The Lost Letter From Morocco by Adrienne Chinn

 

42972180This is the story of Addy who lives in London and has breast cancer. During a break from her chemotherapy treatment, she comes across a lost letter in which her late father reveals that he had fallen in love with a Moroccan woman. Together with the letter she also finds pictures of her father and the Moroccan woman in which it appears the woman might have been pregnant.

Determined to find answers to this mystery, she decides to travel to Morocco to follow in her father’s footsteps and hopefully meet her half-sibling. In Morocco, she meets a Berber who starts out as her tour guide but soon develops into something else.

The Lost Letter From Morocco is the typical example of a novel that has all the elements to be a great read. Exotic place, the possibility of romance, a character battling severe illness, you get the idea. However, it failed to deliver it. I struggled with the end which I thought did not do service to the rest of the novel. It was not the type of book I expected to be.

I’d like to thank Avon Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: ARC
Published: March 7th, 2019
ASIN: B07H54D1GT
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Avon Books, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction

 

The Sunday Post

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The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. A post to recap the past week, and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog…

Happy Sunday, everyone! I’m very happy with my reading accomplishments this week and I hope you are too. I don’t always post a review of all the books I read in a week, but I can tell you that this week was a hodgepodge of really good books and not so good books.

Spring is such a great time to get some reading done. Not only because I teach a much fewer number of classes during spring, but because I’m just always so inspired to get out there and read. The weather is absolutely awesome in my neck of the woods, and I’m certainly taking advantage of this weather before the crazy, unrelenting summer comes around.

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I started this week catching up on some of my previous reads that had never made it into a formal review.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz opened the week with a bang. Although I gravitate towards books regarding the Holocaust and WWII in general, this book was not quite what I was expecting.

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Review of the Tattooist of Auschwitz

 

For quite some time I’ve considered myself an Agatha Christie fan, and that was because until recently I had not really found any books of hers that I didn’t like. Well, that all changed when I came across a little book called The Secret Adversary. The first book in the Tommy and Tuppence Series I really struggled to get through this book. Unlike Christie’s earlier books, such as the wonderful The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Secret Adversary had a very strange format. It read more like a spy novel than a mystery novel, and the dialogue was strange and convoluted.

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 Review of The Secret Adversary

I ended the week with my third book by B.A. Paris–The Breakdown. B.A. Paris has a great talent for interesting stories and original plot. The Breakdown is a suspenseful novel that does not disappoint and will probably keep me going back to this author.

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Review of The Breakdown

 

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This upcoming week starts with a review of a novel by Adrienne Chinn, Lost Letter From Morocco set against the beautiful and exotic background of Morocco. Then I switch gears to a mystery thriller that has kept me up all night–Little Darlings by Melanie Golding. I top off this upcoming week with a much needed back to classics with my review of Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. Wide Sargasso Sea is one of the fifty books in my Classics Club Challenge.

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How about you? what will you be reading/reviewing this week?

The Breakdown by B.A Paris

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It’s late at night and Cassie is driving on a deserted road when she almost hits a car that seems to be broken down on the side of the road. When she drives by the car, she sees the figure of a woman on the driver side. It’s raining, and Cassie is hesitant about leaving her car to help a stranger. After mulling and weighing all the risks of helping strangers in the middle of the night, Cassie decides she is better off not getting involved and decides to drive home. The next day, Cassie learns in the news that a woman was brutally murdered on the same road around the same time she was driving the night before. Cassie becomes consumed with guilt over the fact that she didn’t stop to help the stranger, only to find out that the woman was no stranger at all but someone she once met at a party and even went out to lunch on one occasion. This knowledge plunges Cassie in a downward spiral of guilt, fear, and paranoia. Cassie, who once considered herself a little absent-minded now starts to forget everything from where she parked her car, to ordering an alarm system to her house, and buying a baby stroller when she is not even pregnant. Completely paranoid that she might be suffering from the same illness as her late mother–early onset dementia, the only people Cassie can rely on are her husband Matthew and her best friend, Rachael.

The Breakdown is the third book I read from B.A. Paris, and just like my last review on Bring Me Back, The Breakdown has a solid premise. Unfortunately, B.A Paris once again makes similar mistakes to her earlier novel. Unlike Bring Me Back where the end is entirely improbable, you figure out the plot of The Breakdown half-way through the book, and what follows is a series of Cassie’s constant whiny dialogues and endless pages of text messages that were completely unnecessary once you figure out the plot. The ending is anti-climatic and predictable.

