Book Review: Keep Forever by Alexa Kingaard

 

Keep Forever
Alexa Kingaard
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: March 28th 2020
Genres: Historical Romance, Women’s Fiction

“Unlike some war stories that focus on intense, harsh and graphic depictions of post-combat trauma, this tale unfolds gently, like an Edna Ferber novel, spread across many decades, detailing the impact this soldier’s illness has on an entire family, including children and grandchildren. KEEP FOREVER is a wonderful, emotionally satisfying read that I highly recommend. ”
GARY SEIGEL, author of “Haskell Himself”

 

 

Paul O’Brien’s idyllic childhood in Southern California comes to a halt when his mother dies in the summer before his senior year of high school and a very different persona of his father emerges – isolating himself inside the house, turning to alcohol for comfort, and barely noticing his only child. Simultaneously, the war in Vietnam is sending shock waves around the world and young men from one coast to the other are being called upon to serve. Paul enlists in the Marines before receiving his draft notice.

Elizabeth Sutton is eager to gain some independence from her father’s old fashioned notions and looking forward to her first year in high school. At fifteen years old, tragedy strikes with the loss of both parents in an auto accident, turning her childhood into one of responsibility and worry overnight. The four siblings are scattered when her nine-year-old twin sisters are sent to live with their Aunt and Uncle on Nantucket Island, and Elizabeth is left behind in Boston with their grandmother. Her older brother, Sam, enlists in the Marines, eager to join the conflict a world away as opposed to dealing with the one unfolding at home.

A bond develops between Paul and Sam in Vietnam, and both are injured in a bloody battle that costs Sam his right hand and sets the stage for a lifetime of nightmares and sleepless nights for Paul. Matched by similar tragedies at a young age, Elizabeth and Paul’s first introduction by Sam upon their return from Vietnam is the beginning of friendship and love that survives five decades.

After marrying, welcoming their first child, and inheriting a small beach house, the couple adapts to their new surroundings, but distant memories of Vietnam continue to haunt Paul. In an era when veterans refuse to speak of their pain and the government denies that thousands of soldiers are coming home irreparably damaged, he is left to deal with the challenge of caring for his loved ones amidst his his erratic flashback episodes and moods. As their lives unravel from the lingering effects of PTSD, Elizabeth learns to accept the burden that Paul brought home, and together they make their own memories to keep forever.

Inspired By A True Story

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

Author Bio:

ALEXA KINGAARD, a California native, currently resides in Carlsbad and is the mother of a son and daughter who continue to be her biggest fans and cheerleaders.

October 13, 2011, was the day that changed her life forever when her ex-husband, a Vietnam veteran, took his life during a PTSD flashback episode. Inspired to share this tragedy that continues to rob husbands and wives of their spouses, children of their parents, mothers of their children, brothers and sisters of their siblings, and comrades of their friends, Kingaard relied on her own experiences to shed light on this crisis. The burden brought home is not partial to Vietnam, but is an insidious aftershock endured by combat veterans of all conflicts.

Kingaard continues to pursue her literary career, writing about nostalgia and the human condition, the common denominator of our lives.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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My Thoughts:

Keep Forever is a story that will take the rider on a roller coaster of emotions. It follows the lives of Paul and Sam as they navigate their way through being Marines and their short experience with War in Vietnam. We also follow Elizabeth, Sam’s sister as she tries to hold on to her emotions and childhood while dealing with the loss of her parents and the responsibility of her younger siblings. A very well-written story, Keep Forever will pull the reader in and make up experience everything along with the main characters. The happiness, the turmoil, the heart-wrenching sadness and the flicker of hope.

Considering that this story is inspired by a true story, it is all that more eye opening. The reader is exposed to the concept of PTSD, the possible causes and the effects it may have on the person experiencing it as well as the people around. If a person is suffering from it, their pain and sorrow is difficult to relate to, but for the family, it is even more difficult to handle. The author brings in a lot of perspective on the topic and handles the concept with delicate ease. The main characters are well rounded and very well thought out. I enjoyed reading about their lives, and it was a humbling experience. We are also given a glimpse into the circumstances that shaped the characters and made them who they are, the reasons behind their decisions and finally the consequences of these decisions. These form the crux of the plot.

I particularly enjoyed reading about Elizabeth and how she grows into a strong woman. She takes control of her life, takes care of her family and builds a new one with the man she loves. Even in the end, she manages to give him distance while maintaining normalcy to ensure that he never feels useless. Her delicate handling of things and her ability to understand or make and effort to understand her husband’s pain is what makes her a wonderful person.

