Review: Every Other Wednesday by Susan Kietzman

This is the story of three women moving from one phase to another in their life journeys, meeting for lunch to vent and learn and make decisions.

I would’ve liked more depth of character and personality in Joan, Ellie and Alice. I saw a lot of their behaviors but didn’t feel like I knew them very well. And because I didn’t know them, their behaviors annoyed me instead of endearing me, which is too bad because this could’ve been a terrific book. 

Unfortunately, the book seemed more like a list of “sins” (in the characters’ eyes) — gambling, homosexuality, a woman making her own money —  than a story of three authentic women. 

I did like the title, and it reminded me of another “Wednesday” book I’ve read — one I absolutely adored: The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton, which got 4 fat and happy stars from me. 

-Calliope 

Buy Every Other Wednesday

Review: Four Bridesmaids and a White Wedding by Fiona Collins 

What a hoot! Wendy’s getting married, and the bridesmaids do some early celebrating on a spa weekend. Except the spa part falls through and they’d never guess what was in store for them instead. 
Collins successfully writes this romcom with a true ensemble cast. Each woman reminded me of someone I know in real life, so reading this book became something of a movie in my head with my friends as the actors.  I won’t name names here, but if you read it you might recognize yourself. (For the record, I’m either Tasmin or JoJo.)

Four Bridesmaids is lighthearted for sure, but does take a somewhat serious look at the sacredness of relationships and our responsibilities in maintaining them. Collins also illustrates the strong bonds of female friendship. Sometimes all it takes is knowing you’ve found a kindred spirit to shine the light of truth on your life, and give you a happy nudge forward. 

-Calliope 

Buy FOUR BRIDESMAIDS AND A WHITE WEDDING ($2.99 hey now!)

Musing: Catching up… Prepare for a Trifecta 

Slacker Calliope here. Been reading but not reviewing for a couple weeks, but all that’s about to change. Three reviews will come your way this weekend – maybe more if I finish another book! And the rest of the titles you see here will be reviewed in upcoming weeks, barring the distraction of acquiring more books, in which case… slacker Calliope here. 😜
Btw, my current read is The Final Vow by Amanda Flower 

Review: The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

valley-amazementI absolutely loved parts of this book, but then parts of it bored me to tears. Parts were well detailed, other parts seemed like hours and hours of wasted details, and yet others seemed lacking in details. I also felt strongly that Tan just invented a few parts of the novel to add more drama and those parts,for me, took away a great deal from the book.

I don’t begrudge Tan for making the book almost 600 pages long. However, I think the 600 pages had many parts that were missing and many that were not needed…the different storylines, although connected, just felt so out of balance.

The whole *****SPOILER**** man in the country basically holding the wives hostage and escaping over a mountainside just seemed so out of tune with the rest of the novel. Then we finally have this novel ending in a mad rush to tie everything together and reunite certain characters. We spend hundreds of pages with the finer details of what some of the women went though to have one of the main focal character summarize her life in a couple of pages saying how bad it was to virtual strangers…again, it just didn’t ring true with me.

As a massive Tan fan, this one left me feeling a bit flat…even more so because I genuinely started out loving it and loved so many parts of it…but at the end of the day, I can’t give it more than a mediocre rating…something I don’t like doing to a beloved author…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh


“Never doubt. Never fear. Never overthink.”

I will admit, I wanted to read this book based only on the cover alone. It’s gorgeous! Plus I read Renee’s, Wrath and the Dawn duology, and loved those, so I assumed I would like this as well. Flame in the Mist had a very Mulan feel to it, but with a twist. It felt real. I thought I was living the story, instead of merely reading it. Pure magic.

She was not a half. She was wholly her own.

Mariko’s life isn’t headed in the direction she wishes it would go. After falling into the hands of the Black Clan, she must conceal her identity and slowly find the answers to why her life was threatened. But as she grows closer to the Black Clan, she realizes that some things aren’t what she originally perceived. There’s more to these men than she’s been told.

“To me, you are magic.”

As she learns to fight with these men, she grows closer to one in particular. And when he learns her secret, her entire world gets turned upside.

“My heart knows your heart. A heart doesn’t care about good or bad, right or wrong. A heart is always true.”

All trace of amusement vanished from his expression. “I may lie every day of my life, Hattori Mariko. But my heart will always be true.”

I do enjoy escaping to a foreign land, and Renee’s books let me do just that. They’re filled with the perfect combination of adventure, fantasy and romance all set in the beautiful locations. My heart was racing, and stopping, at quite a few spots. I am rather anxious to read the next one!!

~Melpomene
Buy Flame in the Mist here: http://amzn.to/2oYGCYv

Review: A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

house-in-the-skyI’m having a *really* hard time with this book. I find Amanda Lindhout a very selfish person. I think she was completely full of entitlement.

Of course, I feel sorry for her. I wouldn’t want anyone to go though this experience. It must have been beyond imagination.

