book review · books · crime · Family

The Night Before by Wendy Walker {ARC Review}

Blurb:

Rosie and Laura are as different as two sisters can be. One is stable and has the perfect family. The other struggles to break free from her troubled past. When Laura disappears after going on a blind date, Rosie takes matters into her own hands.

But as Rosie begins to search for her sister, her greatest fears come to the surface. Could Laura be more of a danger than the stranger she meets, or is the night before her last night alive?

Told in dual timelines—the night before and the day after—The Night Before is a riveting thriller about family loyalty, obsession, and what happens when the desire for love spins out of control.

Review:

This story starts with a therapy session of Laura’s and immediately I think this is going to have an unreliable narrator. I am not against those types of thrillers but sometimes it makes the character get on my nerves. However, this was proven very quickly to not be true. It’s told from the perspectives of Laura and her sister Rosie thru two overlapping timelines. Throughout the story you get the idea that Laura is your typical angry woman who got into some trouble as a young girl and is trying to make a change in her life after a really bad breakup. At one point I thought she may have even just been a crazed stalker. Nothing is what it seems in this story and some of the characters aren’t as crazy as you think and some are at a level of crazy that you don’t quite see coming.

Let’s not forget about the men in the story, Joe and Gabe. I won’t go into too much detail about them but man oh man there’s some crazy stuff that you just can’t wrap your mind around when it comes to their parts in this story.

I thought I was going to figure out what was going on and who the villain was early on in the story but I didn’t figure it out until just about the time it was revealed in the story. Wendy Walker not only throws in some twists as far as the crazed character is concerned but also throws in some secrets that make you take a double look and think what the hell kind of nonsense is this? I love a thriller that can leave me with those types of thoughts.

I am not a big reader of thrillers but I did enjoy this one. It was a quick and easy read. I started it one night and finished it the next day. I would say definitely pack this one along for a good beach read this summer. Just don’t read it before going on a blind date, especially one you’ve met online.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

Available in hardcover, ebook and audiobook May 14th, 2019

A special thank you to St. Martin’s Press for my free copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

abuse · book review · books · Family · medical thriller · suspense

Saving Meghan by DJ Palmer {Review}

Blurb:

Can you love someone to death? 

Some would say Becky Gerard is a devoted mother and would do anything for her only child. Others claim she’s obsessed and can’t stop the vicious circle of finding a cure at her daughter’s expense. 

Fifteen-year-old Meghan has been in and out of hospitals with a plague of unexplained illnesses. But when the ailments take a sharp turn, doctors intervene and immediately suspect Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a rare behavioral disorder where the primary caretaker, typically the mother, seeks medical help for made-up symptoms of a child. Is this what’s going on? Or is there something even more sinister at hand?

Review:

When the story opened, I immediately thought “well, everyone is crazy.” Not just Becky or Meghan. The whole Gerard clan. I liked that it was a medical thriller and not just your everyday “someone got killed and here is your unreliable narrator” type of thriller.

I also appreciated the writing style and the formatting of the plot itself, although the ending felt just a tad bit rushed to me.

Of course there is always the character that you can’t stand in a thriller and in this one for me it was the whole Gerard clan. They just didn’t sit well with me throughout the whole story, lol. I really enjoyed that part because I was left not rooting for anyone. I just wanted to see what was going to happen.

As the story geared up for the plot twist and climax I have to admit there were some parts that I found difficult for me to suspend my logic in order to believe they could really happen. That is because I am not a big reader of thrillers.

All in all, this was quite the ride and I am curious to see what else this author has up his sleeve. This would make a great beach read for thriller fans this summer. Don’t let the amount of pages discourage you because it does read fairly quickly.

Rating:

3.5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, ebook, and audio

Thank you St. Martin’s Press for this review opportunity.

addiction · book review · books · Family · Native American Fiction

In the Night of Memory by Linda LeGarde Grover {Review}

Blurb:

Two lost sisters find family, and themselves, among the voices of an Ojibwe reservation.

When Loretta surrenders her young girls to the county and then disappears, she becomes one more missing Native woman in Indian Country’s long devastating history of loss. But she is also a daughter of the Mozhay Point Reservation in northern Minnesota and the mother of Azure and Rain, ages 3 and 4, and her absence haunts all the lives she has touched—and all the stories they tell in this novel. In the Night of Memory returns to the fictional reservation of Linda LeGarde Grover’s previous award-winning books, introducing readers to a new generation of the Gallette family as Azure and Rain make their way home.

