one at a later date. Today, I’ve got a book review for you. The cover and blurb are below.

 

Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel by [Knoll, Jessica]

**AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER***

Fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train will thrill at “the perfect page-turner to start your summer” (People, Book of the Week): Luckiest Girl Alive—described by Reese Witherspoon as “one of those reads you just can’t put down!”

Loved Gone Girl? We promise [Luckiest Girl Alive is] just as addictive.”
Good Housekeeping

“Jessica Knoll introduces you to your new best frenemy, and you’re going to love it. . . .Destined to become one of the summer’s most gripping reads.”
—Bustle.com

“With the cunning and verve of Gillian Flynn but an intensity all its own, Luckiest Girl Alive is a debut you won’t want to miss.”
—Megan Abbott, author of Dare Me and The Fever

Luckiest Girl Alive is Gone Girl meets Cosmo meets Sex and the City. . . . Knoll hits it out of the park.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

HER PERFECT LIFE IS A PERFECT LIE.

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s

hing else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

My Thoughts:

This is the well-written story of Tifani before she became Ani, a girl who has achieved success and is about to marry the guy of her dreams, but something isn’t quite right, and as we progress through the story, we find out how damaged and broken Tifani is on the inside.

We go back to her high school days and learn about the group she desperately wanted to fit in with, and the boy she had a crush on. The story takes us back to the pivotal point where Tifani breaks. It’s a party and she gets so drunk she passes out. The boys at the party take advantage of the situation and have sex with her without her consent. She doesn’t remember everything that happened and she learns the hard way that belonging to this popular group may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

One boy in the group belongs to a powerful family in the city. His name is Dean Barton, and he has always gotten away with things because of his family money because of this he has entitlement issues and there’s a history of his abusive behavior. There’s another character, Ben, who Dean victimized so badly he ended up in a mental hospital and has never returned to the school. He seems like a minor character, but he becomes a major one as one of the instigators of the tragic event that blows the cover off the abuse in this school.

I won’t tell you anymore of the story, but it’s a sad tale that’s beautifully weaved together so all the threads and pieces fit. You don’t realize the important elements until the end, and that’s how a master story-teller works.

I loved how the story fit together and how I didn’t see the tragic event coming toward the end. The story shows the transformation of Tifani from an insecure girl who has everything to the strong survivor who pushes away things that aren’t good for her.

If you liked “Gone Girl,” you’ll like this story. It’s a great summer read.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and reading my post. Do you have any books you’d like to recommend? I’m planning on doing a ton of reading this summer so I’m looking for some good recommendations! Leave a comment, I love hearing from you!