“The Resurrection of Joan Ashby”–Review

51gPNfTSLBL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Joan Ashby is an acclaimed writer, a woman who believes in the importance of independence, to pursue her aspirations, to not let anything stand in her way. For as long as she’s been writing, one of her main goals was to never marry or have children. Despite her years of success, however, life didn’t turn out the way she’d planned, for she had become a wife and mother to two sons. Although she loved her sons, Joan still felt a betrayal of the pact she and her husband, Martin, made, which was to not have children.

While living the life of wife and mother, it is years since Joan’s had anything published. At the same time, she is secretly writing a new novel, which takes decades to complete. Once the secret manuscript is complete, Joan questions every choice she’s made. Where had she gone wrong? Was she still a writer? Was her family to blame for her choices? And can she reclaim the life she’s always wanted before she’d given it all up for love?

Honestly, I was excited about the conflict of this novel. I liked the idea of an acclaimed writer trying to find herself after putting her life on hold for her family. Although the first half of the story was good, there were too many excerpts of Joan’s writing in a few chapters, including the second half of the story. I got the idea behind her stories, yet it was a bit much for me. Of course, I won’t give any spoilers. I just wasn’t too happy with the second half, especially the ending. The writing is excellent, but I was turned off later on in the book. I don’t discourage anyone from reading the book, though, so check it out.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Cherise Wolas a writer, lawyer, and film producer whose movies include an SXSW Audience Award winner. A native of Los Angeles, she lives in New York City with her husband. The Resurrection of Joan Ashby is her debut.

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“Definitions of Indefinable Things”–Review

51GZ8uMd5rL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_“My name’s Reggie. I’m seventeen. My worldview is that we’re all spiraling toward a vast and gaping obscurity we can’t escape, and if we’re lucky, we’re doing so alone. Also, I despise you. And by you, I mean the general human population.”

Reggie Mason believes that, as long as she doesn’t let anyone in, she can’t get hurt. It’s become her defense mechanism. During a quick trip to CVS to pick up her Zoloft prescription, she meets Snake, who happens to be waiting at the pharmacy for his Prozac refills. When Reggie actually lets Snake into her life, she seems to have mixed feelings for him. After all, Snake is smug, arrogant, and he can be a bit too forward. Needy, perhaps. He has an addiction to Twizzlers. And he’s an aspiring film-maker who wants to include Reggie in his work-in-progress. That’s just about everything that makes him attractive.

As the two get to know each other more, it isn’t long before Reggie finds out that Snake has an ex-girlfriend, Carla Banks—a popular queen bee and ex-childhood friend of Reggie’s—who is seven months pregnant. Now that the three of them are in each other’s lives, they endure an awkward journey of mental breakdowns, lame shopping trips, disappointed parents, boring proms, and one embarrassing birthing class. Throughout that journey, Reggie has to get to the bottom of everything that has led to her depression, and that even though—to her—people can be scary, they’re worth having in her life.

This story was worth the read, in my opinion. Oftentimes, I’d get annoyed with Reggie because of her constant mixed feelings toward Snake. She hated him, yet she loved him. He’d summon her and she’d go running to him, even though she swore they weren’t anything to each other. But I think that’s what made the story interesting. They both were struggling with their own problems and were in search of happiness, as well as trying to figure out what happiness was. If you love YA, check out this book.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

*Definitions of Indefinable Things will be available on April 4, 2017.

*I received this copy from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Whitney Taylor is an English and psychology major from Virginia, who likes to pretend she is a supermodel from New York City. This is her first novel. You can follow her on Twitter. For more info on the author, click here.

“The Wayfarer Trilogy”–Review

511m9sm0mgl-_sx323_bo1204203200_-2Hello bloggers!  Although I’d read the last two books in the Wayfarer Trilogy awhile back, I’m happy for having the opportunity to finally read the first book, The Secret Language of Women, by Nina Romano.

Set in a war during the Boxer Rebellion in China, star-crossed lovers, Lian, a Eurasian healer, and Giacomo Scimenti, an Italian sailor, meet.  Because of superstition, history, and customs, Lian and Giacomo are separated yet try to find a way back to each other.  Then Lian is forced into marrying a man to whom she was promised long ago.  When she is forbidden from her profession as a healer, frowned upon by her unbound feet, and enduring her husband’s and in-laws’ demanding ways, Lian turns to Nushu, the women’s secret writing which expresses her hopes for the future.

When Lian realizes enough is enough, she embarks on her own quest for freedom—even if it will come with a costly price.  Not only does she risk everything in hopes of reuniting with Giacomo, she learns a lot more about herself along the way and what she’s willing to endure to be happy again.

I liked Giacomo and now that I’ve read his story, the next two books made a bit more sense to me.

51gnxdwxitl-_sx324_bo1204203200_Lemon Blossoms, the second book in the trilogy, takes place in Italy, where Angelica Domenico resides in a blossoming lemon grove on an island governed by volcanoes and earthquakes.  During an accident from her childhood, Angelica faces the importance of maintaining her purity.  She begins to question it all even more after she endures the trauma of her aunt’s death during a difficult childbirth.  Because of that, including her fear of intimacy, she decides she’s going to commit her life to the convent, even though her parents forbid it.

