book review · books · Family · secrets · World War 2

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman {Review}

Blurb:

Two estranged sisters, raised in Brooklyn and each burdened with her own shocking secret, are reunited at the Springfield Armory in the early days of WWII. While one sister lives in relative ease on the bucolic Armory campus as an officer’s wife, the other arrives as a war widow and takes a position in the Armory factories as a “soldier of production.” Resentment festers between the two, and secrets are shattered when a mysterious figure from the past reemerges in their lives.

Review:

The main setting of this story is at the Springfield Armory during WW2. This was a place that I had never heard of before and after reading this story I definitely want to learn more about it. I am thankful that the author chose this for her setting. Definitely something different for a WW2 novel.

Having read and enjoyed Loigman’s debut novel, The Two-Family House, I was very happy to see that she was about to publish her second novel AND it was a historical fiction!

This story mainly follows two sisters, Ruth and Millie. They are complete opposites of each other in all aspects of the word. As they grow up, their relationship becomes almost non existent. After the death of their parents, and Millie’s husband comes up missing, Ruth invites Millie to live with her and her family at the Springfield Armory. From there we are then introduced to Lillian and Arietta who both have experienced life changing events.

The experiences that each of the four women have dealt with bring them together in some form or fashion. But what is a good story without there being some type of secret? Omitting the truth about something is just as detrimental as telling a lie. This is observed in this story.

Loigman uses WW2 as a perfect backdrop for this story. Although these women aren’t fitting battles directly on the line, their every day lives during the war are constant battles. They are fighting their own pasts, secrets, and even some of the very people they love.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook

I am so thankful to St. Martins press for sending me an advanced copy of this book to read and review. I look forward to seeing what else Lynda Cohen Loigman is going to write.

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 · Family

Awaken by Denese Shelton {Review}

Blurb:

Sierra is a successful real estate agent living a comfortable life. But she has a secret so painful that she has erected emotional walls around her heart that block anyone from getting close.

Then the dreams begin. In one, Sierra is running from the sound of dogs barking and men chasing her in the darkness; in another, she’s in a field, lashes coming down on her back; in many, she is a woman of faith named Dorothy, fighting for civil rights. Sierra tries to ignore the dreams and continue with life as usual―but the more she disregards them , the longer and deeper she sleeps, and soon the long nights begin to affect her work and sanity. Finally, she seeks the help she needs.

The more she works to understand the nature of and reason for her dreams, the more freedom Sierra feels in her own life. Doors to relationships with other people open. She meets a client that could be the love of her life. And soon, she has a decision to make: she can be who she has always been, living in fear; or she can be Dorothy, allow the dreams to show her who she really is, reconnect with God, and fill the void in her spirit.

Review:

When I first started this story I did not think that I would like it. It is not a genre that I ever read and the story itself just didn’t interest me or catch my attention. It was when I got to chapter three that my interest was finally piqued and I started to enjoy the story. This chapter begin to show that there was more to Sierra than what I was seeing in the first two chapters and that made me happy.

Sierra is a woman who thinks she has dealt with a terrible past by burying it deep within herself. She is also a woman who is willing to do what it takes to be successful even if it means ignoring your true passion. In my opinion, burying her secret and her desire to paint both contributed to the stress that she was experiencing with her dreams.  She was guarded that she didn’t even want to let her own family know what had happened to her or what was currently going on with her. She would not even allow herself to consider an alternate career choice even if it would be one that would make her happier.

This story shows how strong a lack of faith can affect your life and how keeping secrets can affect your life and your health. Sierra didn’t know how to be happy, she didn’t know what it was like to be carefree.

Steve, along with seeing a therapist allowed Sierra to see that there was more to life than just existing and being successful. She learned that it is okay to be happy, and it is okay to have someone in your life who knows about your past and is willing to grow with you. I was especially proud when Sierra opened up to her family about her secret and their response to it.

Even though this is not a book that I would have gone searching for, I believe that it served its purpose with me. I received this book from BookSparks as part of their Pop Up Blot Tour in exchange for an honest review. I am glad that I decided to finish this story even if it did start off uninteresting to me. I would like to see more work from this author. This novel was a great palette cleanser since I have been reading quite a few thrillers lately. Thank you again to BookSparks for this opportunity.

Rating:

3.5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in ebook and paperback

book review · Family

The Secret Lives of Royals by Shalini Dua{Review}

Goodreads Blurb:

Olivia can’t take it anymore. She’s had enough of the big city and it’s lack of fulfilling her dreams. Then, just when she’s about to give up and move home, out of the blue, she is offered her dream job. Olivia is suspicious but that could just be the New York in her. She decides not to pull at threads. Despite her best efforts to remain blissfully oblivious, the secret to her life upgrade is soon uncovered when she finds herself invited to be part of a secret society.

Olivia learns that there is a thin curtain separating our world from theirs. Just beneath the surface, an entirely different one exists. One that is controlled by those of Royal lineage. The chosen ones, the Royals, hold the fate of the world in their hands. Will Olivia be able to bear the weight of the crown?

Confessions of a Shopaholic meets The Adjustment Bureau, this contemporary fairytale is both relatable and aspirational. Taking a look at the current balance of media and power with a healthy dose of humor, fashion, food and wanderlust.  

My Review:

This book has a very rom-com feel to it. Which was okay for me because I am a sucker for a good romantic comedy. It put me in the mind frame of Princess Diary meets The Devil Wears Prada.

The book started off very enjoyable but then towards the middle it started dragging along and I felt that the ending was rushed.