On the positive side, I always give kudos to authors who can create characters that annoy me. Characters that are so well written that I can hear their voices in my head or imagine what they look like. These types of characters are alive, and Cassie was one of them, however much I disliked her as a person. For that reason and the fact that the book holds a lot of suspense and interest for the first half of the book, I’m recommending it to fans of the genre.


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The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

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The first in the Tommy and Tuppence Mysteries. This is probably my least favorite book by Agatha Christie. I really struggled to get into this book. The characters did not appeal to me at all. The language was off, and I don’t mean in the sense that this novel was written over ninety years ago. The main character, Tuppence was silly and childish. The dialogue between Tuppence and Tommy was convoluted and strange, not at all what I am used to reading in her novels. I missed Agatha Christie’s classical whodunnit style of story as this book felt more like a spy story than a mystery.  Not to mention that I figured out the plot half-way through the book and the second half just dragged on and on. The Secret Adversary was the second book published by Agatha Christie after her first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, a book I absolutely loved. I’m not sure what Christie was trying to do with this book, but it did not work for me, and I’m not really looking forward to the other books in the series.


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The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

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I feel like I need a little disclaimer. I want to start this review by saying that I am aware that there were a lot of controversies with this book concerning its accuracy and historical faithfulness. I decided to approach this book with the intention of reading it as historical fiction. The following review is strictly based on the story, prose, and flow of the book.

This book is the story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew who is taken to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Lale is multilingual and therefore given the job of Tätowierer (tattooist in German) tattooing numbers on the new prisoners. This book is also the story of Gita, a scared young woman who Lale tattoos and falls in love.

I love reading books about the Holocaust, watching movies about the Holocaust, and the Holocaust museum in Los Angeles. Love in the sense that I feel this is a part of history that should never be forgotten. I have loved people in my life who were either, themselves, survivors of the Holocaust, or descents of survivors. Suffice to say; I loved when I came across a copy of this book displayed at my local library.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is much more than just a love story set against the background of one of the worst crimes in human history. It is a story of survival, endurance and ultimately love–not just the romantic type but love for humanity.

So, you might be wondering by now why I gave it such a relatively low score. The writing to me was too choppy. I never enjoyed reading screenplays, and this book reads like a screenplay. When I first saw the cover, I thought to myself, “oh, boy! This one will be a tearjerker.” Unfortunately, for as much as I wanted to love this book, I just couldn’t. The prose didn’t flow for me, probably because of the excessive amount of dialogue, or the lack of cohesiveness between the paragraphs.

Is it a book worth reading? Absolutely! It is a great story, regardless of the way it was delivered. The style of writing did not work for me, but it can certainly work for you.


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The Sunday Post

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The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. A post to recap the past week, and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog…

Happy Sunday everyone! I felt like this week went so fast that I can’t believe I’m actually writing a Sunday post. In case you missed it, I wrote two reviews of great books I had a chance to read this past week. Two completely different styles, and yet two excellent examples of a great work of fiction.

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I started the week reading Stephen King. I absolute love Stephen king. I remember reading my first book from him when I was 14. It was IT and scared the living light out of me. Not only it was a huge novel, it just exacerbated my fear of clowns. The Outsider is another great novel by Stephen King that I guarantee will keep you scared and entertained for its nearly 500 plus pages.

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Review of The Outsider by Stephen King

 

From the horrors of Stephen King, I switched gears to read an ARC about Mexican/Mayan mythology. This was my first book by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and I was pleasantly surprised.

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Review of Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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I’m excited about some of the upcoming reviews this week. I’m starting off by reviewing a love story against the backdrop of the Nazi Holocaust in The Tattooist of Auschwitz. I also got one of Agatha Christie’s books I never got around reading in the past–The Secret Adversary and one ARC this week called The Lost Letter from Morocco.

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How about you? What do you plan on reading this week?

The Outsider by Stephen King

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When a hideous crime happens to 11-year-old Frank Peterson in the fictitious town of Flint City, police immediately suspects the town’s little league coach Terry Maitland. Maitland is an upstanding citizen of Flint City, and his public arrest causes a significant amount of commotion. On the surface, it seems like a straight forward case and detective Ralph Anderson is confident of his arrest and Maitland’s guilt. But when Maitland comes up with an irrefutable alibi, detective Anderson will have to expand his investigation and face horrifying answers.

I initially struggled with starting The Outsider. I don’t particularly gravitate toward books with themes of sexual violence and rape, especially regarding children. But I couldn’t pass on the opportunity of reading one of Stephen King’s latest books. I love Stephen King’s seemingly easy way he tells his stories, his dark creativity, his wild imagination, and vivid scenes. The Outsider at times reads like an episode of Law and Order, but being Stephen King, you know that is not going to last very long, and pretty soon an element of the supernatural will rear its ugly head.

