The Girl In Between broke my heart

32739853There are a lot of things in life that are sad, things that can break your heart.  The Girl In Between by Sarah Carroll is a book that is sad in so many different ways and broke my heart.  The story depicts life on the street and on the move for a young girl and her mother from the eyes of the young girl.

Life is good when the girl and her Ma live with grandma, but Ma doesn’t want to stay there, so they move out.  They don’t have any money and nowhere to go.  Ma is a drug addict and promises the girl she will stop the drugs and drinking and take care of her.  But Ma doesn’t keep her promise.  She forgets to feed the girl, she takes her daughter to scary places where drug dealers live and she doesn’t take her to school.

They end up on the streets until moving into an abandoned old mill they call The Castle.  The castle that Ma has promised the girl they would live in some day.  The girl explores the Castle, drawing on the walls, and from the roof, spies on the people walking by.  The girl must be vigilant to remain invisible from the outside world.  She can’t leave the Castle but can only let the Caretaker see her.

The girl thinks the mill is haunted and tries to lure the ghost out into the open.  She learns about the ghost from the Caretaker, who is struggling against his past and grief to leave the mill after forty-seven years.

The girl doesn’t want the Authorities to see her because they could take her away from Ma.  Now, the Authorities have come to the Castle, but not for her. They have come to take her Castle away leaving Ma and her with nowhere to live.  There are flashbacks intermixed in the story that slowly brings everything together ending with a shocking revelation.

The Girl In Between shines a spotlight on addiction, parenting on the streets, the relationship between a mother and a daughter and how drugs can make someone selfish.  No child should live on the streets and this book shows what it’s like for some of the children living on the street.  This is a very sad story.

Book Description:
I know the mill has a story cos there’s something strange going on. I heard something. I’ve decided that I’m going to find out what it is later today when Ma leaves. Cos even if it is scary, we live here and we’re never leaving. So if there’s something going on, I need to know. 

In an old, abandoned mill, a girl and her ma take shelter from their memories of life on the streets. To the girl it’s home, her safe place, the Castle. But as her ma spins out of control and the Authorities move ever closer, the girl finds herself trapped – stuck in the crumbling mill with only the ghosts of the past for company.

Can she move on before it’s too late?

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

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It’s all about relationships in Days Like These

29496483Days Like These by Sue Margolis is all about relationships. Relationships from siblings to parents, to friends and acquaintances and between the parents of the schoolchildren. This book is about Judith and her grandchildren Sam, 9, and Rosie, 5, and Judith’s Mother, Nana.  Judith (Judy), is asked to take care of her grandkids as her daughter, Abby, and son-in-law, Thomas, both doctors, are called away to help Nicaragua after an earthquake.  They are supposed to be gone for six weeks but then it turns into a lot longer than expected.

Judy’s mother, Freida, is a typical hypochondriac thinking she has every kind of ailment and searches her symptoms on the internet.  She also likes to cook elaborate meals. There is a bond between Judy and Freida that is tentatively explored. It appears that they haven’t always known each other very well. Despite their ease and teasing of each other, their bond is explored. Nana was a fun supporting character who brought smiles to my face and a few chuckles.

Judy soon has a nemesis at the private school in the form of Claudia, who always had a need to prove she is a better mother than anyone else. While all of this is going on, Judy is dealing with the loss of her husband. A new man, Patrick, enters the scene complicating things for Judy in many ways.

Sam has a hard time at school with a few of the situations develop into very serious consequences. Judy tries to navigate the situations as a grandmother and a temporary parent while trying not to destroy the relationship between her daughter and grandson.

Sue Margolis does a great job of showing how there can be conflict within a family, how we support each other and how we fight for each other. She shows how we can be strong even when we don’t believe in ourselves and how a family and community can come together for the sake of the children.  This was so worth my time.

Book Description:
In the new novel from the author of Losing Me, one woman is about to discover what happens when you take the “grand” out of “grandma.”

Recently widowed, Judy Schofield jumps at the chance to look after her two grandchildren for six weeks, while their parents are out of the country. After all, she’s already raised one set of children—and quite successfully, if she may say so herself. But all it takes is a few days of private school functions, helicopter parents, video games, and never-ending Frozen sing-a-longs for Judy to feel she’s in over her head.

