Quick preview: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

I remember watching Anastasia when I was younger and totally getting sucked in. Heck, I watched it last year and still remembered all the songs. The idea of a princess surviving, when her family didn’t, gave me chills. The strength she would have to have. WOW. So when I heard that Nadine Brandes was wrote a story about Anastasia, I HAD to read it. And yet I knew it would be hard to read. I always get choked up at the idea of her family’s assassination. I can’t even imagine how terrified she must’ve been. Ugh.

Romanov was a magical twist of the story of an exiled princess. It tugged at my heart numerous times and it gave me hope. I think I loved it even more because it wasn’t all real, there was a bit a magic woven into the story. I was not expecting that at all. But I’m honestly happy it was there. If this was a 100% true account, I would’ve been crying the whole time.

While the story was a retelling, some parts were very real and mildly graphic. If giving this to a younger teen, give them a little heads up about what really happened. I know my stomach dropped while reading. I was prepared, and yet I wasn’t, for the firing squad scene.

This retelling is now one of my favorites. I look forward to what Nadine gives us next.

You definitely should add Romanov to your TBR!
Release date: May 7, 2019

~Melpomene

Click to buy Romanov

Review: Alice’s Island by Daniel Sanchez Arevalo

Stories about dead spouses with secret lives are a dime a dozen. Can’t name one off the top of my head because that’s how common they are, how they all seem to run together. So it was with a bit of hesitation that I picked this one up. And I’m glad I did. Because it’s both familiar and different at the same time.

Alice has a good life. Great job, loving husband, beautiful daughter with another child on the way. And then it all changes in an instant. When her husband, Chris, dies in a car accident she’s shattered. Imagining life as a young widow is tragic. But even worse is the realization that Chris died far from where he was supposed to be.

So Alice begins digging. And she digs some more. Eventually her curiosity leads her to an island she’s never even heard of. Soon she finds herself living a new life as she continues her quest to discover who her husband truly was and what secrets he was keeping from her. But at what cost to both Alice and her children?

I enjoyed this story a lot. While the main plot is one that I’ve heard before, the author takes a unique twist with it. The characters are intriguing, and there’s an underlying vein of humor throughout the story. It’s a bit long and wordy at times but all in all a great story.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Alice’s Island

Quick review and giveaway: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Can I just say that I fell in love with the cover before I even read the book? I had no idea what the book was even about when I started reading. I was pleasantly surprised.

Beatriz Perez and her family were forced to leave their country in order to survive. But Beatriz wants nothing more than to bring down Castro and go back home. So she joins the CIA to infiltrate Castro’s inner circle to find a way. She never thought she’d find romance along the way. But she must choose between her heart and her home.

My heart was practically in my stomach the entire time. Many of her decisions could’ve gotten her or her family killed. I was stressing. And I do believe at a point or two, I cried. Not just from emotions, but from the stress as well. She was willing to risk her life and love for her country. I never read Next Year in Havana, so these characters were new to me, but in no way did I enjoy the book any less.

I have quite a few friends who will be receiving this book as a gift this year. Books rich in history like this are some of my favorites. I am definitely bumping up Havana in my TBR and I look forward to reading whatever Chanel brings to us.

~Melpomene

Buy When We Left Cuba https://amzn.to/2D14bGj

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway HERE

Review: A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd

“But she is in the stars I try to read. She’s in the wind of our sails and in the water that surrounds us. I’ve discovered the problem with learning to observe everything in nature—it means I am aware of her, always, because she is in all of it.”

There’s something about a story that says “Inspired by a true story” that makes my heart clench. While I was reading A Song for the Stars I could feel it happening quite often. Imagine living in the Hawaiian Islands in 1779. Your world is small. You only know what’s on your island. When new people come bringing their traditions and unfamiliar wares, your world gets even smaller.

Maile and John meet under very heartbreaking circumstances. She is told to train him in their ways, so he can navigate and find his way home. But the more time they spend together learning and sharing, the more time their hearts soften to each other.

I loved watching them interact. She was so angry and devastated in the beginning, my heart broke for her. She starts out leery of him but, then John’s openness and eagerness to learn about her makes her question what she originally thought. Soon she realizes that her heart may find healing after all.

This story was beautifully written I could see and feel the world around me. And knowing that these are the author’s ancestors, makes this story all the more real.

Melpomene

Buy A Song for the Stars https://amzn.to/2UutgTK

Review: Roam by C.H. Armstrong

Most of us have never experienced being homeless. And if we’re very lucky, we never will. Not so for seventeen-year-old Abby.

Being in high school is hard. It’s even harder when you’re keeping a secret that could ruin your social standing. In Abby’s case, that secret is that she and her family are homeless. It wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time, not so long ago, they had everything. A nice house, good jobs, friends, all that a teenage girl could want.

But one mistake led to another, and one stroke of bad luck piled on top of another. And just like that, Abby finds herself living in the family’s van. Eating at soup kitchens, cleaning up in public bathrooms, trying to stay warm while sleeping in parking lots…it’s a lot for anyone to handle. Abby’s determined, however, to overcome this gigantic obstacle. With the help of some new friends, will she be able to do it?

I loved this story from beginning to end. It’s a reminder of how quickly things can change, of how everything can be gone in the blink of an eye. And it’s also a reminder that we never truly know what someone is going through.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Roam

Review: The Reckoning by John Grisham

It’s been a very long time since I’d read a John Grisham novel. His stories used to be a staple of my TBR list but then for some reason they dropped off my radar. Too many books, too little time I guess. The description of this one greatly intrigued me, though…

It starts with a murder, seemingly pointless. When Pete Banning, a local war hero and town icon, murders a local preacher the town is shocked. Loyalties are divided as the trial nears and eventually concludes. Of course, nothing is ever as it seems. But there are secrets that Pete is not willing to tell, even if those secrets save his life.

