Blog Tour Book Review: Stones Don’t Speak by Gry Finsnes

34080564Title: Stones Don’t Speak by Gry Finsnes
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 311 pages
Format: E-Book (ARC)
Publisher: White Stag (an imprint of Ravenswood Publishing)
Publication Date: February 25, 2017
Rating – 4 stars

1941, Norway. The population tries to cope with the German occupation. After her successful debut concert as a pianist, Ellen Langmo, resists the Nazis who want to use her talent in their endeavor to convince people that Hitler’s ideas are right. At the same time the resistance movements begin to take form and her friends want to involve her. Trying to escape the conflicting and dangerous demands, she flees from Oslo to Stavanger on the West Coast where life is calmer. She is still looking for Friedrich but tries to accept his death when she has a strange encounter.

Hello! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Stones Don’t Speak. I’d like to thank the author and the publisher for giving me the chance to read this book for free in exchange for my honest review of it.

Stone’s Don’t Speak is a historical fiction romance set during Hitler’s regime and the Nazi occupation of Norway. The story centers around Ellen, a professional pianist whose fiancee has disappeared without a trace and who finds herself being pulled in different directions because of her unique talent and associations she made in trying to find her fiancee. Her fellow Norwegians start to see her as compassionate to the Nazi agenda due to events in her past and her attempt to befriend a German officer in order to get information for the resistance. In the midst of all of this, her missing fiancee and the love they shared is never far from her mind.

It has been a couple of months I think since I last read a book that was set during WWII. Every time I return to that time period in a book, I am completely blown away by the tragedy, the danger and even the hope that is found there. This book definitely added to that for me. I really enjoyed this book, especially our main character Ellen. I thought she was great and really believable. The whole book I found myself rooting for her and for Freddie, hoping against all hope that they would be reunited somehow, some way. I felt the danger she felt as she was placed in these situations that I imagine would be harrowing to be in.  I enjoyed working through her struggles with her.

What I liked most about this book though was the writing. I thought it was beautifully written. It was one of those books where you can smell what the character is smelling and taste what they are tasting. I especially can’t get the opening scene out of my mind because I think it was just so beautifully done. It completely hooked me on the first paragraph. It was a slower read but most historical fiction books are because they unpack a lot and this one definitely had to give the reader a little bit of background on Ellen’s past and of course, the political atmosphere of her world at the time. While I thought the romance aspect of this book was good, I don’t think it was the thing that stood out the most for me. What I took out of it was of course all the tragedy that occurs but also what I focused on alot during this story was the resistance and Ellen’s place in it. I was also struck by all of the women who took the reins in the movement whether it be gathering and dissemination of information by spying or being  a leader of a resistance group. I really enjoyed this book, four stars from me!

If you love historical fiction with romance and danger, this one may be for you!

image descriptionGry Finsnes, Norwegian, has lived in Sweden, India, England, Germany and France. After university studies in Oslo in French and English literature, she started her career as a teacher, but had to give it up as she moved out of the country. She has published two thrillers in Swedish but has recently written in English.

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Bridges by Maria Murnane Virtual Launch Party

Hey everyone! I just wanted to post an invitation to the Bridges Virtual Launch Party today! It is being hosted on Facebook! It is being held 6-9 CDT and 7-10 EDT to celebrate the release of this wonderful book. Everyone is invited and there will be an Ask the Author segment, relationship advice, party favors and just sounds like a good time. This is the first virtual launch party I’ll be attending and I think it’s a super cute idea. Hope to see you there!

If you would like to attend here is the link: Bridges Virtual Launch Party . If you want to check out my review of Bridges, you can do so here: Bridges by Maria Murnane Review 

Blog Tour Book Review: The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi

About The Color of Our Sky

• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 18, 2017)

In the spirit of Khaled Hosseini, Nadia Hashimi and Shilpi Somaya Gowda comes this powerful debut from a talented new voice—a sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends in Mumbai, India, whose lives converge only to change forever one fateful night.

India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old village girl from the lower caste Yellama cult has come of age and must fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute, as her mother and grandmother did before her. In an attempt to escape her fate, Mukta is sent to be a house girl for an upper-middle class family in Mumbai. There she discovers a friend in the daughter of the family, high spirited eight-year-old Tara, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara introduces Mukta to an entirely different world—one of ice cream, reading, and a friendship that soon becomes a sisterhood.

But one night in 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s family home and disappears. Shortly thereafter, Tara and her father move to America. A new life in Los Angeles awaits them but Tara never recovers from the loss of her best friend, or stops wondering if she was somehow responsible for Mukta’s abduction.