This story is a must read for everyone, a way to try and understand the nightmares of war and how it affects us human beings!

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 Review: Prejudice Meets Pride (Meet Your Match #1) by Rachael Anderson

About the Book:

Prejudice Meets Pride (Meet Your Match, #1)

After years of pinching pennies and struggling to get through art school, Emma Makie’s hard work finally pays off with the offer of a dream job. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to make a cross-country move to Colorado Springs to take temporary custody of her two nieces. She has no money, no job prospects, and no idea how to be a mother to two little girls, but she isn’t about to let that stop her. Nor is she about to accept the help of Kevin Grantham, her handsome neighbor, who seems to think she’s incapable of doing anything on her own.

Prejudice Meets Pride is the story of a guy who thinks he has it all figured out and a girl who isn’t afraid to show him that he doesn’t. It’s about learning what it means to trust, figuring out how to give and to take, and realizing that not everyone gets to pick the person they fall in love with. Sometimes, love picks them.

My Thoughts:

After keeping this book on my to read list for a very long time (at least 5 years), I finally got around to reading it! It is a fun and simple story filled with a lot of entertaining moments. Prejudice meets Pride follows Emma as she moves to Colorado Springs having just taken custody of her two nieces. Learning to be a parent to them, she welcomes the help of her neighbours except for that of Kevin Grantham. What ensues is a clashing of wills as Emma tries to prove that she can handle things by herself and that she can be independent, while Kevin tries to be a gentleman and help out this confusing woman.

A typical clash between two stubborn people, sows seeds of romance as Emma grudgingly learns to trust Kevin and accept his presence while he learns to accept someone who stands up to him and has a mind of their own. Emma needs to learn to trust and Kevin is the person to teach her that. As the story progresses, it is one disaster after another until the two main characters just learn to accept that they need to work together and just maybe love is in the air!

This is a lovely book of self-discovery, family, parenting and of finding love in the most unlikely of places and in the unlikeliest person. This is a wonderfully light read and the characters are delightful though a little unrealistic at times. But sometimes, all a reader wants is a perfect ending and happiness! This story delivers it all!

Book Review: Season of Wonder by RaeAnne Thayne

About the Book:

Season of Wonder (Haven Point, #9)

He’s giving her children a season of wonder…

Dani Capelli seized a chance to start over in a small town with her daughters. Now, facing her first Christmas in Haven Point, she wonders if leaving New York was a mistake. Dani loves working alongside veterinarian Dr. Morales, but her two children aren’t adjusting to small-town life. And then there’s Dr. Morales’s son, Ruben—Dani’s next-door neighbor. Gorgeous, muscled and dependable, the deputy sheriff is everything she secretly craves and can’t bear to risk loving…and losing.

Ruben never pictured himself falling for a big-city woman like Dani. But beneath her prickly facade, she’s caring and softhearted and she needs all the love and protection he can give. When Dani’s teenage daughter starts acting out, Ruben draws on family traditions to show the girls just how magical a Haven Point Christmas can be. But can he convince Dani that she’s found a home for the holidays—and forever—in his arms?

My Thoughts:

A feel-good romance novel, author RaeAnne Thayne brings to the reader a story of love, family and acceptance. Season of Wonder is the perfect Christmas time romace, set in a small town and with the right kind of characters. Dani moves to this town with her daughters and she struggles to bring normalcy into their lives and ease them into this new life. She is also trying to adjust to her new job, which is everything she ever wanted and more.

Exposed to the goodness of people and the help provided, Dani is on the path to healing and move forward in life. Ruben, the next-door neighbour, takes to Dani and her daughters, rather unexpectedly for him. What ensues is a nice set of events as he sets out to win the hearts of these women, so as to be able to spend the rest of his life with them. Though the story can be predictable at times, it is heart-warming and light, easy to read and quite an enjoyable book!

Book Review: The Queen of Corvids by J.C. McKenzie

I found this book on NetGalley and immediately requested for a copy as the blurb sounded quite fascinating. Read on to know my thoughts.

About the Book:

Queen of Corvids (Raven Crawford, #3)

Truth can be ugly and part-time waitress, casual PI investigator, and half-fae shifter, Raven Crawford, can’t deny she owes the Lord of War a favour. If she defaults on her debt, she relinquishes all her power to a man who doesn’t know the meaning of mercy. And she thought her bank loans were bad.

With her new role in the Underworld contending with her debt to a dictator, a budding romance with the Lord of Shadows, and her need to pay the bills, Raven is in serious need of balance. But the moment the dark fae walked into her diner months ago, she’s been off-balance.

