Reviews

Book Review: The Art of Hiding

The Art of Hiding, by Amanda Prowse

Publication: Lake Union Publishing; July 18, 2017

art of hidingAbout the book: 

What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?

Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the run-down Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

My Review:

Who, What, When, Etc. 

Nina is a wealthy wife living in her beautiful home with her husband Finn and her two sons, Connor and Declan. She has always kept to herself and shied away from socializing with the other parents at her sons’ upscale school, preferring to take her sons to school each day, take care of their home, do the grocery shopping, pick the boys up, and cool dinner. 

One day when Nina is at Connor’s rugby game, she gets a call from the hospital informing her that her husband has been in an accident. After Finn’s death, Nina learns from their accountant and attorney that they have nothing. No home, car, or money.

Nina packs up her boys and the few belongings they have left and returns to a less than ideal flat in her old neighborhood. From there, Nina struggles to help her boys acclimate to their new school and new life, as well as, rediscover herself as an adult woman apart from her husband. 

Thoughts and Reactions

Over the years I’ve heard countless divorcees say they never handled the finances in their homes and were shocked after the divorce about various financial issues. Imagine losing your husband and then discovering that you are about to lose every material possession that you own. Whether we want to face it or not, this is a very realistic possibility for any number of us that aren’t in charge or involved in the financial affairs in our relationships, therefore, note to self and to everyone – get informed!

This story poses several issues about the overwhelming guilt and weight of debt, as well as, the absurdity of a spouse thinking they are being protective when they keep these issues from their loved ones. More importantly, this novel is about survival, growth, and reinventing one’s idea of happiness. 

Nina struggled with such burdens helping her sons through their father’s death, then the loss of everything, then adjusting to a new town, new school, and new peers. All the while she was struggling on her own trying to find a job and her only support system being her older sister that, until Finn’s death, they had not been very close. 

Nina’s strength and determination were incredible throughout this novel and I love that the author did not feel the need to include a love interest, but rather focus on Nina’s own personal growth. But the most outstanding and compelling character was her teenage son, Connor. His character was so wonderfully developed as he went from being angry to sad to helpful to caring. As time passed, his insight into his father’s death and their situation was so moving and so impressive, that he absolutely stole the show in this novel. 

Let me say that this novel leaves you with a wonderful and optimistic feeling about life, but only after taking you down to the lows of losing everything and having to put everything back together all alone. The Art of Hiding is intelligent, relatable, emotional, and inspiring. It was such a pleasure to read and review this book by an author that I already admired. There is no unnecessary drama or exaggeration in this novel, but it is real life with real people that will shake you to your core, but eventually, inspire you. 

*Many thanks to NetGalley for providing this novel in exchange for my honest review!

Purchase The Art of Hiding on Amazon!

Learn more about Amanda Prowse.

 

Reviews

Book Review: Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here: A Novel, by Renee Carlino

Publication: Atria Books; August 15, 2017

wishAbout the book: 

You know when you’re looking at someone and you can’t help but smile at how oblivious they are to their own charm? That’s what was happening to me, and it was making me feel…happy. Euphoric. Something indescribable. It was like we already knew each other like we had met in a previous life. Memories that didn’t exist began exploding in my mind like fireworks.

Charlotte has spent her twenties adrift, searching for a spark to jump-start her life and give her a sense of purpose. She’s had as many jobs as she’s had bad relationships, and now she’s feeling especially lost in her less-than-glamorous gig at a pie-and-fry joint in Los Angeles, where the uniforms are bad and the tips are even worse.

Then she collides—literally—with Adam, an intriguing, handsome, and mysterious painter. Their serendipitous meeting on the street turns into a whirlwind one-night stand that has Charlotte feeling enchanted by Adam’s spontaneity and joy for life. There’s promise in both his words and actions, but in the harsh light of morning, Adam’s tune changes, leaving Charlotte to wonder if her notorious bad luck with men is really just her own bad judgment.

Months later, a new relationship with Seth, a charming baseball player, is turning into something more meaningful, but Charlotte’s still having trouble moving past her one enthralling night with Adam. Why? When she searches for answers, she finds the situation with Adam is far more complicated than she ever imagined. Faced with the decision to write a new story with Seth or finish the one started with Adam, Charlotte embarks on a life-altering journey, one that takes her across the world and back again, bringing a lifetime’s worth of pain, joy, and wisdom.