As weeks become months, Judy feels more and more like an outsider among all the young mothers with their parenting theories du jour, especially when she gets on the wrong side of the school’s snooty alpha mom. But finding a friend in another grandmother—and a man who takes her mind off all the stress—almost make it worthwhile. She just needs to take it one food allergy, one incomprehensible homework assignment, and one major meltdown at a time…

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

With Love from the Inside is a heartbreaking story

27833799With Love from the Inside by Angela Pisel is a story about a mother, Grace, accused of killing her infant son, William, and what the accusation did to her husband and daughter.  Grace insisted she is innocent but is convicted of Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome.  After serving 17 years, she is now awaiting execution.  She hasn’t seen her daughter Sophie for 11 years and wants to see her one last time before she is executed.

While Grace has been sitting on death row, her husband always believed she was innocent and worked hard trying to get her conviction overturned.  After her father died, Sophie started to doubt her mom and thinks she really is guilty.  Sophie decides she needs to move on and doesn’t want anything to do with Grace so she stops visiting.  She wants to just live a normal life.  But she can’t quite do that knowing Grace is about to be executed.

The story is told from two perspectives – Grace and Sophie.  Grace is a very strong woman who has accepted her fate and has made her life behind bars the best that it can be.  This book is sad in so many different ways.  I was really surprised the emotion the story brought out of me.

When I was first married, there was a woman in my apartment complex who was charged with Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome so this story really interested me.  I’m so glad I had the chance to read this story.  It was well worth my time.  I want to thank Penguin Random House for the advanced copy I received through their First to Read program.

Book Description:

Grace Bradshaw knows the exact minute she will die.  On death row for murdering her infant son, her last breath will be taken on February 15 at 12:01 a.m.  Eleven years, five months, and twenty-seven days separate her from the last time she heard her precious daughter’s voice and the final moment she’d heard anyone call her Mom.  Out of appeals, she can focus on only one thing—reconnecting with her daughter and making sure she knows the truth.

Secrets lurk behind Sophie Logan’s big house and even bigger bank account.  Every day when she kisses her husband good-bye, she worries her fabricated life is about to come crumbling down.  No one knows the unforgivable things her mother did to tear her family apart—not her husband, who is a prominent plastic surgeon, or her “synthetic” friends who live in her upscale neighborhood.

Grace’s looming execution date forces Sophie to revisit the traumatic events that haunted her childhood.  When she returns to her hometown, she discovers new evidence about her baby brother William’s death seventeen years ago—proof that might set her mother free but shatter her marriage forever.

Sophie must quickly decide if her mother is the monster the prosecutor made her out to be or the loving mother she remembers—the one who painted her toenails glittery pink and plastered Post-it notes with inspiring quotes (“100 percent failure rate if you don’t try”) all over Sophie’s bathroom mirror—before their time runs out.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Unsung heroes is what Broken Angels is about

28944464Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero is the story of three very different individuals.  Matilda is a little girl who is “sold” to the Nazis and sent from Romania to a special German school where she can learn to be the perfect Aryan child.  She will then be given to a German family.  But Matilda is a very strong-willed child and doesn’t want to conform.

Then there is Willem.  A high-ranking Nazi doctor who goes into the Jewish Lodz Ghetto daily and tries to help the Jews.  His father is a high ranking Nazi and Willem has his position because of his father who helps him get a posting at Auschwitz.  Elsi is part Jewish and lives in the ghetto where her family is trying to survive.  She meets Willem when she takes her Mother to see him.  Elsi soon joins the resistance to fight against the Nazis.

All three are living very different lives trying to survive the war and they do what they can to save others.  Matilda, Elsi and Willem are such well-developed characters that it makes the reader care for them.  I fell in love with these three individuals and I worried if they would survive.  I wondered if what they were doing was worth it and would they really be able to save all these people.

There were so many unsung heroes of the war who risked their lives for perfect strangers because they believed what the Nazis were doing was wrong and they weren’t going to sit around and watch it happen.  As I was reading this, I kept thinking – would I risk my life for a perfect stranger?  I would hope if I was ever in a situation where I could help someone, I would.  This was such a riveting story that was so beautifully written.

