Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review: Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

orphan

Title:The Orphan's Tale: A Novel
Author: Pam Jenoff
(Facebook) (Website) (Twitter)

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: MIRA (February 21, 2017)
Length: 368
Source: Netgalley


About the Book: (From Goodreads)
Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.


Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the fa├žade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

My Review: The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff captured me from the very beginning.  The Orphan's Tale follows the life of 2 women, Noa and Astrid.  You first meet Noa, a sixteen year old who recently had a child. The child was taken from her and now she finds herself abandoned.  She works in a train station for food and a room.  One night she saves a Jewish baby for a very difficult situation.  Now she is on the run to save the child. 

Noa finds her way to the circus owned by a German, Herr Neuhoff. Herr is one of those unsung heroes as he attempts to protect various Jewish individuals within his circus.  The circus, though in Hitler's Germany, continued to travel and bring entertainment around the country.  The circus brought a sense of escape to the attendees.  It is definitely a time in need of entertainment/escape to boost morale of those suffering the effects of war: hunger and poverty.
 
I found the circus life very interesting. Astrid had been with the circus all her life.  She started as a small child as an aerialist. Herr Neuhoff takes her into his circus, knowing she is Jewish.  She left her family circus after falling in love and marrying a German SS Officer.  The marriage is ended abruptly and Astrid is unable to find her family.  Astrid and Noa are never really sure who they can trust in Hitler's Germany, but have a strong bond that is tested numerous times.

I really liked Herr Neuhoff for his attempt to protect the Jewish performers in a very dangerous time.  The circus life was very close knit and interesting to read about.  I felt the characters were very well developed and I cared a great deal about a number of them.   The Orphan's Tale continues at a nice pace and the ending was very satisfying.  This is my first time reading a book by Pam Jenoff, but won't be my last.  

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff was also reviewed by Crime By the Book, Vilma’s Book Blog, and Clues and Reviews.

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing
Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – The Orphan’s by Pam Jenoff was received from NetGalley.com reviewer program and MIRA in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

untitled

 

Title:  Never Let You Go: A Novel
Author:   Chevy Stevens   (Facebook) (Website) (Twitter)
Genre:   Mystery, Thriller and Suspense
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (March 14, 2017)
Length:  416 pages
Source: Netgalley.com

 

 

About Book: (From Good Reads) 

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband was sent to jail and she started over with a new life. Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When her ex-husband is finally released, Lindsey believes she’s cut all ties. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But can he really change? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?

My Review/Rating:  Young Lindsay meets the handsome, Andrew Nash.  They are young and in love.  They get married quickly and things start to change.   Andrew become possessive and psychologically abusive.  Chevy Stevens skillfully shows the progression of abuse in their relationship.  They have a baby, Sophie but the abuse does not stop.   Finally, Lindsay flees with Sophie in fear for her life.   Andrew is arrested and sent to prison.  Author, Chevy Stevens gives the reader a up close and personal look at domestic abuse.  Some of the scenes, may be difficult for some to read as they are very charged and powerful. 

With Andrew in prison, Lindsay is able to start a new life with Sophie.  Lindsay is a very resilient and strong character.  Even though she is fearful, she bravely continues on with her life.  She makes a nice little life for herself and her daughter.  Lindsay then hears that Andrew has been released from prison.   She knows he will come to find her and Sophie.

Andrew is released and does attempt to contact Lindsay and Sophie.  Strange things start to help and Lindsay believes that Andrew is stalking her and Sophie.   Things unravel and Lindsay seeks assistance from others in her inner circle that she trusts.

Never Let You Go by Chevy Steven is told in the voice of Lindsay and Sophie.  The story shifts between the past and present giving more clues of the past through out the story.   I love that Never Let You Go moves quickly and keeps you on the edge of your seat from the very beginning.  Warning – if you get to the end of the book, plan on staying up until you finish the book!!   A very suspenseful, quick moving story with a bit of a twist.  

I have been a fan of Chevy Stevens for years and once again she does not disappoint.    Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens is a 4 star read for me!  You know a book is good, if  I am even reading it on my phone app!   The ending is intense…..you can’t stop reading and you have to finish the book!

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens was also reviewed by Crime By the Book, Vilma’s Book Blog, and Clues and Reviews.

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens was received from NetGalley.com reviewer program and St Martin’s Press in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading??

