CRM Review and a book Giveaway: “The Other Sister” by Dianne Dixon

 

What happens when your forced to come out of the shadow?

The Premise

(from the book blurb):

One sister has everything. Her twin hates her for it.

Would life be better without Ali? Probably. At least then people might think about Morgan. Ali’s always gotten everything ― she doesn’t even realize how much Morgan resents her.

Ali also doesn’t realize that when she shuts Morgan out entirely, she will unleash a chain of events that show just how dangerous the underside of love really is. As their lives spin toward something neither one of them can control, a terrifying crime reveals how those who know us best can destroy us…or save us.

My Thoughts

The Other Sister brought up so many thoughts on siblings and twins, especially right before the holidays.

It seems like, whenever I get together with my brother, we fall back into who we were growing up. Maybe because we don’t see each other all that often, so that is the pattern that we know and we haven’t had much of a chance to change it as adults. It’s not a bad dynamic, and it works, so it’s okay.

But if you’ve grown up doing the same things over and over, one as the strong one, the leader; and one as the needy one, that one that gets shielded and taken care of? It would be harder to break those patterns and to be given a chance to be on your own — to fail or to fly.

The dynamic would be even more firm and harder to break with twins.

Also, fraternal twins? They seem to fall somewhere in-between. Same womb, same birthday, sharing everything since birth, but not identical. A stronger bond than siblings, but not as strong as identical twins.

It’s all crazy.

 

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But any way, back to The Other Sister. Morgan and Ali are fraternal twins, so they have that bond (which is why I just went on that ramble).

Ali is the leader. She’s pretty, vivacious, likable, friendly, brave. Morgan is more of an introvert, always letting Ali take the lead and pull her along. She hates her for stealing her light, and then hates her for leaving her alone. It’s an unhealthy dynamic for both of them, but one neither seems able to break.

But then Ali gets married and moves across the country. Morgan finds someone to listen to her deepest and darkest thoughts. When Ali’s world starts to fall apart, Morgan must decide if she wants to help her fall or to step up and help. To keep being resentful, or to find her own life.

There’s a lot going on in the book, and a few too many windy roads that aren’t necessary, but it’s a fun read. There’s a lot of real ambiguity in the characters — and by that I mean the characters aren’t necessarily all good or all bad (well, except the really bad guy). They’re mostly shades or grey, doing some not-great things, but also having redeemable qualities that make them real.

I wish the extraneous characters and storylines were stripped away, because I wanted more of the Ali/Morgan dynamic–especially Morgan. She was very interesting, and I feel like we only skimmed the surface of her psyche.

But this book moved quickly, pulling me in from the first pages. thriller with heart–delving into relationship while trying to unravel the ins and outs of the characters, all while giving readers a mystery to solve.

I liked this book. A perfect read for the upcoming snowy weekends! I give it 4 stars!!!

Contest time!!!

To win a copy of The Other Sister, comment either here or on my Constantly Reading Momma Facebook page with a Thanksgiving family memory be it sibling or otherwise! Comments must be made by 6:00 pm on November 24,2016. Winner will be announced will be announced on the 25th.

Have a great day and a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

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My favorite discovery of 2016

I don’t do a lot of advertising on my blog. I do link to books on Amazon, and I get a very small residual from items bought from those links (seriously, I make probably $20 a year), which I use buy books (of course) or bookish accessories.

My promise has always been I will only do personal links and ads to things I use and like in my reading life.

In the last couple of months  I’ve had a new literary advertisement onto my blog — Book of the Month. Before I tell you more, I have to disclaim:
“This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.”

I can tell you about and sell you this because I really do love it. I’ve gotten three great books in nice, good looking hardback versions. But, beyond that, Book of the Month is part of why I love books.

When I was growing up, back in the olden days, there was no internet. Not every home had a PC, and everything was done over the phone, through the mail, or in person. Everyone who came of age in those days remembers stuff you get through the mail. I think EVERYbody I knew did the fake name for a bunch of CDs or cassette tapes for just a penny!! (Seriously, did you all know that they’re still in business?!)

But one of my favorites was the Book of the Month Club. My mom would get this card in the mail with a few books choices. She would have to pick two, send the card back, and then she would get those books. BUT if she failed to send the card back, she would get the default books (which were usually good, but not always the first pick).

I loved it. We lived in the country, and there weren’t tons of bookstores in the ‘big’ city of Greeley (the mall had a Waldenbooks or B. Dalton, I can’t remember. And there was Woody’s Newsstand. I don’t remember if they had books, but it was kind of a magical store with soooo many newspapers and magazines. And there was the college bookstore), so getting these hardback bestsellers in the mail was awesome. Kind of an early version of the smiley Amazon box.

But there was always that chance that you were gonna forget to send in the card, and then you had to return the book, and, if you didn’t do it in the right amount of time, you were stuck with a book you might or might not like.

Eventually my mom quit the Book of the Month thing (after I moved out). It became a fond memory, one that helped shape my love of books. But it was in my past. Gone forever.

AND then I discovered Book of the Month online!!! I was so thrilled!!

It’s the best! One the first day of every month there are FIVE new selections, chosen wisely by wonderful judges (the list of both regular and guest judges is incredible). You then get to check out the selections, do a little research, ask your friends and family, and then, by the sixth day of the month, you choose your favorite.

OR you can skip a month. Easily, with the click of a button.

