The Wartime Sisters: A Review

January 22, 2019

Sisters…resentment…jealousy…misunderstanding…competition…secrets…

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman

wartime sisters

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Jewish, Siblings, Friendship, Family Dynamics

Thank you to @netgalley and @stmartinspress for the advanced free copy of #TheWartimeSisters in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summary:

In the early days of WW11, two estranged sisters are reunited at the Springfield, Massachusetts Armory. Ruth is the older sister and an officer’s wife and the younger sister Millie is a single mom who, in desperation, seeks refuge in her sister’s home and takes a position in the Armory factories as a “soldier of production.” This living arrangement isn’t ideal, but the younger sister has no other family after the death of their parents and the disappearance of her abusive husband. The relationship between the sisters is tense and filled with resentment, jealousy, misunderstanding, competition, and secrets.

My Thoughts:

Sisters and Friends Who Are Like Sisters. Although the story is set during WW11 and interesting details are given about the time period, the armory, and wartime efforts, I think this story of the “war between sisters” could have taken place in any time period and any setting. I appreciate the effort the author gives in this mostly character driven story in creating a complex and believable relationship between two sisters. Their rivalry is completely understandable, believable, and tragic. The support they receive from two other women in the story makes for a dynamic and well-developed cast of characters. It would be easy to see this as a movie.

Plot. Although mostly character driven, a plot twist towards the end provides compelling tension and action. Overall, this poignant, well written story told from the alternating perspectives of four strong women (two sisters and two friends) and from dual timelines is a solid read. It could be categorized as women’s fiction set in war time as well as the historical fiction designation.

Themes. Thoughtful themes addressed include parental favoritism and expectations, family dynamics, sibling loyalty and rivalry, complex relationships, reconciliation, roles of women in the 30s and 40s, and strong and brave women supporting each other.

Recommended for readers who appreciate well drawn and realistic characterizations of resilient, determined women and compelling stories that explore complicated family dynamics.

My Rating: 4 Poignant Stars

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the wartime sisters

The Wartime Sisters

Meet the Author, Lynda Cohen Loigman

lynda cohen loigmanLynda Cohen Loigman grew up in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. She received a B.A. in English and American Literature from Harvard College and a law degree from Columbia Law School. Lynda practiced trusts and estates law in New York City for eight years before moving out of the city to raise her two children with her husband. She wrote The Two-Family House while she was a student of the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. The Two-Family House was chosen by Goodreads as a best book of the month for March, 2016, and was a nominee for the Goodreads 2016 Choice Awards in Historical Fiction. Her second novel, The Wartime Sisters, will be published on January 22, 2019.



Let’s Discuss!

Have you read Loigman’s first novel, The Two-Family House?

 Can you relate to a story of sibling rivalry?



Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links

This is important information! Why getting lost in a book is so good for you according to science!

I’ll be updating my Winter TBR as I read and review selections. So check back often!

Don’t miss my Most Memorable Reads of 2018 post here.



In Movie News….

For Fredrik Backman fans, Britt-Marie Was Here will be a movie!

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing” and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

And….here’s the trailer for Where’d You Go Bernadette starring Cate Blanchette.

(You might consider adding these four books to your ‘want to read list’ in preparation!)



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

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The Last Year of the War: A Review

*this post contains affiliate links

January 4, 2019

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

Last Year of the War 2

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Internment Camps, Germany

Thanks #NetGalley and #BerkleyPublishing for a free copy of #TheLastYearoftheWar by @susanmeissner in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summary:

The Last Year of the War is a WW11 story told from a unique perspective, and is a heartfelt story about two typical teenage girls in America whose parents are immigrants from Germany and Japan. When WW11 breaks out, their families are sent to an internment camp in Texas and from there repatriated back to their home countries. The girls, Elise and Mariko, meet at the camp and in a short time become best friends. The cruelties of war separate them, cause great hardships for their families, and threaten their friendship.

