I truly enjoyed this book. The author created this amazing character with a in-depth and detailed back story and she is only briefly mentFrom my blog.
I truly enjoyed this book. The author created this amazing character with a in-depth and detailed back story and she is only briefly mentioned in the Bible! I have a few little quibbles about some things, which I’ll talk about in a minute, but overall this is a richly drawn story and one I would definitely recommended to anyone who enjoys historical/biblical fiction.
In the beginning we meet Kiya, a young girl whose village is overrun by rebels and her parents are killed. When she and her fellow villagers are later freed by Egyptian soldiers and taken to the city of Heliopolis to live, Kiya cannot believe her luck. She continues to miss her village, but over time she comes to accept where she is and actually likes it.
Soon, Kiya is adopted as a priestess-in-training and given the name Lady Asenath. She has many encounters with Joseph throughout her young life and is immediately drawn to his strength and to his God. I found these parts of the novel very sweet. To think that they were smitten with each other years before they actually got married and were star-crossed lovers, so to speak, was an interesting way to approach the character of Asenath.
I think the author took a bit of liberty with the story of Joseph and Potiphar. The Bible tells us that Potiphar “burned with anger” (Genesis 39:19, NIV) after hearing about Joseph supposedly taking advantage of his wife (even though she advanced on him and he ran from her), so he threw him in prison. In the fictional account of Asenath, Potiphar has a soft heart for Joseph and does what he can to help Asenath see Joseph in prison and to help Joseph however he can. I do not see his fondness for Joseph backed up by scripture, so I had a hard time believing it. Now, I do understand that this is fiction, but I think the main themes of the Bible should remain intact. If Potiphar “burned with anger”, I cannot see him softening toward Joseph and helping him while he was in prison. On the other hand, since we know literally nothing about Asenath, I had no problem with the back story that the author created. The Joseph/Potiphar relationship was my only quibble with the book.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It is easy to read and I found myself anxious to get back into the story each night. It is a rather quick read, too, at less than 200 pages. I would definitely recommend it....more
I love novels centered around World War II and although this is a contemporary work of fiction, it is based on two grandfathers recallingFrom my blog.
I love novels centered around World War II and although this is a contemporary work of fiction, it is based on two grandfathers recalling their stories from the front lines of the war against Hitler’s regime and the ultimate liberation of the Jewish people from one of the many concentration camps, specifically Mauthausen in Austria. In their 80′s, Grandpa Jack and his best friend and WWII buddy, Gran Paul, are fantastic characters, brimming with life. You can feel their emotional turmoil as they recount their numerous stories as the foursome make their way across Europe, from Paris to Belgium, through Germany into Austria. The angst lying under the surface as they watch their friends dying; their joy and horror at opening the gate to the Mauthausen concentration camp rings very true to life and I was very caught up in their tales. The side stories with Jack as he comes to terms with some of the things he had to do during battle were heartbreaking and I felt truly sorry for the young man that he was, having to experience what he did.
Although I loved the historical aspects of this novel, the rest of it fell flat for me. I did not care for the main character, Ava. She was not a likable character at all. I kept wanting to like her, but she kept doing silly and stupid things that made me dislike her even more. Eventually I just got tired of her. I never connected with her as a character or really knew what she was about. All she seemed to care about was her job and getting the next camera shot. It was agonizingly frustrating considering how much I enjoyed the other parts of this book. Her relationship with her grandfather, Grandpa Jack, seemed strained at best and I never really felt a connection between them, which is unfortunate.
Dennis and Ava’s relationship is pretty awkward. It isn’t until 230+ pages in that we learn the whole story of their past and why things are so weird between them. They are on a roller coaster of emotions with each other and it is frustrating trying to figure out what the issues are between them when neither of them will talk about anything!
Finally, considering this book is Christian Fiction and published by Guideposts, I was a little surprised that there wasn’t some conclusion to Ava’s spiritual development at the end of the novel. Prayer and God were touched on throughout the book (but not overly so), but I was expecting some kind of wrap-up to the journey I went though for 300 pages, or at least some type of “it’s in the works” statement. But, it seemed to solely focus on the relationship between her and Dennis and making sure all of those loose ends were tied up. It left me wanting more.
Overall, an okay read, especially for those who love the historical aspects of World War II. There’s a fantastic author’s note at the end regarding her interviews of veterans and some of her research....more
“Whatever has happened in your life up until now, whatever you have believed in, hoped for, or dreamed of, is in the past. A new meaningful life awaits you. You have the opportunity to clearly see it. I have written this book as if the two of us are about to walk through a gate into a deeper experience of life’s meaning. All you have to do is open the gate.” – pgs. 15-16
In her book Where Am I Going? Moving From Religious Tourist to Spiritual Explorer, Michelle Cromer provides a roadmap of her own individual spiritual journey and what she has learned while passing through seven distinct stages of inner transformation:
The Wake-Up Call Denial and Fear The Search for Deeper Spiritual Meaning The Dark Night of the Soul Spiritual Surrender The Clarity Moment Where Am I Going?
Although Cromer admits in the book that she was raised a Christian and there are moments throughout the book where this comes out, this book does not strongly follow any one religious faction. There is mention of God many times; but there is also reference to the “Higher Power” as well. Cromer’s book isn’t about what you call this supreme being; rather it focuses on an individual’s journey to understanding their own spirituality and how one can find this sense in oneself. Personally, there are some things in this book that sounded a bit New Age-y to me (mysticism for one) and some things that seemed a bit contradictory, but there were a lot more things that made a lot of sense (prayer, meditation) and made me stop to ponder my own spiritual transformation.