It's Monday! What Are You Reading

 

It’s Monday! What Are you Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date. It is a chance to share what you have read and what you plan on reading in the upcoming week. I enjoy seeing what everyone’s reading plans for the week. I always find some titles that I just *have to add to my TBR list.  What a great way to discover new books and bloggers!  (click on covers for book details)

 

 

 

Reviews Posted: Review: Ashes by Steven Manchester 

Read Last Week:

Reading This Week:

 The Child – I am very excited to start reading the Child by Fiona Barton.  I read The Widow last year and found it to be very good.  I have high expectations for The Child!

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Car:

 

Happy Reading!!

* This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: Ashes by Steven Manchester

Ashes by Steven Manchester

on Tour February 19 - April 21, 2017

      Ashes by Steven Manchester
Book Details Genre: Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: February 21st 2017
Number of Pages: 260
Purchase Links:
 
 
 
 
 
 

Synopsis:

Middle-aged brothers Jason and Tom Prendergast thought they were completely done with each other. Perceived betrayal had burned the bridge between them, tossing them into the icy river of estrangement. But life – and death – has a robust sense of irony, and when they learn that their cruel father has died and made his final request that they travel together across the country to spread his ashes, they have no choice but to spend a long, long car trip in each other's company. It's either that or lose out on the contents of the envelope he's left with his lawyer. The trip will be as gut-wrenching as each expects it to be . . . and revealing in ways neither of them is prepared for.

At turns humorous, biting, poignant, and surprisingly tender, Ashes puts a new spin on family and dysfunction with a story that is at once fresh and timelessly universal.

My Review:  I discovered Steven Manchester a few years ago when he emailed me to review his book, Gooseberry Island.  As I said in my very first review, Steven Manchester has a way of capturing emotions that is realistic and heartfelt.  Ashes by Steven Manchester is no different.  The difficult relationship between the brothers, Jason and Tom is very well developed.  More depth is given to the characters by using flashbacks to memories from their very difficult childhood with an abusive father. 

Jason and Tom’s father dies and his last request is for his sons to take his ashes across the country to Seattle.   Neither Tom or Jason are very excited to spend the time together driving across the county after being estranged for years.  Despite their falling out, the brothers head on the road with the feeling of just needing to make it through this trip.   They have a shared history that is skillfully peppered throughout the story which gives the reader a better understanding of Jason and Tom.  Jason and Tom are at points in their lives where they are re-examining their lives.  Their journey will touch your heart, make you laugh out loud and if you are like me, shed a tear!  

Through this trip Jason and Tom learn a lot about themselves and each other.   Another well crafted, emotional story with truly authentic characters from Steven Manchester.   This read is a 4 for me as I ended up staying up late to finish this book.  And the ending……perfect.

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Read an excerpt:

Tom wheeled his late-model, platinum-colored BMW into Attorney Russell Norman’s freshly paved lot and parked between a brand new Lexus—sporting the license plate JUSTIS4U—and a custom pickup truck. Looks like I’m going after the hillbilly, he thought when he spotted the faded Massachusetts Department of Correction sticker in the rear window. His blood turned cold. “It must be Jason,” he thought aloud. I didn’t think he’d come.

Tom took a few deep breaths, not because he was nervous about his father’s death or talking to any lawyer but because he hadn’t seen his Neanderthal brother—for fifteen years, I think. He paused for a moment to give it more thought. Although their relationship had essentially vaporized in their late teens—the result of a fall out that still haunted his dreams—they’d occasionally wound up in each other’s orbits; weddings, funerals, and the like, enough to remain familiar with each other’s career choices, wives, and children. But even that came to an end fifteen years ago, he confirmed in his aching head before opening the door. While his toothache-induced migraine threatened to blind him, he took one step into the oak-paneled waiting room. His and Jason’s eyes met for the briefest moment. As though they were complete strangers, they both looked away. And here he is, Tom thought, disappointed. This is just great.

Through peripheral vision, Tom noticed that his older brother now wore a scar over his right eye, just above a bushy eyebrow that could have easily belonged to a homeless Scotsman. A jagged ear lobe, a piece clearly torn away, pointed to a crooked nose that sat sideways on his face—all of it rearranged since birth. What a big tub of shit he’s turned into, Tom thought, struggling to ignore his throbbing face and head. He’s as fat as a wood tick now, he thought, grinning, and he looks like he’s ready to pop. Jason looked straight at him, as if reading his mind. Tom immediately looked away, his rapid heartbeat starting to pound in his ears, intensifying his physical pain. Unbelievable, he thought. After all the years and all the distance, his elder brother—by only two years—still scared the hell out of him. He’s just a big asshole, that’s all, he told himself, but he still couldn’t bring himself to rejoin his brother’s penetrating gaze.

The secretary answered her phone before calling out, “Mr. Prendergast . . .”

Both brothers stood.

“Attorney Norman will see you now.”

Tom walked in first, letting the door close behind him—right in Jason’s face.

“Still a weasel,” Jason muttered, loud enough for all to hear.

“What was that?” Tom asked just inside the door.

“Don’t even think about playing with me,” Jason warned as he reopened the door and entered the room, “’cause I have no problem throwing you over my knee and spanking you right in front of this guy.”

I’m fifty years old, for God’s sake, Tom thought, and he thinks he’s going to spank me? I’m surprised the prison even let him out.

The attorney—his hand extended for anyone willing to give it a shake—looked mortified by the childish exchange.

Tom shook the man’s hand before settling into a soft leather wing chair. Jason followed suit.

The room was framed in rich mahogany paneling. The desk could have belonged in the oval office. Beneath a green-glassed banker’s lamp, stacks of file folders took up most of the vast desktop. An American flag stood in one corner, while framed diplomas and certificates, bearing witness to the man’s intelligence and vast education, covered the brown walls.

Attorney Norman wore a pinstriped shirt and pleated, charcoal-colored slacks held up by a pair of black suspenders. He had a bow tie, a receding hairline that begged to be shaved bald, and a pair of eyeglasses that John Lennon would have been proud to call his own. There’s no denying it, Tom thought, trying to ignore his brother’s wheezing beside him, he’s either a lawyer or a banker. He couldn’t be anything else.

While Jason squirmed in his seat, visibly uncomfortable to be sitting in a lawyer’s office, his hands squeezed the arms of the chair. What a chicken shit, Tom thought, trying to make himself feel better. Peering sideways, he noticed that his brother’s knuckles were so swollen with scar tissue they could have belonged to a man who made his living as a bare-knuckle brawler. He’s still an animal too, he decided.

Attorney Norman took a seat, grabbed a manila file from atop the deep stack and cleared his throat. “The reason you’re both here . . .”

“. . . is to make sure the old man’s really dead,” Jason interrupted.

In spite of himself and his harsh feelings for his brother, Tom chuckled—drawing looks from both men.

“The reason we’re all here,” Attorney Norman repeated, “is to read Stuart Prendergast’s last will and testament.” He flipped open the folder.

This ought to be good, Tom thought, while Jason took a deep breath and sighed heavily. Both brothers sat erect in their plush chairs, waiting to hear more.

As if he were Stuart Prendergast sitting there in the flesh, the mouthpiece read, “My final wish is that my two sons, Jason and Thomas, bring my final remains to 1165 Milford Road in Seattle, Washington, where they will spread my ashes.” “Seattle?” Tom blurted, his wagging tongue catching his tooth, making him wince in pain. Quickly concealing his weakness, he slid to the edge of his seat. “Oh, I don’t think so,” he mumbled, careful not to touch the tooth again.

Jason was shaking his head. “Hell no,” he said.

The attorney read on. “I’ve always been afraid to fly, so I’m asking that I not be transported by airplane but driven by car.”

“No way,” Tom instinctively sputtered.

Jason laughed aloud. “This is just great. The old bastard’s dead and he’s still screwing with us.”

The less-than-amused attorney revealed a sealed envelope and continued on. “As my final gift to my sons . . .”

“Only gift,” Tom muttered, feeling a cauldron of bad feelings bubbling in his gut.

“I’m leaving this sealed envelope for them to share, once and only once they’ve taken me to my final resting place.”

“What the fuck!” Jason blurted.

Every cell in Tom’s overloaded brain flashed red. Don’t do it, he thought. You don’t owe that old man a damned thing. But every cell in his body was flooded with curiosity. He looked at Jason, who was no longer shaking his fat head.

“Maybe the bastard finally hit it big at the dog track?” Jason suggested.

Tom nodded in agreement but secretly wondered, Could it be the deed to the land Pop bragged about owning in Maine? He stared at the envelope. For as long as I can remember, he claimed to own forty-plus acres with a brook running straight through it. He stared harder. Could it be? he wondered, wishing he had X-ray vision. A parcel of land in Maine sure would make a nice retirement . . .

“How ’bout we travel separately and meet in Seattle to spread the ashes?” Jason said, interrupting his thoughts.

“Great idea,” Tom said, hoping against all hope that the idea would fly with their father’s lawyer.

Attorney Norman shook his head. “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but your father specifically requested that you travel together with his remains to Seattle. Any deviation from this can and will prohibit you from attaining the sealed envelope.”

There was a long pause, the room blanketed in a heavy silence. Son of a bitch, Tom thought, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. He turned to Jason, who was already looking at him. “What do you say?” he asked, already cursing his inability to curb his curiosity.