Although The Outsider is a hefty 560 pages novel, the amount of suspense and horror keeps you well engaged for a good ¾ of the book. The topic of the book, although dark, does not dwell too much on sexual abuse as it does in the investigation process. I didn’t feel the end was necessarily rushed; quite the opposite–he could have shaved off a few pages as it felt like it dragged a bit.

Overall The Outsider does not disappoint one bit, and if anything it solidifies my admiration for an author I’ve been reading for nearly 25 years, and which continues to be in my humble opinion the master of horror. I highly recommend this book to both fans of this genre as well as fans of well-written fiction.


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Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In 1920s Mexico, Caseopea lived a very unhappy life cleaning floors of her wealthy grandfather and dreaming of a better life away from her chores. One day she comes across a mysterious wooden box and accidently frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death who takes her on a journey in hopes of regaining back his throne from his treacherous brother.

Part Jane Eyre and part Cinderella story, Moreno-Garcia’s Gods of Jade and Shadow is a beautiful fantasy tale based on Mayan mythology. In a time with so much negative emphasis on Mexico, it’s easy to forget that Mexico is a country with a very rich heritage, mythology and folklore. Moreno-Garcia successfully retells this myth with a beautiful prose and description of a Mexico of the 1920s.

I highly recommend this novel which is scheduled to be published in August 2019.

I would like to thank Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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The Island Villa by Lily Graham

 

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When Charlotte’s husband James tragically dies, he leaves her an unexpected gift – her grandmother’s beautiful villa, Marisal, on the Spanish island of Formentera. As she begins to explore her new home and heal her broken heart in the warm golden sunshine, Charlotte discovers that her grandmother Alba has been keeping secrets about her life on the island. Intrigued by her family’s hidden history, Charlotte uncovers a devastating love affair that put many lives at risk and two sisters torn apart by loss. Can the heartbreaking truth of the island’s dark history finally be laid to rest? Or will the secrets of the past shake the new life and love that Charlotte is close to finding? 

Review

The book starts with Charlotte grieving her husband’s death and finding out that she has inherited a villa in the beautiful Spanish island of Formentera. The first part of the book started out slow and I thought the story was going to revolve around her grieving until she finds out that her grandmother Alba had some secrets Charlotte was about to discover. What attracted me to this book was the cover and the idea of reading a “feel-good summer read” and although the book was quite enjoyable, at times the narrative felt repetitive and stereotypical of what one thinks a Mediterranean island should look and smell like. Having lived in the Balearic Islands I thought a book about Formentera was going to transport me back to that time in my life, but it really didn’t. The historical part was very interesting, but overall I felt that the characters landed a bit flat on the pages and the middle of the story dragged a bit.

I would like to thank Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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The Italian Party by Christina Lynch

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When Scottie’s Italian teacher–a teenager with secrets of his own–disappears, her search for him leads her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband and her country. Michael’s dedication to saving the world from communism crumbles as he begins to see that he is a pawn in a much different game. Driven apart by lies, Michael and Scottie must find their way through a maze of history, memory, hate, and love to a new kind of complicated truth. Half glamorous fun, half an examination of America’s role in the world, and filled with sun-dappled pasta lunches, prosecco, charming spies and horse racing, The Italian Party is a smart pleasure.

Review

How would you feel if you were newlywed in the 1950s and having to move to a foreign country, more specifically, Italy? That is how the Italian Party begins. You don’t know much about Michael and Scottie at first, but you get a sense that they are both not quite who they make themselves to be. Michael is a first-generation Italian-American, who moves to his family’s homeland on the pretense that he works for Ford. Scottie is the cute all-American blonde who has a secret of her own. On the surface, they look like the perfect couple, but when Scottie’s Italian teacher goes missing we embark on a series of events that take place in the 50s, in the middle of the Cold War, and the fight against communism.

This book was not quite what I was expecting. Just like Lynch’s characters in this book, the novel gives you an erroneous idea that this is another beautiful love story set against a beautiful backdrop of romantic Italy in the 1950s. As you get more and more involved in the book, you realize that nothing about this book is what it seems to be on the surface.

I really enjoyed being transported to this beautiful, and rather, innocent time. I loved all the descriptions of Italy, the Italian way of life, and all the wonderful food. This was a great read and a little history refresher for me. I highly recommend it.


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