There was one thing that the author revealed at the end of the book that perplexed me and is probably due to our differing theology. I am a Christian. I believe that there is one path to God and that is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Based on what the author wrote through the course of her book, I was led to believe that the author is also a Christian (pg. 130, specifically — “I am a woman, I am a mother, and I am a Christian.”).
Yet, at the very end of the book, she writes: ”I understand now that there are many paths to God and enlightenment.” (pg. 156, emphasis mine). Perhaps on her spiritual quest, she came to a new understanding of her Christianity. If that’s the case, I would have liked to have seen that development through through the book. Instead, I am left wondering.
For those who do not identify with any known religion, this is a fantastic book to help you get started with your spiritual journey (or at least getting you started thinking about it!). For many people, just thinking about it raises the stress level. But, Cromer has written a book that will appeal to everyone. For those who shy away from texts that are specific to one denomination or another, this one is universal. It is not specific to Christians or Buddhists or Hindus or anyone else (although all are mentioned in some fashion or another). It can be of help to those who do identify with a “religion” and those who don’t. For me, I would have liked something geared more toward the Christian perspective, but I still got some great things from this book. There is a lot here that will make you stop and think. It is definitely a book that can and should be read more than once.
Check out some of my favorite quotes from the book below.
Quotes from the Book:
“I will never forget waking up in Kathmandu and not having any idea who I was. None. Zero. Zip. I don’t mean like Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity or one of those soap opera stars who gets bumped on the head and can’t figure out who she is. No, I’m talking about something far worse; waking up to the horrible reality that I had no idea who I was or what my life meant. I was stuck in the middle of a meaningless existence. And I wanted out.” – pgs. 8-9
“… Shouldn’t life be about more than just working, trying to make money, buying stuff, and traveling? What if there’s more to life than what we experience with our five senses?” – pg. 9
“…because once you begin to ask deep questions of yourself, you activate and open a dormant part of your brain, and like Pandora’s box, it is a part that may never be closed again.” – pgs. 14-15
“I discovered I was entering a period in my life that I call the Age of Meaning…it is the time in your life when you finally “wake up” and ask questions that propel you to discover who you were born to be, leading you to an understanding of your life’s deeper purpose.” – pg. 15
“You don’t have to be a person of a particular faith to know that there is more going on in the world than just the activities we can experience with the five senses.” – pgs. 25-26
“If we could order up a life like we do food in a diner, I am sure most of us would request, ‘One good life, please, and hold the pain.’” – pg. 41
“Trusting your feelings is the first step to processing them. Your feelings are trying to communicate with you, trying to tell you something. Accept them, own them, and try not to judge them. Feelings may simply be our soul’s way of getting our attention.” –pg. 48
“When I pray, I don’t ask of plead for things, I surrender the need to control the outcome of events.” – pg. 51
“Praying gives me a chance to talk to God, and meditating gives God the chance to talk to me.” – pg. 51
“We search everywhere except for the one place we need to go, deeper into ourselves. Perhaps because deep down we are afraid of who we really are.” – pg. 55
“I think most people try to worship a God that they can define so that God then behaves in a way they can expect, but God is a complete mystery.” – pg. 147
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”...more
First, a little background. I have to admit - when I first saw the title of this book, I didn't have much of a desire to read it. And tFrom my blog.
First, a little background. I have to admit - when I first saw the title of this book, I didn't have much of a desire to read it. And that was before I even read the synopsis! Have you ever done that? Have you made a snap judgment about a book just based on the title alone? Trust me, I will never make that mistake again!
After reading Meg's review (from Write Meg), I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I had to read this book. Meg is one of my favorite book bloggers and her glowing review of this book sealed the deal. I got over my dislike of the title when I saw that the book was on a TLC Book Tour. I jumped at the chance to review it.
This book is a hidden gem. It is one of those rare finds in the publishing world that just makes you stop in your tracks and think, "Yes! This is why I love to read." Krissy is honest and forthright, giving all of herself in pursuit of Mr. Right, but never quite figuring out what she's supposed to be doing. So, she makes a life altering decision to move to Italy to rediscover herself and to learn more about her beloved grandfather and where he grew up.
When her grandpa comes to the end of his life and Krissy returns to her hometown to care for her grandma Gloria, life takes an unexpected turn. It is her grandmother who helps Krissy through the rough-and-tumble world of love and dating. It is grandma who offers advice with anecdotes from her own 60-year marriage to help Krissy in her quest to figure out what love really is. This book is full of little nuggets of wisdom that will make you stop, mid-sentence - and just ponder your own life. Here are a few:
Forgiveness is peace, when it comes. (Grandma Gloria to Krissy, pg. 171)
Maybe the secret to fulfillment is to stop wondering what we're lacking; to stop seeking love and instead to start accepting ourselves and loving the people we encounter. (p. 186)
I thought I had to be good at everything in order for somebody to love me. I've been trying so hard to get where I'm going before I'll let anybody in, but when my grandpa first noticed my grandma, she was walking down the street. She wasn't doing anything superlatively sexy or admirable; she wasn't in a huddle at a party responding cleverly to questions about living abroad; she wasn't wearing the dress that her designer friend in New York made that's been hanging in her closet for four years waiting for the right opportunity to be worn. She was going to meet her mom after work. . . she was just being. Grandma has taught me that a man doesn't love a woman because she strives; he loves her simply because she exists. (p. 235)
There is one main love interest through the course of the novel, Dr. Christopher. There are many ups and downs as Krissy and Chris try to figure each other out. It was hard to know where the relationship would end up (and where I wanted it to end up, to be honest!). I will admit that I had moments of screaming at the book ("Krissy, just tell him how you feel already!"; "Chris, just DO something!"). They are two strong characters and neither one of them wanted to put themselves out there to be hurt. I can understand that. The whole back-and-forth between them was agonizing at times, though.
