Crescendo by Amy Weiss

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I am an Amazon Affiliate
source: Free review copy via Amazon Vine
title: Crescendo
author: Amy Weiss (Twitter)
published: Hay House, Inc. May 2, 2017
pages: 208
genre: fiction/magical realism
first line: Once upon a time-
rated: 5 out of 5 stars amazing
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blurb:
“Til death do us part,” Aria and her husband swore. But death came much too soon.

When tragedy strikes one summer night, everything is taken from Aria: her family, her future. Desperate to find meaning in life after loss, she and her beloved mare leave their home in search of something—anything. It feels like the end of her life. It is the beginning.

If she can find her way through the forest of grief, she will discover an incredible adventure waiting on the other side. Hers is no ordinary journey—it is a journey into the nature of the soul. Each step takes her further into uncharted lands. The cave of darkness. The lake of time. The human heart. Each place she goes and each person she meets has a new lesson to teach her, and soon she comes to learn the most astounding one of all: her loved ones have never left her. They are with her throughout the lifetimes. They are eternal and immortal.

And so is she.

And so are we.

My thoughts:
I finished reading Crescendo last week and I am still thinking about it.
This is a beautifully told story about life, loss, grief and love. It is a small world because years ago I read Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives by Brian Weiss, who I found out is Amy Weiss’ father. If you haven’t read Many Lives, Many Masters I recommend it also, it is an incredible true story about past life experiences and reincarnation. Anyway, I’m digressing here a bit. Crescendo also revolves around the idea of past lives. Isn’t the cover pretty? It matches the story perfectly. As I was taking that picture, my dog Huey photo bombed it, top left. He has perfect timing.

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Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan with Love #2) by Sarah Morgan

sunsetI am an Amazon affiliate.
source: Free copy via AmazonVine
title: Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan with Love #2)
author: Sarah Morgan Twitter
first line: She’d expected hearts, flowers and smiles.
published: 2016
pages: 375
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5
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blurb:
In the chaos of New York, true love can be hard to find, even when it’s been right under your nose all along…

Love has never been a priority for garden designer Frankie Cole. After witnessing the fallout of her parents’ divorce, she’s seen the devastation an overload of emotion can cause. The only man she feels comfortable with is her friend Matt—but that’s strictly platonic. If only she found it easier to ignore the way he makes her heart race…

Matt Walker has loved Frankie for years but, sensing how fragile she is beneath her feisty exterior, has always played it cool. But then he uncovers new depths to the girl he’s known forever and doesn’t want to wait a moment longer. He knows Frankie has secrets and has buried them deep, but can Matt persuade her to trust him with her heart and kiss him under the Manhattan sunset?

my thoughts:
I have a tendency to read books that are not first in series, I did it again with Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan with Love #2). I do it unintentionally. Thankfully Sunset in Central Park is a stand alone read in author Sara Morgan’s From Manhattan With Love series. I love New York and romance is one of my favorite if not favorite genres, so this one grabbed my attention.

Frankie Cole and her two girlfriends Paige and Eva run their own event planning business called Urban Genie. Frankie specializes in floral arrangements. This second book centers around close friends Frankie and Matt. I liked Frankie’s character from the start. She’s bookish really bookish, like you and I if you’re reading this right now.

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Things We Lost in the Fire Stories by Mariana Enríquez

thingssource: ARC via AmazonVine
title: Things We Lost in the Fire
auhtor: Mariana Enriquez
published: Hogarth (February 21, 2017)
pages: 200
genre: short stories/fiction/mystery/suspense
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
Macabre, disturbing and exhilarating, Things We Lost in the Fire is a collection of twelve short stories that use fear and horror to explore multiple dimensions of life in contemporary Argentina. From women who set themselves on fire in protest of domestic violence to angst-ridden teenage girls, friends until death do they part, to street kids and social workers, young women bored of their husbands or boyfriends, to a nine-year-old serial killer of babies and a girl who pulls out her nails and eyelids in the classroom, to hikikomori, abandoned houses, black magic, northern Argentinean superstition, disappearances, crushes, heartbreak, regret and compassion. This is a strange, surreal and unforgettable collection by an astonishing new talent asking vital questions of the world as we know it.

my thoughts:
Things We Lost in the Fire is a quiet, intense and at times disturbing collection of 12 short stories. I dipped in and out of this one intermittently. I’ll cover a few of the stories here in my post.

The Dirty Kid was about a woman who lives in an old house handed down to her by her family. The neighborhood in Buenos Aires which used to be nice, is now seedy and riddled with crime. A five-year old child and his drug addicted mother are homeless and sleep on dirty mattresses in the neighborhood. The narrator here cannot help but become involved and tries to help the five-year old.

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Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

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source: free copy via AmazonVine
title: Under the Udala Trees
author: Chinelo Okparanta
published: September 22, 2015
pages: 328
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
Inspired by Nigeria’s folktales and its war, Under the Udala Trees is a deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly.

Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls.

When their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living inside a lie.

As Edwidge Danticat has made personal the legacy of Haiti’s political coming of age, Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees uses one woman’s lifetime to examine the ways in which Nigerians continue to struggle toward selfhood. Even as their nation contends with and recovers from the effects of war and division, Nigerian lives are also wrecked and lost from taboo and prejudice. This story offers a glimmer of hope — a future where a woman might just be able to shape her life around truth and love.

my thoughts:
Narrated by Ijeoma, Under the Udala Trees starts off when she is just eleven years old and living in the war ridden republic of Nigeria in the late 1960’s.
When Ijeoma’s father is killed in an air bombing, her mother is left grief ridden and depressed, barely able to care for herself let alone her daughter. She sends Ijeoma off to live with a couple in another village. Ijeoma lives there almost two years before her mother comes back to get her. What she finds in this village is a friendship and eventually romantic feelings for a girl named Amina.

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Listen to Me by Hannah Pittard

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source: free copy via AmazonVine
title: Listen to Me
author: Hannah Pittard
genre: psychological thriller
published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (July 5, 2016)
pages: 191
first line: They were on the road later than they intended.
rated: misleading

Blurb:

A modern gothic about a marriage and road trip gone hauntingly awry.

Mark and Maggie’s annual drive east to visit family has gotten off to a rocky start. By the time they’re on the road, it’s late, a storm is brewing, and they are no longer speaking to one another. Adding to the stress, Maggie — recently mugged at gunpoint — is lately not herself, and Mark is at a loss about what to make of the stranger he calls his wife. When they are forced to stop for the night at a remote inn, completely without power, Maggie’s paranoia reaches an all-time and terrifying high. But when Mark finds himself threatened in a dark parking lot, it’s Maggie who takes control.

My Thoughts:
Okay, so I am upset. When I grabbed a copy of Listen to Me I expected a thrilling story, one I could enjoy on a cool Fall evening while sipping a cup of tea. What I discovered was that I wanted to throw the book across the room when I was done reading.

On one hand this was a quiet, tense story about a married couple who are beginning to doubt one another. On the other hand, I found this book to be falsely marketed, the blurb is misleading: “When they are forced to stop for the night at a remote inn, completely without power, Maggie’s paranoia reaches an all-time and terrifying high. But when Mark finds himself threatened in a dark parking lot, it’s Maggie who takes control.” This one is supposed to be a psychological thriller, I found nothing really thrilling about it and was upset with the turn the book took towards the end. It certainly is not a “modern gothic” as the blurb suggests. Come on people.

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