After a string of foster placements, from cold to kind to cruel, the girls find their way back to their extended Mozhay family, and a new set of challenges, and stories, unfolds. Deftly, Grover conjures a chorus of women’s voices (sensible, sensitive Azure’s first among them) to fill in the sorrows and joys, the loves and the losses that have brought the girls and their people to this moment. Though reconciliation is possible, some ruptures simply cannot be repaired; they can only be lived through, or lived with. In the Night of Memory creates a nuanced, moving, often humorous picture of two Ojibwe girls becoming women in light of this lesson learned in the long, sharply etched shadow of Native American history.

Review:

What drew my attention to this novel is the storyline and the voices that the story is told thru. I have not had the priviledge of reading many stories told from a Native American’s point of view. I feel that it is important to know how a system like foster care works in different communities.

Another subject that is mentioned throughout the story and also has an impact on the girls’ lives is alcoholism. Their mother was an alcoholic and Junior is a recovering alcoholic. Alcoholism in the Native American community is prevalent and also can be seen as a generational curse as well.

What I loved most about this story was how each point of view that it was told from gave you an insight of the girls as well as their family history. This isn’t brightest and sunniest story but the love and lives that they end up experiencing are much better than what they started out with.

Azure and Rainy have the most beautiful relationship with each other and serve as backbones for one another throughout everything they experience. Azure falls into the role as the older sister even though she is the younger sister. They share a single memory of their mother that stands out to both of them. As they get older, you see the effects of what they have been thru and how it has effected them, especially in Rainy.

I highly recommend this story even if it isn’t light and fluffy.

Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover

Thank you Bookish First for this copy and also University of Minnesota Press.

book review · reading

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib {ARC Review}

Blurb:

The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list.  Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.  Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears-imperfection, failure, loneliness-she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Julia, always hungry. Together they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

Review:

This book was everything I was told it was going to be. I started reading it on Saturday and finished it Sunday. I was so engrossed in the story. The way the story is structured, with vignettes of her life building up to her admittance to the house is just remarkable.  Yara Zgheib tells this story in such a beautiful fashion that connects you with the characters, especially Anna. You get an inside look at someone suffering from a disease but doesn’t fully understand the impact that it is causing on her life. Not only do you see how life can be with someone who has a support system, you also see from some of the other girls how life can be without a support system.  The denial, the pain, the suffering, and the victories(yes, there are some joyous moments). The way this story is written would make you think that it is actually a memoir instead of a fictional story.

If you are looking for a read that is going to pull at every emotion while also making you think, this is the story for you. I am a big fan of realistic fiction. I love reading a story that hits close to home and reality. Mental illness and eating disorders are not subjects that are easily discussed and are often times overlooked.

This is a phenomenal debut novel and I look forward to reading what Yara writes next.

This story does come with trigger warnings so if eating disorders and depression are subjects that you are sensitive about I would strongly suggest taking that into consideration before reading this story.

Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

February 5, 2019

*I received this advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

book review · psychological thriller · secrets · suspense

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen {ARC Review}

Blurb:

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. Bus as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told  what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking….and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no long trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Review:

When I learned that these ladies had teamed up, I had to jump on the wagon of trying to get an advanced copy to review. I really enjoyed their first novel, The Wife Between Us and was anxious to find out what else they have up their sleeves.

An Anonymous Girl also drew my attention because it has a storyline that I have not really seen before in a thriller. I am not usually one who enjoys a thriller with an unreliable narrator but this story was different for me. Not only is there one unreliable narrator, there are two! I found that to be so fascinating. Both viewpoints of the story kept me guessing. Each time I thought I had something figured out, one of the narrations would throw me for a loop. I thoroughly enjoy a thriller that can keep me guessing and I enjoy when there is a storyline that I haven’t seen before. This story gave me a Fatal Attraction and Single White Female vibe.

The only complaint that I have with this story is that there wasn’t as big of a twist in this book as there was in The Wife Between Us but that doesn’t take away from everything else that this story has to offer. Once you start reading it, you will want to keep reading because you are going to want to know what is about to happen next and if it is going to line up with what you have in mind.

This story will also have you questioning your own moral compass. How far are you willing to go? What lies are you willing to tell and what secrets are you willing to live with?

This is going to be a good thriller to kick off the thrillers that are going to be published in 2019.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

Available January 8, 2019 in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook.

Thank you St. Martins Press for this advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

abuse · book review · books · Family · secrets · suspense

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen

Blurb:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Review:

I bought this book during one of my impulse book buying sprees back in August and had been itching to read it because the storyline caught my attention. Needless to say I was pretty excited that my local book club decided to read it for our October book.

