Tag Archive: netgalley



If All the Seas Were Ink: A MemoirIf All the Seas Were Ink: A Memoir by Ilana Kurshan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I was young, and even to this day, I loved to spend time, overnight to weeks, if I could, in other people’s homes. It was interesting to see how other people lived. I learned how different and yet the same my life was to my friends. What rules applied? What was okay? How huggy or talky were the people?

As an adult that is less likely to happen. Slumber parties seem to stay in the child’s world. Really close friends can share their lives. But it isn’t the same as personal observation.

Autobiographies give that kind of insight. You live inside the person’s world, hear their thoughts, see how they try to live up to their own standards. See how they feel when they don’t.

Ilana Kurshan provides that kind of insight. I admire her determination and curiosity. She decided to study the Talmud in a seven-year quest to understand it and her relationship to it better. She lived it as best she could, all the easier for living in Jerusalem, all the harder as a single person, then newlywed, then young mother. But she did her best to apply what she learned along the way.

I was raised protestant. I have many friends of various religious leanings and love to learn their belief systems and how they work in real life. I have a friend who has moved to Israel and thought of her as I read. I don’t know if she read this yet, but I bet she will glean from this person’s challenge.

Rating autobiographies is harder than a piece of fiction. It is personal. I can’t judge another person’s life or their own memories. It was where they are/were and how they choose to live it. Ms. Kurshan’s writing was compelling. I couldn’t stop reading. Since this was an ARC or Uncorrected Copy, there were formatting issues that made my text-to-speech the best way to read it all. But I’m sure those issues were corrected in the retail versions. Other than that it was a delightful read and I highly recommend it to others. I doubt I will ever try the seven-year Talmud, though who knows? I’ve taken on lessor challenges. I was glad that Ilana included scripture so I could feel a part of the quest. And I’m proud of her for taking a feminist view on her religion. It makes it all more real and possible.

I can’t wait to read other reviews about this book.

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The Art of HidingThe Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Poor girl becomes rich wife, becomes poor mom. Except for the rich part, that’s the story of my life! Almost sounds boring. But for some reason, I truly enjoyed this read. It is well-written. The characters felt real to me. Even though they were British and rich. The troubles were scary. I could relate. I’ve never owed that much money, though I don’t have a conversion table handy after midnight. But I have owed more than I had. It had forced changes in my behavior and where I was to live. As the main character learns in a very hard way.

A teenage boy for a son. Been there three times. I can relate. And this mother was far more patient and sweet about it all than I could be. Wish I could have been that sweet. But my kids would have, oops, did laugh at me when I approached their rebellions that way. And it wasn’t a good laugh. At least we were in her head as she thought through her responses.

This review isn’t doing the book justice. It was good, I loved it. I stayed awake a long time finishing it. It wasn’t fantasy or adventure or murder-mystery. It was a peek into someone else’s life and how she manages to get through and thrive. And I think this is the kind of book teens should read, especially girls. Though women (and men) will relate and learn throughout the story.

I wish I had less pain and more brain. This review sounds horrible. Believe me. It was worth the read. I loved it!

Netgalley gave me the ARC of this book. Thank you!

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Seeking SarahSeeking Sarah by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jerry Springer eat your heart out! Oh, the drama!

Okay, I didn’t mean to start with that. There were things about this book I liked. I love that we have a diverse character, though the cover picture doesn’t give that impression. On the other hand, the blurb grabbed me about a young woman that wants to find her mother who she previously thought had died.

What seems to be set up to be an exciting adventure learning why mom left, and possibly reconnecting, the main character, Brooke, is hooking/breaking up with a guy that shouldn’t even get a female. Even in the process of getting to know her mom, she takes every opportunity to jump to conclusions to be angry. I guess my way would have solved Brookes problems within minutes and there wouldn’t be a book but a short story.

I was lucky to get to read this book from Netgalley. I’d love to see what others think of this novel. It is different.

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Enigma (FBI Thriller #21)Enigma by Catherine Coulter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not a fan of murder mysteries or suspense thrillers. Somehow there was enough in the blurb that I was drawn into this book twice. I’ve read about half the book and realized I knew what was happening next because I had read it before. So I looked for my review of it and somehow it isn’t anywhere. There is already too much stress in my life to read this all the way again. I read the ending and know I got there the last time.

