Mini Reviews

**Thanks to Kelly from BookGlow for sending me these two copies to read and review, in exchange for my honest review**


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GoodReads Blurb:
From USA Today featured novelist and Western Writers of America Spur award finalist Milana Marsenich, The Swan Keeperis an historical, coming-of-age novel set in 1920s Montana.

On her eleventh birthday, Lilly’s family visits the Cattail Marsh to see the newly hatched cygnets. The family outing turns tragic when Dean Drake shows up with his shotgun. Lilly sees him kill her father, injure her mother, and slaughter the bevy of trumpeter swans. The sheriff, her mother, sister, and best friend all think Lilly is trying to make sense of a senseless accident by blaming Drake. But Lilly knows the truth. Left alone she must bring him to justice. 

“Author Milana Marsenich has penned a dramatic page-turner brimming with authentic detail. She knows this Montana countryside inside and out, her vivid descriptions capturing the spirit of the craggy Mission Mountains.”—Maggie Plummer, author of Spirited Away – A Novel of the Stolen Irish and Daring Passage: Book Two of the Spirited Away Saga

Lily’s 11th birthday was supposed to be one filled with the magic turning 11, after all  Nell, Pa, and sister Anna told her it was a magical age to be. Instead she witnesses her father and mother shot along with the swans her family loved so much. Her sister too far to witness the shooting or Lily trying to save the swans and no one believes her when she says she saw who shot them.

Using a bit of mysticism in the form of swans and a bit of spirituality, Marsenich brings to the table a rather beautiful coming of age tale. The story makes you feel as if you’re there breathing the air with Lily, soaking in Montana and the beauty of the trumpeter swans. I really enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would after reading the first chapter.

With no one believing her, her Pa dead, and her mother unavailable to the world let alone her daughters, Lily finds strength in taking care of Pearl a trumpeter swan. Along the way though she doesn’t give up in her determination to catch the man who killed her father, taking the matter of the law into her own hands.

Along the way Lily does get a little help but being 11 means that the adults just will not listen, and the magic of 11 seems like a thing of the past when her family was still whole, and unfortunately 12 doesn’t look any brighter with Dean Drake the murderer still on the loose. Why he’s killed her Pa and why her mother survived is a tale as old as time: jealousy.

Lily searches for clues, protects swans, and battles with the stubbornness of the Sheriff and the right just to be heard.

I did enjoy this but do remember that this had an element of spirituality that may not be to your liking. I wouldn’t say it was overpowering but I just want to to make sure it’s mentioned.

 


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GoodReads Blurb:
The Ballet Lover exposes the beauty and cruelty of ballet, the performances, the back stage moments, and the personal dramas of the famous ballet dancers Rudolf Nureyev and Natalia Makarova as seen through the eyes of an American female journalist.

Paris, 1970s: the orchestra plays the first ominous note of Swan Lake. In the audience sits Geneva, an American journalist and ballet lover, waiting for the heart-stopping beauty and seduction of the romantic duet to start, but instead she witnesses Rudolf Nureyev failing to catch his Russian partner Natalia Makarova, allowing her to fall with a crash upon the stage. 

Geneva interprets the fall as an act of cruelty, a man with all the fame and power in the world brutally letting fall his delicate, wraith-like artistic partner. When other critics defend Nureyev and accuse Makarova of causing her own tumble, Geneva vows revenge on the page, creating havoc in her own career and discovering surprising parallels between herself and the fallen ballerina.

The Ballet Lover is a refined, mesmerizing, fictional account of two of the most celebrated dancers in the dance world, how one compromised the other, and how the drama on the stage often mirrors those played out in real life.

Geneva’s dedication to her writing is great and I love that this turn into a grand love story, her focus is writing about dancing. She holds fast to her opinion even when others disagree and I think that the ending of the story was perfect for her considering the bond she has with her Aunt.Baer mixes in tidbits of historical ballet facts with a novella that focuses on two ballet dancers in particular. Nureyev and Makarova.

The MC is the journalist who captures the feeling of the dancers on stage, watching the progress of the two dancers through out their careers. At the beginning of each chapter Baer gives us a snippet of a performance and though it doesn’t seem to add to the story itself as far as plot I feel it helps set the stage each time and those little snippets were my favorite part!

