The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff & Giveaway (US/Canada)

chelseaIf you’ve ever sat down with a novel written by Pam Jenoff then you are already aware that you are in for a wonderful experience.  She is one of the best writers out there and her newest novel The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach is a beautifully written novel set against the backdrop of World War II and is about a woman trying to find her place in life and in love.

It’s 1941 and Adelia’s parents have put her on board a ship bound for America to stay with her aunt and uncle and escape the war.  Adelia is only sixteen and terrified but once she’s in America her aunt and uncle do what they can to make her comfortable.  They start by taking her to Chelsea Beach, hoping  some time by the seaside will ease her into this life that is so different from what she was used to.  It is when she meets the Connally family with their four boys that she comes out of her shell.  While she adores all of the boys it is Charlie that her heart belongs to and when she finds out he feels the same she is over the moon but the war is raging and tragedy strikes close to home and then nothing turns out as it should have.

Not capable of dealing with her own grief or anyone else’s Addie moves to Washington and then London in an attempt to start over and finds work at a newspaper.  The work at the paper gives her a purpose and also leads her back to Charlie who she hasn’t seen in over a year.  She still loves him so much but can things ever be the same for them again especially with Charlie leaving on another mission?  And then there is Teddy, her boss, who is a steadfast good man and he’s so in love with her.  Yet as things come full circle for Addie she will find love in the last place she expected to.

With each page turned I loved this book more and more.  This story pulls you in and Jenoff’s descriptive writing has you feeling as though you are right there amidst the turmoil of the war and all the personal strife of the characters.  Addie is a character you quickly connect with because you can literally feel her fear as she crosses over to America all alone on a ship and then as she tries to acclimate to a new life and then of course a new love.  The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach is a beautiful story and it’s one I won’t soon forget.

For fans of historical fiction or if you’re just in the mood for a story that will dominate your every minute be sure to pick up The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach and add it to your summer reading! Highly recommended!

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GIVEAWAY – OPEN TO US & CANADIAN RESIDENTS

chelsea bag
1 paperback copy of the book and a Chelsea Beach limited edition beach bag
*CLICK HERE* and fill out the form to enter
Draw Date August 12/15

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Source: Digital review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review. Giveaway sponsored by the publisher. No compensation was received.

Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade

orphanKim van Alkemade’s debut novel Orphan #8, based on true events, takes us back in time to the 1900’s.  It is a powerful novel of the tragedies that can occur in life and the choices we later make in dealing with them and moving forward with our lives.

It’s 1919 and Rachel Rabinowitz is four years old and living with her parents and brother Sam in New York.  Tragedy strikes the family and little Rachel’s life changes drastically.  Having no other alternatives Rachel and her brother are separated and Rachel is put into a Jewish orphanage.  There Rachel essentially becomes a medical experiment conducted by Dr. Mildred Solomon who does everything in the name of important medical research.  Rachel ends up having x-ray after x-ray and these have terrible side effects on her body while the taunts from the other orphans leave scars on her image of herself that last her lifetime through.

Years later Rachel is working in a nursing home and one day comes face-to-face with none other than Dr. Solomon.  All those memories she had tried so hard to bury hit her full force and she wants revenge on this woman who has done so much damage to her life and the thing is now the power all lies in Rachel’s hands.  She wants the doctor to acknowledge what she did to her and pay for what she did so long ago.  Yet as Rachel sits with the dying woman she is torn.  Will taking her revenge on Dr. Solomon be the answer to healing her broken soul?

I really enjoyed this novel although I would have liked if the story had only focused on Rachel’s days in the orphanage and then later with Rachel and Dr. Solomon.  At times when it slipped into the past the story lost focus for me.  The most fascinating part of this novel for me was the historical aspect.  Just the thought of the atrocities these poor orphans went through horrifies me.  They justified these medical experiments on the orphans because they were feeding, clothing, and taking care of them instead of turning them out onto the streets.  It breaks my heart to think of what their little bodies went through all for someone’s twisted idea of using these homeless children for medical research.

A powerful and emotional novel, Orphan #8 is sure to stay with a reader for a long while.  Recommended for historical fiction readers!

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Source: Digital review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review. No compensation was received.

