In the Mirror by Kaira Rouda

April 25th, 2014

mirrorIn the Mirror by Kaira Rouda is an emotional and moving novel.  It makes you question yourself as to what you would with your life if you found out that you were going to die soon.  What choices would you make?  Would you risk the life you have now to follow a different path?

Jennifer has it all.  She has a great husband, a son, and a baby daughter.  However hovering over all of that is the devastating diagnosis of cancer.  With no other options Jennifer is staying at an experimental treatment facility trying anything she can just to get more time with her family and especially her young children.  She thinks so often that they won’t even remember her when they grown up and since the cancer struck right after she had her baby girl she hasn’t even really had a lot of time just to be with her baby girl.

Jennifer is a tough cookie though and I admired that because under the same circumstances I don’t think I would be.  While enduring her treatments she is still running her business and planning a party for herself along with still trying to be upbeat for her children.  She refers to her party as a life celebration even though many think she’s planning a death reception.  I see it from her point of view and wanting to see people before she’s gone if in fact she doesn’t make it.  Still she has a lot of time on her hands and going through the treatments and feeling horrible has her thoughts drifting to negative things like how could anyone, especially her husband, love her the way she looks now.  It is this thought process that has her turning to an old boyfriend she was once very much in love with when he comes to town to see her.  He makes her feel attractive again and wanted, something her husband hasn’t done in a long time.  She can’t help but wonder how different her life may have been had she chosen a different path.  Just as she’s pushing the envelope a bit too far in a direction she probably shouldn’t go things go terribly awry leaving Jennifer shocked and even more disillusioned as to what she wants and needs from life.

This novel really addresses cancer and all its issues in a very real way.  The author portrays Jennifer as being strong and yet having all the normal feelings of self-pity and loathing.  She deals with wanting to leave a legacy for her children and worrying that they will never know her.  Obviously she really struggles with her looks and feeling attractive as so many do when they are seriously ill do.  She loves her husband and misses the close relationship they had before she got sick.  While this novel does fall on the heavier side dealing with cancer and its effects on every aspect of your life and those around you it is also about hope, life, and love.  It is about beating cancer the best way you can and learning amid all the turmoil that ultimately what matters is what you share with those you love the most.

I thought this novel was quite good and it hit me emotionally.  I’m sure the story will stay with me for a while and the only thing I would have liked would have been an epilogue that occurred maybe a year after the story ends.  I wanted just that little bit more but I love Kaira’s writing and can’t wait to read more of her work.  Recommended to those who enjoy women’s fiction and novels that deal with subjects such as cancer.

 

Buy at:  Amazon, Amazon Canada, B&N, Kobo, and iTunes

 

Source:  Digital review copy received from the author.  No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.

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Up at Butternut Lake by Mary McNear

April 24th, 2014

Up-at-Butternut-LakeAnyone who reads my blog knows how much I love women’s fiction so it’s no surprise that I absolutely loved Mary McNear’s debut novel Up at Butternut Lake! This is an emotional and heartwarming tale that is sure to charm readers. It’s got that small town feel with great characters and a little romance thrown in. It’s the perfect comfort read! Even more exciting is that Up at Butternut Lake is the first in The Butternut Lake Trilogy, with the second one, Butternut Summer, out later this year and I can’t wait to read it!

Although it’s been a few years since Allie’s husband was killed in Afghanistan she and her five year old son Wyatt are still understandably reeling from the grief of it all. Allie decides to move them up to Butternut Lake where her family owns a cabin and where she spent many happy times. Maybe this will be a place of healing and starting over for her and Wyatt.

The town of Butternut Lake takes in Allie and Wyatt like they’d been there all along. There’s Caroline who runs the local coffee shop who is desperately missing her daughter since she left home. Needless to say she welcomes Allie and especially little Wyatt who takes to her like bees to a flower. Then there is Allie’s friend Jax who she has missed terribly. Jax has her own family now with kids of her own but they accept Allie and Wyatt into their circle in no time. Let’s not forget the gorgeous Walker who owns a boatyard who is stumped upon meeting Allie for the first time as she barely notices his existence.

As the months go on though Allie can’t help her attraction to Walker and Wyatt really likes him. Yet Allie feels guilty for being attracted to him and even for thinking of maybe having a relationship with a man. In order for Allie to move forward she has to face her past and finally say goodbye to her husband. The question is can she do that and does she even want to?

I can see this novel being chosen for book clubs because it would be a perfect choice. There is a wide range of subjects from losing a loved one to attempting to start over again and lots in between. While there is loss and grief in Up at Butternut Lake there is also the joy found in the renewal of spirit and in the hope of going forward in both life and love. Highly recommended!

