Icon Tag: heartbreak

Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Posted February 15, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 16 Comments

Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel CleetonNext Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Series: standalone
Published by Berkley on February 6th 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 394
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity--and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution...
Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest--until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary...
Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa's last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.
Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba's tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.

Elisa Perez has always dreamt of returning to Cuba after the revolution. Her and many others who have left for exile in America were waiting for the day that Castro would no longer have control of their beautiful country so they could make their way home. The day has finally arrived, but Elisa Perez never had the chance to witness it.

Finally making it onto Cuban soil after many years of her grandmother’s stories, Marisol Ferrera is both excited and saddened that she does not get to experience Cuba with her grandmother as Elisa passed away recently. But she wants to fulfill her grandmother’s dying wish and that is to spread her ashes in Cuba. One problem, Elisa never told Marisol where she wants her ashes spread and as Marisol debates where would be the best place to lay her grandmother to rest, she comes to discover a lot of hidden family secrets since the revolution.

Oh gosh, this book. My first dive into this authors work and I do not regret it. This. Was. Fantastic. Slow moving at first yes, this book took a bit to get into, but once I was fully invested, I absolutely adored it!

This is told in two different time lines. We get to see how Marisol fairs in modern day Cuba, uncovering secrets about her grandmother that she was never told as well as possibly falling in love. Plus, we get to experience Cuba in the 1958 and how the revolution happened as well as Elisa Perez beautifully poignant story.

I loved Elisa’s story, it was beautiful and heartbreaking and I found myself more invested in her romance over Marisols. As Elisa accidentally falls in love with a revolutionary called Pablo, her family is sitting pretty, but scared of what will happen to their country. Coming from a wealthy family, Elisa is a daughter of a sugar baron and her father a huge supporter of Batista. When Batista escapes Cuba after losing the war to the revolutionaries, Elisa’s world is completely shaken and thrown upside down.

The twist in the end totally shattered my heart. I felt that it was coming as everything started to unravel, but I still felt unprepared. Cleeton is such a fantastic writer and storyteller and does such a wonderful job at weaving Cuban history into the storyline. I felt like I learned a bit more about Cuba and what the country was before the revolution. I also felt sad that it isn’t what it use to be after years under Castro’s rule.

The way Cleeton writes about the passion Cuban’s feel for their country in this book is both overwhelming and emotional as evident in the current timeline with Marisol and Luis. Luis is Ana’s grandson. Ana is Elisa’s best friend who stayed in Cuba despite the revolution and it is through their families hardships and passion due we witness the struggle and perseverance of families in Cuba.

There isn’t much negatives about this book. The slow pace aside at points, I do feel like the book could have been shortened just a tad bit at some spots. Also, I wasn’t sure how I felt about such a clean ending with Luis and Marisol, it just felt a tad bit too convenient for me to be believable.

Overall though, this was a great historical fiction with a mix of romance. The story that was told was interesting and the romance between Elisa and Pablo was just so heartbreaking.

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Review: As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

Posted February 14, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: As Bright as Heaven by Susan MeissnerAs Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
Series: standalone
Published by Berkley Books on February 6th 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean comes a new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love.
In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters--Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa--a chance at a better life.
But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without--and what they are willing to do about it.
As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world, not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

Pauline and Thomas Bright drop everything behind Quakertown when they make the move to Philadelphia in 1918 because the city is the heart of new beginnings and promises.

Thomas has been asked by his uncle to come help him at the funeral home, because his uncle is getting old and does not have any children of his own, with Thomas being his favorite.

Now Pauline and her three daughters, Evelyn, Maggie and Willa have a chance at a better life as they navigate their ways around the new series and adapt to life in a funeral home. But then the ‘Spanish’ flu sweeps across the globe and as Pauline and the girls watch loved ones die around them, they take in a baby that had been orphaned by the disease and he becomes the source of their hope.

This was a story told in two parts. The first part deals with Pauline and her three girls as they move into the funeral home and how there is just so much hope in that move. Hope for a better life for herself and for her daughters, better schooling. That hope ends up being briefly crushed when Thomas, the father, get’s called by draft into serving at war and Pauline stays at the funeral home with the children as the flu sweeps across Philadelphia, claiming many lives.

It was interesting and engrossing following their lives in the funeral home as well as learning more about the events during this time, not matter how difficult it may have been. The flu ended up claiming a lot of lives of people they knew and the war changed the lives closest to them.

It is a story of family, hardships, lost, love and triumphs with the second half, a strong focus on the years following the events that drastically changed their lives.

I adored following the sister’s chapters separately because I adored how the author handled each of their stories, and how each sister grew with the events affecting their lives. It was wonderful, the writing was amazing. There is always something about Meissner’s writing that simply enthralls me and has me craving for more. I never wanted the book to come to an end. I liked the setting, I liked learning a bit about what happened in the American history during that time. The amount of death and from a funeral homes perspective was both cringe worthy and fascinating at the same time.

The characters were well fleshed out, each sister standing out on her own within their own chapter. Each sister affected not only by the flu, the death, but also by the war and the people around them.

