Review: Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

 

Before the Fall By Noah Hawley

Grand Central Publishing, 2016

My Review (3 Stars: Liked it!)

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley got off to a good start with a private plane crash and the dramatic survival of two passengers, a man and a boy.

About two-thirds of the way into the story, I felt it had stalled (the story, not the plane) and almost put it down.

The main characters, dimly connected, included those who were on the plane, the boy’s aunt and uncle, those investigating the crash and a reporter.  Many of the individual characters’ backstories and life perspectives are in-part looked at.  Since most of their stories, individually, were interesting and I was curious to see what or who caused the plane crash, I continued to read/listen to the end.

I consider this book to be more of a mystery than a suspense.

Book Trailer

What Others Are Saying

“Opening with the plane crash, the book works backwards and forwards to tell the stories of each passenger and those close to the crash’s aftermath. As with some other books that worked for me lately (The Expatriates, Only Love Can Break Your Heart), the mystery (i.e. why the plane crashed) serves as a catalyst to explore human emotions and behavior. The crux of this story is more about the people on the plane and what today’s media can do to a tragic story than the crash itself.” – Sarah @ Sarah’s Book Shelves

About The Author (from amazon)

Noah HawleyNoah Hawley is an Emmy, Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, and Peabody Award-winning author, screenwriter and producer. He has published four novels and penned the script for the feature film Lies and Alibis. He created, executive produced and served as showrunner for ABC’s My Generation and The Unusuals and was a writer and producer on the hit series Bones. Hawley is currently executive producer, writer, and showrunner on FX’s award-winning series, Fargo.

 

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SheReads

 

Before The Fall is a SheReads Summer 2016 book selection.  Click here to find links to other blogger’s book reviews for Before The Fall.  I’d like to thank the publisher, Grand Central Publishing and the SheReads organization for sending me this book, free of charge for review.

 Disclosure of Material Connection: 

NetGalleyBadgeI received this book (ARC) free from the publisher, Grand Central Publishing, Hatchette Book Group as a member of the SheReads blog network.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.  As I have been preferring audiobooks lately, I purchased this book when it became available and listened to it instead of reading it.  NetGalley also provided me with an electronic copy for review.

Review: The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

Audio

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

Narrator: January LaVoy

Sept 1, 2015

Length: 14 hr 6 min

Category: Mystery

Provider:Penguin Audio

Presented by Audible

I won a signed hardcover copy of this book from T @ Traveling With T.  I’d like to thank the author, Hester Young and T.

The Gates of Evangeline is also one of SheReads Books of Winter 2016.

My Review (4 Stars: Liked It A Lot!)

The Gates of Evangeline is a thoughtful and entertaining debut novel by Hester Young.

The protagonist of this novel, Charolette (Charlie) Cates has visions.  They began after the tragic death of her four year old son.  The visions are from children needing help.  That is what draws her to a  wealthy family’s home, Evangeline, in Louisiana.

Religious and spiritual questions are raised in this novel.  It is a mystery with drama, twists and turns.  There is also romance.  Young does a great job in building her characters and presenting the Louisiana setting.

Continue reading “Review: The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young”

Review: No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

 

No One Knows (A thriller) by J.T. Ellison

Gallery Books, March 2016

My Review (4 Stars: Liked It A Lot!)

No One Knows, a thriller, is the first novel I’ve read by the New York Times Bestselling author, J.T. Ellison.  Her writing style is easy to read.  I found myself quickly caught up in this twisted tale.

As the author mentions in her acknowledgements, this novel has a ‘dark side’.  The flawed characters and their shaded backstories are well developed.

Fair-warning, some parts of this novel might be considered x-rated.

Just a brief intro to the plot:

Aubrey Hamilton’s husband Josh, missing for five years, is declared legally dead by the state of Tennessee.

Aubrey is emotionally suffering.  She is missing Josh and, not knowing what happened to him, struggles to cope.

