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!

Posted in reviews, Uncategorized

A Review of “The Orphan’s Tale”

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’ve been working on my latest WIP and I’m excited about this new one, too. I’ve sent my first one off to my Beta reader and she gave me some quick feedback. She told me the opening was AWESOME! So, you can guess I’m beyond excited. I’ll keep you posted as she continues reading the rest. 🙂

I’m back today to share with you my thoughts on “The Orphan’s Tale.” The cover and blurb are below:

The Orphan's Tale: A Novel by [Jenoff, Pam]

“Readers who enjoyed Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants will embrace this novel. ” —Library Journal

“Secrets, lies, treachery, and passion…. I read this novel in a headlong rush.” —Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train

A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival 

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night. 

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

As you know, I love reading WWII stories. Especially ones where the main character, usually a Jew, overcomes the adversity of Nazi Germany and that is exactly what this story is about.

I absolutely loved it.

It’s the story of Noa and Astrid. How they meet and their relationship. I loved Noa who is young, strong, and naïve. She’s kicked out of her home when she becomes pregnant by a German soldier. She goes to a home for unwed mothers and because her baby has German blood, he is taken away from her. Mourning her loss, she finds work at the train station and happens upon a car full of babies. I won’t tell you what happens next, but it’s an incredible story.

Then there’s Astrid, a Jew married to a German who’s also a member of the Nazi party. He comes home one day and tells her the marriage is over. The Reich is demanding that all members married to Jews get a divorce. She has to pack up and leave that very day. She travels back to her home town searching for her family, but they’re all gone. She used to be a circus performer so she travels to a competitor’s home inquiring about her family. She learns the awful truth and the owner asks her to join his circus.

The circus is how Noa and Astrid meet and the rest of the story takes off from there. They both have their secrets and the girls band together and protect each other. It’s an amazing story of friendship and survival. If you’re a WWII buff like me, you’ll want to read this story. I can see it becoming a movie very soon.

Like I said, I loved this story and I’m going to be looking for more books from this author. How about you, do you have any books you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

 

 

Posted in reviews

Detroit: An American Autopsy: A Review

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m excited to say that I’ve finished my story, except for the epilogue. I’m excited about this one. I think it’s my best work so far.

I’ve also been reading. Writing and reading seem to go hand in hand, don’t they? I stepped out of my comfort zone and picked a book that was recommended to me.  It’s non-fiction and it’s titled: “Detroit An American Autopsy” written by Charlie LeDuff.

It’s the true story about the rise and fall of one of the largest cities in the United States. It is the story of a corrupt political system and the fleecing of the American people and it’s happening in cities all across the country. This story is what’s wrong with America. The cover and blurb are below:

 

Detroit: An American Autopsy by [LeDuff, Charlie]

An explosive exposé of America’s lost prosperity—from Pulitzer Prize­–winning journalist Charlie LeDuff

 

Back in his broken hometown, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charlie LeDuff searches the ruins of Detroit for clues to his family’s troubled past. Having led us on the way up, Detroit now seems to be leading us on the way down. Once the richest city in America, Detroit is now the nation’s poorest. Once the vanguard of America’s machine age—mass-production, blue-collar jobs, and automobiles—Detroit is now America’s capital for unemployment, illiteracy, dropouts, and foreclosures. With the steel-eyed reportage that has become his trademark, and the righteous indignation only a native son possesses, LeDuff sets out to uncover what destroyed his city. He beats on the doors of union bosses and homeless squatters, powerful businessmen and struggling homeowners and the ordinary people holding the city together by sheer determination. Detroit: An American Autopsy is an unbelievable story of a hard town in a rough time filled with some of the strangest and strongest people our country has to offer.

Charlie LeDuff’s story exposes the greed and corruption behind not only our political system but our judicial system as well. It’s time the American people stepped up to the plate and did something about it because this is happening in cities all across our country. This story is an eye-opening read and I recommend it to anyone who wants to know the truth behind Detroit’s downfall.

Posted in reviews, Slice of LIfe

A Slice of Life Review of: “Wrecked”

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you I’m back today with another Slice of Life Post. Today, I’d like to share with you a book I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. The title is “Wrecked” and the cover and blurb are below.

Wrecked by [Frank, E. R.]

 

A tragic car wreck leads to PTSD and therapeutic salvation in this novel from the author of America, which Kirkus Reviews deemed “a work of sublime humanity.”

Anna is involved in a horrific accident one night that leaves her brother’s beautiful and popular girlfriend dead. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, she begins an unusual method of therapy called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Through her therapy, dreams, memories, and experiences, we begin to see, along with Anna, the full picture of her controlling father, her lost relationship with her brother, and her overwhelming guilt about the wreck.

With a deep understanding of the minds of teenagers, and a deft hand in translating that to the page, E.R. Frank presents a story with real and challenging characters, beautifully told and filled with haunting images.

 

My Thoughts:

This story touches on a tragedy that happens quite often in young people’s lives.  A party that leads to a car accident that not everyone survives. It’s a tough thing to deal with and E.R. Frank tells the story of the survivor’s recovery and how she deals with the accident, the death of her brother’s girlfriend, and the guilt she feels.

Anna is the main character who survives the accident, but she has developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and survivor’s guilt. The story takes you through her therapy sessions and in my opinion, erases some of the stigma surrounding therapy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I liked the characters, and I felt they were well thought out and believable. This is a great story for young people because it shows the cause of PTSD and how Anna deals with it. Most people think of it as something soldiers get from being in active combat, so this story broadens that perspective and shows that any horrible event can cause this disorder.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my review. If you’d like to read other Slice of Life Posts click here.

Do you have any YA books you’d recommend? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!