Review: Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde

Three siblings visit their father in New Hampshire. They all have different ideas about how to help him as he ages. They have different ideas about how to help each other (or not). What they have in common is love for their dad, and an ache in their hearts missing their mom.

I generally enjoy books about families and New England, so this was right up my alley. The siblings’ relationships with each other and their spouses was true to life, and I identified with the frustration of having so many opinions in one space!

My favorite part of the story was watching the mom’s secrets unfold. It really goes to show you that you can’t know everything about even your family. We all hold back a tiny part of ourselves — and unless we write cookbook marginalia or we have a secret room, well, those secrets might stay hidden forever.

Well done, Elisabeth Hyde.

-calliope

Buy GO ASK FANNIE

Review: Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

Awww…this book was yummy! Oh so yummy. It doesn’t matter what type of book you read. Romance, Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery, Science Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Historical…it doesn’t matter what type I’m currently reading…this is the type you want…The kind that it’s past midnight, your eyes are burning, your head is all fuzzy, but you JUST HAVE to push through and finish it! I started this book yesterday afternoon and finished it at 2:08 am. I haven’t been so proud and so ashamed of myself in so long! Bliss!

This was a totally g rated book as well…well, maybe pg-13…but it didn’t need lots of steamy sex to hook you or make you go weak in the knees…All of the characters were likable if not lovable.

If I had one complaint (and I must confess, I was a bit off put at it) it was that the ending was too much HEA too soon. Once you read the novel and the characters are speaking at the very end perhaps you’ll understand. I would have much rather Maxine Morrey added an epilogue if she felt that she needed to progress the HEA that far ahead…One had to take in to account that for all purposes, even though they knew one another longer, they had only reconnected for two weeks at this point..a nice half page epilogue would have set any irritation on my part aside and made this a perfect book…

Even as it is, I still loved it…and couldn’t wait to zoom through it…and am already looking for more to read from this author…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

Review: The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

I’ve been going through a bit of a reading funk lately. Work is busy, free time is rare, so nothing has really caught my attention for the last couple of weeks. When a recent road trip came up, though, I knew I needed something good. So I went to this one on my TBR list. Because Chris Bohjalian hasn’t disappointed me yet.

The story starts off with a bang with Cassie, aka the flight attendant, waking up in a strange hotel room in Dubai. But wait…there’s more. *See what I did there?* There’s also a very dead man next to her. She knows who he is, sure. And she even knows how she ended up in his room. Beyond that? It’s all lost in an alcohol-induced blackout. So she does what any logical person would do. She cleans up any evidence of her presence and flees back to her hotel just in time to board her next flight and get out of Dodge.

Of course the story can’t end there. Once back in the states, Cassie finds herself in deeper than she could ever have imagined. And her erratic behavior combined with a dependency on drinking make matters so much worse. She’s in trouble on all fronts. Everything is at stake-her career, her freedom, even her life.

This was definitely one of those books I just couldn’t put down. From the very beginning until the last page, I was completely hooked. It has everything. Family drama, Russian spies, suspense, a few nice little twists…

Trust me when I say this one needs to be on your summer reading list!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Flight Attendant

Quick Review: The Thief by J.R. Ward


Now THAT’S the way I wanted this book to go. Old friends. New adversaries. Same family feel. I love this world. Don’t mind my scatterbrained quick review. The Black Dagger Brotherhood makes me all a flutter.

In every BDB book there’s more than one storyline happening. And sometimes I don’t care and then find myself skimming through quickly. But in this book, that was not the case. I was fully invested in each story and read at a normal pace, for my speed reader self, and loved every word.

This book had all the spice but without all the emotion. Now, don’t get me wrong, there were lots of feels, but nothing overwhelming that made you wanna fall to the ground in despair.

The Thief brought back a few characters that I think will be fabulous additions to the BDB world. Plus we got a glimpse into who the next book will be about and I can’t wait for that explosive book.

I love this series so much. It’s one I reread each year. Yes, since this world is so huge, and I have the memory of a gnat, I must do that. But it’s definitely no heartache to spend time in this super sexy world.

~Melpomene

Buy The Thief https://amzn.to/2FFKLVT

Review: Miss Wilton’s Waltz by Josi S. Kilpack


What an heartbreaking and heart healing story. Once I sat down, I couldn’t stop reading. I needed to know that Lenora ended up happy. When we first met her, in The Vicar’s Daughter, I had hoped we’d see more from her. She deserved an HEA, just like her sister, Cassie.