The twist in the end that Meissner delivers about how their actions have also influenced others had been both brilliant and heartbreaking.

The story was beautiful and well told, though at times not easy to read just proves how well the author can get you so invested in the characters and the feelings that it something that stayed with me long after I was done with the pages.

I adore this author and cannot wait to see what she has to tell us next.

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Review: The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

Posted October 4, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 16 Comments

Review:  The Stolen Marriage by Diane ChamberlainThe Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain
Series: standalone
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 3rd 2017
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

From perennial bestseller Diane Chamberlain, a compelling new novel
In 1944, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life when she marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina, a small town struggling with racial tension and the hardships imposed by World War II. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows no interest in making love. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.
The people of Hickory love and respect Henry and see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain, especially after one of the town’s prominent citizens dies in a terrible accident and Tess is blamed. Tess suspects people are talking about her, plotting behind her back, and following her as she walks around town. What does everyone know about Henry that she does not? Feeling alone and adrift, Tess turns to the one person who seems to understand her, a local medium who gives her hope but seems to know more than he’s letting on.
When a sudden polio epidemic strikes the town, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess, who has a nursing degree, bucks Henry’s wishes and begins to work at the hospital, finding meaning in nursing the young victims. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle her husband’s mysterious behavior and save her own life?

The story

Tess DeMello was going to have the perfect life. She was going to marry the love of her life and get a nursing degree. Everything was going great, until Vincent took on volunteer work for a couple of months away from Tess and her entire world falls apart.
Unable to stop herself from feeling sad about her future husband’s long absence and a niggling feeling that he might be seeing someone else – Gina takes Tess to Washington, where a drink too many leads Tess into sleeping with a mysterious stranger and falling pregnant.

Unable to forgive herself and not knowing what to do, Tess breaks off her engagement and moves elsewhere in hopes of starting her life all over again. When the father of the child decides to do right by her and she marries the mysterious stranger and moves to his hometown of Hickory, North Caroline where she learns the struggle of racial tension and hardships imposed on the town by World War II.

Thoughts

Woah, just Woah you guys. I started this book last night, read it till the wee hours of the morning and when I woke up I had this book on my mind and had to finish it. I just finished it and still reeling from the emotional storyline.

I was so angry with Tess at first and her mistakes because it started out badly and what looked like unforgivable, but ended up mounting until the character started growing from her mistakes into this strong-willed woman that has seen and been through so much hardship and heartbreak in such a short amount of time.

This book dealt with a lot. It dealt with Tess and her loveless marriage, leaving a cloud of mystery hanging over the entire book by making you wonder what is going on the entire time. Just as I thought I had it figured out the author takes this in a completely different direction I was not expecting.

Chamberlain also weaves so much history and everything that people have gone through during this time period with racial tension, laws, World War II, Polio, the building of the Polio hospital and all the sickness and heartbreak. It just added such a punch to the entire book and made it so riveting and hard to put down.

I spent half the book feeling like Tess deserved what she got when she made the stupid choice of leaving the love of her life and the second half respecting her and everything she went through.

I loved that Tess kept pushing and defying the customs and her husband and mother-in-law with the respect that came to her nursing license. I like that she took charge of that part of her life in order to make herself happy again.

The author throws us into the action right away with the opening of the book and the book sits in two parts. The events leading to the accident and the events following the accident. You see a lot of character growth as the story goes on and it just completely blew my mind.

I was sad, I was teary, I was enthralled in the story and the characters writing. It was so well written, the storytelling was remarkable and I was so drawn and flipping through the pages that I actually had a hard time saying goodbye to these characters.

The pacing was perfect, I never felt like there was a dull moment. The author kept me glued to the pages wanting to know what was happening, what was going to happen to these characters. I loved how she incorporated this time period into these characters lives and made them feel really genuine and human, that at times I forgot that they are fictional.

If you enjoy Historical fiction, absolutely wonderful writing, an emotionally gripping story, raw characters, I strongly recommend you read this because, I just cannot express how much I loved this book and everything about it.

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Review: The Girl in the Picture by Kerry Barrett

Posted September 28, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review:  The Girl in the Picture by Kerry BarrettThe Girl in the Picture by Kerry Barrett
Series: standalone
Published by HQ Digital on September 20th 2017
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:two-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Two women. One house. Centuries of secrets.

East Sussex Coast, 1855

Violet Hargreaves is the lonely daughter of a widowed industrialist, and an aspiring Pre-Raphaelite painter. One day, the naïve eighteen-year-old meets Edwin; a mysterious and handsome man on the beach, who promises her a world beyond the small costal village she’s trapped in. But after ignoring warning about Edwin, a chain of terrible events begins to unfold for Violet…

East Sussex Coast, 2016

For thriller-writer Ella Daniels, the house on the cliff is the perfect place to overcome writer’s block, where she decides to move with her small family. But there’s a strange atmosphere that settles once they move in – and rumours of historical murders next door begin to emerge. One night, Ella uncovers a portrait of a beautiful young girl named Violet Hargreaves, who went missing at the same time as the horrific crimes, and Ella becomes determined to find out what happened there 160 years ago. And in trying to lay Violet’s ghost to rest, Ella must face ghosts of her own…

Please be advised, trigger warning for sexual assault and physical abuse.