This is novella and not a fully fleshed out book, so that expectation could be kept in mind before diving in. It can easily be read in one or two sittings and if you enjoy ballet history I would recommend this.

The BeeKeeper of Aleppo eARC Review


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GoodReads: 
In the midst of war, he found love
In the midst of darkness, he found courage
In the midst of tragedy, he found hope

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

What will you find from his story?

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.

Moving, powerful, compassionate and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Told with deceptive simplicity, it is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling. 

This book is everything that a modern day work of literature should be. Lefteri has used a heartbreaking time in history to give us this amazing novel; today, the present. Nuri was a beekeeper in Aleppo, but the tragedy of Syria’s civil war has led him and his wife Afra to flee, there is nothing but heartache in Aleppo and Syria, but their journey is long and fraught with peril and the things that today’s society turns its eyes from, refugee camps and the situations of the countries that lead to those camps. Nuri and Afra’s tale is tragic and times and no less than that of our actual Syrian refugees but there is more to it, and who’s to say that the ending isn’t something to uplift your soul? (I’d say more but I’d hate to spoil it) If you’d like a book to reach your heart and soul and grip them tightly, I recommend reading this book which is sure to become a classic of modern literature.

I know I keep saying ‘literature’ but you read this and you think, this is the type of ‘modern’ classic that we need. There is such beauty in looking at the tragedies that through fiction reflect the lives of those living today. It’s so easy to scroll past the news of Syria, to forget about the bad things or focus on other things because there’s so much going on in the world [good and bad] but I just feel like this is a book that should be read, that should be given attention because I could think of nothing greater than to stir compassion through writing and basing it on factual turmoil and tragedy. I have read so many good books in the last couple of months and they’ve all be different, they all offer something that I didn’t know I needed until I read it and I get if this isn’t your sort of genre but if it is, and you find yourself intrigued in the slightest, please go look it up.

I can’t even put into words how this book moved me, everything seems pale and inadequate when I try to type it up. I am excited because I’ll be going to Edinburgh to listen to Christy Lefteri talk about The Beekeeper of Aleppo on May 6, and I’ll update you all about that.

The release date for this book is May 2, 2019

I received this book from Zaffre Books via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

5 Books I would Save in a Fire

Hey guys, sadly it’s Michelle’s last day for hosting BookEnding Spring19 so click here to see her awesome kick-ass post. She also just has a kick-ass blog in general, so if you . missed out her prompts please go check them out!

[Thank you to Sam & Clo for putting this event together!]

I think she decided to try and make us sweat it out by giving us this prompt lol

Your house is burning down, quick! Save 5 books! But which?

Evil. Pure evil, and yet as pure evil usually is, it’s also pure genius!

Instead of prepping for this, let’s see what comes down to me answering this on instinct!

1.

You can pry Agatha Christie from my crispy dead fingers. But, in this case, I can at least make a decision on which one I would save above the others, oh I LOVE all of her books that I’ve read so far, but, this one is really high up there for me.

2.

If I had to pick a favorite from this series, I suppose it would be the fourth one because I’m sometimes a romantic at heart. You know everyone 50 books or so. But I’ve reread this series more than any other, even Harry Potter, so, why I’d love to save all 4 when everything’s going down in flames…I’d pick this one and move on to others.

3.

So you’ve all heard me go on and on and on so annoyingly about this trilogy, and here it is again. Well, the second one at least. You see it’s not necessarily my favorite out of the three, I don’t think I could pick a favorite, but I accidentally ended up with a copy signed by the author! I bought it used off Amazon as this thing was out of print even when I was buying a secondhand copy back in the time of dinosaurs. Well, it arrived in the mail, I flicked through it, and there it was, signed by one of the authors I’ve admired most in all my time as a reader! I’m saving it lol

4.

I can’t help it, I’m a huge Dickens fan and the copy of A Tale of Two Cities that I own was my Mom’s, I stole it lol shhh she doesn’t know, nor does she read this, I mean I’m sure she saw it on my shelf for the years it took me to move out and has probably deduced as such by now, lol. But because I love this and it is Mom’s and it’s pretty and leather looking, I’d save it.

1.

Go ahead. Judge me. You all should have known this was coming. Why save the first over the other six? Because of the memories I associate with it, this book was a very defining read for me in my preteen years and it’s always going to be important no matter what.

The only question is; would I save the first copy I owned, the illustrated, or the Slytherin copy?