So rather than read it again, here is the review based on one and a half reads.

It is a page-turner that keeps you reading (even the second time!). Many characters points of view add to the plot so that you care what happens. If you like thrillers with a sci-fi twist this is for you. If you like cop stories or FBI stories, this is for you. It was for me at a different time of my life.

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The Best of UsThe Best of Us by Joyce Maynard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t usually include the book blurb but I felt it said more about the book that I could.

“In 2011, when she was in her late fifties, beloved author and journalist Joyce Maynard met the first true partner she had ever known. Jim wore a rakish hat over a good head of hair; he asked real questions and gave real answers; he loved to see Joyce shine, both in and out of the spotlight; and he didn’t mind the mess she made in the kitchen. He was not the husband Joyce imagined, but he quickly became the partner she had always dreamed of.

Before they met, both had believed they were done with marriage, and even after they married, Joyce resolved that no one could alter her course of determined independence. Then, just after their one-year wedding anniversary, her new husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. During the nineteen months that followed, as they battled his illness together, she discovered for the first time what it really meant to be a couple–to be a true partner and to have one.

This is their story. Charting the course through their whirlwind romance, a marriage cut short by tragedy, and Joyce’s return to singleness on new terms, The Best of Us is a heart-wrenching, ultimately life-affirming reflection on coming to understand true love through the experience of great loss. ”

Knowing this may help you decide if you want to read this book. It is autobiographical and full of the journey that the author took through a gorgeous romance and then finding that her husband has pancreatic cancer and all that they went through during this journey. Though it is a depressing topic, after the romance, the author is able to keep the reader from falling into despair. In fact, it was only toward the end of the book that I nearly lost it in a loud sob that would have awaken the neighborhood had I let it escape. But I felt okay most of the read.

I guess I should tell you that for me it was a bit personal in that my mother passed of Pancreatic Cancer. She certainly didn’t last as long as Joyce’s husband. The doctors did exploratory surgery, found the cancer and closed her up. They said she would live for about three months, she barely lasted three weeks. So it is good to know that many are getting longer life-spans after diagnosis.

Mostly the book is a story of love and learning life as you go. I loved it and hated that I had to put it away and go to sleep.

I did have an issue with the formatting in that every now and then there was a title or author’s name and page number interrupting the flow. But it didn’t take me out of the book for more than a second.

I want to thank NetGalley for letting me read the book for an honest review. I hope others get the chance to read this book. There is a lot to learn here.

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The Girls in the PictureThe Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was so lucky to receive this book from NetGalley to read for an honest review. I loved it.

Stories about women friends are the best, especially those who stood strong and were able to fight the male machine. The early days of motion pictures either sex could do the job. Both were needed to reflect the real world while inventing a new one. Sadly after the two World Wars women were sent back to the kitchen. Such an unfair state of affairs.

I loved how these two, actress and screenwriter supported each other while they could. I was sorry that, as they predicted, once they had a male counterpart that friendship had to take a backseat. And as the reality seems to hold, the male world still stifles that of the female. It is sad that only now many decades later we are just now seeing that the fight for equality may be within sight, again.

Everyone needs to read books like this. History/HERstory is possibly more palatable in fiction. There is enough truth that a person can Google (as I did) and see these early movie marvels. Meanwhile, there are gems of wisdom for us all to carry into the rest of our lives.

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Light from Other StarsLight from Other Stars by Erika Swyler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now this is what I’m talking about! This was such a good book I didn’t want to sleep. I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next!

Even though the story goes back and forward in time I always knew whose point of view it was and when it was. A lot of books don’t make it very clear for those of us who ‘read’ through text-to-speech.

It starts out with the explosion of the Challenger. The main character was 11. Being an astronaut was her life long dream. I was 37. Like everyone else that year, my heart was broken. So to read of a child who shared my dreams and losses I was caught up, hook, line, sinker and all.

There is so much that happens in the book. I could only keep reading to keep the characters alive in my mind. I’m so sad the book is over. I want more! It was a nice ending and I had tears dripping from missing the book already.

I got the book from NetGalley. I am so glad I did. It was a good description that drew me to that book. It didn’t let me down. In fact, I would love to see a book two of this story. Even though it ended quite satisfactorily.

If you get the chance to read it, do so. I’m sure fellow sci-fi fans will love it!

