Review: The Room on Rue Amélie by Kristin Harmel

I love, love, love historical fiction. And I love Kristin Harmel. So what could be better than this one?

When Ruby moves to Paris with her new husband, she has no idea what’s in store for the both of them. Sure, war is knocking on the door. But things can’t get that bad, can they? After all, she’s an American so she’ll undoubtedly be safe. As she soon finds out, however, nobody is truly safe in these uncertain times.

She naturally assumes the worst when her husband begins to sneak around, to disappear for days at a time. She could never imagine, though, what he’s actually involved in. And soon she finds herself involved as well.

This was a very enjoyable story. It’s beautiful and epic and emotional and so many other things along with quite an ending!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Room on Rue Amélie

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Review: Oh My Stars by Sally Kilpatrick

Love this author. Kilpatrick writes small southern tales with such authenticity. In Oh My Stars, Ivy finds herself playing Mary in a living nativity scene reminiscent of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Lucky for Ivy, Joseph is played by the town pediatrician. Why lucky? Because the baby Jesus turns out to be a real swaddled child in need of help.

So what else? Well…

Heartwarming, realistically seasonal (Christmas is never actually all ice skates, snowflakes, and hot cocoa), and uplifting. Paints the picture of a dysfunctional family without pejorative connotation. And makes me want to read more Sally Kilpatrick, Christmas or not.

-calliope

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Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Sometimes, not nearly enough times, mind you, but sometimes a book comes along and it changes you.

It doesn’t just break your heart, it crumbles it. It grinds it to bits. Sure you can gather all the bits and try to put them back together again, but it will never be the same. Just like crumbled biscuits you can gather them all together and make an amazing biscuit pudding (here’s a recipe! goo.gl/rPn9JF ) but no matter how hard you try to imagine it is hard to remember what the biscuits started out as.

That is my heart now. Different than it was before I started this novel. Perhaps a bit bigger, maybe even a bit better, maybe not, but certainly forever changed.

In the vast history of discrimination in the USA it is sometimes easy to focus on some types, whilst brushing the others under the straw mats of backwoods shacks.

Kya is beautiful. She is mysterious. She is a treasure. Not because she is different, but because she is the same. We all have that need to be seen and to be loved. Even whilst we run from these things, we often are just trying to see if someone will ‘stick’ regardless of it all.

I could go on and on about how an entire (except for a select VERY few) failed Kya. Instead I will challenge everyone, myself included, to see beyond the perceived facts we make about those we know not, and instead, see to the person that actually exists. The richness we find ourselves in or out of in this life, the country we live in, the religion we believe, the religion we scoff at, the colour of our skin, the education we have, well, so oftentimes, it’s just a roll of the dice. We have no control over it. It is decided before we are even born. We are all privileged in some way that another is not. Does that privilege make us a better, or a more worthy person? Or does it mean we need to try harder to be conscious of this and look deeper at those that aren’t so ‘fortunate’ as ourselves? If nothing else, I hope this book shows us that at the end of the day, we are not just cheating those we cast aside, but also ourselves by our inability to see the treasures right before our eyes.

Read this book. I could hardly put it down.

My heart is still ebbing with every rise and fall of the tides…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it here

Review: The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker by Kerry Wilkinson

I seem to be on a roll with these kinds of stories lately. Stories so far outside of the norm that it’s hard to wrap your brain around them. But so good that you can’t pull yourself away…

When seventeen-year-old Eleanor wakes up in the river, she’s not quite sure what happened. A strong sense of choking, water filling her lungs, being held down, all these things soon add up to the realization that she was drowned. And that she died. But, inexplicably, she’s not completely dead. Sure, there are some annoying things she can no longer do. Like eat. Or sleep. Or feel anything. Oh and she’s always cold, even though it’s the middle of the summer. Still, she’s determined to find out what happened to her that night in the river. All the while knowing that not everyone wants her to discover the truth.

I loved this story. It’s much easier to follow than it may seem. It’s very intriguing and twisty, one I couldn’t put down!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker

Review: The Last House on Sycamore Street by Paige Roberts

The Last House on Sycamore Street frames up a slice of life as a suburban mom. You’ve got the preschool /playdate social stratosphere, the how-much-should-i-work dilemma, and the keeping up with the Joneses drama. Except the Joneses are the former owners of the last house on Sycamore Street.