However, these quibbles are minor. This novel is exquisite. It contains so much beauty and wisdom. It should definitely go on your must-read list. I can't wait to pass it along to my mom and grandma and others in my family. I highly recommend this memoir.
Lauren Mahdian and her brother, Alex have grown up haunted by the murder of their mother. Their father was convicted of the crime and has spent over 2Lauren Mahdian and her brother, Alex have grown up haunted by the murder of their mother. Their father was convicted of the crime and has spent over 20 years in prison. Lauren is convinced of his guilt; Alex of his innocence. Lauren allows this truth to run her life, most significantly her relationship with her long-time boyfriend, Gerry. She's refused his numerous marriage proposals, seeing first-hand what "love" can do. When Alex surprises Lauren with the news that he is headed to Baghdad, Iraq with Doctors Without Borders, Lauren is crushed. Alex is her only family and her center. He tries to convince her of their father's innocence before he departs, but she wants none of it. She prefers to numb her pain with alcohol and Tylenol PM.
When Lauren receives devastating news, she subsequently uncovers some files regarding her mother's death. Ready to learn and truth once and for all, she embarks on a journey to uncover her family secrets, whatever they may be.
This is a multiple viewpoint novel. It is divided into separate "books" with Lauren, Sylvia, and Mae narrating. Who are Sylvia and Mae, you ask? They mysteriously appear in book two. I wasn't quite sure what was going on when Sylvia's narration started. Her story seemed entirely separate and disconnected from Lauren's. I was intrigued by her story, though, and I couldn't wait to see how it connected to Lauren's (because obviously it did in some way!). Sylvia tells us that she is pregnant and is secretly leaving her abusive boyfriend. She is heading to New York City in hopes of staying with an old friend, Victoria or Victoria's mother, Mae. Through flashbacks we glimpse the friendship between Sylvia and Victoria and how it has shaped the women they are in the present.
Ward has written a page-turner that will keep you glued to the text wondering what will happen next; how these two seemingly separate stories are connected. This is a mysterious story with lots of twists and turns and raw characters who leap off the page.
My only negative thought about this book is that I would have loved a bit more closure at the end of the novel. I kind of felt like Sylvia was left hanging and I wanted more of her story. I did think the last lines of the novel were beautiful and brought a tear to my eye.
Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood friends at a time when the racial classes were not friendly – Mississippi in the 1970s. BeingFrom my blog:
Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood friends at a time when the racial classes were not friendly – Mississippi in the 1970s. Being children, it didn’t matter much to them. They just wanted to play together. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all go back to that time of innocence, before the world and other people told us what we should think?
But, I digress…
Larry Ott doesn’t quite fit in. He loves to read. His father barely tolerates him. When his father pulls over one cold morning on the way to school and picks up a young black boy and his mama walking alongside the road, Larry is perplexed. Why would his daddy do that? With that, Larry and Silas (the young black boy) begin a tentative friendship that is constantly put to the test.
When Larry goes out on his first date with the beautiful Cindy Walker, and she ends up missing, all suspicion falls on Larry. With no evidence, he is never convicted of a crime, but he becomes the town outcast, and grows into an adult who lives out on a farm, the target of teenage pranksters. With all eyes cast upon Larry, his friendship with Silas is severed, and the boys go their separate ways.
As adults, Larry and Silas are back living in the same town in Mississippi. Larry is still a social outcast, working in his daddy’s automotive shop, but rarely getting a customer. Silas is the town constable (police officer) with some demons of his own. When Tina Rutherford, a beautiful young woman from a well-to-do family, goes missing, Larry once again becomes the prime suspect. Will they be able to find the evidence to get him this time? Or is he really innocent? As Larry and Silas reconnect to tell their stories, the reader gets flashbacks of their childhood friendship and the case surrounding Cindy Walker. Will the truth come out?
Unfortunately, for me, this book was the victim of too much hype. I was expecting a phenomenal, amazing, cannot-put-this-book-down-until-I-finish-it type of experience based on the reviews I was reading. It just did not live up to it. It was an okay book. Will I remember it 3 or 4 books from now? Probably not. The relationship between Larry and Silas is intriguing and fascinating, but it lacked something – some emotional depth. I never felt like I connected with either of the characters and I never felt as if they connected with each other. The story is good and I found the mystery to be interesting, if not a bit predictable. But other than that, it just didn’t do much for me. Overall, it’s a good read, but not a knock-your-socks-off type of experience, at least for me.
"As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I’m still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me. . ." Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love—all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story. Welcome to Christine's life.
And so begins Before I Go To Sleep, the debut novel of the oh-so-talented S.J. Watson. Our protagonist is Christine Lucas, a 47 year old woman who suffered a terrible accident twenty years ago that caused an anomaly with her memory - every morning she wakes up not knowing who she is. Some days she wakes thinking she is a little girl; other days she believes she is back in college, before her accident. She never remembers that the man laying beside her in bed is her husband, Ben. Each morning he must remind her who she is, where she is, how old she is, and what happened to her. Post-it notes and pictures cover her bathroom mirror as a reminder of her life.