Jason shook his head in disgust. “The last thing I want to do is to go on some stupid road trip with you.”

“Trust me, that’s a mutual feeling,” Tom shot back.

“But I don’t think we have a choice,” Jason added. “Our fucked-up father wants to play one last game with us, so to hell with it—let’s play.”

This is insane, but he’s right, Tom thought. With a single nod, Tom stood. “Okay, let’s have the ashes then,” he told the lawyer.

The attorney shook his head. “I don’t have them. They’re currently at a funeral home in Salem.”

“Salem?” Tom squeaked, unhappy that his tone betrayed his distress.

“That’s right. You have to take custody of your father’s remains from the Buffington Funeral Home in Salem, Massachusetts.”

“You must be shitting me.” Jason said.

The attorney smirked. “I shit you not,” he said, throwing the letter onto his desk.

Salem? Tom repeated in his head. Just when I thought Pop couldn’t be a bigger prick . . . The migraine knocked even harder from the inside of his skull, making him feel nauseous. Amid the pain, his synapses fired wildly, considering all this would mean: I’ll have to take bereavement leave from school and find someone to cover my classes. I should probably double my treatment with Dr. Baxter tomorrow. And what about Caleb and Caroline? he asked himself, quickly deciding, They’ll be fine without me for a few days. Then he pictured his wife’s face. And Carmen, she’ll be fine without me for a lot longer than that. The nausea increased. Screw her.

“Are we done here?” Jason asked, obviously itching to leave.

The lawyer nodded. “I’ll need proof in the form of a video or a series of photos that you’ve deposited your father’s remains where he wished. Once I have that, the letter’s all yours.”

“How wonderful,” Jason said sarcastically. He stood, turned on his heels, and headed for the door.

Tom also got to his feet. He looked at the lawyer and, trying to ignore his physical discomfort, he smiled. “Don’t mind him,” he said, shrugging. “That imbecile is exactly what our father trained him to be.”

     

Author Bio:

Steven ManchesterSteven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin’ Chair, Pressed Pennies, and Gooseberry Island as well as the novels Goodnight, Brian and The Changing Season. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning, and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of Manchester’s short stories were selected “101 Best” for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Find Steven on his Website, on Twitter, & on Facebook!

     

 

Tour Host Participants:

Don't miss your chance to learn more about Steven Manchester & his book, Ashes! Visit the tour stops for interviews, guest posts, and lots of reviews!

Don't Miss Your Chance to WIN Ashes!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Steven Manchester and The Story Plant. There will be 5 US winners of one (1) PRINT copy of Ashes by Steven Manchester. The giveaway begins on February 18th and runs through April 23rd, 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Visit Providence Book Promotions for more great reads!

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – Ashes by Steven Manchester was received from the author and Providence Books in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Library Loot: 3/15/17

badge-4

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

We have been spoiled in Minnesota with warm temperatures. Made me think that warmer weather is right around the corner.  NOT!  We had fair amount of snow earlier this week.  The warm weather had me at the library loading up on audiobooks.   I love to walk each evening and listen to audiobooks.  I also listen to a book on my commute to and from work each day.   It makes for an enjoyable drive.  Stuck in traffic…..time to listen to an extra chapter! 

Stop by to check out what treasures others have found at their local libraries!

Happy Reading!!

Monday, March 13, 2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?–3/13/17

It's Monday! What Are You Reading

It’s Monday! What Are you Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date. It is a chance to share what you have read and what you plan on reading in the upcoming week. I enjoy seeing what everyone’s reading plans for the week. I always find some titles that I just *have to add to my TBR list.  What a great way to discover new books and bloggers!  (click on covers for book details)

Reviews Posted:  Review: The Girl Before by JP Delaney

Read Last Week:

Reading This Week:

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong- this is a very interesting book.  It is taking a little while to read, but well worth it.   I am looking forward to discussing it at our Diversity Book Club at work.   I hope to finish this one this week.

The Orphan's Tale: A Novel – I read a few chapters of this one, I have been hearing a lot of good reviews from other bloggers!  I needed a little break from The Lies My Teacher Told Me.

In the Car:

Happy Reading!!

* This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mailbox Monday: 3/13/17

Mailbox

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. A number of new titles made their way into my house this last week. (click on book covers for more details on each title)

From Netgalley:

From Random House:

From Library:

I am optimistic that we will have warm weather in Minnesota soon.  I went to the library and loaded up on audio books for my daily walks once the weather is warmer and my commute to work each day.

Happy Reading!

*Note – if you would like to keep up with book reviews on Reading in White Bear Lake, please take a moment to like us on facebook
*This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links