A Necessary End by Holly Brown (Audiobook)

necessaryI have been a fan of Holly Brown since reading her first novel Don’t Try to Find Me so I was really excited to read her newest novel A Necessary End.  It is written in what I’m coming to know as her trademark style in terms of a psychological thriller and her talent shines through in building a story that thoroughly grips its reader.  From the beginning to the end I found myself enthralled in the intricate web of A Necessary End as I struggled to know just who to trust or who to believe.

Adrienne is in her late thirties and desperate for a baby.  She’s tried adopting a baby once before but that ultimately turned out to be nothing but a nightmare for her and she’s still deeply troubled by what happened.  This time though – with Leah – she’s determined to get her child.  Unfortunately Gabe, her husband, isn’t as excited about welcoming a baby into their lives as she is.  Really he’s dreading it.  He doesn’t want their lives or Adrienne to change and no matter how you look at it a baby will change things.  The baby will be the center of attention, not Gabe, and he’s not sure he can handle that.  Adrienne knows this probably better than anyone else as she’s always done pretty much anything to keep him happy… but her need for a child is overwhelming every other desire.  One other thing … Adrienne is used to getting her own way and isn’t one for letting any obstacles stand in her way.

Then we have Leah who is just nineteen and beautiful;  remarkably resembling Adrienne when she was younger.  Leah isn’t as innocent as she seems though and she’s arrived at Adrienne and Gabe’s place with an agenda of her own.  She’ll give them her baby with no strings attached as long as they let her live with them for a year so she can get on her feet in California where she wants to start a new life.  Is that really all she’s looking for?  Is there more?  Is her real plan to take the baby from Adrienne? Adrienne WON’T let that happen.

Seems simple enough but Adrienne has secrets lurking in her past and she’s not really the person she presents to the outside world. As a character you’re torn between liking her and not liking her.  At times I thought she and Gabe were crazy for allowing Leah to dictate to them how things were to go but then I’d stop and remember just how desperate Adrienne is for a baby.  Either way this novel keeps you guessing as to what is truly going on and even when you think you know what might be happening you realize soon enough that things aren’t what they seem once again.

A Necessary End is another great read from author Holly Brown.  I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Khristine Hvam and James Patrick Cronin and they both do a superb job of telling this story. I bet this book would make a fantastic book club pick with a huge arc in terms of subjects to discuss from adoption to psychopaths.  Highly recommended!

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Source: Digital review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review however audiobook is from my personal library. No compensation was received.

Olivay by Deborah Reed & Giveaway (US/Canada)

OlivayEvery so often you come by a really unique novel, one that is hauntingly beautiful … that is Olivay by Deborah Reed.  The book moves at a slow pace but as you read the tension is constantly building within the story and that alone keeps you turning the pages quickly. Olivay is a novel of grief, loss, of moving on, and of coming face to face with the reality that our lives can irrevocably change in an instant.

The novel opens with Olivay losing her husband in a hit-and-run accident.  Devastated she barely drags herself along for the next year of her life.  Eventually she begins to step outside of her apartment to the coffee shop near her home.  On one such occasion she meets Henry and feels an instant attraction.  It’s something so foreign to her now that she takes him back to her apartment planning on a one-night stand.  As the next morning dawns she notices some strange behavior with Henry but hasn’t got the time to fully analyze it because bombs are detonating all across Los Angeles and one of those bombs is right by her home.  Her windows have blown out, and glass is everywhere.  Olivay is not only injured, she is also trapped inside her apartment with Henry as no one is allowed out on the streets and Henry has begun to act even more strange than he had in the morning.  He seems nervous and uncomfortable and Olivay begins to have suspicions about him.  Could he be part of the terrorist plot?  He drives a motorcycle – is he the one who killed her husband?  And why is guarding that backpack of his so diligently?

This book keeps you guessing throughout.  The tension builds and you think you’ve got it all figured out but in the very next sentence you realize that you don’t.  It is beautifully written and the emotion and power of the author’s words flow in each and every sentence.  You feel the grief and loss, the fear and helplessness in the face of a terrorist attack, and the power of new love.  Truly this is one of those books that I loved but can’t find adequate words to describe just how it made me feel … especially the unexpected ending.  It’s an emotional book and one that will stay with me for a long time… it is a very good book.  One of my favorites this year.  Highly recommended!

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GIVEAWAY – OPEN TO US & CANADIAN RESIDENTS
1 paperback copy up for giveaway
*CLICK HERE* and fill out the form to enter
Draw Date July 22/15

 

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Source: Digital review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review. No compensation was received.