As the novel opens, Christine receives a phone call from someone named Dr. Nash who tells her that they have been secretly meeting him for quite some time in order to try and regain her memory. She agrees to meet with him. During the course of their meeting, Dr. Nash returns a journal to her, explaining that she has been recording her daily activities and that she may be able to find some of the answers she is looking for in the pages of her writings.
Intrigued, Christine rushes home and begins reading. This is what comprises most of the story - Christine reading back through her life over the past weeks. Some haunting and startling realizations begin to make their way to the surface. Christine is being lied to. Someone she trusts is not telling her the full story. But how will she ever find out the answers when each day begins like the previous one never happened? And who can she trust?
This book is riveting and taut with such undercurrents of psychological tension that you will not be able to put it down until all of the answers are revealed in the shocking conclusion. I absolutely loved this book and it is my favorite of 2011 so far. In the words of Tess Gerritsen, this is “Quite simply the best debut novel I have ever read.” Truly. I couldn't say it any better. Just read the book and see for yourself.
Sarah Addison Allen is a magical writer. She has a way of creating an engaging, mystical story that sucks you in from the first page. The Peach KeeperSarah Addison Allen is a magical writer. She has a way of creating an engaging, mystical story that sucks you in from the first page. The Peach Keeper is a delightful novel that follows in the lines of her previous works, Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, and The Girl Who Chased the Moon. Willa Jackson and Paxton Osgood are former classmates thrown together amidst a scandal. Paxton is renovating the Blue Ridge Madam, a historic building built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather. During the process a body is uncovered, igniting a mystery involving both Willa and Paxton’s families.
The novel takes place in the present day with reflections from Paxton’s grandmother, Agatha, to 1936. Through these flashbacks, the reader learns the history of both Willa and Paxton’s families and the relationship between their grandmothers. Concurrently, as the mystery is unfolding, the women are also struggling with budding romances of their own, which I found very sweet although a bit frustrating at times. Paxton’s “relationship” with Sebastian was a bit odd, in my opinion. I did not quite understand the dynamic between the two of them; the build-up; and then the final outcome. It was all just a tad strange for me.
Overall, this is a lovely story, with everything that a reader looks for in a great book – mystery, friendship, family, budding romance, with a dash of whimsy and mysticism. Ms. Allen has a way of creating a world that you know in your head is not believable, but in your heart it makes you wonder…...more
This book provides a clear road-map for every woman who is trying to do it all - and feeling like she can't; feeling like she is a failure for not beiThis book provides a clear road-map for every woman who is trying to do it all - and feeling like she can't; feeling like she is a failure for not being able to do everything and please everyone. That's what we want to do as women, isn't it? We want to be all and do all. But, what happens when we fail? We beat ourselves up and think we aren't good enough.
So, what exactly is a Life Ready Woman? She is a woman who knows who she is in God's eyes and follows His calling for her life. She doesn't try to do impress anyone other than her Creator. Whether He has called her to be a world traveler, a jet-setting corporate executive, a stay-at-home mom, or a single, unmarried woman, a Life Ready Woman embraces her calling and lives life to its full, because she knows who she is called to be.
But the bigger question is, in my mind, how do we know who God has called us to be? Isn't this one of life's greatest questions? In the first half of the book, the authors explore three types of callings, that they declare are the biblical road map to being a Life Ready Woman: 1. Core Callings - Our callings as humans designed in God's image 2. Feminine Callings - Our callings as women 3. Personal Callings - Our callings as individuals
I found these sections to be a very worthwhile read. They really made me think about my life and design as a human being first (Core Calling), then as a woman (Feminine Calling), and finally as a unique individual (Personal Calling). Have you ever thought about why you are in the body you are in? God made you female for a reason! There are some really enlightening and thought-provoking topics in this section centered around the three callings. I am looking forward to going back and re-reading these sections and soaking them in.
In the second half of the book, I was actually tempted to skip through parts of it, because I didn't feel like it pertained to me. I'm glad I didn't because I would have missed out on some very valuable information. The authors explore how we are to get the best out of each season of our life (i.e. single, single but engaged, newly married, married with preschoolers, married with grade-schoolers, married empty-nester, late-in-life widow, glorified saint) and the steps we should take during each season in order to live out our biblical road map.
This book is definitely worth the time spent reading it. There is a lot of information to digest and I think I need to go back and re-read it again to get a more full understanding of all the material presented by the authors. There is one tiny thing that annoyed me in this book, though. Since there are two authors and the book is written in the first person, I found the narrative presentation to be very clumsy. When Shaunti would be writing, her section would start something like: "When I (Shaunti) ..." or "I (Shaunti)..." When Robert would be writing a specific part, the section would start in a similar fashion: "I (Robert)..." or "This happened when I (Robert)..." It got incredibly annoying to read a book in this fashion. I think it could have been presented in a different way, such as in the third person.
In any case, I would recommend this book to any woman who is trying to do-it-all and feeling like she is barely keeping her head above water. This book will definitely put your life back into perspective and make you remember that you are God's child and He has plans for your life that are greater than any plans you could ever dream of!
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book to review for the Litfuse Publicity Group Blog Tour. This did not influence my opinion of the book.
Susanna Daniel deftly weaves together the portrait of a marriage, amidst the backdrop of the coming-of-age of Miami throughout the 60′s,From my Blog:
Susanna Daniel deftly weaves together the portrait of a marriage, amidst the backdrop of the coming-of-age of Miami throughout the 60′s, 70′s, 80′s, and 90′s. The author explores the highs and lows of a long-term relationship and how a couple (Frances and Dennis) can beat the odds despite many forces that try to separate them. The reader is taken on a journey from the beginning of the relationship to the end, chronicling the major life events in between (the initial meeting, the first kiss, the marriage, the baby, the empty nest, the son-in-law, etc.).