Book Description:
Nazi doctor. A Jewish rebel. A little girl. Each one will fight for freedom—or die trying.

Imprisoned in the Lodz Ghetto, Elsi discovers her mother’s desperate attempt to end her pregnancy and comes face-to-face with the impossibility of their situation. Risking her own life, Elsi joins a resistance group to sabotage the regime.

Blonde, blue-eyed Matilda is wrenched from her family in Romania and taken to Germany, where her captors attempt to mold her into the perfect Aryan child. Spirited and brave, she must inspire hope in the other stolen children to make her dreams of escape a reality.

Willem, a high-ranking Nazi doctor, plans to save lives when he takes posts in both the ghetto and Auschwitz. After witnessing unimaginable cruelties, he begins to question his role and the future of those he is ordered to destroy.

While Hitler ransacks Europe in pursuit of a pure German race, the lives of three broken souls—thrown together by chance—intertwine. Only love and sacrifice might make them whole again.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Three sisters search for love in Seasons of Love

Nicola Italia knows29536691 how to take a reader back in time and enjoy the lives of the characters.  This time in Seasons of Love, she takes us to Tampa, Florida to the Italian section of the city where we meet three sisters.  Part one, or as I like to call it, the first novella, concentrates on Rosalia, who is the middle sister.  Rosa is the quiet one.  The one that helps at church.  The one who is quiet and shy, the one who falls in love with a man soon to join the priesthood.

Part two, or as I like to call it, the second novella, is about the youngest sister, Angelina, who is a feisty teenager who loves the movies and everything that is modern.  She silently meets a man from Cuba who sweeps her off her feet.  But is he really a good person?

Then there is oldest sister Giovanna in part three, or as I like to call it, the final novella.  Giovanna is the oldest of the three sisters.  It seems like she is never going to find a husband.  She works in a cigar factory as a roller and she also teaches English at the local Italian Club where she meets Carlos who runs the club and also Giorgio who owns his own grocery store.  Two very different men

Nicola is a great literary romance writer.  She is a storyteller who brings the readers into the story with the characters where they lose themselves in what is happening.  She has a way of making readers lose track of time and go back in time.  I find literary romances very enjoyable and love going back in time experiencing what it might have been like before I was born.  If you like going back in time, and like a good romance, pick up one of Nicola’s books.  You won’t be disappointed.

Book Description:
During the time of the Great War, one Italian immigrant family struggles to find their place in the United States.  The three Leone sisters love and care for each other, but each is distinctly different and looks for their own niche in the changing world around them.

Rosalia is the middle sister, devoted to her family and God.  When she falls in love with the shy and kind Dan, it is against his mother’s wishes.  His family tradition dictates Dan must join the priesthood, but in his heart, he wants nothing more than to take Rosa as his bride.  But how can Rosa, who puts so much importance on God and family, ask him to turn his back on both?

Blond with blue eyes, Angelina is the baby of the family.  Modern and wild, she throws herself into the make-believe world of silent films and longs for the same romantic love she sees on screen.  When her heart is dazzled by a handsome Cuban, she doesn’t realize that he hides a dark secret from her until it is too late.

The only sister to have been born in Sicily, Giovanna is a blend of traditional and modern values.  She works in the local cigar factory as an esteemed roller and teaches English at the local Italian Club.  While she longs for a family of her own, she has yet to find the right man—until two vastly different men appear in her life, and she must choose between the steadfast Giorgio and the brash and charismatic Carlo.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Take to the road in Last Ride to Graceland

26154404Kim Wright has another hit on her hands with Last Ride to Graceland.  This is about two women.  One a 38-year-old blues musician and her mother, who 39 years earlier, at the age of 19, was a backup singer for Elvis Presley.

Cory Beth Ainsworth is barely getting by singing at a local restaurant when her stepfather wants her to mail is waders to him.  But on one condition, don’t look in the shed.  The shed is mentioned several times so of course Cory has to look in the shed.  What does she find?  A Stutz Blackhawk wrapped in bubble wrap.

