My Latest Reads

Trema's bookshelf: read

Messenger
Gathering Blue
Sickened: The Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood
The Giver
Graveminder
Child of Grace
Survivor
Homefront
The Silent Girl: A Novel
Schooled
The One Who Waits for Me
Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy
Room
The Blind in Darkness
Haunted Kids: True Ghost Stories (Haunted Kids)
Like the Willow Tree: The Diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce, Portland, Maine, 1918


Trema's favorite books »
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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Book Review: Taken For English( Valley of Choice~ book #3)

Taken For English
By~ Olivia Newport

Quote: "You underestimate yourself, Annalise. Look at what you have already accomplished in your life. How can you think there is anything you could not do?"~ Elijah pg. 156

Started: September 1, 2017
Finished: September 12, 2017

paperback 368 pages

From the Cover:

Annie joined the Amish church based on prayerful conviction, not romantic dreams.
 And yet, she can't deny she'd hoped to share her new, plain life with Rufus. Neither can she deny that his ways are nothing like the fast-paced culture she left behind- Rufus is obviously in no hurry. When he makes unexpected choices about his work, Annie wonders if he has lost interest in the love that sparked between them.
While arson threatens trust in the peaceful southwestern Colorado valley near Westcliffe, Annie resolves to keep a confused Amish teenage girl from decisions that could jeopardize her future. Ruth, Rufus's sister, is Annie's temporary roommate while she navigates the muddy waters of shifting family relationships, career choices, and an irresistible romance with the persistent Elijah.
Family history clearly shows it's never been easy living a plain life in the English world. Will the changes and challenges Annie now faces as a young Amish woman test her newfound faith in good ways or bad? And how long will Rufus test her patience?

My Review:

My first thought in starting this review is..."Shwooo! I finally made it through this series. I'm done!"
I am a stickler for seeing things through to the end and this was no exception. Although, I admit, I did struggle.
I found myself almost dreading my "reading time" and I hate that. That is my time to do something I enjoy!
I just couldn't with this whole series. I held out hope in book two but was disappointed yet again.
There just wasn't any part that really grabbed me and made me want to continue.
And, I really tried!
I wanted to at least like the characters,but they never seemed to develop. And the ones that did make it into all three books just seemed...fake or vague.
Annie, claims to be truly Amish and not "in it for love", BUT that is all we hear from beginning to end, in all three books!
She is waiting on Rufus to make his move.*SPOILER*(Which he does in the last 30 pages or so)
Ruth wants to be All things English, nurse, drive a car, go to school, have a cell phone, wear English clothes, yet she keeps going back to everything Amish! And is still in love with her Amish beau.

Once again, there are new characters thrown into this book. Some that had no place or purpose, some were just annoying and then with that history, genealogy, past Bieler/Byler stuff again that made no connections to the present day story.

I'm sorry Ms. Newport, but I was not impressed. 
I only gave this book 2 stars. Mainly for effort. I definitely felt, as the third and final book, there should have been so much more!
Where was that... "Aha!" moment?? 
The big finale!?
It just never happened for me.

Has anyone else ever had this happen? 
Did you finish it out or give up? 
Am I being to harsh?

As always, Happy Reading! 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Book Review: In Plain View: Valley Of Choice(Book #2)

In Plain View
By~ Olivia Newport

Quote:
" What do you know about Karl Kramer's missing fertilizer? Or what do your friends have to do with it? ~ Annie pg. 187

Started: August 21, 2017
Finished: August 31, 2017

Paperback 361 pages

From the Cover:
Choosing the simple life has never been so complicated...
Nearly a year after her successful but unsatisfying high-tech life, Annie Friesen wonders if she can truly succeed at being Amish. A lucrative job offer, a red dress, and the shadow of an Amish woman looking for a husband create a vortex that clouds Annie's choice. Her parents seem determined to sabotage her efforts, and Rufus Beiler, the Amish carpenter who captured her heart, leaves room for doubt about their future. When an explosion brings Annie under suspicion, she wrestles with how her new values will manifest in her efforts to clear her name.
Meanwhile, Amish parents Eli and Franey Beiler struggle with their daughter Ruth's decision to live away from the Amish settlement and pursue higher education in Colorado Springs, and the attentions of Elijah Capp bring Ruth's path to a crossroads.
Facing decisions that can change their own  futures as well as the futures of generations, both Annie and Ruth unravel the past in order to bring the future into plain view.

My Review:
This story continues with Annalise(Annie) trying to simplify her life and herself along with continuing on her path to becoming Amish. She has given up her career, her car, and her modern technology and easy communicating with her family. She has moved into a small home and had all electricity removed. She is living simpler, but it seems her life is anything but simple.
She is struggling with the Amish ways and language. Trying to pretend that she isn't doing this all for a man, Rufus. She now has Beth, one of the Stutzmans' daughters who are staying with the Beiler's until their house is finished, to make her jealous and cautious around Rufus. She is competition. 
Her sister is in town for a visit and insists on tempting Annie to stray back to her old ways.
Annie still has her suspicions about Karl Kramer and now with the explosion a whole new set of problems between the Amish and English people.