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting with this novel. At times I felt that it meandered a bit and was waiting for something to happen. Other times, I couldn’t stop reading, waiting to see what was around the next corner. I guess that is what real-life marriage is really like. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows and butterflies. It’s not all excitement and happiness and fearlessness. Marriage is hard work. The author lovingly captures the emotions of the characters and easily brings the reader into their lives, making us seem like a fly on the wall of a real marriage.
On the outskirts of the marriage is the coming-of-age of Miami, which I found fascinating. Topics such as the slow increase of drugs, murder, and Cuban immigrants are intricately weaved into conversations in the novel, which adds depth and character to the book. Miami is almost a character unto itself.
And then there is Stiltsville. Dennis’s father built a stilt house in the 1940′s, one of a handful of houses still remaining at the start of this novel (1969) after storms blow through each year. The house is an oasis for Frances and Dennis and is actually the place where they initially meet. It becomes the backdrop of their marriage; a place of refuge and relaxation; a place of hope and renewing. I could just picture them laying on the porches, dragging out mattresses to sleep under the stars each night. It sounds like paradise. It reminds me of my time spent on the Outer Banks each year and how I long for it when I’m away.
This is a beautifully written novel exploring a true-to-life marriage and the troubles it can face throughout all of life’s important struggles. I would definitely recommend it.
Love on Assignment tells us the early 1900s love story between Charlotte Hale, a woman with a dream of becoming a journalist in a man's world, and DanLove on Assignment tells us the early 1900s love story between Charlotte Hale, a woman with a dream of becoming a journalist in a man's world, and Daniel Wilmont, a Bible professor and religious columnist for the Newport Gazette. Daniel's social reform columns have invoked fury among industrialists.
Charlotte is employed by the Rhode Island Reporter (the direct competitor to the Newport Gazette) as a secretary with dreams of becoming a reporter. When her boss comes to her with a choice assignment - to investigate Professor Wilmont - Charlotte feels that this is her big break. With mounting bills to pay due to her being the prime caretaker of her aging aunt and wheelchair-bound sister, she agrees to the clandestine mission, although niggling doubts creep into the edges of her mind. She goes undercover as the governess for Daniel's two children, Tim and Ruthie.
Daniel is immediately taken by his new governess. With his own secrets, years in the past, but not forgotten, Daniel is finally trying to put the past behind him and move forward with his life.
Charlotte secretly investigates Daniel and uncovers some information about him that makes her rethink everything. In the process she comes to understand the role that God plays in her life.
As these two unlikely characters forge a fragile relationship, built on lies, what will happen when everything comes crashing down around them?
This is a very nice, sweet story. I enjoyed the characters and the tension surrounding the plot kept me turning the pages, anxious to see what would happen next. However, the middle of the book just dragged on and on. Truly, at least 50 pages of it could have been cut out. There was scene after scene of Charlotte saying "I must tell you what I've been hiding!" and Daniel saying "Eh, don't worry about it. It's all good." Okay, so I used my own language there, but you get my drift. It drove me nuts after a while. I just wanted them to get it over with already! Then, the ending wrapped up way too quickly! I wished it was drawn out a bit more. I don't read a lot of romance, but when I do the money scenes are when the hero and heroine finally figure it all out and come together in the end. I just felt like all of the preceeding 300+ page build-up was a bit of a let-down.
What I loved about this book is Charlotte discovering her faith in God. I thought some of the scenes where she was reading the Bible and praying were very sweet. She seemed a bit hesitant, not sure what she should be doing, but hoping it would all work out. Isn't that how we all kind of feel at first? It was inspiring and these scenes were some of my favorites in the novel.
To sum up, this is a nice, tender Christian historical romance that I had a few issues with, but would recommend.
In this startlingly candid memoir, Alice Even Cohen shares her personal journey as a 44 year old "infertile" pregnant woman. From the mediMy Synopsis:
In this startlingly candid memoir, Alice Even Cohen shares her personal journey as a 44 year old "infertile" pregnant woman. From the medical professionals who couldn't figure out what was wrong with her (she was SIX MONTHS into her pregnancy before it was finally discovered that she was pregnant!), to her emotional struggle of whether or not she wanted to have the baby, Ms. Cohen's memoir is deeply touching and fast-paced.
I loved this memoir. I am completely shocked and downright appalled at the medical professionals who failed Ms. Cohen. To read her journey and all the doctors she saw and the tests she went through and no one figured out she was pregnant - it's absolutely unbelievable to me! The circumstances she had to endure and the conversations she had to have during her "medical mystery" and after her diagnosis will make you cringe and cry.
I can relate to Alice in many ways, being an infertile woman myself. I can't imagine being set in your life and accepting of your situation, in your mid forties and BAM, suddenly you are pregnant. What a shocking situation it must have been for her! I don't want to examine her thoughts and feelings about the situation because none of us know how we will react when faced with the same circumstances. All I will say is that Ms. Cohen is a brave woman who fought through a very difficult time the best way she knew how and I commend her for that.
This memoir is very well-written and short at less than 200 pages so I blew through it in two sittings. Ms. Cohen has a way of capturing the reader's attention at every turn of the page until you know the outcome of her story. I couldn't put the book down....more
In this candid memoir, Jessie Sholl explores the psychological disorder of compulsive hoarding. Intricately weaving the story of her lifeFrom my blog:
In this candid memoir, Jessie Sholl explores the psychological disorder of compulsive hoarding. Intricately weaving the story of her life as the child of a hoarder, Sholl reveals the depth of pain and destruction that this disease can bring to a family.