However, from the very start Lindhout put herself in danger time and time again. Why? She seems to just have a wanderlust that she desires to fill. Work, save money, then off again until the money runs out. She seems very clear that she became a journalist simply because it was a way for her to continue to travel and skip the going home part, waitress, save money, repeat. At no point in time did she show any desire to better the lives of the people she exploited (sorry, but it was an income to her, nothing more, that to me is exploiting). She would go to hotels and demand rooms from men that were very animate that she should not be there unsupervised. She would be turned away and then become enraged and go down the street from hotel to hotel with the same response.

Of course this is not a great way of life. However, it is THEIR RIGHT to live that way. It is their country. Lindhout was told it was not safe and her naivety (her words, not mine) didn’t really feel that applied to her. That’s the entitlement I felt she displayed.

As people from 1st world countries often do, Amanda felt that the entire world was open to her. That she should be able to come and go as she wanted. If she hasn’t felt that entitlement, hadn’t felt she had the right to do as she pleased (despite her parents warnings and pleas, despite the warnings from governments, despite the warnings from thee citizens of the countries she went into, despite the warnings of the other reporters, despite, despite, despite!) and go where she wanted, none of this would have happened.

I could almost forgive her if she had truly been trying to help the people who suffered in these countries, but again, she is quite clear (her own words) that she was just looking for a sensational story to win her a sponsorship to a major network without having to take the normal route. She simply decided to call herself a freelancer and went out….without training, without schooling, again, without, without, without…she simply went with the first person that would hire her and didn’t even bother to check what they stood for or if she agreed with any of their viewpoints…

Then there is Nigel. Perhaps this is where I disliked her the most. I firmly believe that there are always two sides to every story. The facts are, she invited Nigel (she later admits she did so in order to screw with his mind, again, Lindhout shows how self involved she is). She goes on and on about him crying all the time…like there is something shameful in that. She gets angry when he has relationships with some of the captors. She damns him for not being supportive enough, for not touching her or talking at times….and yet she tells the reader time and time again how weak he is. He doesn’t want to pretend to be muslim, she decides that it is for the best and just does it without his approval and forcing him to do the same. Again, Lindhout shows the world that it’s what she wants and that’s final. The rest can just deal with it. Here’s the thing, Nigel’s life is on the line as well and perhaps he is just trying to survive. Why is okay for Amanda to cry, and we should feel sympathy for her, but if Nigel does, it’s said in such a way that we should feel shame for him?

Again, I am sorry, I know everyone I know has loved this book. It just made me angry. Angry that she was in the position in the first place. Angry that so many people suffered. Angry that the governments of the captives had to deal with the political fallout from all of this. Angry that people think that they are above what everyone else is saying…

I really don’t care if this experience changed her. I don’t really care what humanitarian things she does now. I feel strongly that she gets well paid for all of it. She isn’t doing it for free. If she were, I somehow doubt if she would be doing it. Don’t misunderstand me, sure you can get paid for these things…the difference is, would you do so regardless of payment? What are your motives? I’m pretty sure where Lindhout’s stem from…

(side note) FWIW, many journalists criticized this book because it contradicted much of what Nigel wrote in his memoir that came out prior to this book…there are a few other instances that her integrity came into question and many believe she has lied about other events (prior to the kidnapping). Many things I read in this book (about her behaviour) didn’t ring true to me….

Until next time…
Urania

Buy it now A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

Review: Seeker by Veronica Rossi

A very adventurous and exciting story, filled with enough action to make even the most stubborn of readers get engaged. I know the teens are gonna love this.

Because this is the second book in the Riders duology, I don’t want to say anything spoilery. But what I can tell you is that this has to be one of favorite true YA series. My kids and I read the first book, Riders, right when it came out. Then I just did a relisten last week, with them listening every now and then, and all the excitement came back to me. In fact, my non reader son actually found ways to be in the same room as me so he could listen to the book, but not making it obvious that he was listening. The audible was very addicting. I found myself actually doing chores just so I could listen to it more. That, my friends, is a sign of a good book.

And my anti romance daughter was equally intrigued with this story as well. I’m always on the lookout for exciting YA books that aren’t completely centered around romance, and this one fit the bill as well. It enough to keep us both happy, and that’s a rarity.

Well, enough about Riders, now onto Seeker. Seeker takes place about 8 months after Riders end. The characters are trying to work past what happened and try to find a solution. Since they’re younger and less mature, they don’t always make the right decisions. They try and do things on their own, so save others from harm, but what they really need to do is work together. Once they realize this, then things start to fall into place. I’m not saying that nothing bad will happen, but it’s easier to deal with the bad, when you have your friends and family close by.

It’s very bittersweet to have this book end. I will miss these characters and I wish there were more books coming, but alas, there is not. But I am happy to see their trials complete and them still together and moving on as a family. 

This series will be added to my master list of YA books and I have a feeling it will be recommended often.

~Melpomene

Grab Riders here: http://amzn.to/2pkiUHD
Grab Seeker here: http://amzn.to/2pkwP0c