Eleven years later, Tara, now an adult, returns to India determined to find Mukta. As her search takes her into the brutal underground world of human trafficking, Tara begins to uncover long-buried secrets in her own family that might explain what happened to Mukta—and why she came to live with Tara’s family in the first place.

Moving from a traditional Indian village to the bustling modern metropolis of Mumbai, to Los Angeles and back again, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and, ultimately, redemption.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Happy Monday! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi. I received a free copy of this book (ARC) from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review of it.

The Color of Our Sky is a contemporary fiction novel set in India following two women Tara and Mukta who met and became friends when they were younger when Tara’s father rescued Mukta from her village. Back in her village, Mukta was born into a line of women who were prostitutes in the name of the Goddess. A friendship blooms between these two girls until one night Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room. Eleven years later Tara, who lives with the guilt of Mukta’s kidnapping returns to India to retrace history’s footsteps and endeavor to find Mukta.

When I read the synopsis for The Color of Our Sky, I immediately knew that this book was going to be a story that I wouldn’t want to miss. Unsurprisingly, I was correct in that assumption.

First of all, Amita Trasi’s writing is beautiful and descriptive. I am a huge fan of writing that has a poetic, descriptive feel and the writing in this book definitely fed that obsession for me. The writing completely drew me in from the first sentence and gripped me until the very end. I loved that the narrative takes place both from Tara’s point of view and from Mukta’s, alternating between the past and the present. It was a unique and ultimately satisfying way to deliver the story to the reader.

The topics that are explored in this book were completely gripping to me. I could not put this book down for the life of me. It was a really great combination of the beautiful writing and the harrowing events of the story. I just had to know what happened to Mukta and whether these two women would be able to reunite and find a way to put their past and secrets behind them.

Although beautiful, this book was at times difficult to read because this is actually the reality of the world that we live in. It’s hard to realize that somewhere in the world something similar is happening to little girls and women. I think that’s the magic of books like this, they tell the stories that, although hard for us to think about, are SO important for us to learn about so that we can be informed and maybe start doing something to create change.

I highly recommend picking this book up. It will hurt you but it will also give you hope. There were alot of themes at play in this book that combined together delivered a beautiful, tragic narrative about friendship, pain, hope, love and the danger of tradition. 5 stars! Beautiful read, one of my favorites of the year so far.

Photo by Sameer Rao

About Amita Trasi

Amita Trasi was born and raised in Mumbai, India. She has an MBA in human resource management, and currently lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two cats.

Find out more about Amita at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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April 2017 Book Haul

Book Haul (2)

April is almost over!!!! In celebration I thought I would do a book haul! It has been a LONG time since I have done a book haul on my blog or really anything outside of a blog tour book review so I wanted to go ahead and switch it up a bit. It’s definitely something I want to challenge myself to do every month now  that grad school is winding down and we are in our last few weeks of it which means *no more thesis writing* or rather, no more being behind in my thesis writing. So this haul will hopefully be the beginning of a monthly haul post for this blog and I don’t know, I just generally want to post a lot more! So brace yourself kids, you might be seeing a lot more of me. 🙂

So for the month of April I went a little crazy. Last year I put myself in a book buying ban for the latter part of the year so I guess I’m making up for lost time. It’s a combination of some really awesome books coming out and just some really really good book sales that I find super hard to resist. Without further ado, here is my April 2017 book haul.

I love a good cover and all of these are serious eye candy. Which is your favorite of these? Mine is Dark Matter. Love the contrasting colors and it just looks like a dark, gritty read. Hopefully will be getting to that one soon, I’ve heard it’s an awesome Sci-Fi read.

Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller
Star Wars: Tarkin by James Luceno
The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeton
American Gods (TV tie-in edition) by Neil Gaiman
By Your Side by Kasie West
The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Geekerella by Ashey Poston
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Scwab
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Star Wars: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Whew! I’m pretty excited about all of these but I will probably end up getting to Queens of Geek and Geekerella pretty fast as I have a feeling those will be super fast, super cute reads. I’m really in the mood for that right now. I am also getting to The Color of Our Sky and American Gods in May as those are ARCs that were given to me by the publisher through TLC book tours for blog tour reviews. All in all, April was an awesome book buying month. I don’t feel guilty at all.

Bought: 14
Received from publishers: 2

What about you? Did you buy any books this month that you have been looking forward to or have you received any ARCS from publishers that you are dying to read? Have you read any of these and think I should bump any of them up to my TBR for May? Let me know!

Hope you guys had a great month. I’m looking forward to what May brings us! I’ll have a April Wrap up/May TBR post up by Monday and probably a review this weekend of the book I am currently reading!

Happy Reading everyone!

