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Search tags: 2015-Book-Challenge
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review 2016-11-06 18:52
Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff
Secrets of Nanreath Hall: A Novel - Alix Rickloff

I started reading this book during a busy month. Any other time, I would've devoured this wonderful tale of loss, chance, family secrets, and finding one's way home despite the obstacles. There are those books that one reads and it is just that - reading. Whilst the story may be somewhat entertaining, it ceases to draw you in and fails to connect oneself to place or protagonist. Just another book you quickly want to finish. Then, there's that lovely, lively book that finds its way to your hands and once you've lost yourself in its pages you never want to leave it behind. Secrets of Nanreath Hall is the latter and exactly why I love historical fiction. Set between alternating periods of WWI and WWII, two women struggle to define themselves within a distinguished family that has hidden their secrets well inside the walls of Nanreath Hall.

Another fabulous read of 2016. I fell in love with ALL of the characters, each one growing closer to my heart as the story gained momentum. While the plot is not altogether original, I never felt as if I'd read this before. The scenes of war are vivid and I could hear the engines of airplanes screaming across the British skies. I could sense the fear and feel the heartbreak when letters brought news of lost loved ones, another casualty of war that changed lives in an instant. I ached for the young soldiers dashing off to war, imagining himself a hero but returning as a broken weary veteran, a constant battle inside the war between remembering and forgetting. It felt as if I was at the train depot standing among the women who kissed their soldier's lips for the very last time. Nanreath Hall came to life and I could smell the salty sea air, picture the transformation of the once great home now being used as hospital for the wounded and dying. Yes! Strong characters lived and breathed between the pages and captured my imagination until the very end. Superbly written. Five shiny gold stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


"Doubt that the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move, Doubt truth to be a liar, But never doubt I love." - Shakespeare



*I won a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you to William Morrow for sponsoring the giveaway and to Alix Rickloff for writing a story that I'll always remember.

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review 2016-01-21 17:35
NIRVANA
Nirvana - J.R. Stewart

Finally finished this book...again. I was just about finished when I received an email from publisher asking if I'd be interested in reading a newer version. I was promised a better story. Well, I gotta say, I was a little frustrated but I was also at that point in book where all was about to be revealed. I quit the first copy and began again. I wanted this story to explain itself. I had so many questions with the first version. I hoped the second time would be a charm. Was it? Not bad. I appreciate the re-write and the extra attention the book was given to make the story one readers would enjoy. Yes! Much better second go-round. However, this book was a bad fit for me. When I initially saw it on NetGalley the blurb intrigued me. Sounded like an interesting concept, living in virtual reality. It was defined as YA, which is cool with me. I read a bit of YA but there are those stories that really age me when reading YA. This was one of those age-defining moments. Would I recommend this book? Probably not. Did I enjoy this book? Obviously or I wouldn't have read it twice. Wasn't what I expected though.

 

 

**Received a DRC from NetGalley. Opinions are my own.

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review 2016-01-10 08:00
Sky Garden by Jenny Schwartz
Sky Garden - Jenny Schwartz

Last month, I voted for a book on Kindle Scout that I thought would be entertaining. This book! It had many appealing elements that I look for in a book. Historical fiction (in a sense), a bit of mystery and suspense, easy romance, and great location. I've read several of Jenny Schwartz's books, my favorite being The Icarus Plot. Unfortunately, the book wasn't picked up for publication. Bummer. I really hoped it would've been. I like Schwartz's books and I adore Jenny as a personable author. She cares about her books and her readers. Schwartz is always happy to gab about her latest offering, generously shares updates, and is quick to answer any question I may throw at her. Jenny Schwartz is a happy, positive person. So, her books make me happy. Sky Garden was a great read and exactly what I've come to expect from Schwartz. A good, fun read!! I loved the unique location of the sky garden. Frankly, I've never really given much thought to rooftop gardens and the happiness they must create for those surrounded by a concrete jungle. A nifty location for romance to...blossom.

