Beatrice Reviews “Nine Years” by Jessica Reed

“Nine Years” by Jessica Leed
★★★★☆

Nine Years: A novel (Beneath the Clouds Book 1) by [Leed, Jessica]

You would think Sienna Henderson had the perfect life. She has a successful career, a loving family and is engaged to be married. From the outside she appears to have it all together, yet on the inside she is coming undone.

Caught inside a dysfunctional relationship and with her work environment intolerable, she finds herself slipping further from the life she has envisioned.

After reuniting with a man from her past, Sienna’s life is turned upside down in a way that has her questioning everything she has ever known.


Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book for free on the Reedsy platform, for an honest and unbiased review.

I like to think I’m a contemporary romance ‘connoisseur’ of sorts, having read many books in this genre. I started reading “Nine Years”, not quite sure what to expect, but Jessica Leed knocked her debut novel out of the park.

A beautiful tale of romance, self-discovery and growth, “Nine Years” follows Sienna Henderson and her plight as she struggles to right the wrongs in her long-term but dysfunctional relationship while trying not to lose more of herself in the process. Things get even more complicated when a past she had let go of resurfaces, only to have her confronting parts of herself she had forgotten were still there.

I think what struck me the most about this novel is how relatable it is. Not all of us have been through the exact same struggles that Sienna faces in the novel but we can all relate, on some level, to the pain of holding onto something so dear to you, even when it starts to destroy you as an individual.

That being said, it is incredibly challenging to write a story of this nature and create people that the reader can emotionally connect to but the author does a wonderful job of crafting a well-rounded set of characters.

There is no concrete villain. There is no good or bad, right or wrong. Although we explore the story through Sienna’s eyes, all the characters are well thought-out and portrayed in a multi-dimensional way, making them more human.

I do feel the pacing of the novel could have been a little faster. Although I am not willing to comment on the necessity of certain plot points (given they might be set up to tie in with the sequel), the novel could have been a little shorter in length to increase the impact and have the story resonate even more with the reader.

All in all, a beautiful story and written in an equally evocative manner, I highly recommend “Nine Years” to fans of the contemporary romance genre. The downside? You’ll have to put in some waiting time for the sequel.

Jessica Leed does a wonderful job delivering with this book.

Relationships are challenging and through Sienna, we explore the many complexities and obstacles that can crop up in one. The question the novel poses is: how far are you willing to go to try and save your relationship? At what point do you stop and save yourself?

Beatrice Reviews “The Writer” by J.C. Maetis

“The Writer” by J.C. Maetis
★★★★

The Writer by J.C. Maetis – Schindler’s List meets The Tattooist of Auschwitz –  a gripping tale of love, survival and redemption against the backdrop of one of the darkest periods in recent history. 

Two Writers. One lives to write. The other writes to live…


Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book for free, for an honest and unbiased review.

I admit, when I first received a request to review this novel, I was a little skeptical upon reading the blurb and after my experience with the novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz. However, the premise of The Writer was intriguing so I decided to give it a shot and boy, am I glad I did.

The Writer follows the lives of Mathias Kraemer, Johannes Namal and Josef Weber, three different individuals with varying backgrounds whose lives and paths are tied together by the tragedies surrounding Nazi Germany. Through these characters, the book does a wonderful job of examining the circumstances and impact of Anschluss and the cruel, merciless regime of Hitler on three different communities: the Jews, half-Jews and Austrian-Catholics.

I was surprised to encounter a historical fiction novel on the Holocaust that effortlessly combined elements of various genres together. The Writer is a thriller, romance and drama all in one.

My heart raced and had me turning the pages out of concern for these characters that I fell in love with, anxious for them as they faced the harrowing possibilities of execution and being sent to concentration camps. The unlikely love story of Inspector Josef Weber and Romani-gypsy Deya Reynes adds a different light to the plot and kept me grounded in the horrors faced by non-Jewish couples as well in this very dark period of history.

This is, in my opinion, the strongest element in the novel.

Maetis does an incredible job in bringing to life the struggles of not just the Jews, but other communities as well such as Mischlings (the term used by the Nazi regime to refer to individuals of mixed Aryan and Jewish ancestry), the Gypsy community and those who refused to go without a fight that were branded as ‘dissidents’.