Blog Tour Book Review: Miss You by Kate Eberlen

About Miss You

• Hardcover: 448 pages
• Publisher: Harper (April 4, 2017)

“If ever a couple was ‘meant to be,’ it’s Tess and Gus. This is such a witty, poignant, and uplifting story of two lives crisscrossing over the years, with near miss after near miss. . . . I couldn’t put it down.”—Sophie Kinsella

A wryly romantic debut novel with echoes of One Day that asks, what if you just walked by the love of your life, but didn’t even know it?

“TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.” Tess can’t get the motto from her mother’s kitchen knickknack out of her head, even though she’s in Florence on an idyllic vacation before starting university in London.

Gus is also visiting Florence, on a holiday with his parents seven months after tragedy shattered their lives. Headed to medical school in London, he’s trying to be a dutiful son but longs to escape and discover who he really is.

A chance meeting brings these eighteen-year-olds together for a brief moment—the first of many times their paths will crisscross as time passes and their lives diverge from those they’d envisioned. Over the course of the next sixteen years, Tess and Gus will face very different challenges and choices. Separated by distance and circumstance, the possibility of these two connecting once more seems slight.

But while fate can separate two people, it can also bring them back together again. . . .

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Happy Monday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Miss You by Kate Eberlen. I received a free ARC copy of this book from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review of it.

Miss You is a contemporary fiction novel about Tess and Gus. It is the story of their lives and the choices they make that lead them away and towards each other. It is told in their alternating perspectives throughout the course of many years and many heartbreaks.

When I first started reading Miss You, I immediately thought that it was going to be a cutesy contemporary romance, which I didn’t mind at all. As I continued reading it and got to learn more about our two main character’s lives and got to follow them through various heart breaks and struggles, I realized that this was so much more than what I had expected it to be. Instead of a cutsey romance, I got a story about two characters who make mistakes, struggle through every day life like the rest of us, do the best they can, struggle to grow up and find themselves, and who are obviously just SO meant for each other. As we read about them navigating their way through life, we can’t help but find ourselves rooting for them from the very moment they lay eyes on each other.

You would think that as the reader, I might have gotten frustrated that these two were at times so close to each other but just never made the connection or it seemed like fate had other plans for them at the time. There were moments where I just couldn’t help but hold my breath thinking THIS was the moment that they would look up, see each other and say “there you are, I have been looking for you.” But, I NEVER got frustrated with the pace of the story and I think it’s because Kate Eberlen is such a good writer. Her writing captured me immediately, it was descriptive in the way that when our characters were in Italy I could see the colors, taste the air and feel the excitement they felt. This continued throughout the story and it was a book that I just could not put down. It had me rooting for our main characters all throughout. Some heavy things happened in this book like grief, divorce, heartache, etc…just very real things that our characters had to deal with that very much mimicked real life and made them seem so real to me and made me relate to them so well.

As an adult it is easy to see how a story like this could happen in every day life and I think that made this story really seem magical to me, much more so than the insta-love stories that we very often get. I live in a big city but for how big it is, sometimes it seems very small when I find out that my husband has been friends with someone I have known for awhile as well or when I find out that we used to frequent the same restaurant and took vacations somewhere at the same time. This was the magic of Miss You and Tess and Gus, that reminded me that what is meant to be can sometimes always find a way.

If you are looking for a great summer read, give this one a go! 5 stars from me, I enjoyed this so much!

Photograph by Leanne Dixon

About Kate Eberlen

Kate Eberlen grew up in a small town thirty miles from London and spent her childhood reading books and longing to escape. She studied Classics at Oxford University before pursuing various jobs in publishing and the arts. Recently, Kate trained to teach English as a Foreign Language with a view to spending more time in Italy, a country she loves and has visited many times. Kate is married with one son.

Find out more about Kate at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Blog Tour Book Review: Red Leaves by Paullina Simons

About Red Leaves

• Paperback: 448 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reissue edition (April 11, 2017)

In the tradition of Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History comes a suspenseful thriller from the international bestselling author of The Bronze Horseman—an utterly captivating story about four Ivy League students whose bizarre friendship leads to a twisted maze of secrets, lies, betrayal, and murder.

As the star player of Dartmouth College’s women’s basketball team, Kristina Kim is beautiful, intelligent, and fearless. But though she’s just 21, Kristina has already had her share of heartache, loss, and dark secrets that haunt her. She’s best friends with Conni, Albert, and Jim, but the only one who seems to really know her is Albert. With long dark hair, tattoos, and a rebellious streak, Albert doesn’t fit in with the rest of the clean-cut Ivy Leaguers. Like Kristina, he has his share of secrets—secrets that are beginning to unravel this intimate circle of friends.

