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 Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Emily Bestler Books, Atria, 2013

My Review (4 Stars: Liked it a lot!)

I liked The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult a lot.  However, it is about the Holocaust and is violent and graphic in detail at times.  After reading Part I, I was disturbed by the story and questioned whether I would continue.  I did continue as the author’s writing style is engaging and it was my local book club’s selection.

There are basically three stories going on in this novel.  Part II, is Minka’s story where she is a Polish, Jewish adolescent during the Holocaust.  Part I and Part III is the story about Minka’s granddaughter, Sage, a baker, and her friend, Mr. Weber, a man in his nineties, who was a German SS soldier, and is hiding in America.

The third storyline, and probably the most disturbing, is the fictional story written by Minka during the German occupation of Poland.  It is about an upiór  (vampire).  This story is told in italicized parts at the beginning of sections throughout the novel and pulls together many threads in the end.

This book raises a lot of questions about war, good vs. evil, family, love, forgiveness, justice, revenge, mercy and more.  There is, in my opinion, a lot of symbolism in this novel.  I am looking forward to a lively discussion at my book club meeting.  I’m glad I continued reading it.

Continue reading “Review: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult”

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.

Review: Prodigal Son by Danielle Steel

Prodigal Son: A Novel by Danielle Steel

Delacorte Press and imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York, 2015

My Review (3 Stars: Liked It!)

Prodigal Son was a short, quick read for me.  Since I haven’t read any other novels  by Danielle Steel (see list below), I can’t make comparisons.  I can see why she is popular though.  Her writing style flows very well.

This review will be short.  The story is mainly about a sociopath, his wife and children and his twin brother.  It is very straight forward, yet interesting.

In the interview below, Danielle Steel suggest that we’ve all come across a sociopath at some point in our lives.  I can’t recall meeting anyone who I would categorize that way.  I guess, like characters in this novel, I may have unknowingly run into one.  How about you?

Continue reading “Review: Prodigal Son by Danielle Steel”

Review: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Harlequin Mira, 2015 

(This was a SheReads Winter 2105 selection.)

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

I read this novel over the course of one day ~ 8 hours.  So, it kept my attention.  The good girl, Mia Dennett, daughter of judge James Dennet and his wive Eve, was abducted and is now home.

When we learn Mia, a young school teacher, is missing, detective Gabe Hoffman is assigned the case.  Eve’s beauty and the demeaning way her husband treats her is not lost on him.

Chapters go back and forth from different character’s perspectives, before and after the abduction.

During her captivity in a log cabin, as winter approaches in “the deepest darkest corners of Minnesota”, Mia as well as her abductor, Colin, struggle to survive.

After Mia is home, her psychiatrist mentions that she may be experiencing  Stockholm Syndrome (Wikapedia).  (Read more: What is Stockholm syndrome – BBC News.)

The three perspectives are from Eve, Gabe and Colin.  I enjoyed Colin’s perspective the most.  What really happened?  How did it end?  I won’t give that away.

Author Mary Kubica’s debut novel flows very easily, even though, or maybe because, we skip back and forth in time and perspective.  Her story telling ability is evident.  I am looking forward to reading more about her newly released second novel, Pretty Baby.

First Chapter

Eve Before

I’m sitting at the breakfast nook sipping from a mug of cocoa when the phone rings.  I’m lost in thought, staring out the back window at the lawn that now, in the throes of an early fall, abounds with leaves.  They’re dead mostly, some still clinging lifelessly to the trees.  It’s late afternoon.  The sky is overcast, the temperatures doing a nosedive into the forties and fifties.  I’m not ready for this, I think, wondering where in the world the time has gone.  Seems like just yesterday we were welcoming spring and then, moments later, summer.

What Others Are Saying

“The writing in this book was excellent. It was the perfect mix of being evocative and just giving me enough so that I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Kubica really knows how to write a feeling and sense of place, and she did such an incredible job with this one. I felt like I was in that cabin with them, subsisting on canned chicken noodle soup and being so close to freezing to death.” – Heather In Fiction @ Book Addiction

(You can find additional links to reviews @ She Reads Books of Winter.)

About The Author (from the kindle edition)

Mary Kubica holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature.  She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children and enjoys photography, gardening and caring for the animals at a local shelter.  THE GOOD GIRL is her first novel.

Book Trailer

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: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn

Random House, LLC, 2012

Description (from the author’s website):

Marriage can be a real killer. One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn, takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. As The Washington Post proclaimed, her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit with deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick Dunne’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick Dunne isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but hearing from Amy through flashbacks in her diary reveal the perky perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister Margo at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was left in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

Employing her trademark razor-sharp writing and assured psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

This is a terrific psychological thriller.  I have just completed it now as the movie is currently in theaters.  While reading, I could not help but picture Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, the husband.  I haven’t seen the movie yet, but think casting did a great job.

