Thursday, September 25, 2014

Accidents of Marriage

You guys. If you are married, you need to read this book. It's that great.

Accidents of Marriage - Randy Susan Meyers
Accidents of Marriage
Accidents of Marriage explores a topic rarely shown in fiction: the destruction left in the wake of spouse’s verbal fury. Ben never meant to hurt Maddy. He never imagined his recklessness would lead to tragedy. 

Maddy is a social worker trying to balance her career and three children. Years ago, she fell in love with Ben, a public defender, drawn to his fiery passion, but now he’s lashing out at her during his periodic verbal furies. She vacillates between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their kids – which works to keep a fragile peace – until the rainy day when they’re together in the car and Ben’s volatile temper gets the best of him, leaving Maddy in the hospital fighting for her life.

Randy Susan Meyers takes us inside the hearts and minds of her characters, alternating among the perspectives of Maddy, Ben, and their fourteen-year-old daughter. Accidents of Marriage is a provocative and stunning novel that will resonate deeply with women from all walks of life, ultimately revealing the challenges of family, faith, and forgiveness.

ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE explores a topic rarely shown in fiction: the damaging effects of a spouse’s emotional abuse.

I'll be honest, I was kind of worried to read this book because I was worried it was going to be so heavy I couldn't handle it. But then I started it and could not put it down. Not at all. I talked about this to coworkers, to friends, to people sitting next to me in the doctor's office, to the lady waiting for a bagel next to me, to this woman standing in Barnes & Noble, and to a lady who had just gotten screamed at by her husband (presumably) because she couldn't get their baby to stop crying. 

It is worth reading. If you are married, you need to read this. It really highlights the effects of verbal and emotional abuse, not just on the person who is taken it  head on, but everyone around them that feels the effects and/or witnesses it. 

The story flip flops mostly between Maddy and Ben, a married couple with three children, busy jobs, busy lives, and very little time for each other. Ben over the years has gotten worse and worse with the emotional abuse and doesn't even realize that's what he's doing. Maddy, for her part, is trying to keep the entire family together, but struggling with parenting a teenager and doesn't know how to get her marriage back to what it once was so she copes by popping pills secretly through the house just to escape a little bit. It all culminates one day in the car as Maddy's car is towed and Ben picks her up and is pretty damn angry he's late for work. On the way, he gets into a bit of road rage and propels them into a serious accident which has left him with minor injuries but Maddy in a coma. 

Cue the teenager being confused, scared and angry, but ultimately caring for her two younger siblings while Ben is seemingly out of it. He has no concept of what it takes to run the household efficiently and in Maddy's absence this is glaring. Maddy's family accuses him of doing it on purpose, his family doesn't know what to think, and the police seem to think Ben has a bigger problem and are investigating him for vehicular crimes. 

But what got to me through the whole book was the oldest daughter. Her perspective on what it's like to see parents fight, and what a tragedy like this does to them, was really sad. It just really is. I won't tell you what happens to Maddy, or the family, or Ben, but I will tell you this book had me to the very end. I couldn't put it down, and when I did (when I fell asleep) I had dreams about it and I felt like this was a real story with real people and it pulls at you. 

Absolutely excellent book, excellent writing, this author grabs you instantly and you will love it. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ignoring the sad stuff is not supportive.

You know how when something sad happens, we all are divided between two types of people: people who rush in to say how sorry they are and really, if there is anything I can do.... or the people who say nothing because they don't know what to say or do and just feel awkward and don't want to make the other person feel worse so it's best to just do and say nothing. 

It doesn't matter what the tragedy is, we will always fall into those two categories. 

But once you have firmly placed yourself in a category, it's what you do once you are there that counts. It's lovely to say that you'll help out with whatever, and then conveniently never come back around or worse, are too busy or not available to help when called upon. That's really the worst kind of person to be, really. You may as well put yourself with the do nothing group from the start because then there isn't any disappointment. 

