Fresh Face Friday: Lost and Found in Russia by Olga Godim

Happy Friday Everyone!  I don’t know about you but this week has been a long one.  Thank goodness it’s almost the weekend.  Anyway, onto our spotlight for this Friday.  I am featuring Olga Godim and her book Lost and Found in Russia.  This is was an exciting read both emotionally and intellectually.  Olga takes us from Vancouver to Russia and back on a journey that would be a defining moment in any woman’s life.  be sure to check out the rest of my review after the book blurb.

9781615728787_p0_v1_s260x420Book Blurb: (courtesy of Goodreads)

After a shocking discovery that her daughter was switched at birth thirty-four years ago, Amanda embarks on a trip to Russia to find her biological daughter. Meanwhile, Sonya—a thirty-four-year-old Russian immigrant and a former dancer— battles her daughter’s teenage rebellion. While Amanda wades through the mires of foreign bureaucracy, Sonya dreams of dancing. Both mothers are searching—for their daughters and for themselves.

 

Review:

Lost and Found in Russia is a fantastic journey book.  When reading this you feel like you are learning something about yourself through Sonya and Amanda’s journey.  The journey begins when Amanda learns that the daughter she raised was switched at birth and that her “real” daughter could be living a life of poverty in Russia.  She soon becomes determined to find her other daughter and bring her over to Vancouver.  Running parallel with Amanda’s story is Sonya’s.  Sonya is a struggling mother of a teenager.  She must work doubly hard since her husband is an alcoholic.  Once she makes the difficult decision of kicking her husband out of the house for his lack of self-improvement she then fights her daughter who blames her for all of the problems and begins to exhibit delinquent behavior.  In the mean time, Amanda is in Russia and while trying to discover the whereabouts of her daughter she begins to rediscover herself.  She starts to learn that though she is getting older she isn’t dead or oblivious to the attentions of men.  So, while Sonya and Amanda’s stories run parallel so do the journeys both physical and emotional that each mother and daughter face.

I really enjoyed this book.  I could really see the character development as the story progressed.  I’m not always a fan of parallel stories, but this one works.  I think Olga managed to really write a fantastic story that draws you in.  You feel the sadness, frustration and anxiety that Sonya feels and you feel the excitement, hope and love the Amanda exudes.  The story moved along very smoothly and after a couple of chapters really sucks you in and you begin to wonder if Mother and Daughter will ever meet.  I do have to say though the one thing I really didn’t like was the emphasis on a lot of anti-Semitism.  I didn’t expect the word Jew to be used so often and with such as a derogatory term.  I’m not fully familiar with the ins and outs of Russian culture, but I didn’t realize that anti-Semitism was so rampant there.  Overall, this was a really good read and I would recommend it to anyone who ever looked at their parents and wondered if they were really yours or not.

Author Bio: (courtesy of Goodreads)

I’m a fantasy writer. I live in Vancouver, Canada, and have two wonderful children: a son and a daughter. Both have already flown the nest, so instead of children I now collect monkeys. I have over 300 monkey figurines in my collection. You can see one of them – she is my avatar here.

I’ve been making up stories with magic and swords since I was very young but I only started writing professionally in the 21st century. Before that, I was a computer programmer. Besides writing short stories and novels, I also work as a journalist for a local newspaper. I enjoy writing cultural pieces and personal profiles of the local artists.

My favorite things:
• Favorite hobby: reading.
• Favorite genres: fantasy and romance, although sometimes I find delight in a serious mainstream novel or a cozy mystery.
• Favorite music: classical.
• Favorite TV shows: it’s a pretty eclectic list, including Remington Steel, Babylon 5, Bones, and Murdoch Mysteries.
• Favorite online community: GoodReads

Fresh Faced Friday: Angst by Victoria Sawyer

Today I am featuring Angst by Victoria Sawyer.  This is her first novel.  It is semi-autobiographical surrounding Victoria’s first year in college. It is a moving novel about a girl who is struggling with an undiagnosed mental illness.  Be sure to check out my review after the book blurb.

41y-towDl2L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-69,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Book Blurb: (courtesy of http://www.amazon.com)

***Recommended for ages 17+ for adult themes and frequent use of harsh language.

Perhaps I can convince you that not only do I have a massive secret drinking problem, but I’m bulimic too. Awesome! All the things I’m not, simply to hide the one thing I am.

