The Truth about Emily Bronte: Solsbury Hill by Susan M Wyler Book Review

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Solsbury Hill

By: Susan M Wyler

Read by: Kate Reading

Released: April, 2014 by Blackstone Audio

Length: Seven Hours and 40 minutes

Genre: Fiction– Gothic

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: audible.com

What do you do when you find you boyfriend with another woman? You answer your phone and fly to England to visit a dying relative you barely know. There, your life really begins. And, there, you meet the ghost of Emily Bronte and the secrets of your family begin to reveal itself.

 

Eleanor Sutton Abbott’s life is about to change. When she finds her fiance with another woman, she doesn’t know what to do. Then she receives a sudden phone call from her estranged Aunt’s partner to come visit her in England because she was very sick. Devastated by her fiance, she decides to fly to England without a real plan. There, her life changes. She meets Meadowscarp MacLeod, a Scot who her aunt raised from birth.  He quickly ignites something inside her; as well as the mysterious woman she keeps seeing– the ghost of Emily Bronte. Wuthering Heights lies in the background of this modern Gothic novel, as Eleanor searches for Emily’s hidden letters to ease her pain over choosing her brother over the love of her life Robert. Soon Eleanor discovers her own family secrets, one involving Emily herself.

Listening to this book on audio was great. The voices the narrator did were fantastic. I loved hearing her change from narrator to characters.  The novel itself was alluring and drew me in immediately. Although I was a little misled; I thought it was going to be a retelling of Wuthering Heights. However, I loved the novel regardless. The mysterious connection between her and Emily Bronte was great. It was fascinating, drew me in, and was creative. I secretly wished it was true. It brought out a new side to Emily Bronte.

Meadowscarp (Mead) was my favorite character. I liked how he was looking for his Catherine. I liked everything about him, really. Eleanor was also a very strong character. I loved all the characters, minus the cheating Miles who I always yelled out.

This book got me involved. I would be vocal at most parts. Especially when Miles would appear. I would highly recommend this novel. Especially if you have any love towards or fascination with Emily Bronte. Although I prefer Charlotte, I enjoyed ghost Emily’s arc. The revelations, too. Oh my!

This is one of my must read summer books. A great choice. It didn’t take me long to get into and finish the book. Only two or three days. I hope you pick it up!

Happy reading!

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Maybe isn’t Always Positive: The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson Book Review

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The Opposite of Maybe

By: Maddie Dawson

Released: April 8th, 2014 by Broadway Books

Length: 400 Pages

Genre: Women’s Literature

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: via Netgalley

 

This is what happens when you settle: your boyfriend of over fifteen years decides to move the both of you across country to start up a museum full of teacups with a guy he met most, leaving behind your 88 year old grandmother- you sprain your foot, have a mini-break down and stay with her, then find out your pregnant after you both decided from day one to never have kids. Throw in a hot gardener/housekeeper and you have a novel about second choices and chances worth the reader’s while.

After fifteen years together, and no ring in sight, Rosie and Jonathon have lived a life together that perfectly suited them–until he gets a call to help start a teacup museum in California that prompts an impromptu proposal at a diner. But, when they wedding plans go sour, and Jonathon has to cancel, Rosie begins to awaken from her fifteen years of comfortable slumber. From there, after a fight and calling off the move, Jonathon continues his journey to California without her as she moves back in with her eighty-eight year old, accident prone Grandmother who has conveniently forgotten to tell her about the handsome, younger new help she has hired.

Tony is also at a difficult stage in is life. He just found out his wife and mother to his child is a lesbian; and, is now living with his best friend’s wife. The new lover won’t allow Tony to see his son very often, forcing him to sneak around to see him and hide in his car.

It is Tony who first suggests forty-four year old “I can’t get pregnant, I’m too old” Rosie is pregnant. She said that line a couple of times. But, surprise, she gets pregnant anyway! As Jonathon was always anti-kids, Tony becomes the one really there for her. Could he be more…

I read this book in one afternoon it was that good. I just couldn’t put it down. Every chance I got that day, my nose was in that book. All the characters were great. Jonathon was approximately boring and self-centered. Rosie’s grandmother Soapie was fantastic. She had wit, brains, and attitude. I loved her; and wished, at times, she was my Grandmother. Tony had a scene that melted my heart. I cried, I really really did. I read his speech twice and cried. It was realistic, meaningful, and not forced at all. He was possibly my favorite character. Rosie was great, too. I liked how she grew on her own. Once she got rid of Jonathon, she became a better person.

