books · Historical fiction · reading

Temptation Rag by Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard {Feature}

    

I want to take a moment and spotlight a book that has come into my possession. I hope that you will take the time to check it out and see what it’s all about. Most of you know by now that I enjoy a good historical fiction. While I read mostly war stories, it is good to come across historical fiction that is not based on a war but another period of history.

Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old May Convery, unhappy with her privileged life in turn-of-the-century New York City, dreams of becoming a poet. When she meets the talented young Mike Bernard, an aspiring concert pianist, she immediately falls in love. But after their secret liaison is discovered, neither is prepared for the far-reaching consequences that will haunt them for decades. As Mike abandons serious music to ruthlessly defend his hard-won title, Ragtime King of the World, May struggles to find her voice as an artist and a woman. It is not until years after their youthful romance, when they cross paths again, that they must finally confront the truth about themselves and each other. But is it too late?

The world of ragtime is the backdrop for a remarkable story about the price of freedom, the longing for immortality, and the human need to find forgiveness. From vaudeville’s greatest stars to the geniuses of early African American musical theater, an unforgettable cast of real-life characters populates this richly-fictionalized historical saga.

Words for thought:

Looking for some historical fiction with a bit of twist? Check out this Ragtime Era story.  This era is as important in history as the world wars and everything else. It’s a breath of fresh air.

Thank you Historical Virtual Book Tours for this opportunity to spotlight this novel!

Availability:

Available now in paperback and ebook

book review · books · Family · memoir · reading

Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs {Review}

Blurb:

Born on a farm and named in a field by her parents–artist Chrisann Brennan and Steve Jobs–Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s childhood unfolded in a rapidly changing Silicon Valley. When she was young, Lisa’s father was a mythical figure who was rarely present in her life. As she grew older, her father took an interest in her, ushering her into a new world of mansions, vacations, and private schools. His attention was thrilling, but he could also be cold, critical and unpredictable. When her relationship with her mother grew strained in high school, Lisa decided to move in with her father, hoping he’d become the parent she’d always wanted him to be.

Small Fry is Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s poignant story of a childhood spent between two imperfect but extraordinary homes. Scrappy, wise, and funny, young Lisa is an unforgettable guide through her parents’ fascinating and disparate worlds. Part portrait of a complex family, part love letter to California in the seventies and eighties, Small Fry is an enthralling book by an insightful new literary voice.

Review:

Let me start by saying that as with most celebrities we have a certain belief of how their life is and should be. We forget that they are just everyday people like us, and they make mistakes, they have no so desirable qualities that money doesn’t make disappear. The work that Steve Jobs put in has definitely made lives easier and more entertaining, but we have to remember that he was just a man who happened to put in work to become successful. He was not perfect no matter how hard we want to believe that he was. He has flaws and he was just a normal man who happened to be extremely successful.

This story is about his oldest daughter Lisa and told thru her eyes and experiences. She shines another light on Steve that I would never have thought about before. She didn’t write this book to put a spotlight on his flaws. She wrote a story to tell what it was like for her to have Steve in her life. The Steve we didn’t see or know about and at times during this story, don’t want to really believe. I am glad that she wrote this story. It goes to show that money doesn’t always make someone better as a person.

Lisa had an interesting childhood to say the least. She did not grow up with a silver spoon in her mouth and had to work to gain even the smallest bit of affection from her father. She had to work, not in the monetary sense but she had to put her emotional development on the line as well as her peace of mind. Even at a young age. Her mother was not perfect either. Lisa grew up in a very interesting and at times, dysfunctional environment.

Her being able to share this story about a man who is so beloved speak volumes for her. She tells the story in a matter of fact way. In no way do you think she is bitter because of how she grew up. You see the love that she has for both parents regardless of what they all had to endure from each other while she was growing up.

I am very glad that I read this memoir before I head into possibly reading a biography about Steve Jobs himself.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

Available now in ebook, hardcover, and audiobook

 

 

books · Bootlegging · reading · reading wheelhouse

Reading Wheelhouse

As a book lover, many of us have heard the term “wheelhouse” a time or two. For me it didn’t really sink in until recently. I have always considered myself a reader of just about everything minus the hardcore romance stuff but I have come to realize what my jam genre really is. Now don’t get me wrong, I love trying new things but I know that if it is not in my wheelhouse, I won’t always get the same enjoyment out of it that others may get if it is in their wheelhouse. I am also a tougher critic on the work  when it comes to reading and reviewing something out of my wheelhouse. I try to keep an open mind but sometimes it is very difficult especially if the novel has gotten rave reviews. I want to be blown away if I am stepping outside my wheelhouse. I believe that is true for other readers as well when they step out of their comfort zone of wheelhouse reading.