My Thoughts:

Well Written. Susan Meissner, author of As Bright as Heaven, offers readers solid, well written historical fiction stories, and The Last Year of the War follows in that tradition. The writing style in this story is similar to narrative non fiction. In fact, I stopped reading at one point to check the author’s note to see if this was a story of a real person. Historical fictions fans will be thrilled with this well researched, fictionalized story that includes an abundance of historical facts and vivid, detailed descriptions. The part of the story after the war years is a bit rushed as a great portion of her life is covered in a brief amount of time.

Themes. In addition to the historical setting and events, the story includes thoughtful themes of family, friendship, loyalty, bravery, determination, sacrifice, commitment, and the cruelties of war. Especially poignant for me is the story of Elise’s father and his ongoing and determined struggle to do the right thing for his family and to make the best decisions to keep them safe. Who could have predicted the dire and heart breaking outcomes to his best intentions. I think this resonates with every parent….we hope we’re making the right decisions for our family but only the future reveals the truth.

Issues of war, immigration, racism, deportation, and wrongful treatment are prevalent in the story and we are aware of the author’s viewpoints as the story unfolds.

Favorite Quote:

“We decide who and what we will love and who and what we will hate. We decide what we will do with the love and hate. Every day we decide. It was this that revealed who we were, not the color of our flesh or the shape of our eyes or the language we spoke.”

Protagonist. Elise is our feisty and independent main character and we follow her life from a young girl to her senior adult years. We learn how she survives the last year of the war and holds tight to dreams for a bright future. She becomes real to us as we root for her and feels like a friend by story’s end.

Discussion. Sometimes it’s interesting when girls in the 40s reflect modern thinking of girls in 2018. There is one instance in the story of this when the young girls decide that the heroine in their pretend story doesn’t need to be rescued by anyone…she can rescue herself. Even though the girls were able to articulate this idea, they found themselves in some situations throughout their actual lives where they didn’t rescue themselves. This would be an interesting book club discussion.

Recommended. The Last Year of the War is highly recommended for fans of Susan Meissner’s work, for readers who appreciate well written historical fiction, and for those who enjoy a compelling story of a strong and independent girl. It’s also a book that would be suitable for YA readers. In addition, I think this would make an excellent selection for book club because of many discussion possibilities. For readers who are concerned about reading stories that include the horrors of WW11, I can reassure you that this is a mild read. I hope you pick it up when it releases March 19, 2019 and enjoy it as much as I did! It might make a thoughtful Mother’s Day gift for mothers who love to read in this genre.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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Last Year of the War

The Last Year of the War

Meet the Author, Susan Meissner

Susan Meissner

 

I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t driven to write. I attribute this passion to a creative God and to parents who love books and more particularly to a dad who majored in English and passed on a passion for writing.

I was born in 1961 in San Diego, California, and am the second of three daughters. I spent my very average childhood in just two houses. I attended Point Loma College in San Diego, majoring in education, but I would have been smarter to major in English with a concentration in writing. The advice I give now to anyone wondering what to major in is follow your heart and choose a vocation you are already in love with.

I’m happy and humbled to say that I’ve had 17 books published in the last dozen years, including The Shape of Mercy, which was named one of the 100 Best Books in 2008 by Publishers Weekly, and the ECPA’s Fiction Book of the Year, a Carol Award winner, and a RITA finalist. I teach at writers’ conferences from time to time and I’ve a background in community journalism.

I’m also a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When I’m not at work on a new novel, I write small group curriculum for my San Diego church. Visit me at my website: http//:susanmeissner.com on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or at http://www.facebook.com/susan.meissner



Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’ll post a review of the ARC Learning to See by Elise Hooper.
(Pub Date: January 22, 2019)

Learning to See



Links

I’ll be updating my Winter TBR as I read and review selections. So check back often!

Don’t miss my Most Memorable Reads of 2018 post here.

I attended an Author Brunch once where Susan Meissner was a panelist!
Have you met an author? (share in comments) It’s thrilling to hear authors speak about their work, and I encourage you to take the opportunity!



In Movie News….

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing” and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

And….here’s the trailer for Where’d You Go Bernadette starring Cate Blanchette.

(You might want to put these three books on your winter to read list in preparation!)



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

What is your first read of 2019?

