Review: The Last Wish of Sasha Cade by Cheyanne Young

We should all be so lucky to have a Sasha in our lives. Best friends since elementary school, she and Raquel are inseparable. Even when Sasha is dealing with a cancer diagnosis, Raquel is by her side through it all. She thinks she’s prepared for anything, but really she’s not. When Sasha eventually dies, Raquel is lost. Until the letter arrives.

It seems that, while Sasha was preparing herself for her eventual death, she was also preparing Raquel for life without her. And not just Raquel, but also her brother who she hasn’t seen since they were adopted by different families as very young children. Through a series of letters, Sasha helps them come to terms with her death.

This was such a heartbreaking story while at the same time being so full of hope and optimism. Raquel’s sadness at losing Sasha, her happiness at discovering Sasha’s letters and clues…my emotions were all over the place with this one!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Last Wish of Sasha Cade

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Review: You Were Always Mine by Nicole Baart

I tried. Really I did. But I just couldn’t do it. No matter how badly I wanted to stay awake into the wee hours of the morning to finish this thriller, my eyes just wouldn’t cooperate. So I did what any self-respecting book worm would do. I reached for it as soon as I woke up the next morning and didn’t get out of bed until it was finished.

In the blink of an eye, Jessica Chamberlain finds her world turned upside down. With one phone call, life as she knows it is forever changed. Even though she and Evan were separated, in her heart she always believed that eventually they’d find their way back to each other. But his unexpected death put those hopes to rest.

So she tries to move on, if nothing else then for the sake of her two young sons. Something was going on with Evan, though. Something that involved their youngest son, Gabe, and his birth mother. Jessica is determined to find out what Evan was working on and how it led to his death.

This book has been described as a “race to the finish” drama and that’s no lie. I honest to goodness didn’t know what was going to happen until almost the very end. Trust me, you want to read this one!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: You Were Always Mine

Review: A Necessary End by Holly Brown

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All Adrienne wants is a baby.  Is that too much to ask?  Unable to have one of her own, she and husband Gabe have jumped through every hoop to make their dream come true.  And it almost happened once.  Now that chance is here once again, and Adrienne’s not about to let this one slip away.  She’ll do anything to make it happen.  Even if the birth mother’s demands seem a bit….unusual.

So Leah moves in with Adrienne and Gabe.  And they craft a most nontraditional agreement.  Not only will she live with them for a year following the birth of the baby, she’ll also wait until the end of that year to sign the baby over to them.  Oh and she gets an allowance of several hundred dollars a month.  If that’s what it takes, though, Adrienne will do it even if Gabe is a bit less enthusiastic.

When the baby is born, she goes to increasingly sneaky lengths to keep the baby from Leah.  Meanwhile, Leah’s starting to pull away from Adrienne and form more of a bond with Gabe.  And then the baby daddy shows up, throwing everything into a tailspin.

There’s so much more going on with this book.  Leah has a secretive past.  Something bad happened with the previous birth mother, although we don’t find out the full details until the very end.  I have to say, I didn’t like any of these characters.  But in this case, that’s okay.  I think that was the author’s point.  A great little suspense of a story!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  A Necessary End

 

Review: My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal

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I’ve been thinking for several days about how to review this book.  It’s not that it isn’t good, which it is.  It’s just one of those stories that is hard to describe, hard to recommend to people without giving away too much of the story.

Leon’s life has not been easy.  His mom is an addict, and his dad is in prison.  But still, he’s a good kid. He helps his mom out more than a child should, especially when it comes to taking care of his baby brother.  That’s not enough to keep them out of trouble, though. When his mom finally gives in to her demons, Leon and Jake find themselves taken away and placed into a foster home.

As foster homes go, it’s a good one.  Maureen is kind and caring even at her advanced age.  Leon would probably be happy staying with her indefinitely.  There’s a little hitch in that plan, however.  Baby Jake is adopted, and Leon finds himself missing his brother terribly.  And when Maureen gets sick, things go from bad to worse.  He’s determined to find his brother, and he becomes angry when he can’t.

