Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Monday, February 27, 2017

(19)Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Physics professor Jason Dessen loves his life of domestic bliss.  Even after more than fifteen years of marriage he is very much in love with his wife, Daniela, and is so proud of their teenage son. The Thursday night his world changed was a bit different.  While dinner was cooking he ran to a neighborhood bar for the celebration of an old college friend of his.  His friend just won a prestigious physics award, one that if life had been different could have been his award.  On his way home he is kidnapped and when he wakes up his life is not his own. He never married Daniela, they never had a son, and he was the world-renowned physicist who won an award. He doesn't want any of that, though - he wants his wife. He wants his son.  He wants his life back and will do anything to get it back.  Including jumping across parallel universes to find the right world he left, but what he doesn't realize is that there are multiple Jasons in multiple universes who all want the same thing - to be with Daniela and their son.

I am so surprised at how much I enjoyed Dark Matter.  It is like a cross between The Time Traveler's Wife and Inception. A mind-bending science fiction novel with some physics mumbo-jumbo (the box), but not so much that the mere mortal can't follow along.  At the heart of the book is the love story between Jason and Daniela.  Jason. the real Jason, not his clones, seems like a really good dude. His devotion to his family is not to be denied. The different worlds that Jason has to encounter before finding the right world was downright terrifying.   The way that he got Daniela's attention in the "right" world was downright brilliant.  And that is when I realized that I was loving this book.   The action really picks up towards the end of the book and it is a fast-paced, heart-pounding conclusion.   

Bottom line - Dark Matter is a brilliant novel.  I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but the characters and the story are so gripping it would be impossible not to love it.  I will be the first person in line to buy a ticket when this movie gets made - and I am sure it will get made.  It is just too good not to be made into a movie.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

(18)The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

On Halloween night a young punk died under mysterious circumstances.  The whole town blamed the local eccentric, Rose Whalen.  This wasn't the first time that Rose was involved in a shocking murder. Twenty-five years ago that very night Rose was there for the "Goddess Murders" -- three young Salem women were brutally murdered and Rose was one of the only witnesses, the other witness was the young daughter of one of the Goddesses.  The Goddesses were three beautiful young women who had bewitched the men of Salem.  Nobody really believed that Rose murdered the Goddesses, but she was placed in psychiatry care because she said that it was a Banshee, a figure of Irish folklore,  had killed the Goddesses.

Callie Cahill is a music therapist in the Boston area.  She grew up in an orphanage run by nuns after her mother was killed that night in Salem.  She is shocked to see Rose on the news because she believed that she was killed that night, too.  Callie drops everything to go to Salem for Rose.  There she encounters Towner Whitney and her husband, Sherriff Rafferty. Rafferty reopens up the Goddess murders and seeks the truth.  What will happen to the historic families of Salem when the truth is revealed?

I read Brunonia Barry's first novel, The Lace Reader, what seems like a million years ago.  I was excited for The Fifth Petal because I was excited to return her version of Salem.  Towner and Rafferty are now married and Rafferty has a pretty significant role in this book.  As Callie is there to help Rose she finds herself getting involved with the son of one of the wealthy Salem families and I really did not care for him. He was a bit of an ass, in my opinion. Callie was a more likable character and I felt she deserved better.  I didn't fully understand how she could just up and leave her life in the city to be there for Rose.  The logistics of that are never fully explained and leave a bit of a gap, but not enough to keep you from enjoying the story.  I had the "whodunit" figured out pretty early, but didn't really have any "proof" of it until the very end. -- CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS 

Bottom line --Even though there were some gaps in the plot,  I enjoyed The Fifth Petal.   I enjoyed the quirky, eccentric characters that the author has created in the historical community of Salem.  I know there is going to be another book in this series and I can't wait!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

(17)The Mother's Promise by Sally Hepworth

It has always been just Alice and Zoe Stanhope against the world.  Zoe's father has never been in the picture and the only family that Alice has left is an unreliable alcoholic brother.  In the past, it has been okay with just the two of the, but Alice has just been diagnosed with Stage III Ovarian Cancer.   Alice is terrified about the future and what will happen to fifteen-year-old Zoe if she can't beat cancer.   While Zoe is a terrific kid, she struggles with serious anxiety issues that manifest into scary panic attacks.  In this scary reality, Alice reluctantly leans on two women for help.  Her nurse, Kate, and the social worker assigned to her case, Sonja.  Together this team helps Kate fight the dreaded disease, but they also help Zoe deal with their new reality.  But what will happen to Zoe if Alice doesn't beat cancer?