Admittedly, I never really understood what any of this was like until Matt and I had marriage issues, but at the time, I was so young. Our friends were young. And a lot of "friends" weren't really friends at all. I had spent years cultivating good friendships after that, ones that I thought would be really pillars of support for me should anything awful happen again. Because we all need that. We all need a solid support system, be it family or friends. Life is just so much easier knowing you have people ready to rally behind you and hold you up. 

After my miscarriage, I don't think I ever fully verbalized what that did to me on the inside. Sure, I have two great kids already. Sure, I wasn't really sure if I wanted a third and it was sprung on me and I was terrified and worried. But having all of it taken away is really quite cruel. I have had enough time to really think about it, do some research on my own and I really feel like I should have waited another two weeks. I think maybe my pregnancy wasn't as far as they thought and I blindly believed whatever they told me because I hadn't really processed being pregnant in the first place, and now they tell me it's not viable and here is a prescription, you can handle it there and you'll be fine. I really wish I had waited just to see. So then cue the guilt, you know? 

But what I wasn't prepared for was how  unavailable people were. Don't get me wrong, I have friends who were great. I got care packages in the mail, I had people running my kiddos to their activities for a few days, I had friends texting or messaging me to see if I needed anything, how I was holding up. 

There was a large majority however, that did nothing. I got the obligatory "I'm so sorry" and that was it. Each month my period came and I would get a little more upset. I'd cry in the baby section of Target. I'd seize up when I saw a pregnant woman walk by me, happily rubbing her belly no doubt feeling tiny kicks from inside. So many times this summer I reached out to people to ask to go for a walk, go for lunch, just hang out in any way because I needed to feel normal, I needed to talk my emotions out to women who would get it because there are things Matt, as a man, would not understand at all. Mostly, I just wanted to cry and have someone tell me I'm not a terrible mother and it's OK. 

Not once did any of these people follow through. 

And I get it. Life is busy. I'm busy. We're all busy. But I tell you what- if someone called me and said they needed to get out of the house and just let it out? You bet your ass I'm putting whatever I have aside to be that person. Because I know first hand what it takes to be in that place mentally and emotionally, and those are the people who need you the most. 

So again, we learn who is there when we need them. And it's disappointing. It feels like so much time was wasted investing in friendships and it was never two sided, it appears. 

But to EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU who emailed me, sent me a card, texted me, messaged me on Facebook, sent me a care package, who constantly think of me and ask how I'm doing- THANK YOU. You have absolutely no idea what this summer was like for me emotionally, how hard I tried to pull it together and I just couldn't. It was these things that would come when I needed them the most and they kept me from going totally down the hole of depression doom. 

At this point, I'm better. I'm not great, I'm still scared for another pregnancy and I don't think that will fully go away until a baby is born, but I'm trying so hard every day to just push through and be positive. My heart aches for the women that deal with this repeatedly, I honest to god don't know how you do it because once is more than enough heartbreak in my life. 

Beyond Coincidence

Another quick book review from this weekend! I haven't been reading as much as I normally do, and once you read my posts later this week that'll be understandable. But I did finish this one this weekend so let's talk about it.

Beyond Coincidence- Jacquie Underdown
Beyond Coincidence
In 2008, 250 Australian and British soldiers are uncovered in a mass grave in Fromelles, France, lost since the Great War. One soldier, bearing wounds of war so deep it scarred his soul, cannot be laid to rest just yet.

When Lucy bumps into the achingly sad soldier during a trip to France, she doesn’t, at first glance, realise what he is – a ghost who desperately needs her help. Lucy can’t turn away from someone who needs her, even someone non-corporeal, and they travel back together to Australia in search of answers and, hopefully, some peace.

This chance meeting and unexplainable relationship sets into motion a chain-reaction of delicate coincidences that affect the intertwined lives of family, friends, and lovers in unexpected, beautiful ways.

