Saturday, May 27, 2017

Book Review: A Bridge Across the Ocean

A Bride Across the Ocean

About the Book:

February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French RĂ©sistance spy.
Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark...
Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides—and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.

My Comments:

Susan Meissner's niche is stories about women in two different time periods, one historical and the other modern.  This book follow suit.  The connection between the women in this book is the ship, The Queen Mary.  

When reading fiction of any type, a certain suspension of disbelief is necessary.  No matter what the story, we know when we start reading it that the story is imaginary, even if the setting and/or characters are not.  The trick as an author is to create your world and characters and then to make their actions realistic within that world.  

I found the World War II era story to be believeable for the most part, but the modern story didn't ring true at all.  Brette can see ghosts--people who are caught between this world and the next.  It is a "gift" shared by some of the women in her family and something that got her labeled as the weird kid in high school.  A man she went to high school with (and liked until he chose the cool crowd over her) contacts her out of the blue because his daughter saw a ghost on the Queen Mary.  He asks her to visit the Queen Mary, find out there is no ghost there, and then tell his daugther that there is no ghost. This begins Brette's search for the ghost and for the stories of Annalise and Simone.
Brette's  whole plot line just gets stranger and stranger.  Even if you accept that ghosts exist and that Brette can see them, Brette's interactions with other people in the modern day just don't ring true--I mean why should the little girl believe this stranger when she won't believe her dad?  

While I loved the stories of Annaliese and Simone, Brette's story was a definite weak point in the book.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Starting Over on Blackberry Lane: My Quick Review

About the Book:

Stefanie Stahl has a husband with renovation ADD. He can't seem to finish anything he starts and her house is littered with his "projects." If he doesn't smarten up, she swears she's going to murder him and bury him under the pile of scrounged lumber in the backyard.  

Her friend Griffin James is suddenly single and thinking maybe she needs to sell her fixer-upper and follow her career bliss up the ladder of success, even if that scary ladder is clear across the country. Getting her place ready to sell proves harder than she originally thought. She needs help.  

She's not the only one. Cass Wilkes, their neighbor, has an empty nest—with a leaking roof. When her ceiling crashes in, she knows it's time to do something. When Grant Masters offers his handyman services at a fund-raiser auction, the three women go in together to outbid the competition and win their man. (Cass's friends think she should win Grant in a different way, too!) Now it's time to make some improvements…in their houses and their lives.

My Comments:

If the blurb above sounds a little like a soap opera, that's because this book is a little like a soap opera with characters from other books making appearances so we can keep up with them (if we can remember them) and with the main characters going though all sorts contortions before true love can happen.  

If what you want is a light afternoon read with no deeper meaning, this fits the bill. 

Thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy via NetGalley. Grade:  B-

Monday, May 15, 2017

Review: Before the Rain Falls

About the Book:

After serving seventy years in prison for the murder of her sister, Eula, Della Lee has finally returned home to the Texas town of Puerto Pesar. She’s free from confinement—and ready to tell her secrets before it’s too late.

She finds a willing audience in journalist Mick Anders, who is reeling after his suspension from a Boston newspaper and in town, reluctantly, to investigate a mysterious portrait of Eula that reportedly sheds tears. He crosses paths with Dr. Paloma Vega, who’s visiting Puerto Pesar with her own mission: to take care of her ailing grandmother and to rescue her rebellious younger sister before something terrible happens. Paloma and Mick have their reasons to be in the hot, parched border town whose name translates as “Port of Regret.” But they don’t anticipate how their lives will be changed forever.

Moving and engrossing, this dual story alternates between Della’s dark ordeals of the 1940s and Paloma and Mick’s present-day search for answers―about roots, family, love, and what is truly important in life.

My Comments:

I loved it, until the very end.  I still enjoyed it, but somehow the motivation for the event that set others into motion just didn't ring true. I'd discuss it further but that would be a spoiler. 

Camille Di Maio is a Catholic writer but while there are references to Catholicism in the book, and an element of Catholicism was a prime mover in this book, I don't really see this book as religious or Christian fiction.  There are no conversion scenes and religious faith does not seem to be a motivating factor for any character's behavior in the story.

The story follows two different timelines, and the chapters are labelled as to the dates of the action.  The parallels between the modern day story of sisters Paloma and Mercedes and of the 1940's sisters, Della and Eula are revealed bit by bit through the story and leave the reader realizing that while eras change, people really haven't.  

I like Di Maio's writing and use of language. Her prose is vivid and emotional.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley. Grade:  B+

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review: Any Day Now

About the Book:

For Sierra Jones, Sullivan's Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She's put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn't yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet. 

Not wanting to burden or depend on anyone, Sierra is surprised to find the Crossing offers so much more than a place to rest her head. Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she's always wanted. But when her past catches up with her, it's a special man and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan's Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.

My Comments:

Robyn Carr has another winner here.  I loved Sierra and cheered for her as she got her life together.  Connie, her male love interest was a real sweetheart with just the right amount of masculinity--and who wouldn't love a cute puppy?  

I liked watching Sierra reclaim her life after an abusive relationship but found the resolution of that plot line to be somewhat unrealistic.  

Most of the time romance novels are about young adults just getting started in life, which I guess is because hopefully by the time people are middle-aged, they've met someone and settled into life together.  Still, as someone who is on the far side of 40, I like seeing "older" couples and this book features one. 

For those who like small town romances where everyone knows everyone, Any Day Now by Robyn Carr fits the bill if you don't mind a little steam.

 I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley. Grade:  B+

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