My Jam Genre(s)

My jam genre(s) would have to be literary fiction and historical fiction. I find more comfort in books that cause my emotions to run all over the place and I enjoy books that have take place during historical times. I came to this realization a few weeks ago as I was preparing some books to review on the Reading Envy podcast. One of the books I picked  has been a favorite of mine since I was about 12 years old. It is I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Conde. It is not only a historical fiction but it is also a novel that puts me in my feelings each time that I read it. The other two novels I picked were The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle and The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib. Both of these were books that took me on an emotional ride. I don’t think that The Dinner List was supposed to be an emotional read but it took me on a different route than most readers.

Wheelhouse Dilemma

What do you do when you find a book that is in your wheelhouse but it just doesn’t do anything for you? Do you keep reading, hoping that there is something that you just haven’t picked up on or do you scrap it and move on to the next? I will admit there are some books that are considered to be in my wheelhouse but they just didn’t seem to do it for me. On the same note, there have also been some books that aren’t in my wheelhouse that have caught me by surprise with how much I enjoyed them.

 

In Conclusion

What I have learned through all this is that, read what makes you happy and read what you enjoy. Don’t be tied to what you think you have to enjoy just because it falls into your wheelhouse and don’t be afraid to scrap something that falls into your wheelhouse but you just aren’t enjoying it.

 

abuse · book review · Family · reading · secrets

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie {Review}

Blurb:

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They’re completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home—a home that is silent and suffocating.

As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father’s authority. Books cram the shelves, curry and nutmeg permeate the air, and their cousins’ laughter rings throughout the house. When they return home, tensions within the family escalate, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together.

Review:

This is the second novel I have read by Adichie and because I enjoyed Americanah so much, I had very high hopes for this story. I was not disappointed. In fact, I was even more blown away with her beautiful prose and style of writing.

This story is told from the perspective of a fifteen year old girl named Kambili. She is the daughter of a well to do businessman and a religious fanatic. From the outside, the world believes that Kambili, her older brother Jaja, and her mother live the perfect life of happiness. In reality, their home life is everything but that. Kambili’s father has horrifying standards for his family and they often pay in pain when they disappoint him.

Although I did like the story being told by Kambili, there were moments when I wanted to get Jaja’s perspective on what they were going thru especially when they went to visit their aunt, Ifeoma.

Adichie draws you in and forces you to connect to her characters in such a way that you don’t even realize it’s happening. The story flows at a remarkable pace. The dynamic nature between the characters is astounding. I admit when I first started reading this story, I didn’t think I would connect with Kambili and I thought her character wouldn’t develop like it did.

Reading this story and seeing what Kambili and her family went thru, broke my heart in many ways. This story makes you think about how an outside perspective can often cause disillusionment when it comes to someone’s life and what they may be dealing with or going through. You also think about how much you are willing to take or deal with when it comes to your loved ones. How much you are willing to sacrifice. Does being a religious figure or devout believer really separate you from those you believe to beneath you for being non believers when you aren’t living as perfectly as you think?

I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of Adichie. I still can’t believe that this was her debut novel.

This book was the first of my backlist buddy read that I’m hosting on Instagram this year.

Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio.

books · reading

Reading Life

Happy New Year everyone!!!!

I don’t have any reviews just yet but I have been thinking about my reading life. As usual, I begin thinking about what changes I want to make in my reading life as the new year begins. There are so many options and ways to improve your reading life, or just make enough changes to tweak it a bit. I will be discussing some of them in this post.

 

Reading Challenges

At the end of every year you begin to see reading challenges for the new year pop up. You start thinking to yourself, “new year, new me?’ or “let me stick to what I know?’ I thought long and hard about each of the challenges I was seeing that were available to take part in. The Unread Shelf Project, The Read Harder Challenge, The Reading Women Challenge and countless others. There are so many options to either strengthen your reading life or diversify it. Also, there is the good ole Goodreads Challenge to just track how much you have read.

Reading Journals

I started keeping a reading journal a couple of years ago and I am so glad that I did. However, the only problem about keeping a reading journal and having an ever reading life, finding a journal that will accommodate it is very difficult. I read over 60 books last year and the journal I had been using did not have enough spaces for me to write about the books that I read. I begin the search for a reading journal but just couldn’t find what I was looking for to suit my needs and wants. As the year was coming to a close I began to panic because I had not been able to find a journal that I wanted to use for the new year. I ended up making my own and so far I have been very pleased with myself.

Buddy Reads

Buddy Reads was something I was introduced to in the Bookstagram world and the end of 2018.  I don’t know where these have been all my reading life but I love participating in them. They help me read books that have been sitting on my shelves forever as well as get some good conversation in with people who have the same interests that I have. This especially comes in handy since my real life book club just doesn’t seem to have it together and that can be very frustrating at times. Now buddy reads can get overwhelming if you try to take on too many for the month.  I am trying to discipline myself to only participate in one or two per month. I have even decided to host my own Buddy Read on Bookstagram called the Backlist Buddy Read.

