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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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”

Confess – Review

IMG_9678editedColleen Hoover is without a doubt one of my favorite authors. I found out about her and her books through a book recommendation column on my favorite German radio station in 2014 while still living in the US. Ha! I didn’t know that that particular recommendation would affect me and my love for reading so much. Sure, I was an avid reader back then (at least that’s how I saw myself as, since I read about 7 or 8 books a year), but finding out about Colleen and that genre tenfolded my book reading number. Maybe I should write a thank you note to that radio station? 🙂
Everytime Colleen announces a new book, it goes to my TBR straightaway. I don’t need a blurb or a cover; it’s Colleen Hoover, so of course I will read her new release. What CoHort wouldn’t? Confess, which was released in March 2015, was one of those books. Almost two years later, the novel was picked up for a scripted TV show by Awestruck and – guess what?! – it releases today! Yay!
In honor of today’s release, I decided to re-read Confess and publish this review for you. I made it as spoiler-free as I could. Continue reading “Confess – Review”

The Allure of Dean Harper – Shared Review

IMG_9264editedAfter reading The Allure of Julian Lefray, Ashley and I had to pick up The Allure of Dean Harper immediately. Because what is not to like about a sexy, fun, charming and successful bachelor in New York City?

As a restaurateur in NYC, Dean has opened up many successful restaurants over the past few years. For his new opening, he has his hands full again, which unfortunately has less to do with the new restaurant but more with one of his crew-members: Lily Black, food blogger, culinary school graduate and best friend of his best friend Julian’s girlfriend. With reluctance, Dean had to bring her on board and he is determined to get her off board as soon as possible. But Lily is not easily intimidated. She is hell-bent on showing Dean who the real food-guru is, even if it means war. Continue reading “The Allure of Dean Harper – Shared Review”

Walden 

One early morning, while enjoying the peace and quiet that came with everyone in my house still asleep, I began researching hermits and recluses. The things that go through my mind (and my Google search box) when I have a moment uninterrupted to think are usually quite comical. As strange as it may sound, however, this way of life sounds especially appealing to me at times. Maybe it’s because I have three children that are exceptionally loud during waking hours or because my Myers-Briggs test identified me as 99% introverted, or maybe it’s a mixture of both. Regardless, within my searching and reading, an article (albeit a negative one) about Henry David Thoreau’s book, Walden, came up. I immediately downloaded the book, which was free in Kindle-form on Amazon, and started reading. This is not the typical book we review on this blog, nor does it need my review. It is 163 years old and has stood the test of time. Obviously nothing I say will be able to help or hinder its success. However, I wanted to share my thoughts.

Instantly, I was drawn into the text, written about Thoreau’s time living in a small cabin, alone, on the edge of Walden pond in Massachusetts. He described his desire to escape society and see what living in solitude would be like.

The first half of the book was exceptionally interesting to me, as I found it intriguing to find someone who had lived such a long time before me writing my organic thoughts years before they popped into my mind. It made me feel like nothing we ever do is truly original. Every thought has crossed another brain, every idea has been thought of already. Continue reading “Walden “

The Allure of Julian Lefray- Shared Review

IMG_9259editedCan I just say, I love R.S. Grey?! When life sucks with entirely too much adulting going on (hello, responsibility), Grey’s books are a welcome distraction and escape from reality. Her writing is always fun, easy to get lost in, and witty.

The Allure of Julian Lefray was no exception! I enjoyed being able to buddy read this story with Sabrina and laugh together at the comical one-liners. We both agreed Julian was one of the dreamiest book boyfriends we’ve read of. He has practically no flaws, always thinks of the right thing to do and say, not to mention he’s Josephine’s hunky boss – ding, ding, ding, Jo hit the jackpot! Continue reading “The Allure of Julian Lefray- Shared Review”