[Book Review] Hum If You Don’t Know The Words by Bianca Marais

Hum If You Don't Know The Words by Bianca Marais
Photo Credit: Goodreads.com
Hum If You Don’t Know The Words
by
Bianca Marais

Blurb:
“Life under apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl growing up in a mining town in the 1970s Johannesburg. In a rural village, worlds apart, Beauty Mbali struggles to raise her children alone in the blacks-only Bantustan of the Transkei. Their lives are divided by the colors of their skin, and their paths should never have crossed…until the historic Soweto uprising, where government forces violently crush a protest by black students, igniting reprisals on both sides. Their worlds shatter in the aftermath when Robin’s parents are found dead and Beauty’s daughter goes missing. After Robin is sent to live with her irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin, and, for the first time in her sheltered existence, Robin learns about life beyond the white, upper-class privilege she has always known, discovering in Beauty the love and support she desperately craves. While Beauty’s frantic search for her beloved activist daughter puts her in contact with whites and blacks secretly combatting apartheid, her growing responsibility and affection for Robin, whose loss mirrors her own, forces painful choices on them both. When it becomes clear that Beauty could be lost to Robin forever if Beauty’s daughter is found, Robin makes a risky decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery that brings to light the harsh truths and injustices of a society she thought she knew.”
My Review:
Growing up as a white girl in the United States hasn’t always been easy, and my parents, and now my husband and I, have worked very hard to get where we are. After reading this book, however, I realize that I’ve definitely lived a sheltered and fairly easy life. My eyes were opened while reading this book. I’ve learned about apartheid in school, but I had no idea that things like the Soweto uprising occurred. I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. The writing draws you in and captivates you. Ms. Marais’ descriptions and writing style are very well done. To be drawn into this time and place, and to be a part of such a difficult and harsh period in South Africa’s history, is surreal. The emotion seeps from the pages. Beauty is a difficult character to understand; she leaves her sons alone in order to go find her daughter. She thinks this journey will be a quick one. When it’s not, she doesn’t give up. Her sons are being taken care of by the community at home while she continues to search for her daughter. I love her determination and love for her child. Robin is just a child, but she and Beauty are bound together by the grief they share following the uprising. I had to keep reminding myself that Robin was just a child; she made some choices that, as an adult, made me scream at her through the pages. How could she be so selfish? Thankfully, she realizes her mistake and tries her best to fix it. The growth of both of these characters throughout the book is amazing to watch. It’s unthinkable the atrocities that occur around the world today, and those that have occurred in the past, and it’s when we step out of our own worlds, our own boxes, and truly see around us that we can begin to make things right. I loved that this book took me out of my comfort zone. I loved the lessons learned. This book is very well written. The characters come to life on the page, and you feel like you are there, living the story along with them. There are so many lessons to be learned in this book. We are all the same. We may look different, come from different places, speak different languages, have different experiences, but we are all the same. We just want to live, provide for our families, be loved, and be safe. Selfishness may seem ok when we rationalize it, but it can cause so much pain and heartbreak. Doing what we know is right, even when it is difficult. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it. 
Rating: PG-13+ (There is a little bit of profanity, but not much. There is no “intimacy,” but there is violence. The Soweto uprising was difficult to read because of how many children were killed or injured. There was a character beaten almost to death, and there was also some domestic violence.)
Recommendation: 16 years-old and up. This book is not appropriate for younger readers. 
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
I have a free copy of this book to give away!
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then comment on this post (below) with your name and email address 
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[Book Review] Marysvale by Jared Southwick

Book Review of Marysvale by Jared Southwick

Marysvale 
by 
Jared Southwick

Summary:

“John Casey was ten years old when his mother was murdered…and ten when his father hid the truth from him. Without that knowledge, he has no idea of the enemies that lie in wait. Now grown up, John lives a solitary life, in a world enslaved by ignorance and superstition, when anyone unusual is treated with distrust and even killed…and John has some very unusual gifts. When he is accused of witchcraft, John does the only thing he’s ever done–Run! That is, until he meets Jane who lives in the bleak, imprisoned town of Marysvale. Life outside the safety of the town walls means certain death from the brutal monsters that hunt there. However, life inside, under the rule of a tyrannical leader, means no life at all. As the love between John and Jane grows, the dangers of Marysvale unfold; and for the first time in his life, John discovers that there is something worth dying for.”

My Review:

I really liked this book. I like Mr. Southwick’s style of writing. It is fast-paced and keeps you on your toes. I couldn’t just stop at the end of the chapter, I’d have to keep reading, which turned into some very long nights. I really liked the character development in this book. I felt connected to each of the main characters, and even to some of the characters that only appeared once or twice, like the man who saves John when he is running from the town authorities. The descriptions Mr. Southwick uses to describe the characters make you feel as if you are actually face to face.  I liked the story line even though I sometimes have trouble relating to “monsters.” In this book the “monsters” seemed plausible and were scary. I read a lot at night when I can’t sleep, and can usually read on the couch, but with this book I had to read in bed with my husband next to me because it kind of freaked me out in the dark.

I liked that there was none to very little language in this book. I can’t remember any profane words, but there may have been one that I can’t remember. There is violence, and some of it is scary and graphic. There is a lot of “monster” killing, and fighting. There is a section that talks about human slavery, which I didn’t really like, and thought it was graphic, but it only lasts a page or two. There are deaths in this book, and it can be dark at times, but there are also light-hearted and tender moments. There is some romance going on with kissing. One part that was quite disturbing was when John had to listen to two of his girl friends (not girlfriends) be tortured. You find out that it was only physical, not sexual, but during the scene it is almost implied. That scene was disturbing.

Overall I really enjoyed the book. There is a theme going on about how people will choose to lose their freedoms in order to be safe. I know this argument goes on every day here in the United States of America, and it was interesting to see why these people chose to give up their freedoms, and then how they wished they had them back, but it was too late.

Rating: PG-13+ (almost R) No language, but violence and death. There is the scene where the women are being tortured and there is also a scene about human slavery. It is also scary. At least it had me freaked out during some scenes.

Recommendation: I’m going to have to say maybe 15 or 16 and up. My 9 year-old who has read all the “Harry Potter” books asked if he could read it and I said no. It’s not because of language, it’s just that there are some scenes that I think would be too much for that age group. I don’t want him reading about women being tortured and people being sold into slavery. I know that happened in history, but seeing it through Mr. Southwick’s descriptions made me cringe. And, I don’t want him coming into my room with nightmares of the “monsters.”

I highly recommend this book. I hope I didn’t make it seem too bad. It’s not, it’s just those couple of scenes. I loved it. I loved the tension, the scariness, the characters, the twists and turns, and the writing style.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

*Note* I originally published this review on 8/9/11, updated on 10/29/14 and 10/31/17.

[Book Review] When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Book Review of When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
When We Were Worthy
by
Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Blurb:
“When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurtles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders–their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car–the only one to survive–is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge. At the center of the whirlwind are four women, each grappling with loss, regret, shame, and lies: Marglyn, a grieving mother; Darcy, whose son had been behind the wheel; Ava, a substitute teacher with a scandalous secret; and Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with her friends, but wasn’t. If the truth comes out, will it bring redemption–or will it be their downfall?”
My Review:
When We Were Worthy is the SheReads book for September! This book is written by Marybeth Whalen, who is one of the cofounders of www.shereads.org, of which I am a reviewer for. Marybeth has a way of writing people. It’s so fun to delve into her worlds because the characters come to life on the page. It’s the drama, though. Oh, the drama! Do normal neighborhoods have this much drama? In this book, Marybeth takes an unfortunate event (one that’s unfortunately not that uncommon) and then she allows the reader the view the event from several women’s viewpoints. This was one sticky point for me; I could not keep these women straight for the life of me. Every time I got to a new chapter I had to go back and figure out who this woman was and how she fit in the story. I’m not sure why, since they’re all very different, but I had a hard time with this. Once I figured out which woman was which though, the story and the drama intrigued me. I couldn’t put the book down because I had to know what would happen next. At first I thought I related to Ava because she was a substitute at the school, and she had little children, and her family was very important to her. Oh yeah, and then I learned her little secret, and I decided I didn’t relate to her much at all. As the story unfolds, you learn more about each woman, her past, and her present situation, and you watch her growth through the rest of the book. None of us like these trials we have in life, but trials make us grow stronger, and they help us learn vital things about ourselves and others. It was also interesting to watch the men in these women’s lives. Some of them learned and grew better because of it, and some of them took wrong turns. Trials also help us put our lives in perspective and help us to focus on our priorities. Or, they can send us spinning out of control, causing us to lose what is most important to us. I think it’s important not to allow the latter to happen. Use the trials in your life to help you grow and strengthen your talents, and to focus on what’s really important in life. Ok, I’m getting a little more philosophical than I thought I would with this review. Oops! Sorry! Can you tell I’ve been going through a little adversity myself lately? Anyway, even though it’s a tragic situation, I enjoyed the book. I loved delving into the world of Worthy, Georgia. I thought the book was well written and the characters were very well developed. I enjoyed this book a lot.
Here’s the trailer for the book:
Rating: R (This book is not appropriate for younger readers. There is at least one “f” word, and there is some other profanity, but not much. There are some very adult themes in this book, along with a rape.)
Recommendation: Adult
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