We don’t get a simple, black-and-white portrayal here of good and bad, of the right and wrong choices. Instead, the author gives us a full-fledged illustration of a world that we can count ourselves lucky to have not experienced, but in the process brings us one step closer to empathizing and learning from the horrors of it.

That being said, The Writer may be a gripping historical thriller but what struck me most was the humanity of the story itself. As mentioned in the blurb, a great part of the story revolves around two writers. One who grips to his own life on account of his profession as a writer, and the other that attempts to save others through his words.

Being a writer myself, this struck a chord in me: how words, how the art of writing itself can slice through the darkness and provide rays of light, provide hope and illuminate a path to redemption.

I cannot wait to see this book published and wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone when it is. Kudos to the author for managing the sensitivities surrounding the period of time in which his novel is set with the elements of love, suspense and drama that he weaves into the plot.

Do you want a page-turning thriller? Or do you want a Holocaust novel written so vividly it plays out like a movie in your head? Or even a love story with two very real, very raw characters that you can root for from the start?

Look no further. The Writer has something beautiful to offer you that will make the experience of reading it your own.

The Writer is pending release. In the mean time, you can check out the author’s other works here!

| am i wrong? |

Am I wrong to want you?

To go through the memories of us on repeat
my mind a broken record as I
pause | and play >
pause | and play >
your smile till it’s all I see
till the end of my days

Am I wrong to feel you?

In the emptiness of the sheets
in the cold of the night when I crave
your arms around my waist
and your breath near my ear
as you whisper lullabies like secrets
till we meet again in my dreams

Am I wrong to taste you?

When I take a bite out of an apple
or sink my teeth into the sweetness of chocolate
so close to the kisses you once gave me
in each one you etched on my lips
and into my memories
in the pouring rain
in between our secret getaways
in the endless hours we spent making love
till i felt nothing but you in my bones
in my soul

Am I wrong to believe in you?

To cling to the hope that one day you’ll see
there’s no greater love for you out there than than me
to the heart of mine you still carry in yours
broken, but still bound by the strings
of our Great Grand romance

Am I wrong to love you?

To keep loving you, knowing that
despite the hope; despite the memories
you will not return to me
or honor the promise you once made
to love me too till the end of time

Am I wrong

to keep drifting in and out of a world
where you are, immortalized in the past
while i continue to fade away
absent to an existence
in which i cannot live
(without you)

UNREQUITED [adjective] 1. not returned or reciprocated; unrequited love - a type of love which is not returned. 2. not avenged or retaliated. 3. not repaid or satisfied. Etymology: from un-, “not” + re, “again” + quite, variant of quit, “exempt,...

| broken daydreams |

♪ listen ♪

delicate black lashes graze my fingertips as i turn
to capture the wonder in his star-studded eyes

“what do you feel?”

he breathes and i smile at his
curious little question

“tell me, please,” he sings a whisper
(does he want to feel it too?)

i wish i could tell you:

how it feels to be blinded
become one with the dream
that i cannot bear to touch right in front of me

how i hear the universe breathe
a wistful serenade
for you and i as we lie
beneath its velveteen skies

how i long for a taste of your soul
as the layers to your broken, bleeding heart unfurl
for me to touch
naked. bare. vulnerable

you.

“what do i feel?”

i am enchanted
by a Miracle

“nothing. nothing at all.”


| come home, darling |

♪ listen ♪

i dream you are out there – some/where
floating in the ether
as lost as i but
towards me
you’d wander

we’d find each other by the tips of our
starkissed fingers
and the universe would shatter
the Gods would weep

i would touch your broken pieces
cut myself on the rough edges of your
pure, glimmering soul
i would bleed, my love
for you, i would

for if to have you, i must dream
dream i shall
enough to fill this wanting little heart
enough to hope
to see

you will return
you will come home to me
and i will wait

for our forever.

Under the Stars - Bodie Lighthouse


| revelation |

listen

you breathe
and i break
as i watch you weave magic in your careless, unfiltered way
that sinful mouth parts and out tumble your tales
and i wish that i could show you that
you’re more than your mistakes

you still can’t see, can you?
how i’m fighting to sit still
and not trace your imperfections
with the tips of my trembling lips.

you can’t see –
how i’m doing everything in my power
to not fall deeper into your laugh
or into the kindness in the pools of your chocolate eyes

you can’t see.
but: i do.

then one day
you turn with this catch in your breath
that stills my own heart
and you ask me, eyes wide,
“what does love look like?”
(i break a little more)
and shrug
“if only i knew”

oh, but i do, my darling:
it looks like you.

