Gisela’s review of The Cafe by the Sea (Summer Seaside Kitchen, #1)

I was on the fence about giving it a 4 but I don’t really believe it deserves a 3, so just pretend that it is a 3.5. The first few chapters are a bit boring, and I couldn’t get through some of the details, BUT it definitely picks up and the rest of the book was a breeze to get through!

The Cafe by the Sea was the type of book I needed after reading many “serious” books (and currently listening to another serious read that is breaking my heart). We go on a journey with Flora, who is freaking hilarious, from her adopted home of London to her home on an island long off the coast of Scotland called Mure. What follows is a story about finding out where you belong, the ties that will forever bind us, and discovering long hidden passions. Seriously though, I wanted to eat everything Flora baked or cooked in the book!! Side Note: The author includes a few recipes in the back, which I’m super eager to try out!

I’m also a sucker for anything folklore or mythical related. This book had it’s fair share of selkie and sprite stories!

“You can live in many different places. I would like to think you will step into many different worlds, many different places, and feel happy in all of them.”

Gisela’s review of The Cafe by the Sea (Summer Seaside Kitchen, #1)

Gisela’s review of Evelyn, After

3.5 almost 4 because I won’t lie – I was hooked from the first page. It’s not a life-changing book, but I think it does pose a lot of good questions about marriage and commitment and secrets. It’s described as a thriller but I don’t really see it that way. More of just romance, mystery-ish kind of fiction. But still worth a read!

A lot of people thought the main character was boring but frankly, I think most people would act like Evelyn if they found out their asshole husband was cheating on them (that’s not a spoiler by the way). I also enjoyed her character for the fact that she is extremely honest with her thinking. Her thoughts on her body and her aging, how she stopped doing the things she loved because, well, life – those are all things we go through. I’m not Evelyn’s age but I appreciate her struggle and how she isn’t ignorant about the things that are happening around her. She goes through a sort of awakening that I really admire in women. Her suburban life ain’t what it’s all cracked up to be. As she says, “She was a whole person, not just a marriage.”

I’ll leave you with this quote:

“From now on, if something was important to her, she would demand it. Because the truth was that she belonged anywhere she wanted to be, and she was beautiful just for being brave.”

Gisela’s review of Evelyn, After

Gisela’s review of From Sand and Ash

Side Note: It took me forever to finish this book because I only listened to it on the way to and from work. It was like a show to me and the narrator did an amazing job at pulling me into the book’s environment.

I will attempt to write this review without getting teary eyed but I can’t promise you all anything. There were so many tears while I listened to this book – tears of despair as I felt the anguish and hopelessness of the characters, tears of happiness as I discovered the love blossoming even among the ruins of horrendous war, tears of relief at the acts of heroism displayed by all the different types of people I encountered in this book. So. many. tears.

Eva and Angelo’s story was fictional as the author states but their circumstances and the circumstances they find themselves in are not. It is really real what happened during World War II and I still don’t fully understand my fascination with reading historical fiction from this time. Perhaps simply it is how the human spirit, no matter the odds, can never been broken. Amidst the chaos and calculated destruction of monsters among men, there will always be a glimmer of hope. The rebellious spirit and faith of the characters called to me and I will cherish it and remember it always.

And since there is always a glimmer of hope in the darkness, I will give you all, whomever you maybe, some hope – this story is about redemption and love and finding that love no matter what obstacles come your way. Most WWII stories do not have happy endings, but this one does.

I leave you with this quote:

“My father told me once that we are on earth to learn. God wants us to receive
everything that life was meant to teach. Then we take what we’ve learned, and
it becomes our offering to God and to mankind. But we have to live in order to
learn. And sometimes we have to fight in order to live.”

Gisela’s review of From Sand and Ash

Fear is strange. It settles on chests and seeps through skin, through layers of tissues, muscle, and bone, and collects in a soul-size black hole, sucking the joy out of life, the pleasure, the beauty. But not the hope. Somehow, the hope is the only thing resistant to the fear, and it is that hope that makes the next breath possible, the next step, the next tiny act of rebellion, even if that rebellion is simply staying alive.

Amy Harmon, From Sand and Ash

Gisela’s review of By Your Side

That was the sweetest thing I’ve read in a while even with it beginning with a cliche. Good girl meets “tough and tender” boy and get locked up in a library by accident over a long weekend. That sounds like a dream come true to me.

Despite the cliche beginning, the book had serious undertones to it, and one that I admittedly and personally can relate to. The main character, Autumn has an anxiety disorder. She panics over many things and it’s not until Dax (tough and tender boy) shows her that it’s okay to say no to friends and situations if they make you feel uncomfortable. Her mother was a super hero too letting her know that it’s okay to take mental health breaks once in a while.

There was a moment in the end that made me tear up a bit, where Autumn explains her disorder as her mind not being in tune with her body sometimes. Such a simple statement that speaks volumes.

This book was adorable too. I’m a sucker for tough and tender boys. Especially ones who read. Anyone who needs a little light in their day should read this. 

Side Note: I only read this book based on a recommendation. I would have never picked it up on my own because of the cover. I’m not a big fan of real people on covers. *shudders*

Gisela’s review of By Your Side

Gisela’s review of The Bird and the Sword

Do you like far off places? Daring sword fights, magic spells, a prince in disguise? Did you see what I did there? *chuckles to self*

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But honestly, Belle took the words right out of my mouth. The Bird and the Sword is all that and more. This is a Fantasy Romance book in its purest form. My first Amy Harmon book and I was not disappointed.

First thing, plot. Although I’m sure many of us grew up with fairy tales and sweeping fantasies I was always taken by surprise by the direction of the story. I could never predict what would happen. Our main protagonist, Lark is a girl of noble birth who has the power of a teller (someone who can use words and phrases to create magic), but because of a tragic situation in her past she is left without the ability to speak or use her words.

As for her writing style… it is gorgeous and lush and honestly very poetic. Words play a very big role in this book and is what ultimately causes much grief but also happiness.

Now for the fangirling moment – gosh the characters were just so beautifully written!!! Lark was beautiful and delicate. I’m used to reading about super strong ass female characters that can take down someone with a sword, but Lark has a different strength to her. Something quiet and subtly strong. Something you shouldn’t underestimate. I appreciated that. As for the King… *swoon.* He was so frustratingly cocky and gentle at the same time. I kept going back and forth between wanting to smack him and wanting to kiss him!

Over all the book was beautiful and a fast favorite for me. My only wish was that there was another book!

Gisela’s review of The Bird and the Sword