Castle of Concrete by Katia Raina @tlcbooktours #bookreview #castleofconcrete

happy Monday evening all!

excited to share with you today my review for this delightful story! I love historical fiction because it always teaches me something that I did not already know, and this one taught me a lot! Thanks much to Trish for my invitation to this tour.

My Thoughts

Katia Raina brought the Soviet Union in the 1990s to life with her vivid writing. This book really made me realize how unaware I was of world events when I was 20. I did know that communism and the Soviet Union were crumbling, I did know there was a Gorbachev, but there was also much I did not know. This book did a marvelous job of enlightening me on important historical events by interweaving them into this story about this delightful girl. Sonia has spent most of her life living in Siberia with her grandmother, but now she has returned to Moscow to live with her mother. Not only does she now have to fit into a new school, but she is also torn between her Russian and her Jewish roots. Sonia really had a magnanimous personality, being a teenager is tough in the best of circumstances, I really admired her fortitude. I also felt so deeply for her, the poor girl was falling for a boy who was further tearing her in different directions. And her mother, I like to give her the benefit of the doubt, but I truly don’t think she always had a handle on the big picture. Beautifully told, highly engaging, A lovely story that taught me a thing or two about historical world events.

About Castle of Concrete

• Paperback: 304 pages
• Publisher: Young Europe Books (June 11, 2019)

Set in the final year of Soviet Russia’s collapse, this stunning debut novel tells the story of Sonya, a timid Jewish girl reuniting with her once-dissident mother and falling in love with a mysterious boy who may be an anti-Semite. All the while, Sonya’s mama is falling in love also?with shiny America, a land where differences seem to be celebrated. The place sounds amazing, but so far away. Will Sonya ever find her way there?

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

About Katia Raina

When she was a child, Katia Raina played at construction sites and believed in magic mirrors. She emigrated from Russia at the age of almost sixteen. A former journalist and currently a middle school English teacher in Washington, D.C., she has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives with her family just outside of D.C., and still believes in magic.

Find out more about Katia at her website, and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The Accidentals by Minrose Gwin @wmmorrowbooks @tlcbooktours #bookreview #theaccidentals

Happy Monday all!

Delighted to share with you today my review for this engaging story. A beautiful story packed with interesting characters. Thanks Trish for my invitation to the tour!🦚

My Thoughts

Minrose Gwin has written a beautiful story packed with Drama, tragedy, family, and hope. Life is complicated and the characters in this story had way more than their fair share of complicated situations. This family drama spans five decades of hurt and healing. The primary focus of the story is on sisters Grace and June, but we do get the point of view of several other characters. The story starts off with the death of Grace and June’s mother after a botched backstreet abortion. Grace carries around a lot of grief and guilt in regards to the death of her mother and this leads to some questionable choices in her own life. June is also struggling and this leads to her own poor decisions. When June betrays her sister in a big way a huge divide develops both physically and emotionally in the girls relationship. What follows is a heartbreaking story of hardship and regret that will eventually bring the sisters back together, and it only takes 50 years.

The book really makes you think about limitations that women had in the 1950s and 1960s. I personally thought that the issues that the women in this book struggled with and how they overcame them or didn’t really was the best part of the story. I’m not certain if I liked either Grace or June, but I really was rooting for them, these girls had a hard life. There were a few places the book fell a little flat for me. There was just way too much going on. I know the author was trying to give us a sense of time and place, but in doing so I think a lot was overlooked (everything having to do with the spacerace I felt that have been left out). The book was also extremely lopsided, most of the book focus on the first 10 years of the sisters lives and then raced through the final 40 years. I think I would’ve preferred it to end after the first 10 years and then conclude with a apologue. I mean I did not mind the book being wrapped up in a nice little bow, but it jumped around aimlessly in order to get there. But as I said this was such a small part of the book that it didn’t really bother me, for the most part I was thoroughly invested in the sisters lives.

*** Big thanks to William Morrow for my copy of this book ***

About The Accidentals

• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 13, 2019)

Following the death of their mother from a botched backwoods abortion, the McAlister daughters have to cope with the ripple effect of this tragedy as they come of age in 1950s Mississippi and then grow up to face their own impossible choices—an unforgettable, beautiful novel that is threaded throughout with the stories of mothers and daughters in pre-Roe versus Wade America.

Life heads down back alleys, takes sharp left turns. Then, one fine day it jumps the track and crashes.”

In the fall of 1957, Olivia McAlister is living in Opelika, Mississippi, caring for her two girls, June and Grace, and her husband, Holly. She dreams of living a much larger life–seeing the world and returning to her wartime job at a landing boat factory in New Orleans. As she watches over the birds in her yard, Olivia feels like an “accidental”—a migratory bird blown off course.

When Olivia becomes pregnant again, she makes a fateful decision, compelling Grace, June, and Holly to cope in different ways. While their father digs up the backyard to build a bomb shelter, desperate to protect his family, Olivia’s spinster sister tries to take them all under her wing. But the impact of Olivia’s decision reverberates throughout Grace’s and June’s lives. Grace, caught up in an unconventional love affair, becomes one of the “girls who went away” to have a baby in secret. June, guilt-ridden for her part in exposing Grace’s pregnancy, eventually makes an unhappy marriage. Meanwhile Ed Mae Johnson, an African-American care worker in a New Orleans orphanage, is drastically impacted by Grace’s choices.

As the years go by, their lives intersect in ways that reflect the unpredictable nature of bird flight that lands in accidental locations—and the consolations of imperfect return.

Filled with tragedy, humor, joy, and the indomitable strength of women facing the constricted spaces of the 1950s and 60s, The Accidentals is a poignant, timely novel that reminds us of the hope and consolation that can be found in unexpected landings.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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About Minrose Gwin

Minrose Gwin is the author of The Queen of Palmyra, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick and finalist for the John Gardner Fiction Book Award, and the memoir Wishing for Snow, cited by Booklist as “eloquent” and “lyrical”—“a real life story we all need to know.” She has written four scholarly books and coedited The Literature of the American South. She grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, hearing stories of the Tupelo tornado of 1936. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Find out more about Minrose at her website.