The Great Alone

Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man.  When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: He will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family.  She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers.  In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women.  The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture.  Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within.  In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: They are on their own.  In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

Morgan’s thoughts:

This is a powerful read about the strength of a young girl when every force in her world is working against her.  No part of Leni’s life has been made easy for her.  She doesn’t remember the so called “happy” years her family spent together before her father went off to war; by the time she was old enough to form memories, he was gone.  When he returns, he has changed – a dangerous part of his personality has been revealed.

They are in no way ready for life in Alaska.  The brutal weather and carnivorous animals push back against them any time they begin to make progress.  But the town takes them in.  This community of survivors, to which the Allbrights’ have no true claim, accepts them in a way that shows the true goodness inherent in their hearts.  Without this town, none of the Allbrights would have survived in the first place.

But despite the village’s best efforts, the biggest danger to Leni is in her own house.  This is a story of perseverance in spite of all of that and more.  It’s also a powerful story of kindness.  There are few things I love more than stories of people who are kind without reason.  

Hannah swept me away with this captivating story.  I could not pull my nose out of this book.  And yes, it made me cry, though not where I expected.  This book is a gem.  Go ahead and let yourself get lost in it.

Trigger warning: domestic violence, PTSD.

Interested in this book?  I got mine through Book of the Month Club!  I’ve been a member for over a year now and I love it.  Sign up today with this link and get a free book when you sign up (and I’ll get one for referring you)!

The Queen of Hearts

Thanks to the lovely people at Berkley Publishing for my copy of The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin.  All thoughts and images are my own.

Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)

Pediatric cardiologist Zadie Anton and trauma surgeon Emma Colley have been best friends since medical school.  Their domestic and professional lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, are chaotic but fulfilling – until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years. Continue reading


Thank you to the lovely people at Simon Books for my copy of Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday. All thoughts and images are my own.

Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)

Alice, a young editor living in New York City during the early days of the Iraq War begins a surprising and tender affair with the famous older writer Ezra Blazer. Locked in a holding room at Heathrow Airport in late 2008, the practical economist Amar, raised in Brooklyn but on his way to visit his brother in Kurdistan, is interrogated by immigration officials and reflects on his past. Years later still, a BBC journalist conducts an interview with Blazer about life, love, and legacy. How do these moments connect? How do these characters impact one another’s lives? Continue reading


Thank you to the lovely people at Little Brown for my copy of Mrs. by Caitlin Macy.  All thoughts and images are my own.

Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)

In the well-heeled milieu of New York’s Upper East Side, coolly elegant Philippa Lye is the woman no one can stop talking about. Despite a shadowy past, Philippa has somehow married the scion of the last family-held investment bank in the city.  And although her wealth and connections put her in the center of this world, she refuses to confirm to its gossip-fueled culture. Continue reading

Caleb and Kit

Thank you to the lovely people at Running Press Books for my copy of Caleb and Kit by Beth Vrabel.  All thoughts and images are my own.

Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)

Caleb is shorter, frailer, and more protected than most twelve year olds.  That’s because he was born with cystic fibrosis, a disease that fills his lungs with mucus and shortens his lifespan.  The rules and routines that manage his disorder control too much of Caleb, not that his prying mom or perfect older brother seem to care. Continue reading

The Immortalists

Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die.  The Gold children – four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness – sneak out to hear their fortunes. Continue reading