There we have it, five books I chose and now feel horrible as if the others now know and feel less loved, gonna go hug my bookshelf now.

[Sidenote: Huh this is my 100th post!]

Toodles!

 

A Week in Review

Hey everyone!

I was going to do today’s BE Spring prompt, but Michelle’s post was so perfect and like I would do everything she did, so, just go read her post here.

So, what have I read this week?


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GoodReads:

A literary courtroom drama about a Korean immigrant family and a young, single mother accused of murdering her eight-year-old autistic son

My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first . . .

In the small town of Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine—a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic “dives” with the hopes of curing issues like autism or infertility. But when the Miracle Submarine mysteriously explodes, killing two people, a dramatic murder trial upends the Yoos’ small community.

Who or what caused the explosion? Was it the mother of one of the patients, who claimed to be sick that day but was smoking down by the creek? Or was it Young and Pak themselves, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? The ensuing trial uncovers unimaginable secrets from that night—trysts in the woods, mysterious notes, child-abuse charges—as well as tense rivalries and alliances among a group of people driven to extraordinary degrees of desperation and sacrifice.

Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek is a thoroughly contemporary take on the courtroom drama, drawing on the author’s own life as a Korean immigrant, former trial lawyer, and mother of a real-life “submarine” patient. An addictive debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng, Miracle Creek is both a twisty page-turner and a deeply moving story about the way inconsequential lies and secrets can add up—with tragic consequences.

This book is definitely a contender for favorite contemporary fiction for 2019 for me. Not only that but aside from being an amazing read, it also contributed to my participation in the YARC19 Challenge! Yaaaay! Honestly, it was pretty amazing, and you can click here for my Goodreads review. If this is your sort of genre at all, please go check it out/buy it if you get the chance!

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GoodReads:

By 4042 CE, the Hierophant and his Church have risen to political dominance with his cannibalistic army of genetically modified humans: martyrs. In an era when mankind’s intergenerational cold wars against their long-lived predators seem close to running hot, the Holy Family is poised on the verge of complete planetary control. It will take a miracle to save humanity from extinction.

It will also take a miracle to resurrect the wife of 331-year-old General Dominia di Mephitoli, who defects during martyr year 1997 AL in search of Lazarus, the one man rumored to bring life to the dead. With the Hierophant’s Project Black Sun looming over her head, she has little choice but to believe this Lazarus is really all her new friends say he is–assuming he exists at all–and that these companions of hers are really able to help her. From the foulmouthed Japanese prostitute with a few secrets of her own to the outright sapient dog who seems to judge every move, they don’t inspire a lot of confidence, but the General has to take the help she can get.

After all, Dominia is no ordinary martyr. She is THE HIEROPHANT’S DAUGHTER, and her Father won’t let her switch sides without a fight. Not when she still has so much to learn.

I really enjoyed this, but, you’ll have to wait until April 30 to read my review as I’m part of the Blog Tour for this! Release date May 19, 2019.


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Goodreads:

Thirteen Months of Sunrise is a collection of stories by the author, journalist, and activist, Rania Mamoun. Rania was featured in previous PEN Award winning project, The Book of Khartoum, the first ever anthology of Sudanese short fiction in translation. The stories in this collection have been translated from Arabic into English for the first time, by translator Elisabeth Jacquette. Thirteen Months of Sunrise is part of Comma’s commitment to publish writers in translation from ‘banned nations’ in 2018.

This is a very short book of short stories, I was lucky enough that Comma Press was looking for reviewers and I reached out, getting an e-copy in exchange for an honest review. These short stories read more like beautiful and lyrical poems to me. To read words that have travelled so far and manage to be so poetic and melancholic, it’s wonderous and really these were hauntingly beautiful to read. Passing was my favorite, it had me crying in the library. [We had an outing and I didn’t want to check out more books so I brought my Kindle.] It’s poignant and harkens to a world that everyone cannot understand, in fact not many at all, and it gives you this glance into a world where beauty and tragedy walk often side by side. There’s hope, devastation, death, love, and a multitude of feelings I can’t begin to describe.  If you get a chance to read this, and you love poetry and you’re okay with crying, go ahead and read it. This book tears out your heart in the most wonderful of ways, I’ll be looking into getting her first anthology after this.

What am I still currently reading?

