Doug Johnstone did not disappoint. The story was very well written.. It brought me so close to the scenes, I found myself reacting and mouthing off (tDoug Johnstone did not disappoint. The story was very well written.. It brought me so close to the scenes, I found myself reacting and mouthing off (thankfully I still had the presence of mind not to do so while reading in public).
But if I'll be honest, I am torn between rating this a neutral 3 stars or an almost perfect 4 stars, mainly because of how the story turned out. Mr. Johnstone, please tell me that there will be a sequel to this... I am in a moral dilemma and I'd like to know what the situation will be, say 6 months, or even a year hence.
Even with much said, I still dither....so 3.5 stars....more
For my review, I'd like to start with a quote from the book, a rumination from the main protagonist:
"In those moments of darkness, it was starting toFor my review, I'd like to start with a quote from the book, a rumination from the main protagonist:
"In those moments of darkness, it was starting to become clear to me. For too long I’d been unable to rely on others, as if needing someone would make them leave. Maybe Marty hadn’t left. Maybe it was me who had become frightened and scared and retreated into places I didn’t dare speak about. Maybe it wasn’t so terrible to need someone."
Albeit late, this was a very fitting thought to end the book (no, these were not the actual words in the ending; these were a couple of chapters yet before the end). It also marked the moment when Jessica was lifted out of a lifetime of walls and shields she carefully built around herself.
Jessica had Jonas for her first love, her first heartache. Who knew what could have been if circumstances permitted them to be together? Several years later, she fell in love again. She finally found her happiness, only to be thwarted by a tragedy, by a long-buried secret that resurfaced. Is it worth sacrificing her present life only to go back where she and Jonas left off more than a decade ago?"
For me, the story is all about redemption and coming to terms with one's self. It is so true that before we can give to others or love others, we must first look inward. We must truly know ourselves first; we must truly love ourselves first. ...more
Another page-turner from this author. I like his very direct writing style, and his ability to keep the reader on edge, even if somehow one gets a bitAnother page-turner from this author. I like his very direct writing style, and his ability to keep the reader on edge, even if somehow one gets a bit of a clue already of what's going to happen.
The story is sort of a sequel to Hit and Run...I say 'sort of' because one will see what happens to Billy Blackmore, but the focus of the story is not on him at all, though he plays a big part. I like the character of Martha, and her almost forced consciousness of the workings of her brain and how her body is coping. She is one strong woman who knows her limitations and weaknesses yet doesn't balk at doing what she believes is right.
It would be great to see more of the action/inaction at the Standard...could there be anything that is more exciting/frightening than that obit call Martha handled? Couldn't think of anything, but maybe Mr. Johnstone has wilder ideas? Maybe another follow-up novel, or is there one already and I just don't know about it?...more
A good page-turner - both in terms of the action and suspense, and the moral dilemma that the protagonist had to go through. It really is true that emA good page-turner - both in terms of the action and suspense, and the moral dilemma that the protagonist had to go through. It really is true that emotional and mental stress will eventually translate to something physical. I believe it is the way of God (or of nature for the unbelievers) of bearing down on a person until he is so consumed by guilt that there is nothing else that can offer relief aside from owning up. Of course, there are the thugs out there that no amount of bearing down seem to get on them, but really, who knows? After everything, all of us will meet our end; it just depends on us what condition we'd like to be when that happens....more
I know of a mother who lost her child to a lingering illness. Though not unexpected, she was so grief-stricken she almost succumbed and lost herself.I know of a mother who lost her child to a lingering illness. Though not unexpected, she was so grief-stricken she almost succumbed and lost herself. Nothing can ever prepare a parent when death takes away a child, unexpected or otherwise.
I like that the title, though very simple, is catchy, and so apt. The story examines all the facets of the storm that a family goes through after the tragic death of a child. It presents the casualties of relationships gone bad. It shows the divide in time, and how everything is referenced as "the before" and "the after".
But amidst the maelstrom of these sad realities, hope is offered through characters who have been on the same boat and have survived. It shines a light in a room with the curtains all drawn, offering a glimpse of a tomorrow that can still be bright, after all. It also raises awareness on GSD, a rare disease, though it wasn't really the focal point of the story, but more like a cause that got promoted as a result.