Susan Meissner can be counted on for solid, well written, non offensive historical fiction stories. Are you a Susan Meissner fan?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Winter Reading Season

December 18, 2018

top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Winter TBR and…

A Month of Favorites TwithTand with Traveling With T (and Girlxoxo and Estella’s Revenge) for A Month Of Faves: Winter Reading.  If you’ve clicked over from Artsy Reader Girl or Traveling With T, Welcome! I hope you enjoy your visit.

winter reading 2

Winter TBR

snowmen

(The last five are ARCs)

leadership in turbulent times

Leadership: In Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It’s the selection for my IRL book club and my hubs wants to read it too.
Genre: Non Fiction, Biography, History, U.S. Presidents
***UPDATE. 4 Stars. Full Review Here

snowmen

84 Charing Cross Road

Duchess of Bloomsbury Street

84, Charing Cross Road and its sequel The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff (I’m committed to following through with 84, Charing Cross Road so I don’t embarrass myself by putting it on yet another TBR).
Genre: Non Fiction, Books About Books, Memoir

snowmen

Front Desk

Front Desk by Kelly Yang is a Middle Grade Selection and is a diverse read. (I love great MG fiction for a nice change of pace!)
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Middle Grade
***UPDATE: 3.5 Stars. GoodReads Review Here.

snowmen

Lost Man

The Lost Man by Jane Harper (author of The Dry and Force of Nature. I’m counting on this being a solid mystery read.
Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery

snowmen

The following are all ARCS (advanced readers copies) that I’ll be reading during the winter….listed in order of release date…..only one releases in winter….three release in spring and one in the summer. Reviews will be written close to publication dates. Titles are affiliate Amazon links where you can find more information.

Learning to See

Learning to See by Elise Hooper (author of The Other Alcott)
Publication Date: January 22, 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical, Photography
***UPDATE: 4.5 Stars. Full Review Here.

snowmen

The Beautiful Strangers

The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio (author of The Way of Beauty)
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
***UPDATE: Goodreads Review Here.

snowmen

Last Year of the War

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner (author of As Bright as Heaven)
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
***UPDATE: 4 Stars. Full Review Here.

snowmen

Lost Roses

Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly (author of Lilac Girls) …. prequel to the Lilac Girls and is the story of Caroline’s mother
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction

snowmen

Things You Save In a Fire

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center (author of How to Walk Away)
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Genre: Fiction, Chick Lit (we’ll see how this goes!), Romance

winter reading
That’s TEN. Of course I’ll get distracted by other reads, too!


Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

Friday, I’ll post my review of Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed. Isn’t the cover striking?! This is a Middle Grade historical fiction selection and a diverse read.



Links

Check Out My Gift Ideas For the Readers on Your Holiday Shopping List!

“Everyone Gets a Book!”

gift stack of books

In movie news….

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing”!



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Reading Challenges: Thinking Ahead to 2019

Have you ever considered a reading challenge? Here are the reading challenges I’m considering for the 2019 reading year. The first three are wonderful challenges for any reader. The last one is geared toward reviewers who are members of NetGalley or Edelweiss.

Modern Mrs Darcy 2019 Reading Challenge (very broad, doable categories that might provide some stretch in your reading life)

Goodreads Reading Challenge (determine how many books you’d like to read and track them through the Goodreads app)….the 2019 challenge will be available at the first of the year. Are we friends on Goodreads?

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge (especially great for bloggers and reviewers who want monthly link up opportunities)

NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge (link up opportunities for members of NetGalley and Edelweiss)



 Let’s Discuss

Please share what’s at the top of your winter TBR in comments!

Are you finding time to read in December?!

It’s time to start thinking about your best read of the year!



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Review: The Dreamers

December 14, 2018

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

the Dreamers 2

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopian, YA

The Dreamers Summary:

Virus. A remote college town in the hills of drought stricken California sets the scene for this story and a strange illness/virus that causes its victims to fall asleep and experience vivid dreams. No one can wake the first college age victims and soon the virus spreads throughout the town, randomly affecting young and old alike. The town is quarantined and the National Guard is called in to enforce the quarantine and monitor supplies. The Dreamers is a story about the people affected and their reactions and actions.

