Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros

It is not often that I give one cheese reviews, but I did not like this book. I have nothing against the author or anything like that, I simply did not like it. I think it was more that I was not able to understand it as it was meant to be. I couldn’t relate to the characters. I couldn’t get in to the mindset of the characters even though I was reading their thoughts. I couldn’t emphasize with the characters through similar experiences because I haven’t really experienced anything like the women in the book did. I also didn’t like the way it was written. I should preface that by saying I don’t get poetry because I felt the book was almost written prose and poetry – a lot of short sentences, sentence fragments, lists and descriptions abound throughout the book. Granted, this is how we often think, especially as women, but it is difficult to read. It is just not a style I like. Furthermore, the jump from story to story threw me off because there wasn’t really a common link in them. Some of the stories link together, but not all. They also don’t really flow in any particular manner.

All that being said, I would like to highlight what I thought was good about the book. There is a wide variety of themes – love, loss, magic, cheating, domestic abuse, beauty, the Mexican revolution, living on both sides of the border, religion, sex, and life. It is a female dominated book, so it will appeal primarily to female readers. Furthermore, it empowers women, doesn’t make them subjects to a fate out of their hands. It provides interesting windows into the lives of Mexican women and Mexican-American women. It is realistic and believable  (at least the stories that don’t involve magic). My favorite story was Little Miracles, Promises Kept.

I would recommend it to Mexican-American women particularly and any woman in general. It is an empowering book for women if you like it. Anyone studying the Mexican-American culture should read this as well. There are some interesting insights into that culture and the lives of the people in it. I can see the value of the book, I personally just didn’t like it.

My  rating:

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

After reading Charlotte and Emily Brontës’ works, I was impressed by their writing and story lines. I was wondering about Anne Brontë because you never hear much about her, so I decided to read (listen to) one of her works. Most of the websites recommended Agnes Grey, but I gravitated more toward The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.  I am so glad that I did. It was an absolutely a phenomenal book. She is definitely able to match her sisters for story line and writing strength. I actually think hers was my favorite of the Brontë sisters’ works as it was easy to follow and read.

The story opens following Gilbert Markham, a young farmer. He becomes fascinated by the young widow who takes up residence in the local Wildfell Hall not far from his farm. They have a growing friendship and intimacy that unfortunately ends with her refusing to marry him. The local gossip mongers start spreading rumors about how her son looks very like his best friend Frederick Lawrence and how he visits her at unseemly hours. This comes to a head in an unfortunate set of circumstances. However, the result is she presents him with her diary, which she explains will clear up the whole matter. You then get to read her diary which details the building up of an abusive marriage and her escape.

The story is quite brilliant, with multiple twists and turns. I explained it to someone as an interesting cross between Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Pride and Prejudice. You feel for Gilbert and cheer him on. You relate easily with Helen (the widow) and find yourself hating her husband. It really pulls you in and makes you want to know more. I enjoyed how you got to learn about the main characters in great depth. You also learn how an abusive relationship starts and grows and how difficult it was for women of the time to escape it, even why they would stay in the relationship. It’s an exact account of the relationship and what many women experience even today.

I highly recommend this book. It was a fantastic read and a read view into the world of women and marriage. Definitely an eye opener and emotionally stimulating read. Anyone who enjoys the classics, especially the Brontë sisters and Jane Austen will enjoy it.

My rating:

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Melting Away the Ice (Ice Series #1) by Mary Smith

I wanted to continue with my hockey novella reading in honor of the NHL playoffs, so I downloaded this book. I was hoping it was a well-written and thought out as some of the other series I had read, but it wasn’t. That’s not to say it was bad, because it wasn’t. It had a good story line, something a little different but not too different at the same time.

The story follows Sara as she is working to get back to herself before a terrible domestic violence incident. She is drug by her friend Rachel to a hockey game where she meets Lucas Sharp by accident. Lucas is the captain of the Chicago Eagles. He doggedly pursues her until she relents and, with the help of Rachel, gives in and begins dating him. Sara keeps Lucas in the dark for most of the story about her past. The story mainly focuses on Sara and how she is dealing with dating and falling in love. You get some of what Lucas is experiencing, but it strikes me as mainly surface emotion, or a general emotion that one would assume he is feeling through the different events.

