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The Life She Was Given
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
From acclaimed author Ellen Marie Wiseman comes a vivid, daring novel about the devastating power of family secrets--beginning in the poignant, lurid world of a Depression-era traveling circus and coming full circle in the transformative 1950s. On a summer evening in 1931, Lilly Blackwood glimpses circus lights from the grimy window of her attic bedroom. Lilly isn't allowed to explore the meadows around Blackwood Manor. She's never even ventured beyond her narrow room. Momma insists it's for Lilly's own protection, that people would be afraid if they saw her. But on this unforgettable night, Lilly is taken outside for the first time--and sold to the circus sideshow. More than two decades later, nineteen-year-old Julia Blackwood has inherited her parents' estate and horse farm. For Julia, home was an unhappy place full of strict rules and forbidden rooms, and she hopes that returning might erase those painful memories. Instead, she becomes immersed in a mystery involving a hidden attic room and photos of circus scenes featuring a striking young girl. At first, The Barlow Brothers' Circus is just another prison for Lilly. But in this rag-tag, sometimes brutal world, Lilly discovers strength, friendship, and a rare affinity for animals. Soon, thanks to elephants Pepper and JoJo and their handler, Cole, Lilly is no longer a sideshow spectacle but the circus's biggest attraction. . .until tragedy and cruelty collide. It will fall to Julia to learn the truth about Lilly's fate and her family's shocking betrayal, and find a way to make Blackwood Manor into a place of healing at last. Moving between Julia and Lilly's stories, Ellen Marie Wiseman portrays two extraordinary, very different women in a novel that, while tender and heartbreaking, offers moments of joy and indomitable hope. PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF ELLEN MARIE WISEMAN COAL RIVER "Wiseman offers heartbreaking and historically accurate depictions. . .The richly developed coal town acts as a separate, complex character; readers will want to look away even as they're drawn into a powerful quest for purpose and redemption. . .a powerful story." --Publishers Weekly "This book will attract readers of historical fiction and those looking for strong female characters." --VOYA Magazine "Heartrending and strongly drawn." --Booklist "Ellen Marie Wiseman takes readers deep into the politics and hidden atrocities of a 20th-century Pennsylvania mining town." --BookPage.com WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND "A great coming-of-age story." --School Library Journal "A great read!" --The San Francisco Book Review THE PLUM TREE "The meticulous hand-crafted detail and emotional intensity of The Plum Tree immersed me in Germany during its darkest hours and the ordeals its citizens had to face. A must-read for WWII Fiction aficionados--and any reader who loves a transporting story." --Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us "Ellen Marie Wiseman weaves a story of intrigue, terror, and love from a perspective not often seen in Holocaust novels." --Jewish Book World "Ellen Marie Wiseman's provocative and realistic images of a small German village are exquisite. The Plum Tree will find good company on the shelves of those who appreciated Skeletons at the Feast, by Chris Bohjalian, Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay, and Night, by Elie Wiesel." --New York Journal of Books
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review
Wendyloohoo77
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
Pickpick

Definitely a gripping story. I wanted to read faster and faster to find out what happened. The Julia parts could have been better, more dramatic - I wish she had found out more information earlier and investigated it, but the real story was the story of Lily, which had me hooked from the beginning.

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Stacypatrice
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Loving my current adventure that the fantastic @Soubhiville gifted me with 💛

#booksnacksleep #womenfriendship #litsylove #booklover #readanadventure #sniffabook

TheAromaofBooks By the way, I finally wrote you back!! So you have a #LitsyLove letter heading your way tomorrow!! :-) 5mo
Soubhiville I‘m glad you‘re enjoying it ❤️ 5mo
36 likes1 stack add3 comments
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Stacypatrice
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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What a fantastic surprise to come home to after work this morning!!! Thank you so much @Soubhiville 💖 I love the card and I‘ve totally wanted to read this book 📖 You made my weekend ☀️😃

Soubhiville Yay! Happy birthday! 6mo
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks ❤️❤️❤️ 6mo
35 likes3 comments
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ATB
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Mehso-so

Fascinated by the Lily chapters, not so much by the Julia chapters. I loved the behind the scenes look at the circus life... one of my reading wheel houses. The beer was very good.