It’s time for Raven to pull up her big girl socks and prove to everyone she’s no longer the burnt-out waitress with a nifty parlour trick.

She’s the Queen of Corvids

My Thoughts:

First off I have to mention that I have not read the first two books of this series! However, it was quite surprising that I was able to grasp most of the context from this book. Of course it did take me a little time to get used to the characters and the setting and the magic!

The book is fast paced and well-written in a no nonsense manner! The story moves quite fast and is quite enjoyable as it is mixed with both action and romance. The main character, Raven, is strong and though there could have been more depth to her character, she is quite interesting. I particularly enjoyed her dynamics with her guard and with the Lord of Shadows. Another particularly interesting part of the story is Raven’s dynamics with her family and friends.

This story follows her journey towards gaining confidence in herself and taking up the mantle of the Queen of Corvids completely. We watch her navigate the meeting halls of the dark fae and even watch as she works to outsmart most of the villains including the Lord of War!

An enjoyable read, this story is gripping and fun in equal measure! I do hope to read more books by this author soon!

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

~ Book Tour ~
Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj

10th to 30th April

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

Read an Excerpt from Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj

Alisha was dreaming about tiny babies crawling all over her when a tinny, buzzing noise filled the room. Struggling awake, she located her phone on the side table and squinted at the display. Vivaan. At this hour? It was close to two in the morning.
Heart pounding, she answered the phone. “Are you okay?”
Silence was her only reply. Checking the phone’s display to see if the call had been cut off, she frowned when she realized he was still on the line.
“Vivaan?”
“I get it now.”
The quiet words had her flopping back against her pillows in relief. He didn’t sound like he was hurt or in pain.
“Get what now?” she asked, staring into the darkness of her room. There was something frighteningly intimate about lying in bed, enveloped in darkness with only his voice on the other end of the phone anchoring her to the moment.
“Everything you said. About the way people think. About the way they behave.” He sounded sad. Alisha wanted to soothe and comfort but didn’t know exactly where this was going. Instead, she waited.
“I want you to know,” he stopped for a minute and then continued, “No, I need you to know that you’re incredible. That you can smile, you can laugh, God, the fact that you can love and live in the face of the incredible assholes who make up huge chunks of our society is beyond incredible.”
A single tear rolled down Alisha’s face as she let his words wash over her. They soothed her in places she hadn’t known were still hurting.
“Are you there, Alisha?” His voice reached out to her again bringing her back to the moment.
“Yes.” She could never let him know it but for him, she would always be there.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“I don’t remember you doing anything that needs apologizing for,” she answered.
“For not taking what you said seriously. About people and society. For dismissing it the way I did.”
His words had pain knifing through her. If he finally understood, he also understood there was no future for them. A sense of loss swept through her at the thought of Vivaan no longer wanting her. It was what she’d wanted, what she’d pushed for and still….it was devastating.
“Alisha,” he whispered her name, recalling her to their conversation. “I’ve never wanted you more.”

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: Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber

About the Book:

Legendary (Caraval, #2)

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

My Thoughts:

Legendary is the second book in the series and follows the story just after Caraval has finished. In fact, it is wonderful that this story takes up from the next day! The story follows Donatella, the younger sister as she moves forward from one Caraval game to the next. In the first, she was just a prop while her older sister Scarlett had to play to find her. Moving on from this, the two sisters are free and can try to start their lives again, but Tella has a debt to pay. As the magic and adventure unravel, the reader is once again drawn into the depths of a story where nothing is at it seems or maybe, for once, everything is as real as it seems.

Is it just a game or is it reality? These questions plague not only the characters in the book, but also the reader. The journey to discover Caraval Master Legend’s true name is also a journey of bravery, and love. Tella has many choices to make, even though her path seems clear and in the end, she has to make the ultimate sacrifice for the ones that she loves.

Though Legendary is very well-written and a wonderful sequel, it is not as thrilling as the first book. It is a little slower with more focus on the characters and their identities. We meet a lot of new characters as well and are introduced to the sisters’ past, their family and learn many  truths about many of the people! As Scarlett struggles to find her footing between the one she loves and the one she was arranged to be married to, Tella navigates the game of Caraval again trying to find the answers she seeks. The characters are compelling, you’ll love some, you’ll hate some and there are those that fall in between.

The story is definitely worth the read and the hype and is a fitting sequel to the first, clearing up many things and giving the reader much more in the form of love and friendship. The cliffhanger at the end leaves us wanting for more and will definitely force the reader to pick up the third and final book in the series, Finale!

 

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!