Review: Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt

Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt

and Readers Guide

Berkley Publishing Group an Imprint of Penguin Random House, 2015

Review (4 Stars: Liked it a lot!)

Estelle Paradise (27) is suffering from postpartum depression with psychosis.  One day she wakes up and her 7 month old daughter, Mia, is missing.  Every trace of Mia in the house is gone, including her clothes, diapers and toys.

Author, Alexandra Burt, takes us on a trip inside Estelle’s mind.  The story begins with Estelle waking up in the hospital after an induced coma.  She was found in her car, crashed down a deep ravine.  Estelle has brain trauma, amnesia and one of her ears is missing.  Mia is missing as well.

Slowly, after hard work, and being a suspect in the disappearance of her daughter, Estelle begins to unearth what happened.  Her account of her own feelings is compelling.  She wonders herself if she’s brought harm to her own daughter.

This story is an account of the roller-coaster ride Estelle has gone through and continues to go through as we learn what really happened to Mia.  Burt’s debut novel, Remember Mia, is indeed a page turner.

I’d like to thank Alexandra Burt and the Berkley Publishing Group for sending me this novel, free of charge, for review.

First Paragraph

“Mrs. Paradise?

A voice sounds out of nowhere.  My thoughts are sluggish, as if I’m running underwater.  I try and try but I’m not getting anywhere”

Trailer

What Other Are Saying

“REMEBER MIA is a twisty, gripping read – beautifully written and impossible to putdown.” – Meg Gardiner, Edgar Award – winning author

About The Author

Alexandra Burt is a freelance translator.  Born in Europe, she moved to Texas twenty years ago.  While pursuing literary translations, she decide to tell her own stories.  After years of writing classes and gluttonous reading, her short fiction appeared in fiction journals and literary reviews.  She lives in Texas with her husband and daughter.  Remember Mia is her first novel.

Disclosure of Material Connection: 

I received this book (ARC) free from the publisher, Berkley an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay

 

Defending Jacob by William Landy

Delacorte Press, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House,  inc. New York, 2012

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

Within just a few pages of reading Defending Jacob, I was hooked.  Author William Landy hits a perfectly mystifying tone.

Lead assistant district attorney Andrew Barber’s adolescent son, Jacob, is accussed of murdering a classmate.  In the beginning hours of the murder investigation, Mr. Barber is in charge of handling the DA’s case.  When it becomes apparent that his son is the main suspect, another assistant attorney, Neal Logiudice takes over.

This novel is peppered with transcripts of grand jury testimony where tense comments are traded between Mr. Logiudice and the ‘witness’, Andrew Barber.  This adds to building questions and suspense that surround Defending Jacob.

Andy holds on tight to the belief that his son did not comitt murder.  Despite strange revelations about his son and the strain on his wife, he still holds on to the belief that his son is innocent.  It is inconceivable to him that a father could think otherwise.

As a former district attorney, author, William Landy brings a realistic inside look into the criminal system.  I had read that this novel had a surprising conclusion.  I was trying to guess what it might be while reading.  In the end, I was surprised.

Continue reading “Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay”

Review: Cemetery Girl by David Bell

Cemetery Girl by David Bell

New American Library, A Division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2011

Description (from the author’s website)

Four years after Tom and Abby’s 12-year-old daughter vanishes, she is found alive but strangely calm. When the teen refuses to testify against the man connected to her disappearance, Tom decides to investigate the traumatizing case on his own. Nothing can prepare him for what he is about to discover.

Cemetery Girl is the winner of the prestigious 2013 Le Prix Polar International de Cognac.

My Review (4 Stars – Liked It A Lot!)

Twelve year old Catlin takes her rambuncsious dog for a walk in the park near home and disappears.  Author, David Bell explores the family’s pain, especially from the father, Tom’s, point of view.

Tom and his wife Abbey’s already strained marriage is pulled further apart after the disappearance of Catlin, their only child.  To complicate matters Tom’s half brother, Buster, is a person of interest in the investigation.  Buster has been in trouble with the law before.

One day, after four years missing, Catlin appears.  Author, David Bell gives the reader an engrossing, close up look of what this event might entail including interactions with Ryan, the officer investigating the case, counselors and witnesses.  Tom desperately wants to know what happened.  But, does he really want to know?  Tom knows life will never go back to the way it was before.

First Line

“Let me tell you something about my daughter.”

About the author (from amazon)

David Bell is an assistant professor of English at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He received an M.A. in creative writing from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a Ph.D. in American Literature and creative writing from the University of Cincinnati. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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Review: My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Penguin Group (USA), February 10, 2015

Description (from amazon.com)

My Sunshine Away unfolds in a Baton Rouge neighborhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom. But in the summer of 1989, when fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson—free spirit, track star, and belle of the block—experiences a horrible crime late one evening near her home, it becomes apparent that this idyllic stretch of Southern suburbia has a dark side, too.