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morgan_krahn
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Pickpick

This was probably somewhere between a pick and a so-so for me. I really enjoyed parts of it and that‘s why I leaned towards pick for my overall rating 🤷🏼‍♀️

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morgan_krahn
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Up next! I‘ve been really into audiobooks lately (being the mom of a 2 year old and very pregnant with my second this is just so much easier than finding time to read 😬).

bookaholic1 Great book 8mo
47 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Sarahreadstoomuch
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Panpan

So frustrating. The story itself is interesting and has promise, but I HATED the writing. Almost juvenile, there is too much repetition, cliches, and telling. One more “on one hand, this. On the other hand, that” and I would‘ve thrown my kindle. Only finished it because it‘s for book club. #LitsyAtoZ:W

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arattyreads
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
Pickpick

Really really well written and interesting and entertaining. But saaaaaaaaaaaaaadd and frustrating:(

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GeekGirlOnAQuest
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Mehso-so

This was a decent read. I didn‘t love it as much as some of the reviews I read, but it was an interesting story. It‘s very sad and depicts a lot of violence and cruelty (to both humans and animals), but leaves you with an optimistic ending. But it seemed to be reaching too hard in the chapters leading up to the ending and I found myself just wanting to finish the book.

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Copwithabook
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Panpan

I‘m between a pan and so-so on this. While I think the concept is good, and the plot is ok, the execution of it was almost juvenile. The characters were stock at best and comically naive at worst. I found myself eye rolling a lot, which is never a good sign. I did end up finishing the book, however, I won‘t be recommending to friends.

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bookaholic1
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Pickpick

I enjoyed this book. Even though at times it made me angry or very sad. But all in all I really enjoyed it

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MarticaMustRead
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Mehso-so

📖😐 #BookClubPick #Historical #LibrarianLife

Warning: Major TW for animal abuse & child abuse/ neglect

I read this for book club so that's why I finished it. And while yes, I certainly wanted to know how Lilly's life would unfold, I was NOT fan of the following:

- The simplistic writing
- The animal abuse
- The excessive child neglect/abuse
- Lilly's ending made me furious at the author! Those that read it know what I mean..I'm still mad!😡

DivineDiana Thank you for the warnings! Will pass on this one. 2y
MarticaMustRead You're very welcome @DivineDiana 🙂! 2y
32 likes2 comments
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bookaddict86
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
Mehso-so

I did DNF this book. I had a hard time with the first girl being locked in her room her whole life, and then sold to the circus amd still treated like sh*t. I got into it about 130 pages. Im sure the story isnt bad. And its emotionally heavy, but its not something i can read right now.

Happy reading

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MarticaMustRead
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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🌙📖❤🍧🏡🌘 #BookClubPick #TGIF #Historical #BooksInBed #EveningReading

Tgif❣
My weekend has officially begun after a very long & exhausting work week.

😋- Time to dig into this delicious bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream (and Oreos!) as well as start my book club's latest pick- a historical novel involving a young girl, a hidden secret attic, family secrets, & the circus🤔..... I'm intrigued.

Happy #EveningReading Littens!🤓

43 likes3 stack adds
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Columbkill1
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
Pickpick

I read this book while I was waiting for a friend in Costa Rica (she missed her plane which is why I was there alone, but that's another story!) I was glad to have this book to help me fill the time. The character development is amazing (you really care what happens to them; the ones you love and the ones you hate). The ending is brutal though, really completely heartbreaking. Definitely recommend this is you don't mind a cry with your books!

48 likes1 stack add
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bookaddict86
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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I am about 30 pages in and I am hooked.

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vlwelser
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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💖💖💖💖💖💖 Totally fangirling.

Jess_Read_This So cool! 2y
18 likes1 comment
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amreads
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
Pickpick

There‘s just something about old time circus stories that draws me in. I really enjoyed this even though I figured out the twist pretty early on.

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Foragingfantasy
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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How I envision Lilly. It's not my favorite story ever, but it's ok. I'm thinking it'll be a so-so for me. The parts about Lilly are my favorites.

Little_Reader I just finished this book. I liked it, but...I‘m not even sure. Something about it is still unsettling for me. 2y
Foragingfantasy @Little_Reader Yeah, it wasn't my favorite. 2y
42 likes2 comments
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bookkeeper26
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
Pickpick

I really enjoyed this book,I was really involved with the characters. A page turning heart-felt felt story really got me back in to reading!