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Buy at: Amazon, Amazon Canada, and B&N

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Source: Digital review copy provided by the publisher. No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber (Audiobook)

April 23rd, 2014

blossomI remember when I first discovered the Blossom Street series and found myself hopelessly hooked.  Any book that revolves around women’s friendships and knitting is going to fast become a favorite for me.  The latest from Debbie Macomber is Blossom Street Brides and it was wonderful!  Making it even better for me was listening to it on audio because it is narrated by one of my top favorite narrators and that is Cassandra Campbell.  Anyone who listens to audiobooks on a regular basis knows what a fantastic narrator she is.  She brings so much emotion and life to an audio and I know I’m in for a treat when I settle in for a story told by her.

A Good Yarn, Lydia’s knitting shop, is still a meeting place for women not only looking for knitting notions but also friendship.  Lydia is still happily married to Brad and they’ve made a life with their kids.  Lately though things have been sliding downhill a bit as Lydia is dealing with her aging mother’s increasingly bad health, her adopted daughters nightmares, and stress over the future of her shop A Good Yarn.  But then somebody begins to leave baskets of knitting all over town with instructions to continue knitting on the scarf included in the basket and when it’s done to deliver it to A Good Yarn where it will be donated to those in need.  Lydia has no idea who is doing this but it’s a fantastic idea that Lydia wishes she had thought of herself. Will this be the thing that helps the shop succeed once again?

Then we have Lauren who has waited for years for her boyfriend to propose.  Needless to say he hasn’t and she’s had enough and makes the decision to move on.  She never dreams that making this choice may be what opens the door to better things and a better life with all the things she’s dreamed of having.

Bethanne is married to her second husband Max and happier than she’s ever been before but trouble looms.  Her ex-husband refuses to believe it’s over between them and wants her back even though it was him who ruined the marriage in the first place.  Either way it won’t happen as Bethanne has moved on and is hopelessly in love with Max but when her ex begins to cause trouble between Bethanne and her own daughter things become heated.

As the story unfolds all three women will find that ultimately friendship and love are what really matter.  Once again Debbie Macomber writes a story that can’t fail to capture your heart.  Her characters seem like ordinary people that could be your own neighbors.  You find yourself completely entwined in their lives and hoping that all will be well for them.  I love revisiting old characters and meeting new ones and already I’m anxious to see what surprises the next Blossom Street novel will hold.  Definitely recommended for fans of Debbie Macomber and those who enjoy a good story!  I thoroughly enjoyed it and if you can grab the audio – Cassandra Campbell is amazing and for sure brings this book alive for the listener!

 

Source:  Review copy provided by the publisher.  No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.

The Creation of Anne Boleyn by Susan Bordo (Audiobook)

April 22nd, 2014

boleynThe Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen by Susan Bordo is a non-fiction novel that is compulsively readable. I was completely engrossed from the first word to the last and plan on listening to the audio one more time in the near future. I think what made it even more interesting for me was that I listened to the audio version which is narrated by Barbara Rosenblat. She’s a popular narrator and I love listening to her. She has a deep tone to her voice and can change her voice up to suit the occasion very well. She’s very talented!

Anne Boleyn seems to hold a fascination for people even today, hundreds of years after she existed. I know she does for me and even more so now. Pretty much everything I heard about Anne in this novel wasn’t a surprise to me but that didn’t damper my enthusiasm to keep listening. There were a few new to me facts and myths dispelled that I found interesting. It’s also interesting to see how history is portrayed today, for example in the television series The Tudors, and Bordo discusses that. Anne is portrayed now as being this beautiful, seductive woman and yet she really wasn’t. What she did seem to have though was that quality that drew people to her. And to this day it still does.

In addition Bordo takes many of the well known authors of today and talks about how they’ve imagined Anne. We do have to remember it is historical fiction when we are reading it. There was a time when I thought what I read was always true – now I know better. I appreciate the authors who add the authors note at the end of their books that state what is true and what they added to make it fiction. What Susan Bordo does in The Creation Anne Boleyn is try to weed out all the myths about her and show us who the real Anne Boleyn was.

I highly recommend The Creation of Anne Boleyn to those that have an interest in historical fiction or Anne Boleyn. While this isn’t historical fiction it reads like a story. I didn’t find it dry or overwhelmed with detail. Then again I have a great interest in Anne Boleyn so I likely wouldn’t think that even if I was reading a straight biography of her. If you have the chance to listen to the audio I recommend it highly as well. I enjoyed it a great deal!

 

Buy at Audible

 

Source:  Review copy provided by Audible.  No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.

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