This story is just spinning out of control in circles. I cannot get a grasp on what this story is about or how it is supposed to play out. 
This is book # 2 and it is the same as before. Too many "mini stories" trying to fight for a place in this one book.
again, there is the historical, genealogy aspect with the first set of Bylers. Annie has kind of dropped off on her research in this book, yet the chapters still keep flipping from present to past.I honestly would have preferred the entire series to be solely about the post Revolutionary War Bylers. It seems to have more character and believable story line.
I am finding the "Annie story" to just drag out and never really go anywhere!

I have actually already started the third and final book and it pretty much seems the same.
And now, they have added yet another Amish family who have moved into the town and already seem to be bringing trouble with them. As I've said before, I will stick it out and finish this trilogy.
Hopefully, the conclusion will finally bring some answers to this puzzling saga!

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Review: Accidentally Amish: Valley of Choice book #1

Accidentally Amish
by Olivia Newport
Quote: " If you set aside your pride, you'll admit you were frightened last night. You're used to solving problems, but you're in a predicament you don't know how to get out of." ~ Rufus Beiler 
(pg. 36)

Started: August 14, 2017
Finished: August 21, 2017

paperback/ 368 pages

From the Cover:
Torn between two cultures...
When software creator Annie Friesen needs to protect her intellectual property from her scheming partner, she escapes the chaos of Colorado Springs for the hospitality of an Amish family in the San Luis Valley. Annie's own ancestral connection to early Amish settlers unfolds in a story within a story, and her worlds collide...
especially when she feels an attraction to her host, Rufus Beiler.
A cabinetmaker by trade, Rufus has troubles of his own. Because of a competitor's false accusations, his business is in jeopardy. and so is his family, ever since his sister, Ruth, left the Amish community in a shroud of questions.
Now Annie, an outsider, begins meddling in affairs that don't concern her. When Rufus tells her she can't continue to hide among the Amish forever, Annie is torn. Will she return to her accomplishments in the high-tech, modern culture of Colorado Springs or remain with Rufus and the humble simplicity of the San Luis Valley Amish?

My Review:
I'm sad to say I did not enjoy this book as much as I had hoped to. I bought all three in this trilogy(luckily) as a set at Half Price Books. I was kind of excited, as you never find a whole set at these secondhand thrifty shops. So, I jumped at the chance. I think I paid like $8 for the set.

Anyway, I usually enjoy Amish books. They are great easy reads and have great messages or spiritual insights. I love getting caught up in the easy, humble lifestyle they live with such purpose. I truly am fascinated by so much of their religion and lifestyle. The history of their way is enough to get me hooked reading almost anything Amish.

I honestly think what threw me off on this book was the new, modern, contemporary side of it. I just couldn't get into Annie's whole high-tech software life and them jump over to the farm  making cabinets and milking cows. It just didn't come full circle realistically for me.
There was way too much going on in this one short book. 
From Annie running from her problems, Rufus and Tom dealing with their own troubles, Ruth showing up in the story and going back and forth. Then there was back and forth between two towns("Amish town" and "Annie's world") and then we have her doing the genealogy to find the Beiler/Byler connection and the story jumps back in time to the late 1700's.
It really was way too much.
Just when I would get interested in one "good" part, it would zip over to a totally different"story".
I did start to like the characters and the historical part was definitely my favorite.
I only gave this book 3 stars. 
I believe it had great potential; just too much for one book.
I'm really hoping the second and third books get a little less chaotic in the story line and stick to a few major characters, instead of pulling in so many and so much.
Here's hoping! On to book #2,  In Plain View.
Happy Reading!



Friday, August 18, 2017

Goodreads Giveaways Awesomeness!

I WON!!!

I did! I won a free book. Not just 1, but 2 free books! I absolutely LOVE Goodreads for so many reasons! They have everything you need or want in a book website. Books, recommendations, reviews, blogs, challenges, quizzes, links to sales, author pages, free lists and a place to keep track of EVERYTHING you need to keep your reading organized(Y'all know I need all the organizing help I can get), and they have GIVEAWAYS!!! A chance to win free books with no purchase or commitments required. You simply jump over to the list of giveaways and choose only the ones you want to enter.
There literally are thousands to choose from all the time!

I have entered hundreds! Anything from children's to self help, cookbooks, series, anything. Obviously, the more you enter or the more copies a publisher or author are giving away the better your chances are of winning.
This week I probably entered 20-25 giveaways, AND I won 2 of them!

The first one I won is:

This giveaway was given by St. Martin's Press through Goodreads


The second book I won is:


I am super excited to receive both of these books!
Make sure to jump over to GOODREADS through any of my links! Check out these great books and don't forget to ENTER A GIVEAWAY! You can also shoot me a friend request!
HAPPY READING!

