Posted in book reviews

BOOK REVIEW: The Man She Married by Alison James

BOOK REVIEW: The Man She Married by Alison JamesThe Man She Married by Alison James
Published by Bookouture on January 13, 2020
Source: NetGalley, Bookouture
Goodreads
two-half-stars
Synopsis

How well do you know your husband?
Since Alice’s fiancé walked out on her, she never thought she’d meet ‘The One’. But all that changes when she meets Dominic. Handsome, charming and kind, Alice can’t believe her luck when he proposes a few months later and moves into her West London home.
Three years on, Alice’s catering business is thriving and she is married to a man she adores. So when she sees that little blue line, it should be the happiest moment of her life: they’re going to have a baby. But then the police knock on her door and Alice’s whole world is turned upside down… Dominic is dead.
Distraught, Alice goes to identify the body. There’s no doubt that it’s her husband. Yet when his estranged brother comes to view the coffin, he insists the man lying there is not Dominic. Alice refuses to believe it at first, but when confronted with irrefutable proof, she finally has to face the truth:
The man she married is not the person he said he was. And if he lied about that, what else was he hiding from her?


I received this book for free from NetGalley, Bookouture. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I just want to begin this review by saying it’s entirely possible I’m missing something. At the time I began writing this review, the average rating for The Man She Married was 4.3 stars.

Unfortunately, it was a 2.5 star read for me.

I think I’m a pretty liberal reviewer. Most of the books I read get at least 3 stars for being “okay.” I don’t think that’s a bad rating. In my reviews, an okay/3-star book means it’s worth the read but it probably isn’t gonna knock your socks off. 4 stars means I loved it but that I found a few nit-picky things to knock a star off for…because I’m stingy with the 5 stars. So if I give something 5 stars, that’s because it blew me away and I either couldn’t find a bad thing to say about it or whatever bad I could say wasn’t bad enough to take even half a star from the book.

Not everyone is going to agree with me. Reviews are opinions and highly subjective. The Man She Married is apparently a great example of people not agreeing with me.

The Story:

Okay. I’m not normally one to keep reading a book I’m not enjoying. So obviously not awful.

I enjoyed the writing itself and my attention was held enough to get me through the book. And seriously… I absolutely loved this opening! It gave me chills!

“As I draw closer, I glimpse the tip of his nose against the pleated white satin of the coffin lining. The sight is so odd and other-worldly, it makes my head swim and the carpeted floor feel unsteady under my feet. My heart is pounding as I get close enough to see him; all of him.

I have no idea who gave the undertaker the suit and tie he’s wearing; I only know it wasn’t me. I take in the curve of his mouth, the sweep of hair from his forehead, the angles of his profile. On his left hand is a wedding ring. I remove my own wedding ring and drop it into the coffin.

The only thought in my mind is how this is like one of those riddles you find inside a Christmas cracker. Because the man lying inside my husband’s coffin is not my husband.

He’s a total stranger.”

So I went into this expecting to love it! But I didn’t really enjoy it until I was 88% done. I know this because I made a note that said “Okay now it’s getting good…here? At Part Three???? What the… “

I felt cheated.

Because the author can write. And she can tell a story. But this story didn’t work for me. It’s too unbelievable and predictable. I know that you go into the story knowing that Alice’s husband wasn’t who he claimed to be – it’s inferred in the title, it’s spelled out in the book description, and it’s literally on the first page. But did everything have to be so easy to see coming?

I really want to give examples, but I’m keeping this spoiler-free. That’s the really hard thing about thriller/mystery/suspense reviews – almost everything is a spoiler!

The Characters:

Ugh. Alice has got to be one of the most naive women to ever have not existed. There were about a billion warning signs about her husband that she flat out ignored. And it’s not because she’s led a totally sheltered life. She just ignores the obvious right in front of her. It’s not just with her husband, it’s with everything! I just couldn’t relate to her at all.

My favorite character was Alice’s best friend, JoJo. She may have saved this book for me. I just wish she’d have shown up on the page more often. She’s smart, funny, independent and wildly loyal and loving despite Alice’s oblivious-ness.

I wanted to murder-kill Alice’s husband, Dominic. Or at least smack him a few hundred times? Which is probably how I was supposed to feel so he’s a good villain.

