Tag: family

Book Review: The Lion of the South, by Jessica James

Lion-of-the-South-ebook-Cover-Large-200x300
Image belongs to Patriot Press.

Title:  The Lion of the South
Author:  Jessica James
Genre:  Fiction, historical, romance
Rating:  4/5

Julia Dandridge grew up in Virginia. On the estate of her father’s friend, she ran wild, learning to ride and fish from Landon, who finally made Julia feel she was part of a family. Until she turned sixteen and Landon’s mother shipped her off to an aunt and uncle she’d never met, where she grew to adulthood in Washington society. Amid the Civil War, everything changed.

Now Julia is back, desperate to escape the prying eyes that keep tabs on her in Washington. She is also eager to see Landon, but finds the bitter, drunken man a far cry from the compassionate, noble young man she knew.

With everyone desperate for news of the Lion of the South—a heroic figure whose daring exploits bring hope to the Confederacy—Julia finds herself forced to choose between loyalty to the society she grew up in and the brother she adores.

The Lion of the South is set during the Civil War, but it leaves the issues behind the war  strictly alone, focusing instead on the lives affected by war and its impact on society. This is a simple, sweet novel that reminds me rather strongly of The Scarlet Pimpernel. The book is a bit predictable but is a light and easy read nonetheless.

Jessica James is an award-winning author. The Lion of the South is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Patriot Press in exchange for an honest review.)

 

More reviews at <a href=” https://tamaramorning.com/”>Tomorrow is Another Day</a>

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Book Review: Hurricane Season, by Lauren K. Denton

Hurricane Season
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Hurricane Season
Author:  Lauren K. Denton
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4.5/5

Betsy and Ty Franklin run a dairy farm in southern Alabama. Ty is busy with the cows, while Betsy works constantly to manage the farm’s operations. They have a good life, although their inability to have children is tearing them apart. . When Betsy’s younger sister, Jenna, drops her two daughters off at the farm so she can attend a two-week art retreat, their quiet life at the dairy is turned upside down.

Jenna’s free-spirited days are over. Instead, she spends her days managing a coffee shop and caring for her daughters. She yearns for the days when she pursued photography, but that dream took a back seat when she got pregnant and her boyfriend split. Now, she’s offered a two-week stay at the Halcyon artist retreat, and a chance to pursue her dreams and change her life.

With the most active hurricane season on record underway, Betsy and Ty try to save their marriage, while caring for the girls and working to keep the dairy safe from approaching storms. Their lives are in turmoil, and they must wait on Jenna to decide her course before they can move past the storms that fill the hot summer air.

I loved this book! These two sisters are so different, but they both struggle against the truth of their lives—and what they will do about those truths. Betsy and Ty’s relationship is troubled now, but their love for each other shines strong even in the darkness. I related to Jenna and her dreams—and her struggle to decide between chasing those dreams, and the life she has now.

Lauren K. Denton is a USA Today bestselling-author. Hurricane Season is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Rosie Colored Glasses, by Brianna Wolfson

rosie colored glasses
Image belongs to MIRA.

Title:  Rosie Colored Glasses
Author:  Brianna Wolfson
Genre:  Fiction (not quite YA).
Rating:  3/5

Eleven-year-old Willow hates that her parents are divorced. She hates that she and her brother have two separate lives:  one filled with rules and sternness when they’re with their father, Rex; and one filled with laughter and crazy rituals when they’re with their mother, Rosie.

Willow knows how much her mother loves her. Every Spaghetti Sunday, late-night room-painting endeavor, or costumed reenactment of Rocky Horror Picture Show proves it. Her father just yells or gives her more lists to follow. Why can’t she live with her mother all the time?

Then her mother’s behavior changes, and Willow finds herself waking up at her father’s house when she’d fallen asleep at her mother’s. Her mother no longer wants to paint or sing or dance. Her father grows sterner. Willow has no idea what’s wrong, she just wants her old life back.

I wanted to love this book. It takes a heavy topic and explores it from the viewpoint of child who doesn’t know what’s going on. Rosie is a vibrant character, full of music and color and life, while Rex is rigid and rule-bound. The characters are very black-and-white, and the moments when they act out-of-character aren’t explained, just glossed-over. Perhaps the child’s viewpoint made this hard to relate to, but I kept stumbling over the wording and how everyone left Willow so clueless as to what was really going on.

Brianna Wolfson lives in San Francisco. Rosie Colored Glasses is her debut novel.

(Galley provided by MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

 

Book Review: In Search of Us, by Ava Dellaira

in search of us
Image belongs to Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR).

