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review 2018-05-14 14:25
Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Next Year in Havana - Chanel Cleeton

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Next Year in Havana is a gorgeous book. Chanel Cleeton’s writing is lush and lyrical and her love of Cuba and its people shines through on every page.

Next Year in Havana travels back and forth between past and present, the story told through the eyes of Elisa and her granddaughter Marisol. In 1958 Elisa is part of the Havana elite, the daughter of a wealthy sugar baron. She’s kind, smart, and far stronger than many would give her credit for. Elisa isn’t flawless; she’s young, passionate, and makes mistakes, but she’s got a good heart. Through her eyes we see the multiple sides of a Cuba rapidly being torn apart. Not only is Elisa’s brother, Alejandro, part of a student revolutionary group working for a democratic Cuba, Elisa falls in love with Pablo, a revolutionary with close ties to Castro. As her world begins to crumble around her, Elisa’s eyes are opened and she begins to question everything. Her journey is beautiful and sad, but also hopeful. I admit I only have a passing knowledge of Cuban history and politics, and I really enjoyed learning more (and being lead to research more) as I read this story. Ms. Cleeton does a fantastic job of weaving fact and fiction.

In 2017, Elisa’s granddaughter Marisol travels to Cuba to spread her grandmother’s ashes. Marisol’s journey is both similar and different to Elisa’s and I was equally captivated by both. Marisol is a journalist who is eager to see the Cuba she’s heard of in her grandmother’s tales. Life in post-revolutionary Cuba is a culture shock for the Florida-raised Marisol. She learns what Cuban life is really like for everyday people and I enjoyed watching her start to question her own beliefs and become invested in the welfare of Cuban people as she never had been before. Marisol is a genuinely lovely heroine and a great stand-in for an American reader. The revolution, its aftermath, and the effects both positive and negative politics has had on the Cuban people is an important subject and it’s important to note that Ms. Cleeton treats these real-life matters with the weight and respect they deserve.

Internal and external conflicts abound in Next Year in Havana, but the book has a smooth, lovely flow to it. The characters are all well-developed and I cared about Elisa and Marisol’s friends and loved ones. It would be remiss of me not to mention the love stories, because the Elisa/Pablo and Marisol/Luis romances were captivating. All in all, I highly recommend this book. Chanel Cleeton’s writing is phenomenal and I cannot wait to read about Elisa’s sister, Beatriz, in When We Left Cuba.


FTC Disclosure: I received the ebook/paperback editions of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

Source: witandsin.blogspot.com/2018/05/review-next-year-in-havana-by-chanel.html
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review 2018-05-12 17:37
Next Year in Havana
Next Year in Havana - Chanel Cleeton

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton picks up on the recent political climate of Cuba and also goes back to the beginning of the Castro regime. As often in historical fiction, this book follows the story of two individuals in two time periods. As with books of this structure, the story one time period and one character has a stronger pull. In this case, it is definitely the story of the 1950s, not just Eliza but the entire Perez family. Eliza's story keeps me reading until the final page.


Reviewed for NetGalley

Source: www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2018/05/next-year-in-havana.html
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review 2018-05-07 08:00
The Battersea Barricades
The Battersea Barricades - Jodi Taylor

Having only just finished An Argumentation of Historians (the ninth book in the series), this short story was already published two weeks later. And it was completely not what I expected.

It is different from the rest in A) there is no 'investigating major/minor historical events in contemporary time' and B) the usual main characters almost play no role at all. Sure, Max is there drinking wine but not doing much more.

It was nice to have a background story for the supporting cast of the series, but it was a weird kind of story. As you might recall, Max travelled to a parallel dimension somewhere around book three/four (I honestly don't recall) and has been living since in a world with the Time Police. Some other things are also different, but just how different it was always difficult to tell because Max, and the reader by extension, is very ignorant of her surroundings and little important things like who is king/prime minister or what year it is. Tea, I can tell, is still plentiful, which is the only thing that counts.

So we are thrown into a civil war (simply called THE civil war for confusion) in this timeline, and while I would love to know more about this alternative reality, I would have liked to see some more introduction because sure, they were rebels of some kind. But that was about it. Now I left wondering about the details, and also if we will get more like this in the future.

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review 2018-04-27 14:38
My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
My Oxford Year - Julia Whelan

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

Honestly, this was fantastic! I just really loved everything about this delightful story. I know Julia Whelan from her work as a narrator so I was really curious about this book as soon as I saw it. I decided to give it a try simply because of my curiosity and didn't really know much about the book beyond my guess that it would be about someone spending a year at Oxford (nothing gets past me). This book is really so much more than that and I must say that I had such a good time reading this book.

Ella is at the center of this story. Ella is from Ohio and has just made it to England to study at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. To make things even better, she gets a call offering her a position to work on a presidential campaign just as she makes it to England. Things are looking up for Ella. She soon realizes that things are a little different at Oxford than she expects but she is making friends. One of her classes is being taught by the same man she had a run-in with at the fish shop on her first day in town. I do think that this a book that will really be best to go in as blindly as possible so I am going to be careful not to include any spoilers in this reviews.

I really liked Ella. She is so driven to do well with everything she attempts but it quickly becomes obvious that she will have to make a few adjustments to succeed at Oxford. She was just such a strong character and I found her very easy to relate to. I really liked her more and more as the book progressed and thought that she grew dramatically as a character. Jamie was also great. He was more of a mystery to me at the start of the book but as I continued reading, I really fell in love with him. He was such a great guy and I thought he compliments Ella very well. 

This story made me think, it made me feel, and it even made me laugh. This book was such a joy to read. When I started reading, I thought that this was going to be one kind of story and then things changed and by the end of the book I was reading something totally different. I loved the fact that this book went in such an unexpected direction kind of like life tends to do. 

I would highly recommend this book to others. Julia Whelan has proven that she is not only great narrator but that she is also a wonderful writer. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read this story and can't wait to read more of her work in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from William Morrow Paperbacks via Edelweiss.

Initial Thoughts
I loved this this. Not really sure on the final rating right now. It is either 4 or 5 stars from me but I will need to think about it a bit so I will go with 4 for now. I really didn't know a lot about this book before reading it besides the fact that it would be about someone spending a year at Oxford (nothing gets past me). It was so much more than that. It was a delight in the end. I have loved Julia Whelan's narration in the past and it looks like I enjoy her writing just as much.

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review 2018-04-26 20:59
Year One - Nora Roberts

Year One by Nora Roberts
Book starts out overseas a couple has attended end of the year celebrations with family and return to NY after the first.
The husband becomes deadly sick and gives it to his wife who also dies soon after. The daughter is pregnant with twins and her husband has died from the virus.
The OB and EMT keep the woman going strong. There is another group of newspaper reporters and they strike out to get the real on the street story to report on. There is also another group of people who have strange powers and use them to keep safe.
There is also a group that want the cannies-those with powers - to die. There is no hope for a cure.
Found this book similar to the tv show=revolution except this one has magic. They all learn to survive and all have skills they bring to the table to share with all.
Good read, hard at times with harsh conditions to listen to about.
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).

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