Josh’s mother, Daisy, who always despised Aubrey, does not make life any easier for her.

Ok, so that’s all I’m going to say about the story-line.  I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who has not read it yet.

Continue reading “Review: No One Knows by J.T. Ellison”

SheReads Books of Spring 2016

She Reads will feature these three books through the end of June.  Have you read or are you planning on reading any of these?  Do you have a favorite?

(I am already 2/3rds into “No One Knows” – thumbs up!.)

All of Us and Everything: A Novel by Bridget Asher

“In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, three generations of Rockwell women sift through their histories—real, imagined, rumored, and written—and discover that, like storms, life is impossible to control.” …

“An entertaining yet astute look at family, self, story, and connections.” – Kirkus Review

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No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

“A woman begins to question everything she thought she knew when signs indicate that her husband, recently declared officially dead, is actually alive.” …

“The unreliable female narrator is all the rage, and Aubrey Hamilton is up there with the slipperiest of them all.” – Kirkus Review

No One Knows by J.T. Ellison
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Who Do You Love: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner

“Andy and Rachel fall in love and fall apart, over and over, in this emotional outing from Weiner (All Fall Down, 2014, etc.).” …

“This moving story of love that spans a lifetime is Weiner at her heartstring-tugging best.” – Kirkus Review

Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner
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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”

SheReads: Books of Winter 2016 #srblog

Do you have any of these books on your ‘ToRead’ list?  Below are brief excerpts of descriptions (from SheReads).

Stay tuned for my review(s).  Also, hop over to SheReads where these books will be featured until the end of February and where you’ll also find links to additional reviews.

 

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

*A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2015*

From a unique new talent comes a fast-paced debut, introducing a heroine whose dark visions bring to light secrets that will heal or destroy those around her . . .

A Southern Gothic mystery debut that combines literary suspense and romance with a mystical twist, THE GATES OF EVANGELINE is a story that readers of Gillian Flynn, Kate Atkinson, and Alice Sebold won’t be able to put down.

 

The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris

From New York Times bestselling author Kristina McMorris comes an ambitious and heartrending story of immigrants, deception, and second chances.

 

What Was Mine: A Novel by Helen Klein Ross

Simply told but deeply affecting, in the bestselling tradition of Alice McDermott and Tom Perrotta, this urgent novel unravels the heartrending yet unsentimental tale of a woman who kidnaps a baby in a superstore—and gets away with it for twenty-one years.

Author Helen Klein Ross, whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, weaves a powerful story of upheaval and resilience told from the alternating perspectives of Lucy, Mia, Mia’s birth mother, and others intimately involved in the kidnapping. What Was Mine is a compelling tale of motherhood and loss, of grief and hope, and the life-shattering effects of a single, irrevocable moment.

 

Review: The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos

The Precious One: A Novel by Marisa de los Santos

William Morrow An Imprint of Harper-CollinsPublishers, 2015

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

The Precious One: A Novel by Marisa de los Santos is one of She Reads’ 2015 Books of Spring.  She Reads has picked another winner.  This novel has many moving parts.  It is smart and engaging.  It has romance, suspense and great character development.

Chapters alternate between the point of view of Taisy, who is 35 and her half sister, Willow, who is 16.  Their arroagant father, Wilson, never showed Taisy or her twin brother, Marcus, any approval, but places Willow on a pedestal.

After Wilson and his first wife divorce, Taisy (a recent high school graduate, at the time), her mother and brother move away from their hometown.  Taisy leaves behind the love of her life, Ben.

Wilson sheltered his youngest daughter all of her life and homeschooled her.  When Wilson has a heart attack, Willow, at age 16, attends a private school for the first time.  Academically she is fine, but suffers from not knowing how to conduct herself socially.  For example, something as simple as how to raise her hand in class causes her great concern.  She is vulnerable.

At this time, after years of absolutely no contact, Wilson, with no change in attitude, asks Taisy (who is a ghostwriter) to return to her hometown to visit and write his autobiography.

