Monday, May 20, 2019

Review: The Overdue Life of Amy Byler

ABL Review At-A-Glance
Ø    Title:  The Overdue Life of Amy Byler
Ø    My Rating: 5
Ø    Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Ø    Author:  Kelly Harms
Ø    Format:  Hardcover
Ø    Publication Date: May 1, 2019


Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City.

Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and—with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. When one man in particular makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind.

But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.

My Thoughts...

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler was just what I needed.  A seemingly lighthearted comedic drama tale of motherhood, but filled to the brim with witty insight.  At times while reading this book, I was almost certain that Kelly Harms had put cameras in my house and could read my mind.  Her stuff was that on point.

Amy and I are the same woman I’m pretty sure.  Her kids are a little older than mine, and she’s a single mother, but otherwise, we are soulmates.  What mom hasn’t dreamed of a week away without the kids??? A week to find yourself again.  A week to remember what you were like before spit up became your go to accessory.  A week to eat out on a Tuesday like its normal.  A week to let your husband understand just how hard it is to be Mom.

I read this book voraciously, probably because I felt it so much.  I connected on a deep level with Amy, and it’s not just because we have the same name (but that was fun too).  I knew how she felt and wanted what she wanted, and completely understood the irrational wave of mommy guilt that hit her like a ton of bricks.  Where does that even come from?  It’s like your cruising along, enjoying life, and BAM!  A semi-truck full of ridiculous feelings t-bones your minivan full of educational dvds (or paw patrol).  Suddenly, nothing you’ve ever done or will do is good enough and you’ve basically ruined your kids’ lives forever.

Even if you aren’t a mom, I do think you can get a lot out of this book.  The story is adorable and honest, unflinchingly honest.  Plus there is a makeover and a really hot guy.  What’s not to like?

* Special thanks to Kelly Harms, Lake Union Publishing, and TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of The Overdue Life of Amy Byler in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

ARC Review: The Daughter's Tale

ABL Review At-A-Glance
Ø    Title:  The Daughter’s Tale
Ø    My Rating: 3.75
Ø    Genre:  Historical Fiction
Ø    Author:  Armando Lucas Correa
Ø    Format:  ARC paperback
Ø    Publication Date: May 7, 2019

Compare To:


BERLIN, 1939. The dreams that Amanda Sternberg and her husband, Julius, had for their daughters are shattered when the Nazis descend on Berlin, burning down their beloved family bookshop and sending Julius to a concentration camp. Desperate to save her children, Amanda flees toward the south of France, where the widow of an old friend of her husband’s has agreed to take her in. Along the way, a refugee ship headed for Cuba offers another chance at escape and there, at the dock, Amanda is forced to make an impossible choice that will haunt her for the rest of her life. Once in Haute-Vienne, her brief respite is inter­rupted by the arrival of Nazi forces, and Amanda finds herself in a labor camp where she must once again make a heroic sacrifice.

NEW YORK, 2015. Eighty-year-old Elise Duval receives a call from a woman bearing messages from a time and country that she forced herself to forget. A French Catholic who arrived in New York after World War II, Elise is shocked to discover that the letters were from her mother, written in German during the war. Despite Elise’s best efforts to stave off her past, seven decades of secrets begin to unravel.

Based on true events, The Daughter’s Tale chronicles one of the most harrowing atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis during the war. Heart­breaking and immersive, it is a beautifully crafted family saga of love, survival, and redemption.

My Thoughts...

The Daughter’s Tale is WWII historical fiction, but I would not call it another WWII historical fiction novel.  Armando Lucas Correa does a brilliant job of setting his work apart from other books of this genre.  There is a starkness about the quality of writing that kept me from romanticizing the events.  The characters have to make some really tough choices, some of which I don’t believe I would be able to make.

There were a few things that kept TDT from becoming a great book for me.  I needed more clear transitions between points of view.  Sometimes a new paragraph would start and we would be reading from a different person’s perspective, but there wasn’t anything to signal to the reader that a change was coming.  I also had trouble, at times, following the action.  Sometimes, in certain scenes, it would feel almost as if sentences were missing.  A few times, I actually reread pages to see if I missed something. 

If you like historical fiction, you will definitely like this book, especially if you enjoy WWII HF.  For anyone picking up this book, I would suggest reading the back cover.  The author explains the inspiration for the book, and it is a grave reminder that while this book is technically fiction, it is based on real events that happened to real people.  It’s a sobering and grounding reminder.

* Special thanks to Armando Lucas Correa, Atria Books, and TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of The Daughter’s Tale in exchange for an honest review.

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