 

Lanie Briers was lucky. She escaped a sadistic serial killer with her sanity intact but is still consumed with fear. To protect those she loves, she distances herself and reinvents her life. A safe life. That is, until Nick Tawes stumbles up her stairwell late one evening. Nick is there to film his latest project, a sky garden on the rooftop of the Horry Museum. Nick is surprised to find the residential flat on the roof, with the attractive Lanie inside. It'll have to do. Nick and crew will work around this obstacle. Lanie is having none of this arrangement. She likes her quiet flat and the safety it provides from prying eyes. Lanie vows to stop Nick in his tracks. Ironically, what seperates Lanie and Nick in the beginning may very well unite them in the end.

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review 2016-01-10 07:42
After You by Jojo Moyes
After You - Jojo Moyes

Umm. Had it's really great moments. I did the Audible version narrated by Anna Acton, who did a fine job. I listened at the 1x speed. Got bored and tried to adjust speed but even at a fraction higher it just didn't work. Acton sounds much better at 1x. Anyway, the story. Good things. Blah things. I spent a good portion utterly, utterly bored and mildly depressed and I'm not sure that's considered an enjoyable reading experience. There's a bloke of an arsehole in the story named Richard and he kind of sum's it up best for me (I'm too lazy to quote the quote) when he asks Louisa if this is really how her life is. (Again, he says something along those lines.) I can't give much away to those who haven't read the first book, Me Before You. Overall, it's a decent sequel. Has it's redeeming moments. Quite a few. Just takes a while to happen. I might even say this is more of a 3 and 1/2 star.

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review 2016-01-10 07:23
The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris
The Edge of Lost - Kristina McMorris

A great book! Addictive reading; one of those books that's hard to put down. I read half of the book in one sitting, which might not be much for some readers but quite a lot of reading for me. I am a new fan of Kristina McMorris. I first saw her book on Goodreads and the storyline appealed to me. Of course, I wont fib, the cover is what initially drew my eye. I've made no secret of being a sucker for a lovely book cover. There happened to be a giveaway about a week later and luckily, I won. Out of all the giveaways I'd entered in October and November, this was that one giveaway I really hoped to win. I squealed with delight when I was notified of winning. The prize consisted of a personalized signed copy (Yay!), sea salt chocolate, and a cute compass pendant necklace. (The compass ties in with the story.) I really got lucky because not only did I win a signed book, I found an interesting new author to read and follow. Since beginning The Edge of Lost, I've purchased two more of McMorris's books, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves and Letters from Home. McMorris writes stories that mostly occur during WWII and I've always enjoyed stories that center around this historical time. I love the writing style and the flow. I don't think I was at one time bored. Ya know how a story can lag? Didn't happen once. The characters were excellent. All likable. When I became comfortable with the direction of the storyline, the author surprised me time and again with an unseen twist. I'm pretty good at sniffing out a plot long before I'm expected to so I appreciated the "OMG" moments. The historical detail was wonderful. My mom has been to Alcatraz and said it was, by far, one of the most fascinating tours she's ever experienced. McMorris does a clever job of slipping in actual prisoners of the book's time frame. The whole Alcatraz thing has always interested me. The story gives a dark idea of what it must have been like for the hardened criminals that resided on Devil's Island. I learned some very interesting facts about Alcatraz, such as the "Rules of Silence" that may have been responsible for driving prisoners mad. Most intriguing, was learning that the prison grounds contained a greenhouse with luscious flowers and roses where the main protagonist, Shanley Keagan, spends some of his prison term tending to the gardens. Surprisingly, there were also prison staff families living on the island in employee housing. I had no clue. McMorris got the idea for this book while searching online and ran across a documentary titled Children of Alcatraz. Of course, as with all historical fiction, McMorris did take a few liberties with facts to fit the storyline but, it's still all very believable.

 

Shanley Keagan's life begins in Ireland. After his mam dies he's left with an abusive uncle. Shan accidentally learns that he may have been fathered by an American named John Lewis. Headed to America with his uncle, who does nothing but exploit poor Shan, circumstances suddenly change for the young lad and Shan finds himself in Brooklyn with a chance to start a new life with a new family. Life has a strange way of intervening and Shanley Keagan is forced to make decisions that will consequently take him to hell and back. I absolutely recommend this book. On point!

 

 

*Thanks so very much to the Goodreads giveaway and Kristina McMorris for sponsoring a giveaway that I'm so happy to have won. I received a beautiful signed copy and offer my review in exchange. Opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

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