UPDATE:

I've won another book! Woo hoo! That is 3 books in less than 2 weeks!
I am super excited!
Seriously, y'all need to start entering some of these Goodreads Giveaways!
Happy reading!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Review: The Invisible Wall

The Invisible Wall
By~ Harry Bernstein

Quote: "Joe already told me. I'm very grateful to Arthur. I think it was a wonderful thing that he did, and I'm going to make up a basket of fruit for him. But he's a Christian, and I don't want him in the house and I don't want you in his house."~ Mother
(pg. 70)

Started: August 8, 2017
Finished: August 13, 2017

paperback/297 pages

From the cover:

On the eve of World War I, in a small English mill town, Harry Bernstein's family struggles to make ends meet. Harry's father earns little money at the Jewish tailoring shop and brings home even less, preferring to spend his wages drinking and gambling. Harry's mother, devoted to her children and fiercely resilient, survives on her dreams: new shoes for young Harry, her daughter's marriage to the local rabbi. Then harry's older sister does the unthinkable: She falls in love with a Christian boy. But they are separated by an "invisible wall" that divides Jewish families on one side of the street from Christian families on the other. When Harry unwittingly discovers the secret affair, he must choose between the morals he's been taught all his life, his loyalty to his selfless mother, and what he knows to be true in his own heart.

My Review:

I am always a sucker for a good memoir and this was no disappointment.
I have always been fascinated with other people's stories. Who they are and how they got there.
Harry Bernstein does a wonderful job of showing the reader exactly where he came from and how he struggled, dreamed and thrived in his situation. 
I will say I feel like the "love story" aspect of the book was overrated. Yes, it was a huge experience in Harry's life and the book is HIS memoir but in my opinion the "Invisible Wall" was there with or without the Jewish/Christian affair between his sister and Arthur.
The religions were separated already.
He shows that by the way the headmaster, neighbors, and peers treated them.
They were only cordial or interacted on a have to basis already.
As he shows in using them to light the fires or when having to shop at a Christian store.
In some ways they were dependent on the Christians yet the prejudice/dislike was mutual.

Yes, the affair stirred up even more issues and caused more tragedy and heartache.(As it had previously between Sarah and Freddy). I'm sure for them it was just as Harry describes. Horrific for their mother and unsettling for the Christians also.
I just don't feel that was the biggest struggle they were dealing with.
His father was a drunk who wasted what money they did have. He was violent and feared by his entire household. The mother seemed to dream through her children to the point of pushing them away completely. She may have been resilient, but I see a woman desperate and hopeless.
Again, it's just my opinion. I completely admire Mr. Bernstein for his willingness to retell his story to the world and to let us share his memories.
He is a wonderful writer and although he was 96 years old when The Invisible Wall was published, he managed to finish 2 more books The Dream:A Memoir and The Golden Willow before he passed away in 2011 at the age of 101!
I definitely will read his other two books.
And you can also find out more about him and his life here>> Harry Bernstein
I hope anyone who loves a great memoir. A true story or anyone needing to be reminded how prejudices can cause more harm than the good some believe by sticking to what they have been taught. This is a wonderful example of how fear and hatred lead to hurt, harm and even death.
5 Stars for The Invisible Wall


Monday, August 7, 2017

Review: Cover Of Snow

Cover of Snow

By~ 
Jenny Milchman

Quote: " The only thing I can tell you about Brendan's last days is he was doing a lot of talking. More than usual even."~ Club
( pg.60)

Started: July 31, 2017
Finished: Aug. 7, 2017

paperback/336 pages

From the Cover:
Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Nora Hamilton finds her world suddenly shattered. Her husband, Brendan, has committed suicide. Then a disturbing awareness slowly settles in: Brendan left no note and gave no indication that he was contemplating taking his own life. Why would a rock-solid police officer with unwavering affection for his wife, job, and quaint hometown suddenly choose to end it all? Unraveling her late husband's final days, Nora searches for an explanation- but finds a bewildering resistance from Brendan's best friend and partner, his fellow police officers, and his brittle mother. It quickly becomes clear to Nora that she is asking questions no one wants to answer. For beneath the soft cover of snow lies a powerful conspiracy that will stop at nothing to keep its presence unknown...and its darkest secrets hidden.

My Review:
This is by far one of my new favorites!
It jumps right in and holds you from the beginning. 
The mysterious suicide of a small town cop starts a peeling away at a lifetime of secrets and crimes.
Nora, his wife is determined to find answers no one else wants uncovered. She is learning friend from foe along the way and keeps stumbling. She is struggling to understand the clues her truest ally, Dugger, an autistic man is trying to tell her. His rhymes are codes. "Red head, Red dead" He is trying to show her the big picture in small clips, recordings and sing songs.

Ned a  reporter, starts out with his own agenda(yet another crime the cops covered up), but quickly realizes he too has to help Nora and dives into all the danger at any cost to save her before the truth gets her killed.

Who knows the truth? What is the truth? Who is covering things up? and why?

This book definitely keeps you engrossed and wanting more.
Wonderful characters, plot, twists and action.
I think Jenny Milchman has done an amazing job and I will definitely recommend her and this book to any reader that loves a good thriller mystery.
5 Stars for Cover of Snow!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

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