My initial reaction to the first pages of this book was an intense rage that Alice would allow her daughter to stop therapy and only take Klonopin in "emergencies".  I was so angry I told my husband about it.  A teen girl in my life struggles with major anxiety. The minute her parents realized that it was starting to debilitate her they sought help.  You don't just let her quit therapy and not be on medicine to help her brain even out.  I know the book would have lost some of the dramatic appeal if Zoe didn't have these issues, but it was still incredibly irresponsible parenting in my opinion.  I stuck with the book because I wanted to see if Alice would redeem herself.  I wouldn't say that I ended up forgiving Alice, but I felt a deep compassion for her situation.  I liked that Zoe and Kate seemed to click and Sonja had her on issues that revealed themselves quite explosively.  The Mother's Promise was a heartbreaking story in so many ways, but despite everything, it was a good read.  - CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS

Bottom line -  The Mother's Promise is a story about three women and a teen girl who all are fighting battles.  Anxiety, infertility, cancer, or domestic abuse.  The underlying theme that emerges in The Mother's Promise is that it is critical for everybody to have a support network.  To have somebody who will "get your back" no matter what the situation.  There is a lot of discussion topics in this one - your local book club will love it!  The Mother's Promise is on shelves 2/21/2017.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

(16)Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner

Sharlah May Nash has not had an easy life.  She was barely five years old when her brother killed her parents. Her brother, Telly, was the only good thing in her young life.  He read books to her, he made sure that she had food to eat and tried to keep her life as normal as possible.   The death of their parents was labeled self-defense but the siblings were separated and sent into the foster care system. Now it is eight years later and Sharlah is thirteen years old and on the verge of being adopted by former FBI agents Pierce Quincy and Rainie Connor. Sharlah is a quiet and withdrawn teenager, but she feels safe with her new family.  Telly has been taken in by the Duvall family - Sandra is a stay-at-home mom and Frank is a teacher.  Telly has never felt so wanted in a home. The tenuous security for both siblings ends the day that two people are murdered in a local convenience store and all evidence points to Telly being the suspect.  The evidence also leads the police to believe that Telly murdered his foster parents before heading to the convenience store.  Soon the siblings who thought they would never see each other again are tied together in a yet another dark and dangerous way.  Some secrets are not meant to be kept, but the secrets of their past may be enough to destroy both Telly and Sharlah.

From page one I was drawn into the fast-paced thriller of Right Behind You. The book opens in the past on the night that Telly's and Sharlah's parents are killed.  The early pages are being told from Telly's perspective, but it is told in such a tender way you don't know who is telling the story - a boy or a girl. I enjoyed the dynamics between both Sharlah and her new parents and Telly's with his new parents.  Both sets of parents accepted the children for who they were.  They didn't push them for more than they could give. There are some twists and turns, but not far-fetched or unbelievable.  -CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS  I was pleased with the end, but it felt that the book was short because I finished it so quickly.

Bottom line - Right Behind You is a fast-paced mystery with enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes, but not so many that it doesn't seem plausible.  A great quality to have in a mystery.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sunday, February 12, 2017

(15)Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Adele and Louise are two different women with one thing in common - Adele's husband, David.  Louise is a single mum in North London when she goes to the pub one night and encounters the very handsome David.  It isn't until she arrives at work the next day that she discovers that David is her new boss.  David's wife Adele befriends Louise and Louise reluctantly settles into their new friendship. But then Adele helps her lose weight and quit smoking, and when Adele starts sharing intimate secrets with Louise about her marriage Louise isn't so sure that David is the perfect man that she thought.  The closer the two women become the more Louise becomes concerned about her friend's safety.  Especially after Adele tells her about her friend, Rob, and his questionable demise.  As relations escalate between Louise and Adele and Louise and David, Louise knows that something is just not right with this couple, but who is truly the unbalanced one in this couple - David or Adele?

