Grief And Madness. One of the things I like about this particular book, and the way it parallels my own family’s life, is in showing how events during WWII can have generational impacts via creating madness – the older term for insanity, yet which feels like it applies more appropriately here – in some of the survivors of that war. Here, we see it even in two people who were far from soldiers, far from the front lines. They were simply mothers who had daughters at nearly the same time in the same city who happened to become friends… and then had that friendship tested in pretty horrific ways. But the varying types of madness we see here do a great job in showing how the war impacted different people differently, even people as connected as these two mothers were. Without giving too much away, we even see the horrors of the Holocaust a bit – and there again, we see survivors trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
All told this was one of those books where the gut punches land heavy – but early. The “big reveal” is, in fact, rather obvious *much* earlier than the explicit reveal, and yet the way this is done works within the story being told of the varying madnesses and how these survivors are trying to cope in any way they can. So while I can’t personally fault Harmel for this, I can see where other more stringent reviewers might. Even the near 400 page length works well here, never feeling bloated or too slow and instead simply packing in a *ton* of rich detail and events, many – even among the seemingly more insignificant in this tale – based on real world events and seemingly quite accurate. (The author’s note in the end reveals how one particular incident within the last few pages of the book is actually the author inserting her characters into that particular moment, but otherwise being pretty close to an actual nonfiction report on the incident in question.)
Overall a truly well done, beautifully layered tale of two beautifully broken women and the impacts their choices have across decades. Very much recommended.
This review of The Paris Daughter by Kristin Harmel was originally written on December 19, 2022.
They Say To ‘Write What You Know’… In this tale, Beck does an excellent job showing a middle aged mother struggling with empty nest syndrome (though this term is never really used in the book) and a new neighbor who is secretly a very feminist-forward progressive who also happens to be a struggling author in hiding. Beck is, herself, a middle aged mother whose children have left the nest and an established author who changed genres just a few years ago from romance to women’s fiction. As someone who has previously reviewed her books before and after that shift, she has proven herself to be an equally strong storyteller in either space. Here she manages to wrap different aspects of her own (publicly discussed) life into a compelling tale that also shows some other clear real-world correlations, with other recent books from Amazon Publishing – including at least The Magic Of Found Objects by Maddie Dawson and Other People’s Things by Kerry Anne King – also spinning their own tales around the common theme of ‘humanizing’ kleptomania. Beck weaves her own tale here and shows both common aspects (shame, fear of being misunderstood, etc) across the other books as well as her own distinct aspects (how it can impact a long term marriage, young adult children, etc) and again, shows her own skill as a storyteller in the process. As a long time reader of both Beck and Amazon Publishing in general, this was thus quite intriguing in many ways – though even someone who doesn’t have that experience will find a well written, compelling tale here. Truly an excellent work, and an solid representation of Beck’s style for any readers who may be new to her work. Very much recommended.
*Note: To be clear, I am not claiming that *every* aspect of these characters is inspired by the author’s real life. Only that the broadest outlines – middle aged mother whose kids have left home and an author who has direct insight into the “real world” of publishing – echo what Beck has herself publicly discussed being.
This review of Take It From Me by Jamie Beck was originally written on September 18, 2022.
For this blog tour, we’re looking at a more-realistic-than-Hallmark Christmas Romance. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan.
Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:
Would It Be Christmas Without Family Drama? This book has a LOT going on, and yes, it does in fact more blend the women’s fiction and romance genres than play strictly by either one. (Though it *does* meet all of the “qualifications” for either even according to the strictest interpretations of the “rules” I am aware of, for those that care about such trivialities.) Your *basic* plot threads are these: married couple with problems working to reconcile, forced proximity romance, best friend issues between the two women in the aforementioned couples, long lost family/ traumatic secrets. Which in 350 ish pages is a LOT to work through, but Morgan does it well and never drags too much at any given point. The Lapland scenery is described beautifully (at least as I’ve seen the region on such shows as The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals on Netflix, this American has never been further North than New Hampshire), and the cold and isolation provide some amazing (and “traditionally” – for northerners) “Christmassy” vibes. This story is a bit more serious and complex than a usual Hallmark Christmas movie, and doesn’t rely as heavily on “Christmas Magic”, but instead serves as a more realistic take on a Christmas Romance – which is needed in the overly saturated market. Very much recommended.
After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, social media links, and buy links.
Continue reading “#FallIntoChristmasRomance #BlogTour: The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan”
Hilarious Super Mom Satire. This is one of those books that non-perfect parents will LOVE, showing just how ridiculous the Super Moms of the world are and that no one is truly perfect. Truly the only reason I dinged this a star was because I personally just could not get into it due to being a childfree male that generally prefers to avoid kids… and this is all about a mother’s struggles with her daughter’s first week of Kindergarten. Great tale, well written, and I absolutely look forward to seeing more from this debut author in the future. Recommended.
This review of Holly Banks Full of Angst by Julie Valerie was originally written on December 12, 2019.