One wintry Thanksgiving weekend tragedy strikes…

When Detective Spencer O’Malley goes to investigate something suspicious at the foot of a steep hill on Dartmouth’s campus, he doesn’t expect that the frozen, naked body found in deep snow would belong to Kristina Kim—the remarkable young woman he met recently who entranced him. Now Spencer will never know if the chemistry he had with her was real. All he can do is find her killer.

Spencer is pulled into the strange, complex web of the surviving friends. Many important questions about Kristina’s murder cannot be answered, such as: why did none of them report her missing for nine days before her body was discovered? The more Spencer digs, the more clear it becomes that each of the three has a motive for killing Kristina. And as Spencer, seeking justice for a dead girl, is led down a labyrinth of deceit, every new revelation proves more shocking than the last….and more dangerous.

“Simons handles her characters and setting with a certain skill, creating mystery from the ordinary, protected lives of these Ivy League kids, slowly peeling away their deceptions to reveal denial, cowardice, and chilling indifference…an engrossing story.”—Publishers Weekly

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review of it.

In Red Leaves we meet Kristina Kim – star basketball player, dog owner, long time girlfriend and best friend. Beneath the surface of Kristina and her group of friends are betrayal, forbidden love and a mountain of secrets. When a students body is found on campus, all the secrets are brought to light.

Red Leaves is my second read written by Paulina Simons, although both were in two different genres. I find it fascinating when an author can successfully write in multiple genres like Paulina can.

That being said, Red Leaves drew me in with the Prologue but lost me somewhere in the beginning of Part One. For the first 100 and so pages, I was tempted to DNF it but I’m a completionist and I like to give books chances. Part One was definitely lost to me, it was slow and not much really happened, although after finishing and being able look back at the story and how it unfolded I can see why Part One was included as it provides background and knowledge about the characters and their relationships that really does serve to make us think certain ways as the mystery of the “whodunnit” unravels. 

The story definitely picks up in Part Two and finally caught my interest a little more and I was glad to be experiencing the story from a fresh perspective,  once that happened the rest of the book went by quickly and I actually ended up liking it after all. One thing I really enjoyed about thus book was that I always doubted my guesses about “whodunnit”. Always. It was never predictable for me.

Overall, I gave this book three stars, it may not have been exactly  for me but I did find some enjoyment in it. If you like a slow paced mystery you may want to give this book a read but if you are into fast paced thrillers, this may not be your taste. Paullina Simons writing in this book was just as good as I remember in the last book of hers I read, I hear people discuss a few of her books and I am still planning on reading some more of her work. 

Happy reading everyone!

Photo by Renaissance Studio

About Paullina Simons

Paullina Simons is an internationally bestselling author whose novels include Bellagrand and The Bronze Horseman was born in Leningrad in 1963. As a child she immigrated to Queens, New York, and attended colleges in Long Island. Then she moved to England and attended Essex University, before returning to America. She lives in New York with her husband and children.

Find out more about Paullina at her website, follow her on Twitter, and connect with her on Facebook.

Book Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

23308087Title: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Genre: YA Fantasy
Length: 368 pages
Format: eARC through Penguin First to Read
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Rating – 5 stars!!

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.

I received a free copy of the Flame in the Mist ARC from Penguin’s First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.

Flame in the Mist is set in feudal japan and follows a young girl Mariko who has been betrothed to one of the emperor’s sons. On her way to meet her betrothed, her litter is attacked and she is presumed dead. Survival instinct kicking in, she escapes and due to the climate of the time, dresses as a boy in order to move around freely and embarks on a quest for revenge.

Prior to being approved an ARC, I had heard about this book and that it was a Mulan retelling. I definitely saw the Mulan similarities but this story is definitely it’s very own. I loved this book. I thought it was so unique and done very well. I loved the theme of female empowerment that is woven throughout the entire book – we see this in Mariko’s making her own decisions and taking her life into her own hands during a time when women were treated like property and not allowed to make their own decisions.

The romance element was simply breathtaking. In connection with that I am SUPER happy that Mariko was not the squeaky clean, pure main character that we see in a lot of stories. She was very real. She was a badass that had no problem standing up for herself and did not succumb to what anyone wanted her to be, but she also had moments where she doubted herself and her strength. Through that she always found strength within herself, which was amazing.

The writing was absolutely beautiful, this was undoubtedly one of my favorite reads of this year so far.  It does end rather abruptly but I was okay with that since I know there is going to be a second book. I felt like a lot happened in this one and the stage was set for some really big things to happen. I cannot wait for the second one and my only complaint is that I will have to wait awhile since this book won’t even release until May. I definitely have a lot of questions like the magical elements we see and where this comes from and what happens with Mariko, plus a few more that I won’t mention because of spoilers.

This was my first Renee Ahdieh book and now I am very interested in reading her other novels. Flame in the Mist is published on May 16th so definitely check it out!