I'll tell you upfront the reason I picked this book to review is I absolutely believe in reincarnation. I don't think we just die and go off into the ether of Heaven, I think we come back as something else, in some other time and basically, we're always being recycled to an extent. So when I read the description I knew I would be all in because it sounded interesting. 

And it was. It starts with Lucy, fresh off a traumatic breakup easing her woes in France, literally running in a ghost of a soldier from the Great War. Freaked out, she obviously hauls ass out of the cemetery. Later on, she sees him again in a coffee shop and then in her CAR, which I would have peed my pants. I'm just going to throw that in here. But turns out, she's the only person who is able to see him and he is desperate for help. He needs to be identified so he can have a proper burial and go onto whatever is his next stop in the afterlife. A sentimental at heart, she agrees because what else would you do? The dead soldier looks pitiful. So Lucy sets to work trying to find figure out more about him. Fortunately, through the wonders of the Internet, she is able to track down his family tree and finds he only  has a living grandson. A grandson who would need to willingly submit DNA to be tested against the remains in the grave. 

Of course, at first sight he's not really agreeable since he's completely drunk. But given time, not only does he agree to the bizarre request, but Nate (the grandson) and Lucy end up kind of an item. But enter.... (dun dun dun) Lucy's loser ex-boyfriend who is hyped up meth and being a total asshole! Oh yes, he does something really quite awful in the book and it not only lays the groundwork for Lucy and Nate, but the twist at the end which brings about the details of a weird almost riddle like clue Freddy (the ghost) gives Lucy before he leaves. 

It's a short book, it kept me going, and though a little unrefined in some areas, I did enjoy it. Loved the ending with Lucy and Nate, loved the ending with Freddy, and loved the very ending. Like the very last thing. Loved it. 

You can check out the author's website HERE, or purchase the book through Amazon HERE

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Way Life Should Be

Man, I think I'm turning into a Christina Baker Kline junkie.

The Way Life Should Be - Christina Baker Kline
The Way Life Should Be
Angela Russo finds herself in Maine thanks to a sailing instructor, an impulse, and an idea that in Maine, people live "the way life should be." But reality on Mount Desert Island is not what she expected. Far from everything familiar, Angela begins to rebuild her life from the ground up. Relying on the flair for Italian cooking she inherited from her grandmother, she begins to discover the pleasures and secrets of her new small community—and to connect her heritage to a future she is only beginning to envision.

I'm not even the reader who enjoys chick lit so much, but something about these books just hooks me in and I don't put it down until the end. And this one was no different. 

Angela leads a ho-hum life. She's got her job which she doesn't love, but isn't awful at. (Well, until the fire eater pulls out all of the stops to screw his cousin over and it's clear Angela forgot a really key step in party planning 101 and that goes all to hell.) She has her family that is alright, but she loves her dear Grandma who has taught her everything she knows about Italian cooking. Her love life sucks, so she decides to try online dating and voila- really hot, seemingly charming guy is available, but all the way up in Maine. 

Once it's clear her life in New York City has gone all to hell, she decides to take a sabbatical and go to Maine. Which doesn't pan out like she planned, not that she really had anything planned at all. Slowly making new friends, learning new skills, and gaining independence, she discovers that maybe life isn't the way she planned, but it's exactly the way it should be. 

Loved it. I loved the fire, I loved how much her love life sucks and how she falls for really lame pick up tactics, I love her new friends, and I love the new life she's forged and if we're honest- I'm jealous she has the balls to just get up and go like that. We always say we would but when it comes down to it, we don't. But I loved it. I love the author's writing style, it's very easy and light but you feel what she's trying to convey and that I love. 

Check out Christina's website HERE to see all of her books. If you are a fan of chick lit at all, you are going to enjoy this book in particular, but basically all of her books. Truly. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Night Visitor

I know it feels like I have been missing in action, but I can assure you that life is not boring. Lots of things are happening over here and I promise you, next week you are probably going to see so many posts form me you'll beg me to shut up.