Conclusion/Overall Impression:

Obviously, there are plenty of people who liked this book. But it’s just wasn’t a great read for me. The writing itself is good and I’d read another Alison James book but the characters killed this one for me. The last part of the book was enjoyable though.

What do you think? Have you read The Man She Married? Leave me a comment below!

two-half-stars
Posted in WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday – February 12, 2020

Happy Wednesday Everyone! It’s time once again for WWW Wednesday ! WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.


Don’t know what WWW Wendesday is or how to participate??? All you need to do is answer the following three questions and link back to Taking on a World of Words, or you can put your answers in the comments on her blog! (You can also leave your link in my comments to be sure I don’t miss your post!)

The three WWW questions are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So let’s get started, shall we?

What am I currently reading?

Demelza: A Novel of Cornwall, 1788-1790 (The Poldark Saga #2)​​ by Winston Graham. I’m basically obsessed with the Poldark television series.​​ Every since I saw the first episode, my husband has had to hear me lament that I do not have the books and have not read them. So for Christmas, he gave me the entire set!! I blew through Book 1 in about 2 days (only because the kids required attention)​​ and I’m loving Book #2 just as much, although I haven’t been able to devote as much time to it as I wish. I’ll probably finish it up tomorrow though.

The Perfect Couple by Jackie Kabler. I have no idea about this one yet. I just started it this morning so you’ll have to check in later to find out how it goes. It’s about a woman who’s husband has disappeared and the police don’t believe her story when she reports him missing. I’ve been in a bit of a suspense/thriller mood lately apparently and this is right in line with that. I just hope it’s not as big a let down as most of the genre has been for me recently!

The Things We Cannot Say​​ by Kelly Rimmer. I’ve been listening to this one on audiobook and am​​ really enjoying it! I had to take a break from it though while I finished up​​ Code Name Hélène​​ by Ariel Lawhon. I never really thought I was much of a historical fiction junkie… okay, at least not historical fiction set during WWII… but lately I’ve really been getting into books set in this time period. It’s a big jump to this from the Tudor era historical novels I usually read. I’m super happy I took a chance and have found another time period that absolutely intrigues me like these are!

The Power of a Praying Parent​​ by Stormie Omartian. We’re going through this book in our women’s weekly bible talk on Wednesdays. For the most part, I’m liking it, but there are also some things I found completely upsetting and I just don’t agree with so I’ve gone back and forth on it. I might write a post after our group has finished the book just going through why I definitely wouldn’t recommend this book to another parent without a warning!​​ 

What did I recently finish reading?

Code Name Hélène​​ by Ariel Lawhon. Oh I cannot wait to share the review of this book with all of you! Just as soon as I can figure out the words to describe and gush about it,​​ I’ll be screaming to all of the universe about how absolutely amazing Nancy Grace Augusta Wake aka Madame Andree aka Lucienne Carlier aka Helene aka The White Mouse is!!!! I wish I could get everyone to read this book. I LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED IT EVEN THOUGH IT BROKE MY HEART IN ABOUT A MILLION LITTLE PIECES MORE THAN ONCE!

What I’ll be reading next:

Siege of Eden

​​ 

Posted in book reviews

BOOK REVIEW: The Socialite by J’nell Ciesielski

BOOK REVIEW: The Socialite by J’nell CiesielskiThe Socialite by J'nell Ciesielski
Published by Thomas Nelson on April 14, 2020
ISBN: 0785233547
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 368
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
five-stars
Synopsis

Glamour, treachery, and espionage collide when an English socialite rushes to save her sister from the Nazis.As the daughter of Sir Alfred Whitford, Kat has a certain set of responsibilities. But chasing her wayward sister, Ellie, to Nazi-occupied Paris was never supposed to be one of them. Now accustomed to the luxurious lifestyle that her Nazi boyfriend provides, Ellie has no intention of going back to the shackled life their parents dictate for them--but Kat will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.
Arrested for simply trying to defend himself against a drunken bully, Barrett Anderson is given the option of going to jail or serving out his sentence by training Resistance fighters in Paris. A bar owner serves as the perfect disguise to entertain Nazis at night while training fighters right below their jackboots during the day. Being assigned to watch over two English debutantes is the last thing he needs, but a payout from their father is too tempting to resist. Can Barrett and Kat trust each other long enough to survive, or will their hearts prove more traitorous than the dangers waiting around the corner?