Then, on the seventh, your book ships. Free shipping. To you. A book. In a pretty box, which also contains thoughts from the judge that picked the book (on a nice bookmark) and a cute little coaster.

You can add on any of the titles for just $9.99.

And still, free shipping.

AND (hint hint, loved ones) a subscription is a great stocking-stuffer! Books, books, books–what could be bad about ANY of that?  AND new members:  if you give a gift subscription, you  get 50% off a 3-month membership for you!

CRM Review: “The Boy is Back” by Meg Cabot

I call these books – the kind that are just plain fun – literary palate cleansers. They have no literary nutritional value, but they have their time and place. They clear the psyche and the mind. They steady and ready a body for the next blows the world is bound to throw.

 

 

Sometimes, life requires a little fun. This time around, the fun was in the form of a book (on my Kindle). This time, the fun was Meg Cabot’s The Boy is Back.

 

 

The Premise 

(From the book blurb)

Reed Stewart thought he’d left all his small town troubles—including a broken heart—behind when he ditched tiny Bloomville, Indiana, ten years ago to become rich and famous on the professional golf circuit.  Then one tiny post on the Internet causes all of those troubles to return . . . with a vengeance.

Becky Flowers has worked hard to build her successful senior relocation business, but she’s worked even harder to forget Reed Stewart ever existed. She has absolutely no intention of seeing him when he returns—until his family hires her to save his parents.

Now Reed and Becky can’t avoid one another—or the memories of that one fateful night.  And soon everything they thought they knew about themselves (and each other) has been turned upside down, and they—and the entire town of Bloomville—might never be the same, all because The Boy Is Back.

My Thoughts

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE “Gilmore Girls.” Exactly one week from tomorrow I will be watching the new episodes on Netflix, loving every moment of this pure escapism.

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When I was given an ARC of The Boy is Back, I couldn’t wait. There is something about “Gilmore Girls” AND Meg Cabot books that are linked. I guess because both are funny, smart, fast talking, and NICE.

The world needs more nice – after the last few months, and especially after the last couple of weeks.

Then, when I heard Lorelai Gilmore herself – aka Lauren Graham – recommended The Boy is Back, I jumped in!  I needed to escape.

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The Boy is Back is exactly what I needed. Fun, light, funny, and a smidge romantic.

I call these books – the kind that are just plain fun – literary palate cleansers. They have no literary nutritional value, but they have their time and place. They clear the psyche and the mind. They steady and ready a body for the next blows the world is bound to throw.

Reed Stewart and Becky Flowers are exactly what the literary doctor called for. They aren’t deep characters, but they are intelligent and fun. I closed this book (well, the cover on my Kindle Paperwhite) and smiled, knowing that the world is still full of funny, light moments — even if these moments are fictional.

I love The Boy is Back. It put me in a great mood and got me ready for next week. No, not for Thanksgiving (although I LOVE Thanksgiving, too). No, it got me ready for new episodes of  “Gilmore Girls.”

Five start for The Boy is Back. Not for its literary qualities, but just for its fun.

 

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CRM review: “News of the World” by Paulette Jiles

Sometimes I read a book that’s on the National Book Award Longlist and I wonder what I missed, because I don’t get it.

And then sometimes I read a book on the NBA longlist (this one is now on the shortlist, but the way) and I think “YES! THIS is a book EVERYONE needs to read!”

News of the World is that book.

The Premise 

(Taken from the publisher) – It is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forging a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself. Exquisitely rendered and morally complex, News of the World is a brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

My Thoughts

News of the World really surprised me. I wasn’t all that excited to read a book about 19th century Texas.

RachelClap.gifBut then I couldn’t put it down.

This one fits right into one of my favorite forms of literature: the quest. Someone sets off to do something and learns something about himself, even if he doesn’t realize that’s what he’s doing.

We have Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, the ex-soldier who travels around reading the news. And we have his QUEST: deliver 10 year-old Johanna back to her family. Along the way he butts heads with this lost child (after being held by Kiowa raiders for years, she’s forgotten what she’s meant to be), and he has to fight and escape some really bad men who want to take her and make her a prostitute.

But the two fall into an alliance, and then they fall into a father/daughter (or grandfather/granddaughter) sort of relationship. And giving her back to uncaring family is heartbreaking.

Kidd is introspective from the beginning. He knows he loves being a messenger, and loves delivering the news to people who either don’t have instant access to the news from around the world. But he’s also lonely and alone, and starts to learn that on his journey.

And Johanna is on her own quest, although she has no idea. She’s really the package, but she needs to figure out who she is. She’s so lost, a child stuck between two cultures (the Kiowa and her white relatives), and she needs to find a place in order to survive.

In fact, they both do. Kidd is an old soldier who doesn’t want to soldier. She’s a white child who wants to be a Kiowa. Neither one fits into their designated roles, but where else could they fit other than the Wild West?!

As I said, I love a good quest. But this one’s great because the characters are cut and dried without being cut and dried. They’re the good guys, and we know they’re the good guys. So there’s no ambiguity there. The bad guys are bad, at least on the quest (are the Kiowa bad? I was torn there — their country, but what did they do to Johanna to make her want to stay with them? And how about her relatives? Neither is clearly good nor bad.), and that’s nice. The white hats and the black hats are clearly labeled, at least as far as the journey goes.

And can we just talk about the writing style?! Stark and beautiful and raw, just like the West in 1870. I love it when a writer can use style to help readers understand the setting and the people.

 

So News of the World gets 5 stars from me. I LOVED it.

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