This was just an overall great book. There aren’t many bad things, if any, to say about the book. I loved them all. Rosie had snark that I loved. The characters were developed well. The plot moved along nicely. I would recommend this book as a nice afternoon beach read. You will get sucked in almost immediately. I know I did. It is one of those books you get a lot out of, but don’t need to put much energy into. It really is a great, quick fun read. I hope you give it a chance.

Happy reading!

 

When the Future comes to the Present: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

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The Here and Now

By: Ann Brashares

Released: April 8th, 2014 by Delacorte Press

Length: 192 Pages

Genre: YA Fantasy/Dystopia

Rating: Four and a Half Stars

Acquired: Invite via netgalley

 

Prenna is like no other. She doesn’t come from our time. Doesn’t share our blood. She is here from the future, but not to protect us, but for her and her people to stop a virus from happening. She didn’t plan on becoming a savior. Or, falling in love with one of us.

Sixteen Year Old Prenna James lives a very sheltered, secluded life. Forced to wear glasses that has a surveillance system installed on them and take pills that only weaken them, Prenna’s adapting to the “past” or our present hasn’t been easy. There are rules upon rules. And, lies. Lies she begins to uncover with a boy from the present. A boy she can’t help but fall in love with, Ethan. As they search to uncover the truth about her journey and reason for being in here, and stopping a murder that will change everything, their lives become ever so complicated.

There were two paragraphs that immediately pulled me in. After the day The Rules are read, a yearly practice/celebration where all the residents gather to remember the strict rules and remember the dead/those who broke them. Prenna is in the park with fellow teens. She hits the feelings on the nail.

No one talks about what really binds us together. The gap between what we say and what we feel is so big and dark that  sometimes I think I’ll fall into it and just keep falling.

At least, I think we feel it. Does anybody else feel it? I don’t know and I won’t find out. We follow our scripts like actors in a very large, very long production. And even with no audience, none of us gives a hint that it isn’t real.

There is such alienation that is universal, at least to me/for me. I connected so much to that. Especially when you are a teenager, even if you’re not from a different time. Ann Brashares writes a novel for everyone while disguising it as something extraordinarily unfamiliar to use. But, as we pull apart the layers it’s so universal and real, it’s beautiful and real.

Ann Brashares tells a beautiful, yet complicated story of first love, fighting for individuality, and fighting to be heard. I was hooked in immediately. The story was fast-paced. The action well thought out. The characters well-developed and not too far out there that they were unbelievable. I could relate to Prenna’s  suffocating circumstances. And, Ethan’s longings, yet he never crossed any boundaries and respected Prenna’s wishes and unfamiliar background which made him ever the more likable to me. This was one of those novels I didn’t want to end. I hope there’s a sequel. I’m sure there could be.

I would highly recommend this novel. Not just because the cover is so pretty, but it is. But, because there is something about this novel that pulled me in so deeply that I think will pull you in. It doesn’t truly read like a Young Adult novel. In reality, they are doing a very adult thing by trying to stop a murder from happening while being teenagers and falling in love. I think it offers something for everyone. Brashares presents a different novel that is a success, to me. A success that should be widely read.

Jane Doe walks into a Hospital…;Gemini by Carol Cassella Book Review

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Gemini

By: Carol Cassella

Released March 4th, 2014 by Simon and Schuster

Length: 352 Pages

Genre: Mystery-medical

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

Dr. Charlotte Reese must do all that she can to save Jane Doe. But, will she get too close? Will Jane’s true identity be revealed?

Set in Seattle, ER doctor,  Dr. Charlotte Reese, gets delivered Jane Doe while on the night shift severely injured and practically beyond repair. Told through both Charlotte’s perspective in the present, and Jane Doe’s first in the past as far back as her childhood to current with her identity known only to the reader. There is an unlikely connection between the two  women that the reader later finds out in the middle of the novel which is perhaps the only intriguing event that happens.

At 352 pages, I felt not much happened. I often skimmed through the pages, or read through them halfheartedly. I didn’t attach myself to either women. Not that there was anything wrong with them. They were developed nicely, actually. I just didn’t find something in them that I found powerful or unique to feel something. The writing was very straight forward, leaving it to be a little bland at times. There wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with the novel that warranted a two star rating, I just didn’t really like it. There was much that pulled me in. I did like the connection that sprung up; that shocker was a good tie-in, but I felt it came a little too late.

I think this was just one of those books that was out of my typical genre comfort zone, so it wasn’t so enjoyable. I got through it in a day, only through skimming and half caring though. Never a full commitment. Would I recommend this book? I think it’s for you to decide. This one’s a tricky one. It wasn’t bad. Just not my taste. It might be yours, though.