DebbieGrillo Welcome to Litsy! #LitsyWelcomeWagon 2y
RaimeyGallant Nice review. :) And welcome to Litsy! #LitsyWelcomeWagon Some of us put together Litsy tips to help new Littens navigate the site. It's the link in my bio on my page in case you need it. 2y
5 likes2 comments
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Foragingfantasy
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Hoping to knock out these two books this weekend!

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Booksniffer
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Pickpick

I wasn't ready for another circus book. This book was just so amazing and kept me glued to my seat trying to guess the ending. I loved it so much i read Ms. Wisemans other three books.

RaimeyGallant Nice review. :) And welcome to Litsy! #LitsyWelcomeWagon Some of us put together Litsy tips to help new Littens navigate the site. It's the link in my bio on my page in case you're interested. :) 2y
Booksniffer Thanks. I will try to find it. Loving this! 2y
Booksniffer Found it. Thank you! 2y
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jfalkens Welcome to Litsy and happy reading 😊🎊📖🎉📚 2y
Texreader Welcome to our wonderful community here on Litsy. I hope you love it!! 2y
Booksniffer Thank you! So excited! 2y
[DELETED] 3803335244 Welcome to Litsy! 2y
BookwormAHN Welcome to Litsy 😸 2y
TricksyTails Welcome to Litsy! 👏😁🎉📚 2y
Booksniffer Thank you all so much! 2y
Smrloomis Welcome! 🎉 2y
DebinHawaii Welcome to Litsy! 🎉📚👍😀Hope you enjoy it here! 2y
ju.ca.no Welcome😊💚 2y
Simona Welcome 😘 and I wish you a lot of fun 👍 2y
SilversReviews WELCOME!! HAVE FUN!! 2y
Bklover Welcome to Litsy!! I think you will love it here! 2y
PurpleyPumpkin Welcome to Litsy! It‘s a great community and I hope you enjoy it here. Looking forward to seeing more of your posts!👍🏽 2y
UwannaPublishme Welcome! Get ready for your TBR list to go insane! 😁📚📚📚 2y
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Welcome to Litsy!!!! And Happy New Year!!! 🎈🎊🎆 @Booksniffer 2y
47 likes3 stack adds19 comments
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Foragingfantasy
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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I'm in such a reading slump. I've been watching so much tv, I never watch tv. I think all the subbing and now the holiday has just been so busy. I've started this one, hopefully I can finish it soon. Had to get a pic with my ringmaster and carousel ornaments.

Jas16 Great picture! 2y
JackieSmith It took me a bit to get into it but once I did I loved it! 2y
Foragingfantasy @Jas16 well thank you for the beautiful book! I hope you had a good holiday! 2y
46 likes3 comments
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Book_in_hands
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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#humpdaypost all ready
1. A gift from my two boys
2. My hubby and I will be being our two boys to the airport and then we will celebrate just the two of us.
3. Everything that I have eaten this holiday season!!
4. I don't really collect but I like buying fun mugs!!
5. "We're talking away,I don't know what,
I'm to say I'll say it anyway, today's another day to find you, shying away, I'll be coming for your love,okay?"

51 likes1 stack add
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mowayv6899
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
Pickpick

So sad

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Foragingfantasy
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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OMG @Jas16 You are amazing! I don't know what to say, except THANK YOU!! Have a Merry Christmas!! #surpisemail #litsyfriends

Jas16 Glad it arrived and hope you like it all. Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday. 2y
Foragingfantasy @Jas16 I absolutely love everything! That mug is amazing. ❤️ thank you again! And Happy Holidays to you too! 2y
Soubhiville Oh Lady Chatterly‘s Lover- ready for some #LitsyAfterDark? 2y
Foragingfantasy @Soubhiville oooooh. Is it scandalous? 2y
Soubhiville Oh yes, Lawrence is always very old school scandalous! 2y
51 likes5 comments
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jesnic27
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Well this is certainly off to a disturbing start..

