Review: Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber 

Sometimes predictable is just the thing you need, especially when it’s painted with the brush of faith and hope. Macomber is an expert in helping her characters gain faith in humanity and hope for themselves – even when it seems impossible. 

Any Dream Will Do is the motto of Shay’s new friend — the one who will help Shay save herself from the pit of despair she needs to step out of. But Shay hasn’t believed in dreams in so long, that’s a tough order to fill. 

I enjoyed this quick read centered around redemption and loving others. I’m not sure the story was quite realistic – there were some hokey parts where I suspended my disbelief – but it certainly was hopeful. And although only a small part of the book focused on romance, Macomber wrote a lovely happily ever after. 

-calliope

Buy ANY DREAM WILL DO

Review: Seeing Red by Sandra Brown

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Sandra Brown never disappoints me.  While not all of her stories have been five stars for me, they’re all highly worthy of a mention.  Her newest is no exception.

Kerra Bailey’s career as a TV journalist has never been better.  And to top it off, she’s managed to snag the interview that’s eluded all others.  Major Franklin Trapper has shunned all publicity for the last several years.  Now he’s agreed to meet with her, to tell his story as the reluctant hero of a horrific bombing many years ago.  And the shocker for the audience?  Young Kerra was one of the people the Major saved.

But somebody doesn’t want the story told.  Fear of the case being reopened, maybe?  Regardless, both the Major and Kerra find themselves with their lives on the line.  Kerry escapes relatively unscathed, the Major isn’t quite so lucky.  Joining forces with his estranged son plunges her deeper into the mystery of who’s to blame.  And of course, romance happens.  It wouldn’t be a Sandra Brown without steamy love scenes, after all.

This is what she does best, writing about murder and mystery and love.  Another winner from this author!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Seeing Red

 

Review: This is Not the End by Chandler Baker

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What if, instead of dead actually being forever, there was a possibility of bringing your loved ones back to life?  Instead of losing those closest to you forever, you had the power to undo their death?  That’s exactly the premise in this chillingly semi-futuristic story.

In one instant, Lake’s world is shattered.  A tragic car accident takes the lives of both her best friend and her boyfriend.  Miraculously she survives.  But she’s left with an unimaginable dilemma.  You see,  technology has given people the ability to be resurrected.  Not just randomly and at will, mind you.  Instead, every person receives one resurrection on their eighteenth birthday to be used on whoever they choose.  That’s one resurrection, though.  And Lake can’t imagine making that choice.

To make matters even more difficult, her resurrection choice has already been promised to her older brother who was tragically paralyzed years earlier.  She’s not even close to her brother anymore, so she surely can’t imagine wasting this precious gift on him. Especially when the love of her life and her best friend have died.

Things aren’t always what they seem, of course.  As Lake struggles to come to terms with the accident, while also recovering from her own injuries, she discoveries that nobody is who they seem to be.  And then, of course, there’s a new guy to complicate matters.

This story is a lot of things.  It’s science fiction, for now at least.  It’s a romance.  It’s a teen drama.  And it’s a mystery with one heck of a twist at the end that I sure didn’t see coming.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  This is Not the End

 

Review: Guilty by Laura Elliot

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I’m going to preface this review by saying that this one didn’t grab me right away as many psychological thrillers do.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at the beginning.  In fact, I almost gave up on it.  I’m glad I didn’t.

Constance is missing.  When the thirteen-year-old suddenly disappears, all efforts are put into finding her.  Her much loved uncle Karl soon finds himself the focus of the investigation.  Through a series of circumstantial pieces of evidence along with a determined journalist, he quickly becomes suspect number one.

Fast forward six years…

And I’m stopping here.  If you read the blurbs on various book-related sites, you’ll find more details leading up to this point.  But I’m not going to give them to you.  Part of the pleasure of this story was the discovery, the itchy inkling feeling I had as I got deeper and deeper into the story.  And I’d like for you to have that same experience.  So go forth and enjoy!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Guilty

 

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 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