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

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”

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 Magnolia Story – Review

Living only 30 miles from Waco, Texas, it was basically imperative I read Chip and Joanna Gaines’ recent release, The Magnolia Story. I have to admit, after watching the TV show and seeing how perfect the Fixer Upper duo’s lives’ seem, it did make me wonder if the pair could possibly be as genuine as they come across on the screen. Their perfect marriage could be as big of a facade as the beautiful homes they create. After reading the story of their struggles and hopes and dreams, I came to feel as if my assumptions of the couple were true. Continue reading “The Magnolia Story – Review”

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”

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”