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quote 2017-04-28 23:50
"When I get married, will I be out whittling deer horns in the dead of night too?"
A Bride's Story, Vol. 8 - Kaoru Mori

- Pariya, in A Bride's Story Vol. 8 by Kaoru Mori

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review 2017-04-15 00:00
The Marriage of Gryphons
The Marriage of Gryphons - Chrys Cymri The Marriage of Gryphons - Chrys Cymri Penny White is at it again. Her longing for full-time vicarage in Daear makes life on Earth seem dull. Fortunately, some opportunities to spend more time over there are the perfect opportunity to continue to explore and revel in this world where fantasy creatures exist.

But her handsome dragon friend, Raven, is missing, and her associate's marriage proposal comes with a great many challenges to overcome. With so much fracturing around her, can she keep her loved ones safe? And what of her own heart?

The action in this novel is amazing. Penny goes on some rather dangerous journeys, and finds some surprises along the way. Her snail shark, Clyde, takes on a new and interesting dimension, the dragon, Raven, has to struggle through some issues presented by [b:The Cult of Unicorns|33253585|The Cult of Unicorns (Penny White #2)|Chrys Cymri|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1480961784s/33253585.jpg|53972318] (Penny White Book 2), her brother, James, won't be allowed to stay comfortable, and things between Penny and Peter are getting serious.

But the struggle is real. I found my heart diving and soaring along with Penny as she dives deeper into the world of Daear and finds herself facing some rather uncomfortable truths.

I received a free ARC copy of the book with no obligation to review. This is my honest opinion.
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review 2017-04-05 00:36
Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage
Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage - Dani Shapiro

The words that come to mind reading Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro are nonlinear, personal, intimate, quiet, and reflective. This slim book is a reflection and commentary on marriage. This is not a memoir with a linear timeline or a plot; it is more like picking through a photo album, drifting from memory to memory until an image more expansive than the photographs themselves forms. The craft of Dani Shapiro's writing makes it feel real and heartfelt.

 

Reviewed for the Penguin First to Read program.

 

Source: www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2017/04/hourglass-time-memory-marriage.html
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review 2017-03-27 18:14
Almost Missed You
Almost Missed You: A Novel - Jessica Strawser

By: Jessica Strawser

ISBN: 9781250107602

Publisher:  St. Martin's Press

Publication Date: 3/28/2017 

Format: Other

My Rating: 4 Stars

 
Mind-Expanding! Jessica Strawser delivers a thought-provoking, creative, gripping, page-turning mystery and suspenseful debut, ALMOST MISSED YOU.

The what ifs . . . Meant to be. Almost. Destiny. A Chance Meeting. Imagine if . . . ?

Marriage, friendship, motherhood, romance, trust, and betrayal. Pushing life's boundaries. Life is complex yet intriguing. Providence, the stars, chance, luck, serendipity, fortune, kismet, karma.

"What has fate in store for me?" FATE: The development of events beyond a person's control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power.

2016: Violet and Finn are married with a son named Bear. They are on vacation in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida (North Miami). Life was good. Violet was a great mother. They had met six years ago, on this very beach on the other side of the pier. It was an instant electric connection. However, they were interrupted before they had the chance of exchanging information.

Dominoes. How did they end up together? Were they positioned perfectly? Why were they interrupted?

However, now, years later their well-planned getaway, turns tragic. Had her husband planned this all along?

Violet comes in from the beach to her ninth-floor hotel room to check on her son. Horrified, her son is gone. Her husband is not there. All their belongings are gone. Nothing left but her things. How could this have happened? Every trace of her husband and son were done. As if they had been figments of her imagination.

The author takes us back to 2010, a T-shirt, a camp from Pennsylvania, where the couple met in Sunny Isles Beach, FL. An odd coincidence? Their interruption. An emergency on the beach separated them. Was it meant to be, after all?

Finn comes back from meeting this woman whom he thinks he will never see again. Someone from Cincinnati area. How was it possible they had managed to have a real connection and yet find out so little about each other?

Enter: Craigslist’s Missed Connections. Finn drafted his post. “Care to pick up where fate left off?”

