Review: Written on My Heart by Morgan Callan Rogers

 
I loved this book about young newlyweds struggling to prioritize their marriage, children, employment, roots, and friendships. Dottie and Florine have a close, sisterly relationship based on honesty and support. Bud and Glen base theirs more on beer than honesty, and Morgan Callan Rogers outstandingly illustrates their desire to balance machismo and independence with responsibility and growth. I enjoyed seeing the men develop and regress, and then finally take the steps forward to become better men. 

The women change, too.  Through the grace and lovingkindness of her mother in law, Florine discovers the best way to demonstrate love to Bud… without compromising her values. Dottie grows in confidence and is able to be her authentic self — and a happier person. 

I adored this study on the ebb and flow of relationships, set in “local” down Maine. I liked the intertwined mystery, the ever-presence of Florine’s late mother, and the constance of children’s joy and a mother’s wisdom. 

-calliope

Buy WRITTEN ON MY HEART
 

Review: Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin

8574333This is totally my type of read. I love the style. I loved the voice of the characters. I loved the story. Best of all I love all the implications.

This is a story about a woman, a wife and a mother, that disappears. As the family searches for her we start to see that there is much more than to this lady. Is anyone just a wife or a mother? How does one separate this two different identities? Confused? Okay, take your life. Stop and look at yourself. Say you are a college student. Are you also an employee? A daughter? A girlfriend? Maybe even a wife? Or even a mother? A sister? A friend?

This book shows us something that we all know, but no one really stops and thinks about…There are many facets to each of us. Yes, those parts help define us. However, how one person sees us does not fit in with how someone else views us…

As we hear from the children, and the husband, we see that they have very different views of who this woman is. Later, as we hear from the woman, we see that none of these views really “mesh” with who she is.

This novel is going to reside in me for a long time. Yes, I believe we do set out different vibes to different people…we want people to view us in a certain way. However, this novel makes it clear to me that we only see what we want to see in those around us….yes, a mother might act a certain way with her children…different than she might act with her husband….but this points out that children and husbands are often only interested in seeing that wife and mother as THEY want to see her…not as she truly is…

So, now, the question begs to be asked….

Does one even really *need* disappear to be hidden to those closest in our lives?

Just go and ponder on that one for a bit, why don’tcha….

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin

Review: Legend by Katy Evans

01 leg The most REAL ending to this series I could ever hope for.

Reese Dumas is staying with her cousin, in order to get a break from her life and to find the real her. She’s been hidden away for so long, now the chance to find her. I liked Reese. She seems very sheltered on some ways, and yet very worldly in others. She has a very low self esteem and is trying to make herself into a person that she thinks is perfect. But there is no such thing as a perfect person.

Maverick Cage is fighting to prove himself worthy. He just needs a chance to do it. But really all he wants is for someone to be in his corner. Deep down that’s what we all want. When we first meet him, he has this passion and drive and it hurt to see him being rejected for reasons outside of his control. But he never gave up. By some miracle, he stumbles upon Reese and his world is about to change.

Love is a funny thing. I don’t even know if you could it a “thing,” precisely. It’s a force. An energy. A feeling. A moment. A look, a kiss, a smile. All of those things in one.

It sneaks up on you; you never see it coming. And when it does finally hit you, it isn’t a small little poke. It’s like a rhinoceros rammed itself against your chest. Or you just got run over by a car. It knocks the wind out of you. Slams you against the wall. Kick-starts your heart.

Of all the fighters she could’ve fallen for, he was the worst. But for her, he was the best.

The crazy thing about this book is that it seemed like there was WAY more action and less talking. Normally I don’t like that, but I felt this book needed that. We needed to be inside Reese and Maverick’s head to fully understand their trials and pain. Of all the fighters she could’ve fallen for, he was the worst. But for her, he was the best.

While I am sad to see the series end, I think it went out with a bang. With the roll that Remy played, I don’t think this book could’ve ended any better. Bittersweet.