My Thoughts:

Thanks #netgalley and #randomhouse for my free copy of #thedreamers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Dreams. Have you ever had a dream that was so real that you had difficulty orienting yourself to a wakeful state? Have you ever pondered the meaning of your dreams? Have you attempted to make sense of your dreams? Do you think dreams can predict the future? Or have you wondered about the passage of time while you sleep? Have you even been asleep briefly but had a dream that seemed to last a long time? Have you experienced dreams about people who are no longer alive?

Unique. The Dreamers came to me at exactly the right time. Usually science fiction is a genre I’m tempted to pass over. Yet, I’m thrilled I took a chance on reading The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker. Even though I don’t read a lot of science fiction, I became intrigued by several reviews of The Dreamers from respected reviewers on Instagram, Goodreads, and in blog posts and I was very much in the mood for something different. Once I noticed this title, I knew I had to see for myself! I hope you, too, will give this unique story a chance.

Not Too Weird. Because I don’t typically read science fiction, I truly appreciate the mild nature of this character driven story. There’s nothing too weird, grotesque, or frightening. The strange illness that causes victims to suddenly fall into a deep sleep from which they cannot be awakened strikes young and old alike and at random. Some victims sleep longer than others and as the epidemic spreads from the college students and throughout the town, it’s a challenge to keep all the patients alive under quarantine conditions. As victims wake up, they report having vivid and realistic dreams and a few struggle with the meaning of the dreams and have difficulty adjusting to life outside of the dream state. The virus disappears as mysteriously as it appears. the prose is lovely, and the story told from multiple points of view is a quick read, engaging, bittersweet, and thought provoking.

Sleep. The Dreamers causes you to think about your own crazy dreams and about how you and your city would react in any crisis. Considering the dire circumstances, it’s a fairly gentle read as the college students and the town’s residents succumb to the most routine and ordinary part of a typical day….falling asleep. The eerie part is that they might fall asleep while mowing the lawn, making dinner, or walking the dog. For a few nights after finishing the story, I certainly thought about closing my eyes as I lay on the sofa or as I fell asleep for the night. If you have difficulty sleeping or experience troubling dreams, this might need a trigger warning. The story is like an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Recommended. The Dreamers is a heartwarming story of community, individual survival, and neighbor helping neighbor. I highly recommend this story for readers who are looking for something a little different, for those who enjoy a mild science fiction selection with a touch of psychology and philosophy, and for fans of beautiful writing and a compelling story line. It would make a great vacation read, buddy read, or book club selection. I was left with a few unanswered questions though as the cause of the virus and the recovery are never fully explained.

Pub Date: 1/15/2019

My Rating: 4 Stars

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The Dreamers

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Karen Thompson Walker

Karen Thompson WalkerKaren Thompson Walker is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Age of Miracles, which has been translated into twenty-seven languages and named one of the best books of the year by Amazon, People, O: The Oprah Magazine, and Financial Times, among others. Born and raised in San Diego, Walker is a graduate of UCLA and the Columbia MFA program. She lives with her husband, the novelist Casey Walker, and their two daughters in Portland. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Oregon. Her second novel, The Dreamers, will be published in January 2019.



Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’ll post my review of Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed. Isn’t the cover striking?! This is a Middle Grade historical fiction selection and a diverse read.



My Fall TBR

I FINISHED ALL the books on my Fall TBR list! Usually I can’t get to every book on my list, so I’m feeling a sense of accomplishment. My winter TBR will post on December 21.



Links

Check Out My Gift Ideas For the Readers on Your Holiday Shopping List!

“Everyone Gets a Book!”

gift stack of books

In movie news….

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing”!



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Reading Challenges: Thinking Ahead to 2019

Have you ever considered a reading challenge? Here are the reading challenges I’m considering for the 2019 reading year. The first three are wonderful challenges for any reader. The last one is geared toward reviewers who are members of NetGalley or Edelweiss.

Modern Mrs Darcy 2019 Reading Challenge (very broad, doable categories that might provide some stretch in your reading life)

Goodreads Reading Challenge (determine how many books you’d like to read and track them through the Goodreads app)….the link is to my 2018 challenge….the 2019 challenge will be available at the first of the year.