[Book Review] The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

Book Cover for The Confusion of Languages
The Confusion of Languages
by
Siobhan Fallon


Blurb:
“Both Cassie Hugo and Margaret Brickshaw dutifully followed their soldiers husbands to the US embassy in Jordan, but that’s about all they have in common. After two years, Cassie’s become an expert on the rules, but newly arrived Margret sees only her chance to explore. So when a fender bender sends Margaret to the local police station, Cassie reluctantly agrees to watch Margaret’s toddler son. But as the hours pass, Cassie’s boredom and frustration turn to fear: Why isn’t Margaret answering her phone, and why is it taking so long to sort out a routine accident? With the Arab Spring rising beyond the embassy gates, Cassie begins to question not only her friend’s whereabouts but her own role in Margaret’s disappearance.”
My Review:
I haven’t been this intrigued by a book in quite awhile. Outside of the U.S., I’ve only been to Canada and Mexico, so to learn about living in Jordan was exciting; I felt like I was on an adventure. I got to travel to the Middle East while sitting on my couch; that’s why I love reading so much! I have to say that I would definitely be like Cassie. I’m a rule follower. Margaret’s personality was so different from mine that I cringed at some of the things she did, as I’m sure Cassie did. Sometimes I wish I were more like her, but I don’t think that will ever happen. This book is well written. It is split by a present day story line and a past story line. I thought the transitions were well done, and I didn’t have a hard time determining what time period I was in. How Cassie was able to find out about the back story was a little iffy, if you ask me. It definitely crossed the best friend line, but it made for a good story. I loved the descriptions of the people and places in Jordan, and I thought the characters were well developed and realistic. Would I want to move there? Nope, I’m quite content learning about it from my couch. The writing pulls you in and keeps you captive. I couldn’t put it down. Until I got to the end. I did not like the end of this book. Sadly, the ending ruined it for me. It was quite a ride though, and I had truly enjoyed it until then. 
Rating: R (There is a lot of profanity, including many “f” words. There is some “intimacy” through discussion and innuendo. There is also a bit of violence.)
Recommendation: Adult (This book is not appropriate for YA or younger readers.)
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.) 

All That Makes Life Bright by Josi S. Kilpack

All That Makes Life Bright by Josi Kilpack

All That Makes Life Brightby
Josi S. Kilpack

Blurb:

“When Harriet Beecher marries Calvin Stowe on January 6, 1836, she is sure her future will be filled with romance, a family (in due time), and continued opportunities to develop as a writer–Calvin has said she must be a literary woman, after all. Though Catharine, Harriet’s sister, worries Hattie will lose her identity in marriage, she is determined to preserve her independent spirit. God has called her to fulfill the roles of wife and writer, and she knows that God will help her accomplish everything she was born to do. Two months later, Hattie discovers she is pregnant just as Calvin prepares to leave for a European business trip. Alone, Hattie is overwhelmed–being a wife has been harder than she thought and being an expectant mother feels like living another woman’s life. Knowing that part of Calvin still cherishes the memory of his first wife, Hattie begins to question her place in her husband’s heart and yearns for his return; his letters are no substitute for having him home. When Calvin returns, however, nothing seems to have turned out as planned. Struggling to balance the demand of motherhood with her passion for writing and her desire to be a part of the social change in Ohio, Hattie works to build a life with her beloved Calvin despite differing temperaments and expectations. Can their love endure, especially after ‘I do’? Can she recapture the first blush of new love and find the true beauty in her marriage?”

