Review: The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 24 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: June 9, 2015
  • Narrator Zach Villa

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens has some violence in it, but it is about a murderer, so it fits the story well.  The novel is fast paced and well written.  I listened to it in just a few days as it held my interest.

At the opening of the story, the convicted murderer, Carl Iverson, is an old dying man in a nursing home.  Joe Talbert, a young college student, on a school assignment to write a biography of an older person, begins a quest to find out the truth about the rape and murder of a fourteen year old girl, thirty years ago.

I enjoyed Eskens’ characterizations.  In a short amount of time he was able to bring his characters to life and make them seem very realistic and in some cases sympathetic.

The various characters added another facet to the story,  Among the character’s were Joe’s bipolar mother and autistic brother and the college girl who lives next-door to Joe, but keeps her distance.  Another facet is Carl’s story from when he was a soldier in Vietnam.

The Life We Bury is an apropos title as it smartly shows, in several instances, the past that people move on from and in a sense bury.

The narrator, Zach Villa did a great job and was very easy to listen to.

Read More or Purchase from Amazon

First Paragraph (from library book)

Published 2014 by Seventh Street Books an imprint of Prometheus Books

Chapter 1

I remember being pestered by a sense of dread as I walked to my car that day, pressed down by a wave of foreboding that swirled around my head and broke against the evening in small ripples.  There are people in this world who would call that kind of feeling a premonition, a warning from some internal third eye that can see around the curve of time.  I’ve never been one to buy into such things.  But I will confess that there have been times when I think back to that day and wonder: if the fates had truly whispered in my ear – if I had known how that drive would change so many things – would I have taken a safer path?  Would I turn left where before I had turned right? Or would I still travel the path that led me to Carl Iverson?

What Others Are Saying

“Allen Eskens had a way of capturing Joe’s voice in this book. The addition of what his family/home life was like was brilliant.”

“There are not many books in the last year that I can say I fell in love with right from the start, but this one earned that statement.” – Sheila @ BookJourney

“There’s a lot of action and tension so I found myself turning the pages as fast as I could.”

“I thought the storyline of THE LIFE WE BURY was strong and very compelling.” – Kathy @ BermudaOnion’s Web Log

About The Author (from the author’s website)

SHORT BIO

Allen Eskens is the award winning and USA Today-bestselling author of The Life We Bury, The Guise of Another and The Heavens May Fall. He is the recipient of the Barry Award, Rosebud Award and the Silver Falchion Award for his debut novel, The Life We Bury, which was also named a finalist for the Edgar® Award, Thriller Award, Anthony Award and the Minnesota Book Award. Allen honed his creative writing skills through the MFA program at Minnesota State University as well as classes at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. He is a member of the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime.

Coffee Table Book: Vincent by himself Edited by Bruce Bernard

October 12, 2016

 Edited by Bruce Bernard (purchased)

Chartwell Books, Reprinted 2014

First published in great Britain in 1985 by MacDonald & Co

I hesitated writing a post for this book as it is not the type of book I typically read or write about.  However, I highly recommend it as a companion to a novel I just completed, the historical fiction, Lust for Life by Irving Stone, which tells the story of Van Gogh’s life.

Lust For Life via Amazon
Read More or Purchase from Amazon

While reading/listening to Lust for Life, I decided I wanted to find a coffee table book to see some of Van Gogh’s works described in the novel.  Barns and Nobel occasionally offers such books at a considerable discount.  When I went to the store, it happened to be the only such book on sale!  I thought I was very fortunate to be able to pick up the last two copies, one for myself and the other for a gift.  (I have a similar book about Monet.)

Vincent by Himself nicely corresponds with Lust For Life.  I enjoyed looking at the images and now know so much more about them than I ever would have had I not listened to Lust For Life (my local monthly book club selection).  This picture book also includes excerpts of the many letters written by Van Gogh that I hope to delve into more sometime in the future.

Van Gogh wrote his brother, who was his benefactor, many letters (over 600) throughout his short life.  The author of Lust for Life, Irving Stone, used these letters to build much of Van Gogh’s story.

