The Red Hunter – Review

My first book by Lisa Unger sucked me in and wouldn’t let me go. I’ve had Ink and Bone on my TBR, even planning to read it earlier this month, but didn’t have the time to start it. I’m thrilled I was able to begin with The Red Hunter instead. This book will be sticking with me for a long time.

The story begins with two separate plots, seemingly unrelated, and two women (Zoey and Claudia) who have both faced their own horrors. One uses her past to fuel her drive for revenge and the other finds strength in sharing her history with the world through her blog. As the women work to come to terms with their traumas in their individual ways, simultaneously trying to uncover mysteries buried years ago, their paths diverge, forcing them to face the good and evil of the world head on.

From the get-go of this story, I was blown away with Unger’s writing. Her fingers type gold. There are writers and there are storytellers, and Lisa Unger is gifted in both facets. This story is layered with past perspectives, present moments, and alternating point of views, all seamlessly woven together to allow readers to feel thrilled, empathetic and maybe even worried for what the characters will face next. If the alternating perspectives seem confusing in the beginning, have no fear, it will all make sense in the end. Continue reading “The Red Hunter – Review”

The Bronze Horseman – Review

I finally read The Bronze Horseman, people! That’s enough for a celebration in itself since it has been sitting on my Kindle app for almost a year now! Everyone raves about this book and I just knew I was going to love it intensely. You guys know how much I love a good World War II story. There’s a little part of me that is always anxious to read what I know will be an amazing book because I know I will only get to experience it for the first time, well, the first time. It’s incredible to fully live inside the pages of a book that one loves, but the pain of it being over is sometimes so devastating. It’s like having a friend move to the other side of the world to my empathetic brain. I don’t want to say goodbye. Luckily I have two more books to get me through my sorrows…at least until they are over.

The Bronze Horseman was a book that reinforced my love of reading. It made me feel as if I was living the life of my characters. I stopped seeing words on the pages, forgetting about grammar, and only imagined the movie playing in my mind. When the characters were cold, I was cold. When they were starving, my stomach was rumbling. When their bodies were completely devastated, I felt physically drained. I felt the love, the agony, and the anger at Communist Russia and Nazi Germany, I felt as if I was in Leningrad in the 1940s. Only a great story, a great writer, can transport someone to a place they will never have a chance to witness personally and truly take them there with their words. It is pure magic.

While some people find fault with the characters personalities, I didn’t mind feeling annoyed with them, even sometimes angry. When I’m reading about such a heartbreaking time in history, the characters shouldn’t be flawless. I need them to be human for the story to be truly captivating.

The love between Tatiana and Alexander was epic. It compares to that of Claire and Jamie in Outlander. It is a true, soul-wrecking love story. The kind of love people only hope to experience in their lifetime. A love that ruins a person for all other people.

I can’t say enough good things about this novel. I want more, but I want to soak up this story and live in it a little longer before I start the next book. I am fortunate to be reading this novel with some former high school classmates for our book club, and will get to discuss it all over again with them in May. It will do my heart good to talk about Tatiana and Alexander again!

If you’re waiting for the chance to start this book like I was, get started now and fall in love with Tatiana and Alexander. Be transported to the war-torn Russia in 1941-1943.

Happy Reading,
♥Ashley

AMAZON US
AMAZON UK
AMAZON DE

The Gravity of Us – Review

Let me start by saying, whatever I write about this book will not be able to do it justice. Last year I was gifted a copy of The Air He Breathes by a lovely person in Colleen Hoover’s CoHorts. I subsequently devoured the novel, along with all of the other books in Brittainy C. Cherry’s Elements Series. Each book was better than the last. Any author that can invoke such deep emotions within me is an author I am going to stick with and read as long as they keep writing.

The Gravity of Us is not an exception and became my favorite of this series a quarter of the way through the book. Graham has to be one of the best male leads in a story. He is deep, angry, and downright mean in the beginning. But, as we learn more about Graham’s past, readers come to understand his guarded personality. Lucy was the light of this book with her carefree spirit and the love she showed to those around her.

