Winter Street

Winter Street by: Elin Hilderbrand

Thank you to Hachette Books and my favorite book fairy, Lauren, for the free finished copy for review. All opinions are my own.

Winter Street has invaded #bookstagram and I can see why! Each of the Quinn’s work their way into your hearts very quickly and I found myself flying through the pages of this one.

What endeared me most about the Quinn’s is their ability to see past each other’s mistakes and to just love each other despite any wrongdoings or misgivings they may have. It’s unconditional love at its finest.

Winter Street ended with a cliffhanger, so I’m excited to continue the story as soon as possible!

 

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After the Eclipse: A Mother’s Murder, A Daughter’s Search

After the Eclipse by: Sarah Perry

“But a violent act is an epicenter; it shakes everyone within reach and creates other stories, cracks open the earth and reveals buried secrets.”

Whenever I read memoirs such as this one, I’m always struck by the human spirit’s will to survive. Unthinkable tragedies occur every day around the world, and when the phoenix rises from the ashes, I’m in awe of their determination. Sarah Perry is no exception to the rule: she was the only witness to the brutal murder of her mother, and with that role, came the heavy burden to avenge her mother’s death. Over the course of several years, Perry researched, interviewed, and relived that one horrible night that changed the course of her life forever.

“This was when I first learned that pain could yield beauty.”

Raw, intense, and honest, Perry writes a beautiful tribute to her mother, Crystal. While Crystal struggled to find a true and lasting love for herself, she never failed to provide a loving and devoted atmosphere for her daughter. This love would come to serve her well as Perry faced challenges of her own after her mother’s death. Shuffled from place to place, never again feeling like she had a place to belong, Perry fought for the truth of what happened that night – not only for her mother – but for herself as well.

“In the years after Mom died, so many things made me think of her; every detail in the world seemed to be associated with her. […] it is mostly gratitude I feel for the shadow of her presence.”

This book reminds me that there’s nothing quite like a mother’s love. It runs deep and permeates one’s entire being. Regardless of whether a mother is still alive or not, children inevitably feel their mother’s pulse running through every fiber of their being. It’s a bond that’s unbreakable – a bond that lends strength to her children and gives them the hope and determination they need to overcome the challenges they face.

One of Us Is Lying

Again, this may be due to the holiday stress, but this one didn’t live up to the hype for me.

I found the plot to be very predictable; however, I do believe I could have enjoyed it more had I read it at a different time.

I loved the concept of the plot (and the Breakfast Club vibe) because it isn’t one that’s been done before and it added an interesting twist to the reason behind it at the end.

I loved the characters and their dynamics with each other.

If you enjoy a good YA novel, you’ll like this one.

I wish I would have read it at a time when I was in a better reading place.

What were your thoughts on this one?

Spoonbenders

Spoonbenders was good, but not as un-put-down-able as I had hoped it would be.

I loved the concept of the story, but I’m not sure the author pulled it off. To be honest, for the majority of the book, I wondered if the family truly had any psychic abilities or if they were all just delusional about their abilities. Anyway, this one was just so-so for me.

I’m not sure if I’m just not in the reading mood lately (life has been so crazy busy between end-of-year school concerts, doc and ortho appts, Christmas preparation, shopping, and planning, etc etc etc) that I find myself struggling to want to pick up a book. Are any of you struggling with a desire to read in this lead up to Christmas or is it just me!? 🎄🎁

(Also, I apologize for the brevity of this review, but it’s all about compromise right now. Short = posted and that’s more important to me right now than nothing at all!)

The Light We Lost

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I wanted to love this one, but didn’t. (In full disclosure, romance/chick-lit is not my favorite genre to begin with.) Having said that, I disliked the main character, Lucy, very much, and anytime you can’t connect with the main character, you’re already in trouble. Gabe was a selfish jerk that clearly doesn’t understand the boundaries of a marriage (and, for the record, neither does Lucy). Darren was my favorite character of them all and that’s probably more out of pity than anything else.