Title:  In Search of Us
Author:  Ava Dellaira
Genre:  Young Adult
Rating:  4/5

In LA in the late 1990s, Marilyn is a pretty 17-year-old with a mom who has ambitions;  she expects Marilyn to make it big in Hollywood, so Marilyn can support them. But her mother never asks what Marilyn wants:  going away to college and becoming a photographer. With Marilyn landing fewer jobs, they soon find themselves living with Marilyn’s unpredictable uncle.

Marilyn is just biding her time, living for graduation, when her “real” life will start. Then she meets James, the boy who lives downstairs. James shows her how to live in the now.

In the present, Angie has a single mom, a dead father she never met, and no one to help her sort out her identity. With her brown skin and curly hair, she looks nothing like her mom, and she knows nothing about her father. Then Angie finds out her mother has been lying to her all along, and she sets out on a road trip to LA with her best friend, Sam, hoping to discover who she really is.

In Search of Us is an emotional story about family, love, and finding yourself. These two stories are entwined seamlessly, and I’m not sure which I was more emotionally invested in, Marilyn’s or Angie’s. Both feel like their mothers don’t understand them, and both want more out of life. Marilyn is struggling to break her mother’s hold on her, and Angie struggles to find her father in more than just a single old picture. Racism is a strong theme here, portrayed honesty and realistically, with a large helping of grief. I was in tears by the end, and this book made my heart ache, as well as being so vivid I felt like I was a part of the story.

Ava Dellaira is the author of Love Letters to the Dead. In Search of Us is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Night Child, by Anna Quinn

the night child
Image belongs to Blackstone Publishing.

Nora Brown lives a quiet life in Seattle. She teaches high school English and lives with her husband and six-year-old daughter. Their lives are routine, normal. Then one day she sees a girl’s face hovering in the air, wild blue eyes surrounded by shadows. Terror fills Nora’s body.

A day later, on a family vacation, Nora sees the face again, and her whole life starts to feel off-kilter.

Nora sees a doctor, then a psychiatrist. There, she starts to realize that everything in her life and her memories is not as she always thought, but the hidden darkness may be too much for Nora to defeat.

This book was not what I expected at all. Nora is an intriguing character, happy with her life and her family, despite the tragedy in her past. But when she sees the girl’s face, her whole life comes unraveled, leaving her grasping at broken threads, trying to make sense of the knotted mess that hides the truth.

Anna Quinn is a writer, teacher, and bookstore owner. The Night Child is her first published novel.

(Galley provided by Blackstone Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)

 

 

Book Review: White Chrysanthemum, by Mary Lynn Bracht

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Image belongs to Putnam Books.

In Korea, 1942, Hana is a haenyo, a diver who provides for her family by what she finds in the sea. Her heritage makes her proud, and she’s fiercely protective of her family. Then Hana saves her younger sister from a Japanese soldier. As a result, she is sent to Manchuria to become a “comfort woman” in a Japanese military brothel. When other girls surrender and give up, Hana’s pride as a haenyo keeps her going. She will make it home.

In South Korea, 2011, Emi has been searching for her sister for over 60 years. She hasn’t forgiven herself for being the reason her sister was taken away, and she wonders if she can find Hana and gain forgiveness for herself. But Emi has been hiding the truth from her children, and she must shine light into the dark places of her life if her children are ever to heal their own wounds from the war that scarred Emi’s home and family forever.

White Chrysanthemum was not an easy, fun book to read. This book tells the harrowing story of untold numbers of Korean women, and the horrors inflicted on them in the 1940s. Told from Hana’s and Emi’s viewpoints, this story is emotionally wrenching and sad, but beautifully written and moving. Very much worth reading.

Mary Lynn Bracht is American, of Korean descent, and lives in London. White Chrysanthemum is her new novel.

(Galley provided by Putnam in exchange for an honest review.)

 

Book Review: The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin

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Image belongs to Penguin/Putnam.

In 1969, the Gold family lives on the Lower East Side in New York City. Life is normal, boring even, until the four children hear a neighborhood rumor that a local gypsy can tell you the exact date you will die, and decide to see for themselves. After all, what could it hurt? It takes some time, but they finally track down where the woman lives. They must see her alone, so one by one, they enter her shadowy apartment and listen to her words. They never tell each other what she says, but they never forget their dates.

Simon escapes the trap of familial expectations to find love as a dancer in San Francisco. Klara, who has dreamed of magic her whole life, finds reality overpowering, and becomes a magician in Las Vegas. Daniel has a steady future as an Army doctor, but finds the expectations of his job may be more than he’s willing to give. And Varya becomes a researcher in longevity, seeking to unlock the key to a long life, despite the dreariness of her own.