 The first thing that caught my attention with this novel was the style of writing. I loved the prose and how the story just flowed on the pages. Delia’s style of writing is lovely on its own, but the added poetry throughout made it even better. This is one of those stories that you just can’t help but fall in love with because you can feel what the characters are going thru and you want everything to work out for them.

 Kya experiences so much heartache at a young age. She witnesses and experiences the abuse of her father and she is slowly abandoned by each of her family members. When she tries to go to school she is bullied by the children and in town she is treated unfairly by the adults who assume she is nothing more than swamp trash instead of trying to help her. Kya has to learn how to fend for herself. She has to cook, clean, shop, and grow into her womanhood.

 As Kya grows older, she develops a fascination with nature that is hard to describe. She starts a collection of items that eventually helps her survive. Kya seems to be alone but she isn’t. She develops a friendship with Jumpin’ and his wife Mabel. She also develops a beautiful friendship with Tate. I loved the relationship that Kya and Tate have even though things don’t play out the way that they would have if Kya wasn’t considered swamp trash.

 After Kya learns to open up and trust, she is hurt again. Unfortunately this hurt makes her a vulnerable target for local heartthrob, football star Chase Andrews. I did not like anything about Chase from the beginning and hate to say that he deserved what became of him. He was a pretentious jerk.

 This is a story about abandonment, abuse, racial and class prejudice, and love. All of these tie together as a child grows up and a murder has to be solved.

 Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

Available in hardcover, ebook and audiobook

book review · books · psychological thriller

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn {Review}

Goodreads Blurb:

Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times–and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, and their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

My Review:

I picked this book for one of my choices in my Book of the Month subscription partly because I love a good thriller and partly because I had heard good things from people whose opinions about books I respect. So needless to say, I had some high hopes for this one.

We meet Anna Fox who is suffering from a mental illness that keeps her in her house. This illness was brought on by a traumatic experience she went thru with her family.  She is an agoraphobic. She does not venture outside her home for any reason. Everything she needs or wants is delivered to her home. She even has her appointments in her home. She does attempt to go outside on a few occasions and they all turned out bad. She has an unhealthy obsession with her neighbors.  In my opinion, Anna is a drugged up wino who doesn’t have the intention of getting better and seeks out the problems of others to solve instead of working on her own. This could be due to the fact that she is a licensed mental health professional.  She is living in a life of denial and you have to wait until about 3/4 of the way thru to find out how delusional she really is. The issue I had with this novel is that the first 2-3 hundred pages were more redundant to me than they were plot building. I actually put this book to the side to read(and finish) another book. I  did not think that I was going to go back to it and  finish. I did pick it back up and finish only because I had already invested time and energy into the story. I wanted to know what the big wow was going to be and hoped that when it came along, this story would have been able to redeem itself. By the time I made it to the “plot twists” I was worn out from Anna. They didn’t hold any shock factors for me. I know I am in the minority with my opinion on this novel but I am okay with that. I like to be honest in my reviews. This novel will not be at the top of my list of recommendations. If you read and enjoyed this book, I applaud you.

Rating:

2 stars

Availability:

Book is now available in hardcover, ebook and audio.

book review · books

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney {Review}

Goodreads Blurb:

It’s the last day of 1984, and 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish is about to take a walk.

As she traverses a grittier Manhattan, a city anxious after an attack by a still-at-large subway vigilante, she encounters bartenders, bodega clerks, chauffeurs, security guards, bohemians, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be—in surprising moments of generosity and grace. While she strolls, Lillian recalls a long and eventful life that included a brief reign as the highest-paid advertising woman in America—a career cut short by marriage, motherhood, divorce, and a breakdown.

A love letter to city life—however shiny or sleazy—Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop.

My Review:

I have to be honest and say that I don’t exactly know why I chose this book  January 2017 for my Book of the Month subscription. After starting it, I didn’t know what drew me to it even after reading the synopsis which may explain why it remained on my shelf untouched for a year with no thought or desire to read it. But since I am participating in the Unread Shelf Project 2018 and I drew this title from my Book of the Month TBR can,  I figured I would put the energy into reading it. In this story, we follow Lillian and I mean literally follow her and she makes her journey thru New York City on New Year’s Eve 1984, by foot. During her walk, she recalls several events that have happened throughout her life. I won’t say that this was a terrible book because it wasn’t. Lillian is actually a hoot. My issue with the book is that she was so wordy. I can see why she needed to be that way since the story is told from the point of view of an elderly person, but good grief! I think this short novel is the LONGEST one I have read in a long time. For it to not have even broken the 300 page mark, it sure did feel like it was about 500 pages with the way that Lillian speaks. She turns a paragraph into a lengthy speech and there were some points I wanted to turn on the award’s show “wrap it up” music, lol. My favorite part of the novel is when she is describing a rap song that she hears while walking and it clearly is a song that she has heard before but she doesn’t know the title or artist but she does enjoy the music. I think I read that particular passage twice, lol. I will add picture of the passage to this review.

