#BookReview: The Shape of the Atmosphere by Jessica Dainty

EA4A4561-B4BC-456B-BF1D-A09890CEDE5B
Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: November 2016

Summary:

Gertie MacLarsen believes she was given ugliness at birth. Growing up in an estranged home, the only times she feels beautiful are the nights her father comes in to show her the stars. The day of her 16th birthday, the same day that Sputnik traverses the sky, Gertie’s life is irrevocably changed. After a family

tragedy, her elusive and alcoholic mother sends her to Willow Estate, a private mental institution, where she is thrown into a world of harsh therapies, dangerous hospital politics, and, surprisingly, a sense of family.

Within the walls of Willow Estate Sanatorium, Gertie finds awfulness and grace, terror and family. From hydro and shock therapy, to first love, to rape and suicide, the only thing Gertie is sure of from day to day is that growing up is not a choice and that forgiveness and acceptance are perhaps the greatest gifts anyone can give. As Gertie learns her fellow patients’ stories, she realizes she is not the only one alone in this giant universe and that finding yourself sometimes means letting the past versions of yourself go and letting others help you define your own center of gravity.

Set against the historical backdrop of the early space race, THE SHAPE OF THE ATMOSPHERE features a spectrum of supporting characters that bring the dramatic setting to life and a plot that explores what it means to know yourself in a world that never stops expanding and changing, and that humanity is possible, in any universe.

Review:

Meeting one of the strongest young characters I have in a long time in Jessica Dainty’s “The Shape of Atmosphere” was one of the best surprises. This is a coming of age novel set in the 1950’s wrapped around history learning more about the Universe and the Mental Health Institutions that existed at the time.

Gertie MacLarsen is a complex teenager that I fell in love with from the first page. I was her champion right through to the last page. This is a truly compelling, provocative and enlightening read.

It made the size of my room actually pulsate and sound louder than it was, because this book gave all I had more meaning.

I highly recommend this story to anyone that likes to read about a character that struggles to grow to become themselves. Knowing your heart breaks wide open..Trust there is hope on the other side.

For the fighting spirit!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

 

 

 

#BookReview: How Fires End by Marco Rafalà

63C7F2C6-E6EE-4D11-8A6E-5B754AFE2418
Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Release Date: October 15, 2019

Summary:

A dark secret born out of World War II lies at the heart of a Sicilian American family in this emotional and sweeping saga of guilt, revenge, and, ultimately, redemption.

After soldiers vacate the Sicilian hillside town of Melilli in the summer of 1943, the locals celebrate, giving thanks to their patron saint, Sebastian. Amid the revelry, all it takes is one fateful moment for the destiny of nine-year-old Salvatore Vassallo to change forever. When his twin brothers are killed playing with an unexploded mortar shell, Salvatore’s faith is destroyed. As the family unravels, and fear ignites among their neighbors that the Vassallo name is cursed, one tragedy begets another.

Desperate to escape this haunting legacy, Salvatore accepts the help of an Italian soldier with fascist ties who ushers him and his sister, Nella, into a new beginning in America. In Middletown, Connecticut, in the immigrant neighborhood known as Little Melilli, these three struggle to build new lives for themselves. But a dangerous choice to keep their secrets hidden erupts in violence decades later. When Salvatore loses his inquisitive American-born son, David, they all learn too late the price sons pay for their fathers’ wars.

Written with elegiac prose, How Fires End delves into the secret wars of men; the sins they cannot bury; and a life lived in fear of who will reveal them, who will survive them, and who will forgive them.

Review:

Marco Rafalà’s “How Fires End” is a Triumph! It is a powerful ache that you read until you find relief.

Rafalà puts his emotion on the pages; poignant moments shared between the characters and across seas and continents. He literally leaves your heart to cry or pound! All wrapped up in the hope I trust he wants us to believe in.

“How Fires End” is more than a story, it is an absolute truth being shared after generations of secrets.

Do not miss this debut novel, for I am sure this is the first of many evocative, strong, and must read novels by Rafalà.

 5 Stars.

#BookReview: Zetty by Debra Whiting Alexander

Reviewer: Jennifer Bryan-Vawser

0087F089-CEA4-4B20-A47C-6AAEB8B10439Summary:

The powerful story of a mother lost to a rare form of schizophrenia, and a daughter’s quest to find her.