Coco What genre is this book? 2y
jesnic27 I'm not really sure what to classify it under. It's a depression era story(part of it is, anyway, the other part is in the 1950's), but its not based on historical events, so maybe just fiction? 2y
jesnic27 But it's a difficult read. The abuse in it is astronomical 2y
5 likes1 stack add3 comments
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JenFowler
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Pickpick

A story about a young girl, locked away in a room for looking different than everyone else. Her life takes many twists and turns as the years pass by. The author does a great job keeping you guessing throughout the book. When one question gets answered, you have two more you are trying to figure out.
🌟🌟🌟🌟

MinDea This sounds interesting! Thanks for the review! 2y
103 likes8 stack adds1 comment
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thereadingowlvina
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Pickpick

As always, #EllenMarieWiseman never ceases to amaze me with her flawless writing and #poignant yet #heartwarming story. This moving tale is told from two point of view alternating between Lilly Blackwood in the #1930s and Julia Blackwood in the #1950s.
📚
📚
My full review at: https://www.goodreads.com/thereadingowlvina
📚
#historicalfiction #circus #sideshow #yycreads #bookworm #booknerd #alwaysbereading #readforlife

5 likes1 stack add
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CocoReads
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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@MonikaS thank you so much for my #totebagswap loot! I love it all! I‘m so excited to read the books and color and write. I‘ve never heard of maple tea so I‘m looking forward to trying that as well! Also, that wrapping paper is perfect. The bag is fabulous! I‘m going to use it tomorrow on my shopping trip with my family! Thanks also to @cobwebmoth for coordinating!

eanderson Cute tote!!! Very cool! I have a client in a little bit so I'm going to open mine after I get home from that. 2y
AmyG I love seeing what everyone got. Cute bag! 2y
MonikaS Yay! I‘m so glad you liked it!! I loved picking it all out 😀😊 2y
JenlovesJT47 @MonikaS where did you get the Princess Bride coloring book? 😱 2y
MonikaS @JenlovesJT47 I bought it at my regular indigo book store 😊( if you live in Canada) 2y
59 likes5 comments
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CathyJ
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Pickpick

Wow, I kind of feel like I've had the wind knocked out of me. Although I really enjoyed this book, I think it's time to read something happy. I really enjoyed the duel stories and the twists. I won't spoil anything, but be prepared to have your heart broken a little.

11 likes1 stack add
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BilboBookends
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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“People get mad at animals for acting like animals all the time.”

22 likes2 stack adds
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CathyJ
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Starting this one today. It's been on my tbr list for a while now.

9 likes1 stack add
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morgan_krahn
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Please, pretty please, tell me I'm not the only one who cannot leave Target without buying AT LEAST one book 🙈

seebiscan I actually managed to not stop in the book section of Target on my last trip. I think my boyfriend was more surprised than I was. 😂 2y
morgan_krahn @seebiscan good job! I justified it by telling myself it was okay because this one was 20% off 🙈 2y
angel1 I bought the same book at Walmart today😬 2y
55 likes3 comments
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angel1
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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It's so hard to go to Walmart without buying a new book🤣📚😬

imabusybee ❤loved this one!!!📚 2y
CathyJ I'm reading this right now and quite enjoying it. 2y
angel1 @CathyJ I think I‘m going to read it next😊 2y
26 likes1 stack add3 comments
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Redjewel_7734
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Pickpick

This story captivated me from its first words. The story of Lilly a little girl hidden away in the attic by her parents until she is sold to a circus freakshow. Julia returning home after years of estrangement; her mother is dead & there is a mansion of secrets to uncover. As we wind between these 2 women & learn the ties that bind them, we watch stories of abuse & cruelty, but also of love & hope. I couldn't look away & I didn't want to.

Kaye Sounds good. ❤️ 2y
CocoReads I really enjoyed her book Coal River so I'll look forward to reading this one as well. 2y
Redjewel_7734 @Kaye @CocoReads I hope y'all love it as much as I did. It's soooo good 😊 2y
CathyJ I just finished this book. I found it heartbreaking at times but a wonderful story. Loved the twists as well. 2y
Redjewel_7734 @CathyJ 😍🙌🏻 2y
89 likes6 stack adds5 comments
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MrBook
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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#TBRtemptation post 1! On a summer evening in 1931, Lilly sees circus lights from her grimy attic bedroom. She's never ventured from her room, her mom says it's for her own good. But on this night, she's taken out and sold to the circus. She'll become its biggest attraction. 20 years later, Julia inherits the house, learns of the girl, and the rest...well, you'll have to read. #blameLitsy #blameMrBook 😎

quirkyreader I got to read a few sample chapters and got hooked in. 2y
bookaholic1 On my TBR list 2y
57 likes12 stack adds2 comments
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Born.A.Reader
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Pickpick

Haunting and heartbreaking. Each chapter alternates between the 1930s and the 1950s, between Lilly and Julia and as their stories intertwine, the story pulls you in. I read it in less than a shift of work. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

CathyJ I'm halfway through this right now. 2y
28 likes2 stack adds1 comment
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BookNAround
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Pre-dinner reading. I am so angry with Lilly's parents I might lose my appetite!