Para alcanzar lo que nunca has tenido, tendrás que hacer lo que nunca has hecho.
this is all i ask for.


Beatrice Reviews “Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe” by Melissa de la Cruz

“Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe” by Melissa de la Cruz

★☆☆☆☆

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Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe, from New York Times bestselling author, Melissa de la Cruz, is a sweet, sexy and hilarious gender-swapping, genre-satisfying re-telling, set in contemporary America and featuring one snooty Miss Darcy.


Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe? More like Pride and Prejudice and (a Complete and Total) Injustice.

My habit of starting a book and not being able to put it down till I get to the very last word has nearly always proven a blessing. I can never leave a book unfinished. It’s practically a cardinal sin to me. But the more I read this novel, the more I felt an overwhelming necessity to chuck these principles.

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I cannot begin to comprehend what the author was trying to achieve with this book. Whether or not you’ve read the original Jane Austen masterpiece, this book was just a complete and utter mess. Sure, gender-swapping the roles was an interesting move and the tributes to the original characters and setting by retaining some of the names was evident but in no way redeeming of the utter displeasure the book brought me.

I see not a single way in which this story is worth being branded as a ‘re-telling’ at all. It’s a shame because the idea had a lot of potential and with the right execution, could have actually turned out worlds better than the disappointment it ended up being.

I’m not asking for re-tellings of classic novels to be spot-on. In fact, the more innovative the spark they bring in, the more fun they are. The entire purpose of a re-telling is to have a throwback to the magic of the original while still standing on its own as a memorable read. But nothing – and I truly mean nothing – was worth this re-hash.

The characters were total dillholes. Darcy (a female in this rendition) is a successful, uber-rich hedge fund manager making it big on her own having cut off ties from her family and pursuing a career on Wall Street. I am totally in for ambitious, career-powered women but oh-my-Austen-stars, her character is intolerable.  She certainly did not act, in any way, with the maturity you would expect from a self-made woman. Instead, we see the unravelings of an utterly petty, totally awkward, not to mention, very cringeworthy character.

(Also, author – in this day and age, I doubt a 29 year old single American woman would face as much pressure to get married as Darcy did in the book. It isn’t 1813, anymore.)

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And don’t even get me started on Luke Bennet. The character progression, if I can even call it that, was a wreck and I fail to understand what even happened there. No, really. I’m not even going to bother expanding on this point because it isn’t worth it.

One of my favorite things about the original is the beauty of the writing style. Jane Austen weaves stardust into her words, bringing to life a story for the ages about people that are not only flawed and human, but relatable.

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Kathleen Kelly from You’ve Got Mail says it right – the language is pretty flipping amazing. Of course, classics carry a charm that no modern-day rendition could capture in terms of writing style but by the Gods of Literature, at least try to make it readable.

I doubt this book was run by an editor. I spotted quite a few and very small editing mistakes – both in terms of grammar and actual plot loopholes. I’ve read fanfiction by kids that possessed a certain style in their storytelling, that although worked off the ideas of established novels, still made it their own. I just could not bring myself to be okay with the writing style the author employed here. To quote Chandler Bing, it was ‘a big dull, dud’.

This book is the exact example of one of the biggest reasons to stick to the ‘show, don’t tell’ rule when writing. Endless and boring dialogue consumed most of the pages with the characters verbally explaining their back-stories for the reader to hear. Brand names are dropped here and there to have us learn the wealthy lifestyle Darcy leads in New York. Plot arcs are forced down the readers throats simply to have there be this weak connection to the original Pride and Prejudice. It was like the writer was trying to prove a point on an English-Lit paper she had to turn in.

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I’ve never, ever written a review as scathing as this one but that’s also because I never read a book so bad as this. Maybe the strong reaction roots from my undying love for the original work of art but honestly, I’m saddened because this was such a waste.

If you’re going to re-write a legend, please don’t half-ass it and pleaseGodplease, do not think you’ll get away with comparing it to the original if you do. Just – no. Now, excuse me while I step away to go read a Jane Austen original.

I’m in desperate need of some literary healing.