Book Review – My Name is Anton: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde

About the Book:

My Name is Anton: A Novel

New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde returns with a hopeful novel of sacrifice, two lost souls, and enduring love.

It’s 1965, and life has taken a turn for eighteen-year-old Anton Addison-Rice. Nearly a year after his brother died in a tragic accident, Anton is still wounded—physically and emotionally. Alone for the holidays, he catches a glimpse of his neighbor Edith across the street one evening and realizes that she’s in danger.

Anton is determined to help Edith leave her abusive marriage. Frightened and fifteen years Anton’s senior, Edith is slow to trust. But when she needs a safe place to stay, she lets down her guard, and over the course of ten days an unlikely friendship grows. As Anton falls hopelessly and selflessly in love, Edith fears both her husband finding her and Anton getting hurt. She must disappear without telling anyone where she’s going—even Anton.

If keeping Edith safe means letting her go, Anton will say goodbye forever. Or so he believes. What would happen, though, if one day their paths should cross again?

My Thoughts:

Catherine Ryan Hyde’s books always have a theme and a message and they are delivered so beautifully, it is impossible to miss her books! I have read many books by her and I am left amazed every single time. Even though a lot of the themes focus on loss, life, unconditional love, memories, relationships, bonds and so many more, each book is different from the other.

My Name is Anton is the story of a seventeen year old boy named Anton, who is trying to figure out his identity as well as reconcile the death of his grandfather, his brother and the partial loss of his right hand. Anton is both physically and mentally wounded and in the midst of the emotional conflicts, he happens upon Edith. Edith is in an abusive marriage and after one incident is witnessed by Anton, by chance, he makes it his mission to help her get away!

This book is a romance novel, which in itself is a different book for the author. It talks of unconditional love that lets go, the kind of love where a person learns to be unselfish and sacrifice all for the safety and happiness of the other person. Anton let’s Edith go one time and as fate brings them back many years later, it remains to be seen whether such love endures and how it affects people.

I love the characters of Grand-uncle Gregor and Grandma Marion. They bring light into Anton’s life and support him when he needed it the most with compassion and understanding. The circumstances behind the death of Anton’s brother are extremely sad and the author touches upon Mental Health and discusses it in a very delicate manner. The fact that it is important to acknowledge and deal with is brought out in a subtle yet straight forward manner through the experiences of the characters.

Overall this story starts of a little slowly, first focusing on the growing friendship between Anton and Edith and later focusing on how Anton learns to cope with life, his disability and grows into a more confident individual all things considered. The reader is in for an emotional rollercoaster that will make you sad at times, empathize with the characters and finally laugh with them as they find the light and joy!

I highly recommend this book just as I do with all of the books by the author!

Note: I was approved a copy of the book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion.

Book Review: Aunt Ivy’s Cottage by Kristin Harper

About the Book:

Clearing out the attic, Zoey opens the carved trunk and smiles as she picks up the small, leather-bound diary hiding inside. Curious, she leafs through the pages, and realises this will change everything…

All Zoey’s happiest childhood memories are of her great-aunt Ivy’s rickety cottage on Dune Island, snuggling up with hot chocolate and hearing Ivy’s stories about being married to a sea captain. Now, heartbroken from a breakup, Zoey escapes back to the island, but is shocked to find her elderly aunt’s spark fading. Worse, her cousin—next in line to inherit the house—is pushing Ivy to move into a nursing home.

With the family clashing over what’s best for Ivy, Zoey is surprised when Nick, a local carpenter and Ivy’s neighbor, takes her side. As Zoey finds comfort in his sea-blue eyes and warm laugh, the two grow close. Together, they make a discovery in the attic that links the family to the mysterious and reclusive local lighthouse keeper…

Now Zoey has a heartbreaking choice to make. Nick’s urging her to share the discovery, which could keep Ivy in the house she’s loved her whole life… but when Zoey learns that Nick and her cousin go way back, she questions if the man she‘s starting to have feelings for really has Ivy’s best interests at heart. Will dredging up this old secret destroy the peace and happiness of Ivy’s final years—and tear this family apart for good?