I would like to guess this is an early writing, someone new to being an author. A lot of my issues were with phrasing and tense. She wrote in present tense which is always a little jarring at first. Furthermore, she had the Chicago Eagles as the reining team in the league. For some reason that bothers me. I would think it would make for a stronger book if the team was placed somewhere in the middle of the field. Also, I thought the progression of the romance was a little too quick for a domestic violence case. The emotional struggle of recovering could easily have been fleshed out and been more in-depth. But like I said, it felt like the writer was new. So hopefully her books will improve as her skills grow.

My rating:

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Portland Storm: The First Period (Books 1-4) by Catherine Gayle

I found this series on sale in the Amazon Kindle store and thought I’d give it a shot. It turned out to be a fantastic little series so far. The third book was quite short, more like a set of deleted scenes, but it helped to bridge the gap between books 2 and 4. My favorite was the first book, Breakaway. I can’t wait to find more books in the series. The novellas were actually quite long, but I was still able to finish each under 4 hours.

You do need at least rudimentary knowledge of hockey to read the books. There are a lot of sections where it focuses on the male lead and what he is doing in the game, so the reader needs to understand a little of the game to be able to follow.

One thing I did really like was the fact the novellas only had a couple sex scenes in each. They are not overrun with them. Mostly it focuses on the emotional development and hardships of the couple instead of the sex, which is fantastic in my opinion. The author does a phenomenal job portraying the inner turmoil and true emotions of her characters in a way I rarely see. The strong emotions she digs into fascinate me.

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Breakaway – Book 1

I absolutely loved this book. It follows the story of Dana and Eric. Dana and Eric grew up together, and both played hockey. Eric left with Dana’s brother, Brenden, to go to college and Dana went to a different college. Dana was a star hockey player on her college team until she was gang raped after a game by a group of rival fans. She decided after seven years of counseling, she needed someone she trusted to help her learn how to deal with intimacy again and aid her in conquering her panic attacks. Eric is not at all happy with the idea but has been in love with her for years, so he gives in and agrees to help her.

Anyone who suffers from panic attacks, or survived rape or abuse will be able to relate very strongly with Dana. Her portrayal is amazingly realistic to what panic attacks are like and how hard it is to heal from sexual violence. As an abuse survivor, I was able to relate to her extremely well and found the book to be a great example of what a loving, healing relationship can do. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes romance or is struggling to recover from sexual violence.

My rating:

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On the Fly – Book 2

After the first book, I shouldn’t have been surprised to find the second book as emotionally strong and tangled. You follow the story of Brenden and Rachel. Brenden is Dana’s brother and has just been called up from the minor league. He is struggling with trying to prove he deserves to be in the major league and also with the relationship that has developed between Eric and Dana. Rachel is running from her husband who she found out and successfully convicted of abusing her daughter. Throughout the book she struggles a lot with trust, overprotectiveness, and insecurity over her growing feelings for Brenden. An added obstacle is her learning the ropes of her new job – secretary for the Portland Storm General Manager, taking over for the retiring Martha.

It was endearing to see these two people slowly cross the obstacles in front of them and find each other, in particular how they became a family with Rachel’s two children. You also get to learn more about the other team members and begin to really get a feel for the different personalities. The only thing I didn’t particularly like was how abruptly it ended. But that is really my only complaint. Other than that, I thought it was a brilliantlyl written work.

My rating:

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Taking a Shot – Book 3

This is actually considered an in-between novella. It is just a short snippet, very quick, that helps segue between On the Fly and Light the Lamp. It is the story of Jamie “Babs” Babcock taking Katie to her prom. I don’t want to give away something that happens in On the Fly, but I will say it is important that she is able to go. I thought it was a great way to portray a small development between these two characters, as their love story has been woven through each book so far. However, it was very quick and I hoped for more. It makes sense to read it, but I cannot wait for their actual full-length novella to come out next week.

My rating:

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Light the Lamp – Book 4

This is another book I greatly enjoyed. The book follows Liam and Noelle. Liam is a widower who is still grieving for his wife who was hit by a drunk driver while she was trying to change a tire. He finds Noelle on the highway, trying to fix her car, and insisted on taking her somewhere safe until the car cooled down. He later finds out she is homeless and jobless and insists she go home with him. The story unfolds as the fall in love and struggle to become emotionally close. You also learn about Liam’s Light the Lamp foundation that helps addicts begin to put their life back together.

It is a very emotionally charged book. I found I was very able to relate to Liam. His struggles to deal with the death of his wife and the love he is developing for a new woman are strong and realistic. I had a harder time relating to Noelle, but she is so sweet and genuine you have to like her. Her emotions do come through very strongly as well, especially with her fighting to maintain her independence and need to make the world a better place.

My rating:

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