Vincent by himself via Amazon
Read More (Currently Out of Print)

What have you been reading or listening to lately?  Do you enjoy coffee table books?  I don’t normally actually keep these books on my coffee table, but rather keep them in my bookcase and enjoy pulling them out occasionally.

Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

 by Colleen Hoover

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 11 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: August 2, 2016

Narrator: Olivia Song

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

In the past author, Colleen Hoover, wrote for entertainment purposes.  It Ends With Us, while entertaining and fictional, is different in that it is more personal to Colleen.

It Ends With Us starts out with a Fifty Shades of Grey type of sexual tension between florist, Lily Bloom and brain surgeon, Ryle Kincaid.

Ryle avoids long-term relationships, but finds Lily irresistible.

Lily occasionally thinks about her first love, but falls for Ryle.

While their romance is hot and heavy, the story suddenly takes a very dark and serious turn.

Colleen Hoover gives us a nice balance between the dark and lighter sides of the story.

It Ends With Us, touched my heart as it is about resilience in the face of tremendous obsticles.

What Others Are Saying

“A beautiful story of bravery, strength and hope – this book will change people’s lives. It’s without a doubt Colleen’s best work.” – Brandie @ Brandie is a Book Junkie

“A beautifully sad and inspirational story about breaking cycles, making hard choices, and loving the one you are meant to be with, even when someone else is also the love of your life.” – Laural Rain Snow

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Review: Since She Went Away by David Bell & Giveaway

since she went awaySince She Went Away by David Bell

New American Library, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC, 2016

With Questions For Discussion

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

David Bell is a smooth storyteller.  I enjoyed this captivating novel.  It is an, easy to read suspense/mystery with a steady pace and great characterizations.

Since She Went Away takes place in a small town.  At the heart of this story is a single mother, Jenna Barton and her teen-aged son, Jared.  The suspense and the mystery surround Jenna’s friend, Celia, who is missing and Jared’s girlfriend who is new in town.

Please feel free to enter the giveaway contest below.  You don’t want to miss this novel!

First Chapter(s)

CHAPTER ONE

Five police cars.  Three news vans.  And one coroner’s wagon.

Jenna Barton saw them as she made the turn onto the last county lane.  The vehicles were fanned out around the old weathered barn with one all collapsing and the others hanging on for dear life.

About The Author

David Bell is bestselling and award-winning author whose work has been translated into six languages.  He’s currently an associate professor of English at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  He received an MA in creative writing from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a PhD in American literature and creative writing from the University of Cincinnati.  His previous novels are Somebody I Used to Know, The Forgotten Girl, Never Come Back, The Hiding Place and Cemetery Girl.

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me this book to read and for sponsoring this giveaway contest (June 21-July 18) for a free copy of Since She Went Away.

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** This is the second novel I’ve read by Bell.  The first one was in 2015, The Cemetery Girl.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: 

netgalley50I received this book  free from the publisher, Random House as well as an advance copy via NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review: Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen

 by Anna Quindlen – Unabridged – purchased ($14.95) via iBooks – presented by Audible.com – from Brilliance Audio.

Narrator: Brittany Pressley

Length: 8 hr 9 min

and

Advance Reader’s Copy (via NetGalley), Random House, 2016

My Review (5 Stars: Loved It!)

I received an ARC e-book for review, free of charge from NetGalley, but due to a back injury decided to purchase the audio version.

Listening to audiobooks is new to me.  Miller’s Valley was the first one I chose to listen to on my new iPod.

It was an excellent choice.  I did not expect a production, but it was one, by narrator, Brittany Pressley. She voiced each character differently.  I think I am hooked now on audiobooks.

Continue reading “Review: Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen”

Review: The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

 by Lynda Cohen Loigman

St. Martin’s Press, New York, First Edition March 2016

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

In The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman, there are many memorable and touching scenes.

This is a story about two Jewish families; two brothers, their wives and their children.