When Ella and her husband decide to take the jump and move her family out of the city into a small town into a house on a cliff, the last thing Ella expected was the house to be tied to an unsolved murder case that happened 150 years ago. Upon finding a beautiful self portrait of a young woman who may have lived in the house a hundred years ago, Ella cannot help but immerse herself in the mysterious murder and the disappearance of Violet Hargreaves, especially since the girls history seems to resemble what Ella went through growing up.

East Sussex Coast, 1855

Violet is a lonely 18-year-old girl whose father is a widowed Industrialist and travels a lot. To fill her lonely days, Violet paints, despite her father’s disapproval of Violet painting – it is her escape.

She meets a handsome married neighbor next door who claims he knows artists in London that can help Violet get noticed and break out into their world. All Violet wants more than anything is to escape her small town and do what she loves most and that’s paint. But, when Violet ignores warnings about Edwin, she sets in motion the horrible set of events that had the town’s people wandering for years of what had occurred and a mystery that was never solved.

This was so interesting. It’s a historical fiction but those who are afraid of slow moving Historical Fiction don’t be. Kerry Barrett delivers a beautiful if not horrific story about two women set years apart with centuries worth of secrets. She spins a lovely tale of a girl named Violet, who just wanted something more than a lonely marriage out of life and Ella a thriller-writer who might be just curious enough to uncover it.

The entire time I was reading Violet’s story I found myself rooted to my seat, finding it completely riveting and thoroughly heartbreaking.

I wanted to know how it all ended for the young girl so naive, yet so full of passion.

The ending had me gasping, because I did not expect that to go the way it did. Not only was it completely heart wrenching, but also quite a bit horrifying. You can’t even tell that it’s coming until a certain point and at that point you get to know Violet enough to really feel for the girl and her outcome.

I wasn’t sure how plausible the ending was to be honest, but I guess I could see it happening. It felt original, unexpected and definitely creative. Ella’s obsession with Violet was strange and at times it did feel hard to believe because I did not know why she was so consumed in a mystery that happened so long ago, with not much to go on, but her prodding really paid off in uncovering the ugly truth that was hidden all these years unanswered.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys an engrossing story that builds up in tension and mystery, with characters that will stick to your heart long after it is finished.

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ARC Review: When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Posted September 11, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

ARC Review:  When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew WhalenWhen We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Series: standalone
Published by Lake Union Publishing on September 12th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 276
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurtles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders—their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car—the only one to survive—is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge.

At the center of the whirlwind are four women, each grappling with loss, regret, shame, and lies: Marglyn, a grieving mother; Darcy, whose son had been behind the wheel; Ava, a substitute teacher with a scandalous secret; and Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with her friends, but wasn’t. If the truth comes out, will it bring redemption—or will it be their downfall?

I did not really know what I was getting myself in it. I picked this book up on a whim after a Youtuber I have been watching mentioned it, then I sat down to read it and I could not put this book down.

If you are looking for a contemporary book with raw, vivid characters, a heartbreaking chain of events set in small-town that triggers self perseverance in a midst of a tragedy look no further.

Worthy is a town of about 5,000 people in Georgia who basically see all and known all. It’s a small town so someone will always know someone. Worthy has one thing that they are really proud of and that is their football team who seem to be one of the best. It’s a huge thing anytime the high school football happens and the town to be involved in. Well, one night, after a big win, three teenage cheerleaders end up in a big car accident with one of the teenage boys from their school. The three girls die, the boy survives, and the event shakes the whole town.

This story was heartbreaking and it felt so real. Like the reactions, the actions, the emotions. You as a reader can just picture this happening and it doesn’t feel far from the truth in a likely event. As someone who now lives in a small town for a couple of years, I can definitely see how something like this can shake the community.

The book falls Ava, a high school teacher who is struggling in her marriage and ends up being reckless with another person that leads to some legal troubles. Leah, another cheerleader that was part of the group of girls who died, who somehow avoided the accident by not being in the car with them at the time. Darcy, the mother of the son who the town is holding responsible for the accident that took the lives of the three girls. And Marglyn , mother of one of the cheerleaders that died.

The story was well done. I did take one star off because I felt like the end did wrap up kind of quickly, but I can see in retrospect how it works anyway. The characters felt real and as a mother, I couldn’t help but feel for Marglyn and her pain. I cannot imagine losing a son or a daughter on such a note. Her story was even more heart breaking because the last time she saw her daughter, they fought and it feels like one of the worse things that can occur to anyone if that is the last time they see this person.

The writing was great. The storytelling was wonderful and emotional. The characters just stick with you. It was a really quick read for me and I found that I did not want to put the book down until I knew how it was all going to come together.

I do have to say. The mystery male in the book that Ava had a flirtation with through me off, I was not really expecting that and it only kind of makes me wonder even more about the real innocence of her character.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for anyone that loves to sit down and enjoy a contemporary fiction set in a small town. It was well done.

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