Magical Realism for Non-Believers: A Memior of Finding Family by: Anika Fajardo

Publication date: April 16, 2019

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

A young woman from Minnesota searches out the Colombian father she’s never known in this powerful exploration of what family really means

 He loved Colombia too much to leave it. The explanation from her Minnesotan mother was enough to satisfy a child’s curiosity about her missing father. But at twenty-one, Anika Fajardo wanted more. She wanted to know her father better and to know what kind of country could have such a hold on him. And so, in 1995, Fajardo boarded a plane and flew to Colombia to discover a birthplace that was foreign to her and a father who was a stranger. There she learns that sometimes, no matter how many pieces you find, fitting together a family history isn’t easy.

With her tentative entry into her father’s world, Fajardo steps on a path that will take her in surprising directions, toward unsuspected secrets about her family and herself. Set against the changing backdrops of Colombia and the American Midwest, her journey carries her back to the 1970s and the beginnings of her parents’ broken marriage, and forward to the present day, where the magic and reality of love and heartache—and her own experience as a parent—await her. The way is strewn with obstacles, physical and metaphysical—from the perils encountered on a mountain road in Colombia to the death of a loved one to the birth of her own child—but the toughest to negotiate are the shifting place of memory and truth while coming to understand her place in her family and in the world.

Vivid and heartfelt in the telling, Fajardo’s story is powerfully compelling in its bridging of time and place and in its moving depiction of self-transformation. Family, she comes to find, is where you find it and what you make of it.

My Review

As I sit down to write this, I am thinking about all of the memoirs that I have read before this one. I gravitate towards memoirs about people in the food industry or those that hold inspiring stories. I enjoy reading about people that I know of or have heard of to get a better insight into their persona.

Anika Fajardo is not someone that you have ever heard of; she doesn’t hold a position of “fame” or is someone that has become known for their inspirational story. Her story is one that many people can relate to as similar to their own stories. She grew up in American in a single parent household. Her mother left her father and he lives in Colombia and has not been a part of her life. As she decides to travel to Colombia to see him, she comes to realize what makes a family and what is required of family.

I found the writing style to be enjoyable and easy to read. It read as if I was reading a fictional story however, the time jumps were a bit too much. I don’t mind reminiscing in a story but I feel as if it were a bit all over the place. If it was done in chapters that alternated time periods, it may have flowed a bit better.

I gave this book 3 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the Publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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American Princess by: Stephanie Marie Thorton

Publication Date: March 12, 2019

Description from the Publisher through Netgalley

“As juicy and enlightening as a page in Meghan Markle’s diary.”—InStyle

“Presidential darling, America’s sweetheart, national rebel: Teddy Roosevelt’s swashbuckling daughter Alice springs to life in this raucous anthem to a remarkable woman.”—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

A sweeping novel from renowned author Stephanie Marie Thornton…

Alice may be the president’s daughter, but she’s nobody’s darling. As bold as her signature color Alice Blue, the gum-chewing, cigarette-smoking, poker-playing First Daughter discovers that the only way for a woman to stand out in Washington is to make waves–oceans of them. With the canny sophistication of the savviest politician on the Hill, Alice uses her celebrity to her advantage, testing the limits of her power and the seductive thrill of political entanglements.

But Washington, DC is rife with heartaches and betrayals, and when Alice falls hard for a smooth-talking congressman it will take everything this rebel has to emerge triumphant and claim her place as an American icon. As Alice soldiers through the devastation of two world wars and brazens out a cutting feud with her famous Roosevelt cousins, it’s no wonder everyone in the capital refers to her as the Other Washington Monument–and Alice intends to outlast them all.

My Review

I loved this book. I knew nothing about Alice Roosevelt and this was a joy to read. Of course this was a fictional account of her life, but the events and things that she went through were unbelievable. Stephanie wrote this as if she lived through Alice’s years in Washington with her.

I really enjoyed this novel and historical fiction, more especially, a political one, is not in my wheelhouse. I highly recommend picking this one up.

I gave this book 5 crowns.

I received an E-ARC from the Publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Secret of Clouds by: Alyson Richman

Publication date: February 19, 2019

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

From the #1 international bestselling author of The Lost Wife and The Velvet Hours comes an emotionally charged story about a mother’s love, a teacher’s promise, and a child’s heart…

Katya, a rising ballerina, and Sasha, a graduate student, are young and in love when an unexpected tragedy befalls their native Kiev. Years later, after the couple has safely emigrated to America the consequences of this incident cause their son, Yuri, to be born with a rare health condition that isolates him from other children. Maggie, a passionate and dedicated teacher agrees to tutor Yuri at his home, even though she is haunted by her own painful childhood memories. As the two forge a deep and soulful connection, Yuri’s boundless curiosity and unique wisdom inspires Maggie to make difficult changes in her own life. And she’ll never realize just how strong Yuri has made her — until she needs that strength the most…

A novel that will make readers examine what it means to live life with a full heart.

