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Left: A Love Story by Mary Hogan

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

In this beautifully crafted novel from the author of the critically-acclaimed Two Sisters, comes the story of a woman who retreats into a fantasy world on New York City’s Upper West Side as she slowly loses her once whip-smart husband to dementia—perfect for fans of Still Alice.

When life falls apart, a little fantasy goes a long way… 

It started as a dream vacation in Spain, with Fay and Paul Agarra enjoying all the delights of a European holiday. A respected New York City judge, Paul has always been the man Fay can rely on, no matter what. When he inexplicably disappears from a Barcelona street corner, Fay knows something is terribly wrong. Once reunited, Paul shrugs off the episode as a simple misunderstanding—but Fay suspects her almost perfect life has taken a dark and sudden turn.

Soon there are more signs that Paul is beginning to change. Bouts of forgetfulness lead to mistakes in the courtroom. Simple tasks cause unexplainable outbursts of anger. Fay’s worst suspicions are realized when she learns her husband—her rock, her love, her everything—is succumbing to the ravages of dementia. 

As her husband transforms before her very eyes, Fay copes with her fears by retreating into a fantasy life filled with promise instead of pain. In Fay’s invented world, she imagines herself living a glamorous life free from heartache, with a handsome neighbor she barely knows rescuing her from a future she can’t accept. 

Poignant and beautifully crafted, Left is an unforgettable tale about life’s aching uncertainties—and a woman who discovers that somewhere between hope and reality, an unexpected future will find its way forward.

Goodreads Summary

As someone who often works with men and women afflicted with neurological disorders I found this book particularly interesting. The author executed the progress and horrible demands of dementia well. I could tell that she had done her research or, possibly, experienced this disorder with someone within her own life. The book was well-written and filled with emotion. It isn't easy to lose a loved one and stand by helplessly while he/she leaves behind a shell of his/her former self. With diseases like dementia, is it particularly hard as often there isn't too much initial physical decay. 

Fay's life changes drastically over the course of this book. It causes her to increase her commitment, think over her life with her husband, and realize the importance of living in the "now." Fay's family and friends try to assist her, but ultimately cause interference more than anything. It is hard to truly grasp how difficult it is to be a caregiver until one is put in that position. This is not usually a quick decline. With an increasing elderly population there are more and more cases of dementia/Alzheimer's/etc... This novel would be a good book to read if one is currently going through (or expects to potentially experience) this crisis. 

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

The Wild Swans by Jackie Morris

Saturday, April 27, 2019

This very beautiful and lyrical extended version of the fairy tale 'The Wild Swans' by Hans Christian Andersen is the much anticipated companion toEast of the Sun, West of the Moon. With strong characterization of the heroine and also with more rounded characterisation of the wicked stepmother than in the original version, and with delicate watercolor paintings throughout, this is both a wonderful story and delightful gift. Beautifully presented in a jacketed edition with foiled title.

Goodreads summary

This is an extended edition of a well known fairy tale and it is done very well. The illustrations are exquisite and perfectly portray the mood that this book is performing for its readers. I say performing here because there is a perfect dance between the illustrations and the well constructed story. Some people would say that when you make an extended edition of a story or movie that it can get over drawn-out and loose the readers/watchers. This is not the case here and anyone who dives in will be pleasantly surprised.

4 Stars
Reviewed by Chris

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Whatever Cure by Ann M. Martin

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has gone away unexpectedly and left her niece, Missy Piggle-Wiggle, in charge of the Upside-Down House and the beloved animals who live there: Lester the pig, Wag the dog, and Penelope the parrot, among others. Families in town soon realize that like her great-aunt, Missy Piggle-Wiggle has inventive cures for all sorts of childhood (mis)behavior: The Whatever Cure and the Just-a-Minute Cure, for instance. What is a stressed out parent to do? Why, call Missy Piggle-Wiggle, of course!

New York Times-bestselling author Ann Martin brings her signature warmth and comic genius to a new character. And artist Ben Hatke brings it all to life!

Goodreads Summary

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle reminds both my and my mother of our childhoods. I enjoy the books even now and love the quirky and magical cures and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's wonderful way of treating children. This book centers around Missy Piggle-Wiggle, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's niece. Missy has the same kind and compassionate nature with a dose of humor and a dash of quirkiness. The reader will get to know children and their families (all with unusual names ranging from Rusty to Petulance). Each family has a struggle with their children (except the perfect Lacarte's, you know!). Missy always has either a potion, word of advice, or common sense approach to help the family through the "I never said it" or chronic lateness.