A stunning and emotional read about old secrets, new love and never forgetting the importance of family. Perfect for fans of Mary Ellen Taylor, Robyn Carr and Mary Alice Monroe.

About the author:
Ever since she was a young girl, there were few things Kristin Harper liked more than creative writing and spending time on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with her family. Eventually (after a succession of jobs that bored her to tears), she found a way to combine those two passions by becoming a women’s fiction author whose stories occur in oceanside settings. While Kristin doesn’t live on the Cape year-round, she escapes to the beach whenever she can.

 

My Thoughts:

I would like to thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC of the book in exchange for my honest review. Having read Summer at Hope Haven, I was immediately interested in reading this upcoming novel by the author.

This book is another simple beach read that can be read in one sitting, but will tug at the heart-strings much more than the previous book did. This story explores the concepts loss and the importance of family and support. Once again at Dune Island, we visit Aunt Ivy’s cottage, a place that holds so many memories across generations. We meet Zoey, who comes to stay with her great-aunt Ivy and to take care of her while everyone is dealing with the grief of losing great-aunt Sylvia. Ivy’s character is interesting, but we only ever see her lost in the past and repeating stories of times long gone.

Mark, Zoey’s cousin, is at odds with everyone and has a different view on how Ivy should be taken care of causing the cousins to be on opposite ends. Throw into the mix memories of Zoey’s sister who passed away due to illness and her niece, the only remaining part of her sister and we are in for an emotion filled ride. It is wonderful to read about the bond between Zoey and her niece, how they help each other heal.

However, the story line does not completely flow the way the synopsis suggests which is a little disappointing. The focus in the story is more on remodeling Aunt Ivy’s house and taking care of her. There is an element of mystery as Mark’s claim to inherit the cottage is under question. Even though this is suggested to be of importance, it takes a backseat as the story progresses until the end. There is also a budding romantic angle between Zoey and the carpenter that is pushed to the background and develops slowly not being the central focus of the story. The story does slow down in between, but there are many parts that are very enjoyable, including the references to the characters from the author’s previous book.

Overall this is a pleasant read albeit sad at times and is worth picking up for all fans of Romance out there!

 

Blog-tour stops and dates:

Book Review: Never Say No by Elizabeth Neep

I was approved a copy of the book on NetGalley. The below review is my honest opinion.

About the Book:

Never Say No

It’s always been yes. Yes, I’ll be your friend. Yes, I’ll be your girlfriend. Yes, I’ll move in with you. Yes, yes, yes. I can’t just change my mind now. Can I?

Hailey has always been told she can have it all. And saying yes to every opportunity that comes her way seems like the obvious way to make sure she gets it.

When she finds an engagement ring hidden in her boyfriend Dom’s closet, she knows she’ll say yes.

Her best friend Sophie suggests they run a marathon together and although Hailey hasn’t done more than sprint for a bus in years, she says yes.

And every time her new boss, the infamous Vivian Jones, asks her to stay late (again) at her dream job, the answer is always yes.

But somewhere between saying ‘yes’ to Vivian’s latest demands and still trying to make it home on time for boxsets and burritos on the sofa with Dom, Hailey has lost sight of what she really wanted in the first place.

Far from winning at life, Hailey feels like she is fighting to juggle two very different worlds. When those worlds finally collide, could having it all actually mean losing everything?

Fans of Mhairi McFarlane, Holly Bourne and The Devil Wears Prada will adore this funny, heart-felt and honest look at navigating those moments in life where you reach a crossroads and have to decide who and what it is you want to be.

My Thoughts:

Never Say No follows Hailey as she navigates life with the Fear Of Missing Out attitude. She always says yes to everyone and everything, but it feels as though this happens by choice and not out of necessity. Hailey has a steady boyfriend and a bestfriend who is close to both of them, making their group of three and the dynamics quite interesting. Having decided to pursue a career in Law, Hailey tries to get noticed at the prestigious firm, especially by their only female partner, Vivian.