As the story opens, Jessie's mother calls to tell her that she has cancer and must sign over her house to Jessie. Horrified that her mother has cancer, but even more terrified that she might be responsible for her mother's hoarded house, Jessie boards a plan from NYC to her hometown in Minnesota to help her mother get her affairs in order before her surgery and to help her mom clean her house. Through the mass of broken appliances, duplicate items purchased from the local Savers store, garbage, unopened mail, and books, Sholl attempts to reason with her mother and come to some kind of understanding as to why she is a hoarder. Although there is one specific event that intensified the situation, Sholl clearly explores situations throughout her childhood where this disorder manifested itself in other ways - disordered thinking, compulsive shopping, indecisiveness, and times of abuse directed at Sholl.
The clean-up is only a very small portion of the book. Returning to NYC after the surgery, Jessie discovers small bites on her ankles, then welts and other bite marks over the rest of her body. Then her husband, David, starts itching, too. Going from doctor to doctor and trying medication after medication, Jessie's mother finally tells her what she thinks it is - and it's pretty horrifying. Another after-effect of the hoarded house that will cause severe psychological and physical stress to Sholl, her husband, her father, and her stepmother, who were all in contact with the house in some way. Fed up, Jessie makes a vow - she is never going inside her mother's house again.
But can she keep that promise to herself? Can she control her compulsion to not want to clean her mother's house, which may be just as strong as her mother's compulsion to hoard?
I think this book was a very therapeutic endeavor for the author and helped her to understand her mother's disease more in depth. Sholl is a talented writer who offers an honest portrayal into an otherwise "dirty secret". Shows like Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive are providing some light into the disorder, but I feel they are only scratching the surface and focusing more on the cleanup rather than on the psychological aspect of the disorder - the WHY it's happening is what I am interested in. I have to wonder how many of these homes go right back to being hoarded after the cameras are turned off. In this memoir, Sholl is able to weave research studies and psychological input regarding hoarding into her story which helps to define the disorder to readers who may not otherwise understand why someone would hoard. It would be very easy to tell a hoarder just "clean it up" or "get rid of it", but it is important to understand that the mind-set of someone who hoards is very different and s/he is unable to toss something without feeling like they are throwing out a piece of themselves. That's just my personal opinion.
This is a wonderfully written book that is very easy to read and and provides much-needed insight into what is a publicly ostracizing disorder. I can understand the author's hesitation in wanting to disclose her personal connection to hoarding, but I applaud her for having the courage to do so. We need more books like this so we can understand this disease more fully. I highly recommend this book.
My Synopsis: Raquel Azorian is a 25 year-old career-oriented executive assistant to Bert Floss, the bigwig at Belmore Corporation. When Bert has a meltMy Synopsis: Raquel Azorian is a 25 year-old career-oriented executive assistant to Bert Floss, the bigwig at Belmore Corporation. When Bert has a meltdown at a meeting and goes on an extended “vacation”, Raquel finds herself as the office pariah and is in serious jeopardy of having to find alternative employment. Throughout the novel, as Raquel deals with her career issues, her parents separate after 40 years of marriage and Raquel’s mother moves in with her; Raquel’s brother, Steve, and sister-in-law, Cricket, are having marital issues of their own; and Raquel has become entangled in a relationship of her own with a sexy higher up at Belmore. Through it all, Raquel’s sharp wit and humor will keep the reader begging for more and anxiously turning the pages to see how her story will end.
My Thoughts: In Goodbye to All That, Margo Candela has penned a fun and witty story with a fabulous lead character. Raquel Azorian. Even her name is awesome! She is a spunky character who doesn’t take crap from anyone in the office – but does it in a very professional manner, which I loved! She wears skirt suits and pantyhose to work every day, addresses all of her superiors as Mr./Dr., and generally has control over her aspect of the workplace. That is, until her boss has a complete breakdown during a routine meeting, and Raquel is left to pick up the pieces. Because of her can-do, won't-take-crap attitude, she hasn't made friends with the new guy in charge. The guy whose present mission in life is to see Raquel's boss - and Raquel - crash and burn.
But Raquel isn't going down without a fight. And she's got a few tricks up her sleeve. And it doesn't hurt that she's caught the eye of one of the higher-ups at Belmore either!
During the mess her career has become, Raquel's mother shows up at her apartment, luggage in tow, announcing that she has left her husband, Raquel's father, after 40 years of marriage. Stunned, Raquel replies: "Left him where?". Raquel becomes the middlewoman between her parents, trying to help them piece their relationship back together. Additionally, her brother, Steve, is not acting like himself, so she is trying to get to the bottom of his issues, which she suspects have to do with his wife, Cricket.
Raquel has a lot going on and something's gotta give. But what will it be?
I have to say - the ending of this book surprised me. I really expected things to turn out very differently than they did. But, I was surprised in a good way. Some "chick lit" can be formulaic and predictable, but this one was definitely not that way at all. I loved it! I will definitely be checking out Margo's other books. She's going on my authors-to-watch list! I'd definitely recommend this one!
I really enjoy novels of suspense. They keep me on my toes, trying to figure out what is going to happen next. This novel is no different. I was comp I really enjoy novels of suspense. They keep me on my toes, trying to figure out what is going to happen next. This novel is no different. I was completely captivated by this storyline and eager to see how it all wrapped up. A parent's worst nightmare come to life. The vehicle going to camp arrives, you put your child in the car, wave goodbye. A short while later, the real car going to camp arrives. It gives me chills just thinking about it!
