Icon Tag: heartbreak

Review: We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet

Posted April 12, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review: We Must Be Brave by Frances LiardetWe Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet
Series: Standalone
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on February 26, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 464
Format: Paperback
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.

THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER
Spanning the sweep of the twentieth century, We Must Be Brave explores the fierce love that we feel for our children and the power of that love to endure. Beyond distance, beyond time, beyond life itself.
"This stirring debut will work its way indelibly into your heart." --Georgia Hunter, author of We Were the Lucky Ones
One woman. One little girl. The war that changed everything.
December 1940. In the disorderly evacuation of Southampton, England, newly married Ellen Parr finds a small child asleep on the backseat of an empty bus. No one knows who little Pamela is.
Ellen professed not to want children with her older husband, and when she takes Pamela into her home and rapidly into her heart, she discovers that this is true: Ellen doesn't want children. She wants only Pamela. Three golden years pass as the Second World War rages on. Then one day Pamela is taken away, screaming. Ellen is no stranger to sorrow, but when she returns to the quiet village life she's long lived, she finds herself asking: In a world changed by war, is it fair to wish for an unchanged heart?
In the spirit of We Were the Lucky Ones and The Nightingale, here is a novel about courage and kindness, hardship and friendship, and the astonishing power of love.

December  1940 during a rushed evacuation of  Southampton, England, Ellen Parr finds a young child asleep on the back of the bus and no one knows who this child, Pamela is.

Ellen Parr has professed not to want any children with her older husband, Mr.Parr and she finds that she does not, the only one she wants is Pamela.  It’s a rocky start for the two of them, especially for a little girl who longs for her mother and does not know her father. But after three glorious years, Pamela is taken away, leaving behind a broken heart filled with sorrow.

This book. This book took me a while to get into, I will be honest here. It’s dense and long and had parts that I felt could have been edited, but once I started pushing myself through it I grew to enjoy it. Really enjoy it.

The writing was something to get used to, but as the story unfolded, we got to learn about Ellen through her timeline and her childhood and I think that made me appreciate her a little more and everything she went through to become a strong, resilient woman. This book had some really emotionally heartbreaking parts that brought me to near tears, especially centering around young Pamela and Ellen Parr. I loved how the author emphasized that love for a child can span countless decades, and that was evident with how Ellen felt for Pamela years after the two were forced apart.

I love the way the author crafted the characters and took time to allow us not only to enjoy them but also get to know them.

I didn’t particularly liked the way Ellen handled things when Pamela was leaving, it was a bit cruel given everything that they went through, but I grew to realize it was the only way at that time she thought was necessary.

I also felt that maybe their reunion at the end seemed like it could have come sooner than it did, but even so, no matter how long it took I felt like it was still emotional and tear-inducing.

I wish the author did not forget to mention all the letters that Ellen had written to Pamela over the years and maybe mentioned that they were given to Pamela?

Either way, this story was beautifully heartbreaking, and I really enjoyed the characters so much so that I grew attached to them to the point where the end was just absolutely sad. It was hard to let go and brought me to tears on more than one occasion.

Wonderful debut novel and I cannot wait to see what the author will have in store for us in the future.

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Review Round Up #2

Posted March 16, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review Round Up #2Cooper's Charm by Lori Foster
Series: Summer Resort, #1, #1
Published by HQN Books on July 24, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:three-half-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.

One summer, two sisters and a chance to start over…
Before the burglary that shattered her confidence, Phoenix Rose had a fiancé, a successful store and a busy, happy existence. After months spent adrift, she takes a job at the lakeside resort of Cooper’s Charm. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, friendly colleagues and a charismatic, widowed boss, Phoenix is slowly inching her way back into the world.
Visiting Cooper’s Charm to check up on her little sister, Ridley Rose impulsively agrees to fill in as housekeeper. Still reeling from an ego-bruising divorce, she finds satisfaction in a job well done—and in the attention of the resort’s handsome scuba instructor.
For Phoenix and Ridley, Cooper’s Charm is supposed to be merely temporary. But this detour may lead to the place they most need to be, where the future is as satisfying as it is surprising…

Pheonix rose hopes to take a job at a lakeside resort in order to get a fresh start and move on from her past. Before the burglary happened, Pheonix had everything, a great job, a fiance, and overall a happy existence. There she meets Cooper, the owner of the resort and who is just as broken after his wife dies in a tragic accident.