GoodReads:

Packed with high stakes mystery and tons of heart, this first installment in a new series introduces Kazu Jones-a spunky, scrappy detective who’s this generation’s Harriet the Spy.

When a string of dognappings grips her Denver neighborhood, Kazu Jones vows to track down the culprits. She can’t stand to see more dogs go missing-especially once her neighbors’ beloved pet is taken because of her gigantic mistake.

With the help of her gang-including her best friend and expert hacker, March; and her ginormous, socially anxious pup, Genki-Kazu uncovers evidence that suggests the dognapping ring is bigger than she ever imagined. But the more she digs, the more dangerous her investigation becomes. The dognappers are getting bolder, and Genki could be next.

I’m reading this out loud to the mini-me, it’s another read for a Book tour, so keep an eye out next week. This is middle-grade fiction and so far we are LOVING it, haha too bad there’s not enough saliva in my mouth to keep up with the demands of the little one, seriously my mouth feels like the Sahara after we finish reading every night. I sense this being a 5 cups of coffee book.

GoodReads: 

Tense tech-thriller based on the growing role of blockchains, encryption and social media in society.

Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.

Yesterday, Amanda Back’s life was flawless: the perfect social credit score, the perfect job, the perfect home.

Today, Amanda is a target, an enemy of the system holding information dangerous enough to disrupt the world’s all-consuming tech – a fugitive on the run.

But in a world where an un-hackable blockchain links everyone and everything, there is nowhere to run…

Labelled as Sci-Fi on NetGalley, I would say this is more like a political of thriller of sorts, I like the plot, but, while I thought the reviews about the MC were harsh, I get it now. I feel the author might be overcompensating for not being an OwnVoices author and then well the personality of the MC just…stinks. You have no sympathy for her. NONE.

I don’t want this to be basically a WWW with me slapping a different title on, so, I’m going to dive more into my week! I received probably about seven books in the mail for review this week, I’m very excited about some, the ones I don’t enjoy, unless they’re harmful or offensive will make their way to a certain awesome blogger’s program, but since I’m not sure I’ll have any to donate, I won’t ping this amazing blogger until I know for sure! One is a children’s picture book. Now. I don’t want you all scared and thinking ‘oh god Haley’s just grabbing free books and we’re going to have to endure The Little Engine That Could reviews all the time now.’ Actually, I thought this was a great opportunity to do something more with my daughter, she’s at that age between middle grade/chapter books and picture books, so this is my way to have fun with her while still doing book blogging things.

Also, I’m going to be super busy this weekend, it’s not just Easter, it’s us getting another date night that lasts the whole night, this is like a holiday for us! Also Saturday will be us seeing if we can’t hunt down a bookshelf, and I’m picking up another mystery, but, I’m buying this one and you all should check it out if you read middle-grade/your kid does and you want to support a POC author and amazing publishing company:

GoodReads: 

The detective duo everyone is dying to meet! 

Summer in London is hot, the hottest on record, and there’s been a murder in THE TRI: the high-rise home to resident know-it-alls, Nik and Norva. Who better to solve the case? Armed with curiosity, home-turf knowledge and unlimited time – until the end of the summer holidays anyway. 

The first whodunnit in a new mystery series by Sharna Jackson.

I just want to say, you should definitely go check out Sharna Jackson on Twitter, but not only that, her publishing company; Knights Of, is a company dedicated to diversity in children’s books not just in content but in the authors they represent, so, that’s pretty cool.

And finally, Sunday will be filled with candy and eggs and then me hopping onto Twitter to host a BESpring19 Twitter chat!

Alright guys, toddles for now! Tomorrow expect my Crown of Feathers review, as it’s UK publication date looms nearer! (April 25, 2019)

Books that Remind me of Spring

BESpring19 Post

Theresa is still today’s host and her prompt today is spring shelf decor. As I don’t actually decorate my shelves, like, at all, unless you count dust, I am passing on today.

But. I’m doing yesterday’s prompt late because I had a cool cover reveal to do, and it’s prompt from Theresa was books that remind us of Spring! [Click on her name to go see her fabulous post yesterday]

[Thank you to Sam & Clo for putting this event together!]

So, here we go, books that remind me of spring and the nicer parts, not the allergies

The Forsyte Saga

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I couldn’t just not add this one. This classic is so near and dear to me. Spring reminds me of birth and renewal and second chances, and this book as a lot of renewal and second chances.