CathyJ I just finished this book. Your sentiments are perfect. 2y
22 likes1 stack add1 comment
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specklife
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Pickpick

Depressing little tale of love & betrayal & the circus...
⭐️⭐️⭐️

6 likes1 stack add
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imabusybee
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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My July break down I finished 9 books. Very happy with my totals. 90% done with my current read.

26 likes2 stack adds
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Cinfhen
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Mehso-so

Lots of love on GoodReads for this novel, so either I'm a tougher critic or I missed something that the others saw. Dual narrative of Lilly & Julia Blackwood, one taking place in the 1930's (Lilly) the other in the 1950's. Lilly is born "different" & her mother is so ashamed she's kept hidden and eventually is sold to a circus. Publisher referred this book as Night Circus meets Water for Elephants, so high hopes! Really just mediocre for me.

TrishB Good review 👍 3y
WarpedSweetness I saw a few other people say the same thing about this novel. I was intrigued by the blurbed, but don't think I'll be reading it. 3y
emilyhaldi Oh well, you can't win them all! 3y
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Cinfhen I hate when publishers sell you on a book but don't deliver! Don't make book comparisons #petpeeve @emilyhaldi @WarpedSweetness @TrishB 3y
JenFowler My ears perk up when I see that a book is compared to 'the night circus' 😀 3y
Cinfhen Me too @JenFowler but that's the problem ~ it wasn't like Night Circus other than it takes place within a circus setting 🐘🍿🍭🎪 3y
TrishB I haven't read The Night Circus yet. I got as one of my Litsy gifts and am scared it won't live up to expectations now.... 3y
minkyb Totally feel the same @TrishB 3y
TrishB @minkyb weird isn't it 😮! 3y
Cinfhen It took me two try's before I read it @minkyb @TrishB it's really good! And the cover is awesome 🖤 3y
Reviewsbylola Failed book comparisons like that really irritate me! 3y
99 likes2 stack adds12 comments
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Cinfhen
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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I have been so neglectful of my ARCs, so from this moment forward, other than GWTW, I'm only reading my ARCs.
I just started this haunting story/ mystery about 10 yr old Lilly, who gets sold to the circus as a sideshow freak. It has good ratings so I'm hoping it's not a stinker 🙄

TrishB Sounds interesting 👍 3y
melissanorr I've been pretty bad about getting through my ARCs as well. 3y
Redwritinghood I've had this one for a while too and haven't got to it yet. I'm reading some others that come out this month first. This one looks good though. 3y
See All 7 Comments
Cinfhen It's super "easy" reading even though there's an element of darkness but ....the writing and story telling is a little lowbrow ? @TrishB @Redwritinghood 3y
Verity I'm so bad for requesting too many books from NetGalley and then getting super behind... 3y
Cinfhen I know, it's a slippery slope @Verity 3y
Reviewsbylola That's why I stopped taking ARCs, for the most part. 3y
106 likes6 stack adds7 comments
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DarcysMom
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Pickpick

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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DarcysMom
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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CaitZ
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Pickpick

I was hooked on this book from the very first pages. It's a fast paced, heart wrenching tale filled with lies and family secrets. Each chapter alternates between the viewpoint of two sisters and their very different lives. The many twists and turns keep you guessing about the identity and motivation of the characters. Overall I really enjoyed the story.

I received an ARC in exchange for a review. It will be released in July.

CathyJ Thanks for the spoiler that they are sisters! 2y
7 likes1 stack add1 comment
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DarcysMom
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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ReadingEnvy I started a book by the same author tonight, my June book club read 3y
DarcysMom @ReadingEnvy I will be interested to hear what you think of The Plum Tree. It looks like it could be pretty heavy. 3y
15 likes2 comments
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DarcysMom
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Wheee! My first #Netgalley wish book. 😁

10 likes1 comment
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Freddie4473
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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This just came to Library for me to read 😍👍🏻😍can't wait! Also this is a really cool package.