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge (especially great for bloggers and reviewers who want monthly link up opportunities)

NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge (link up opportunities for members of NetGalley and Edelweiss)



 Let’s Discuss

Do you like books that are outside your typical genres? Do you enjoy science fiction?

Are you finding time to read in December?!

It’s time to start thinking about your best read of the year!



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

The Dream Daughter

October 5, 2018

Review: The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

The Dream Daughter

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Science Fiction (time travel), Historical Fiction, Mothers/Daughters, Adoption

Summary:

Readers meet Hunter and Caroline in 1970 when Caroline is a physical therapist and Hunter is a rehab patient. Caroline and Hunter become friends and in time he marries her sister. In fact, Caroline moves in with them and their young son after her husband dies in Viet Nam. Not only is Caroline a young widow, she’s also pregnant. During a routine ultrasound a problem is discovered with the baby’s heart. In 1970, the heart defect brings a dire prognosis for the baby. Because Hunter comes from the future, he creates an idea for saving the baby that will require all of Caroline’s courage, bravery, and determination. It’s a story filled with hope, love for family, and sacrifice.

Amazon Rating: 4.6 (early reviews)

My Thoughts:

Thank you to #netgalley #stmartinspress for my free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

What would you do to save your daughter?

If you’re looking for an engaging escapist read with a touch of histfic, the intrigue of time travel, a good measure of suspense, and a poignant mother/daughter theme, then I recommend The Dream Daughter! It does not disappoint!

Some of you are fans of Diane Chamberlain’s work. I believe this is the first of her books that I’ve read. From what I’ve heard, The Dream Daughter is a bit different from her previous work although her focus on themes of family remain strong. I imagine that it must have been challenging and exciting to construct the complex timeline found in this story.

Science fiction/time travel is not my usual genre, but I enjoyed this story. I can especially recommend it as a great selection for when you are traveling or vacationing or need a palate cleanser and are looking for a unique, light, engaging, fast-paced read. For me, it was the perfect read in between heavier histfic reads. Although time travel is a part of the plot, the main focus of the story revolves around a mother and what she will do to save her child.

Caroline Sears is a memorable character for her bravery, determination, problem solving ability, and commitment to family.

I spent time thinking about the meaning of the title. My current thinking is that Dream Daughter might refer to the fact that the majority of her relationship with her daughter is in the time travel dimension (like one might experience in a dream). If you’ve read this, what are your thoughts about the title?

This might be a delightful and enjoyable book club selection.

Possible triggers: difficult pregnancy, adoption

My Rating: 4 Stars

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dream daughter

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Diane Chamberlain

diane chamberlainDiane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of 26 novels published in more than twenty languages. Her most recent novel is the genre-spanning The Dream Daughter. Some of her most popular books include The Stolen Marriage, Necessary Lies, The Silent Sister, The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, and The Keeper of the Light Trilogy. Diane likes to write complex stories about relationships between men and women, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friends. Although the thematic focus of her books often revolves around family, love, compassion and forgiveness, her stories usually feature a combination of drama, mystery, secrets and intrigue. Diane’s background in psychology has given her a keen interest in understanding the way people tick, as well as the background necessary to create her realistic characters.Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent her summers at the Jersey Shore. She also lived for many years in San Diego and northern Virginia before making North Carolina her home.Diane received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, Diane worked in hospitals in San Diego and Washington, D.C. before opening a private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria Virginia specializing in adolescents. All the while Diane was writing on the side. Her first book, Private Relations was published in 1989 and it earned the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel.
Diane lives with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie, Cole. She has three stepdaughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. She’s currently at work on her next novel.Please visit Diane’s website at http://www.dianechamberlain.com for more information on her newest novel, The Dream Daughter, and a complete list of her books.


Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!



Looking Ahead:

I’ve read and will review The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris next week.

tattooist of auschwitz

These three books are begging to be read next: Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen, Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan, and The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay (ARC from #stmartinspress). Just a few of the good ones I have my eye on!



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

Is the time travel element in a story interesting to you?

