Review: Before Everything by Victoria Redel 

This book is a lot of work to read. It’s emotionally taxing (although I didn’t even cry until near the end) and, frankly, depressing. Anna is dying of cancer. And that’s no spoiler, pal. That’s the premise of the book. 

Before Everything is also about love and friendship and family and a few secrets. Victoria Redel designs Anna’s friendships so realistically that the secrets the women have make me remember secrets I have with my friends … not contrived or hyperbolic or beyond belief, but just stuff we know about each other because we’ve been friends for so long. 

I read this book in hopes that I’d come to a better understanding of what it’s like for the family of a person dying of cancer. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let myself feel it 100%. So instead I read with my shoulders tensed, my mind rushing to get to the next scene, and only half my heart with Anna. 

It’s a good read if you can let your guard down. I held back because otherwise it would’ve been too painful. Thinking about that, well, maybe I did learn what it’s like to be close to someone who’s dying. 

-calliope

Buy BEFORE EVERYTHING

Review: The Terror by Dan Simmons

terrorHave you ever had friends rave about a book? Tell you how terrifying it was? How amazing it was? Have you rushed out to buy that book? Been so excited to start that book that you actually put it off for a few months (OKAY OKAY OKAY, maybe the size of my TBR list had a bit to do with that as well) just so you can savour it?

Yea, me too! The Terror by Dan Simmons was one of those books! Once I finally dived in I was beyond excited to finally get started! Do you know what I found once I did? Here it is…are you ready? My review in just a few short words…

All I can say is that I was about ready for the Tuunbaq to come and put me out of my cold misery long before this novel ended…..

That’s it…

The End…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now (or not) The Terror by Dan Simmons

Review ~ The Breakdown, by B.A. Paris. 

I am new to this author as I have yet to read Paris’ mega-successful debut Behind Closed Doors – reviewed by Thalia – so I was unaware of what to expect on one hand, but on the other hand, was looking forward to this read. 

I don’t want to talk too much about the plot, except to say that it is entertaining (if you take it with a pinch of salt, and don’t mind the blatant oversimplification of dementia), and it did keep me reading to see what happened at the end. 

The pace and characters are nothing particularly new or original, particularly within this genre; the book did keep up its pace and never really seemed to stall or lose itself. 

Bottom line: if you want a quick and easy read, go for it and give this book a go. If you want something with a little more substance and oomph (yes, that is indeed an acceptable technical term!), then I’d respectfully suggest another read. 

The Breakdown releases today: The Breakdown

Until next time ~ Pegasus. 

Review: The Summer House by Jenny Hale

The idea of buying a beach cottage and renovating it all summer has always appealed to me: Painting the deck rails white, power washing the cedar shingles, planting hydrangea, gutting the tiny kitchen and installing beachy-chic cupboards. How great would it be to paint the walls sea beeeze blue, shop for the right outdoor pillows at HomeGoods and commission a beach scene mural? The great thing about The Summer House is you get to have all the fun of a beach cottage reno… without all the work… and with a handsome guy taking you to lunch all the time… and finding an old diary… and a wonderful artist who just needed to reacquaint himself with his muse. 

See, we might not get all that in real life – not in one summer anyway, but Callie and Olivia do. They share their summer with us, beach cottage, romance, family secrets, happily ever afters, and all. 

-calliope

Buy THE SUMMER HOUSE

Review: The Nazi’s Daughter by Tim Murgatroyd

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Books like this one are right up my alley.  Historical fiction, World War II era, a bit of suspense thrown in…these are the stories that stick with me.

Elise has a promising career as a ballerina.  She lives to dance, allowing herself to escape from the fact that her father is a high-ranking Nazi.  She’s somewhat of a disappointment to her family as she chooses to immerse herself in her career rather than fall in line with their Nazi beliefs.  When an injury forces her to take a break from dancing, she finds refuge on a small island.

It’s here that she meets Pieter.  Instantly attracted to him, she resists for as long as possible.  But when their chemistry becomes impossible to ignore, she finds herself in a precarious position as the daughter of a Nazi.  Pieter, the man she loves, is part of the Resistance.  Will it be possible to keep her two worlds separate?

This is, to me, the best and most compelling part of this story.  There’s more, though.  Fast forward to present day New York City.  Jenni is suddenly and unexpectedly the benefactor of her deceased grandmother’s estate.  Because she didn’t know much about her, and because her own life is in shambles, she immerses herself in grandma Elise’s past.  What secrets will she uncover?