“She was all over the place: flighty, random, passionate, and emotionally overcharged. It was as if she was fully aware of her faults, and she allowed them to exist regardless. Somehow those faults made her whole.”

One of my favorite things about this story was the depth of each character, including the secondary characters. This wasn’t a story about physical appearance and hot people falling in love, instead it was about who the characters were as people, how they came to be the people they were, and them slowly falling together. Oftentimes in reality, when people are broken or hard to be around, we never get to see the resolution or the changes they may make in their lives, but The Gravity of Us gave readers the satisfying conclusion of seeing the growth of characters.

I think the most beautiful aspect of the story is not in the book itself, but in the author who wrote it. Anyone that can write such a dazzling story, which makes a heart ache and mends it back together again; anyone who can make readers feel fiction must have a heart of gold themselves. One has to know the heart to write from the heart. After meeting Brittainy in December of last year, I know she has such a sweet spirit and can’t wait to have her sign this incredible book for me someday as well.

I don’t want to give too much of a summary of the story because I do not want to give anything away. I went into the book completely blind, knowing it would be beautifully written, and was not in the least bit disappointed. I daresay this book is my favorite of the 33 I have read so far this year. I wish I could give you each a copy now, but you’re in luck –  The Gravity of Us is available for pre-order now for just 99 cents. Release day is set for April 13! Make sure you snag a copy now!

As always,
Happy Reading,
♥Ashley

Note: While this is a series of novels, each book can be read as a standalone.

AMAZON US
AMAZON UK
AMAZON DE

Between Shades of Gray – Review

I have been drawn to books detailing the struggles of people during World War II since I have been a child.  For that reason, I wanted a chance to read this book for years. Finally I was able to check it out through Overdrive from my library and was anxious to be transported back in time.

The story begins in Lithuania with Lina, her mother, and younger brother being deported by Soviet officers in a filthy train car to a place they had never experienced before – Siberia. Lina and her family, along with others that become family to her, are forced to work in cruel conditions at labor camps for Stalin’s regime. Lina uses her love for art as a tool to tell the story of the horrors she faced, despite the danger of her drawings being discovered. She hopes her art will help her father make his way back to her family after she finds him in a separate train car going to a different location.

In the first few pages of this story, I was confused about what was taking place because I had not seen the mention of the characters being Jewish. I even stopped reading to ask my husband, who happens to be a History major, if he could clear up my confusion. We were both stumped. Eventually I came to realize through my reading that only one of the characters was in fact, Jewish. The deportations were actually a result of “Sovietization” and the result of Communism in Russia. Citizens from the Baltic states were removed, murdered, or forced into labor camps to further the agenda of Stalin. This was an unfamiliar aspect of history to both my husband and me. Continue reading “Between Shades of Gray – Review”

Infinity + One – Review

Amy Harmon…I could go on and on about this amazing lady’s talents. Since discovering her books last year, after reading The Bird and the Sword, I’ve been slowly making my way through her entire catalog. Her writing appeals to my personality so perfectly, and some of her books are among my all- time favorite reads. Her books are beautiful mix of feeling, romance, and faith. She weaves together elements within the story-line so flawlessly, I always find myself wondering how she does it. The glimpse her writing gives into her brain never fails to make me want more! Continue reading “Infinity + One – Review”

Background Music – Review

As a huge fan of J.R. Rogue’s poetry, I was eager to get my hands on her upcoming novel Background Music. Her writing has opened my world to a love and enjoyment of poetry I have never experienced before. I trust her ability as an author to make me feel her words, and I was prepared for a full range of emotions with Background Music.

BLURB

“You’re more than background music for someone else’s life.”


It’s the message that will change everything.

The message Kat Roberts receives from a man she’s never met.

The message no one else is supposed to see but her.

The message that leads to the greatest violence

against her body she will ever know.

