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

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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.

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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: 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 Review: Sunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr

About the Book:

Sunrise on Half Moon Bay

Sometimes the happiness we’re looking for has been there all along…

Adele and Justine have never been close. Born twenty years apart, Justine was already an adult when Addie was born. The sisters love each other but they don’t really know each other.

When Addie dropped out of university to care for their ailing parents, Justine, a successful lawyer, covered the expenses. It was the best arrangement at the time but now that their parents are gone, the future has changed dramatically for both women.

Addie had great plans for her life but has been worn down by the pressures of being a caregiver and doesn’t know how to live for herself. And Justine’s success has come at a price. Her marriage is falling apart despite her best efforts.

Neither woman knows how to start life over but both realize they can and must support each other the way only sisters can. Together they find the strength to accept their failures and overcome their challenges. Happiness is within reach, if only they have the courage to fight for it.

Set in the stunning coastal town of Half Moon Bay, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr’s new novel examines the joys of sisterhood and the importance of embracing change.

My Thoughts:

Sunrise on Half Moon Bay follows the lives of two sisters, born twenty years apart and with a very weak relationship save for the common link that is their parents. Adele dropped out of university to stay home and care for her ailing parents while Justine provided the monetary support. However, tragedy strikes in the form of their parents deaths and then follows a scrambling as the girls try to adjust to their lives without them. Furthermore, Justine also faces a failing marriage and is unsure how to deal with it.

Adele is reserved and keeps to herself. Being younger, she looks for guidance but doesn’t always get it. Justine is more put together, successful and the sole breadwinner of her family, putting her children through school, paying the bills and saving for college funds. Her husband is happy to be the parent at home taking care of the house and children, until he is not.

The story follows the sisters as they navigate a rocky relationship and finally find solace in each other and in family. They learn to change, live a little and take decisions together, bringing them more closer than ever. This is a story of togetherness, family and even forgiveness. As Adele stumbles upon a job that helps her interact more with people, she is inspired to go back to school and complete her degree. She also gains confidence to face her past and try to move forward, even allowing herself a chance at love. Justine on the other hand cuts back on her brutal hours as a corporate lawyer, looking for something more laid back and ending up in her old town. This brings her closer to her daughters, allowing her more time to spend with her children and sister and maybe, even a chance at a new life and new love.

The story is well-written and though it gets a little monotonous, the message is wonderful and heartfelt! This is a wonderful story to read at your leisure and it has all the right elements of a family story filled with love and romance.

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!

Book Review: The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

About the Book:

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

From the bestselling author of The Husband’s Secret comes a compelling story where nothing is as simple as it seems.

Seventy-three years have passed since sisters Rose and Connie Doughty found an abandoned baby in the only other house on their little island, Scribbly Gum. And since then the ‘Munro Baby Mystery’ has brought them fame and fortune.

But now, with Connie dead and newcomer Sophie Honeywell inheriting her home, and everyone around them tirelessly trying to solve the mystery, Rose begins to wonder if they made the right decision all those years ago. How much longer they can cover up the truth behind the mystery that has sustained their community for four generations? And what other secrets might be revealed?

My Thoughts:

The Last Anniversary is a compelling read! It follows Sophie as she comes to the little island of Scribbly Gum, having inherited a house. We meet Rose Doughty, alone after her sister, Connie dies and Enigma. We also meet many other wonderful ladies. The beauty of this book is that the author introduces us to a variety of people, each with their own quirks, worries and secrets. The author ensures that we will connect with some of them and if not, at least come to understand and appreciate them.

Most of the story revolves around the house and the ‘Munro Baby Mystery’. The truth behind this mystery is the secret that sisters Connie and Rose have kept together for more than seventy years! Having maintained the story and kept the secret for more than four generations, Rose starts to wonder whether it is time to reveal the truth, especially now that Connie has passed. Sophie, moving away from heartbreak and needing a fresh start, finds her place among these strong women, lending a shoulder, sharing a kind word and basically adding some color to the ensemble. I was quite intrigued by Grace and Veronika’s characters as well as Margie.

The author has paid strong attention to details while handling the mystery as well as the characters and this makes the story that much more enjoyable. I strongly recommend this book and I hope that everyone enjoys it as much as I did!

Book Review: House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J. Maas

This latest book by Sarah J. Maas has been the talk of the town everywhere! It is literally everywhere! It’s amazing.

Note: The review may have a few spoilers. Be careful when you read it.

Read on to know my thoughts on the book!

About the Book:

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1)

Half-Fae, half-human Bryce Quinlan loves her life. By day, she works for an antiquities dealer, selling barely legal magical artifacts, and by night, she parties with her friends, savoring every pleasure Lunathion-otherwise known as Crescent City-has to offer. But it all comes crumbling down when a ruthless murder shakes the very foundations of the city-and Bryce’s world.