When Marjorie McGee suddenly disappears from her Southern California beach home, nine-year-old Zetty is left motherless and confused. Years later, Zetty finds herself in a circle of unconventional women—opinionated, endearing, courageous and keen-eyed women—who offer Zetty their heart and backbone. As unexpected friendships form, Zetty begins an emotional, psychological, and spiritual journey in search of her mother—never imagining the joy and tragedy yet to come, the undeniable power of early childhood bonds, and the secret that will change their lives forever.

Review:

This is one of those stories that will stay with you long after it is over.
Zetty is 9 years old and her mother has gone missing. What Zetty doesn’t know is that her mother suffers from schizophrenia.
When she is finally old enough, she sets off to go in search of her mother.
I personally felt myself going on this journey with her. It was a roller coaster of emotions! I felt her challenges and desperation on finding her mother.
I also felt her resilience, compassion, love and her self discovery on this journey.
I really enjoyed that the story was written from both Zetty and her mother’s perspectives.
Debra Whiting Alexander has written a beautiful, heartfelt story all while opening our eyes to mental illness.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
4.5 stars.

#BookReview: Beneath Pale Water by Thalia Henry

Reviewer: Annie McDonnell

8ED82A28-4526-48C3-8832-0F2790B71019Summary:

Set amidst the physical and psychological landscapes of New Zealand’s southern hills and grasslands, Beneath Pale Water is a social realist and expressionistic novel that follows a triangle of three damaged individuals – a sculptor, a vagrant and a model – who have grown calcified shells against the world. Their search for identity and belonging leads them into dangerous territory that threatens both their sanity and lives. As their protective shells crack they are left vulnerable – both physically and emotionally – to the high country winds and their own conflicts that, ultimately, might free or destroy them.

Review:

I found this to be one of the most lyrical novels I have read in a long time. It was quite refreshing to read a book that I actually had to decipher the underlying meaning to.

The imagery was just stunning. I felt totally transported. It stirred my soul.

It was truly a beautiful dance between these characters that had me guessing right up until the end. I absolutely hated to put it down when necessary.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants to take a break from the everyday story.

This Novel will win awards, and the author is going to write wondrous stories!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

#BookReview: So Long As We’re Together by Glenda Burgess

Reviewer: Annie McDonnell

EDB3BE39-0346-4D90-B6B7-2E0F6E2411B0

Both Serena Soape & I Reviewed this Book. You can find her find her review by simply Searching the book title in the Search Field. We hope you enjoy both points of view.

Summary:

Two little girls, holding hands and singing in the back seat of a car. There for each other, unafraid. Life for the Stone girls is a life lived on the edge. Singing for a living, Marley and Andi find their way through a childhood of upheaval marked by their mother Donna’s dark, unpredictable flights. Today, Marley writes the songs her twin, country diva Andi Stone, makes famous, and the girls’ connection struggles to survive the cuts and devastations of fame. “You girls,” laments their manager. “One of you marries indiscriminately, the other not at all.” When without warning Donna Stone takes her own life, alone at the family cabin, danger stalks Marley back to Lost Prince Lake, back into the loves and betrayals of the past. Hidden truths threaten to take the Stone sisters down, singly and together. A powerful, intimate portrait of love, ambition, and survival, So Long As We’re Together takes the reader into the lives of three women who give song to broken hearts, and for whom music is the language of family.

Review:

Finally! A novel that is a lyrical dance and a gift to all of our senses! An absolute joy and pleasure to read. This is what you call literary fiction at its best!

Glenda Burgess is a truly gifted writer! She delivers the magnificent tale of the Stone Sisters in “As Long As we’re Together”. I found both Andi and Marley to be two richly developed female lead characters, and, I was championing them both the whole way through. Even when I wasn’t sure I liked them.

Their Mother Donna’s story is told through eyes of compassion, even if it takes them them entire book to get there.

I was completely riveted. There were times where I had to read the book out loud because the writing was just so beautiful.

I loved the use of letters, and music, and just everything….Language. Like I said; a lyrical dance! Burgess’ writing is often poetic, often bringing you to tears, making you laugh, or just having you so glued to the pages you cannot stop reading!

This is a book to be savored, read slowly on a Lazy afternoon. Don’t rush this one. Trust me! You’ll be happy you took the time to enjoy every single word!

I must read more Glenda Burgess Now! I am in love!

I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

Also, I’d like to add that I LOVED this Cover!