Brothers, Mort and Abe, couldn’t be more different.  Abe is outgoing, Mort is introverted.  Abe has four sons, Mort has three daughters.

Abe and Mort run a box company together in Brooklyn.  Their families were always close.  They shared a duplex with Abe’s family living upstairs and Mort’s family living downstairs.

One night, after a winter blizzard, the family dynamic changed.  Abe and Mort’s wives were once close friends, but became estranged.  During that night, stranded at home, they each gave birth to their youngest child (one-girl, one-boy).

The story begins in 1947.  The changes taking place during the next 21 years or so after the storm are totally engrossing.  We are left wondering about the nature and uniqueness of families.

Loigman, in her debut novel, shows us there is usually more than one side to a story and pulls at our heart strings as we read this family saga.

I’d also like to give a nod to the historical aspects of this novel.  I felt transported to that time period.

Continue reading “Review: The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman”

Review: Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazlet

 by Lisa Beazley

New American Library an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, April 2016

Release Date (April 5, 2016)

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley is a terrific debut novel.  It has the perfect amount of lightheartedness mixed with seriousness.

Two sisters decide to correspond thru actual physical handwritten letters. We know from the book blurb that these letters become inadvertently published on the Internet.

Cassie is a 36 year old mother of three-year old twin boys who lives in Manhattan.  She is full of self-doubt and insecurities, about for example, how to raise her children and whether or not she still attractive.  Her head is often buried in Facebook.

Cassie’s slightly older sister, Sid, living in Singapore, has her own, but different set of problems.  However, she is more at peace with herself.  She has little or no technical/computer experience.

Their candid letters back and forth are cringe worthy, knowing they are unknowingly being published for the world to see.

Of course, considering my blog title, how could I resist this title.

Bloggers, sisters and just about everyone else will enjoy this novel!

If your looking for a light beach read, this might be it!

Continue reading “Review: Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazlet”

Review: The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris

 

The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris

Kensington Publishing Corp., 2015

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

This story begins in Dublin, Ireland – March 1919.  We follow, orphaned, twelve-year old, Shanley Keagan’s journey to America and his life, from the shores of New York City, across the country, to the California shores of Alcatraz.

Author, Kristina McMorris paints an amazing story of how Shan, with the love and support of others, is given a second chance at living the American Dream in New York.

This is a story of second chances and then maybe third and fourth, as Shan has many ups and downs during his journey.  There are multiple twists before reaching the end of the novel.

Being second generation – Irish American, I was intrigued by the beginning of Shan’s story in Ireland, how he got to America, how he lived in New York and what his fate was.

It is unusual for me to read historical fiction, in a day, but that is what I did with The Edge of Lost.  Author, Kristina McMorris does historical fiction during that time period well.  I was introduced to her writing in The Pieces We Keep.  I also read her work in a collection of short stories in Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion.  All three of these works are rated five stars in my book.

I would like to thank the author Kristina McMorris, Kensington Publishing Corp. and the SheReads organization for sending me this book, free of charge, for review.

Continue reading “Review: The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris”

Review: What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross

 

What Was Mine: A Novel by Helen Klein Ross

Gallery Books An Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2016

(Includes Readers Guide)

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

The excellent book trailer (below) opens with the question:

“WHAT IF YOU TOOK A BABY AND GOT AWAY WITH IT?”

In What Was Mine, author Helen Klein Ross imagines the answer to that question and paints a picture for us to imagine with her.
As you might imagine, lives are devastated, but there is much more to this story.

Lucy Wakefield, tried but could not have a baby.  Her marriage failed as a result of it and she wasn’t approved for adoption.  One day Lucy is overcome with emotion and, almost against her own will, takes someone else’s four month old baby girl, to keep, love and raise as her own.  She changes the baby’s name to Mia.  When Mia is twenty-one, she learns the truth.  The mother she loves is not really her mother.

The author does an excellent job in presenting many sides of the story.  We hear from many people who are affected by this crime, as Lucy states in the second paragraph:

“I can’t tell my story straight.  I have to tell it in circles, likes rings of a tree that signify the passage of time.”