Vivian is an icon, a strong woman who works hard to get what she wants. However, no-one really knows what goes on behind closed doors. As the story progresses, we observe these two women as they navigate their lives and the world. It took me some time to get into the book, as initially I could not understand where it was going. The blurb promises humor, but for me there was very little of it and more personal drama. In addition some of the characters like Liam and Dom were not very well developed. It would have been nice to get to know Hailey and Dom as a couple and to understand their dynamics before the job at the Law firm gets in the way.

The story flows well and even though the book did not grip me, I did enjoy the read. The author does show us a reality that most people can relate to, the idea that we do not know where we are headed, or that we have to be a certain way to be accepted. All these are very pertinent points and the author tackles them well through this story.

This book is worth a read and I would not hesitate to recommend it.

Book Review: 337 by M. Jonathan Lee

I was provided with a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Please note that the double-ended upside-down opening for this book is available in books ordered in hard copy from UK booksellers only.

About the Book:

337 follows the life of Samuel Darte whose mother vanished when he was in his teens. It was his brother, Tom who found her wedding ring on the kitchen table along with the note. While their father pays the price of his mother’s disappearance, Sam learns that his long-estranged Gramma is living out her last days in a nursing home nearby. Keen to learn about what really happened that day and realising the importance of how little time there is, he visits her to finally get the truth. Soon it’ll be too late and the family secrets will be lost forever. Reduced to ashes. But in a story like this, nothing is as it seems.

My Thoughts:

A wonderfully written novel, the story follows Sam as he goes through the motions of living every day. However, not everything is at it seems, and this is a constant theme running in the background of the plot.

Sam’s mother vanished during his teens leaving behind a letter and her rings. We do not know whether she simply decided to leave one day or something more serious happened. In the current day, Sam reconnects with his Grandmother whom he has not seen or spoken to in years in an attempt at reconciliation and a final attempt to solve the mystery behind his mother’s disappearance. We are introduced to a variety of characters including his younger brother, his father, about whom we gradually learn things, his wife, from whom he is now separated and finally his grandmother, old and dying. There are so many layers to this story and the characters that the reader is always forced to stop and contemplate the goings-on.

The descriptions are rich and vivid bringing the place and characters to life. There is love and loss interspersed with the trauma Sam and his brother faced when they were younger. Having dealt with so much in life, Sam constantly talks about the advice his therapist has provided which are very much applicable in some way to all of us. The chapters are short and easy to read and the scenes with Sam and his grandmother are beautifully written with a lot of unspoken emotions in them.

This latest book by the author is a pleasure to read and though it raises many questions that ensure the reader is kept engaged long after finishing the book. This book is a must read!

Book Review: Finale (Caraval #3) by Stephanie Garber

About the Book:

Finale (Caraval, #3)

Welcome, welcome to Finale, the third and final book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Caraval series! A ll games must come to an end…

It’s been two months since the last Caraval concluded, two months since the Fates were freed from an enchanted deck of cards, two months since Tella saw Legend, and two months since Legend claimed the empire’s throne as his own. Now, Legend is preparing for his official coronation and Tella is determined to stop it. She believes her own mother, who still remains in an enchanted sleep, is the rightful heir to the throne.

Meanwhile, Scarlett has started a game of her own. She’s challenged Julian and her former fiancé, Count Nicolas d’Arcy, to a competition where the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Finally, Scarlett feels as if she is in complete control over her life and future. She is unaware that her mother’s past has put her in the greatest danger of all.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun—with lives, empires, and hearts all at stake. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win…and those who will lose everything.

My Thoughts:

The most awaited conclusion to the Caraval series, Stephanie Garber brings us a well-crafted ending! This is definitely one of the most talked about series in today’s world!

There is so much happening in this book that it will keep the reader hooked until the very end. The entire concept of the series is intriguing and it’s a pleasure to meet our favorite characters one last time! With the fates now freed, so much has changed in the empire with Legend now on the throne. Tella and Scarlet have their own secrets to uncover and the story follows three different angles as each of the main characters have a role to play in this final game of life and death, in the Finale! The story gives us a deeper glimpse into the characters and who they become as a result of the games and their lives.

