Category: Fiction

TLC Review: The Secrets of Flight

May 6, 2016 Fiction, Historical Fiction 9 ★★★

TLC Review: The Secrets of FlightTitle: The Secrets of Flight
Author: Maggie Leffler
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: Enjoyable and heartwarming with great characters, but it also felt fairly average and obvious.

Mary Browning has led a full and exciting life, but as she has gotten older and suffered several losses, she’s become lonely and withdrawn. She has also avoided sharing her life story with anyone, despite a desire to write her memoirs, until a young woman named Elyse joins her writing group. Elyse’s resemblance to Mary’s younger sister prompts her to open up and begins a relationship that will help both of them find the emotional support they’re missing in their lives. Read more »

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#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: The Atomic Weight of Love

May 3, 2016 Fiction, Historical Fiction 16 ★★★

#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: The Atomic Weight of LoveTitle: The Atomic Weight of Love: A Novel
Author: Elizabeth J. Church
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: I liked the idea of this book and the writing was beautiful, but the tone was too detached and the glimpses of the protagonists life were too brief.

“In 1941, at seventeen years old, Meridian begins her ornithology studies at the University of Chicago. She is soon drawn to Alden Whetstone, a brilliant, complicated physics professor who opens her eyes to the fundamentals and poetry of his field, the beauty of motion, space and time, the delicate balance of force and energy that allows a bird to fly. Entranced and in love, Meridian defers her own career path and follows Alden west to Los Alamos, where he is engaged in a secret government project (later known to be the atomic bomb).” (Source) Once there, Alden and Meridian’s relationship suffers. They no longer have the intellectual conversations she so loved and she resents that Alden respects her less now that she no longer has the academic career she gave up for him. When, twenty years later, a young Vietnam veteran shakes up Meridian’s life, she must decide if it’s too late to start again. Read more »

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#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: If I Was Your Girl

May 1, 2016 Fiction 6 ★★★★

#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: If I Was Your GirlTitle: If I Was Your Girl
Author: Meredith Russo
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: Although not my usual type of book, I loved the authentic characters and the heartwarming, edifying story.

“Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone. But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won’t be able to see past it. Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love?” (Source) Read more »

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#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: Britt-Marie Was Here

April 28, 2016 Fiction 6 ★★★★

#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: Britt-Marie Was HereTitle: Britt-Marie Was Here
Author: Fredrik Backman
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

At 63 years old, Britt-Marie is used to living for others and very set in her ways, so it takes a lot to convince her to leave her husband of 40 years. This is the beginning of the path that leads her to the small, crumbling town of Brog where the residents may need her as much as she needs them. Through a number of unexpected adventures, from coaching a soccer team despite her previous hatred of the sport to the romantic advances of a kind policeman, she just might learn to live for herself. Read more »

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Review: The Chief

April 11, 2016 Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance, Uncategorized 14 ★★★★★

Review: The ChiefTitle: The Chief (Highland Guard, #1)
Author: Monica McCarty
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: This was just as good as the first book I read in the series and despite major similarities, felt like a fresh story.

For my Reluctant Romantic project in February, I read four romances and while I enjoyed them all more than I expected, my very favorite was The Recruit. This was book number six in the author’s Highland Guard series and I immediately wondered if I’d like the rest as well. I admit that I also had/have an image of romances as particularly formulaic, so I was especially curious if similarities between books by a given author would be great enough that they’d all feel the same. To find out, I picked up this first book in the series, The Chief. Read more »

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Review: The Summer Before the War

April 6, 2016 Fiction, Historical Fiction 6 ★★★

Review: The Summer Before the WarTitle: The Summer Before the War
Author: Helen Simonson
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: This was a cute story, but too predictable to be complex and not quite happy enough to justify the predictability.