The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos is well written and intriguing.  About half-way through the novel, with romance and suspense building, when the sister’s point of views begin to meld, I found I did not want put it down.

On the publisher, Harper-Collins’ web site there are discussion questions that would be perfect for a book club (Although, I cut the list down to 8 questions from 13).

First Chapter

IF I HADN’T BEEN alone in the house; if it hadn’t been early morning, with that specific kind of fuzzy, early morning quiet and a sky the color of moonstones and raspberry jam outside my kitchen window; if I had gotten further than two sips into my bowl-sized mug of coffee; if he himself hadn’t called but had sent the message via one of his usual minions; if his voice had been his voice and not a dried-up, flimsy paring off the big golden apple of his baritone; if he hadn’t said “please.” if it had been a different hour in a different day entirely, maybe — just maybe — I would have turned him down.

About The Author

A New York Times best-selling author and award-winning poet with a PhD in literature and creative writig, Marisa de los Santos lives in Wilmington, Delaware, with her family.

Also By Marisa de los Santos

Falling Together

Belong to Me

Love Walked In

Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag

The Dress Shop of Dreams: A Novel by Menna Van Praag

Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York, 2014

 Description (from amazon.com)

Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.

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

The Dress Shop of Dreams: A Novel by Menna Van Praag is a sweet romance with magical realism.  The multiple romance parts while enjoyable were fairly predictable, but the magic was not.  Eta owns a dress shop that among other things changes color with changing times and plays music depending on who is there and what state they are in.  Eta’s dresses open up new and exciting possibilities for the women who come into the shop, no matter their circumstances in life.

Eta works her magic on her granddaughter, Cora, whose heart has been closed since her parents died when she was five.  Before Cora can open her heart for love, she needs to learn more about the tragic circumstances concerning her parents death.

As new characters are introduced, we see additional themes about lost opportunities and forgiveness come into play.

Overall this was a very pleasant read.  I enjoyed opening my mind to the possibilities of magic that author, Menna Van Praag shows us.

Continue reading “Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag”

Review: Mercy Snow by Tiffany Baker

Mercy Snow: A Novel by Tiffany Baker

Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group, First Trade edition: January, 2015

Reading Group Guide, 2015

Description (from amazon)

In the tiny town of Titan Falls, New Hampshire, the paper mill dictates a quiet, steady rhythm of life. But one day a tragic bus accident sets two families on a course toward destruction, irrevocably altering the lives of everyone in their wake.

June McAllister is the wife of the local mill owner and undisputed first lady in town. But the Snow family, a group of itinerant ne’er-do-wells who live on a decrepit and cursed property, have brought her–and the town–nothing but grief.

June will do anything to cover up a dark secret she discovers after the crash, one that threatens to upend her picture-perfect life, even if it means driving the Snow family out of town. But she has never gone up against a force as fierce as the young Mercy Snow. Mercy is determined to protect her rebellious brother, whom the town blames for the accident, despite his innocence. And she has a secret of her own. When an old skeleton is discovered not far from the crash, it beckons Mercy to solve a mystery buried deep within the town’s past.

 My Review (3 Stars: Liked it!)

Mercy Snow is a somber, philosophical story.  It’s setting is in New Hampshire, along the Androscoggin River (Wikipedia), during the 1990’s.

June McAllister thought she had everything she ever wanted.  Her husband  was the owner of  the Titan Falls paper mill.  The paper mill was central to the survival of almost everyone in this backwoods town.  This made the McAllister’s a very prominent family.  Three extremely poor, orphaned, Snow children, Mercy, Zeke and Hannah, reclaim their nearby property and everything changes.

The author, Tiffany Baker, provides rich descriptions of the area and the filthy, dangerous river.  She richly describes the poor Snow family’s pitiful living conditions and struggle to survive during the brutal winter in contrast to the McAllister’s comfortable life.