 

Prologue

Kat

I’LL ALWAYS REMEMBER THE BACKGROUND MUSIC that played downstairs that night. Those notes will forever haunt me. They played softly as midnight struck, as our friends and family raised glasses and kissed lips. So softly, so delicately, as my husband raped me in our upstairs bedroom. As he pinned my arms behind my back. As he told me not to cry out. As he convinced me it was what I deserved.

After reading the prologue, I couldn’t wait to discover more of Kat’s story. I don’t mind dark subject matter, as it usually leads to the most emotionally riveting stories.  I also remembered Kat as Sera’s best friend from Rogue’s first novel, Burning Muses. While this book is a standalone, it is always fun to make connections with an author’s previous novels.

I believe J.R. Rogue was able to really hone her storytelling with this book. I was impressed with the plot, plot twist near the end, and the character development in Rogue’s second novel. This makes for a more memorable story and more of a connection with the characters. While I was prepared for a darker story, I was pleasantly surprised with Rogue’s delicate handling of the rough subject matter. If the prologue makes readers nervous, be comforted in knowing there are no graphic descriptions or details on the subject of rape. It simply adds a deeper aspect to Kat’s past and leads readers to understand her more fully in the present.
My favorite facet of the story was reading from Andrew’s perspective. He was a witty, light-hearted, and refreshing voice. I was rooting for him to get the girl and to become the man he was longing to be.

“Do any of us look at ourselves with the same lens everyone else is using?”

“I’d wager a guess you don’t see yourself the way I see you right now.”

Continue reading “Background Music – Review”

Preston’s Honor – Review

prestonshonorMia Sheridan can always be counted on to craft beautiful, intense love stories, and she does not disappoint with Preston’s Honor.  Out of the wonderful 17 books I’ve read in 2017 thus far, Preston’s Honor is my favorite.  I was drawn in from the first chapter, immediately making it a book I didn’t want to put down.  The times I had to do boring adult-y things, I was reliving every word of this story and dying to know what was going to come next. For me, Preston’s Honor is up there with Archer’s Voice as one of Mia’s greatest works, something not to be taken lightly.

Going in, I didn’t know a single detail about this story except for the Gemini connection as it is A Sign of Love novel, which made me suspect the story would feature twins. I was a little nervous there may be a love triangle involved, but my fears were unfounded.  I know Mia writes some of the most alluring novels I have ever read, so it was an easy decision to reach with grabby hands for her newest book.

One of the things that made this book so exemplary to me was being able to relate so personally to Annalia.  Her character came to life for me.  I felt so drawn to her, devastated for her, and proud of her at times.  The heart-breaks and desolation Lia felt throughout the story were described so vividly I felt as if I was there, feeling that pain, wanting to comfort her.  I despaired with her and shed empathetic tears for her through much of the novel.

“As it turned out, financial strife   even financial desperation    was much easier and more pleasant than emotional despair.”

The flashbacks leading up to present time, then merging together were one of my favorite aspects of reading.  I love a good back story, as it leads to a deeper connection for me with the characters.  I like to know the details that made them the “person” they are and to be able to see their growth in the present and future.  Another facet of this story I found surprisingly touching was Lia’s Mexican heritage and the grief her mother faced as an immigrant.  I enjoyed how Mia was able to weave this into the story so effortlessly, while being able to teach readers an important lesson in the process    simply, we are all human no matter where we come from.  I love that readers are able to get a look into two social classes melding together, to show how we really are the same deep down, despite the actions of some of the crappier characters (i.e. Alicia and Mrs. Sawyer) in the book.

Just like the last time I read a Mia Sheridan novel, I want to pick up everything she has ever written and completely binge on it.  She awakens emotions in me that have been dormant for years, and makes me cry over things I would never expect to freaking sob over.

This book is releasing in 3 short days!  I highly recommend 1-clicking this beautiful story.   Continue reading “Preston’s Honor – Review”