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

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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.

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Saving Tatum – Review

Tatum CoverAs I mentioned in my previous review, Tempting Rowan and Saving Tatum are my favorite books in the “Trace + Olivia” series by Micalea Smeltzer. Although completely different regarding the plot, they still have some similarities. As the other books in this series, I read Saving Tatum about 2 years ago but I didn’t know how much I missed both Jude and Tatum until I picked up the book again.
Tatum and Jude have a past – but not the one you’re thinking of. Jude is the reason for Tatum’s sadness and her reservation toward people. He is also the reason her parents don’t care for her anymore. So why would she give him the time of day when he clearly ruined her life? She is determined to stay away from Jude and his advances at all costs. But Jude has other plans. He wants to get to the bottom of her hatred toward him and wants to make her like him and see the real Jude. Continue reading “Saving Tatum – Review”

Mists of the Serengeti – Review

mistsMists of the Serengeti is not the typical book I would ditch my TBR pile for. However, after a friend gifted me this book and I saw the overwhelming number of positive reviews, I decided to jump in.  This book had everything I look for in a story– beautiful writing, plenty of emotions, educational moments, and love!  What more could a girl ask for?

“…we’re all connected in strange, mysterious ways.  Pull a thread here and a life unravels there.”

Normally, I find stories set in Africa outside of my realm of interest.  I’ve never been very inspired by African culture, environment, or history.  I’m happy to say, Mists of the Serengeti broadened my horizons in ways I wasn’t prepared for.  First, this novel completely caught me off guard by featuring albinism.  The strangest coincidence happened the day I started reading this book.  I was watching television with my husband and he pointed out an Albino basketball player in one of the games he was watching.  Later in the afternoon, he switched it to an episode of Cops (yes, interesting TV choices that day) where one of the police officers was an Albino man.  While I have personally seen a couple of people with albinism in my life, I had never given the condition much thought.  I started wondering what struggles people of African decent may face if their skin is white, and decided to start my own research. At this point, I had yet to reach the description of Scholastica walking out of the shadows in the story    my jaw was on the floor when I read it.  What are the chances of randomly seeing two people with albinism on TV, being curious about it and researching the subject, and then reading about it in a book all in the same day?  It’s not as if this is an everyday topic many of us come face-to-face with.  This odd bit of Kismet had me drawn to the story in an unforgettable way. Continue reading “Mists of the Serengeti – Review”

God-Shaped Hole – Review

When Tarryn Fisher recommends a book, I read it, like a good little sheeple should. I’ve had God-Shaped Hole on my TBR for a while, but when I saw Tarryn and Tiffanie’s live Facebook video a couple of weeks ago I bought it, finally.
Now let me start by saying, I cannot give this book a star-rating. It doesn’t feel right for this book because of Jacob:

“He believed that any work an artist puts forth which contains the truth as he or she sees it is worthy of consideration, and any commentary of the work beyond that is nothing more than pure individual opinion and should not be considered relevant to the work itself.”

With that said, let me give my irrelevant opinion. Going in, I didn’t know what to expect since I rarely read blurbs or reviews prior to reading a book. The prelude gives us an idea of what may be to come, but even with this knowledge the story still has the ability to rip readers’ hearts and guts out and stomp all over them. I will not be recovering from this book for ages, and I mean that in the best way possible.  God-Shaped Hole is funny, smart, and heartbreakingly real. I’ve never read a love story that felt as realistic as this one. Beatrice and Jacob’s relationship wasn’t the perfection that is often depicted in most contemporary books. Their arguments were how they play out for real couples    full of pride and pettiness.  Their character traits made them seem like people I know. I loved how at times, Beatrice wanted to give in to end a stand-off, but her pride wouldn’t let her.  How many times do we as humans want to say, “I love you, you idiot. Let’s be happy again,” but our egos get in the way?  Beatrice was a girl after my own heart, with her genuine personality and hate of materialistic people and the culture of Los Angeles.  I remember going on vacation to California and being most excited to visit LA, then feeling ridiculously let down afterwards. What is with all of the hype? San Francisco, on the other hand, is where it’s at. Continue reading “God-Shaped Hole – Review”

Lost in Scotland – Release Day and Review

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Title: Lost in Scotland

Author: Hilaria Alexander

Release Date: Feb 1, 2017

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Synopsis:

Just when you think you’re lost, you might end up falling in love.