Anne of Green Gables Collection

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Never has a character reminded me so much of spring than Anne of Green Gables ❤

The Secret Garden

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I feel like The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables are probably just on everyone’s spring list that’s read them, Idk, but they’re staying on my list. In fact, my daughter and I just finished watching the WB version of this movie, my favorite version of it no less.

Bloom

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After reading this a couple of months ago, not only does the book have a little echo of spring in it, this cover is just so spring-y to me! A sweet fun read and a love story which let’s face it, love is in the air in spring, or so they say.

 

Me Before You

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The ending of this reminds me of spring more than the rest of the heartache this book induces. Something about how and where our dear protagonist ends up reminds me of spring. I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read it.

That’s it! My spring reminding reads.

Toodles!

Finding love for Reading

For anyone who knows me in real life knows, like every book blogger, I’m a super bookworm, I love to read, I always have, and around my friends, I’m also known as being an annoyingly fast reader.

Oddly enough, I didn’t really enjoy books until the Fourth grade. I used to have to stay after school in First grade with a few others to work on learning to read, it was a massive struggle for me but I got there in the end as far as learning how to.

Teachers thought I had no reading comprehension and I was known for not liking reading, I remember passing a book report on Little House on the Prarie in 3rd grade just from skimming it and making some stuff up. [Shhh my mother still does not know this and she doesn’t read this blog, so let’s keep it between us]

I really struggled and I hated how stupid I felt.

Then came along my reading teacher, Mrs. Retzloff. I remember her taking the time to notice me, and she didn’t just pass by my horrible reading grade.

Do you know what she found out?

I was reading things too fast.

I wasn’t actually having a difficult time reading anymore, my problem was that I was doing it too fast, skimming at times because I was reading at such a high speed and therefore not really taking anything in. As far as where my comprehension was at? She tested me and I had a nearly 6th-grade reading level ability and as someone who didn’t really want to touch books other than to look at the pretty pictures, that was saying something. She wanted me to enjoy reading and so she let me pick a book from her personal shelf in the classroom, and lo and behold I picked a book about children dealing with the mystery of a mummy.

This kind:

 

Not this kind:

[I guess I basically loved mystery type books from the beginning. Huh. Not surprised at my own revelation.]

Anyway, Mrs. Retzloff nurtured my love of reading, she let me pick lower level things still for a while, wanting to make sure I was enjoying it and then she gently helped push and nudge me along, my reading comprehension went past 6, 7, 8th grade, and this is how I read Brave New World in middle school. I wasn’t a genius, but I was a good reader and Mrs. Retzloff brought that out of me. She didn’t see someone who was dumb or lazy. [And let’s face it, some teachers, not most, do sometimes just see a child as unwilling, lazy, or ‘dumb’ and give up, but not all, a lot are like my Mrs. Retzloff.]

By the end of the year, I had succeeded in making a school record (I mean others were up there making the record too, not just me lol) for how many A.R. points I earned (you read a book and was quizzed on it afterwards via a computer) and I got put into honors classes in middle school and the honor society and I can say that would never have happened without that woman.

She is so dear to me even today, and I can’t remember the title of that book she lent me [which low key drives me INSANE] but I remember her. I remember patience and encouragement, her nurturing ways and finally, I was a child who was appreciative of the books my mother had given me with so much love and hope. And it wasn’t just me she helped, Mrs. Retzloff took it upon herself to try and have every single child who stepped through her door love a book, even if it was just one book.

I am so incredibly lucky because I can’t imagine where I would have been without her, people would have continued to think I was, well, not too bright, and I never would have been pushed. I owe a lot to her, especially because forget academics, she instilled a love of reading to me. It’s why I always try with my daughter because it’s one thing to not be a big reader, but I want her to enjoy whatever books she picks, to know that it’s something fun and not a chore.

Haha, this is so cheesy but I find myself getting quite emotional thinking about her, I went back to see her in high school and I was friends with her grandchildren, but, you know, we move, we get older, things change and I haven’t seen her in forever and I pray she’s still around helping children in my old school, I know she was still teaching even up to 4/5 years ago despite people wanting her to retire due to her age but is no longer at my old school.

So, thanks to Mrs. Retzloff for my love of reading, and to all the Mrs. Retzloffs who help kids that are and were like me.