After stepping aside, so her sister could marry her fiance, Lenora leaves town to make a new life for herself. She decides that teaching music, at an all-girls school, is perfect thing for her. She moves in with an aunt and decides that she will no longer wait for marriage but continue on with her life in the hopes of just being happy. Her heart needs healing and she needs a break from all the stares.

But her quiet life is interrupted by a 12 year old girl with a load of attitude. It takes all her power and patience to dig deep and find the cause of it all. But as she deals with all that stress, the girl’s uncle somehow weasels his way into her heart. From a late night mishap to informal conversations about his niece’s schooling, Lenora tries to keep her feelings close to her heart, at the risk of being hurt again. But after an innocent kiss, a secret is revealed, and her life is flipped yet again. She is devastated and doesn’t know how she’ll ever face society again. Her heart can’t take any more.

My heart was shattered right along with her. I felt like crying when she did. Whether it was trying to teach an unruly child or trying to hide feelings for an unobtainable man, Lenora’s pain was pouring off the pages of this book. But you gotta stay strong, just as she did. Life isn’t without drama. But if you’re lucky, true love will find a way into your heart.

As I’ve said many times before, I love these Proper Romances. They are a palette cleanser. A nice and refreshing story filled with sweet love and enough heartache to keep you flipping those pages.

~Melpomene

Buy Miss Wilton’s Waltz https://amzn.to/2qxxGIs

Review: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has a few different spots in my heart…the first is that he writes brilliantly and beautifully as so few can do. His style is both unique and refreshing. The second thing is the sound of his voice. It makes me near swoon. I could listen to him speak all day. I never get tired of it. Finally, he is one of the only writers that I actually enjoy a great deal of his short stories. I’m not a short story person really. However, I really do find myself enjoying some of his tales. I also love that he takes the time to explain where the stories come from. Sometimes those super short blurbs are more interesting than the actual story! They certainly almost always add to the story as well. If I had a complaint about the formatting of this novel it would only be I wish the blurbs came right before each story (or perhaps the end). Instead they are all in the start of the book so you have to go back and forth…or if you read the book from start to finish, you forget what little blurb inspired the story in the first place. Yes I know you can go flip back and forth…however, if you’re trying to listen to the audiobook (AGAIN! The second thing! HIS VOICE!!!) it’s not as easy to do.

Some of my all time favourite short stories can be found in this collection. I shall only mention one…”The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”. If you can find a copy or a recording of Neil reading it PLEASE DO!!! (it’s also on the An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer cd, which is where I first heard it)

Finally Trigger Warnings…The term. I find it hard to express how I feel about trigger warnings and how silly it has sometimes became in social media. I’ve seen trigger warnings posted such as “dog”, “fat”, “diet”, really this list is endless. And no these were not instances of someone trying to be funny…these were honest to goodness trigger warnings….I’m no one to judge….however, I don’t believe we do ourselves or anyone else living in a censored world of padded rooms full of insulated words…

Again, I’m not a judge or an expert…and I’m not a writer, but my friend, Mr Gaiman is…I found his introduction was spot on for me. It’s exactly how I wish I could explain how I fell about “trigger warnings”…yeah, it might be a bit of an overkill, and you might not want to read it, but I am going to include it anyways…hahaha…if you decided to read it, I hope you’re lucky enough to be able to imagine Neil reading it (I pretty much do his voice inside my head ANYTIME I read one of his books now). Here it is…the introduction of the book:

There are things that upset us. That’s not quite what we’re talking about here, though. I’m thinking about those images or words or ideas that drop like trapdoors beneath us, throwing us out of our safe, sane world into a place much more dark and less welcoming. Our hearts skip a ratatat drumbeat in our chests, and we fight for breath. Blood retreats from our faces and our fingers, leaving us pale and gasping and shocked.

And what we learn about ourselves in those moments, where the trigger has been squeezed, is this: the past is not dead. There are things that wait for us, patiently, in the dark corridors of our lives. We think we have moved on, put them out of mind, left them to desiccate and shrivel and blow away; but we are wrong. They have been waiting there in the darkness, working out, practicing their most vicious blows, their sharp hard thoughtless punches into the gut, killing time until we came back that way.