Which books are you most excited to read this fall?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

September 21, 2018

3 arcs

For today’s post, I have reviews of three ARCS (advanced readers copies) that I’ve read recently. Thank you to #NetGalley #ackermanbooks #harpercollins #atlanticmonthlypress #shewritespress for the free advance copies of #hardcider #virgilwander and #thelieutenantsnurse in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Reviews listed in order of release date.

hard ciderHard Cider by Barbara Stark-Nemon

Have you faithfully cared for your family, enjoyed a fulfilling career, and now your nest is empty? Is it finally time to focus on something for YOU? Is this the time to realize YOUR lifelong dream? To pursue YOUR goals?

Meet Abbie Rose Stone: a retired teacher, a creative, supportive, understanding, and seasoned mom, a loyal, attentive, and caring wife, a hard worker and an ambitious dreamer.

Is it possible for Abbie Rose who has enjoyed raising three children, trying her best to meet their unique challenges and understand their different needs and personalities, to follow her heart and establish her own hard cider business without her husband’s or children’s full support? Just as Abbie Rose finds the courage to make her decision, a stranger presents information that will affect her family’s future and complicate their lives.

When is it a good time for Abbie Rose to pursue her dreams?

Barbara Stark-Nemon creates the memorable character of Abbie Rose, provides an exquisite sense of place as readers can easily envision life along the northern shores of Lake Michigan, pulls us into complicated family dynamics, and describes what the production of hard cider involves.

Readers will appreciate strong and thoughtful themes including infertility, adoption, determination, persistence, compassion, parenting adult children, mature marriage, following a dream, and drawing a wider circle.

The story lines that most affect me include how a woman manages to follow her dream while continuing to creatively and thoughtfully handle complex family issues, how adoption affects children and families, and how compassion and acceptance allow us to draw a wider circle of inclusiveness. One story line I couldn’t relate to is the guidance that Abbie Rose seeks from the Tarot Card reader because I look to God for my spiritual guidance. However, this is a small aspect of the story.

Recommended for readers who are fans of beautifully written stories filled with family dynamics, for those who enjoy an inspirational and motivational story of a woman following her dreams while also caring for her family, for readers who are familiar with the northern shores of Lake Michigan, and for readers of women’s contemporary fiction.

Publication Date: September 18, 2018

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

My Star Rating: 4 Stars



virgil wanderVirgil Wander by Leif Enger (author of Peace Like a River)

Kite flying … nostalgic film references … film reels …. small town independent theaters …. Lake Superior …. a midwest town down on its luck …. quirky characters …. splashes of humor … and a touch of magical realism make Virgil Wander a remarkable and memorable story.

Leif Enger’s devoted fans have long anticipated his new release, Virgil Wander, as it’s been several years since Enger’s well-known 2002 title, Peace Like a River. Enger is an exquisite writer, and he fills this well written, quiet, character driven story with an eclectic mix of quirky characters and an astounding assortment of vocabulary (a great deal of which I had to look up!). Since I’m a fast reader, I had to slow my pace in order to savor the writing and ponder the phrases. Virgil Wander is not a book to power through. Because every sentence is packed with meaning, I found that it worked best for me to read it in chunks and then set it aside for an hour or an evening and pick it up fresh.

Enger creates an amazing sense of place as readers are introduced to a small, upper midwestern town on the shores of Lake Superior, north of Duluth, Minnesota as well as its various, colorful characters. The town, Greenstone, and the main character, Virgil Wander, are both struggling. Greenstone is on the decline and has experienced so much tough luck that it eventually creates a festival called “Hard Luck Days.” The story opens one snowy afternoon with Virgil’s rescue after he drives accidentally (?) off a cliff and submerges his car into Lake Superior. Virgil, surviving with a mild brain injury, returns to his former life feeling like a tenant and lives above the decrepit Empress theater which he owns and manages. Virgil’s life begins to change when Rune, a friendly Norwegian man, comes to town with his creative and extravagant kites. He has “a hundred merry crinkles at his eyes and a long-haul sadness in his shoulders.” Rune seeks to reconcile his grief over a son he never knew who has mysteriously disappeared while Virgil attempts to regain his memory, his equilibrium, and his vocabulary, and suffers silently with romantic feelings towards Rune’s son’s beautiful widow, Nadine. Rune and Virgil become friends and affect some positive changes in the town and help many of the town folk. Virgil finds joy in flying Rune’s kites:

“As a kid I’d enjoyed kites, but only in the usual way of kids, losing interest once they were airborne and manageable. Now I thought of flying daily, hourly. I didn’t hold the string so much as comb it, and once flying I felt small and unencumbered, as if the moving sky were home and I’d been misplaced down here. Maybe I wanted the broad reach, as Lou Chandler had said. That great wide open.”