Lena Trainor is a devoted mom and hopes to spend the two weeks that her daughter, Sarah, is away at camp working on her crumbling marriage. When she puts Sarah in the camp van, she continues about her day until a short while later when the REAL camp van shows up. Lena is thrust into a maelstrom of emotions as she tries to figure out what is happening. Calls to the three other sets of parents whose children are also going on the van reveals that they have been picked up by the imposter camp employee, too. What ensues is a novel of suspense, with suspicion thrown in every direction, including the parents. Who would do such a thing? And why?
The premise of the story is very unique and held my attention for the most part. There were some things that kind of bothered me, though. There were multiple shifts in POV, sometimes even from paragraph to paragraph. The book is mostly told from the POV of Lena. I felt a connection with Lena. I could feel her emotional upheaval and feelings of helplessness as she tries to figure out what happened and how she can get her daughter back. I felt no real connection to most of the other characters, so I didn't "get" why we needed the other POVs in the story. I don't feel that they added anything to the story and could have been weaved in as part of Lena's POV, through her conversations with them (texts, email, phone, etc.). It got distracting for me after a while.
Overall, this was just an okay read for me. It's definitely full of suspense and leaves you guessing what will happen in the end. I know that I was completely shocked by the revelation of the kidnappers and how the story wrapped up. This is definitely worth a read if you like suspense books!
This book is utterly stunning in its execution. The prose is fluid and engaging. The characters are fleshed out so well and with such precision that IThis book is utterly stunning in its execution. The prose is fluid and engaging. The characters are fleshed out so well and with such precision that I felt myself completely immersed in their world, actually feeling like I was there, living their lives. The plot flowed seamlessly from one scene to the next, carrying the reader page by page into Sara and Rachel's world, showing us their young innocence and blind faith in the only life and religion they have ever known.
I admit to not knowing very much about the faith surrounding polygamy. I have seen the tv specials with the young girls who got out. I watched America's Most Wanted when Warren Jeffs was captured and charged. These things seem so far removed from my own life that it is hard for me to fully understand what young girls have to live through in this type of environment. It truly breaks my heart. I felt so much sympathy for the characters of Sara and Rachel and what they had to go through in their young lives. But, they didn't know any better. They didn't know that this wasn't "normal" life. I really feel like I received an education on polygamy from reading this book. The author seems very knowledgeable about the subject and presented it in a way that was interesting and added, instead of detracted, from the overall story. I think these descriptions of the history behind polygamy added to my understanding of the cult-like mentality that the Blood of the Lamb community seems to have. It also helped me see how these young girls are brainwashed into blindly believing their faith and they are not allowed to question or say a negative thing about it. These girls have no freedom. They are trapped.
When a new family joins the Blood of the Lamb community (read: cult), Sara and Rachel immediately befriend young Luke who is around their same age. Luke is baffled by his father's insistence that their family join the Blood of the Lamb community and he just wants to get out and rejoin "normal" life. Through conversations with Luke, the "celestial testimony" that 15 year old Sara is to marry her 50+ year old uncle, and the 17 "celestial testimonies" for 16 year old Rachel's hand in marriage (yes, 17 men had testimony from God that he is to marry Rachel), the girls eventually come to see their faith in a new light. When Rachel's husband is announced, an event so tragic and violent changes Sara and Rachel's lives forever and will have them questioning everything they know.
This is a superbly written novel that I was mesmerized by. I could not put the book down. Page after page, I was entranced by the author's writing style, needing to know what happened next, how Sara and Rachel's lives ended up. Loved the book and would definitely recommend to others. It is definitely Crazy Amazing!!
Do you ever feel like a book comes into your life at a time when you really need it? It's like some force in the world told me that I needed to read ADo you ever feel like a book comes into your life at a time when you really need it? It's like some force in the world told me that I needed to read Aidan Donnelley Rowley's book, Life After Yes, at this point in my life. The main character, Prudence (aka Quinn) recently lost her father in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has now found herself newly engaged to her man, Sage (interesting name, btw!). I felt so deeply connected to Quinn's story; I could feel her ups and downs as she tries to figure out who she is in her life and if her life is going where she wants it to. I related so intensely to this book and to Quinn's character - her confusion, her insecurity, her relationships with her friends and family.
The Setting: The book takes place in the year follow the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was incredibly moving to read a fictional story about this time and about a character who lost her father in the attacks. It added an additional element to the story that really struck me.
The Characters: I loved Quinn. She's unsure, insecure, and unhappy in her life. Her journey is one of hope and one that I connected to. I felt like Quinn was a friend and that she was sitting right next to me telling me the story. She is full of flaws, but that is what makes her so interesting. Her fiancee, Sage, is the stereotypical great guy who I found myself rooting for through the book. You can tell that he really loves Quinn, flaws and all, and their love story felt very true and real. There are also other characters who show up in the story: Quinn's friends Kayla and Avery, her brother, Michael, her mother, Sage's mother, Quinn's personal trainer, and Quinn's ex-boyfriend. All of them add depth to the story and make it very real.
The Plot: Quinn is struggling with life after she accepts a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, Sage. She has a crazy dream that makes her start questioning her choices. She reminisces about her past with her ex-boyfriend, who also happens to pop back into her life during this confusing time. The plot basically revolves around Quinn finding her way through life post-9/11, and post-engagement. I was able to relate very well with her and I imagine that many other women will be able to as well. Who hasn't had confusing moments of: Am I doing the right thing? What is life all about?