And that one thing I’m hiding?

I. Am. Crazy.

And all I want to do is get drunk and go to college parties to escape who I am when sober, but drinking to erase my problems leads to even bigger problems and soon my frantic anxiety and panic is worse than ever before. I’ve lost everything, my ability to leave the house and even my will to live.

And as I lay there on the freezing basement floor, a loaded handgun pressed to my head in a cold kiss, he calls. After we hang up, I make a choice.

Review:

To be honest when I first began this book I wasn’t sure how to take it.  It was a bit confusing with the time jumps in each chapter.  You really have to concentrate on the dates for the chapters or you will be completely lost.  But, once I got used to it I really dove in and loved this book.  As you really begin to step into Victoria’s shoes you really feel for her.  You don’t necessarily know what is wrong with her from the beginning, but you know there is something.  But, as you read you can identify her illness.  I actually learned quite a bit about panic attacks and anxiety as an illness.  I, myself, have panic attacks in certain situations but not to the extent that Victoria suffers.  The biggest draw in this book is how Victoria copes.  She copes in all the wrong ways.  She decides alcohol, drugs and sexual relations are good ways to drown out the panic and anxiety.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t work forever and the illness soon almost completely consumes her life.  Soon Victoria is forced to choose between living or ending it all.  Overall, this was a great book.  It draws you in and you really make a connection with Victoria and begin to feel what she is feeling.  But, I would have preferred a better organization of the book.  I understand why Victoria Sawyer wrote it the way she did, but there were times I got confused and then the story lost a bit of its kick.  I would definitely recommend this book for those looking for a moving story about struggle, secrets and illness.

I’d like to thank Victoria for stopping by today and giving me the opportunity to review her book.  For more information about Angst and Victoria Sawyer you can go to her website: http://angstanxietypanic.wordpress.com/

Promo: Cupid’s Christmas by Bette Lee Crosby

Today I am hosting a promo today for Cupid’s Christmas by Bette Lee Crosby.  This is cute Christmas story that will let you bring in the season just as you’d like…with a heart full of love.

Book Blurb:

Romance, Women’s Fiction
Title:  Cupid’s Christmas
Author: Bette Lee Crosby
Date to be published – early October 2012
In a fun Christmas Romance, Cupid is charged with making certain an older couple gets the love they’ve been waiting for and a young woman who’s far too attracted to handsome men with sexy eyes finds her perfect match. And, he has to make it happen by Christmas.
In a spot somewhere between Heaven and Earth, Cupid tries to maneuver around the complications that threaten to wreck this romance as he struggles to overcome the forces of lust, jealousy and the events brought on by his nemeses—Life Management. He matched John and Eleanor some thirty years ago, but Life Management stepped in and fouled things up. Now they’re both single and back together again. But before Cupid can give them the happiness they deserve, he’s got to come up with some magic, a few miracles and a dog for John’s daughter.
If you’re a Debbie Macomber fan, you’re gonna love Cupid’s Christmas!
Excerpt:
Cupid

The problem with humans is they’re in love with love. Even worse, they’re determined to find it themselves. They stumble in and out of relationships that simply were never meant to be and then wonder why it didn’t work. Females are infinitely more complicated than males. Lindsay Gray for example, she’s dead-set on doing this her way and four times she’s ended up with the wrong male. She’s the kind of female who makes my job a nightmare.

Contrary to popular belief, love isn’t a result of me shooting an arrow into some human’s heart—that whole bit is a lot of hooey. I get my orders from Upstairs. The Boss gives me a rundown of matches then it’s my job to make sure the male and female get together. When things go wrong I’ve got to come up with a Plan B. Unfortunately Lindsay Gray has already used up B through E, I’m now working on Plan F and she’s dangerously close to being reclassified as Love-Challenged.

Her problem is she can’t tell love from lust. She sees a pair of heavy-lidded dark eyes, or a rippling muscle and thinks she’s in love. This started when she was only ten years old and caught sight of the boy who lived two doors down. The lad was twelve and wanted nothing to do with her, but that didn’t stop Lindsay from developing a preadolescent case of lovesickness. She followed that poor boy around like a faithful puppy until she saw him kissing Sara McLachlan. Once that happened she swore she’d never love again and she didn’t, until she was eleven.