I received this book for free from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

So I was browsing NetGalley and had been in a historical fiction kind of mood when I saw the cover for The Socialite by J’nell Ciesielski. I don’t know what it was, but I fell in love with that cover and knew I’d be requesting it no matter what it was about! (This is a super bad habit I’m finding myself doing way too often lately.) I’m actually thinking about doing a monthly series titled “I Chose A Book by its Cover and…” But that’s a post for another day.

Basically, the cover drew me in and the description sealed my fate. I HAD TO READ THIS BOOK! So I did (obviously) and I loved it!

The Story:

The Socialite is about two English debutantes who find themselves in occupied France during World War II.

Kathleen Whitford has convinced her father to allow her to travel into Paris in order to retrieve her younger sister, who has run away with a Nazi officer. Kathleen is a mix of bravery, cowardice, strength, sarcasm, wit and naivety all rolled up into one very complicated woman. Of course, it’s not so easy to tell all that when we’re first introduced to her, as she’s about to sneak her way into a party teeming with German soldiers. When it’s revealed the hostess of this get together is Kat’s sister, Eleanor Whitford, my jaw literally dropped open!

Eleanor believes she’s found the perfect man in Major Eric von Schlegel. Despite his Nazi ideology, Eleanor is convinced he’s a good man who will care for her in a way she has never been loved before. So, of course, she’s not interested in going back with Kat to their father’s house, where she’s expected to live by high society standards. She resents that Kat always does what’s expected of her and never seems to just let go.

Kat’s world is further turned upside down by the introduction of Barrett Anderson, a Scottish bar owner she meets as he is also crashing the Nazi party her sister is throwing during Kat’s first night in Paris. Barrett is also living a very complicated life and he and Kat are drawn to each other for multiple reasons…none more interesting/disturbing than the hidden fact that Barrett is working for Kat and Ellie’s father.

Barrett views Kat in much the same light her sister does and he’s pretty uncompromising:

And you always follow the rules, don’t you? No matter who gives them or for what reason. My guess is you don’t ask the reason. You simply obey.

Barrett Anderson, The Socialite by J’nell Ciesielski

As the story unfolds, Kat, Ellie and Barrett are all shown to be more than meets the eye. And the trio end up trying to escape the Nazis together among multiple twists and turns that come together to create an amazing story I can see myself reading over and over again!

The Characters:

This is a novel where the characters really make it a memorable, wonderful read. They’re well developed and likable. I even found myself at I’ve point not completely hating evil Eric!

I think it’s speaks a lot to the writing itself that the author was even able to get these characters to a dinner with Hitler and make it believable. In fact, dinner with Hitler was one of my favorite scenes!

My favorite stories are always those where the people and places stick with me for years. The characters in The Socialite are definitely going to do that!

Conclusion:

If I haven’t already made it clear, let me just wrap up this review by saying I absolutely loved reading The Socialite by J’nell Ciesielski and definitely recommend picking it up if you’re looking for some historical fiction! It’s way more than just a pretty cover!

five-stars
Posted in book reviews

BOOK REVIEW: God of Manna by Daeus Lamb

BOOK REVIEW: God of Manna by Daeus LambGod of Manna by Daeus Lamb
Published by Independently Published on April 10, 2019
ISBN: 1093395915
Pages: 72
Source: the author
Goodreads
four-stars
Synopsis

The hideous God of Manna has taken away the soul of Mortristan's father. Now, it is Mortristan's doom to find what his father never could: something worth living for.But when Mortristan is forced to hunt an intruder in the God of Manna's paradise-city, he learns just how enslaved he is. As bad as life is with the God of Manna, it's impossible to live without him. Can Mortristan really sacrifice everything he has to find just one thing that's lasting?The God of Manna has reigned for millennia and he doesn't take rebellion lightly...The world needs a savior. And if Mortristan doesn't find a way of escape, he will too.God of Manna is a fairy tale that explores the human search for satisfaction in both its glories and disgrace.Buy your copy today to follow Mortristan as he battles to free himself from the God of Manna.


I received this book for free from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I’ve had God of Manna book on my TBR for a really long time now. I started to read it right after receiving it, but I wasn’t really in the mood for a book I had to put much thought into… Now I kinda wish I’d given it a chance because I ended up really enjoying the allegory in this story!

The crazy thing is, I wasn’t a big fan of the beginning. But it made me curious enough to keep reading – so right when I was thinking “I’m gonna DNF after one more page,” I ended up speeding through the rest of the book, unable to set it down.

