Review: Dane’s Storm by Mia Sheridan

This is a book about survival, mentally and physically. From the prologue, I was instantly sucked in. I knew this was going to be a doozy of a story. My heart was in my stomach after those couple of pages. Whew!

Dane and Audra’s story is a heartbreaking one. What started out as a whirlwind romance eventually turned into heartbreak and resentment. What they went through, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. The unimaginable pain they have lived with through the years is more than most can bare. They never imagined they’d get a second chance. But the heart wants what the heart wants.

“You weren’t my just my first love. You were my once-in-a-lifetime.”

When circumstances bring them together, Dane offers to fly them back home to resolve an issue, but no one expected his plane would go down and they would be fighting for their lives. While they’re trying to survive they are forced to come to terms with what made them break all those years ago. I wish it didn’t take a plane crash to bring them to this point, but sometimes fate likes to rattle us.

This story is told from both POVs and in the end, I found myself feeling more for Audra than I initially thought. She tends to be rough and tough and hold things inside, but it’s a defense mechanism. She knows once she opens herself up, all her walls will come crashing down. I am thankful that Dane took initiative and started to chip at her defenses. She wasn’t the only one hurting. Once she realized that her heart could start to heal.

“You must bloom.”

This is a standalone which was released as an audible first, but I’m reviewing the ebook. I haven’t listened to it yet. Not sure if this a fast read, since I’m a speed reader, but all I know is that I couldn’t stop. I needed to know they would be okay. I needed to know they would be healed, inside and out. I needed it. And I’m glad I found out. Mia Sheridan has this way of writing that makes you feel it all. All the pain and sadness, and then the joy. Can you epilogue? My heart is happy.

~Melpomene

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Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

I’ve enjoyed other stories by Courtney Summers so it’s a logical assumption that her newest one would be a winner for me as well. And that assumption would be correct.

Sadie is on a mission. Some might call it a death wish. She prefers to look at it as a revenge mission, finding and killing the person responsible for her younger sister’s death.

Unlucky enough to have a neglectful mother, but lucky enough to have each other, Maddie was everything she lived for. Her purpose in life was to protect Maddie, to give her as normal of an upbringing as possible. Tragically, in the end she couldn’t save her. But she can punish her sister’s killer.

There are two stories going on at once here. We hear Sadie’s tale as she travels across the country hunting down a murderer. But we also hear West McCray’s voice as he narrates his podcast after Sadie disappears. He takes us back in time as Sadie takes us forward until they meet in the middle.

A good story, although I wasn’t especially crazy about Sadie for some reason. It took me a bit to get into the flow of things, reading excerpts from West’s interviews. The ending was a bit predictable but there were a few surprises along the way.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Sadie

Review: Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

If the title doesn’t get you, that cover surely will.

When Ellis Reed captures a moment on film, he has no idea what that split second decision will lead to. “2 Children for Sale”, reads the sign. And yes, the children are right there to prove it. What would drive a family to sell their own flesh and blood? Ellis has an inkling as does everyone else in the country dealing with such devastating hard times. Because, you see, he himself is soon led do something questionable. And this moment results in a domino effect of tragic proportions. The question is, will he be able to make things right before it’s too late?

This book is everything I love most in a story. It’s historical and reads like an epic tale. The characters are raw and gritty and read true to life. With so much truth woven into the story elements, you feel like you’re reading a real life account of events. Definitely a keeper!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Sold on a Monday

Review: Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar

Just when I think I’ve read all of the best historical fiction novels, a new one comes along.

In this case it’s the story of Helene, a young mother who finds the horrors of war at her doorstep when she and her family are thrown into a concentration camp. Separated from her husband, she focuses on keeping her children safe. As a nurse she earns herself a bit of an advantage and is able to secure work along with a few extra, although slight, privileges. The doctor she’s enlisted to work for, however, is none other than Josef Mengele. Even as she struggles to help those around her, she still must bear witness to his evilness at work.

This is a heartbreaking story, as are all tales about this time in history. This one is even more so as it’s based on a true story. Helene was a real person, and how she chose to live her life even in the face of the greatest hardships imaginable will inspire you while making you weep at the same time.

~Thalia

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Review: Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Sometimes you start a book and, within the first couple of pages, know it’s going to be one of those books that you can’t put down. And then other times, the start of the story doesn’t really grab you. But you stick with it because you just have a feeling…

When Flora rushes home to be by the side of her injured father, she knows there will be unpleasant memories to face. The disappearance/presumed death of her mother has haunted the family for years. And it doesn’t help matters that her dad believes he’s seen her around town recently. Can Flora finally discover the truth about what happened? And what other secrets will be uncovered in the process?

This is one of those stories that got better and better with each page. Suspenseful, yes. But not in the manner you’d expect. The story unfolds bit by bit, alternating between past and present and largely in the form of letters left behind by Flora’s mother. And the ending is good, still leaving some questions unanswered as many great stories do.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Swimming Lessons

Review: Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

Heartbreaking. That’s the only thing I can say about this one. Even more so because it’s based on true events.

It’s 1948. Young Sally, still reeling from the death of her father, is desperate to fit it. So, on a dare, she steals a notebook from the local Woolworth’s. This one childish mistake sets in motion a chain of events that will have lasting repercussions. When a man posing as an FBI agent approaches her outside the store, Sally’s innocence and gullible nature guarantee that she’ll believe him. But what excuse for her mother, who allows this man to take Sally off on a supposed trip to the seashore? The only excuse I can think of is that it was a different time, simpler and more trusting.

For almost two years, Sally is victimized by Frank. They travel across the country, Sally being held against her will. Along the way, there are people who see something in Sally. And these people even make attempts to help her without truly knowing the extent of her abuse. Still, Sally must reach within herself and have the courage to speak up before she can be rescued.

While some liberties have been taken in the telling of Sally’s story, the fact remains that she was a real person and a real kidnapping victim. An interesting side note: Sally’s story was the inspiration for Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Rust & Stardust

Review: How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan

Sisters Lauren and Jenna have been thick as thieves since their childhood when their mother was always painting and traveling — and their dad was more pal than caregiver.

Decades later, Jenna and Lauren still have each other’s backs as they (and next generation Mack) spend a summer together on Martha’s Vineyard — while mom Nancy tries to sell the childhood home.

I loved the secrets in this book! They weren’t too angsty or twisty… they were barely predictable… just enough to make the book easy and believable. And when they unraveled, I saw exactly why they were such long-held secrets. And I could understand why Mack wanted the truth from everyone from there on out!

Though I enjoyed all the characters – and Morgan developed them all well – I think Mack was a brilliant addition to the cast. As a teenager in a cast largely of adults, she often was by herself or feeling on the periphery of the action. But that was actually a stroke of genius – Mack was the observer of all that was happening, and clued me (the reader) in to the truth.

Besides Mack, I adored Lauren’s boat-builder ex boyfriend. He handled teenager drama like a champ, was the perfect gentleman helping Nancy in her time of need, and was honest as they come.

Way to go, Sarah Morgan. How to Keep a Secret is one of my 2018 favorites!

-calliope

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