I thought the story was cute for the most part. I really loved Pheonix and Cooper, though I struggled with the attraction at first due to the reasons that Cooper felt the attraction and why he hired her. It felt like he was compensating for his past. I love Sugar the dog, she bought some heart into the story. Many of the secondary characters really made Cooper’s Charm and I couldn’t help but feel invested in most of them, especially Maris. I am really looking forward to her book and her attraction to one of the staff members.

The part that really broke this book for me was the unnecessary Ridley storyline. I ended up downright hating her character. She was so unrefined, shallow and undeveloped. I get that she had a “rough” break with her ex-husband, but in the end, somehow ended up super rich. She then buys a trailer to seduce Baxter one of the staff members, just for that reason alone to taunt him. The part that sealed the deal for me with her was the author’s use of the world snarled towards the end of the book when Ridley continued to interact with Baxter, specifically when she drops some unexpected news and misunderstands his silence for the worse. I really did not care for her character, she was unnecessary to the story and I could have done without her.

Also was the brief suspense that was added to the last 5% of the book. I thought that was unrealistic and again, unnecessary.

Review Round Up #2From This Moment by Melanie Harlow
Series: After We Fall,
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on October 5, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-half-flames

It was like seeing a ghost.
When my late husband’s twin brother moves back to our small town, I want to avoid him. Everything about Wes reminds me of the man I lost and the life we’d planned together, and after eighteen long months struggling just to get out of bed, I’m finally doing okay. I have a new job, an amazing support group, and a beautiful five-year-old daughter to parent. I don’t want to go backward.
But I’m drawn to him, too. He understands my grief and anger and guilt like no one else — and I understand his. Before long, that understanding becomes desire, and that desire becomes uncontrollable.
He says he doesn't care what people think, and love can never be wrong. But life has taught me its cruelest lesson — love doesn't always win.
If only my heart would believe it.

A story about loss, love, and two people trying to heal when the odds are stacked against them. Hannah lost her husband. His twin brother moves back into town and she feels like she sees a ghost. Wes has been in love with Hannah since before his twin brother made a move on her and because he believed that Hannah and Drew were better off with each other, he never told his brother how he felt about her.

This was such a sweet story with a subject that’s a bit taboo, really well done. I like how Hannah and Wes had a connection before Drew stormed in like a hurricane and swept her away. I loved Wes, sweet, caring, shy Wes with a heart of gold who gave up a girl he was in love with because of his love for his brother and his inadequacy with women.

I think Melanie Harlow is a wonderful writer, who makes believable characters and handles touchy subjects with respect to weave a story that uncovers layers of complication and showed their struggles and the wall they had to climb to overcome. I really liked both characters, it was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I love their connection and how deep it ran. I like the struggle and how real it seemed. I thought Melanie Harlow did a fantastic job showing the very realistic bumps of unconventional love.

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Review: Flying at Night by Rebecca L. Brown

Posted April 24, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Review: Flying at Night by Rebecca L. BrownFlying at Night by Rebecca L. Brown, Cassandra Campbell, Kivlighan de Montebello, Arthur Morey
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell, Kivlighan de Montebello, Arthur Morey
Length: 11 hours and 11 minutes
Series: standalone
Published by Penguin Audio, Berkley on April 10, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Family
Pages: 336
Format: Audiobook, Hardcover
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.

An emotionally charged debut novel, told through the voices of three family members, who learn that when your world changes, so does your destination....
Stay-at-home mom Piper Whitman Hart is too close to her nine-year-old son Fred to realize that his idiosyncrasies are signs of something more. And just when his diagnosis of autism sends her life reeling, she's dragged back into the orbit of her emotionally abusive father, Lance, after a heart attack leaves him with brain damage.
Fred is in need of a friend. Lance is in need of care. And Piper just wants to feel stable ground beneath her feet. What she never expects is that Fred and Lance--both misunderstood by the world--will start to connect in the most miraculous of ways...

A beautifully written, emotionally charged novel about family.

Piper is a stay at home mom, who is very close to her son that she does not realize that his idiosyncrasies could be a sign of something more. Dealing with her own family drama, Piper’s world is thrown into a spin when her son is identified with Autism around the same time her emotionally abusive father, suffers a heart attack. When her father survives the heart attack, but is left with brain damage, Piper is left to take care of him after her mother bails out completely. Unable to leave him in a home, Piper ends up not only dealing with her father and his new state of being as well as with Fred.