Behind Her Eyes is such a thrilling mind-bending novel, but you won't be able to put it down. At first, I thought the premise was too similar to a popular Thursday night soap-opera.  Adele and Louise take turns telling the story from their own viewpoint.  Louise is the easy one to like, even though she is sleeping with her married boss. She is a hard worker and completely devoted to her son, but being with Adele and even David has given her a new lease on life. She feels better about herself and her life.  Adele, on the other hand, she is constantly disappointing her husband and she knows that their relationship is broken. It was hard for me to figure out whether it was Adele who was the crazy spouse or David. My opinion was constantly changing.   There are some seriously dark twists that happen throughout, but it is the end that just leaves you speechless. - CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS

Bottom line - Behind Her Eyes was a true psychological thriller.  It has been a long time since I have read a book that had me always guessing - it was intense! I even saw Stephen King talking about Behind Her Eyes this morning on social media and that is high praise from the master.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

(14)Always by Sarah Jio

Kailey Crane is out to dinner with her fiance, Ryan.  Kailey knows that she has it good.  The restaurant they are at is fairly upscale by Seattle standards, her fiance is completely devoted to her, and her career has never been better.  They are leaving the restaurant when a homeless man catches her eye. It is Cade McAllister. the former love of her life.  Cade had disappeared almost ten years ago after they had a fight and right before Kailey was going to tell him that she was pregnant.  His disappearance nearly destroyed Kailey and she has fought hard to reclaim her life.  To discover that Cade is living on the streets of Seattle was a shock that she just doesn't know how to process.  Kailey isn't ready to let him get away again without an explanation so she goes out looking for him, only to find him.  And discover that he has suffered some sort of Traumatic Brain Injury.  Without telling Ryan, Kailey embarks on a mission to get her ex-boyfriend the medical help he needs and get him off of the streets.  Will her secret destroy her relationship with Ryan? Will the Cade she once knew ever be the same again?

Always is one of those books told in two different time periods.  The "present" is in 2008 and the past was 1996, right when the Seattle music scenes was at it's hottest.  I liked Kailey as a character, she was so happy with Ryan, yet her compassion for Cade was undeniable.  I will say that I did get irritated with her in the early days of her finding Cade.  It was obvious that he was having mental issues, but she was so demanding that he remember and recognize her. I get that some of that was the emotion of seeing him after all those years, but c'mon.  Other than that, I did enjoy Kailey.  I liked her best friend, Tracy.  And sometimes I even liked the entitled, Ryan.  The memories of when Cade and Kailey were first dating were very much a trip down memory lane for me, too.  Specifically the music of the era - it was wonderful.  In the end, love wins and I was pleased with the outcome.

Bottom line - Always is one of those love stories that proves that true love will conquer all. Who doesn't love a good love story?


Sunday, February 5, 2017

(13)I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

Eve's world is turned upside down when her mother committed suicide on that fall day.  At just seventeen years old Eve struggles to understand why her mother would do that.  In fact, her father Brady blames himself.  The two of them are struggling to come to grips with a life that does not include Maddy.  Father and daughter have never had a close relationship and without Maddy there to be the buffer, their relationship flounders.  So much that Eve has asked to spend her senior year at a boarding school.   What Brady and Eve don't know is that Maddy is never far away.  She is watching over them as they struggle through their new life and gently encourages them to go on without her.  Even though days, weeks, and months have passed Brady and Eve have one thing in common - they just don't understand why Maddy would kill herself.  And it is tearing them apart.  Will they ever find out why?

I Liked My Life is an intimate and emotional read about a family ripped apart by suicide.  The chapters are told in the alternating voices of Eve and Brady.  As well as Maddy who is observing from afar. The pain that both Eve and Brady are going through is quite palpable and quite heartbreaking.  I liked Eve and I even liked Brady, even though he was one of those guys who didn't really pay much attention to what was going on at home - that was always his wife's domain - until she was no longer there.  Other people are a part of their story - like Rory, the tutor that Maddy handpicked to be Brady's next love. And Kara, a selfish friend of Eve's.   Through the story I felt a little intrusive, their story was that intimate. Their grief was that intimate.  Through the whole book, I had a feeling that there was something more to the story.  And I was right.  The end was quite satisfactory and thankfully the author did a sort of epilogue.  So we could check on the characters down the road.  I was glad she did.

Bottom line - The sudden death of a loved one is never easy to handle.  So much is left unsaid and undone.  So many questions remain.  Abby Fabiaschi tackled all of those questions and more in her book, I Liked My Life.   Even though it is an intimate and at times emotional read, it may just bring some comfort to those who recently lost a loved one.


Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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