~Melpomene

Be sure and grab Legend (The REAL series Book 6), since Katy will be donating a percentage of sales to the NationalMsSociety.Org.

Review – A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby.

10073People say that brain surgery is hard, and I agree, it probably is, but I also imagine that writing a story about suicide, and making it into a dark comedy, is also very hard!   Nick Hornby has achieved this major feat in his novel, A Long Way Down.   Now, this book came out 10 years ago, but it is the first Hornby novel that I have read.   I’d always been interested in picking up one of his novels (Hornby is perhaps most famously known for his novel, About a Boy), but it was a case of never pulling the trigger, so to speak.    Well, I’m certainly glad that I did!

The novel explores the lives and interactions of four characters that incidentally meet on the top of a building on New Years Eve; all have the intent of jumping off said building.    Hmmm…. Sounds pretty grim, huh?   Well, let me give you an example of what drew me in:

Can I explain why I wanted to jump off the top of  tower block?  Of course I can explain why I wanted to jump off the top of a tower block.  I’m not a bloody idiot.  I can explain it because it wasn’t inexplicable: It wasn’t a logical decision, the product of proper thought.  It wasn’t even very serious thought, either.

The first few lines of the book are full of dark humor, philosophy (actual, realistic philosophical thinking) and candor.   Hornby’s use of the first person narrative really draws you in and entices you into each character’s experiences and story.   Talking of which, the characters are a huge reason this novel works so well; each character is real.  They all have their flaws, and you will spend a considerable amount of time disliking them, wanting to slap them silly, but at the same time, wanting to give them a hug and talk things out with them.   I think when you’re story circles around such a profound and personal theme of wondering how your life has ended up the way it has and not seeing any way forward, the characters need to be real; they need to be human – someone we can relate to.

Hornby is British, so his humor is very dark, discrete and dry.  I personally loved it, but I can see how a lot of people may miss it, or simply not find it amusing.   However, I think this novel will have something for everyone, as it offers hope, perspective and a good old fashioned kick up the rear end.    It’s not all doom and gloom, but it also doesn’t offer a glossy shine on life.  Oh, and there is a film version of this book, on Netflix, and while it isn’t a bad  film, it doesn’t offer nearly the same amount as the book does (and in my opinion, the casting person for that movie should have read the book a little more carefully!), so steer clear until you have finished the book!

Until next time,

Pegasus.

A Long Way Down

Review: The Friends We Keep by Susan Mallery

    
Life sure surprises us. Maybe we get comfortable for a while, but sooner or later the road we’re on takes a sharp turn. How we handle the turn makes all the difference. 

So it is with friends Gabby, Hayley, and Nicole. Whether it’s upheaval in marriage, with children, or at work, the ladies lean on each other for support and laughs. 

The ladies really worked on being good people to themselves and each other. It was nice to read good conversation that reflected positively on women and their families. 

The beginning seemed very planned, bordering on contrived. I felt like I could practically see the framework of the plot — and it should be invisible to the reader!  However, as the characters grew into themselves, the story flowed better and seemed more natural.  The development of secondary characters helped, too. 

By the end, Mallery had me crying. I appreciated each character, flaws and all, and I saw exactly why these friends were keepers. 

-calliope

Buy THE FRIENDS WE KEEP

Review: Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman

433075This was my first Penman book. It certainly won’t be my last. This book was brilliant. There are close to 1,000 reviews of the wonderful novel on Goodreads alone…so I won’t go into details about it. I highly doubt if there is anything that I could add to…however, I must share some of the thoughts I had whilst reading it…

This book grabbed me from the very first page. The last 50 pages, I had to keep putting it down. I just couldn’t handle the pain of it all. I was truly upset. Yes, this is a book of fiction…but the events are based on fact. No matter if the Penman invented the words of her own imagination, there has to be some truth in them….there’s no other way that it could have played out (READ. THE. BOOK).