Many sentimental moments involve Rune and Virgil rewatching old classic movies at the Empress theater, also providing an accepting and comforting gathering place for an assortment of their friends. There are too many sub plots to address in a review, but many of the story lines involve the reinvention of the town and Virgil.

A masterful writer, Enger includes themes such as loss, rebuilding a life (and a town), taking a risk (“[The kite] broke the line and caught the next gust out of town. A perilous beautiful move, choosing to throw yourself at the future, even if it means one day coming down in the sea.”), friendship, finding yourself (“For a man named Wander I’d spent a long time in one place.”), family, love, community, and drawing a wider circle (“Your tribe is always bigger than you think.”). Greenstone, the town’s name, is symbolic and thematic, too: (Wikipedia) “Greenstone is the state gem of Michigan, found along Lake Superior. It is a mineral found in basalt, a volcanic rock. The Ely greenstone found in MN is basalt that has been metamorphosed; that is, volcanic rock which under pressure has been changed into a new form.”

Recommended for fans of literary fiction and for fans of sentences like these:

“This he stated in a flattened voice like a wall build hastily to conceal ruins.”

or

“He had the heartening build of the aging athlete defeated by pastry.”

Recommended for readers who love character driven stories, important themes, and the insightful descriptions of ordinary people and their circumstances, for all who are searching for thoughtful content, for vocabulary enthusiasts, and, of course, for devoted fans of Peace Like a River.

Publication Date: October 2, 2018

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Small Town, Rural

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars



lieutenant's nurseThe Lieutenant’s Nurse by Sara Ackerman (author of Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers…full review here)

Pearl Harbor … war … romance … intrigue … cover ups … friendship … heroic nurses are elements that make this a memorable story.

November, 1941 finds Eva Cassidy, a newly enlisted Army Corps nurse, on board the steamship SS Lurline on her way to her first assignment in Hawaii. Even though she’s engaged and her fiance is waiting for her in Hawaii, her voyage holds an interesting distraction: Lt. Clark Spencer, a handsome navy intelligence officer. Complications arise as Eva and Clark are drawn to each other and Eva desperately hides a secret from her past. Later, amidst the chaos of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Eva courageously bands together with her fellow nurses to tend to the American wounded, reconnects with Lt. Spencer, and is faced with questions of whom to trust and a desire to protect the ones she loves.

During the voyage to Hawaii, the story quietly builds as readers become acquainted with portions of Eva’s back story and make the acquaintance of Lt. Clark Spencer. Upon arrival at the island, the story picks up the pace as Pearl Harbor is bombed, medical personnel scramble to save lives, and there are rumors of a government cover up. This is the most engaging part of the story. I appreciate a good page turner and this aspect of the story delivers!

Readers cheer for Eva, a determined, adventurous, and independent woman, as she begins a new career as an army nurse, grapples with her past, feels responsibility for her polio stricken sister, bravely asserts herself into the medical crisis at Pearl Harbor, finds courage to state her opinions to authoritarian doctors, defends the man she truly loves, confronts danger, and embraces her intuition that recovering soldiers could benefit from a therapy dog.

Recommended for fans of Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers, for readers who are interested in the fictionalized account of the attack on Pearl Harbor, for medical professionals who might be interested in the nursing aspect of the story, and for those looking for an engaging histfic read.

Publication Date: March 5, 2019

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Women’s Fiction

Star Rating: 4 Stars



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!



Looking Ahead:

I’m thrilled to be reading Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and eager to bring my review next week. (*Spoiler: I’m almost certain it will earn a place on my best of 2018 list)

where the crawdads sing



A Link I Love

Are you a Minimalist?
Novels and NonFiction: Titles I Found Most Helpful In My Minimalist Journey



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