This is a novel that I would have a hard time recommending only because there isn’t anything in it that is a selling point for myself. I am interested in seeing what the author has to offer for her next novel. I do hope that it is not centered around a wordy old woman though.

Rating:

I have to give this novel 3.5 stars

Availability:

This book is available wherever books are sold.

book review · books

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman {Review}

If you have read and enjoyed Fredrick Backman’s Britt Marie Was Here, I think you would enjoy this novel by Gail Honeyman.

Goodreads Blurb:

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. All this means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner.

My Review:

I received this book thru my Book of the Month subscription for December and it was my first pick from my TBR jar that I have dedicated to this year’s  Unread Shelf Project. What attracted me to this novel was my thought that it was so similar to the above mentioned novel by Fredrick Backman. I recently read Britt Marie Was Here and thoroughly enjoyed it.

In Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, you meet a 30 year old woman who is basically living the life of a 65 year old grandma. If her age was not mentioned you could imagine her as an uptight old lady. To be such a young woman, she is a creature of routine and habit. You can’t help but laugh at her ways from time to time. The more serious she is, the funnier her situation seems, until you learn about her past.

Eleanor survived a horrific fire during her childhood but as a result of it, she had to grow up in the foster care system. She does not have any friends, she is socially awkward, and her life is controlled indirectly by her mother. As the story progresses, you learn to love Eleanor and cheer for her from your reading spot because she attempts to make changes in her routine even if at first it is only because she is preparing to meet the love of her life. She steps into the world of technology and the world of beauty. I think her experience with waxing was my favorite funny part.

Even with her attempts to make changes, Eleanor’s life takes a near devastating turn. She then has to learn how to love herself and accept the love and friendship of others.

This is a quick, quirky read but is full of life. This book subtly addresses alcoholism and child abuse. It also touches on mental health and help.

I gave this novel 4.5 stars. It is available now.

book review · books · Family

Educated by Tara Westover {Review}

This story is not about  Mormonism.

I have to admit that I do not usually read the Author’s Note, but that one line captivated me. Probably because I was thinking that it was going to be about the religion and the effects of it. It turned out that that line was completely correct. Even without the line, I don’t think that I would have considered Tara Westover’s family devoted Mormons.

This memoir is my first non fiction feature on my blog. Definitely something different from what I usually read and review. I welcomed this story with open arms. This was an unexpected arrival and I chose to not read the synopsis before diving into the story.

The story follows Tara who is a native of Idaho and a member of a family who is living off the grid.

Goodreads Blurb:

Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag.” In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.

That is just a piece of what this book entails.

My review:

I don’t usually read physical copies of memoirs, but I am glad that I read this one. Sitting down with this book was like stepping into a world that I have only been involved with thru media such as movies or news articles. Tara’s family lived in the mountains of Idaho and were basically living in their own universe and not concerned with the “corrupted” world. Tara grew up experiencing life with a parent who probably suffered from a mental illness, a mother who seemed to be complacent, and a life with a sibling who is physically and mentally abusive.

Tara may have started life in that unusual environment but she was strong enough to desire a different style of life for herself, although it was not an easy task. Tara stepped foot in school at the age of 17 and it was not a high school classroom but a college classroom. By stepping into this life outside of her mountain life, she realizes that she has been sheltered from a world that has gone on and she knows nothing of it. I believe that Tara was like a sponge and absorbed all the information that she could. There were times that she was discouraged or felt that she was being a traitor to her family. Tara ended up risking her spot in her family and became the “black sheep” because she wanted a different life for herself. She wanted to discontinue the lifestyle that she was raised in.

I loved the language that the author used in her story. The story was well written and read like a novel instead of a memoir which I enjoyed. I definitely would not have believed that Tara didn’t start going to school until she was 17 years old and that most of what she learned had to be self taught.

I gave this novel 4.5 stars

I received this novel from Random House. I am was very pleased to give an honest review.

This book is set to be released February 20, 2018 from Random House.