The monsters in our cupboards and our minds are always there in the darkness, like mould beneath the floorboards and behind the wallpaper, and there is so much darkness, an inexhaustible supply of darkness. The universe is amply supplied with night.

What do we need to be warned about? We each have our little triggers.

I first encountered the phrase Trigger Warning on the Internet, where it existed primarily to warn people of links to images or ideas that could upset them and trigger flashbacks or anxiety or terror, in order that the images or ideas could be filtered out of a feed, or that the person reading could be mentally prepared before encountering them.

I was fascinated when I learned that trigger warnings had crossed the divide from the internet to the world of things you could touch. Several colleges, it was announced, were considering putting trigger warnings on works of literature, art or film, to warn students of what was waiting for them, an idea that I found myself simultaneously warming to (of course you want to let people who may be distressed that this might distress them) while at the same time being deeply troubled by it: when I wrote Sandman and it was being published as a monthly comic, it had a warning on each issue, telling the world it was Suggested for Mature Readers, which I thought was wise. It told potential readers that this was not a children’s comic and it might contain images or ideas that could be troubling, and also suggests that if you are mature (whatever that happens to means) you are on your own. As for what they would find that might disturb them, or shake them, or make them think something they had never thought before, I felt that that was their own look out. We are mature, we decide what we read or do not read.

But so much of what we read as adults should be read, I think, with no warnings or alerts beyond, perhaps: we need to find out what fiction is, what it means, to us, an experience that is going to be unlike anyone else’s experience of the story.

We build the stories in our heads. We take words, and we give them power, and we look out through other eyes, and we see, and experience, what they see. I wonder, Are fictions safe places? And then I ask myself, Should they be safe places? There are stories I read as a child I wished, once I had read them, that I had never encountered, because I was not ready for them and they upset me: stories which contained helplessness, in which people were embarrassed, or mutilated, in which adults were made vulnerable and parents could be of no assistance. They troubled me and haunted my nightmares and my daydreams, worried and upset me on profound levels, but they also taught me that, if I was going to read fiction, sometimes I would only know what my comfort zone was by leaving it; and now, as an adult, I would not erase the experience of having read them if I could.

There are still things that profoundly upset me when I encounter them, whether it’s on the web or the word or in the world. They never get easier, never stop my heart from trip-trapping, never let me escape, this time, unscathed. But they teach me things, and they open my eyes, and if they hurt, they hurt in ways that make me think and grow and change.

I wondered, reading about the college discussions, whether, one day, people would put a trigger warning on my fiction. I wondered whether or not they would be justified in doing it. And then I decided to do it first.

There are things in this book, as in life, that might upset you. There is death and pain in here, tears and discomfort, violence of all kinds, cruelty, even abuse. There is kindness, too, I hope, sometimes. Even a handful of happy endings. (Few stories end unhappily for all participants, after all.) And there’s more than that: I know a lady called Rocky who is upset by tentacles, and who genuinely needs warnings for things that have tentacles in them, especially tentacles with suckers, and who, confronted with an unexpected squid or octopus, will dive, shaking, behind the nearest sofa. There is an enormous tentacle somewhere in these pages.

Many of those stories end badly for at least one of the people in them. Consider yourself warned.

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy it now Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Review: A Duke Like No Other by Valerie Bowman

Y’all!! I just finished this book and now have a stupid grin on my face. What a fun story this was. It’s part of the Playful Brides series, so if that’s any indication…

Mark and Nicole haven” seen each other in 10 years. To say they had a bit of a falling out, after they got married, would be an understatement. Lots of hurt feelings and misunderstandings kept them apart. But now, they need each other. Him, for work. In order to get the promotion he’s been working for, they want a family man in the position. So he needs Nicole to come back and play the loving wife. As for her, after 10 years alone, she’ll come and help him, but only if he helps her. And what she wants is a baby. A legitimate baby.

So essentially, they’re already together, but they’re really not. This reconciliation was not without heartache and sorrow, but it had an underlying of love. It was hard, I’ll admit, watching these two circle one another. They both had past hurts, but together they can heal from them.

I’ve only read one other book from this series, but I am definitely going back and reading them. We see a few people pop in, and I’m sure they’re from the series, and I liked the way they interacted with each other. They weren’t just co-workers, they were friends. They made quite an impression on me and I look forward to reading how they found love. I bet it’ll be just has fun.

~Melpomene

Buy A Duke Like No Other https://amzn.to/2IfwkcD