Right away, about 20% into the story, I thought this really speaks to our times in America, the effects of the dawn of the Internet,  the bursting of the housing bubble and the down turn of the market in 2008.  It is within this backdrop that author, Gillian Flynn writes an extremely suspenseful, witty and entertaining novel.  If you are even slightly inclined to thrillers (who isn’t?), I highly recommend Gone Girl.  It is a page turner for sure.

If you would like to read a great review, here is a link to Diana’s Book of Secrets: Review: Gone Girl.  Even if you’ve read the book, you will still enjoy her review.

For the record, after a double take, I decided I liked the ending.  It just fits the story.

Update:  I saw the movie and enjoyed it.  Casting did a great job.

 

Review: What The Heart Remembers by Debra Ginsberg

What the Heart Remembers by Debra Ginsberg (Purchased)

New American Library a Division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2012

Description (from the author’s website)

A novel of psychological suspense that centers on the unlikely – and dangerous – friendship between two women; Darcy Silver, a beautiful young widow, and Eden Harrison, the recent recipient of a heart transplant.

“A cross between Laura Lippman and Kate Atkinson, this novel is complex, original, and utterly intriguing. Will stay with you long after you’ve stopped turning the pages” — Deborah Crombie, New York Times Bestselling Author of No Mark Upon Her

“A tense, twist-filled ride that knocked the breath out of me more than once… Part friendship, part rivalry, part cat-and-mouse game, the deepening bond between Darcy and Eden kept me guessing – and reading – far into the night.”  — Marisa de los Santos, New York Times Bestselling Author of Falling Together

My Review (4 Stars: Liked it a lot!)

With a thriller like What the Heart Remembers by Debra Ginsberg, I wouldn’t want to give too much information away.  Reading how the story unfolds is what makes this a thriller after all.  In the story, Eden Harrison receives a heart transplant.  After that her life changes.  She, in a way, becomes a different person.  She moves from Portland, Oregon to San Diego where she becomes friends with Darcy Silver, a beautiful, rich, young widow.  The mysterious connection between these two women unfold in a surprising way.

Central to this story is the concept of cellular memory (Wikipedia):

“A variation of body memory, the pseudoscientific hypothesis that memories can be stored in individual cells”

Author Debra Ginsberg is very clever in the way she presents this idea as truth.

 

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 Shadow Year by Hannah Richell

Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group, May 2014
(Originally published in the united Kingdom by Orion, June 2013 and in Australia by Hachette Australia, May 2013)

Description (from the author’s website)

On a sultry summer’s day in 1980, five friends stumble upon an abandoned lakeside cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. For Kat and her friends, it offers an escape; a chance to drop out for a while, with lazy summer days by the lake and intimate winter evenings around the fire. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise and when an unexpected visitor appears at their door, nothing will be the same again.

Three decades later, Lila arrives at the same remote cottage. With her marriage in crisis, she finds solace in renovating the tumbledown house. Little by little she wonders about the previous inhabitants. How did they manage in such isolation? Why did they leave in such a hurry, with their belongings still strewn about? Most disturbing of all, why can t she shake the feeling that someone might be watching her?

The Shadow Year is a story of secrets, tragedy, lies and betrayal. It’s a tale that explores the light and dark of human relationships and the potential the past has to not only touch our present, but also to alter our future.

My Review – 4 Stars

 
The Shadow Year is a page turner that has a slightly ominous edge throughout.  Author Hannah Richell skillfully uses descriptions of nature and characters that keep you wondering about what happened in the past and what is going to happen.
In 1980 the five friends who agree to live together at the cottage by the lake are Kat who is obsessively in love with Simon, Simon who assumes the role of leader of the group, Ben and Carla who are an inseparable, and Mac the awkward and quiet member of the group. Certain events occur and the balance of the group is precariously shifted.
Switching between the 1980s and thirty years later is seamless.  Lila is grieving and struggling to make it through her days.  She inherits the beat up cottage by the lake from an anonymous benefactor.  She decides to ‘hide’ there.  As she refurbishes the cottage, she begins to recover some semblance of her life.
These two story lines wrap up nicely.  The Shadow Year had me guessing throughout.  I wonder if anyone who has read it, at any point, predicted how it might end.

Note: The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell, is the May Book Club Selection for She Reads. You can go to the SheReads’, May Book Club Selection page, to find links to additional reviews on this book and enter their contest to receive one of five free copies of this book.

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

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.