I thoroughly enjoyed this conclusion and loved the way the author has crafted the plot of the entire series. A well-written fantasy fiction, this series will take the reader on an adventure that is amazing, with colorful characters whom we cannot help but fall in love with! This series is indeed a must-read and is well worth the time spent on it.

Book Blitz: Under the Willows by Pamela McCord

Book & Author Details:
Under the Willows
by Pamela McCord
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: May 15th 2020
Genres: Adult, Mystery
Synopsis:

After her husband is killed by a drunk driver, Kelly Harris and her son TJ move into a sprawling Victorian house in Ohio that her husband inherited from his grandmother. Dealing with her overwhelming grief is a struggle as she adjusts to life in a small town. And, just as she’s beginning to feel more comfortable, life takes another unexpected turn.

The Alexa unit in her son’s bedroom starts to cry, and a little girl’s voice comes out of it asking for help.

At first Kelly is unnerved by the presence of the voice. After ruling out all the other likely possibilities, she begins to put the pieces together, and suspects the girl is a ghost. Unwilling to be uprooted from another home, she decides to find out what the child wants. Maybe she can help.

Kelly isn’t the only one interested in the voice. Detective Rob Porter is investigating the disappearance of a child named Marilee. As the two cross paths, Porter is taken aback when Kelly’s ghost mentions Marilee’s name. In fact, the ghost says “Marilee’s with me.”

Whether that means the child is a ghost as well is a question Rob and Kelly hope to answer.

Purchase:

“Dot was crying last night,” TJ said through a yawn.

“Dot? Who’s Dot?”

“You know. Dot. Alexa’s Dot.”

I stared at the back of his head, frowning, as I dished up his breakfast.

“Alexa can’t cry. It’s a cylindrical inanimate object. Are you sure you didn’t imagine it?”

“Mom. I’m eight. It really did happen.” He looked at me with a scowl. “I don’t imagine things.”

A frightened “Mom” roused me from a fitful sleep. I swung my legs off the bed, the hardwood cool against my feet. “I’m coming,” I called as I rushed to TJ’s room. I found him sitting up in bed, his eyes big and worried.

“What is it, sweetie?” I asked as I sat beside him. “Did you have a bad dream?”

“Mom, Alexa was crying again.”

“What do you mean?” I tipped his face up and looked him in the eyes. “Alexa can’t cry. She’s not a real person. Tell me what happened.”

“I was asleep and I heard a little girl crying. There wasn’t anybody in my room but I could still hear it.”

“Maybe you were dreaming.”

He crossed his arms over his chest and glared at me. “I wasn’t dreaming, Mom.”

“Okay, then. Maybe it just sounded like crying.”

“There were words, too.”

“Words?”

He nodded. “I said, ‘is anybody there’ and the crying stopped. Then Alexa said Help us.” His serious eyes dared me to not believe him.

Turbulent emotions kept me awake. At 2:30, I gave up trying to sleep and padded downstairs to make myself a cup of tea. I sat in the dark kitchen, moonlight streaming in the window over the sink my only companion. I sipped and contemplated. Eventually the warm comfort of the tea calmed my shaky nerves and I headed back upstairs. I poked my head in TJ’s door, tiptoed in and sat at the foot of his bed watching him sleep.

A chill came out of nowhere. I glanced at his window, but it was closed and locked. I bent over him and pulled the covers up around his shoulders. That’s when I heard sobs that seemed to echo around the room. I whirled my head around but no one was there. I started for the door, but it slammed shut as I approached. A small cry escaped me and my hand flew to my mouth. My hair lifted around my face as if a wind swirled through the room, and I froze. And, then, something impossible to believe happened. Alexa said Help us and a child’s eerie crying filled the room.

“What the hell?” I turned the doorknob and pulled, but the door wouldn’t open.

“Mom?” TJ sat up in bed. I could see his wide, startled eyes in the light from his nightlight, and rushed to his side.

“We have to get out of here,” I whispered, a tinge of urgency coloring my voice as I helped him out of bed.

Please, the disembodied voice said. Help us.

The door banged open. Grabbing TJ’s hand, I pulled him out of the room. We flew down the stairs and huddled in the living room.

