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review 2017-10-18 18:07
The Stolen Marriage - Diane Chamberlain

I absolutely love Diane Chamberlain's books and this one, of course, did not fail me!!!

I felt so many emotions while reading this book. Tess who breaks off her engagement with the love of her life to marry Henry. Tess who I felt so sorry for and Henry who is hiding something (and all of my guesses were wrong - Ha!!) I only felt contempt. He stayed out all night, was hiding money and never touched his wife. Tess's mother-in-law is a contemptible, meddling old woman still stuck in the ideas of the old south and her sister-in-law dislikes her because Henry was supposed to marry her best friend.

When Henry's secrets did come to light, the story floored me as, of course, I was definitely not expecting that.

A wonderfully great story that I thoroughly enjoyed and was sad to leave.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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review 2017-10-18 05:55
Review: Wed to a Spy (All the Queen's Spies #1) by Sharon Cullen
Wed to a Spy: An All the Queen's Spies Novel - Sharon Cullen

Simon and Aimee are pretty much set to spy on each other and before they knew it, they are married. I am a super fan of the marriage of convenience and forced marriage genre so I was happy that I had the chance to read this story. Sadly it was not what I expected, not in the romance sense anyway. 

The romance between Aimee and Simon was too forced. I get that they had to marry because it was an order by the queen but their relationship was only beginning to simmer when the story was over. Clearly, there was a mutual attraction at the start of their marriage and what supposedly was a fondness for each other but where was that fondness even coming from as they were strangers? Simon sounded like a real character with personal commitments and frustrations. Aimee in comparison sounded like a lost puppy looking for a new owner. 

There are lost of intrigue since the story takes place at court so there is suspense and drama. If anything that intrigue was the most engrossing aspect of the story. When one of the characters at court is murdered, Simon and Aimee had to learn to trust each other in order to survive the rebellion that takes place at the castle. All of this happens in a relative short period of time and while interesting it still lacked that WOW effect that I would have loved to find in a novel about spies. It wasn’t a terrible read but it definitely needed more, specially in the romantic department.

** I received this book at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.***
 

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review 2017-10-13 02:19
The Marriage Pact ★☆☆☆☆
The Marriage Pact: A Novel - Michelle Richmond

Original heading: The Marriage Pact - progress 0%

 

Noooooooooooooooooooo I hate first-person-present-tense!

 

I'm going to wait until after the this first scene to make sure the whole book isn't like this. If so I'm DNFing this and giving it the lowest possible rating.

 

UPDATE:

 

The good news is that the FP-present-tense only lasted for the 1st chapter, and the remainder that I was able to read was normal FP-past-tense. The bad news is that, after 6 chapters and 36 minutes of audio (yes I was checking my watch), it just wasn't very interesting. I didn't know anything about the characters except their occupations and their wedding, and frankly didn't give a rip what The Pact was, or why it matters, or what happened to the couple. 

 

DNF at 5%. 

 

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library. Tom Taylorson's performance was okay. 

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review 2017-10-11 01:02
Mind Games
Mind Games - Stevie Turner

Title:  Mind Games

Author:  Stevie Turner

Publisher: KDP

Reviewed By: Arlena Dean 

 

Rating: Four

Review"

 

"Mind Games" by Stevie Turner

 

My Thoughts.....

 

After a 35 year marriage it looks like this wife has had enough of her husbands addiction to porn and want a divorce.  Now, to fully understand what has gone on with this husband you will just have to pick up "Mind Games" to see how this author presents it to the reader.  As I was reading this story I am not sure who I felt more sorrier for  Frances or Martin.  Definitely there was help that was needed by both but it didn't seem like anyone really wanted it.  Martin claim to have quite this addiction but soon we will find out from the read really was that true?  I could feel Frances need to not want to grow old along but to want to get back with Martin really had me shaking my head and saying REALLY!  As for Martin well I can will say is He Really Needed Some Help!  This story really left me thinking wow!  I will stop now and just stay you will have to pick this one up.  Will these two ever get back to that HEA that they seemed to have had at the beginning of their marriage?  Well, all I will say is wow...Martin certainly think he has it all figured out. But anyone is has an addiction to pornography will definitely need to help.  Now, since Martin tell Frances that he is though with porn and she seems to believe it!  What will happen if Frances finds out really what Martin is hiding and still is up to.  As the story stops here, hopefully Frances will still have her apartment still there for her to return to.  She just may need it!