In My Sunshine Away, M.O. Walsh brilliantly juxtaposes the enchantment of a charmed childhood with the gripping story of a violent crime, unraveling families, and consuming adolescent love. Acutely wise and deeply honest, it is an astonishing and page-turning debut about the meaning of family, the power of memory, and our ability to forgive.

 My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

“My Sunshine Away”, are the last few words in one of Louisiana’s state songs, “You Are My Sunshine”, (Wikipedia).  This fictional story takes place in Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana.  It begins with the following first line.

“There were four suspects in the rape of Lindy Simpson, a crime that occurred directly on top of the sidewalk of Piney Creek Road, the same sidewalk our parents had once hopefully carved their initials into, years before, as residents of the first street in the Woodland Hills subdivision to have houses on each lot. “

The narrator was a young adolescent boy, a year younger than Lindy.  He was extremely obsessed with her.  He thought he was in love.

This is a coming of age story.  Later in life, the narrator wonders what was he thinking about, other than Lindy.  His parents were divorced.  He lived with his mother.  His two older sisters were living on their own or at college.  When tragedy strikes his family, the narrator was concerned about his heartbroken mother, but didn’t seem to know what to do about it.

Some of the other characters are the neighbors living on his street, in his mid to upper-class neighborhood, Woodland Hills. The children start out as innocents, running and playing in the woods.  However, as time goes on, the stalking begins, a violent crime is committed and the stalking continues.  This novel, on many levels, is about innocence lost.

As a women, I could not help but wonder, how much of this boy’s behavior was attributed to being a normal adolescent boy and how much was extreme.  My Sunshine Away was an interesting change of pace for me and kept me wondering and stunned right up to the end.  Kudos to author of My Sunshine AwayM.O. Walsh.

About the author (from the author’s website)

M.O. Walsh was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  His stories and essays have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The Southern Review, American Short Fiction, Epoch, and Greensboro Review.  His short stories have also been anthologized in Best NewAmerican Voices, Bar Stories, Best of the Net and Louisiana in Words. He is a graduate of the Ole Miss MFA program and currently lives in New Orleans, LA, where he is the Director of the Creative Writing Workshop at The University of New Orleans.  He also directs the The Yokshop Writers Conference in Oxford, MS.  You can follow him on Facebook.

What Others Are Saying

I would like to thank the author, M.O. Walsh and publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, for providing me this book, free of charge for review.

Disclosure of Material Connection:

I received this book free from the publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Penguin Group (USA). I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2014

Description (from the author’s website)

Again and again, #1 New York Times bestselling Liane Moriarty has shown herself a master of writing insightful, funny, poignant, and thought-provoking page turners. With BIG LITTLE LIES she proves that she’s at the top of her game.

Pirriwee Public is a beautiful little beachside primary school where children are taught that ‘sharing is caring.’ So how has the annual School Trivia Night ended in full-blown riot? Sirens are wailing. People are screaming. The principal is mortified.

And one parent is dead.

Was it a murder, a tragic accident or just good parents gone bad? As the parents at Pirriwee Public are about to discover, sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal…

BIG LITTLE LIES is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, school-yard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

Liane Moriarty shows us that our public personas do not always match our private lives and things are not always what they seem.

Big Little Lies is a murder mystery and much much more.  Interspersed in the story, we are cleverly, often humorously, given clues based on comments of the locals surrounding the investigation.  Perceptions of what happened vastly disagree.  However, the story is not entirely lighthearted.  It’s fabric brings to light subjects such as bullying and domestic violence.

Big Little Lies is based in a small town, near the ocean, in Australia.  It centers around the public school kindergarten class and their families.  Without going into too much more detail, I’ll say, I simply loved this story!  I’ve reviewed two other books by Liane Moriarty.

(Click here to read my: First Book Of The Year: 2015 Post. )

My Reviews of other books by Laine Moriarty:

What Alice Forgot

The Husband’s Secret

 

Review: The Vineyard by Michael Hurley

The Vineyard by Michael Hurley

Ragbagger Press, 2014

Description (from amazon):

Ten years after their college days together, three wounded and very different women reunite for a summer on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. As they come to grips with the challenges and crises in their lives, their encounter with a reclusive poacher, known only as “the fisherman,” threatens to change everything they believe about their world–and each other.

My Review (4 Stars: Liked it a lot!)

In The Vineyard by Michael Hurley on Martha’s Vineyard, miracles happen and people react.  Some in good ways, others not so good.

This creative story focuses around good versus evil.  Three very different women with different problems are close friends and support one another as turmoil and confusion surrounds them.  I enjoyed their distinct personalities.

This story takes a look at traditional religious beliefs (in this case, Catholic) and more general beliefs in God.  There are some sex scenes, to spice things up.

To read another positive review  go to Shelia @ BookJourney’s review.

netgalley50Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book, The Vineyard by Michael Hurley, free from Ragbagger Press via NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review: The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

St. Martin’s Press, 2014

**On-sale October 7, 2014**

Description (from amazon.com)

In The Silent Sister, Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager. Now, over twenty years later, her father has passed away and she’s in New Bern, North Carolina cleaning out his house when she finds evidence to the contrary. Lisa is alive. Alive and living under a new identity. But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago, and what secrets are being kept now? As Riley works to uncover the truth, her discoveries will put into question everything she thought she knew about her family. Riley must decide what the past means for her present, and what she will do with her newfound reality, in this engrossing mystery from international bestselling author Diane Chamberlain.