AUTHOR BIO:

Born in Arkansas and raised in Southern California, Pamela McCord started writing later in life when she was challenged by a friend to create a book out of his story idea. Since then, she’s become an internationally published author. Pam has spent over 40 years working as a legal secretary at a law firm in Orange County, California. Aside from writing, she follows the stock market, buying, selling and trading stocks and options. In contrast to that, she loves trips to Las Vegas where she can spend many happy hours at the Pai Gow tables. She shares a condo with her very own My Cat From Hell TV star, Allie, who manages to exude just enough affection to make her scary feral ways tolerable.

Author links:

GIVEAWAY
Blitz-wide giveaway (INT)
  • $25 Amazon gift card

Book Review: The Girl in the Corner by Amanda Prowse

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley and the review below is my honest opinion.

About the Book:

The Girl in the Corner

From bestselling author Amanda Prowse comes the poignant tale of a woman who has always been there for her family. But will they be there for her?

Rae-Valentine and Howard were childhood sweethearts. They’ve shared twenty-five peaceful years since they were brought together by Dolly, Howard’s larger-than-life sister. But now, on the night of their wedding anniversary, Howard reveals a shocking betrayal that leaves Rae reeling.

Heartbroken, she takes Dolly on her would-be anniversary trip to Antigua and the two women drink and dance and talk like they haven’t in years. But in the break from real life, Rae realises her choices have always been made for her, and suddenly she’s questioning not only her fragile marriage but also her one-sided friendships. Is she really the pushover everyone else sees?

When Howard comes looking for reconciliation, Rae has a choice to make: keep the peace, as she always has, or put herself first for once and find out who she really is.

My thoughts:

The Girl in the Corner follows Rae-Valentine’s life and journey towards self-discovery. The entire first half of the story gives us a taste of her seemingly perfect life, perfect friendship and perfect relationships. She married her childhood-sweetheart and they have been together for twenty-five years, bringing up their two children, spending time with family and just living life.

However, when Howard reveals the truth of an affair, Rae-Valentine is forced to reassess her life and the decisions which led her to where she is today. As she tries to reconcile the facts in her head, she is forced to deal with her issues with her sister and she starts to question her friendship with Dolly, Howard’s sister. With time away, a lot of introspection mixed with Dolly’s persistent attempts to push her opinion on her friend, Rae-Valentine starts to realize that a lot of her life decisions seem to have been made for her. Things just fell into place and she never questioned them. She changed her goals based on her family’s ideas, then her life moved to revolve around Howard and her children. In the end, she starts to question which decision was really hers and where she is going with her life.

As everything comes crashing down, she realizes that sometimes you just have to seize the moment and do things for yourself, otherwise you get lost in the chaos of other people’s choices. When the betrayal strikes hard, it brings things into perspective and cause her to re-evaluate her life. The crux of the story is in her decisions and how she handles things in the end. Will she forgive Howard or will she move on from him after being together for so long?

At times the story seems slow and some parts repetitive in the thought, but overall, this is an interesting read with a pertinent message for all.

Book Blitz: Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj

~ Release Day Blitz ~
Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj

 

Releasing Today on Amazon!

About the Book:

She believes in love, family and…squiggles!

Alisha Rana is not your typical single desi girl. For one, she is on the wrong side of 30.  For another, she is divorced. And last but definitely not least, she is still, gasp, a virgin!

Alisha doesn’t want much. But what she does want is that elusive thing all women search for – A man who gets her…but a man who gets her hot! She calls it “feeling the squiggle.”

Enter Dr. Vivaan Kapoor, cute, hot, squiggle-worthy. The younger brother of her cousin’s prospective groom, he’s got the squiggle factor in spades. The only catch? He’s never been married and is years younger than Alisha. Basically, completely off-limits.

And then there is Arjun. Widowed, older than her by the right number of years and a genuinely nice guy. He’s Vivaan’s cousin and a so-called perfect match for Alisha. The problem is, Alisha’s squiggle-o-meter refuses to budge for him.

What will Alisha choose? A lifetime together with the ‘right’ man or a chance at happiness with the ‘wrong’ one?