However, the person who replied was not Violet. It was Maribel. A stranger. What if he had not placed the ad? Maribel would not be dead. He would not be self-destructing. A life imploding.

Flashing back and forth from the past to the present, Violet is frantic. The police are involved. The FBI. An investigation. No one has found her husband and child.

Their best friends: Caitlin and her husband, George. They had twin boys close to the same age as Bear. Caitlin and Finn were friends since college. Why on earth would Finn do such a thing? How could any wife be as truly blindsided as Violet had been?

Finn’s parents were dead. He had a secret past. Perhaps, PTSD? Things Violet did not know. The investigation brings things to light, about her husband and friend. What would make him do such a drastic thing? She must get her son back. Could Missed Connections be the answer once again?

From Finn, Caitlin, to Violet, the suspense and emotions are high. Violet soon learns Finn was not the husband and man she thought he was at all. He was a kidnapper.

Finn soon blackmails Caitlin. George is a powerful man and comes from prestigious political family. Caitlin knows his reputation is at stake. Finn wants to hide out in their Kentucky remote cabin until he gets his head on straight.

Now Caitlin is caught between her best friend, Violet and sympathizes with her being a mother— to being fearful that Finn could ruin her own marriage and family with a secret. Guilt and fear. The consequences were terrifying.

Dark secrets from the past.

Lined up perfectly, yet so many things crossed their path. The first time they met. Years later. The reconnection. What had happened during all those years in between?

Finn knew he needed to give back Bear to Violet; however, could not stand to let him go. He could no longer see a way for them both to have him together. He could not see a way for Violet to remain in his life at all. Not after everything that had happened.

The metaphor. The dominoes.

“There had been 1,001 chances and reason for them not to end up together. And there was really only one chance, and really only one reason, for it to go the other way.”

Finn’s survivor guilt (Maribel), is at the heart of the story. Caitlin and Violet are secondary.

Wow! Strawser delivers an intriguing debut. Complex, well-written, and unputdownable. Readers will be frustrated, nerve-wracked, and engaged all at the same time. The showdown at the cabin will have you on pins and needles. For fans of mystery, domestic suspense, psychological, and contemporary.

So many questions . . . False or real? Trust. Life, marriage, friendships, love? Do you really know the people you are friends with and the person you are married to? Why do people choose to ignore all the signs? Do we settle?

However, as they say, “Life is like an elevator. On your way up, sometimes you have to stop and let some people off.”

We all have looked back at a job offer in California, New York, Arizona, or a life choice? The what ifs? How would my life be different if I had made a different choice? Taken an alternate path. Two roads. Which one? Will the outcome be the same, or dramatically different?

Whether you have or have not had a chance encounter in your lifetime, a special person, time or place, ALMOST MISSED YOU will make you contemplate. The what if? An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions.

In a recent online interview with the author:
. . . “The idea for ‘Almost Missed You’ comes from my own fascination with the idea of fate and the importance people put on meeting ‘the one,’ and on what’s supposedly meant to be,” Jessica explains. “We place such cultural importance on how couples meet, how paths cross and fates intertwine. I wanted to explore if that’s always for the best.”


She indeed accomplishes her goal.

From Cincinnati, OH, a remote cabin in Kentucky to some of my familiar places I have lived and worked: Asheville, NC, Sunny Isles (North Miami), and St. Augustine, FL . . . the author takes us on a journey. How these places, people, things . . . connect and bring together the story of memories, what happened and what did not.

Cannot wait to see what comes next!

For fans of Kimberly S. Belle, Paula Treick DeBoard, Renee Carlino, Colleen Hoover, Kate Moretti, Laura McNeill, and Emilie Richards. Some of my favorites.

A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

JDCMustReadBooks

 
Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/10/03/Almost-Missed-You
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review 2017-03-25 18:03
A love stronger than anything in the background of recent LGBT Swedish history
Last Winter's Snow - Hans M. Hirschi

I received an ARC copy of this book prior to its publication and I voluntarily decided to review it.