Chapters are interspersed with perspectives from various people in addition to Lucy and Mia.  We hear from Lucy’s ex-husband, Mia’s mother and father, Mia’s Chinese babysitter, Lucy’s sister, and others affected by Lucy’s actions.

What Was Mine is a very suspenseful and touching novel.

I would like to thank author, Helen Klein Ross, the She Reads Organization and the publisher, Gallery Books An Imprint of Simon & Schuster,  for providing me with this book, free of charge, for review.

Continue reading “Review: What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross”

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Delacorte Press, 2014

From GoodReads

literary awards

Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Nominee (2015)The Inky Awards Nominee for Silver Inky (2015)Bookworm Best Award for Best Fiction (2014)Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction (2014)The Magnolia Award Nominee for 9-12 (2016)

My Review (5 Stars: Loved It!)

I can see why this is an award winning book.  Each chapter is more captivating than the previous one.

It is a short read.  I read it over the course of one day. Continue reading “Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart”

Review: The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

 The Hypnotist’s Love Story: A Novel

by Liane Moriarty

Amy Einhorn Books

Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

Reading a novel by Liane Moriarty is like sitting down with the author across the kitchen table and listening to her tell a long captivating story.  She is very personable.

In The Hypnotist’s Love Story, 35 year old Ellen is a hypnotherapist.  Her promising new boyfriend, Patrick, is being stalked by his ex-girlfriend, Saskia.

We are taken through this story and become privy to all three character’s thoughts, feelings and actions.  This is a complex story as Patrick is a widower with a young son, Jack.  Saskia, in addition to being in-love with Patrick, helped raise his son for a few years and loves Jack too.  She continues to stalk Patrick even though his relationship with Ellen grows stronger.

Ellen has interesting family, friends and clients who add a bit of fun to the story.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story highlights relationships and the facets of being in-love.  Does it matter who loves who more in a relationship?  Can love be quantified that way?

We also get a closeup look at the effects of stalking and hypnotism.

Continue reading “Review: The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty”

Review: The Last September by Nina de Gramont

The Last September by Nina de Gramont

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2015

My Review ( 5 Stars: Loved It!)

Author, Nina de Gramont expertly tugs the reader along in this suspenseful page turner.

In The Last September, the plot is not too complicated.  There are many references to Emily Dickinson, that I might not have completely understood.  However, overall it was an enjoyable read.

I loved the way the author portrayed the main character, Brett, and her total love for her husband, Charlie.  In the beginning of the novel we are told Charlie was murdered.   He was handsome, charming, and a free sprit.  He loved Brett.  They married and had a daughter together.  Brett doubted her husband loved her as much she loved him.

Brett met Charlie through his brother, Eli, her best friend in college, in Boulder, Colorado.  Eli had mental illness and was a problem at times.

The main part of the story takes place in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

This novel is a quick read (about 300 pages).  Once I started reading it, I did not want to put it down.

First Paragraph

“Because I am a student of literature, I will start my story on the day Charlie died.  In other words, I’m beginning in the middle.  In medias res, that’s the Latin term and though my specialty is American Renaissance poetry, I did have to study classics.  Homer, Dante, Milton.  They knew about the middle, how all of life revolves around a single moment in time.  Everything that comes before leads up to that moment.  Everything that comes afterward springs from that moment.”

Also by Nina de Gramont

Books For Adults

Of Cats and Men: Stories

Gossip of The Starlings

Books For Young Adults

Every Little Thing in the World

Meet Me at the River

The Boy I Love

She Reads

I would like to thank author, Nina De Gramont, the She Reads Organization and the publisher, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill,  for providing me with this book, free of charge, for review.

The Last September by Nina De Gramont is one of She Reads’ Books of Fall.  Visit SheReads’ page to read more about their winter selections  @ The Books of Fall.

Disclosure of Material Connection:

I received this book free from the publisher, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, as a member of the She Reads Network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.