My Review:

Who, What, When, Etc.

This is the story of Charlotte (Charlie) as she sort of stumbles through her twenties, unsure about what to do with her life. She is roommates with her best friend Helen and they also work together at a local diner. She’s never quite figured out if she wants to be a massage therapist or a hair stylist and certainly hasn’t had meaningful relationships with men. 

Soon she meets Adam and is immediately drawn to him, but when things abruptly end, she meets a baseball player named Seth. Thus begins her indecision about whether to find Adam and try to make things work, or to give Seth a chance. 

In the meantime, Helen falls for Seth’s friend and fellow ball player, Roddy, prompting Charlotte’s adorably aggravating brother, Chucky to move in with her and help with the rent. Helen, Chucky, and Charlotte’s parents all try to support her, but she really has to go on this journey on her own.

Thoughts and Reactions

I absolutely adored this novel. Wish You Were Here grabbed me from the first few pages and didn’t let go. Without giving spoilers, I warn that this novel requires ample Kleenex in your immediate vicinity while reading! There are such devastating moments in this story, but this novel is also packed full of love, commitment, and self-discovery.

Honestly, I struggled with Charlie as a character in general at the beginning of the novel. There wasn’t anything really unlikable about her, however, I struggled relating to her. As the novel progressed, so did Charlie. She went from not knowing what in the world she wanted or who she wanted to learning how to completely love and how to behave selflessly. Her relationship with her brother and parents strengthened, and although she and Helen had some struggles during the novel, theirs also grew by the end of the book. 

The plot was engaging and paced perfectly, but I felt that the character development fell short compared to the novel as a whole. Besides my initial struggles with Charlie, it occurred to me that although I just finished this novel last night, I cannot tell you what any of the characters looked like. What I did learn about them felt somewhat superficial, but even with this drawback, I loved this book

Wish You Were Here is a tearjerker, but it includes such important themes about love and life in general. I highly recommend this to lovers of new adult & women’s fiction.

*Many thanks to the author and NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Learn more about Renee Carlino by visiting her web page!

Pre-Order Wish You Were Here on Amazon!

 

Reviews

Book Review: To Say Goodbye

To Say Goodbye, by Lindsay Detwiler

Publication: Hot Tree Publishing; September 24, 2016

to say goodbyeAbout the book: 

Feisty Sophia never shies away from life. Playful, romantic, connected—her marriage was the thing of fairy tales. But when tragedy strikes, Sophia is left to pick up the pieces of her life.

After leaving the army, Jackson is ready to start afresh. But when he returns home, his life spirals out of control.As Sophia and Jackson find themselves in each other, they start to see redemption is possible. 

Trying to piece together a new life, they must answer the question: Should they forge a life together and say goodbye to their pasts completely, or should they loyally go their separate ways to avoid heartache?

My Review:

I came across To Say Goodbye on NetGalley a few weeks ago and for some reason, this one just called to me. This was my first time reading Lindsay Detwiler and it was an amazing love story.

Sophia is a beautiful, vibrant woman that has experienced the tremendous loss of her husband Tim. She has a wonderful family and is part-owner of a salon with her best friend Stella. Jackson has returned from the Army and experiencing his own difficult losses in addition to losing Tim who was his best friend when they were growing up.

Sophia and Jackson’s losses are similar and different at the same time, however, they instantly seem to be drawn to and relate to each other because of their grief. As Jackson and Sophia get to know one another, the reader learns more and more about Sophia and Tim’s past, Jackson and Tim’s past, as well as, Jackson and his ex’s past. The characters are so well-developed and relatable, and the author’s descriptions make it easy to picture the characters and settings in your mind while you read. 

The main theme of this novel is grieving and overcoming loss, however, it strongly depicts moving on and being open to happiness again after tragedy. Grief looks different to everyone and feels different to everyone. There is no set time table for grieving, but it is important to continue living and finding joy where possible. This was so incredibly sad at times, yet so moving and uplifting also. The love, care, and respect portrayed in To Say Goodbye was incredible, as were all of the various characters. It was a raw and honest fast-paced story that I could not put down. To Say Goodbye is an exceptional piece of women’s fiction that everyone should read. 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase To Say Goodbye on Amazon!

Learn more about Lindsay Detwiler by visiting her web page!