The Burning Within by RaNelle Wallace & Curtis Taylor #UltimateReadingChallenge #Bookreview

The Burning Within

by Ranelle Wallace & Curtis Taylor

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From Goodreads:

True story of a couple returning home after an unsuccessful vacation to revive their marriage, their plane crash, their rescue, survival, recovery, and coping with life after severe burns and disfiguration. Adding to this tragedy was a woman’s disregard for the warnings and strong premonitions of what was to come. That burning within all of us. Also a very compelling near death experience and confirmation of life after death beliefs that people of every religion can relate to.

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Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo: Book Review #UltimateReadingChallenge July

Because of Winn Dixie

by Kate DiCamillo

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From Goodreads:

Kate DiCamillo’s beloved, best-selling debut novel is now available in a paperback digest edition.

Kate DiCamillo’s first published novel, like Winn-Dixie himself, immediately proved to be a keeper — a New York Times bestseller, a Newbery Honor winner, the inspiration for a popular film, and most especially, a cherished classic that touches the hearts of readers of all ages. It’s now available in a paperback digest format certain to bring this tale’s magic to an even wider circle of fans. Continue reading “Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo: Book Review #UltimateReadingChallenge July”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling & Jim Kay ~ Book Review #UltimateReadingChallenge May

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1)

by 

J.K. Rowling, Jim Kay (Illustrator)

 

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From Goodreads:

The beloved first book of the Harry Potter series, now fully illustrated by award-winning artist Jim Kay.

For the first time, J.K. Rowling’s beloved Harry Potter books will be presented in lavishly illustrated full-color editions. Kate Greenaway-award winning artist Jim Kay has created over 100 stunning illustrations, making this deluxe format a perfect gift as much for a child being introduced to the series, as for the dedicated fan.

Harry Potter has never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility.

All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley–a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry’s room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in eleven years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to an incredible place that Harry–and anyone who reads about him—will find unforgettable.

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The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham – Book Review – #UltimateReadingChallenge March

The Secrets She Keeps

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Summary:

In the bestselling tradition of The Girl on the Train and In a Dark, Dark Wood, from the internationally bestselling author whom Stephen King called “an absolute master” of the psychological thriller, comes a riveting suspense novel about the unlikely friendship between two pregnant women that asks: how far would you go to create the perfect family?

Agatha is pregnant and works part-time stocking shelves at a grocery store in a ritzy London suburb, counting down the days until her baby is due. As the hours of her shifts creep by in increasing discomfort, the one thing she looks forward to at work is catching a glimpse of Meghan, the effortlessly chic customer whose elegant lifestyle dazzles her. Meghan has it all: two perfect children, a handsome husband, a happy marriage, a stylish group of friends, and she writes perfectly droll confessional posts on her popular parenting blog—posts that Agatha reads with devotion each night as she waits for her absent boyfriend, the father of her baby, to maybe return her calls.

When Agatha learns that Meghan is pregnant again, and that their due dates fall within the same month, she finally musters up the courage to speak to her, thrilled that they now have the ordeal of childbearing in common. Little does Meghan know that the mundane exchange she has with a grocery store employee during a hurried afternoon shopping trip is about to change the course of her not-so-perfect life forever…

With its brilliant rendering of the secrets some women hold close and a shocking act that cannot be undone, The Secrets She Keeps delivers a dark and twisted page-turner that is absolutely impossible to put down.

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Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson – Book Review – #UltimateReadingChallenge – February

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Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas

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Summary:

Beautifully captures the joys of a new family as it builds to an overwhelmingly moving climax. This is an unforgettable love story, at once heartbreaking and full of hope.

James Patterson has written a love story!–a powerfully moving and suspenseful novel about families, loss, new love, and hope.

Katie Wilkinson has found her perfect man at last. He’s a writer, a house painter, an original thinker–everything she’s imagined she wanted in a partner. But one day, without explanation, he disappears from her life, leaving behind only a diary for her to read.

This diary is a love letter written by a new mother named Suzanne for her baby son, Nicholas. In it she pours out her heart about how she and the boy’s father met, about her hopes for marriage and family, and about the unparalleled joy that having a baby has brought into her life. As Katie reads this touching document, it becomes clear that the lover who has just left her is the husband and father in this young family. She reads on, filled with terror and hope, as she struggles to understand what has happened–and whether her new love has a prayer of surviving.

Written with James Patterson’s perfect pitch for emotion and suspense, Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas captures beautifully the joys of a new family as it builds to an overwhelmingly moving climax. This is an unforgettable love story, at once heartbreaking and full of hope.

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My Thoughts:

Katie and Matt had the perfect relationship. They had much in common and a completeness, but when Matt suddenly leaves the relationship, Katie is left with many questions and wonders what went wrong. Matt is someone Katie could’ve shared the rest of her life with. How could she have been so wrong about their relationship?Not long after Matt’s departure, she receives a package in the mail. She recognizes Matt’s handwriting on the package instantly, and when she opens it, she finds a book titled Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas. As Katie reads the diary, she’s shocked. All at once she learns about a woman named Suzanne and her son Nicholas. In the diary, Suzanne writes about her life before Nicholas, her journey through relationships, and the joyous times she had with Nicholas from his birth up through the first year of his life. She writes directly to Nicholas and shares memories with him about his father. She wants him to understand how much she loves him and his father, and just how special their life was together.

I first read this book in 2006 when I was pregnant with my second child. In hindsight, there’s no doubt that hormones played a part in my reaction because I bawled and bawled over the book which is why I decided to read this one for my February #UltimateReadingChallenge–tear jerker. I can still remember gushing over it to everyone and influenced all my friends to read it. I honestly couldn’t say enough about it. I think the majority of my emotions stem from the fact that it’s a mother writing to her  baby son about old memories and how her life was complete once he came into the world. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do (write to my children about our time together so they can read about it later in life). Another reason I was moved was because I personally went through similar health experiences, just like Suzanne, and her story felt real to me. I know some might say the writing isn’t spectacular, but I thought the narrative was, particularly Suzanne’s writings. Just when you think you know what’s happening, a surprising twist is thrown in–even at the end.

I was thoroughly involved in this story for the second time and flew through it, however, I don’t think I was as emotional when reading it this time around. Don’t get me wrong, I teared up for a bit, but I didn’t feel as affected by it this time. There were parts that I forgot and the story felt quite fresh to me, but I prepared myself ahead of time for the end because I remembered how emotional I was after the first reading. There was one part in the book that felt a little confusing and maybe a little unrealistic to me, but it was easily overlooked. Regardless, it still gets five stars from me.

5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
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