Olivia is a very cute character with a decent storyline. Classic girl who hasn’t found her place in life and just as she is giving up, her life makes a drastic change. She has finally gotten over a college love and has fallen into the career of her life. While she is taking this new lifestyle in, her world becomes flipped upside down and of course that old love pops back up in the craziest place.  I was hoping that the forward at the beginning of the book would have had more of an influence throughout the story but it didn’t until the end. I admit that it did bring everything together just not in the way I wanted it to be brought together.

I would recommend this book at a good palate cleanser if you need to read something that doesn’t require much thought and you are in between books.

I received this book from Booksparks as part of their Pop-Up Blog tour.

Rating:

2.5 Stars

Availability:

This book is available in ebook and paperback

book review · Family · reading

My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley {ARC Review}

Blurb from book:

David Hedges is having an unusual mid-life crisis. His boyfriend has left him for an older, albeit more successful, man. His job-helping the spoiled children of San Francisco’s elite get into college- is exasperating. As his life reaches new lows, his weight has reached new highs. The only good thing he has is an under-market-value apartment that has a view so stunning he is the envy of all of San Francisco. But when his Realtor and supposed best friend sells it out from under him, David hits rock bottom.

Across the country, Julie Fiske isn’t having much of a better time. The woman her second husband left her for is more likeable than her ex. The bills are piling up- so much so that she has turned her rambling home into an illegal Airbnb. Her sullen teenage daughter, Mandy, adamantly refuses to apply to college. And Julie cant seem to quit smoking weed ( she can stop anytime she chooses. Truly. She can. Right after this one last joint.).  The last thing she expects is for David, her first husband, to come back into her life.

My Review:

I received this book in the mail from Flatiron Books and I would like to provide them with an honest review.

I immediately fell in love with David and Julie’s stories that are taking place apart and fell even more in love with their stories as they came together. David is in San Francisco attempting to live his life even though it is falling apart while at the same time across the country, his ex wife, Julie is doing the same thing. They have both lost their second significant others and are dealing with trying to stay afloat. David seems to use food as his escape seeing as how he has gained weight since his boyfriend has left him. Julie is using weed as her escape.

While Julie is dealing with what is and is not going on in her life, Mandy, is trying to find herself all while being the typical teenager. She has a summer job that she hates and she doesn’t have very many friends and she tries to hide that from her mother. She knows her mom smokes and wishes that she would stop. It is Mandy who brings David back into her mother’s life after coming across some old memorabilia in all of her mother’s junk. She decides to call him after her father has given Julie an ultimatum about the house and Mandy.

When David arrives, helping Julie and Mandy is just what he needs to come out of his funk. It is also what Julie needs to get back on her feet and to literally clear her head. All while they are working on getting the house together so that Julie doesn’t lose it, Mandy is living an undercover life that she thinks no one knows about.

The story follows them on their journey of becoming comfortable in their own skins and finding their identity, once again for the adults, and the initial self discovery of the teen.

I found this story to be quirky and cute, yet thoughtful at the same time. I enjoyed the development of the story and characters, even the annoying neighbor Amira. Stephen McCauley is an excellent storyteller and this is my first novel by him. This has been a great introduction to his style of writing. I highly recommend this book for those vacation reads seeing as summer is upon us. This story may or may not make you go out to buy toss pillows(read the book to see what I am referring too, lol).

Rating: 

4 Stars

Availability:

This book will be available May 8, 2018 from Flatiron Books in hardcover, ebook and audio.

book review · books · Family

Still Me by Jojo Moyes {Review}

Goodreads Blurb:

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She steps into the world of the superrich, working for Leonard Gopnik and his much younger second wife, Agnes. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her new job and New York life.

As she begins to mix in New York high society, Lou meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. Before long, Lou finds herself torn between Fifth Avenue where she works and the treasure-filled vintage clothing store where she actually feels at home. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself: Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

Funny, romantic, and poignant, Still Me follows Lou as she navigates how to stay true to herself, while pushing to live boldly in her brave new world.

My Review:

So we first meet Louisa Clark in Me Before You and see her once again in Me After You. I thought we had seen the last of her and I felt almost indifferent about it because Me Before You was one of those stories that didn’t need a sequel but since one was written, it had to be read and it was a really good sequel. I never thought that it would turn into a trilogy but I am glad that it did. A third book was not needed but I am not disappointed at All. This book was a breath of fresh air after my last couple of reads. You can’t help but fall in love all over again with Louisa Clark as she embarks on her journey to the good ole USA. You visit old friends with Louisa through her memories and experiences and you meet some new ones. Who doesn’t love that good-looking Nathan has made an appearance in this book *insert heart pounding*. In this story Louisa gets to experience life in a different way now that she has moved on from her pain with Will Traynor(not a spoiler, just saying) and she has to learn how to find herself and find out what it is that she wants in life with her career and relationships. She finds herself in some not so great situations(issue with employer and an almost disastrous relationship) but manages to still come out in her cheerful, eccentric manner. She takes each experience and learns from it. She also learns how to stand her ground without having to be a terrible person about it. She begins to live her life and embrace it in the manner that makes her happy without losing herself, even if it does take the advice of a cranky old Mrs. DeWitt whose world revolves around Dean Martin, lol.  Once again we get a little romance, some great laughter and the slight moment of moist eyeball that you have to have when hanging out with Louisa Clark.

Louisa Clark teaches us once again that we should always wear our stripy tights with confidence.

Rating:

3.5 Stars

Availability:

Available in hardcover, ebook and audio