My Review

This was such a beautiful story and it is one that has stayed with me even after I finished it. I loved that not only is there the main focus on Yuri and his teacher Maggie, but we get the back story to Yuri’s parents and Maggie’s life outside of being a teacher as well.

This book had an interesting mix of contemporary points of view and historical fiction as well. I was not bored nor was I confused with the varying points of views.

Each character’s story was full of life and moving. It was very easy to become attached to the characters. This book is so well written and I could not put it down. I will definitely be picking up her other books.

I gave this book 5 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the Publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by: Yara Zgheib

Publication date: February 5, 2019

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

*A BookMovement Group Read*

Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting portrait of a young woman’s struggle with anorexia on an intimate journey to reclaim her life. 

The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.

Recognition

 February 2019 Indie Next selection

 February 2019 LibraryReads selection

My Review

I read this book in less than 24 hours. I was so incredibly invested in Anna’s story and I was on the verge of tears for most of it. I adored this debut novel and recommend this read highly.

The subject matter is devastating and intense but one that is an eye opener to read about in this way. I look forward to the next book that this author writes.

I gave this book 5 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the Publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

One Fatal Mistake by: Tom Hunt

Publication Date: February 5, 2019

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

The author of Killer Choice, a thriller “full of shocks and twists you won’t see coming” (Lee Child), delivers a nail-biting novel about a hit and run, and a lie that goes horribly wrong…

Her son accidentally kills a man.
They cover it up.
Then everything goes wrong.

When eighteen-year-old Joshua Mayo takes a man’s life in a horrible accident, he leaves the scene without reporting the crime to the police. He hopes to put the awful night behind him and move on with his life. But, of course, he ends up telling his mother, Karen, what happened.

Karen has raised Joshua on her own in Cedar Rapids, Iowa–and she’d thought they’d finally made it. He was doing well in school and was only months from starting college. After hearing his dark confession, she is forced to make a choice no parent should have to make, one that draws them both into a web of deceit that will change their lives forever–if they make it out alive….

My Review

With vibes similar to Herman Koch’s The Dinner, Tom Hunt has elevated it to a different level. One Fatal Mistake has a suspenseful plot that keeps the reader at the edge of their seat in some parts. However, I did find some areas to read a bit slow for me. At 320 pages, it should not have taken me as long as it did to read it.

I am not saying that I did not like this book but it is not one of my top picks in this genre. Maybe the writing style is not what I prefer in a thriller/ suspense novel.

I gave this book 3 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

An Anonymous Girl by: Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

The next novel of psychological suspense and obsession from the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave.

Question #1: Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?

But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding.

Question #2: Have you ever deeply hurt someone you care about?

As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Question #3: Should a punishment always fit the crime?

From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us comes an electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.

My Review:

Trust is a very personal thing. It is fickle and can easily be taken away but not so easily given. Jessica starts this study with a lie and attempts to continue it by trusting the Doctor who is administering the study. Each question, task and day tests the readers trusts as it does Jessica’s.

This was a very intriguing premise as I have a background in psychology and moral and ethical studies can be very telling about a person. Even more interesting is what it can tell you about its’ creator; especially in this story.

This was more first introduction to this author duo and I was entertained but I did feel like it was a bit long winded. I would get into the story and then find myself daydreaming shortly after due to the unnecessary details.

I gave this book 3 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Her One Mistake by: Heidi Perks

Publication Date: January 8, 2019

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

What should have been a fun-filled, carefree day takes a tragic turn for the worse for one mother when her best friend’s child goes missing in this suspenseful, compulsively readable, and darkly twisted psychological thriller. 

It all started at the school fair…

Charlotte was supposed to be looking after the children, and she swears she was. She only took her eyes off of them for one second. But when her three kids are all safe and sound at the school fair, and Alice, her best friend Harriet’s daughter, is nowhere to be found, Charlotte panics. Frantically searching everywhere, Charlotte knows she must find the courage to tell Harriet that her beloved only child is missing. And admit that she has only herself to blame.

Harriet, devastated by this unthinkable, unbearable loss, can no longer bring herself to speak to Charlotte again, much less trust her. Now more isolated than ever and struggling to keep her marriage afloat, Harriet believes nothing and no one. But as the police bear down on both women trying to piece together the puzzle of what happened to this little girl, dark secrets begin to surface—and Harriet discovers that confiding in Charlotte again may be the only thing that will reunite her with her daughter….

This breathless and fast-paced debut—perfect for fans of Big Little Lies and The Couple Next Door—takes you on a chilling journey that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

My Review:

I don’t know what I would do if a child that I was watching for a friend went missing while under my care. I can’t imagine the thoughts, fears and anger that would course through my body if I was either of the mothers in this book.

Charlotte and Harriet were friends, at least that is what Charlotte thought, but as time moves forward and the police look further into their lives, the depths of their friendship is questioned. So many different things kept drawing me into this story. I was able to read this quickly and it surprised me. Although, this is the first time I’ve heard about or read anything from this author, I doubt it will be my last.

I gave this book 4 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.