Sam Farouk is having a bad year. Things went down the drain ever since she found her boyfriend cheating on her at the Golden Globes. An unfortunate turn of events forces her to trade sunny Los Angeles with the rainy, chilly highlands of Scotland. She has the chance to work as one of the makeup artists on a new TV series based on a fantasy saga everyone is bananas about, but she can’t help feeling lost and a little bit homesick. Until she starts falling for Hugh MacLeod, the actor set to impersonate the titular role of Abarath, dragon slayer and part-time Casanova.

Hugh MacLeod is ready for his big break. After more than a decade taking every possible acting job just to stay afloat, he can finally show his range in a series to be proud of. Hugh’s commitment to his career comes before anything else, and that’s part of the reason why he hasn’t had a serious relationship in a while. But the more he’s around Sam, the more he knows he’s in deep, deep trouble. How is he supposed not to fall for the sexy, mysterious brunette who works all over him every single day? Every touch, every look is torture.

Getting lost in each other might be wrong, but it could end up being just what they need.Teaser 2.jpg

Buy Links:

Amazon – http://amzn.to/2jrst4y

B & N – http://bit.ly/2kML480

Kobo – http://bit.ly/2kJ4eM6

iBooks – http://apple.co/2kR2oIj

Excerpt:

August

“It’s so beautiful, Mom.” I pointed the camera of my phone to the scenery in front of me.

“I can see that. It’s just as stunning as you see on TV. So green.”

“It’s almost too much to take in all at once.”

Scotland was intimidating in a mysterious kind of way. California was what I had known all my life, and I’d barely even spent any time around the United States. Save a few times in London with my father and my siblings to visit my grandparents, I hadn’t been anywhere else in the world. Scotland was as foreign and new as it could get, but now, it was going to be my home for the next eight months. I switched the camera back to me.

“Have you met any of your coworkers?”

“Not yet, just one of Mira’s friends, Lainey. She picked me up at the airport and took me to my place. I have a roommate, but I haven’t met her yet. Some of the crew was out bonding last night. I missed it.”

“Oh, well. You’ll have time to get to know them. You’re lucky you got this gig at the last minute.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Samhain, everything will be fine. You’re a talented makeup artist. You know you got this job because of your extensive resume and not just because of a phone call.”

If you say so, I wanted to tell her, but I just nodded. I hoped my mother couldn’t tell how scared I was. I knew I was overreacting—I was twenty-nine-years-old, for crying out loud. I was acting like a kid leaving for college, but this actually was my first time away from home, away from my family, my friends…my sister, my brother. I was going to miss them so much.

“Maybe I’ll come visit you,” my mother said. “I heard the male lead on this production is quite the hunk,” she joked. I saw her wink through the screen, and just like that, she brought the smile back to my face and washed away my fears. I laughed and rolled my eyes.

“Mom!”

“What? I might be old, but I’m not dead. I can appreciate a handsome man when I see one.” She shrugged. “Who knows, maybe you’ll meet someone cute.”

“I don’t think so. My goal is to lay low for a while. Love only leads to drama.” I knew that all too well.

“Oh, honey…I’m not talking about love—”

Oh, Jesus.

“Mom, come on.”

“No, Sam, let me say what I have to say. Sweetheart, you’re still young. Have your fun while you can. You know that’s why I never liked the fact that you and Eric got so hot and heavy when you were just twenty-two. You spent your best years with a man who didn’t deserve you.”

I nodded and pressed my lips into a tight smile. She was right, of course—as was everyone else with their I-told-you-so’s. I was the fool who had loved him blindly for too long, getting nothing in return. I had gotten my revenge on the cheating bastard, but it had kind of backfired in a way I hadn’t expected. Now, for the next eight months, I would have to call Scotland my home.

I heard footsteps coming from behind me, and I turned around.