Dear John Letters Get a Modern Update: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira Book Review

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Love Letters to the Dead

By: Ava Dellaira

Released April 1st, 2014 by Brilliance Audio

Length: 8 hours and 35 minutes

Genre: YA Realistic Contemporary

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: purchased via audible.com

 

Dear John letters with a twist in this dazzlingly, heartbreaking debut novel about a girl who writes to the dead about love, family, friends, and secrets she can only tell them–at first.

 Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain to write her letter for her first assignment. But, as she starts writing it, she realizes she can’t hand it in. She can’t hand any of them in that she writes, filling a whole notebook in one year. Starting with Kurt Cobain, her sister May’s favorite musician, Laurel writes about May’s life and death, about her own life including falling in love for the first time, making new friends, and her strange living situation. Only to Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix, Judy Garland, Amy Winehouse, Elizabeth Bishop, the actor who plays Mr. Ed, and more can she say what really happened to May when she died. Only to them can she write the secrets she has kept.

It’s not just her life she writes about. She writes about theirs. Specifically about their deaths. She asks Judy if she really wanted to keep taking all those pills? The pills she was given as a child star that never stopped coming as an adult. That maybe if she said no. Then there’s River Phoenix. That maybe he needed a parent to look after him. Like maybe May and her needed. Maybe they would both be alive. She tells Kurt Cobain his daughter is not alright without him. That he should have never thought that.

I quickly fell head over heels in love with this book. The letters are no way superficial. There is substance. They are sometimes heartbreaking, devastating, pull at your heart strings, then introspective, make you think about celebrities and how we think about them, and laugh. I fell in love with Laurel/Dellaira’s  writing style. They were fluid, elegant, and made me think. They was nothing in them that didn’t make me think or wonder. I felt for the characters. Their pain was, briefly, my pain. When Laurel slowly reveals her secret, my heart burst. As bad things happened, I got anger with her. Not at her, but with her, by her side.

Dellaira raised an interesting and very valid point about idolizing someone. A lot of the celebrities Laurel chooses to write to ended up dying of drug overdoses, or suicide. All at a very young age. Not as young as May, but relatively young. They were also idols in pop culture. May was Laurel’s ultimate idol. Even from when they were kids and May would say they were fairies and she would try to protect her. She idolized her so much she didn’t want to tell her the truth about something. The truth that when it came out Laurel thought killed her. Whether or not it did, you never know. But, Laurel has to go on her journey to stop idolizing her sister and see her as a real person. And, that’s what she does in the letters when she starts asking questions, like to River about needing protection. And, to Judy about the pills.

The journey is heartbreaking. But, worth it in the end. There is a beautiful poem in the end that Laurel writes to her sister that makes reading this book worth while. It’s truly amazing. I shed a tear the first time I heard it. There was something about it. If you don’t read the book, just read the poem.

This book really will take you on a journey. It will break your heart ten different ways. Pull on your heart-strings. Make you question almost everything about friendships, loyalty, love, and a little about who you are. In the end, at that poem, you will be mended. Your heart will be sewn back up. Your tears will be gone. Your journey will be a success. This is by far my favorite book of the year. And I’ve read about 20. Just sayin’ It’s that good. 🙂

Happy Reading!

Tales of Love told through the eyes of a feathered girl: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Lesyle Walton Book Review

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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

By: Leslye Walton

Released: March 25th, 2014 by Candlewick Press

Length: 320 Pages

Genre: YA Fantasy-magical realism

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

Born with feathers, and a silent twin, Ava Lavender narrates the story of the three generation of women in her family that faced love– the fanciful phase, the heartbreak, loss, and everything that comes with it in a moving tone.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is one of those books I couldn’t put down. Full of magical realism, it pulls you in from the beginning. Starting with a very brief detail of Ava’s extraordinary birth, she begins to tell the story of her female ancestors, based on a single emotion-love. And, oh, how these Roux/Lavender women have been affected. And, how unique they all are. After the great-grandfather dies, after being mistaken from someone else and is gruesomely murdered, while the wife maman, and everyone else, thinks he left with another woman begins to almost melt until she literally becomes a pile of blue ashes in their sheets. Then her daughter, Pierette, becomes a bird for the man she loves who never loved her back. A bird! There’s another sister who carves her own heart out after she gives birth to a child whose father is the betrothed to her older sister- Emilienne, all out of love. Emilienne is Ava’s grandmother in the story who lost her husband early on in the marriage, but not before giving birth to their daughter Viviane, Ava’s mother.