This was a beautiful debut. I found the story for myself, extremely relatable, emotionally driven, raw, with wonderful writing and memorable characters. You can feel for Piper and all the stress she is under, the unfairness of it all. I found myself angry for Piper because of how her mother just unloaded everything on her at such a critical time in Piper’s life. This book deals with autism, it deals with family and depression, the struggles of ups and downs and it just flows so well.

I both read the book and listened to this on Audio. The audio was fantastic. There was a chapter for Piper, Fred and Lance (the father) read by three different narrators and they did a truly wonderful job, it made the emotions and the characters in this book that much more real. The narrators really gave these characters both personality and life.

The ending was just a tearjerker, I really did not see that coming. It was so heartbreaking, but the author still did such a wonderful job. She even used her own life experience with her son as an influence for her novel and you could tell that through the way she crafted her story. As someone who has Autism in the family, this book really hit close to home and something I was able to identify with. Just thinking about this book right now is making my eye water, it was great and if you have not heard of it I do recommend you give this one a shot.

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Review: The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman

Posted April 20, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review: The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna GoodmanThe Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
Series: standalone
Published by Harper Paperbacks on April 17, 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 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.

Philomena meets Orphan Train in this suspenseful, provocative novel filled with love, secrets, and deceit—the story of a young unwed mother who is forcibly separated from her daughter at birth and the lengths to which they go to find each other.
In 1950s Quebec, French and English tolerate each other with precarious civility—much like Maggie Hughes’ parents. Maggie’s English-speaking father has ambitions for his daughter that don’t include marriage to the poor French boy on the next farm over. But Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel Phénix. When she becomes pregnant at fifteen, her parents force her to give baby Elodie up for adoption and get her life ‘back on track’.
Elodie is raised in Quebec’s impoverished orphanage system. It’s a precarious enough existence that takes a tragic turn when Elodie, along with thousands of other orphans in Quebec, is declared mentally ill as the result of a new law that provides more funding to psychiatric hospitals than to orphanages. Bright and determined, Elodie withstands abysmal treatment at the nuns’ hands, finally earning her freedom at seventeen, when she is thrust into an alien, often unnerving world.
Maggie, married to a businessman eager to start a family, cannot forget the daughter she was forced to abandon, and a chance reconnection with Gabriel spurs a wrenching choice. As time passes, the stories of Maggie and Elodie intertwine but never touch, until Maggie realizes she must take what she wants from life and go in search of her long-lost daughter, finally reclaiming the truth that has been denied them both.

Trigger warning for rape

It’s 1950’s in Quebec and Maggie is the daughter of the local seed store owner. The French and the English just barely tolerate each other, the tensions are high. Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel Phenix, a poor french farmer from next door. When Maggie get’s pregnant at 15 years of age, her parents give up her baby Elodie for adoption so Maggie could get her life back on track.

Elodie is being raised in one of Quebec’s impoverished orphanage’s. When all the sudden the laws change, her orphanage is converted into a mental institution and hundred of orphans become trapped in that system, classified as mentally ill.

Years later, Maggie cannot stop thinking about Elodie, and hopes to find her daughter again.

This book follows both Maggie and Elodie and how they grow as people in the life they have been thrown in. This book also explores The Duplessis Orphans who were the children that were victimized and falsely certified as mentally ill by the government of Quebec, Canada mid 20th Century. It wasn’t easy to read at times, the beginning of the book especially was a bit rough for me, because it involves rape of Maggie as a teenager by an adult and it was very uncomfortable.

I thought the writing in this book was well done, the author did a fantastic telling both Maggie and Elodie’s stories, even if Elodie’s part was also difficult to read at times, you just cannot help but sympathize with the characters.

This topic was new to me, I did not know much about Canadian history prior to this book, nor about the animosity between the people. I found this whole topic fascinating and very heartbreaking, especially with what happened to these orphans.

There was a bit of a struggle with this book at times based on the misogyny of the male characters and how they kept assuming that children will make a bad marriage better. When Maggie first get’s married, I wanted to throttle her husband for disregarding Maggie’s dream and forcing her into producing babies. Thought given the time frame, it isn’t all that surprising, does not make it any less annoying.

The ending did feel like it wrapped up kind of weird and convenient, I didn’t expect it to be as neat but it was really touching.

Overall, the writing I found really good. The storytelling flowed. I did find myself invested in the characters and their storylines. I did enjoy it and looking forward to more from this author in the future.

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Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Posted February 15, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 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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