All of them are shaped by the gypsy’s words, and seek to prove her prediction wrong, but sometimes fate is inescapable.

Let me say, first of all, that I think The Immortalists simply wasn’t a good fit for me. I was very intrigued by the premise, and I love family-saga stories, so it seemed a good match. However, the book is told in four segments, one for each character, and I never felt like I really connected with any of them. Briefly, yes, but not enough to truly enjoy the novel.

Benjamin’s writing is lovely and evocative; I could practically smell the streets of San Francisco and feel the heat of the spotlights, but I never connected emotionally with the characters. I did read this quickly, so perhaps, in a different frame of mind, my experience would have been different.

Chloe Benjamin is an award-winning author from San Francisco, California. The Immortalists is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Putnam/Penguin Random House via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

#TheImmortalists

 

Book Review: Rules of Rain, by Leah Scheier

 

rules of rain
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Fire.

Rain has always been the one to take care of Ethan, her autistic twin brother. It’s always been her job…when their father left, when their mother gets sick, when school bullies pick on Ethan, Rain is there, with her rules to keep Ethan stable and functioning. Then her best friend falls in love with Ethan, and Rain’s own long-time crush falls in love with her, and suddenly everything changes.

Rain discovers secrets she never imagined Ethan could hide, and secrets her mother has hidden for years. Amid this upheaval, Rain makes a mistake she can’t undo, and life goes from predictable and routine to scary and unexpected all at once, as Rain struggles to figure out who she really is and what she wants, for the first time in her life.

Rules of Rain is about the bond between a girl and her autistic brother, but it’s also about finding out who you are and sorting out your life. Rain loves routine and stability to get her through life, but sometimes life gives you things you never expected. This is a moving read that shows one girl’s search for herself when the one person who has always needed her suddenly doesn’t anymore. A very good read!

Leah Scheier is a pediatrician by day, and a writer by night. Rules of Rain is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

 

Book Review: Little Broken Things, by Nicole Baart

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Image belongs to Atria Books.

Quinn Cruz hasn’t had much to do with her family for years, until she and her husband moved back to her hometown a few months ago. Her brother is too busy. Her mother is too intrusive. And her sister has been aloof for years. So, when Quinn receives a text from Nora one night, “I have something for you,” she jumps at the chance to meet up with her sister.

That “something” is a frightened little girl named Lucy, whom Nora begs Quinn not to speak a word about to anyone before Nora vanishes into the night. Lucy’s haunted eyes trouble Quinn, and she struggles to connect with the girl who is terrified of “him.” Quinn doesn’t know the evil that Nora is facing, but the two of them are desperate to keep one little girl safe, and find out the truth of who she is.

Little Broken Things is extremely well-written, with a pace that builds slow momentum to a breakneck finish. Lucy is so innocent and so broken the reader will immediately care for her, and want to know her truths. Quinn and Nora’s family is broken, and has been for years. The sisters are united in their desire to keep Lucy safe, but the secrets still lurking in the dark may tear the family apart.

Nicole Baart’s books have been nominated for awards, and she is the co-founder of One Body One Hope. Little Broken Things is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Atria Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Hanna Who Fell from the Sky, by Christopher Meades

hanna
Image belongs to Harlequin/Park Row.

Life in Clearhaven is all Hanna has ever known, so her father’s four wives and her fourteen siblings are normal to her. In Clearhaven, all the young men leave town, and the girls, at age 18, marry men old enough to be their fathers. In one week, Hanna will be 18, and she’ll take her place as the fifth wife of a wealthy man.

Then Hanna meets Daniel, a boy her age who makes her question her life in Clearhaven and what she wants for herself, and her mother tells her a secret—one that Hanna can scarcely believe. Hanna doesn’t want the life she sees around her, but is she strong enough to leave behind the sister she adores and the only life she’s ever known?

Clearhaven and its customs creeped me out on a lot of levels. I know there are communities/cultures like this, but I don’t want to have anything to do with them. However, they are vividly portrayed in the book, and the characters leap off the page with startling intensity. Hanna is both easy to relate to—her love for her sister, her confusion over what she wants from her life—and mysterious. I rooted for Hanna for the entire novel, eager for her to escape the future laid out for her and grasp her fate in both hands.

Christopher Meades is an award-winning author from Vancouver. Hanna Who Fell from the Sky is his newest novel.

(Galley provided by Harlequin/Park Row via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)