A great story for fans of historical fiction with some romance and a bit of mystery as well.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Nazi’s Daughter

Review: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

wildI really enjoyed this book, but it was a bit depressing. It really gives me pause and makes me think about how many people are out there like Chris McCandless. If he had chosen any other place he might still be alive today….but what would he be like? How many people do you know that march to a beat of a different drum? So many of those people who do so are geniuses in disguise. If we don’t find an outlet for the thoughts that go though our minds, what happens? Obviously, Chris wasn’t stupid. He obviously had a lot going on inside his head. It also appears that he kept a lot of that to himself. What if he had found someone to share those thoughts with? What if he had some type of outlet to deal with those thoughts? What is “wanderlust”? Was Chris rebelling? Was he protesting? Was he trying to find himself? Was he trying to reconcile his past relationships in his head? Or was it nothing so complex as that? Was he simply just “being” and going where that led him?

I’ve known people who I’ve thought could seriously live anywhere and with nothing and they would be happy…..material items mean nothing to them. They don’t worry about tomorrow….they know it will come regardless of how you prepare for it…and they know that it usually takes care of itself. I’ve often admired their courage to set forth and not know where they shall end at the end of the day. Staying in hostels or sleeping under the stars…..I’ve also though that there was a bit of madness there as well 🙂 I’ve wondered if they are running from something. Or just simply living life as they *want* to live it….

I’ve often wondered about really successful artists. Authors. Musicians. Painters. Really anyone that is successful doing things in a different way. I’ve often wondered what would happen if they hadn’t found their chosen fields. Or if they hadn’t been successful in those outlets. IOW if Stephen King couldn’t make a living from writing, what would he do? If Prince couldn’t do the same with music, where would he be? If Steve Jobs has never found tech…..The list goes on and on. Of course there are plenty out there that couldn’t…and they died penniless…only to be discovered long after their deaths…

But take it a step further….what if those people had never found that outlet in the first place? Would their search for it be termed “wanderlust”?

Face it, you see someone a bit unkept standing on a street corner and *if* you see them, you might make an automatic assumption…..if you see a young guy standing on the beach going, “Whoa, Dude”, again an assumption is made….

I’m pretty f**king sure the co-workers of Chris McCandless’ at McDonalds who jokingly offered him a bar of soap to get rid of the smell were making assumptions as well. However, they were wrong. Turns out that he was probably the most educated person there. He wasn’t stupid and unable to get work somewhere else. He wasn’t unmotivated. His family was probably more “well-to-do” than any one else’s. Chris didn’t have to be alone. Chris didn’t have to be flipping burgers at McDonalds. He *chose* to…..

I’m not saying that Chris was a closet genius and he would have changed the world. I’m only saying that these are the thoughts that ran though my head as I read this book.

It just all reinforced what I already know….We ALL have these *things* going on inside our head. Some of us just mask them better…..or find a way to deal with them…..no one ever knows everything that goes on with someone….even our loved ones…..we all have our secret thoughts and feelings….and sometimes motivations aren’t clear….even to ourselves…..

a little bit of kindness can go a very long way…..but so can a little bit of judgement…so be generous with your kindness and stingy with your judgement….

and finally…..

“we are all stories in the end”……

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Review: All the Ways the World Can End by Abby Sher

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Funny.  Sad.  Relatable.  Unbelievable.  This book covers all this and more.  And then it goes back and repeats.

Lenny has a lot going on in her life.  A LOT.  Her dad is dying from cancer, mom is a busy attorney who uses her job to escape that harsh reality, and sister Emma is away at college. That leaves Lenny to deal with the day to day stuff.  Still, she’s in denial about how sick her dad actually is.  She copes by keeping a list of all the different ways there are for the world to end.  Oh and her crush on one of her dad’s doctors.

I went back and forth on how much I enjoyed this book, alternating between liking it very much and just liking it.  It’s good, heartbreakingly so at times.  But there are some underlying issues I didn’t feel good about.  Lenny’s behavior at times borders on mentally unstable.  Understandable with all she’s dealing with but still.  And her obsession with the doctor is over the top. Nevertheless it’s a good read, a realistic picture of life and dealing with death.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  All the Ways the World Can End