My Review:

I’m loving these proper romances based on literary figures’ lives! Ms. Kilpack has found a fun niche; I like that she does her research and tries to form an accurate picture of what might have occurred in the lives of these important figures. In my mind, Harriet Beecher Stowe is Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and that’s about it. I didn’t really know anything else about her, and you know what? I think she and I would have been besties. Like her, I have struggled to keep clean house (I’m a perfectionist, but kids make that an impossible dream…), and dinner is never ready on time when my husband gets home. Yep, I think Hattie and I would have been on the phone (if it were available) chatting about how in the world we were supposed to sand the floors and tie the bed frames and take care of the kids without burning dinner. Hahaha! I’m pretty sure I’ve had similar conversations with my friends over the years. I felt for Hattie and a little for Calvin. I think he was just a little spoiled and should have been able to help out a little more at the beginning. I told my husband I was glad I didn’t live back then because I would not have put up with his attitude. I’m not going to tell you–you’ll have to read it to find out what Calvin requested as their daughter’s name. Oh boy! It’s a doozie! This is a fun read. It’s well written, it flows well, the dialogue is realistic and the characters are well developed. I couldn’t help but relate to Harriet. I did hope to learn a little bit more about how Uncle Tom’s Cabin came to be, but I’ll just need to find another book written on that. I’ve never actually read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, have you? Let me know in the comments. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it. It’s a fun, entertaining read. 

Rating: PG (There isn’t any profanity or violence. There isn’t any “intimacy” besides kissing.)

Recommendation: YA and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Light in Summer by Mary McNear

The Light in Summer
by
Mary McNear

Blurb:
“For the lovely Billy Harper, Butternut Lake is the only place she feels most at home, even though lately she believes the only one listening to her is Murphy…her faithful Labrador Retriever. Her teenage son, Luke, has gone from precious to precocious practically overnight. Her friends are wrapped up in their own lives, and Luke’s father, Wesley, disappeared before his son was even born. No wonder she prefers to spend time with a good book, especially ones in which everything ends in perfection. But Billy is about to learn that anything is possible during the heady days of summer. Coming to terms with her past–the death of her father; the arrival of Cal Cooper, a complicated man with a definite interest in Billy; even the return of Wesley–will force her to have a little bit of faith in herself and others…and realize that happiness doesn’t always mean perfection.”
My Review:
I haven’t related to a character this much in a long time! Billy and I could be best friends! She is a librarian in a small town, and she loves to read as much as I do. At night she takes her beloved Jane Austen novels out onto her back patio and reads until bedtime. Although I can’t do that at my house without a LOT of mosquito spray, I would love to. That sounds like the perfect ending to a day! The characters that surround Billy are also well written, realistic, and feel like they could be your neighbors. I love the voice in this book. It’s well written, has the perfect amount of description, and is a fun and entertaining read. Although the kids are back at school (sad!), it’s still technically summer, right? So this book is the perfect read to close out the summer. It has everything you need: a hot guy driving a porsche 911 GT2 RS, Jane Austen quotes, a little teenage rebellion, a past that suddenly collides with the future, and a budding romance. It is a bit predictable, but I still enjoyed the ride. This is one of my favorite passages from the book (Because it’s totally me; I do this exact same thing!):
  
“Well, you’ll definitely want to take enough reading material for the flight,” Billy said. “But”–and here she glanced at the books in the stack–“seven books? Do you really think you can read that many? “Probably not,” Mara said. “Except, what if I don’t like one of them? Or even two of them? Or what if I read them really fast?” Billy smiled and, resting her elbows on the desk, leaned forward and asked confidentially, “Mara, do you have a fear of being without a book?” Mara nodded her head vigorously. Billy smiled. “I have that fear, too. It’s why I keep at least three books in my shoulder bag at all times. In case I finish one and I don’t like another. I also keep a book in the glove compartment of my car, and a couple more of them in the trunk. Just for good measure. Because you never know when you’re going to need a book.”
Rating: R (This book is not appropriate for younger readers. There isn’t a lot of profanity, but there is some. There isn’t any violence, but there are a few “intimacy” scenes, and discussions about “intimacy.” Some of the scenes are more detailed than others.)
Recommendation: Adult
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