I liked this book – I could identify with the mom and her struggle to work but not work too much. I LOVED that she and her husband had a great marriage – something not every contemporary novel ensures. And the kids were cute – their smarts, their antics, and their occasional obnoxiousness.

But the former homeowners. Whew. What a piece of work those two are. And there’s the rub. I thought with a nutty couple like that, there would be bound to be a plot twist or a psychological thriller element. No such luck, and so I was a bit disappointed. (But to be fair, it was an expectation I came up with from thin air!) So… not a very climactic story, but a contemporary look at life in the suburbs from a people-pleasing mom’s perspective.

-calliope

Buy THE LAST HOUSE ON SYCAMORE STREET

Review: Mercy’s Chase by Jess Lourey

FBI agent Salem Wiley is a tough cookie who was raised by an even tougher cookie. In this book 2 of a series, Salem needs to solve a decades-old mystery involving Stonehenge, secret codes, and underground societies.

I never knew who to trust in this book (I mean, neither did Salem!), and that kept me on the edge of my seat. Even when Salem thought she knew someone… e.g. Agent Lucan Stone… she had no guarantee that her government partners, family members, or colleagues had her back.

I loved the adventure and the suspense, I totally missed a fabulous clue about who the bad guy was, and I got to be a fly on the wall watching conspiracy theories and patriarchal politics intersect. Plus, Salem Wiley pretty much had me by the arm, bringing me from one point of interest to another, giving me the sightseeing tour of a lifetime. Really a fun ride.

-calliope

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Review: Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

Once upon a time, in a land long since burned to ash, there lived a young princess who loved her kingdom…

Epic, awesome, emotional roller coaster of a book. The end has come and it’s not without heartache and hope.

My emotions were all over the place. I got chills so many times. I could see these scenes playing out like a movie, the battle soundtrack playing in my ear, the characters going through heartache after heartache, it felt real to me. So many times I had step away and collect myself so I could keep going. This book was an experience like none other. In fact, when I finished, I told my family that I haven’t felt this, “What am I supposed to now?” kinda feeling since I first read Hunger Games. I’m at a loss on what to do.

“You do not yield.”

I still have all kinds of feelings flowing through my veins. Sadness is probably at the top, but not the for the reasons you may think. You see, I was late to this series. I discovered it at Heir of Fire and introduced it to my kids at Queen of Shadows. So for the past few years we’ve talked and experienced these books together. Even my son, who’s an anti reader, enjoyed these. But it’s my daughter who I really had fun with. I had to buy an extra copy for her so we could buddy read. In fact, I gave her the day off of school so we could read it on release day. #HomeschoolPerk We laughed and cried and raged together. This is a memory I’ll always have. So the reason I’m sad is that now we don’t have anything else to look forward to. This was her favorite series and now it’s done.

I bet this is how the Harry Potter parents felt when the last book released. The end of an era. Time to move on and grow up. I don’t think I like this.

Because of all the above, this review is a little bit different. A thank you of sorts. Not to spoilery, but I’d wait to continue on until after you finish the book. Just in case.

Aelin, thank you for rising up and taking the world on your shoulders and doing the best you can to make it better. Should this happen again, don’t keep all your ideas to yourself! Let others help you!

Rowan, thank you for loving Aelin and showing her how to the best person she can be. I’m so happy she found you right at the moment she needed you most.

Chaol, thank you for realizing your mistakes and doing everything in your power to fix them. You’re going to be an amazing helpmate with that kind of heart.

Dorian, thank you for reaching down in your soul and discovering the great king we all knew you could be. I hope you have an epic HEA.

Manon, thank you for being so strong when you kept getting knocked down and showing us how to move on from such overwhelming heartbreak. I grew to love so much more than I did when we first met.

Aedion, thank you for being so steadfast in your love for your queen and cousin. Every family needs a member like you. But when your angry, take a deep breath before you say hurtful words. It’ll save you a lot of groveling later. 😉

Lysandra, thank you for being the best friend Aelin could ever ask for. You are strong and have the biggest heart. I am so happy you found them and they found you. I wish for you a very long and happy life.

I wanna say thank you, Sarah, for giving us this most epic of series. Thank you for this roller coaster ride that has lasted for these eight books. Thank you for giving me memories with my children that some parents don’t get. Thank you sharing this world with us. And I look forward to your next series and I’m anxious to read it.

~Melpomene

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