Review: Edge the Bare Garden by Roseanne Cheng

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So this book completely flew under my radar.  None of my friends have read it, it hasn’t been seen on any high profile lists…but for some reason it caught my eye.  The cover’s beautiful, without a doubt.  But the blurb is haunting and full of promise.

Agnes is an “Out.”  Not only does she not belong to any group at school, she often finds herself the object of everyone’s ridicule.  Some of the teasing is blatant, but most of it is subtle.  She doesn’t make things any easier with her reactions, though.  Rather than try to get along with the other kids, she seems to go out of her way to incite them.  Sure, she’s an easy target with her messy hair and weird clothes and strange mom and rundown house and all that.  But it does bother her.  And when the opportunity for revenge presents itself, she seizes it.  Suddenly everyone’s attention is focused on an anonymous blog. Every day they log on to see just which one of them is next to have their deepest darkest secrets revealed.  What will it take to stop Agnes, and just who can do it?

I loved this book for many reasons.  The subject matter is relevant and hugely important in today’s world.  The author deftly shows that everyone has something to hide, even those who are “Ins”.  And mostly, I loved that the story was told by a nameless somebody.  Just another student waiting to fall victim to Agnes’ wrath.  That nameless person could be anybody, and that’s the point of the story to me.

How far is too far when teasing is concerned?  What role does each person play?  Where does personal responsibility enter the picture?  And how easily could it be stopped if you just took the time to talk to someone?  These are all questions raised in this outstanding little sleeper novel.  Read it, give it to a teenager you love, and then talk about it.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Edge the Bare Garden

Review: The Devoted by Suzanne Woods Fisher

What a terrific book! I loved reading The Devoted for Suzanne Woods Fisher’s excellent writing and ability to touch my heart. Amish Ruthie is thinking of leaving the community to search for something bigger and better. Dok has been there, done that, has the t-shirt… and wore it back home for a reason.  Patrick the Englischer faces matters of his own mortality and wants to become Amish, serendipitously taking away time Ruthie might have with her boyfriend Luke. 

The bishop watches it all unfold, shares his words of wisdom, and takes a stand when individual storing-up grows into a problem worse than the Israelites hoarding manna. I so appreciated the discussions of sufficiency and dependency woven seamlessly into a story that centers around family and community. 

Fisher has a way of bringing the reader into the Amish world, so we wend through problems with the characters, connecting and loving and learning with them. I’m grateful. 

-calliope

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Review: Keepsake(True North#3) by Sarina Bowen

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There’s just something about this series that I love. I can’t put my finger on it, but whatever it is, I hope it continues.

Lark has lived through a horrific ordeal and is struggling to get back to what she was before. She goes to stay at the orchard for the summer, in the hopes that the peace she finds there will put her back together. But she has no idea that the peace won’t come from work and fresh air, but from a certain sheltered boy who’s had his own share of trials.

I loved Zach, from the very first book. I was so curious about his story. I loved his vulnerability and yet his strength. He was sweet and patient with Lark. I loved the way he helped her at night. He’s compassionate about her struggles and soon finds himself with feelings that he’s unclear if he should run with.

She looked vivid, as if God had painted her features with bolder paints than he used on the rest of the world.

Watching these two tiptoe around each other was cute. Gah! I love these characters! This entire family, whether blood related or not, is the perfect family. They care and love each other and would just about anything to help each other out. At one scene I had tears pouring down my face from how much these guys care fo each other. They may tease and give a lot of grief, but it’s all in love. I wish I lived on the Shipley’s farm.

This may be book 3 in a series, but it can totally be read as a standalone. However, I highly recommend you read the first two books also. You will love this family as much as I do.

~Melpomene

Buy Keepsake HERE.

Review: A Cotswold Christmas by Kate Hewitt 

This quick and easy holiday romance was cute, but not as satisfying as I’d hoped. Maybe its brevity precluded some of the depth I’ve come to appreciate in cozy romance novels. 