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

Enjoy the Quotes from Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj

 

 

About Shilpa Suraj:

Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.
An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Shilpa on the Web:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

 

Book Review: Inebriated by Katey Taylor

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Xpresso Book Tours as a part of the Blog tour for this book. Unfortunately I was not able to read and review this book in time for the Blog tour. So read on to know my thoughts!

About the Book:

Inebriated

Barely seventeen and as pretty as can be: the summer is their playground. Cait and her best friends Steph and Allie take on San Francisco’s party scene with fake IDs and short dresses.

When Cait meets Adrien Cross, the charismatic lead singer of her favorite indie band, she’s introduced to a hedonistic world of liquor and lust that she never wants to leave.

But then that world spirals out of control and the harsh realities of reckless living take a toll on Cait and the ones she loves.
What will be left when the makeup masks wash off, the bottles are empty, and Cait begins to lose her grip on everything?

Katey Taylor’s heart-wrenching debut novel will have you strapped into the intense rollercoaster ride of Cait’s life and one chaotic summer that will change it all.

My Thoughts:

Review : 3 stars

Note: This story has many incidents that could act as triggers. So be careful while picking it up to read.

Inebriated follows the life of Cait and her best friends as they tackle their summer holidays with partying and romance. The story is a typical one with teenagers trying to have fun and enjoy themselves. It is predictable for the most part, but there are a few unexpected twists. I like the way the author has described and handled the friendship between the girls. It is quite beautiful. It also helped to understand their backgrounds and the reason behind the bonds they had. Their acceptance of each other and the way they looked at the world is well written. The characters are not wholly relatable. It was not easy to empathize with them completely nor to understand some of the reasons behind their actions.

Some parts of the story just seemed abrupt and the entire focus of the story was on partying and drugs. Cait is focused on trying to handle her relationship with Adrien Cross, lead singer of her favorite indie band. While their relationship is intense, it pulls her away from focusing on her friends and their lives. This leads to so many consequences as she tries to navigate a world of sudden and intense love, family ties and breaking bonds. When tragedy strikes, noone is even close to ready for it and the author handles the emotions in this part of the story very well.

An overall intensely emotional read, even though I did not fully enjoy the book, the parts that I did, prompt me to recommend it!

Book Review: The View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr

About the Book:

The View from Alameda Island

#1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr delivers a poignant and powerful story about how one woman’s best intentions lead to the worst of situations and how the power of love helps her to heal and ultimately triumph.

From the outside looking in, Lauren Delaney has a life to envy—a successful career, a solid marriage to a prominent surgeon and two beautiful daughters who are off to good colleges. But on her twenty-fourth wedding anniversary Lauren makes a decision that will change everything.

Lauren won’t pretend things are perfect anymore. She defies the controlling husband who has privately mistreated her throughout their marriage and files for divorce. And as she starts her new life, she meets a kindred spirit—a man who is also struggling with the decision to end his unhappy marriage.

But Lauren’s husband wants his “perfect” life back and his actions are shocking. Facing an uncertain future, Lauren discovers an inner strength she didn’t know she had as she fights for the love and happiness she deserves.

My Thoughts:

The View from Alameda Island is a simple enough story with a straight-forward and slightly predictable plot but that tugs at the heart-strings and will make the reader stop to think. The story follows the life of Lauren Delaney as she navigates her seemingly perfect life. To the world outside, everything is perfect, but, only she knows how broken she feels inside. However, there is only so much a person can handle and after a point, they just snap. It is common and normal that every human being wants to be happy. So it is normal that Lauren is also looking for the same.

The author does a great job in working on her character sketches and bringing them to life in this book. The story focuses on the concept of self love, and the idea that at some point every person should take decisions that ultimately make them happy. This is the turning point in Lauren’s life when she decides that she wants a divorce and to get away from the darkness that has lurked behind the scenes during her twenty four years of marriage. This decision, though not taken easily, doesn’t sit well with her husband and thus ensues a struggle to get away and move on, in-spite of her husband who tries to win her back and refuses to let go.

The story is well-written and focuses on Lauren’s fight for the happiness that she deserves as she finds the strength to trust and love again! This is definitely worth a read and can be finished in one sitting!