However the whole concept just has me questioning everything I’ve ever known in life. What can I mean by that? Stay with me and I hope to explain….

I’m American, married to a lovely English bloke. As an American I confess, I haven’t learnt much *real* English history. This book must have driven my husband mad, as the first day I asked him dozens of questions. Bless him, he was googling like mad a few times for me. Throughout this entire book, I had my laptop by my side and googled time and time again.

I don’t know how it is for the rest of the world, I can only speak for me…but I was one who dreamed of a knight to come sweep me off of my feet. To *rescue* me. To be a fine lady dressed in layers of clothing.

The reality? Oh dear me. Where does this fantasy come from? Of princes and princesses? Of Kings and Queens? Of Knights and Ladies? The romanticized version of them. Why does it play such a huge part in children’s dreams? The reality is that women, nay, children, both male and female, were mostly used as pawns of war and empty promises of peace. Love did not come into play. Was there really any concept of romantic love throughout history? Or is that simply a modern fantasy that is pushed onto us? Sounds harsh? Look back through time and tell me why this is harsh? Reality is often harsh….Even now, look around you. Do you not see power and wealth still often play a part in “love”.

After reading this book, I have even less faith in religion. Not that I’ve had much faith in the last few years. I’ve always known that religion has been used as a tool and a harsh weapon throughout the ages, but this book really brought home how “ordinary” men used it in horrible ways. What makes the Pope someone to decide life and death over an entire Country? Don’t misunderstand me. This novel doesn’t really focus on those wrongs….they are merely mentioned as a fact of the circumstances that the Kings and the ordinary people dealt with. Entire countries being under interdict, of men in high power being excommunicated numerous times, simply because the Church wanted their way. I don’t care how much you fancy in there being a higher power, religion has been used as a weapon far too many times…ordinary, simple, innocent, GOOD people have been punished and hurt all in the name of that power…

Finally, although this book makes me question the entire concept of romantic love…I have to confess, it also restores my faith in that love a bit….I just can’t help it. Throughout history there HAS been instances when men and women gave up all for it’s name. Kings have laid down their crowns to obtain it. Men and women have died AND killed for it. So now I am so conflicted. I honestly just go round and round with the concept. There is no doubt that the main characters in this novel married as part of a political power play. However, somewhere along the way, they must have fallen in love. The real Joan MUST have felt conflicts in her life. Her father, the King and her husband, the Prince, in constant wars with one another. It does appear that she chose her husband above all she knew and how she was brought up. It is also true that he forgave her in the end. No matter how else I see it, no matter how much I try to weigh up the gains he would have taking her back…well there is no way I can see that they outweigh the losses he might have faced. At the end of the day, romantic love is the only logical reason for him to forgive her….and really….where is the logic of that in the 1200’s?

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman

Review: The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

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This book is so very much.  It’s a love story, a tale of tragedy, a story of folktales, and a story of the Otherworlds in one ambitious undertaking.

Natalie has always felt different.  No surprise, considering that she’s adopted.  But there’s also the matter of seeing things that others can’t even imagine.  It’s just part of who she is.  And she’s especially comforted by late night visits from “Grandmother”, a kindly elderly apparition.  Grandmother has always been a soothing force in her life, a source of comfort and stability.  Until the night that Grandmother comes with an eerie warning:  “You have three months to save him.”  No other hints or clues as to who this “him” might be.

It’s around this time that she also begins seeing glimpses of another world, with other people.  Sometimes what she sees is familiar but not really.  Like peering through a looking glass into the past.  And she’s not the only one with this ability.  There’s Beau, who of course is handsome and kind and confident and all those wonderful things that teenagers love.  But can he help figure out just who it is that’s in need of saving?

This debut novel by Emily Henry is beautiful.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going in, so it took me a bit longer to digest it all.  It’s a somewhat lengthy book at almost 400 pages, but it’s necessary to fully tell the story.  And don’t rush the ending like I did.  As such, I found myself going back to reread on more than one occasion.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Love That Split the World