Lots of pros and a few cons with this one for me. It’s a great story, full of fascinating characters. And it’s historical fiction set in the WWII era which is one of my favorite genres. Grisham is a master story teller, weaving a story so deep and complex that you just feel yourself being drawn in. There were a few “not so positives” for me. The wartime scenes were more drawn out and detailed than I would have liked, and I didn’t feel they added much to the primary story. And a couple of unanswered questions at the end which always bugs me. Still, this one was a strong four stars for me.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Reckoning

Review: Free by Kristen Ashley


It’s done. It’s over. There’s no more Chaos books. I don’t know how I feel about that. Heck, yeah I do. I feel sad. I love these characters.

We’ve watched Rush grow up these past years and it’s been great. After watching his dad finally find the perfect woman, I knew he was destined to be the same. While the Chaos was attempting to finally move on from the evil that seems to have hounded them from the beginning, he was finding himself falling in love.

He learned a lot from his dad.
One of those things was, you find a redhead who did it for you, even if it was early in the relationship, if you knew in your gut that it was right, you didn’t let go.
So yeah.
He’d made his decision.
He was keeping her.

I loved Rebel. Even her name shows how awesome she is! I loved the fact that she would do anything to solve the murder of her dearest friend, even if it was stupid. And believe me, it was. But, Rush knew how to help her and she knew how to let him. That’s how strong she was. She knew when to back down and let her man take care of her. That’s what I love about KA heroines.

“I’m keeping you,” he said against my lips.
He was keeping me.
I was going to belong to somebody.
And that someone was Rush Allen.

Chaos is one of my most favorite KA series. These books are about family, and not just the blood kind. The brothers will do whatever it takes to take care of their women and protect each other’s backs. They support and encourage each other. I wish more families were this way. This final battle has been years in the making. We see past allies and enemies come together to for a strong front line. I’ll admit, every time a known and beloved character from another series popped up, I got a little dreamy. KA has a way of intertwining her series and story lines to make each book more enjoyable than the last. It’s rather bittersweet to come to the end. Tack is my favorite KA hero so I’m quite sad that this will be the end of an era. But I’m so happy they’re free now…

~Melpomene

Release date: January 29, 2019

Buy Free https://amzn.to/2Rlee1i

Start from the beginning:
Own the Wind https://amzn.to/2CFCQtk
Fire Inside https://amzn.to/2QZF3J1
Ride Steady https://amzn.to/2RqtOsc
Walk Through Fire https://amzn.to/2AkxCSk
Rough Ride (4.5) https://amzn.to/2VhXIhF
Wild like the Wind https://amzn.to/2Vkm1f0

Review: The German Midwife by Mandy Robotham

Just when I think I’ve read every possible historical fiction angle on the WWII era, that there can’t possibly be another tale to tell, a new one comes along and knocks my socks off.

Labeled a traitor, young Anke has been placed in one of Nazi Germany’s camps. She uses her skills as a midwife to help women around her, providing what comfort she can. But when word of her skill reaches higher up, she finds herself being placed in a most unlikely situation. Her services are needed to serve the cause and the Fuhrer himself. You see, there’s a baby on the way. And this baby is very important to the Nazi future.

Of course she doesn’t want to do it, but her survival instincts kick in not only for herself but for her family back in the camps. And at the heart of it all, she’s a midwife. So this is what she does.

This book…is so many things. It’s historical and a love story and a story of friendship and hope and so much more. If you’re a fan of the genre, don’t pass this one up!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The German Midwife

Review: Any Second by Kevin Emerson

Is it fate that brings Eli and Maya together? Or is it just luck? Either way, it’s life-changing for both of them. Each dealing with their own version of trauma, they’re thrown together under the most unlikely of circumstances.

Eli is truly a victim. Kidnapped at a young age, he’s currently on a mission from his abductor – walk into the mall with explosives strapped to his chest and get redemption from all who have done the world wrong.

Maya is a victim of another sort. She’s a victim of her own anxiety. Hair pulling, skin tearing, sinking deep within herself…this is how she deals. She’s also at the mall that day, keeping her dad company while he gets a new driver’s license to complement his new life.

When their paths cross, neither of their lives will ever be the same. You see, Maya’s the one who sees Eli. She’s the one who notices something amiss. And she’s the one who decides to save not only everyone around her but also Eli himself.

Fast forward several months…Eli is trying to get back to a normal life, whatever that is. And Maya is still dealing with her anxiety, made understandably worse with her close encounter with death. And they meet again, this time when Eli transfers to Maya’s school. They’re drawn to each other, understandably. Will Maya be able to save Eli a second time? And will Eli be able to save Maya as well?

This is a very intense book starting from the first page. Heartbreaking at times, uplifting and hopeful at others, it’s the story of what can happen when we open our doors and let others in.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Any Second

Review: The Paris Secret by Lily Graham

This is my absolute favorite kind of story. Historical fiction, a bit of mystery, and a sprinkling of romance all rolled into one. Bonus points to this one for being set in a bookstore.

When Valerie returns to Paris to take on a job at a bookstore, she has one goal in mind – find out the truth about what happened to her parents. You see, her grandfather Vincent owns the bookstore. Of course he has no idea he’s hiring his granddaughter. He does, however, take an immediate liking to Valerie despite his gruff demeanor.

Slowly but surely, she begins to put together the pieces of a puzzle. This puzzle will tell the story of her childhood and why she was sent away at such a young age. But it’s a painful story to tell with more secrets than she’s expecting to learn.

Such a great, great story. I adore historical fiction set in this era. And this one has such a heartbreaking family component to it that I just couldn’t put it down. A definite winner!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Paris Secret