Ava takes center stage much later in the novel, but when she does her story shines just as much as the other women. Each, melding into the others so seamlessly. The novel doesn’t necessarily have a plot, which at times I would normally have a problem with, but with this novel I didn’t. I loved how fluid it felt, even without it. The center plot, or theme really, was love and that was the driving collection that made everything make sense and hold a connection. There were no gaps, or holes in the story. Even as each generation of women took center stage in their own way, Ava was always there, guiding and keeping everything together. For a debut novel, this was an ambitious undertaking– to tell four generations worth of stories based on an emotion almost solely told by a person, somewhat of an outsider at certain points. Walton succeeded wonderfully. I look forward to reading her next work.

What I loved most about this novel was the magic in each woman. Not magic like Harry Potter magic. But magic, like something different we can’t explain. Emilienne had hers, where, in the beginning, the people in town thought she was a witch. Then there was Viviane, who could smell things and give emotions to them. Even silent Henry had his own idiosyncrasies. Plus, there was Ava with her wings. It wasn’t completely reminiscent of Sarah Addison Allen, but somewhat. As I am a huge fan of hers, I instantly became a fan of Walton’s. I enjoyed how there was nothing simple or ordinary in this novel. Even the town was special. It was an unique read I couldn’t put down.

Walton stuck to the theme of love very well, her analysis pretty head on. She didn’t take the pretty route. She didn’t show all the good, happy parts of being in love. Didn’t write about all the bad, either; although she wrote a lot on it, but not everything. I enjoyed her take on love; especially how she used it to fuel her plot. Each character found love and its meaning in different ways; and how it could effect them, too. There was so much beauty in the words and descriptions Walton chose, even when love’s ugliness reared it’s head.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It really is a must read. There is something about it that I think makes it one. Not just the words. The characters, the magic, the unsugar coated realism. It’s all there and more. I was initially giving it four stars, but realized I love it so much more. I’m moving it to five. It’s that good. I am planning on buying a copy for myself. There is something about it that just sucked me in. It wasn’t just those feathers. I hope you pick this one up. It’s worth it. It really is.

I Prefer The Sun Sisters: The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh Book Review

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The Moon Sisters

By Therese Walsh

Released March 4th, 2014 by Crown

Length: 336 Pages

Genre: Literature/ Fiction-Magical Realism

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: Via publisher

 

Younger sister Olivia “Livya” Moon set upon a journey to see the Cranberry Glades and the will ‘o wisps their now deceased mother often talked about and based a story upon. Reluctantly, her older sister Jazz comes along with two train hoppers that make for a less than delightful, but slightly moving story about family bonding and getting to where you’re meant to be.

Olivia Moon is a free spirited eighteen year old with Synesthesia who was the last one to be with their mother before her probable suicide. Jazz Moon is less free spirited, more fickle and abrasive than her sister. Constantly looking out for her, she has never been the loving or touchy feely type. So, when Olivia decides to take a trip to see the Glades where their mother’s only novel, left unfinished, was set, Jazz is more than reluctant. Outspoken throughout the whole trip, meet a train hopper nicknamed Hobbs and Red Grass, someone much more sketchy with a secret of his own. Both the sisters are holding on to something; while Hobbs is hiding all on is own. Trusting no one was a trend in the journey.

I had high hopes for this novel. The cover, for one, is beautiful. The title is pretty and alluring. I just couldn’t get into it. I finished it, albeit reluctantly. I dragged my feet the whole way, like Jazz. I didn’t connect to any of the characters. Jazz complained too much for a character that was cold, distant, and rightfully so was called a b*tch by Hobbs. Olivia was too free spirited for me. I’m all for flower children. But, there comes a point when you have to act like an adult. There were moments, but so fleeting. Walsh over did it for me with Olivia’s character. She was too much to handle. Hobbs was the only character I truly liked.

The plot was slow moving for me. I was confused a little by the end, but if I say why it’d be a total spoiler. I just thought there would be more magical realism like in Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen novels. I didn’t find much of it; of anything. There were letters to the father that disowned the mother that I personally felt were unnecessary and did not move the plot along at all. I think it was used as a way to understand the mother while having her dead, but I found myself skimming them rather than devouring them.

I wish I could say something extremely positive about this book. I did finish it, which I almost gave up on. But I don’t feel the same contentment I usually do after reading a novel I like. I won’t say don’t read this; maybe it just wasn’t for me. Just go at it with caution, perhaps. It got outstanding reviews on goodreads. I’m disappointed I cannot give same.

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