The hill I had attempted to climb was deserted. I was alone. In that moment, it dawned on me that maybe this hadn’t been the smartest decision. I shouldn’t have ventured out by myself; I was in a foreign country, and I didn’t know anyone.

But the scenery had been so inviting.

I barely detected my mother saying, “What is it, honey?” I was too focused on the noise. A moment later, a tall guy in a baseball cap and athletic gear reached the small, flat spot where I had been chatting with my mom. He was wearing a windbreaker and shorts.

Shorts! I was huddled in a knee-length puffer jacket, and just the sight of him in shorts made me shiver. He lifted his head and the sight of his ice-blue eyes made me shiver again. He looked at me for just a second, nodding his head in my direction.

“Hello,” he said in a deep, uber-manly voice, one of those that could make you swoon even saying the most boring and generic stuff. He had me at hello.

“Hi,” I replied, frozen.

His eyes shifted to the phone in my hand. My mother kept calling my name from her office in Los Angeles. The stranger stared at me for another second, and then he gave an imperceptible shake of his head. The corner of his lips curled into a smile.

Ugh. Fucking embarrassing. I had been caught FaceTiming with my mom. This would be a really good time to lose reception, but noooo. My mother kept calling out to me, but I was sort of frozen on the spot, staring at the handsome stranger.

Yes, handsome. I stared at him all of five seconds, but that was enough to see his face—and what a face it was. He had the most perfect features: straight nose, strong jaw, high cheekbones. His eyes were sharp blue and gorgeous, and with just one look, they were melting my insides.

“Samhain! Are you okay, honey? What’s wrong?”

“Mom, hang on a sec,” I said, completely distracted by the vision in front of me.

He quickly walked past me and kept climbing up the steep slope, making it look so effortless.

“What is it, honey?” my mother asked again.

“Nothing, Mom. Just some mountain climber,” I said in a lower tone, raising my eyebrows, hoping the stranger wouldn’t hear me. He kept moving just as steadily as he had a moment before. He had to be a pro—he moved way too quickly to be a regular person. I was a fan of hikes, but my expertise was limited to canyons in the valley. This California girl was no match for real mountains like the peaks of Scotland. I had been out of breath in minutes. It must have been the altitude or perhaps the fact that my body was not made for strenuous exercise, no matter how hard I tried. I might not have had a lot of time to look at the stranger, but since I got to stare at his back for a little bit, I knew the rest of his body was as good-looking as his face. He had broad shoulders and muscular, lean legs—no wonder he made it look so damn easy, effortless even. His thin shorts revealed the curve of his ass and that alone was…spectacular.

I sighed. It had been too long, what felt like forever since I’d lusted after a guy. I guess I wasn’t broken after all. Good to know. If I had more stamina and no shame, I would have followed him up the mountain. I would have committed to following that ass anywhere.

“Mom, I have to go. I need to get back to the townhouses. Maybe I can catch my roommate before my orientation.”

“All right, honey. Text me, okay?”

Author Info:

Hello! I’m the author of Prude, This Love and FU Cancer.  I was born and raised in Italy but now I live in Oklahoma City with my husband and kids. I love traveling and I’m a self-proclaimed concert addict. If you have questions about me or my books, ask me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Facebook – http://bit.ly/2gJxrDs

Twitter – http://bit.ly/1NPz3pc

Website – http://bit.ly/29LMZn1

Goodreads – http://bit.ly/1QIy5AC

Continue reading “Lost in Scotland – Release Day and Review”

My Name is Memory – Review

my-name-is-memoryDo you know what may be the best thing in modern society?  Logging off Facebook and using every moment you would pick up your phone, to pick up a book instead.  Not an e-reader, a real book.  The solitude and quiet resetting of myself has been much-needed and so welcomed.  Let’s be honest, I already know what is going on in the world.  I don’t need Facebook to tell me, with a dash of hostility and a pinch of bickering.

With my newfound free-time, I decided to check out a copy of My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares from the library in town, based on the recommendation of author Faith Andrews.  Ann Brashares is the author of The Traveling Pants series, as many of you may already know.  I grew through my early teenage years with the “Pants” books, so I already trusted Brashares to bring me a story I would love. Continue reading “My Name is Memory – Review”