This book came with a two page illustration that was absolutely stunning and showed how the upside-down house looked like complete with Wag, Lightfoot, and Penelope. I loved how Missy and Harold seemed slightly in love with each other. I hope Missy sticks around and has children of her own in follow-up books! Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle was called away the entire book looking for her pirate husband, Mr. Piggle-Wiggle. I cannot recommend this book enough. I believe it can easily be enjoyed by all ages and should be part of every childhood repertoire. 

5 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Bound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen

Monday, April 15, 2019

Jae is a slave in a dying desert world.

Once verdant with water from a magical Well, the land is drying up, and no one remembers the magic needed to keep the water flowing. If a new source isn’t found soon, the people will perish. Jae doesn’t mind, in a way. By law, she is bound by a curse to obey every order given her, no matter how vile. At least in death, she’ll be free.

Lord Elan’s family rules the fading realm. He comes to the estate where Jae works, searching for the hidden magic needed to replenish the Well, but it’s Jae who finds it, and she who must wield it. Desperate to save his realm, Elan begs her to use it to locate the Well.

But why would a slave—abused, beaten, and treated as less than human—want to save the system that shackles her? Jae would rather see the world burn.

Though revenge clouds her vision, she agrees to help if the kingdom’s slaves are freed. Then Elan’s father arrives. The ruler’s cruelty knows no limits. He is determined that the class system will not change—and that Jae will remain a slave forever.

Goodreads Summary

Jae reminded me of Ella from Ella Enchanted. She doesn't have magic spell cast upon her forcing her to do what her ownders dictate, but she is forced nonetheless. Jae isn't unhappy when the realm begins to fall apart. She would like to see it all go away and burn up. Unfortunately, Jae ends up finding the secret to the fresh water renewel from the Well. In her opinion, she doesn't have a hard choice. She doesn't want to step in and help a society that has kept her as a slave. Lord Elan belives that she is condemning every living creature over her anger. She decides to help if, and only if, all slaves are freed. Unfortunately, there are powerful institutions in play that will not let slavery go so easily. 

I loved Jae's character. She emodied everything I imagined she would given her horrible situation: angry, resentful, and full of rage. Jae's slavery status is due to her being a "Closest" or one who must obey the "Avowed" due to them behaving as traitors decades and decades earlier. The author spares no details about the horror and abuse the Closest face from rape to beatings. Jae and Tal, her brother, respond to the abuse differently. Neither wants to be touched, but Jae is more full of rage and Tal is tired and beaten down. I was surprised by the ending and it was a little disheartening. I liked that the author stuck to the more realistic version, but I always want happily ever afters.

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Invincible by Amy Reed

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Fault in Our Stars meets Go Ask Alice in this dramatic romance about a teenage girl who survives a terminal cancer diagnosis, only to get trapped in the deadly spiral of addiction. Fans of Gayle Forman and Sara Zarr will be swept away by this gritty romance, the first in a duology.

Evie is living on borrowed time. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer several months ago and told that by now she'd be dead. Evie is grateful for every extra day she gets, but she knows that soon this disease will kill her. Until, miraculously, she may have a second chance to live.

All Evie had wanted was her life back, but now that she has it, she feels like there's no place for her in it—at least, not for the girl she is now. Her friends and her parents still see her as Cancer Girl, and her boyfriend's constant, doting attention is suddenly nothing short of suffocating.

Then Evie meets Marcus. She knows that he's trouble, but she can't help falling for him. Being near him makes her feel truly, fully alive. It's better than a drug. His kiss makes her feel invincible—but she may be at the beginning of the biggest free fall of her life.

Goodreads Summary

Evie used to be a cheerleader; she used to love doing stunts and spending time with her boyfriend, Will. Now, she is known as Cancer Patient to all those that do not understand. She has friends in the hospital, Stella and Caleb, who understand what she has gone through. They all know that their friendship may not be permanent as their diagnoses may be terminal. When Evie receives a sudden reprieve right when Stella is dealt a hard blow, Evie reacts to her newfound health by acting out and nearly destroying it.

Evie's character annoyed the heck out of me. I understand that she was a cancer patient, I understand that her life was hard, but she really overplayed the "I can do what I want" card once she was healthy. She gets into drugs (partially due to Stella) and finds herself with "a bad boy." Her parents, friends, and caring boyfriend are worried. Her character and the "too stupid to live" decisions she made really wrecked a good plot-line for me. I'm pretty character driven; it is difficult to care too much about a book once I've checked out of caring for the characters. I may give the next book a try though.

3 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