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On Edge: A Journey Through AnxietyOn Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety by Andrea Petersen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book. Boy, am I glad I did! It was well-written and well-researched.

Do you suffer from anxiety/depression like I do? Have you taken every drug the doctor prescribed and not have it work at all? Here is someone who has. I personally related to this book. Andrea Petersen tells her story while relating it to the science in history and current treatments for these ailments. She tells about her experiences helping us to see all the things in her life that could have or didn’t cause her own problems. She owns what she can but it isn’t a blame game for her. It is trying to understand how it was she thought she was going to die during anxiety episodes.

I am going to put a bit of a spoiler here as it is the one takeaway I want to remember. And I’ll tell you why. Have you had a panic attack? I have. But I’ve also had stage fright. I used to sing solos at churches. I found this to be true: If I could get excited about singing the song in front of people I rarely made mistakes and the song sounded pretty good. I never could have said that about giving a speech or playing solos on the piano. TERRIFIED FROZEN POOL OF SWEAT. The same applies to talking to people on the phone, even people I love. If I had the performance memorized and I was excited (which can also cause shaking hands) I did fine. If I can work on making sure to build the excitement, I might be able to overcome the phone issues. It’s an idea I plan to try as I think of it. You see, you can’t memorize what you are going to say on the phone. I tried when I did phone sales. My stuff was memorized for the person if they followed their lines, they never did. But maybe when I plan to talk to someone I love, friends, and the family I can start applying this excitement over anxiety. Have you tried it? Did it work for you?

You may find a ton of things to help you in Ms. Petersen’s story. As a journalist she gets personal yet she hangs onto that ability to step back and remain ‘just the facts, M’am’ research writer. I loved reading this book! I hope others who have had to endure mental illness either personally or someone you love, will take the time to read it. Maybe you’ll find some answers.

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The Hierophant's Daughter (The Disgraced Martyr Trilogy, #1)The Hierophant’s Daughter by M.F. Sullivan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Confusion mixed with action. I kept reading past understanding what was going on. I blamed using text-to-speech as often I am not sure what is going on in books. I miss the cues of a new chapter and who it is dedicated to. Or misinterpret what is it all about. So I’ll own what I didn’t get.

If a book is confusing I often keep reading and the context will bring me up to date. Or I will give it up. This book had enough action that I thought I’d stick it through. I got into it enough to care about the main character but I just didn’t understand the rules of the game as the main character seemed confused about it all, too. For the confusion, I’m rating it one star.

I’m grateful to NetGalley to have the chance to read it. It just wasn’t for me.

Oh, hey, I think I’ll move this up to three stars. I just remembered how diverse the characters were, the main character grieving her wife was maybe what pulled me in and made me care.

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The Hollywood DaughterThe Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book. Thank you, NetGalley.

This was not one of my favorite books. Yet I couldn’t stop reading it. First of all the writing was well done. Second and more personal, I remember my dad pointing to Ingrid Bergman on the TV and telling me that she was his very favorite actress. I had to agree with him that she was beautiful and I loved how she spoke. I don’t know what the show was. Nor do I remember what she said or wore that impressed me.

I think I may be part of the target audience, Baby Boomer. I may be around the same age as the main character, Jessica Malloy, well, a little younger. I wasn’t born until, what chapter three or four? And I am a Southern California girl so the location references were personal for me.

And I remember an aunt talking to my mother and I like a Dutch uncle about communism. Mom didn’t say much. She usually had plenty to say, so I think this long lecture caught her off-guard.

So it was these personal notes that pulled me in and kept me reading. That and I wrote a teen-meeting-idol book in the sixties about meeting casually the Beatles. So I want to see how it happens to others who have idols in the entertainment industry.

More than that, it was fun watching Jessica grow into a young woman and ridding herself of the demons of growing up.

For me, though, this growing up angst is tiring. Who wants to go back and relive their teens? At least this girl wasn’t gaga about this guy and that. It was more about her family and her self -discovery.

I may have to find an Ingrid Bergman movie or two to complete my experience. Others may love this book. But I stick with my three stars as it is better than some but not as good as others. I may actually forget it soon which is what brings it to a four or five-star rating. Try it. Let me know how you feel about it. Maybe I missed something? I do read using text-to-speech.

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