Until then, book review!

The Night Visitor - Dianne Emley
The Night Visitor
Gorgeous and successful, Rory Langtry seemed to have it all. Daughter of a movie star and sister of a supermodel, Rory was engaged to sexy artist, Junior Lara. But her bright future went dark one terrible, bloody night that left her sister dead and the accused murderer—Junior—in an extended coma.
Now, five years later, Rory appears to have put the past behind her. She has a wonderful new fiancé and heads a successful cosmetics company. Yet dark secrets threaten. Across town, Junior lies close to death but before he departs he seeks to clear his name.
It starts with a feeling. It turns into a vision. Soon Rory is having sensations that only Junior could experience—from the horrifying to the erotic. Then she learns details about the awful night that only Junior could know, newfound knowledge with potentially fatal consequences. When another act of violence rocks her family, Rory plunges deeper into the unsolved mystery, led by an inexplicable visitor to a dangerous time and place where all will be revealed at last. But until then, Junior will not let her go.

I'll be straight up honest, this feels like the first book by the author where the writing style isn't quite figured out and it doesn't feel like any kind of fine tuning to smooth anything out has happened. But here's what this ended up being: a pretty decent murder mystery. It's not going to be up there with the big names who do that genre well, but if you are looking for something that is a relatively fast read that doesn't require you to keep all the pieces of the puzzle together in your head? This has you covered. 

We have Rory and Junior, who were totally in love. Unfortunately, Rory's twin sister Anya is murdered in Junior's apartment and Junior is almost killed. I say almost killed because while he isn't totally functioning, he is in a vegetative state in a hospital. It's been a few years and on the anniversary of the tragedy, Junior's brother decides to avenge his brother, totally convinced Rory is really the cold blooded killer. That doesn't work out, but it does set into motion a whole series of events, including Rory in the hospital and a really weird paranormal thing where Junior can speak and/or manipulate people. It's very strange. 

But it does get more interesting, especially when you figure out who the actual killer was. Did NOT see that one coming at all. So I appreciate the twist at the end for that because for me, that pretty much made this book. I do enjoy a good twist at the end. I'd give this a solid 3/5 stars. 

Dianne Emley has a website, Facebook and Twitter

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Shall Be Near To You

I'm not even a fan of historical romance but I had to read this book and good lord I am so glad that I did.

I Shall Be Near To You - Erin Lindsay McCabe
I Shall Be Near to You
An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband in the Civil War, inspired by a real female soldier's letters home
   Rosetta doesn't want her new husband Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they'll be able to afford their own farm someday. Though she's always worked by her father’s side as the son he never had, now that Rosetta is a wife she's told her place is inside with the other women. But Rosetta decides her true place is with Jeremiah, no matter what that means, and to be with him she cuts off her hair, hems an old pair of his pants, and signs up as a Union soldier.
   Rosetta drills with the men, prepares herself for battle, and faces the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Fearing discovery of her secret, Rosetta’s strong will clashes with Jeremiah’s as their marriage is tested by war. Inspired by over two hundred and fifty documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is the intimate story, in Rosetta’s powerful and gorgeous voice, of the drama of marriage, one woman’s amazing exploits, and the tender love story that can unfold when two partners face life’s challenges side by side.

You guys, this book made me cry. I cried so hard. I knew right away how this thing was going to end and it just doesn't even matter because I wanted to know, and I wanted to be wrong. I wasn't, and I cried even harder when I realized what was happening. The last few chapters are just sadness, short and to the point. 

The book is set during the Civil War, and starts off with Jeremiah enlisting. His goal is to marry Rosetta, enlist, and come back with enough money for them to start their farm in Nebraska, which has always been their end goal, their dream. Rosetta, rightfully so, is very upset that he has chosen to enlist. He didn't even ask her, he just went and did it and she feels a sense of doom as the date nears that he leaves. He's confident he'll come back because as he says, he has something to come back to. Rosetta isn't so sure because she sees the list of the dead go up at the local church and she knows more boys and men are not coming back. 