Lindsay’s mistaken love more times than I can count, and every time it ended in a disaster. She can’t understand why this keeps happening to her, but the answer is obvious—humans with do-it-yourself determination are not equipped to identify true love. They inevitably mistake passion for love. Elizabeth Taylor is a perfect example. She refused to let me handle things, so eight times she got married and seven times she got divorced. One poor chap was killed in a plane crash before she had a chance to divorce him—that was not my doing, that unfortunate  event came from Life Management. Not one of those gents was included in Elizabeth’s plan which goes to prove what I’ve been saying.

But I’m digressing, so let me get back to the subject at hand.

One of the advantages of this job is my ability to see the future and I can tell you Lindsay’s got a lot of problems ahead of her. Problems far worse than her bad boyfriend choices. Most of those problems are coming from the guy over in Life Management. Me, I’m a lovable fellow. But Life Management—well suffice it to say he handles things like car crashes, bankruptcies and heart attacks.

Right now my primary assignment isn’t Lindsay—it’s her father and Eleanor Barrow. But if I don’t step in and take control of Lindsay’s life, she’ll ruin theirs. Eleanor and John deserve better, they’ve been waiting a long time.

This isn’t the first time for Eleanor and John Gray, they were a perfect match back in high school. If Eleanor had gone to Penn State instead of Kentucky, she and John would have had four daughters and a lifetime of happiness. I set up that first match, but once she left the North East, she was out of my region. Raymond, the fellow she married was from Seattle—North West region—and they met at the University of Kentucky—Central region. You probably know where this is going, right? She was out of my region, Raymond was out of his and my counterpart in Kentucky was busy fending off the nineteen girls who thought they were in love with the same basketball player, so Eleanor and Raymond got married and became what we call an MM. (Migratory Mistake)

Despite the fact that I’d let her down, Eleanor made the best of it. If you were standing on the outside looking in, you’d actually think she was happy. Of course I knew the truth because I go to the inside of a person’s heart—I have to, it’s my job. Eleanor was a good wife and a good mother—a bit overindulgent with Ray Junior maybe, but still a good mother. Papa Raymond was another story. It was bad enough that he had an eye for the ladies, but he also had a great fondness for beer and the business sense of a turnip. An insurance salesman who sold life insurance to everybody but himself, how crazy is that?

When Life Management stepped in and did their dirty work, Raymond got an illness nobody wants and it was two years before they finally gave the okay for him to die. Eleanor took care of him that whole time and once he was gone, she worked two jobs so Ray Junior could go on to college.

Eleanor’s a woman with a big heart, lots of grit and steadfast determination, which is fortunate because when it comes to dealing with Lindsay Gray, she’s gonna need all of it. If Eleanor’s got a flaw it’s that she’s blind to the faults of those she loves, which is why Ray Junior is such a problem.

Author Bio

Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby brings the wit and wisdom of her Southern Mama to works of fiction—the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away.

Born in Detroit and raised in a plethora of states scattered across the South and Northeast, Crosby originally studied art and began her career as a packaging designer. When asked to write a few lines of copy for the back of a pantyhose package, she discovered a love for words that was irrepressible. After years of writing for business, she turned to works of fiction and never looked back. “Storytelling is in my blood,” Crosby laughingly admits, “My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write.”

Crosby’s work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. Since that, she has gone on to win several more awards, including another NLAPW award, three Royal Palm Literary Awards, the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal and most recently the 2011 Reviewer’s Choice Award and Reader’s View Southeast Fiction Literary Award.

Her published works to date are: Cracks in the Sidewalk (2009), Spare Change (2011), The Twelfth Child (2012), and Life in the Land of IS (2012).  Life in the Land of IS is a memoir written for Lani Deauville, a woman the Guinness Book of Records lists as the world’s longest living quadriplegic.

Crosby newest novel Cupid’s Christmas is scheduled for release in early October and following that, What Matters Most will be released in early 2013.

CONTACT

Twitter – @betteleecrosby

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