My Review (4 Stars: Liked it a lot!)

I’ve categorized this novel as Contemporary Fiction, Mystery and Suspense.  Riley MacPherson finds herself settling her father’s affairs after his untimely death.  Riley feels very alone since her mother previously passed away, her only brother Danny can not help as he is a reclusive, injured Iraq war veteran and her only sister, Lisa, at age 17, committed suicide when Riley was two years old.  Details of her father’s will begin to surface unsettling revelations about her family.  Aside from Riley and Danny two characters are named in the will, Jeannie Lyons (a real-estate agent) and Tom Kyle (a resident in Riley’s father’s RV park).  Riley barely knows them.  They add interesting twists to the story.  As secrets are uncovered, Riley becomes determined to find out the truth about her sister’s suicide.

Diane Chamberlain is an international bestselling author of 22 novels.  I can see why she is so successful. Even though the story seems slightly unrealistic, Chamberlain’s writing style is easy and enjoyable to read and her characters seem to come to life off the page.

About The Author

Diane Chamberlain is the international bestselling author of 22 novels. She lives in North Carolina with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her shelties, Keeper and Cole. Visit her online at http://www.dianechamberlain.com.

Also By Diane Chamberlain

Necessary Lies

The Good Father

The Midwife’s Confession

The Lies We Told

Secrets She Left Behind

Before the Storm

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes

The Bay at Midnight

Her Mother’s Shadow

The Journey Home (anthology)

Kiss River

The Courage Tree

Keepers of the Light

Cypress Point

Summer’s Child

Breaking the Silence

The Escape Artist

Reflection

Brass Ring

Lovers and Strangers

Fire and Rain

Private Relations

Secret Lives

Note: 

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain is one of the The Books of Fall selections from She Reads

I would like to thank Diane Chamberlain, the She Reads Organization and the publisher,  St. Martin’s Press, New York,  for providing me with this book, free of charge, for review.

Disclosure of Material Connection: 

I received this book free from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, New York 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.

Review: Inferno by Dan Brown

Inferno by Dan Brown
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, May 14, 2013

Description (from amazon.com)

In his international blockbusters The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown masterfully fused history, art, codes, and symbols. In this riveting new thriller, Brown returns to his element and has crafted his highest-stakes novel to date.
In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.
Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.

My Review – 3 Stars

 
Dante’s Inferno is the first part of the famous 14th century poem by writer Dante Alighieri which describes in detail nine circles of hell. Inferno by Dan Brown is a mystery where the clues relate in some way to Dante’s Inferno.
Some of this story takes place in famous museums around the world. Reading some parts of this novel seemed like reading an art history textbook or listening to tour guide without actually being on the tour. However, the plot moved along and the story was interesting. The author of Inferno, Dan Brown, excels at presenting questions then clues, and then answers. I enjoyed following Robert Langdon, symbology professor, and the mysterious Dr. Sienna Brooks while they deciphered clues left behind by, madman/genius, Bertrand Zobrist and discovered why they were being hunted.

Review: Six Years

Six Years by Harlan Coben
Penguin Group, 2013

Book Description (from amazon)

Release Date: March 19, 2013

In Six Years, a masterpiece of modern suspense, Harlan Coben explores the depth and passion of lost love…and the secrets and lies at its heart.

Six years have passed since Jake Fisher watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. Six years of hiding a broken heart by throwing himself into his career as a college professor. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband, Todd.

But six years haven’t come close to extinguishing his feelings, and when Jake comes across Todd’s obituary, he can’t keep himself away from the funeral. There he gets the glimpse of Todd’s wife he’s hoping for…but she is not Natalie. Whoever the mourning widow is, she’s been married to Todd for almost two decades, and with that fact everything Jake thought he knew about the best time of his life—a time he has never gotten over—is turned completely inside out.

As Jake searches for the truth, his picture-perfect memories of Natalie begin to unravel. Mutual friends of the couple either can’t be found, or don’t remember Jake. No one has seen Natalie in years. Jake’s search for the woman who broke his heart, who lied to him, soon puts his very life at risk as it dawns on him that the man he has become may be based on a carefully constructed fiction.

Harlan Coben once again delivers a shocking page-turner that deftly explores the power of past love, and the secrets and lies that such love can hide.

My Review – 3 Stars

I enjoyed Six Years by Harlan Coben. I found the book to be, not too serious, emotional or complicated. The main character, Jake Fisher (a college professor), speaks to the reader in a pleasant, kind of funny, engaging conversational tone which drew me right into the story. I was compelled, either by the author’s writing style, the contemporary setting or the plot, to turn the pages.  I quickly read this book in two days.  So, I would recommend it as a light summer read.