This dystopian world is beautiful and ugly and full of dark secrets. Everyone is separated. Those lucky enough to live in the lush land of Elysigard care nothing for the people outside in the desolate wasteland, who work and toil to keep the God of Manna and the people of Elysigard happy. The world itself is a major player in the book.

The main character, Mortristan, is on a search for something his father never finds (or many of us, for that matter)… something that lasts. Mortristan’s journey changes him in ways he could never imagine. He doesn’t seem like a courageous or even all that caring of a person, but he ends up doing miraculous things. He overcomes the land, himself, and even defies the God of Manna.

And that ending…At the time I’m writing this, I finished the book two weeks ago and I’m still thinking about it!

If you enjoy high-concept, allegorical dystopian stories then this novella is definitely worth the read. My only real complaint (other than the slow start) is that I REALLY wish it wasn’t so short. God of Manna could easily be a full-length novel and I think it may have been even better if it was.

What do you think? Have you read God of Manna? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment below!

Follow me on Twitter.

four-stars
Posted in book reviews

A Light in the Desert by Anne Montgomery

A Light in the Desert by Anne MontgomeryA Light in the Desert by Anne Montgomery
Published by Treehouse Publishing/Amphorae Publishing Group on November 6, 2018
ISBN: 1732139113
Genres: General (Adult) Fiction
Pages: 286
Source: the author
Goodreads
three-half-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

A Light in the Desert traces the story of a lonely pregnant teenager, a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper who, as he descends into the throes of mental illness, latches onto the girl, and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. The Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst’s, a deadly act of sabotage. Their lives are thrown into turmoil when local and state police, FBI investigators, and a horde of reporters make camp by the twisted wreckage of the Sunset Limited. As the search for the saboteurs continues, the authorities find more questions than answers. The girl mysteriously vanishes, the assassin struggles to maintain his sanity, and a child is about to be born in the wilderness.


This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

I received this book for free from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Buy on AmazonBuy on Book Depository

My Thoughts on A Light in the Desert:

I have some very conflicting/mixed emotions about A Light in the Desert by Anne Montgomery. It isn’t that the book was necessarily bad or that I didn’t enjoy it, but I can’t say it was one of the best books I’ve read lately either.

The beginning started out a little too slow for my taste, yet at the same time it introduced way too many people, circumstances, and information too fast. The result was that I became confused on what was going on, who was who, and how all the different characters fit together.

Eventually, I did figure out what was happening. Eventually it all made sense how all the different people were linked, but it caused me to have a really hard time sticking with the book.

That being said, once I got over my initial confusion, I did really start to enjoy the story…. which is where all my mixed emotions come from.

Another strange thing that happens in this book is that it almost reads as two separate stories.

There are multiple main characters – Kelly Kelly/Kelly Garcia, Jason Ramm, Billy, and a couple of members from a cult-type group which call themselves “the Children of the Light.” At one point, it seems like the main story that draws them all together is over, but then it picks back up again with a completely new central issue. I was literally halfway through the book and things had been pretty much all worked out and I thought “do I even need to read the rest of the book?” That’s never happened to me before and I still don’t know how I feel about it.

Like I said, I still ended up enjoying the book. And actually the second half turned out to be my favorite… it was just a different experience than I’m used to.

Final Thoughts:

I know this has been a really vague post, but this a book where I feel my reactions and feelings about it are probably more helpful than actually talking about what happens in the book itself. Especially since telling the characters stories would probably give away a lot of the “surprise” about how they all fit together.

Overall, I think it’s worth the read. There are some trigger warnings that you should be aware of before picking it up. They include: incest, rape/attempted rape, violence, PTSD, and sexual abuse of a minor.

three-half-stars
Posted in book reviews

Wings of a Flying Tiger by Iris Yang

This may be the weirdest review I’ve ever written. Probably not for anyone reading it, but definitely for me personally.

Why? I’m glad you asked!

Okay, you probably didn’t, but I’m gonna tell you anyway…

I’m not normally big on war/battle scenes outside of the fantasy genre. I have no idea why, but give me a smoked orc, a decapitated goblin, burnt elf flesh – even a highly bloody GOT battle – and I’m all in! But a real life battle scene? Machine guns, fighter jets, human vs. human in a horrific and pointless war??? Nope. Can’t do it.