Again, this is one novel that immediately prompted me to look up the profile of the author; and even faster, to buy her other book. ...more
Somehow, one can guess on what/who was really behind the murder, but this was not a spoiler for me because of the no-fuss storytelling. I like it thatSomehow, one can guess on what/who was really behind the murder, but this was not a spoiler for me because of the no-fuss storytelling. I like it that the author was direct to the point, yet was able to hold my interest. Maybe it was because he was able to successfully put across the intensity of the protagonist's turbulent feelings. I was able to feel for him, even hating some of the decisions he made but rationalizing just the same; as if I was his own self.
Only one thing I find quite impossible - how can a 6-year old boy fire a pistol/gun and hit his target? I don't know anything about guns, but I understand there's a lot of force involved in the firing action, that I find not plausible for a small boy to sustain.
Setting that single point aside, it was a good read overall; good enough to make me buy another work by the same author....more
To like or not to like...I've decided to like based on the overall plot and message. My reservation is stemming from my confusion over the myriad of cTo like or not to like...I've decided to like based on the overall plot and message. My reservation is stemming from my confusion over the myriad of characters. It was difficult to pinpoint who was who when everybody knows everybody.
The story, though it mainly centered on a hit and run for which there was really no closure, also touched on the life stories of the different characters. Virginia, who remained unrelenting to the end, I don't think she found her happiness. Lorraine was better off because she was true to herself, but it wasn't easy for her mostly. There's hope for her, as well as for Michael. Ralph got his revenge on Virginia; he didn't really owe anybody anything if one thinks about it. There were the Donaldsons and the Sheratons; whoever is the happier is very obvious; money really can only provide so much.
It was a fascinating read, one that evoked thoughts. It was exasperating at times, but it was worth the time....more
I like this much better than the first book. There is still that element of magic that I think got a little overboard in the first installment, but heI like this much better than the first book. There is still that element of magic that I think got a little overboard in the first installment, but here, there were just enough sprinkles, it was very believable.
Both Ophelia and Annie enter new phases in their lives. Both are happier, yet the "scale of life" needs to be balanced, and so trials come. With love and faith though, anything is possible, and no hurdle is too high to reach and overcome.
Bette Lee Crosby's stories showcase a host of good-hearted characters. It is always a refreshing experience to read them. One thing I didn't like about The Loft is that I know from the story that there is definitely more to it, but I would have to wait for a third book before I know what happens next....more
An inspiring Christian novel. For me, it is not preachy, but anyone who is quite aversed to church sermons or Bible reading may find it so. RecommendeAn inspiring Christian novel. For me, it is not preachy, but anyone who is quite aversed to church sermons or Bible reading may find it so. Recommended for those wanting a feel-good, inspirational and wholesome read....more
I would have given this one more star, but there were a lot of distracting typos.
The story was about two very opposite people meeting and hitting it oI would have given this one more star, but there were a lot of distracting typos.
The story was about two very opposite people meeting and hitting it off immediately...They agreed to take whatever they had one day at a time, one of them not knowing the other had an agenda. A perfect relationship without the usual uttered commitments...but who needs them if the act of love unsaid was more than enough? Only, nothing lasts forever, and so it seemed.
This was a very emotional read, but then again as I said in the beginning, the momentum was often interrupted by print errors. I read the kindle edition by the way....more
Sarah Phoenix thought she had an ideal marriage, but secrets were uncovered, and somehow, it did not stop there. The author was very effective in portSarah Phoenix thought she had an ideal marriage, but secrets were uncovered, and somehow, it did not stop there. The author was very effective in portraying a very brave and collected Sarah. I don't fancy the ending though; it's a bit hanging and I guess a couple more chapters would have led to a more concrete end for the story....more
Right after I finished the book, a question came to mind: what could be worse, death or incarceration? We're talking about either one happening to oneRight after I finished the book, a question came to mind: what could be worse, death or incarceration? We're talking about either one happening to one's child. Both are unthinkable, unimaginable. Denial from the family is a natural reaction, as the mind cannot grapple with the idea of a kin, one of their own being capable of an evil act like murder.
I had hoped that the killer was someone else; maybe it was the mother in me. Yet, when the truth was exposed, it's true what's said that one can only move forward, move up. Easier said than done, because it takes a lot of self-coaxing to not wallow in the pits of despair, sadness, and guilt.