The Almost Sisters
by
Joshilyn Jackson

Blurb:
“Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Brigg’s weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comic-book convention, the usually level-headed graphic novel artist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman. She remembers he was tall, black, and an excellent French-kisser–but not much else. It turns out the Caped Crusader has left her with more than just a fond, fuzzy memory. That pink plus sign on the stick isn’t wrong; she’s having a baby–an unexpected but not unhappy development. She always wanted to fall in love and have a child, but as a young woman, she learned exactly what betrayal felt like. Now she’s thirty-eight and dead single, having walked–no, run–away from every man she might have married, trying to avoid more loss, more regrets. Before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional lily-white southern family, her perfect stepsister Rachel’s marriage implodes. Leia wants to help, but Rachel is married to the very man who broke her heart all those years ago. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, has been hiding her rapidly progressing dementia with the help of her lifelong best friend, Wattie. Birchie is Leia’s only living paternal relative, a proper yet fierce woman who has long lived by her own rules in Birchville, Alabama, the small town her family founded generations back. Now this grande dame has started a row at the church fish fry that has set every tongue wagging, pitted neighbor against neighbor, and made it plain to Leia that her grandmother needs some serious looking after. Heading seven hundred miles south, Leia plans to put Birchie’s affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and break the news of her blessed event. Yet just when Leia thinks she’s got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie’s been hiding. Tucked away in a trunk in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family’s freedom and future, and will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her unborn son and the possibilities of his absent father, and the warm and friendly–yet deeply flawed and contradictory–world she thinks she knows.”
My Review:
I loved the characters in this book! They are all so full of life, well developed, and realistic. Each of the characters has a great voice; I loved that there was some spontaneity, a few flaws, a bunch of secrets, and lots of love to go around. Leia is probably the character that I relate to the least; graphic novels are definitely not my forte. The great thing is that it didn’t really matter because she has such a great voice that I found myself caring about her and the sudden drama surrounding her family. And there’s drama. Definite drama. Birchie is hilarious and yet so complex all at the same time, and her friend Wattie is such a great side-kick character. Rachel and Lavender both add to the story as well. The plot of this book is full of twists and turns, and is a great ride. It’s definitely a page-turner! The relationship between Birchie and Wattie is so sweet, yet so sneaky. I loved the two of them together. I could just picture them plotting to take over the world while rocking in their rocking chairs on their Southern front porch. Birchville is the perfect setting for the book; the town square with the church and the shops comes alive with Ms. Jackson’s excellent descriptions. I couldn’t put this book down. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Rating: R (This book is not appropriate for younger readers. There is some profanity, including a few “f” words, and there is some minor violence. There are a couple of “intimacy” scenes, and lots of talk about “intimacy” and body parts are named as well. 
Recommendation: Adult
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen


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The Secret of the India Orchid
by
Nancy Campbell Allen

Blurb:
“Anthony Blake, the Earl of Wilshire, is in love with his best friend’s sister, Sophia Elliot. But his plans to court her are put on hold when he is forced to resume his role as an undercover shy for the Crown. A secret document listing the names of the entire network of British spies–including his own–has been stolen. To protect Sophia, Anthony cuts off all ties to her and exchanges his life as an honorable earl for the facade of a flirtatious playboy. Heartbroken and confused, Sophia travels to India, hoping to find healing in one of the most distant regions of the British Empire. But the exotic land isn’t as restful as she had hoped. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery of a missing sea captain, a possible murder, and a plot that could involve the prince of India. And when Anthony appears at the British Residency, asking questions and keeping his distance from her, she is stunned. She still loves him, and, in her heart, she knows he loves her too. But how can she rebuild her relationship with him if he won’t confide in her? Does she dare offer her heart to him a second time, or will their love be lost under the India sun?”
My Review:

Wow! Although this is a proper romance, it could very well fit into the mystery section as well! This proper romance isn’t all flowers and love notes; it has it’s fair share of romance, for sure, but it’s so much more! There’s murder, betrayal, kidnapping, and lots of secret keeping. Sophia is a strong female character. She holds her own against the men who sometimes desire her to look pretty and do nothing else. I liked her spunk, independence, and compassion. Anthony is also a good, strong character. He may have a soft side underneath all that military/spy persona, and it kinda peaks out every once in awhile. Predictability aside, I enjoyed this book. It has everything you want in a proper romance: a few stolen kisses, a little bit of cheese, some great “Awwwww”s, and a mystery to boot! What could be better?? It’s definitely the most edgy proper romance I’ve read (more violent-not more racy), and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked the mystery, the secrets, the search for the culprit, and that it took the book past just cheesy romance, and elevated it. I recommend this book.

Rating: PG-13 (There isn’t any “intimacy,” except for a few brief kisses, and there isn’t any profanity-to my recollection. There is a murder, but you don’t read about it as it happens, you find out after it has occurred. There are a couple of scenes where characters die, some in kind of graphic ways.)

Recommendation: YA (13+) and Adult

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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A Bridge Across the Ocean

A Bridge Across the Ocean
by
Susan Meissner

Blurb:
February 1946. World War II is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Devereux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistance spy. Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark…



Present Day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides–and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.”

My Review:

I have heard about the Queen Mary, but I did not know that it transported troops during WWII and their war brides after the war. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like for those brides to see the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline come into view. Some of them hadn’t seen their husbands in a very long time; it must have been quite the reunion! I enjoy historical fiction books that have a connection to present day (Blackberry Winter and The Firebird), and  so I was excited to read this one. Let me say, I had a few hesitations, especially with Brette’s character, but I did not need to worry. Even though I didn’t fully believe Brette’s ability (nope, not really a believer), it didn’t matter. I completely got caught up in the story, the characters, and the events that led them together. Each of the women in the story had a completely different story; they came from different places, they were different nationalities, they experienced the war in different ways, they had different family structures, and they had different likes and dislikes. And yet their lives intertwined at this particular moment and place. It was fun to watch their friendships grow, and to get to know each of them better. I felt as if I were on that ship with them. The characters were well developed, realistic, and compelling. Ms. Meissner’s writing style is easy to read and understand, although it does take a minute to figure out who is who and where each of them is at that point. There’s mystery, friendship, love, war, secrets, tragedy, sacrifice, and hope. I thought it all came together well, and once I started I couldn’t stop! The title is well written, and I love the cover picture! I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Rating: R (This book is not appropriate for younger readers. There is a graphic rape scene, a murder, and an abusive relationship. It’s war, so there are also war atrocities. There’s not any profanity.

Recommendation: Adult

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Almost Missed You

Almost Missed You
by
Jessica Strawser

Blurb:
“Violet and Finn were ‘meant to be,’ said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good. So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach–just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all. Caitlin and Finn are best friends going way back, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son whom he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice. Told through the alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn, and Caitlin, Jessica Strawser’s Almost Missed You is a powerful story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been.”
My Review:
Wow! What a ride! This book caught my attention from the beginning, and I couldn’t put it down. The writing is well done, the characters come to life on the page, and the story has so many twists and turns that whiplash is real possibility. I liked all of the characters for most of the story; each of them had a moment where past choices and secrets came to the forefront, and in those moments the characters were not all that appealing. However, no one in real life is perfect all the time, so this did allow the characters to be more realistic and easier to relate to. I just had to keep reading to figure out why….Why?? When you get to the why it’s hard to believe that someone would choose to go that route rather than the more sane and less criminal one, but I guess desperation will make people act ways that they normally wouldn’t. The writing is captivating and engaging. It was a bit difficult at first to figure out who everyone was and the time period they were in, but it got easier as I kept reading. The title of this book is well chosen. As you read the book, the title changes meaning a little bit. It means something different at the end than it did half-way through. I liked that. I ended up really liking this book, but I didn’t love, love the ending. It was realistic, but not what I had hoped. 
Rating: R (This book is not appropriate for younger readers. There are several “f” words and adult themes. Intimacy is discussed. There isn’t any violence except for a car accident.)  
Recommendation: Adult
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.