But of course, that’s exactly how Wings of a Flying Tiger began — with a jet fighter shoot out and a pilot seeing his best friend being shot out of the sky while trying to parachute to safety… right before his own plane is brought down! This is NOT my kinda thing!!

So why did I love this book SO much???

Wings of a Flying Tiger by Iris YangWings of a Flying Tiger by Iris Yang
Published by Open Books on May 20, 2018
ISBN: 194859806X
Pages: 254
Source: Open Books
Goodreads
five-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

World War Two. Japanese occupied China. One cousin's courage, another's determination to help a wounded American pilot.

In the summer of 1942, Danny Hardy bails out of his fighter plane into a remote region of western China. With multiple injuries, malaria, and Japanese troops searching for him, the American pilot’s odds of survival are slim.

Jasmine Bai, an art student who had been saved by Americans during the notorious Nanking Massacre, seems an unlikely heroine to rescue the wounded Flying Tiger. Daisy Bai, Jasmine’s younger cousin, also falls in love with the courageous American.

With the help of Daisy’s brother, an entire village opens its arms to heal a Flying Tiger with injured wings, but as a result of their charity the serenity of their community is forever shattered.

Love, sacrifice, kindness, and bravery all play a part in this heroic tale that takes place during one of the darkest hours of Chinese history.


This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

I received this book for free from Open Books. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Buy on AmazonBuy on Book Depository

My Thoughts on Wings of a Flying Tiger:

I’m going to try my best to write a spoiler-free review, but it’s going to be tough. There’s so much I want to say about this book! At the same time, I don’t want to give too much of the story away or ruin any twists.

Let’s get this out of the way first – This book takes place during an incredibly brutal war. There are LOTS OF TRIGGERS: rape/sexual assault; extreme violence and lots of dead bodies; in-depth depictions of war scenes and horribly cruel crimes. But if you can make it through all that, you’re probably going to add Wings of a Flying Tiger to your favorites!

The Story:

While the violence is horrific, the story itself is compelling, well-written, and super fast-paced! I found myself pausing so my heart had time to slow down.

Yes, the story takes place in a war. Yes, it’s gruesome. Yet it’s also filled with hope, love, and joy.

The main character, Jasmine Bai, leaves school to travel home to convince her parents to leave Nanking before the Japanese invade. But her warning comes too late and she finds herself in the middle of Japanese-controlled territory! She ends up taking refuge at an all-women college inside the International Safety Zone, a 2-mile stretch that’s supposed to offer safety to the surviving civilians. But the Japanese military doesn’t obey the rules of the zone for very long!

Just when it seems Jasmine’s life might regain some level of safety and “normalcy,” her life is shaken up yet again when she and her cousin come upon a Flying Tiger (an American pilot volunteering to fight for China against the Japanese) named Danny.

The Characters:

The characters in Wings of a Flying Tiger are part of what keeps the story flowing at such a fast and engaging pace. They’re so well-written it’s hard not to find yourself completely enthralled with them, wondering what’s going to happen next and how they’ll get out of their current predicament.

Jasmine and her cousin, Daisy, are sweet and innocent in the beginning of the novel and somehow manage to maintain some of that in the most brutal of situations. Daisy especially seems sheltered from the harshness of the war as the two girls go through life just trying to survive.

The Fighting Tiger, Danny, is suffering from PTSD (obviously not referred to as that in the book) and struggles with nightmares while at the same time being anxious to get back to the fight after his plane is brought down. If I talk too much more about Danny, I’m afraid I’ll ruin some things so I’ll just end right there on him.

There are plenty of other supporting characters, good and bad. Everyone I either loved or hated.

Final Thoughts:

This was an incredibly hard book to read. Not because the story, writing, characters, or anything like that was “bad,” but because the story, writing, characters, and scenes were so good! The story takes place in the middle of a war, while Japanese soldiers are committing the most horrible atrocities imaginable — and the author doesn’t back down from that. She writes it in all its horridness. Normally, I can’t stomach this stuff…

So I cannot believe how much I loved this book. The entire time spent reading I either cried, laughed, experienced joy, pain, relief, fear, love or hate. And I felt emotionally spent by the time I reached the end. But sometimes, the best books just do that you!

What do you think? Have you read Wings of a Flying Tiger?

Have you ever read a book that had all the stuff you hate reading, yet loved the book anyway? Leave me a comment below and thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet!

five-stars