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Review – Heart Like Mine – Amy Hatvany

heart like mineHeart Like Mine
Author: Amy Hatvany

Review Copy Provided By The Author Via Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

Description:
Thirty-six-year-old Grace McAllister never longed for children. But when she meets Victor Hansen, a handsome, charismatic divorced restaurateur who is father to Max and Ava, Grace decides that, for the right man, she could learn to be an excellent part-time stepmom. After all, the kids live with their mother, Kelli. How hard could it be?

At thirteen, Ava Hansen is mature beyond her years. Since her parents’ divorce, she has been the one taking care of her emotionally unstable mother and her little brother—she pays the bills, does the laundry, and never complains because she loves her mama more than anyone. And while her father’s new girlfriend is nice enough, Ava still holds out hope that her parents will get back together and that they’ll be a family again.

But only days after Victor and Grace get engaged, Kelli dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances—and soon, Grace and Ava discover there was much more to Kelli’s life than either ever knew.

Review:
I don’t know if its because this is the third book I’ve read by this author in a short period of time, or something else, but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as previous books. Maybe it was because I didn’t like how the story was approached, or just didn’t really connect with the main character…Don’t get me wrong – the writing itself was good and the story intriguing, it just didn’t work for me.

Like her previous books, in Heart Like Mine, Amy Havanty tackles a topic that shows up in social media, the desire to be childless. In fact, just this week, I realized that the most recent issue of TIME published in the US (although, not the other versions around the world) were discussing this issue (specifically, does that make people selfish, but that is a whole ‘nother story). But what happens when that desire is turned completely on its head when your significant others (in this instance, her fiancee’s) ex-wife dies and their kids end up living with you. Would you stay in the relationship? Would you decide that you can’t do it, no matter how much you love your SO? These are all questions that were faced by Grace during the course of the book.

While I think Amy did a good job exploring Kelli’s life (her fiancee’s ex-wife) prior to her death, I also felt that it was overdone. I wanted to know more about Grace and her decisions – which were key to the main storyline. Yes, it was mentioned through-out the book, but being told from her current POV, rather than the flash-back style that was used for Kelli’s story. I think that might have added to it – maybe duel chapters with both of their POV’s or something – maybe that was my biggest issue…

Overall, I’d give Heart Like Mine 3 stars – it was well-written and moving, it just didn’t quite work for me.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Drawing Free – Elena Aitken

drawing freeDrawing Free
Author: Elena Aitken

Review Copy Provided by the Author

Description:
“What would happen if I just kept driving?”

Moms aren’t supposed to have a life of their own, at least that’s what Becca Thompson believes. Between dealing with her youngest’s never ending tantrums, her teenager’s attitude and her ailing father’s rapidly failing memory, Becca doesn’t have time to worry about who she used to be.

Deep down, Becca knows she wants more than the daily chaos and the quick fixes her self-help books have to offer, but when her husband starts demanding more, the pressure proves to be too much. On the way to pick up her daughter, she makes the split second decision to take a different exit off the freeway and drives towards the mountains leaving her crumbling life in the rear-view mirror.

Fleeing to a remote mountain town, Becca knows she must rediscover her spirit, even if reconnecting with herself comes at the expense of everything she left behind.

Review:
“I was so stuck on being what I thought I should be, that I couldn’t be who I needed to be. ~ Becca

This quote that appeared at the end of one of the final chapters really sums up what I thought about the book. At first, I wasn’t sure what I was going to think about it, because in all honestly, I didn’t have a lot in common with Becca, I don’t have kids, I’m not married, I’m relatively secure in where I am in my life (or at least I think I am). But it really made me think. Not just about her situation, but about life in general. How often do we make choices/decisions based on what we think we should, because of how society dictates we act, vice, how we want to act/want to do. And then there is the abundance of so-called “self-help” books that give you advice on how to make these decisions. But as it was explored in Drawing Free, sometimes they provide conflicting information, they often don’t take into account specific circumstances, and as with many things, one size (piece of advice) does not suit all.

There were a lot of life lessons that could be described as being in the story, primarily the reminder to live every day as if it were your last (or in the infamous words of Tim McGraw, live like you were dying). But also to remember that there is nothing wrong with trying to reach for your dreams, don’t fore-go them – but keep trying. I will say however, that I HATED the kids in the book – they drove me mental. I can safely say, that if I had ever behaved that way in public, or talked to my parents that way that I would have had my mouth washed out with soap and likely would have had my butt wholloped…but then, I grew up in the 1980’s when it was still kosher for kids to be spanked at times (but that is a story for another day).

However, Drawing Free did have a hot button topic for me which I kind of wish had been disclosed somewhere in the description – because there are people who find certain topics are no go’s – in this case it was cheating. I HATED what Becca did, in fact, up to that point, I liked her journey and the cheating just ruined her character for me…I didn’t feel like she regretted her actions, or even took responsibility for them. It also seemed like there was no resolution between Becca and her husband about what happened…the ending in general, sucked!! I was disappointed with how it all turned out…

It was primarily the ending that made me give it 3 stars. It there had been more of a resolution, it probably would have gotten 4 stars from me. But that being said, I hope that EA writes more books in the future – because I am curious to see what else she comes up with.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Outside the Lines – Amy Hatvany

outside the linesOutside the Lines
Author: Amy Hatvany

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
When Eden was ten years old she found her father, David, bleeding out on the bathroom floor. The suicide attempt led to her parents’ divorce, and David all but vanished from Eden’s life. Since childhood, she has heard from him only rarely, just enough to know he’s been living on the streets and struggling with mental illness. But lately, there has been no word at all.