Ms. Sissel once again delivered. No better fiction than one that may on the surface appear so ordinary, yet full of truths on the possible twists and turns a life can take....more
Death in the family, no matter the circumstance, is hurtful. Death of old-aged parents, who've lived long and full lives is not exempt. Even more forDeath in the family, no matter the circumstance, is hurtful. Death of old-aged parents, who've lived long and full lives is not exempt. Even more for spouses... And it's true what is said, how unnatural it is for children to precede their parents in death. So, it didn't surprise me how, in the story, Abby almost lost all of her sense and bearings when her husband and daughter disappeared after a devastating flood.
I've been doing a reading marathon of Sissel's books these past couple of weeks, and I've concluded that I'm strong enough to be inundated with too much drama without choking. The thing is, all things come to an end...winter gives way to spring; dawn breaks the dark of night; grieving ends. Just as in Sissel's stories, there's always redemption, and just like her characters, after all the heartaches, I feel the relief at the end....more
I couldn't put this book down, and so finished it in a few hours on a rainy Sunday. It has a good balance of drama and suspense, and a creative storylI couldn't put this book down, and so finished it in a few hours on a rainy Sunday. It has a good balance of drama and suspense, and a creative storyline that enhanced what would rather be an ordinary plot that's got a potential for afternoon soap.
The story is about confronting the trauma of a cruel past, going through another hell of a suffering because of a corrupt system, and overcoming everything to preserve as much of one's self and loved ones as much as possible, and move on. In the end, goodness perseveres....more
Be sure you're in the mood for a lot of drama when you pick up this book.
The story centers on Jarrett and Sophia. Jarrett is a man on death row who hBe sure you're in the mood for a lot of drama when you pick up this book.
The story centers on Jarrett and Sophia. Jarrett is a man on death row who had voluntarily given up all his appeals, and is awaiting the day, to the consternation of his family. Sophia is a psychologist who previously handled a death row case that resulted to a stay in execution. Although Sophia will not be an expert witness for Jarrett, their lives will cross in a most unexpected way.
It is true what is said: that truth, no matter how hard one tries to hide it, will always surface. But no matter how difficult it is to face the truth, in time, it will set off a clean path to freedom....more
A story about a couple who are both recovering from themselves and the ghosts of bad actions and choices they've made. There was nothing extraordinaryA story about a couple who are both recovering from themselves and the ghosts of bad actions and choices they've made. There was nothing extraordinary or noteworthy, except that it was written quite well and interestingly. Lots of life lessons that even if one has heard them before, the reminder is still welcome. I also finished this in record time, so that's saying something about how the book can hold the reader captive....more
As a student, History was my least favorite subject. It impressed me as nothing more than names and numbers that need to be committed to memory, lestAs a student, History was my least favorite subject. It impressed me as nothing more than names and numbers that need to be committed to memory, lest one gets a failing grade. But I guess if I was taught History the way this book was written, then it could easily be my second favorite.
There was Garfield's story, and there were a lot more about the people who figured in his life. For this review, I'd like to focus on a few of them:
Lucretia Rudolph Garfield: More than the fact that she outlived her husband for 37 more years, what I fondly remember when I think about her and Mr. Garfield are their love letters, both of these that follow were exchanged when they were well into their marriage.
From Lucretia to James: "Before when you were away my heart missed you, now my whole self mourns with it and longs and pines for your presence, my lips for your kisses, my cheek for the warm pressure of yours."
From James to Lucretia: "I here record the most deliberate conviction of my soul. Were every tie that binds me to the men and women of the world severed, and I free to choose out of all the world the sharer of my heart and home and life, I would fly to you and ask you to be mine as you are."
Who else would write such poetic and romantic verses on this day and age of SMS?
Joseph Stanley Brown: His youth was not a deterrent in performing his job as Mr. Garfield's secretary. I have only admiration for this man, and I wish there were a lot more with his character among the youth today.
D. Willard Bliss: He could have saved the president, if he didn't let pride, self-preservation and arrogance cloud his judgment and focus. Doctors like him were probably the reason why most old folks didn't trust medical science so much as they trusted apothecary.
Chester Arthur: With a complete turnaround, he proved to be not the puppet that most people supposed he was. He is proof that given the chance, people change for the better.
Charles Guiteau: The world is full of people who think so highly of themselves, to the point of questionable insanity. Guiteau's story should serve as a lesson for people who don't know their rightful place.