Set in the late 70s/early 80s, the story mirrors the racial unrest of the time.  As a black child with a white brother, Leon knows that things are different for him.  He just can’t understand why.  It’s a sad story, makes your heart hurt for a child to go through so much. Quick and easy to read, hard to forget.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  My Name is Leon

Review: Claiming Noah by Amanda Orlepp

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What would you do if you desperately wanted a child but were unable to have one? What lengths would you go to and where would you draw the line?

Catriona and James badly want a baby, James a bit more so. After trying unsuccessfully, they agree to try IVF. And it works. They soon find themselves the parents of a healthy baby boy. Diana and Liam are in the same predicament. They explore many options before eventually settling on embryo donation. And they, too, are successful. Another healthy baby boy.

But Catriona doesn’t find herself easily settling into motherhood. She’s soon in a downward spiral, deep in the throes of postpartum depression. Diana, on the other hand, quickly adjusts to being a mom. All is going well until the day her baby is taken right out from under her.

This story was completely different from what I expected. For that, I give props to whoever wrote the description. There’s not much worse than a book blurb that gives too much away. No such worries with this one. And I’m not going to give anything else away, either, other than to say that there are several juicy little twists and turns on the path to the final conclusion of this story.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Claiming Noah

Review: The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman

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Way back when, I read several of Kellerman’s Alex Delaware stories. And I loved them. Still, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this one. I was not disappointed.

Grace Blades had about as hard of a childhood as one can have and live to tell the tale. Unwanted from the beginning, and pretty much unloved all along, she was left to fend for herself while her mom and dad partied away. Then the unthinkable happens when her mom and dad die. But in a way, this is her salvation. This is her opportunity to escape the life she’s had and maybe have a shot at a better one.

As she weaves her way through the foster care system, she encounters a different kind of nightmare. She survives, though, and comes out stronger than anyone could ever have predicted. A loner by choice, she’s a highly successful psychologist treating people who’ve experienced traumatic events.

She also harbors a naughty little secret side that nobody would ever guess exists. And it’s this naughty side that brings her in contact with someone from her childhood that she’d rather forget. And then he’s murdered. Being the strong person she is, of course she can’t just sit by and wait for the police to solve the crime.

This is a great thriller. There’s a nice little shoutout to Alex Delaware in the plot that will please fans of his series. Grace is a great leading character, even though she’s far from perfect. My only complaint is that the ending of the story was a bit too wordy and drawn-out. Not enough to to keep me from recommending it, though!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Murderer’s Daughter

Review: The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

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This book is so very much.  It’s a love story, a tale of tragedy, a story of folktales, and a story of the Otherworlds in one ambitious undertaking.

Natalie has always felt different.  No surprise, considering that she’s adopted.  But there’s also the matter of seeing things that others can’t even imagine.  It’s just part of who she is.  And she’s especially comforted by late night visits from “Grandmother”, a kindly elderly apparition.  Grandmother has always been a soothing force in her life, a source of comfort and stability.  Until the night that Grandmother comes with an eerie warning:  “You have three months to save him.”  No other hints or clues as to who this “him” might be.

It’s around this time that she also begins seeing glimpses of another world, with other people.  Sometimes what she sees is familiar but not really.  Like peering through a looking glass into the past.  And she’s not the only one with this ability.  There’s Beau, who of course is handsome and kind and confident and all those wonderful things that teenagers love.  But can he help figure out just who it is that’s in need of saving?

This debut novel by Emily Henry is beautiful.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going in, so it took me a bit longer to digest it all.  It’s a somewhat lengthy book at almost 400 pages, but it’s necessary to fully tell the story.  And don’t rush the ending like I did.  As such, I found myself going back to reread on more than one occasion.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Love That Split the World