Sooooo, none of those things really worked in my favor.

I will say that I enjoyed the author’s writing style very much. I definitely think she has talent (this was her debut novel), so I will give her next book another shot. I also loved the premise of the book –  9/11 is an event that most, if not all, Americans can relate to personally – however, the storyline just didn’t deliver for me.

According to the glowing reviews on Goodreads and #bookstagram, it seems as if I’m an outlier on this one. It is a quick read, and even though I didn’t end up loving it, I didn’t detest it so much that I put it down without finishing it. If you’re a fan of Nicholas Sparks, I think you’d enjoy this very much. Again, romance and chick-lit aren’t my preferred genre, but that doesn’t mean some stories won’t work every now and then. I’m glad I gave it a shot; however, I would have preferred to just check this one out from the library!

 

 

Girl in Snow

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I thought I was diving into a quick, page-turning thriller, but instead I was immersed into a deep and intense character study of three very different people who are all battling their own personal obsessions. Russ is a cop who is is obsessed with his former love (also in charge of investigating the murder of Lucinda), Jade is a girl obsessed with her ex-best friend (Lucinda), and Cameron is a boy obsessed with a girl he can’t have (Lucinda). As the book progresses the reader sees each of these people come to terms with their obsession. And while solving the murder is the whole point of the book, it somehow becomes secondary to the evolution of the characters. By the time I found out who the murderer was, I almost didn’t care. (That’s not to say that I didn’t care about the book – I was just so involved in the characters that that just became a subplot.)

I loved Kukafka’s prose. She writes so lyrically that I found myself trying to soak up every paragraph. This is her debut novel (at just twenty-four years old!) and I am blown away with her talent. I look forward to her future writings.

There were a few things that left me frustrated throughout the book. We never really find out what happens to Cameron’s dad  – where did he end up? why did he feel he needed to flee forever? didn’t he ever come back to check in on his son? – and that left me feeling like it was a loose end that I would have preferred been tied up. Also, the murder is the central story, but as mentioned above, that storyline kind of gets lost. Not a deal breaker, in my opinion, but maybe the book could have been marketed differently. I think it could really throw off some people who go into the book thinking they’re starting a page-turning thriller.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one! Have you read it yet? What were your thoughts? What worked for you and what didn’t?

The Sound of Gravel

E8FC8604-EF4E-4054-BB11-3D34ABA1EB44Books like this always remind me just how much the human spirit is able to endure and survive. They give me appreciation and gratitude for the life that I have and am able to give my children.

While many people may relate to the author, Ruth Wariner, and her experiences more, I found myself drawn to the mother. I have never disliked a person more than I did Wariner’s mother. I was horrified at her actions as I read this story. To continually – knowingly – subject her children to the situations she put them in made me so angry. I almost stopped reading the story just because of her actions.

Listen, in full disclosure, I am not in her situation and I never have been. I don’t know how I would react in her same place, but I believe I would put the well-being of my children over my selfish desires to feel love. She was irresponsible, selfish, and disconnected. Ruth’s mother put high expectations on her young daughter and manipulated her throughout her childhood to serve her own selfishness.

Crazily, I think the most powerful paragraph of this whole book is found way at the end…in the acknowledgments. Ruth Wariner thanks her mom “for blessing me with love, strength, and kindess.” I saw anything but those three things demonstrated by her mother, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. While I think Wariner is somewhat delusional in her assessment of her mother’s mothering abilities, I see the great responsibilty a mother has over her children. Even in the worst of circumstances, children want – and need – their mama’s love more than anything else. It just may be the most powerful bond in this world. The power of forgiveness is never stronger than when a child still proclaims their love and admiration for the very person who continually – and knowingly – put them in horrific circumstances. My takeaway from this book is to remember the awesome responsibilty I’ve been intrusted with in my role as mother. What I say and do, how I protect and guard my children, have long-lasting effects on them and I strive to provide them with love and stability in hopes that they become strong (mentally, physically, and emotionally), capable, and contributing members to this society.