I picked up this book at random, and I was just mostly intrigued by the title. Maybe it also helped that I knew almost nothing of James Garfield, except for the fact that he was a US president. It wasn't cheap, the book, but I can tell you now that it was worth every dollar....more
This is the first WW II book I've read that transcends almost a lifetime: from pre-war high school years in the 30s up to well in the twilight years iThis is the first WW II book I've read that transcends almost a lifetime: from pre-war high school years in the 30s up to well in the twilight years in the late 90s. Though fiction, the historical accounts were almost factual. It was particularly interesting for me because the setting was in Manila, Philippines where I come from. I've had my share of historical tours in the city, and I've gone twice to the island of Corregidor. The light and sound show inside the Malinta Tunnel was a goosebumps experience. Reading the book took me back there, and this time, there weren't just lights and sounds, but a deeper understanding of the what these war heroes went through and suffered.
The war has been a lifetime ago, but this book made the experience all fresh again (and I wasn't even born yet at the time). I have to make a conscious effort to not go and buy all the recommended readings because I've already gone over my book budget this month...that's how this book is well-written. ...more
This is the first time I've read a book with NDE as one of the central themes. The story dwelled not on the NDE itself, but on what happens to the perThis is the first time I've read a book with NDE as one of the central themes. The story dwelled not on the NDE itself, but on what happens to the person as well as to the people around him/her after such an experience. This is something well thought of and brilliantly written.
It was very well that the story was related from Shelly's point of view. Just the same, my empathy was not totally lost for the other characters. I very much like the way Shelly fought for her marriage while stealthily (thought without success) pursuing the answers to her many questions.
I will definitely look for more from this author....more
After I've seen some reviews talking about how the story dragged on because of Lauren's inability to straighten out, I thought I should not expect mucAfter I've seen some reviews talking about how the story dragged on because of Lauren's inability to straighten out, I thought I should not expect much out of this book. However, it was exactly Lauren's behavior, not being able to get back on track, that got me so into the story.. The author wrote it in such a way that I felt totally empathic about Lauren's plight. It really must be very confusing for one who's gone through what she had to separate reality from fantasy, or what happened from what did not happen.
It is very unthinkable for a husband to setup his wife the way Jeff did to Lauren, thinking he was doing the family a favor, when all he was really saving was his pride and finances. Really, when the mind gets clouded, the things one will do for money!
I liked this story a lot, so, with not so much a thought, and I know I'm not going to regret it, I have just bought all of the other 5 books of Ms. Sissel. ...more
Reading the last few chapters, I had to muster a lot of self control to not let the tears spill out - I was reading while having lunch at the pantry iReading the last few chapters, I had to muster a lot of self control to not let the tears spill out - I was reading while having lunch at the pantry in our office.
The prologue and epilogue were written in the voice of Lisbeth, attesting to the truth of the story. This is fiction, but yes, it is not hard to imagine how such a story can be true.
I have read quite a number of stories set during this period in the United States, when slavery was a norm. Yellow Crocus is one of the best and most heartwarming.
One proverb comes to mind, and pardon me if I cannot remember the exact words, but I am certain about the message:
A child is molded not by the womb where it was conceived, but by the hand that gave him/her guidance. This is definitely the case for Lisbeth, who gave her own declaration that she loved Mattie more than she did her mother.
It is a continuous source of wonder for me how majority of the white folks at the time treated colored ones as if they were not human beings. What's ironic was that the white folks professed to be good Christians. Everything was all about good manners, right conduct, with a lot of pretensions! I am awed with how very few whites saw slavery for what it really was and decided to take action, even if it meant estrangement from their families and communities. I only have great admiration for them. In the present time, some may say that we have come a long way, but we all know that slavery and discrimination still exist, albeit in different forms. And just like in the days of old, very few among us see things for what they really are....more
A little bit of heartwarming romance and a lot of hot sex. If this is what you dig, then get this bundle plus the two other books in the series. Not aA little bit of heartwarming romance and a lot of hot sex. If this is what you dig, then get this bundle plus the two other books in the series. Not as wild as the Shades of Grey books (no S&M or any of that sort), but I don't think there was a single chapter without a sex scene here....more
Formulaic but nice and good. Well written, it was a quick read and I enjoyed it. Though there was a multitude of characters, it wasn't hard to follow.Formulaic but nice and good. Well written, it was a quick read and I enjoyed it. Though there was a multitude of characters, it wasn't hard to follow. Got this for free, but I'm not so sure about shelling out $3 for the next book in the series; would have to still think about it....more
I love the parallel stories - one in 1978, and the other in 1998. The author was able to capture the beat of both eras, and I was able to easily transI love the parallel stories - one in 1978, and the other in 1998. The author was able to capture the beat of both eras, and I was able to easily transport myself to and from two periods twenty years apart, feeling all the creeps and mysteries.