Anna heads to the Cotswolds from New York City, hoping for a respite from the pressures of life: relationships, work, and family. What she finds is no room at the inn, and a second-rate offer by the innkeeper’s cousin Colin. Colin is a happy go lucky guy who forms an attraction for Anna. 

I won’t spoil it, but when two roads diverge in a yellow wood, Anna and Colin don’t have too many choices: they fall for each other or they don’t… someone moves halfway around the world or someone doesn’t. 

This is book one in a series, and it definitely seemed like an introduction. I wanted more substance, some subplots, and a more memorable hero. But it was charming and well-written, and a nice way to familiarize readers with a new setting… especially for the price ($2.99). Here’s hoping book two hits me right in the heart! 

-calliope

Buy A COTSWOLD CHRISTMAS

Review: Lost Gods by Brom

28819821Wow…what a wild ride. Parts of this I never saw coming and I have to say they had me all up in arms and twitchy with nerves! Parts of it were downright scary to me!

This book blinded me with parts that were filled with brilliance. Other parts were just so outside the normal acceptable realm of imagination that I had a hard time wrapping my head around it.

That is entirely my fault, and of no fault of Brom.

Do you want to know how I know it was my fault and not Brom’s? Because as I read it, I had no problem believing that the characters he dreamed up were real…as my mind was almost stretched beyond belief, I kept thinking, does Brom really expect me to believe that was not freaking out whilst this happened? No doubt of the character…just the crazy circumstances that they were having to endure…

I can’t say I was 100% sure about this book as I read it. The Child Thief is an all time favourite of mine…From the first page to the last I loved every word. I loved this one as well, I just wasn’t sure I could accept it. I wasn’t sure I could believe it. I wasn’t sure if I would be glad I read this at the end of the day or feel like it was a wasted read…it started out just so wonderful and then I kind of stalled…again, simply because it was so far out there….

However, once I finished the last page (and I was reading at a mad pace to see what happened the last few chapters). I was very sad to see it end. Hell was a small price to pay to spend time with all of these wonderful characters Brom created….I knew as soon as I finished it that any doubts I had were unfounded…I loved this novel….even if it did seem almost impossible at times…

I’m still thinking about some of these characters long after I finished the last page…

Finally…the artwork! Hey, it’s Brom and you should expect nothing less…except expectations often fall flat…but Brom’s artwork ALWAYS blows me away…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy your copy here Lost Gods by Brom

Review: The Goodbyes by Leslie Welch

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I’ll be the first to admit that romance is not my preferred genre.  Wrap it in a nice little murder mystery and I’m good to go.  But sweet little romance stories are not typically my thing.  Still, there was something about this one that intrigued me…

When young Webb meets Bree for the first time, it’s love at first sight.  Sure there’s something damaged and not quite right about her, but he can’t help himself.  He’s drawn to her in a way he can’t explain.  And that attraction remains strong through the trials and tribulations of adolescence, the confusion and turmoil of high school, and into young adulthood.  So even though they haven’t seen each other for years, Webb finds himself rushing to her side when he finds out she only has a short time to live.

Is this one of the best and most unforgettable stories I’ve ever read.  Not by a long shot.  It’s not particularly deep or earth shattering.  But it’s a very good story.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Goodbyes

Review (Take 2): Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult 

Urania reviewed this book recently (Click here for her thoughts) and now it’s my turn. I’ll take a page out of Urania’s book by not including any spoilers.  🙂

This book is about race, truth, blindness, and forgiveness. Picoult will make you uncomfortable. She will push against your cheek until your head is facing truths you’ve denied for so long. She will chip away at the facade of equity that you believe in. You will fight it tooth and nail, chapter by chapter, because you don’t want any of it to be true about you or your best friend or anyone. 

I’m going to say it. I still don’t think just being white makes me racist. But I do see that being white gets me through the day a lot more smoothly than not being white would. For that, I should act responsibly, always standing up for what’s right and true. That will be my small great thing. 

-calliope

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