Two years later, her job has become a dead end, and she now seeks only blissful oblivion in the city’s most notorious nightclubs. But when the murderer attacks again, Bryce finds herself dragged into the investigation and paired with an infamous Fallen angel whose own brutal past haunts his every step.

Hunt Athalar, personal assassin for the Archangels, wants nothing to do with Bryce Quinlan, despite being ordered to protect her. She stands for everything he once rebelled against and seems more interested in partying than solving the murder, no matter how close to home it might hit. But Hunt soon realizes there’s far more to Bryce than meets the eye-and that he’s going to have to find a way to work with her if they want to solve this case.

As Bryce and Hunt race to untangle the mystery, they have no way of knowing the threads they tug ripple through the underbelly of the city, across warring continents, and down to the darkest levels of Hel, where things that have been sleeping for millennia are beginning to stir…

With unforgettable characters and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom-and the power of love.

My Thoughts:

Review: 3.5 Stars

House of Earth and Blood is a well-written, fast paced story that has it’s ups and downs. The book started off slowly and abruptly, making it difficult for me to understand the context setting and the initial character introductions. However, as the story progresses, the plot becomes stronger and more interesting. The story becomes gripping and is a wild roller-coaster until the very end. The author ensures that the readers attention is on the book and nowhere else!

Most of the characters are well crafted and interesting. However, I was not very impressed with Bryce, the main protagonist of the story. She is not as relatable as I had hoped, but all in all, she holds her own well in the story. Being half-fae, she is under the protection of the Fae community, but that is where it ends. On her own with her best friends, living away from her loving mother and step-father, anyone will assume that she is enjoying her life. But when tragedy strikes, it all comes undone.

As Bryce is pulled in to investigate her best friends death, the possibility of suicide, then murder all lurk about. Bryce has to sort out the facts and separate the truth from the lies. Hunt Athalar, personal assassin for the Archangels, is forced to step in protect Bryce, while working with her to solve the case. What ensues is a battle of wits and an underlying attraction which the two characters fight. With a lot of secrets being kept, it is not easy to find out the truth.

I did come to love a lot of the supporting characters, Bryce’s best friend Fury, shrouded in mystery. Her step-brother, the Fae prince whom a lot of readers will come to love. His is a very well developed character. I also liked the other Archangels both good and bad. The author brings out a colorful variety in the nature of characters introduced.

One message which is persistent throughout the book is the meaning of friendship and loyalty. The author also shows us the true power of love above all else. The story, even though a little slow at first, was truly a wonderful read! I thoroughly enjoyed the action and appreciate the way the characters find their way in the end! Even Bryce and Hunt grow on you in the end and the reader just has to accept them since they bring the story together!

This book is definetely a must read, especially for fans of Fantasy Fiction and of Sarah J. Maas.

Book Review: Before You Go by Kelly Heard

About the Book:

Before You Go

The bond between a mother and daughter is meant to be unbreakable. What happens when it shatters?

Western Virginia, 1979. Dell Shaw knows the relationship between a mother and daughter should be something warm, soft and safe. But her relationship with her former beauty queen mother, Anita, has never been like that. And then one day, Anita packs up and leaves home, abandoning Dell to look after her alcoholic father and grow up alone.

When Dell meets handsome Mason, who has his own scars, she begins to think she can build a new, happy family with him. A year later, she’s shocked to find herself heartbroken and alone with a new-born baby girl and only her mother to turn to. When Anita refuses help and instead arranges for the local church to take the baby away, Dell knows she won’t ever speak to her mother again.

But all that changes on the day Dell discovers her daughter is missing.

Anita knows where the child might be. There’s only one problem—Anita is in a coma, fighting for her life. As Dell divides her time between her mother’s bedside and searching for her daughter, she finds herself discovering new things about her past that make her wonder if she can forgive her mother after all. But will she be able to reconcile with her mother and find her daughter before time runs out?

An unforgettable and heart-wrenching debut about the endurance of love, the power of forgiveness, and finding beauty in the world around us. Your must-read book of 2019. Perfect for fans of Where the Crawdads Sing, Kristin Hannah and Kerry Lonsdale.

My Thoughts:

The synopsis of the book was quite intriguing and this promoted me to pick it up. The story follows Dell, a fortune teller as she navigates her way through her present while trying to run from her past. Dell has moved away from Blyth, away from family and friends and away from her new born baby.

The author introduces us to a variety of characters as the story progresses. However, as the plot develops, there is little to no development on the fact that Dell is a fortune teller. This just seems to be a minor reference which exists until Dell goes back to Blyth. Dell races against time to try to find her daughter and spend time with her mother who is now in a coma and may be the only person who knows where her daughter is. The plot itself becomes quite predictable as the story progresses, and even though this story does bring out the importance of forgiveness and love, it becomes difficult to follow after a point. The characters are nice but unremarkable, and not very easy to relate to. The story plows ahead with no major twists or turns and is easy to follow.

The book did not engage me as much as I had hoped, but it is still a decent read! Fans of romance will enjoy this book!