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review 2017-10-10 15:14
An emotional journey into a disintegrating mind and its effects
Disease: When Life takes an Unexpected Turn - Hans M. Hirschi

I have read quite a few books by Hans Hirschi (not all, but I might get there given time) and have enjoyed them, no matter what the genre. The author is not somebody who writes thinking about the market or the latest trend. He writes stories he cares about, and beyond interesting plots and fully-fledged characters, he always pushes us to think about some of the big questions: prejudice, ecology, poverty, child abuse, families, laws, gender, identity… If all of his stories are personal, however fictional, this novel is perhaps even more personal than the rest.

As a psychiatrist, I’ve diagnosed patients with dementia (Alzheimer’s disease or other types), I’ve assessed and looked after patients with dementia in hospital, and I have seen, second-hand, what the illness does to the relatives and friends, and also to the patients, but as an observer, from outside. I’ve known some people who have suffered from the condition but not close enough to be able to give a personal account.

The novel tries to do something quite difficult: to give us the insight into what somebody suffering from Alzheimer’s feels, what they think, and how they experience the process of losing their own memories and themselves. The book is written in a diary format, in the first person, by Hunter, a man in his forties who, after some episodes of forgetfulness, goes to the doctors and is diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s. He writes articles for a living, is married to Ethan, who is a high-school teacher, and they have a five-year-old daughter, Amy (born of a surrogate mother, and Ethan’s biological daughter). They live in Michigan, where they moved to from California, and therefore they are not legally married, as that was not an option at the time. To the worry of his illness and how this will affect him (Hunter’s mother also died of the condition, so he is fully aware of its effects on its sufferers), are added the worries about practicalities, about Amy’s care, about financial stability, about his own care, as they are not a couple with equal rights in the eyes of the law.

Hunter’s diary is framed by Ethan’s narration. Ethan finds the file of the diary a couple of years after Hunter’s passing and decides to publish it, mostly letting Hunter’s words speak for themselves, but at times he clarifies if something Hunter narrates truly happened or not, or gives us his own version of events (for instance, when Hunter gets lost). Although the story is mostly written by Hunter and told from the point of view of the sufferer, Ethan’s brief contributions are poignant and heart-wrenching, precisely because we do get the sense that he is trying so hard to be strong, fair, and to focus on his daughter. He accepts things as they are and is not bitter, but the heavy toll the illness has taken is clear.

The novel ends with a letter written by Amy. Although brief, we get another perspective on how the illness affects families, and through her eyes we get to know more about how Ethan is truly feeling. A deeply moving letter that rings true.

The characters are well drawn, and even when the progression of the illness means that some of the episodes Hunter describes might not be true, they still give us a good insight into his thoughts, his illusions, and his worries. He writes compellingly and beautifully (although there are is evidence of paranoia, ramblings, and some disconnected writing towards the end), and the fact that his writing remains articulate (although the gaps between entries increase as the book progresses and he even stops writing when he misplaces the file) fit in with research about preservation of those skills we have used the most and are more ingrained. Hunter pours into his diary his thoughts and experiences, some that he has never shared in detail with anybody (like being trapped at a hotel in Mumbai during a terrorist attack), and others that seem to be flights of fancy or wishful thinking. He shares his own opinions (his dislike of nursing homes, his horror at the thought of being looked after by somebody he doesn’t know, his worries about the future, his memories of the past…) and is at times humorous, at times nasty, at others indignant and righteous. He is not a cardboard cut-out, and neither are any of the other characters.

Apart from the personal story of the characters, we have intrusions of the real world, including news, court decisions, that ground the events in the here and now, however universal they might be, but wherever you live and whoever you are, it is impossible not to put yourself in the place of the characters and wonder what you would do, and how much more difficult things are for them because they are not a “normal” family.

This is an extraordinary book, a book that made me think about patients I had known with similar diagnosis, about the difficulties they and their families face (there are not that many nursing homes that accommodate early dementia, and most of those for elderly patients are not suited to the needs of younger patients), about end of life care, and about what I would do faced with a similar situation. The book does not shy away from asking the difficult questions, and although it is impossible to read it and not feel emotional, it tells the story with the same dignity it affords its main character.

Although there is a certain degree of intrigue from the beginning (we do not find the exact circumstances of Hunter’s death until very close to the end) that will, perhaps, contribute to reading it even faster, this book is for readers who are interested in dementia and Alzheimer’s (although it is not an easy read), who love well-drawn characters, deep psychological portrayals, and stories about families and their ties. A great and important book I thoroughly recommend and another first-rate addition to Mr. Hirschi’s oeuvre.

I received an ARC copy of this book and I freely decided to review it. Thanks to the author and the publisher for this opportunity.

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