Cory knows that the car is one of Elvis’ and doesn’t know if he give the car to her Mom and if Laura or Honey Bear as Elvis calls her, stole the car.  Cory calls Graceland and tells them she will bring the car to them.  But what she doesn’t tell them is she is going to try and retrace Laura’s path by the trash left in the car.  At first I didn’t think it was right that Cory Beth took the car but then I decided it was her birthright since her Mom originally owned it and probably saved it for her.

The chapters bounce back and forth between Cory’s journey to return the car and Laura’s year with Elvis, which was a great way to reveal different secrets in both their lives.  I really enjoyed this book and the journey it took me on.  While reading this book about Elvis on his last tour made me think about my parents attending one of his last concerts.  I remember my Mom said that even though Elvis couldn’t see them, every time he looked in their direction, Mom and her friend would scream.  This is a very well written story and is well worth the read.

Book Description:
Lauded for her “astute and engrossing” (People) writing style imbued with “originality galore” (RT Book Reviews), Kim Wright channels the best of Jennifer Weiner and Sarah Pekkanen in this delightful novel of self-discovery on the open road as one woman sets out for Graceland hoping to answer the question: Is Elvis Presley her father?

Blues musician Cory Ainsworth is barely scraping by after her mother’s death when she discovers a priceless piece of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia hidden away in a shed out back of the family’s coastal South Carolina home: Elvis Presley’s Stutz Blackhawk, its interior a time capsule of the singer’s last day on earth.

A backup singer for the King, Cory’s mother Honey was at Graceland the day Elvis died. She quickly returned home to Beaufort and married her high school sweetheart. Yearning to uncover the secrets of her mother’s past—and possibly her own identity—Cory decides to drive the car back to Memphis and turn it over to Elvis’s estate, retracing the exact route her mother took thirty-seven years earlier. As she winds her way through the sprawling deep south with its quaint towns and long stretches of open road, the burning question in Cory’s mind—who is my father?—takes a backseat to the truth she learns about her complicated mother, the minister’s daughter who spent a lifetime struggling to conceal the consequences of a single year of rebellion.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Daughter of Deep Silence is about revenge

23281652Carrie Ryan grabs the reader’s attention with the first sentence of Daughter of Deep Silence: “When they pull me onto the yacht, I can’t even stand I’ve been adrift in the ocean so long.”  Fourteen-year-old Frances Mace is being rescued after spending several days on a life raft with her new friend Libby, who didn’t make it.

We quickly find out the ship they were on was attacked by men with guns who went room to room shooting people, including Frances’ parents, who she saw murdered while she hid in the dumbwaiter.

Frances thinks she and Libby are the lone survivors but she soon finds out Senator Wells and his son Greyson (Grey) also survived. Grey and Frances connected on the ship and became a couple.  What a relief for Frances to find out the boy she was falling in love with was alive.

What she didn’t expect is for Senator Wells to tell the media that a huge wave took down the ship, not an attack that took Frances’ parents or Libby’s Mom.  If it is known Frances is alive and an orphan, there is no protection to keep her safe. So she and Libby’s Dad decide Frances should take over Libby’s identity.

Now fast forward four years and Frances is back in town ready to get the Wells to admit they lied and find out what really happened.  Frances soon finds out it’s harder to hide her identity from the ones closest to Libby and uncovering the truth is more dangerous than she realized.

This is a well written suspense story that pulled me in from the start.  The flashbacks of what happened when the ship was attacked were so scary.  I’ve been on several cruise ships and the thought of something like that happening is unnerving.

Ryan does a great job of hooking the reader and keeping their attention to the very end.  There are several twists and turns and close calls.  Frances was out of the country for four years and I would have like to have seen the backstory of how she plotted to get her revenge.  She has nothing to lose so the risks she takes are a little nail biting but what did she have to lose when her family was all gone.

I really liked a lot of the characters and understood where Frances was coming from even though you just wanted her to take the evidence to the police and not try to bring the Senator down.  Several times during the book I found myself holding my breath and thinking ‘oh Frances, don’t do it.’

If you like suspenseful thrillers, this young adult book is worth the time.  I guarantee you will not want to put it down until the last word has been read.

Book Description:

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying.  Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear.  Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat