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review 2018-12-13 18:32
Women’s fiction with a touch of the paranormal. A beautifully written feel-good story.
The Last Thing She Said - Rachel Walkley

I am writing this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you’re looking for reviews, I recommend you check her amazing site here), and I thank her and the publisher for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

I recently read and reviewed Rachel Walkley’s first novel The Women of Heachley Hall and enjoyed it so much that I had to check her second novel as soon as it became available. And I thoroughly enjoyed it as well.

This is the story of three sisters, twins Rebecca and Leia, as different as two sisters can be (or perhaps not), and younger sister Naomi. Their parents move to the US when the youngest sister is in her late teens and she refuses to go with them. Rebecca becomes her ersatz mother (Nancy, their mother, does not seem particularly close to any of them, although perhaps that is the sisters’ impression) and eventually Leia also moves to the US to work on her medical research.

The three sisters are gifted, although they all have trouble dealing with their gifts, which are very different. Rebecca gives up her career as a lawyer to take refuge at home, bringing up her children and looking after her husband and the house; Naomi, a talented flute player, loves to perform but does not feel confident and dedicates most of her life to teaching music to children; Leia has a big brain and dedicates her efforts to useful research, but hates the limelight and would prefer all the credit to go to her team. Their grandmother, the member of the family that managed to get them all together with her traditional birthday celebration, also had a gift, but most people dismissed her birthday predictions as an eccentricity. When Rebecca starts investigating her grandmother’s past pronouncements —for very personal reasons—, she gets a big surprise.

The story is told in the third person from different points of view, mostly those of the sisters, although we get some glimpses into other characters’ minds as well, and in chronological order for the most part. There are some short chapters that go back to show us past events (there are no lengthy explanations or “telling” in the novel), and these flow logically from the narrative. For example, if Naomi is thinking about the relationship with her parents, her memory might go back to how she had felt when her parents decided to leave the country. It is a great way of layering the background story of the characters without disrupting the action for too long, and it also helps us understand where the characters are coming from, and their reasons for being the people they are. Each chapter and fragment is clearly labelled with the character’s name and the date, and it is not an effort to follow the story, as it flows naturally, at a sometimes wandering but engaging pace.

There are some descriptions of places and locations, but these are limited to what is necessary to tell the story and to allow readers to see it. The story is more interested in the psychological makeup of these characters, and the author does a great work of making us understand them in their own terms. We see each protagonist from her sisters’ point of view first, but on later seeing things from their perspective, we get a completely different picture of them. By the end of the story I was attached to all of the characters, even the ones that at first I was not sure about. And although not all the characters are sympathetic, the novel is not judgmental about any of them, giving them the benefit of the doubt.

I particularly enjoyed the character of Rose, the grandmother, the passages about Naomi’s playing and her thoughts about it (if you read the author’s note at the end you’ll understand why these scenes appear so vivid), and grew very fond of Leia and Howard. That is not to say I don’t like Rebecca and the rest of the chapters from Naomi’s perspective, but perhaps because they are the ones we get to know first, we are on their side from the beginning, and the rest of the characters came as a revelation much later on. There are secrets and lies, but none are Earth-shattering or beyond most reader’s expectations and experiences, and they do not require a huge amount of suspension of disbelief, even the paranormal elements. There is mystery, but the strongest element of the story is the relationship between the three sisters and how they all become more their individual selves by working together and protecting each other.

The novel is both easy to read and beautifully written, and the ending… No, I won’t give you details, but let’s say I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did. Definitely a feel-good story.

A book I recommend to anybody who enjoys contemporary women’s fiction, optimistic stories about family relationships with a touch of the paranormal, and who are eager to discover a new and talented writer.   

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review 2018-12-13 00:46
A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant - My Thoughts
A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong: A Blackshear Family novella - Cecilia Grant

The first of my Christmas reads and it was charming.  I found myself smiling much of the way through the story, even when I wanted to pinch the hero, the so very bound-by-duty Andrew Blackshear, who is the eldest of the family and so very, very, very proper.  *LOL*

Our heroine, Lucy Sharp was born to get under Andrew's skin and drive him to total distraction.  And that's exactly what she does with her impulsive and adventurous ways.  Propriety?  Not something she adheres to for the most part.  Brought up by an unconventional widower after the way-too-early death of her mother.

It was cute, it was heart-warming, it was filled with love and surprises.  I'm not fond of the cover (it's just too modern-looking for me), but the novella is a very pleasing read for the holiday season.  Check it out!

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review 2018-12-13 00:02
Which would you choose: Mortal or magic?
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Vol. 1 - Jack Morelli,Robert Hack,Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Vol. 1 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa came onto my radar because I saw the super edgy trailer for the Netflix show and of course I felt I needed to at least read the first volume (containing the first 6 issues) before I started in on the show. :-P [A/N: For those unaware, this alternate reality version of Sabrina exists in the same realm as Archie and his pals over in Riverdale and you can keep your eyes peeled for my review of that too.] This is a comic book series that takes the familiar character of Sabrina Spellman (Remember that cute show about witchy magic with that super sarcastic talking cat named Salem?) and turns it onto its head. This is Dark Stuff and trust me the capitalization is warranted. The story starts out with Sabrina's parents, Warlock Dad and Mortal Mom, who disagree on how to raise their newborn daughter. According to coven law, Sabrina should be blessed by Satan so that when she comes of age she can formally sign Satan's book and give her soul over to him. (Did I mention this was dark?) These parental disagreements result in the mother being driven insane and Sabrina being entrusted to her witchy aunts to be raised 'properly'. So now Sabrina walks in two worlds (witch at home and mortal at school) and by the time she is 16 (present day in the comics where it's the 1960s) she is thoroughly confused about where she fits in which is par for the course with most teenagers if we're completely honest. Gore, violence, Satanism, cannibalism, necromancy, first love...your standard high school experience. The artwork was unlike anything I'd ever consumed in a comic or graphic novel medium before with bold colors and almost grotesque characterizations. I dug it. Horror fans and those that like re-imaginings of familiar tales will enjoy the world that Aguirre-Sacasa has crafted immensely. Yes, it's Dark Stuff but it's also boldly imaginative and well-formed. He's not only crafted this but another series called Afterlife with Archie (not to mention the tv series Riverdale). This is an author to watch! 10/10

 

PS Salem the cat is in this version as well!

 

PPS I started the series and I'm digging that too!

 

Not too spoiler-y since it's from the beginning. [Source: The Mary Sue]

 

What's Up Next: Star Trek Destiny #2: Mere Mortals by David Mack

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond and The Science of Supervillains by Lois H. Gresh & Robert Weinberg

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-12-06 15:06
Amish Celebrations
Amish Celebrations: Four Novellas - Beth Wiseman

Amish Celebrations is really a combination of 4 stories in one book. They are all different but have something in common. They all are about celebrations.

 

Here are all the books and there reviews for each one.

 

The Gift of Sisters

Hannah and Elizabeth are twins. When a new boy comes to town, he seem to attracted both girls. They both fall for him in there own ways. He seem to have them pulling them away from each other. Will either one of them choose this new boy or will they both leave them.

 

Will it be two late to reunite to be sisters. One is doing something to protect her sister and the other think the other is trying to ruin her life and her love life at that. Will they find what best for them.

 

A New Beginning

Noah and Rebecca seem to be heading for marriage? Noah does something and make Rebecca think about getting married? What was it that Noah did? Will Noah walk way or will he forgive himself. What could Noah be struggling with? Rebecca is also navigation their relationship as well. Does she want to be with Noah or trust him?

 

A Perfect Plan

Priscilla knows who see was marrying since she way sixteen years old. Once the question is pop to her. They seem to think they know the prefect plan. God seem to have another plan or a bit of changes to that plan when one disaster will occurs after another. Is God testing there relationship?

 

There seems to be a special person who has something for both Chester and Priscilla. They each receive it at different times and separately. They are both told to not open it until there wedding day and not before and promised. Will they even get married or will they not?

 

A Christmas Miracle

Every feel overwhelmed with life or motherhood? Well, Mary feels this and does not know how to cope with her children. She seems to feel like she a bad mother. Though she got her husband and her husband seem to try and help. He for a loss to help her as well. Though he suggest that she ask her mother in law to help her.

 

There seem to be something more to stress of the marriage. Will her husband get some advise to help his marriage and his wife before it to late? There seems to be someone really important that happens when Mary befriends an elderly man in a red suit and his side kick elf?

 

I really like how this story outcomes turn out. Will Mary really get what needs and help she needs to cope with her situation. Does Mary's mother in law dislike Mary or is it something else.

Source: nrcbooks.blogspot.com/2018/12/amish-celebrations.html
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review 2018-12-05 23:41
Like sand through the hourglass
5 Worlds Book 1: The Sand Warrior - Boya Sun,Matt Rockefeller,Xanthe Bouma,Mark A. Siegel,Alexis Siegel

5 Worlds Book 1: The Sand Warrior by Alexis & Mark Siegel with illustrations by Boya Sun & Matt Rockefeller is the first book in a fantasy series set in a place where magic plays a distinct and politically polarizing role. In this universe, all 5 worlds in the system (different types of beings live on the different worlds) are kept in careful balance with one another until they suddenly start to die for unknown reasons. There are some that believe their only hope of survival is to light all 5 beacons (one in each world) but the Toki peoples are adamantly set against this course. Our heroine, Oona Lee, is a less than stellar student of the Sand Dancer Academy (inexpertly wielding magic sand) and suddenly she finds herself swept up in a seemingly foolhardy attempt to save the universe before time runs out. There's intrigue, danger, and a health dose of racial tension just to stir the pot. I've recommended this to quite a few kids and all of them have enjoyed it because all of those heavy topics are real and kids can spot a fake from a mile away. Additionally, I thought the art style of this book was really unique and beautiful which made it even more astounding when I discovered that the book was a collaborative effort between people living in different parts of the world. Talk about life not imitating art! 10/10 and you can look forward to my review of the second book in the series in a few days. XD

 

SO. GORGEOUS. [Check out the source for larger images: 5 Worlds Team]

 

What's Up Next: Tucker Grizzwell's Worst Week Ever by Bill Schorr and Ralph Smith

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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