One day Jeremiah ups and leaves. Rosetta senses something isn't quite right and she notices that he has put some real thought into this and has left her a series of notes and letters and she is just heartbroken. Jeremiah knows that a drawn out goodbye would have been too much for her so he thought this was the best way to do it. Except, after a scary encounter one afternoon, Rosetta decides the only place in the world for her is next to Jeremiah, at all costs. So she chops her hair and does a hasty job at transforming herself into a boy and she quickly enlists as well. 

She finds Jeremiah, who is understandably upset she has done this, but equally pleased to see her because they really are soul mates. Nobody else in the world would work for either person, and it's seriously a really heart warming love story. Then we get into the war, we have casualty, close calls, romance, and you can see their bond strengthen. 

And then we have the game charger almost to the end and I almost died. I knew it was coming, I knew it wasn't going to have a happy ending but by god, nothing in this world prepares you for it. I had to stop reading, totally go grab my Kleenex, and I had to take a breather so I could finish it. And man, what a sweet ending anyways? But what was fascinating to me was that I had no idea that women had enlisted like this in the Civil War and that this wasn't uncommon. And honestly, if you want to read a book where you feel like you are right there, in the war and with Jeremiah and Rosetta? This is it. Just, hands down, one of the best historical romance books I have ever read.  

Erin has a website you can check out and you can add the book to Goodreads HERE

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot #4)

This is it folks, the end. The end of the Cassie Scot Paranormal Detective series.

Stolen Dreams - Christine Amsden
Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot #4)
Edward Scot and Victor Blackwood have despised one another for nearly a quarter of a century, but now their simmering hatred is about to erupt.

When Cassie Scot returns home from her sojourn in Pennsylvania, she finds that her family has taken a hostage. Desperate to end the fighting before someone dies, Cassie seeks help from local seer Abigail Hastings, Evan Blackwood's grandmother. But Abigail has seen her own death, and when it comes at the hand of Cassie's father, Victor Blackwood kills Edward Scot.

But things may not be precisely as they appear.

Evan persuades Cassie to help him learn the truth, teaming them up once again in their darkest hour. New revelations about Evan and his family make it difficult for Cassie to cling to a shield of anger, but can Evan and Cassie stop a feud that has taken on a life of its own? Conclusion to the Cassie Scot series.

It hasn't been that long since I had finished book three, so I came into book four with stuff fresh in my mind. That's always helpful because if I've learned nothing else, it's that these books are jammed packed with information, plot twists, and just so much happening in general. 

Here are some things I want to note about this book: 

  • I feel like the series ended, which is what it needed to do. I almost feel like this could have been condensed into three books and taken out a lot of fluff in books 2-4. 
  • This book was a bit slower for me, just like the third. I kept feeling like there were things that were in here that just didn't need to be. They don't add to the greater story and they keep you waiting for the action, which doesn't really pick up until mid way through. 
  • Cassie and Evan, I have felt the entire time they are meant to be and I was kind of disappointed that their story line in this book feels flat. It just doesn't have the sweeping emotion it should have, given how much they've been through together. 
  • YES- Cassie finally accepts who she is, who she is not, what her abilities are, what they are not, and there is so much closer on on that, with her family, and really with Evan's family. We learn more about the back story there and it really clears up a lot of things, at least for me, that we read in earlier books. 
  • Tons of spoilers can be given because there are some key people, primarily around Cassie, who have been basically making her life a living hell for quite awhile. I'm not going to spoil it because really there were a couple of, "You cannot be serious!!" moments, and those are really key to enjoying this book. 
Overall? A solid 4 star from me. I mean, yes it was slow to get going, but I think the ending and all of the huge secondary character surprises really made up for it and kept me going until the end. If you want to get started on this series, go to the author website to learn more. You can also go to the Goodreads page for this book HERE and add it to your list.