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

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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

Buy It Now: Auschwitz Lullaby

Review: This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

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This book made me feel everything at once.  And then it did it all over again.  Sadness.  Confusion. Happiness.  Grief.  Empathy.  You name it, I felt it.  And I almost, note the use of the word ALMOST, cried.  I never cry over books.

Imagine having a child.  Not too much of a stretch for most of us.  But then imagine that child not being what you expected it to be.  Again, not so far off the mark for most parents.  Go deeper, though.  You thought you were getting another boy.  But then…

Rosie and Penn are the best parents.  With four boys, they’ve learned to accept whatever is thrown at them.  Quirks, idiosyncrasies, unusual hobbies and outfits-they’ve seen them all. When Claude comes along, however, they’re faced with something a bit different.  Because while Claude was born a boy, he felt different from a very young age.  He didn’t like typical “boy” things, preferring instead to wear dresses and pretending to be a princess.

So Claude’s parents handle it as they’ve handled everything else their kids have thrown at them, with acceptance.  Claude becomes Poppy.  Sadly, everyone isn’t as accepting as Rosie and Penn and Poppy’s four older brothers.  Secrets are kept and then unkept.  Change begins and then can’t be undone.  Along the way everyone struggles with who Claude/Poppy truly is and will be.

This is such an important book.  Rosie and Penn are the parents I’d want to have, especially if I were just a bit (or even a lot) different from what society expected me to be.  They’re not without faults, but everything they do stems from absolute love.  Their story is a reminder that the world is not a safe place for everyone.  And it’s our job to stand up for the Poppys of the world.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  This Is How It Always Is

 

Review: Happily Ever After by Trista Sutter

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I’ve loved Trista Sutter’s warmth and authenticity since I first saw her on The Bachelorette. I don’t watch the Bachelor franchise anymore, but it satisfies me to see the first Bachelorette marriage succeed.

Happily Ever After isn’t about finding happiness, or filling yourself up with something new to make yourself happy. It’s about taking another look at the life you have — the life you choose each day — and appreciating all of it: the rough, the easy, the sad, the joyful, the frustrating, and the tragic. We can’t see the full picture of our lives, because so much of our own life hasn’t happened yet. But Trista helps the reader look back at some of the bad times in order to see how they’ve contributed to the good things we have in life today.

I have had experiences like that: being upset and jealous that my dad helped the neighborhood children (who didn’t have a dad). I didn’t have a lot of time with my father when I was young. When I did, I wanted him all to myself. But when he was home, he took the time to help fix bikes, pump up soccer balls, and smile at these three girls who didn’t have a father figure in their lives. I resented it.

Fast forward 30 years when my father passed away, and those same siblings came over to shovels the snow from my mother’s huge driveway… In their words to repay my family for what my father gave them so many years before. Who knew that would come full circle?

That’s the kind of memory that Happily Ever After evokes. Not seeing the blessing right away doesn’t mean it’s not there.

*wiping away tears* *composing myself* *deep breath*

Okay, so Happily Ever After takes it one step further: we need to be actively GRATEFUL for the people and events in our lives, trusting that things really do happen for a reason. Trista makes a case for writing thank you notes, letting your children make a mess once in a while (be thankful for their creativity and joy!), and putting in the effort to maintain friendships.

Trista’s anecdotes are entertaining. She tells of the ups and downs in her life with sweetness and peace. Her joy and honesty translate through the pages. Read Happily Ever After and be uplifted.

-calliope

buy HAPPILY EVER AFTER

Review: Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss

imageCongratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

This is a very popular book by Dr. Seuss. It’s about starting a new adventure. It’s about being brave enough to start adventure.

Three people in my life recently chose
to begin new journeys. Davy and Eddie are already far, far away in their new home. My blogging partner, Urania, will begin hers in the next few days.

This is my ode to them. To say that I am proud of them. That I miss them very much.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

Like the verses above states, sometimes you will be lonely. You will be battling with yourself whether or not you made the right decision. While you are fighting those self-doubts and insecurities, take a look back and see how far you traveled. You will find inner strength.

And you will succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

Happy trails, Urania! Davy and Eddie, looking forward to the next daily update of your further adventures in Rio!

~Thalia

Buy It Now Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

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