Reading Goals

Usually I make my reading goal focused mainly on the number of books I want to read each year. This year I decided to go a different route and not be as focused on the number of books I want to read but on the types of books I want to read. I did still make a numerical goal on Goodreads that I hope to exceed but I will be concentrating more on my other goals this year. I want to read more of the books that I already own, diversify my reading, engage more on my Bookstagram account, improve my reviews and work more on my blog(even though it seems like the old fashioned blogging is slowly going away). With all that being said, my top priority will be remembering that reading is my PASSION first because there were times I became a bit overwhelmed last year and almost lost sight of that.

Happy Reading to you all! Let’s get some reading done and have fun while doing it!

What are your reading goals?

 

 

book review · books · dedication · reading · secrets · World War 2

The Light Over London by Julia Kelly {ARC Review}

Blurb:

This poignant women’s fiction novel tells the present-day story of Cara, an antiques dealer who would rather bury herself in the past than confront the dilemmas of her present. So when she finds an World War II diary from 1941, she delves into the life of Louise Keene- a small town girl on the outskirts of the war, uninterested with the mundanity of her days.  Desperate from a larger life, Louise defied her parents and joined the women’s branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit.  As Cara, journeys through Louise’s life on the page and tries to figure out what happened to her, Cara just might uncover some truths about herself as well.

Review:

Historical fiction is probably one of my favorite types of genre so when I am able to get my hands on an advanced reader’s copy of historical fiction, I jump at the chance. This book is compared The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah(I read and loved) and Lilac Girls (I have not read but plan to do so soon). I did not allow those comparisons to build my expectations because I was afraid of being disappointed and I also wanted this book to make it’s own impression on my reading experience. I am so glad that I went into reading it with that mindset.

This story weaves Cara’s present day story with Louise’s past day story thru a diary that Cara finds while on a job assignment. Cara has gone thru some emotionally trying events in her life events in her life and all she has left on this earth in her loving, but strongly spirited grandmother who has a secret of her own. Cara’s devotion to finding the owner of the diary gives her the strength to ask her grandmother about her military past, but nevertheless, Iris shuts Cara out. Cara doesn’t allow this to deter her away from her mission.

Throughout the story, you see how Cara develops a more independent mindset and you see her confidence build. At the same time, thru diary entries and an alternate point of view, you see Louise’s growth as a woman during a time of war and during a time when women were expected to not have confidence or a mind of their own.

While reading the story, I began making my own assumptions about who the owner of the diary was and how it could possibly relate to whatever secret Iris was hiding from her granddaughter. Needless to say, my assumptions proved to be incorrect and I am okay with that.

Of course, what would this type of story be without a bit of romance? I appreciated how Julia Kelly intertwines the romance of the story into the plot without making it a hardcore historical romance novel. The romance in the story is not your run of the mill everyone lives happily ever after. The romance in both Louise’s and  Cara’s lives are the types that are seen every day and are relatable instead of far fetched.

What made this novel stand out for me is that I learned about a part of World War II that I was not familiar with. Learning about the women in the anti aircraft gun unit made me want to do more research about it.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, but you don’t want to read one that will completely weigh you down emotionally, I highly recommend checking this novel out.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

January 8, 2019 in hardcover, ebook and audio.

I received this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

book review · reading

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib {ARC Review}

Blurb:

The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list.  Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.  Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears-imperfection, failure, loneliness-she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Julia, always hungry. Together they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

Review:

This book was everything I was told it was going to be. I started reading it on Saturday and finished it Sunday. I was so engrossed in the story. The way the story is structured, with vignettes of her life building up to her admittance to the house is just remarkable.  Yara Zgheib tells this story in such a beautiful fashion that connects you with the characters, especially Anna. You get an inside look at someone suffering from a disease but doesn’t fully understand the impact that it is causing on her life. Not only do you see how life can be with someone who has a support system, you also see from some of the other girls how life can be without a support system.  The denial, the pain, the suffering, and the victories(yes, there are some joyous moments). The way this story is written would make you think that it is actually a memoir instead of a fictional story.

If you are looking for a read that is going to pull at every emotion while also making you think, this is the story for you. I am a big fan of realistic fiction. I love reading a story that hits close to home and reality. Mental illness and eating disorders are not subjects that are easily discussed and are often times overlooked.

This is a phenomenal debut novel and I look forward to reading what Yara writes next.

This story does come with trigger warnings so if eating disorders and depression are subjects that you are sensitive about I would strongly suggest taking that into consideration before reading this story.

Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

February 5, 2019

*I received this advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.