This story pivots around June’s husband and Mercy Snow’s brother being involved in a deathly bus accident.  The two women are at odds with each other.  In the end they both get some of what they wished for, but for a price.  Mercy Snow reminds me of the idiom: Be careful of what you wish for, because you just might get it.  (What does Be Careful What You Wish For Mean? (WiseGeek))

A bright spot in this story is Hazel, the bus driver’s wife, who like Mercy, is a survivor.  She raises sheep and unlike most of the people in the area, is not dependent on the paper mill.  Another bright spot is that Mercy Snow seems to have inherited her mother’s healing ability which adds a certain bit of magic to the plot.

There are many facets to this story and interesting characters which made Mercy Snow an enjoyable read.

I would like to thank author, Tiffany Baker, the She Reads Organization and the publisher,  Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group,  for providing me with this book, free of charge, for review.

Other books by Tiffany Baker

The Gilly Salt Sisters

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

Visit Shereads’ page to read more about their winter selections  @ 2015 She Reads’ Books of Winter.

Disclosure of Material Connection: 

I received this book free from the publisher, Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group, 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: 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: The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

Atria Books (A trademark of Simon & Schuster), 2013

Originally published in 2013 in Great Britain by Century

Description (from Official Publisher’s Page-Simon & Schuster)

“Clever, intelligent…wonderful” (Jojo Moyes, New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You).

Meet the Bird family. They live in a simple brick house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching just beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together each night. Everybody in town gushes over the two girls, who share their mother’s apple cheeks and wide smiles. Of the boys, lively, adventurous Rory can stir up trouble, moving through life more easily than little Rhys, his slighter, more sensitive counterpart. Their father is a sweet gangly man, but it’s their mother, Lorelei, a beautiful free spirit with long flowing hair and eyes full of wonder, who spins at the center.

Time flies in those early years when the kids are still young. Lorelei knows that more than anyone, doing her part to freeze time by protecting the precious mementos she collects, filling the house with them day by day. Easter egg foils are her favorite. Craft supplies, too. She insists on hanging every single piece of art ever produced by any of the children, to her husband’s chagrin.

Then one Easter weekend, tragedy occurs. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass and the children have become adults, found new relationships, and, in Meg’s case, created families of their own. Lorelei has become the county’s worst hoarder. She has alienated her husband, her children, and has been living as a recluse for six years. It seems as though they’d never been The Bird Family at all, as if loyalty were never on the table. But then something happens that calls them home, back to the house they grew up in—and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.

Delving deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the gripping story of a family’s desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.

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

Lorelei Bird is a hoarder.  Her children, Meg, Beth, Rory and Rhys and her husband, Colin, every year, would have a traditional Easter egg hunt in their yard.    Every year, Lorelei, would remind everyone to save the colorful foil from the chocolate eggs.  Things just got worse from there.

At first I had a difficult time getting into this book.  However, the more I read, the more fascinated I became.  Author, Lisa Jewell gives us insight into Lorelei’s mind and shows us the effects her hoarding had on her family and friends.  This novel shows us Lorelei’s motivation.  Individual’s with Compulsive Hoarding Disorder may have different motivations.

Aside from Lorelei we also learn about the dysfunction of the main characters.  Their stories add a lot to the twists and turns of the plot as they struggle to move on.  There is a lot of drama in the Bird family.

I found the writing style to be enjoyable.  The story skips around in years as memories would, giving it multiple layers.  Lisa Jewell does an excellent job of transitioning between person, time and place.

Note: 

The House We Grew Up In: A Novel by Lisa Jewell is one of the The Books of Fall selections from She Reads. You can go to the The Books of Fall page, to find links to additional reviews on this book and enter their contest to receive one of five free complete sets of The Books of Fall.

I would like to thank Lisa Jewell, the She Reads Organization and the publisher,  Atria Books (A trademark of Simon & Schuster) for providing me with this book, free of charge, for review.

Disclosure of Material Connection: 

I received this book free from the publisher, Atria Books (A trademark of Simon & Schuster) 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.