In East Sussex, in the summer before the start of WWI, the big news is the progressive choice of a female Latin teacher, Beatrice Nash. The wealthy Agatha Grange, who pushed for Beatrice’s appointment, is determined that Beatrice prove herself a good choice, despite being more attractive and independent than might be considered proper in a Latin teacher. Meanwhile, Agatha’s two nephews have their own problems as they slowly get pulled into preparations for war. Read more »

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Review: All Stories Are Love Stories

March 27, 2016 Fiction, Literary 8 ★★★

Review: All Stories Are Love StoriesTitle: All Stories Are Love Stories: A Novel
Author: Elizabeth Percer
|Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: I enjoyed most of this book and it did remind me of Station Eleven, but the writing wasn’t as beautiful and I dropped a star because of the ending.

“On Valentine’s Day, two major earthquakes strike San Francisco within the same hour, devastating the city and its primary entry points, sparking fires throughout, and leaving its residents without power, gas, or water. Among the disparate survivors whose fates will become intertwined are Max, a man who began the day with birthday celebrations tinged with regret; Vashti, a young woman who has already buried three of the people she loved most . . . but cannot forget Max, the one man who got away; and Gene, a Stanford geologist who knows far too much about the terrifying earthquakes that have damaged this beautiful city and irrevocably changed the course of their lives. As day turns to night and fires burn across the city, Max and Vashti—trapped beneath the rubble of the collapsed Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium—must confront each other and face the truth about their past, while Gene embarks on a frantic search through the realization of his worst nightmares to find his way back to his ailing lover and their home.” (Source) Read more »

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Review: Terrible Virtue

March 23, 2016 Fiction, Historical Fiction 12 ★★★

Review: Terrible VirtueTitle: Terrible Virtue
Author: Ellen Feldman
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: This was a fascinating story, but given that it was fictionalized, I’d particularly have liked to feel more of an emotional connection.

This is the  “story of one of the most fascinating and influential figures of the twentieth century: Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood—an indomitable woman who, more than any other, and at great personal cost, shaped the sexual landscape we inhabit today. This complex enigmatic revolutionary was at once vain and charismatic, generous and ruthless, sexually impulsive and coolly calculating—a competitive, self-centered woman who championed all women, a conflicted mother who suffered the worst tragedy a parent can experience.” (Source) Read more »

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#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: Jane Steele

March 16, 2016 Fiction, Gothic, Re-telling 19 ★★★★★

#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: Jane SteeleTitle: Jane Steele
Author: Lyndsay Faye
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: Everything I had hoped for in a dark, exciting classic retelling!

“Like the heroine of the novel she adores, Jane Steele suffers cruelly at the hands of her aunt and schoolmaster. And like Jane Eyre, they call her wicked – but in her case, she fears the accusation is true. When she flees, she leaves behind the corpses of her tormentors. A fugitive navigating London’s underbelly, Jane rights wrongs on behalf of the have-nots whilst avoiding the noose. Until an advertisement catches her eye. Her aunt has died and the new master at Highgate House, Mr Thornfield, seeks a governess. Anxious to know if she is Highgate’s true heir, Jane takes the position and is soon caught up in the household’s strange spell. When she falls in love with the mysterious Charles Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him – body, soul and secrets – and what if he discovers her murderous past?” (source) Read more »

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#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: A Tyranny of Petticoats

March 2, 2016 Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism 13 ★★★★★

#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: A Tyranny of PetticoatsTitle: A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Badass Girls
Author: Jessica Spotswood
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: Hit or miss, like all multi-author short story collections, with the misses primarily being too simplistic and the hits mostly being moving stories about important historical events and/or those with great fantasy world-building.

Short story collections, especially by multiple authors, are always hit or miss for me, but the focus of this book on young women in history was too interesting for me to pass up. Surprisingly, an awful lot of them also turned out to have elements of magical realism or were full-on urban fantasy.  I thought the editor did a great job organizing the stories, which progressed chronologically and generally moved from those with fantasy elements to those without fantasy elements and with more solid grounding in specific historical events. In addition to the diverse genres, I enjoyed that every story was set in a different location and at a different time period and that many stories features main characters who were non-white, LGBT, and/or differently abled. Read more »

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