Now in her thirties, Eden decides to go look for her father, so she can forgive him at last, and finally move forward. When her search uncovers other painful truths—not only the secrets her mother has kept from her, but also the agonizing question of whether David, after all these years, even wants to be found—Eden is forced to decide just how far she’ll go in the name of love.

Review:
I rarely write a review for a book as soon as I finish it because I want to let my thoughts sit and mold in my mind for a few days. So i’m actually not sure why I am writing this review right now – but it just feels like I need to write about it. Maybe it is just me, but there seem to be so few fiction books that deal with mental illness as a topic, that when I find one I want to savor it. Which I did with Outside the Lines. Normally a book of its length would take me 2-3 days to read – but I purposely dragged it out because I was afraid of what the outcome was going to be. I felt like the author was setting me up for some kind of heart-break. But don’t worry, no spoilers here.

I really liked how the author was able to walk the line between sappy happy go lucky/preachy at times, and in depth makes you think writing. I had so many questions come up as I was reading – how did the title relate (this is actually explained); why do we as a society treat people with mental illness the way that we do (I am of a firm belief that traditional medicine isn’t the be-all, end-all that it is purported to be) and how does a family try to have a “normal” life (if that is the correct word) when there is that stigma of mental illness hanging over their heads.

While I often find flash-backs a harder story-telling method to use, in this instance it worked, and it was interesting seeing how the flash-backs progressed through time – until they met up with the current time-line. The ending was not all that unexpected – I had kind of hoped for a miracle, but at the same time, I like how it ended, because it wasn’t perfect. The book would have totally jumped the sharked, if everything that been all tied up in a pretty pink ribbon. I was left with questions and thoughts – which likely are going to keep me intrigued in the near future. I also added the other 2 books by the author to my massive to-be-read pile. Overall, I would give Outside the Lines, a strong 4 stars.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Agnes Grey – Anne Bronte

I’ll be the first to admit that I avoided classics like the plague in high school and college.  I just  had no interest in reading them.  Normally opting instead to read a more contemporary romance novel of some shape and size.  It hasn’t been until the last few years that I have actually opted to start reading these classics.  Having previously read/listened to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (loved it) and Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte (hated it with every fiber of my being), I decided it was time to give Anne Bronte a try.

I had previously listened to Tenant of Wildfell Hall also by her and this time opted to listen to Agnes Grey.  It is written very much like a autobiography of someones life and there is some evidence that suggests that AG is actually the story of Anne’s experiences as a governess.  If that is the case, I have to admit that I pity her for her experiences.  Having previously worked as a nanny, I can say that I would have been driven nuts by some of the antics of her charges, and I likely wouldn’t have been able to deal with them.

I do have to admit that when it comes to these classics, that my mind just does not do well when I try to read them, so I will normally listen to them if at all possible.  When it comes to narrators, if I was picking any other kind of book, Nadia May probably would not have been a choice, because there is just something about her voice that doesn’t fit a contemporary type of story – yet, her voice is perfect for a classic such as Agnes Grey.  I have previously also listened to her narrator several Jane Austen books, as well as Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell.  She has the ability to make me feel like, in this instance, I was in the school-room with Agnes as she was dealing with the spoiled children for whom she was responsible.  I will likely continue to seek her out as a narrator for classics in the future and maybe see how she does on other stuff, but I’m not sure

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Review – Take This Regret – Amy Lichtenhan

Book Donated by Author for Review

I always love a book that I pick up planning to only read a few chapters and i get immersed in it. That to me is a great way to spend a night and what happened when I started Take This Regret. I w as immediately sucked into the story of Elizabeth and Christian. Unfortunately, I had to put it down otherwise I would have stayed up all night reading and that would have been bad juju for work the next day.

As a reader, I’m normally not a fan of the separation/reunion type romances, which is what this primarily is, and yet, I was sucked in.  I don’t know why I normally have such as issue with them – maybe because in the way the scenario is typically presented – I don’t know if in the same situation I would have forgiven the idiot who caused the grief.  And to some extent I felt the same here – if I was in Elizabeth’s shoes would I have been able to forgive Christian for what he did…probably not – and yet, the author made me believe in second chances and the fact that sometimes people do regret the actions the result in other people getting hurt.

 I did like the fact that the whole book didn’t occur in a really short space of time, which to me would have made it more unbelievable than normal -  but rather over a period of several months and you saw the struggle that Elizabeth faced as she tried to make the decision to let Christian back into her and her daughter’s life.  The one thing that I felt could have been avoided in the story was the meeting his child for the first time at the grocery store – that just seemed a bit trite and overdone.  I wish instead that it had been a proactive approach by Christian to find out what happened to Elizabeth and his daughter all those years ago and not just left to chance.

The cast of supporting characters – Natalie, Matthew, Christians mother – all seemed believable and it was nice that they were integral to the story and not just thrown in there for the heck of it.  I do wish that there had been some more interaction between Christian and his father before his father had died.  I have to admit that I would love to see a short follow-up of maybe their lives 5 years down the road – even as a freebie on the authors website – just because I am honestly a sucker for those happy endings and seeing the future ;)

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Book Review

 

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