To sum up: This book is very easy to read and the author writes very well. The story moves quickly and I was able to read it in about a day. I can't rave enough about this book and I encourage you to go and find your own copy asap!! I am eagerly anticipating more from this author in the future!!
Wow, this book is so much more than I ever thought it would be! I wasn't sure what I was expecting - maybe a light young adult read - but this was notWow, this book is so much more than I ever thought it would be! I wasn't sure what I was expecting - maybe a light young adult read - but this was not a light and fun story at all. It is deep, emotional, and painful. And I loved it!
How it Ends chronicles the stories of Helen and Hanna. Helen is a grandmotherly woman who lives next door to Hanna, a 15 year old girl who is going through the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. She loves a boy who is anything but nice to her, yet she keeps going back to him. Helen has become a grandmother figure to Hanna and regularly talks to her about life. Their relationship is really sweet and makes you long to hug your own grandma!
But, Helen hasn't been truthful with Hanna about her own life, filling Hanna with ideas that her and her husband, Lon's, life has been nothing but roses and butterflies. With Helen suffering from a debilitating disease, she realizes that it is time to tell Hanna the truth. She writes the story - the story of her life from a young girl to the woman she is today - and sends it off to be put into audiobook format.
As Hanna continues to care for the declining Helen, they find comfort in listening to books together. Unbeknownst to Hanna, they begin listening to Helen's book, "How it Ends". It is difficult for Hanna to listen to. She can't imagine someone living through what the characters in the story lived through. She becomes infuriated, sad, and confused, trying to wrap her head around this supposedly "fictionalized" story. Through the listening of the book, Hanna begins to take a stand against her so-called boyfriend, and begins to find her own way in the world. Hanna really grows throughout this story, from an insecure teenager who is eager to please the hot guy in school so he'll be her boyfriend, to finally sticking up for herself and becoming independent and more secure in her own body.
The end of this book is downright shocking and will stay with you long after the last page is read. This is an intense story and one I would definitely recommend. I loved following Hanna's and Helen's journey and I can't wait to read more from this author!
This is a raw, emotional look into one woman's sexual assault and how it has affected her life. I felt like I was reading someone's personal diary - wThis is a raw, emotional look into one woman's sexual assault and how it has affected her life. I felt like I was reading someone's personal diary - with all of her intimate thoughts and feelings exposed. Stern holds nothing back as she tells the story of her and her sister's rapes and the subsequent upheaval that this brings upon her life. It is hard to write a review about a book based on someone's first-hand account of such a traumatic event since I have no basis in experience to identify what she must have and (probably) still goes through on a daily basis. I can only imagine what she must have suffered through and how she had to disassociate herself from the event and bury her emotions and memories in order to cope. It is not something I can even fathom.
I found parts of the book moved quickly and other parts dragged on. Many details were repeated over and over again and these parts felt like stream-of-consciousness writing, before the editing process begins. There were other times that I was a bit confused because of all the different people who came into play (detectives, the rapist's friends/family, the author's friends/family). Overall, these were minor grievances.
This book is very heavy and will really pull the reader in. The material is not easy to read. The most fascinating part (for me) was getting to know the author and how she has coped with the rape over the course of her life; her emotional responses to certain situations; the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); and her concern for her son and not wanting to impart her PTSD symptoms onto him. It is definitely an area that I find interesting (as a psychology major in college) and like to read about, when the opportunity presents itself.
Overall Opinion: I don't know that one can "enjoy" a book like this, but I found it thought-provoking and powerful and really gave me a more in-depth look into PTSD and the emotional upheaval that a traumatic experience can have on a person. I would definitely recommend this book to others.
This book really hit a chord with me. As a woman who is struggling to identify who I am and what I should be doing with my life, I really fell in loveThis book really hit a chord with me. As a woman who is struggling to identify who I am and what I should be doing with my life, I really fell in love with the characters in this book. It allowed me to reflect on my own life and come to the realization that it is never to late to follow your dreams. No matter what struggles are put in your way, a person should always follow their heart and do what makes him or her happy. I commend the author for creating such well-rounded characters who face the daily challenges that all of us do - job, husband, children - but still understands the need for each person to find their own self-identity - what makes someone truly happy, outside of family and friends. This book has allowed me to reflect on my own creative endeavors and understand what is truly in MY heart and tell me that it is never too late to do what fulfills me.
The Love Ceiling is told from two perspectives - Annie, a 64-year-old wife, mother, grandmother, and daughter, who is coming to terms with her mother's death - and Cass, Annie's 32 year-old daughter who is struggling to define herself and her relationship with her significant other, Richard. Both Annie and Cass face different challenges, but both are strong women, looking to find what fulfills them and makes them happy. At times the story seemed to move very slowly and at times I was furiously turning the pages, anxious to see what would happen next. I actually took the time to savor this book and read it over the course of a week.
Annie's story really struck me. After being belittled and berated by her father over the course of her life, Annie had basically given up on painting. But, as a promise to her dying mother, Annie begins to paint again, taking classes from Fred, a colleague of her father's who shows Annie what she is capable of and begins to allow Annie to see and feel her true potential. I think Annie's story is a message to all of us that you should never deny your dreams, no matter what someone says to you.
Cass's story is about a young woman whose life is turned upside down and how she manages to pick herself back up. I could relate to Cass (being the same age as her!) and her uncertainty of life and what she should be doing.
Overall, I loved this story and it really made me think and reflect on my own creative endeavors. It's never too late to follow your dreams!
I definitely recommend this book! It is CRAZY FABULOUS!