This is not the first novel written by Hans Hirschi I’ve read. I’ve read The Fallen Angels of Karnataka, The Opera House, Willem of the Tafel, Spanish Bay… and, different as they are, have enjoyed them all. Mr Hirschi has the ability to create believable and engaging characters the readers care for, and he places them in backgrounds and situations that put them to the test. Sometimes the situation and the background might be familiar to a lot of readers, whilst on other occasions, we might know little about the place or the world they live in. And, Mr Hirschi’s books always draw attention to discrimination and oppression, making us question our beliefs and attitudes. This book is dedicated ‘to the oppressed minorities of the world’ and all the books I’ve read by this author could bear the same dedication.

I must confess to knowing little about the Sami community and their land, Sápmi, other than the images most of us might have of snow, reindeer and colourful clothing. The book opens with Nilas waking up to find his husband, Casper, dead in bed next to him. (I don’t consider this a spoiler, as it’s how the novel starts, after a brief introduction into Sami’s culture and history, and anybody who checks the beginning of the book will see it). Most of the rest of the book is taking up by his memories of his relationship with Casper, in chronological order, from 1982, when Nilas, a native Sami, goes to study in Stockholm, until the present. At the beginning of the story, he knows he’s gay but within his community, he hasn’t had much chance to experience what that mean in full, although he’s told his parents about it. One of the beauties of the book is that, although initially shocked by the news, his parents, from a tiny and many would think old-fashioned and traditional community, accept it (in fact, he discovers one of his uncles is also gay). At the other end of the spectrum, Casper, a Swedish student he meets in a bar in Stockholm, although living in a bigger community and seemingly a more cosmopolitan society, has not dared to tell his parents he’s gay as they are very religious and intolerant of anything other than what they see as the natural order. Nilas and Casper are made from each other, and the novel chronicles their relationships through episodes that illustrate events they go through, on many occasions linking them to events for the LGBT community in Sweden at large. We live with Nilas and Casper through the alarm of the AIDS epidemic, the uncertainty and the fear that an illness that seemed to target a specific group of the population created at the time. We also follow them through changes in career and moves, through the recognition of registered partnership and eventually gay marriage, through family disappointments, trips, success, heartache, illness and ultimately, death.

The relationship between Niles and Casper serves as a microcosm of the gay experience and history in Sweden (and, although with some differences, in many Western world countries). Theirs is an ideal relationship, their love stronger than anything. Although they are tested by external events, society, family, and work, they are committed to each other, exclusive and faithful from the beginning. (Perhaps this is an idealised relationship where there are some differences of opinion but these are quickly resolved and they are together against the world, especially at the beginning of the relationship). They are discriminated against at work, they have to face the AIDS crisis, family hostility (Casper eventually tells his family and he was right when he thought they wouldn’t accept it), assaults, put downs, incomprehension, insults, frustrations… They also find people who accept them and love them for who they are, mostly, at least at the beginning, people who have gay friends or relatives. And it’s true that studies show that exposure and knowledge are the best ways to fight discrimination and oppression. The lack of knowledge, the fear of anything or anybody different and unknown, the us against them mentality and the labelling as ‘other’ of those who aren’t like us are a sure recipe for intolerant attitudes.

The book is written in the third person, from Nilas’s point of view, and it contains beautiful descriptions of places (Sápmi, Stockholm and Gothenburg, the Maldives, Swedish islands, the house they move into…), reflections on nature, landscape, the importance of tradition, and what makes a place home and a people, our family and our community. We sometimes have to go a long way to discover who we really are and where we belong to. Mr Hirschi manages to balance the showing and telling by combining very personal experiences with more subjective and spiritual reflections.

I enjoyed the setting, the discovery of a place and a people I knew very little about (and judging by the author’s note at the end, I’d love to get to know more) and the way the characters and the story merge seamlessly to provide a personal, political (indeed, the personal is the political) and social chronicle of the recent events in LGBT history in Sweden. I particularly enjoyed the way Casper is adopted by the Sami community and how there is a parallel made between different types of oppression. This is an excellent book that could help younger generations understand recent LGBT history and will also raise consciousness about oppression and intolerance in general. And, we sure need it more than ever.

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