Things start to change, however, when Giacomo Scimenti stops by the family shop, leaving Angelica confused and afraid of her feelings toward him, including her future in the convent.

I liked this book, even more, especially when certain chapters mentioned some Italian recipes.  I hope to, one day, visit Italy.  Aside from that, it was a good story with likable characters.

51yi1la3zhl-_sx327_bo1204203200_The final book, In America, takes place in 1920s New York.  Marcella Scimenti—the daughter of the characters in the previous book—is young, beautiful, and ambitious.  The handsome neighborhood boy is in love with her, she has a large family, and she has dreams of moving to Hollywood to sing.  Although her parents forbid her to pursue a singing career, Marcella is willing to stick by her own stubborn ways and do what it takes.  During the economic depression, she learns the importance of friendships, promising suitors, and life as a modern working woman with certain expectations of her tradition-bound family.  Later on, Marcella’s fate is tested when she learns of a devastating family secret, leaving her to choose what is really important in life.

I’m happy for having the opportunity to read this trilogy and I loved some of the helpful advice Marcella was given in the third book.  It just left me thinking, “Wow.  I wouldn’t have thought of it that way.”  No spoilers, of course, so I’ll just encourage you to check out this wonderful trilogy.

Feel free to post your comments, of course.  Happy reading!

For more info on the author, click here.  Also, you can follow her on Twitter.

“Fates and Traitors”–Review

615KoCva7YL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_A riveting novel of four women forever linked to the notorious assassin, John Wilkes Booth.  The mother who cherished him. The sister who was his friend and confidante.  The devoted sweetheart whose love he betrayed.  The Confederate widow who conspired with him to bring down a president.

Fates and Traitors is a story based on John Wilkes Booth, who was the son of an acclaimed British stage actor, Junius Brutus Booth, and a Covent Garden flower girl.  Like his father, John Wilkes Booth went on to become a stage actor.  He was one of the best, adored by many.  In the end, however, he’d put his career and reputation at risk only to commit one of the most infamous acts in American history—the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

Each chapter tells the stories of the four women Booth loved and who also loved him: Mary Ann, his loving and patient mother; Asia, his sister and confidante; Lucy Lambert Hale, the senator’s daughter who loved him, yet refused to see him for who he was; and Mary Surratt, the Confederate widow who was sworn to secrecy of Booth’s plot.

I was ecstatic when I’d first picked up this book.  During the middle of it, however, I found myself at a slump and wasn’t sure whether or not to continue reading.  At the same time, though, something was telling me to continue; perhaps I’ll like it.  It started to get a little better when I got to the chapters on Mary Surratt.  Now I’m glad I read the whole thing.  I didn’t really know about John Wilkes Booth until I started reading this book, so now I’m curious to read up on some of his history.  It was a bit of a sad story of a man risking his career and family’s name, all because he claimed to love his country.

For the history enthusiasts, including fans of historical fiction, this book is highly recommended.  Fates and Traitors: A Novel of John Wilkes Booth, will be available on September 13, 2016.  Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*I received this copy from Dutton Books, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, The Spymistress, Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival, and Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule, as well as the Elm Creek Quilt series and Christmas Bells.

THE FESTIVAL

Hello bloggers!  This event is one of my favorite times of the year.  If you live in L.A., or will be in L.A. in April, be sure to check out the Festival of Books.

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is the largest book festival in the country. The festival will be held April 9 -10, 2016 at USC and feature celebrities, famous authors, music, film, comic books, cooking demos and more.

Source: THE FESTIVAL

“Son of a Preacherman”–Review

51IAbPo4KtL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_It is Summer in the Greenwood District in 1920s Tulsa, Oklahoma. Small businesses in African American neighborhoods are doing quite well.  Segregation policies aren’t strong enough to run out the developments of the Greenwood district.

Benjamina “Benny” Freeman and her family are a part of the developing businesses in Tulsa.  While they own a wealthy ranch, Benny helps her mother run a dress shop in Greenwood.

Billy Ray Matthias, the son of the new pastor in Tulsa, eventually meets Benny and is convinced Benny is the woman God planned for him.  While Billy Ray carries on his work at the local pharmacy with his brother, he wants to maintain a friendship with Benny—and hopefully more.  However, Benny is emotionally unavailable.  No matter her past or current struggles, Billy Ray continues to hold a place in his heart for her.

Meanwhile, the eruption of racial tensions in Tulsa is getting stronger.  In the end, when Billy Ray and Benny are caught in the dangers of the chaos in their hometown, Billy Ray vows to keep her safe.  But will she let him?  And will she have enough faith to trust and to allow him into her heart?

I must say this is a great book I’ve read for this year.  Son of a Preacherman is based on the infamous Tulsa Race Riot in the 1920s.  I enjoyed getting to know the characters.  The dialogue is excellent, which provided plenty of tension to keep me turning the pages.  It all got to the point.  There were many scenes I didn’t expect, yet I liked it all.  This is actually my first book by this author and I look forward to reading more.  As always, feel free to leave any comments.

Happy reading!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Moody Publishers.

About the author: Marlene Banks resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  She has an associate degree in theology from Rhema Bible Institute in Keysville, VA.  Her previous work was in the medical fields and the business world; however, she considers it her goal to bridge the gap between faith-based and secular literature.  To learn more about the author, click here.