The story is about some anomalies and robberies in the bank's deposit boxes, and how it contributed to Cleveland's default in the late 70s. Somehow, the building got frozen in time with all its contents where they were left when it was shut down late in the year 1978. Twenty years later, the secrets were uncovered when a design and engineering firm sent one of its young engineers to survey the building.
I just wished there were more concrete stories of what really happened to Beatrice and Max. I don't want to be left solving (or guessing) another mystery at the end of one....more
I've never enjoyed a book this much in quite some time. I have very little time to read these past weeks, and I found myself looking forward to thoseI've never enjoyed a book this much in quite some time. I have very little time to read these past weeks, and I found myself looking forward to those times when I can sit down and continue to read this book. It has all the elements that engage me: suspense, drama, adventure, romance, family.
The story is about Dave and Lilian, castaways from a plane that crashed in the Pacific Ocean, who were not rescued until after 20 months. By that time, their respective families have already held memorials for them, and have already started moving on. It was written so well, alternating between the present time when they were being interviewed by a very popular investigative TV reporter, and their time together in the island. Both Dave and Lilian were married. What would one expect when a man and a woman were thrown together on an island, all on their own, for twenty long months? More so, how would they adjust back to their former lives after being rescued?
I can say that I can easily clue in to what will happen while I am still far off from that part of a story where the mystery will be solved; where the questions will be answered. But for this case, I was kept on the edge of my seat guessing. I enjoyed the guessing game, and I enjoyed finding out that I had the wrong notion.
Bravo to Emily Bleeker! I'm sure to look for more of your works....more
I knew this would be an epic tale, with the prologue painting the picture of Jerusalem in the 1800s. The story encompassed almost a century, and focusI knew this would be an epic tale, with the prologue painting the picture of Jerusalem in the 1800s. The story encompassed almost a century, and focused on the lives of three women: Miriam, her daughter Nadia, and Nadia’s daughter Nijmeh (Star). Much as it related their struggles as women in the Middle Eastern culture, it also highlighted their strength and power as women even in a restrictive society. Miriam and Nadia, related by blood, were the rebellious ones. Nijmeh, ironically the one descended from foreigners, was more adaptive to the beliefs and practices of the clan and country where she grew up. She found happiness in her compliance, and it was way into her adulthood (though not too late), that she discovered herself and what she really wanted.
I have always been drawn to historical fiction, showcasing a rich and exotic culture. I enjoy discovering new things about the history of people of other nations, not so much about the political climate, but more about how they lived and loved. This book is a good one from such a genre.
There were more than 700 pages, but however elaborate the story was, I would still like to read a sequel that will extend the story for both Nijmeh and Delal. ...more
Another one of those types that goes up a staircase of thrills and suspense, only to stop at the very top to find out that there is nothing t1.5 Stars
Another one of those types that goes up a staircase of thrills and suspense, only to stop at the very top to find out that there is nothing there, after all. I really get disappointed with stories, be it in books or movies, that are shaped like this.
The story is all about Pauline Green, an abused wife who ran away while her husband was away on some business trip. She had a plan, but her plans went awry because she tried to help a stranger. Without her knowing, she was suddenly entangled in a web of danger, and so on....until the story ended in a snap, just like that.
I would have looked past all the mishaps and bad hand that was dealt to Pauline - really, why can't she find any peace; why had danger and bad luck followed her wherever she went? I thought, can one really be so unfortunate...well, it can happen, why not; and so, until I came to the ending, I was looking at 3 stars. Then, seeing how it ended, I hovered between 1 and 2 for a number of reasons:
1. There was the unrealistically unfortunate events in Pauline's life - which I also mentioned that I could have ignored, but I am still putting here anyway.
2. The abrupt ending that came out of nowhere. Really, I couldn't believe that the last sentence was "She'd taken the cat"!!!!
3. The unexplained reason behind all the panic and dangerous excitement. What was it all about? Other than the statement that some women were saved and some men were put behind bars, there was no more mention of why Pauline's life was put in such peril. Wasn't that supposed to be significant, after all Pauline has gone through?
The only good part (and that is why the extra half star) is that it was a fast read. At least I didn't have to go through days of building up the suspense only to be snuffed out very abruptly at the end....more
A Kinsella book never fails to amuse me. Like all the rest, this latest one is totally enjoyable. Had I not been conscious of my sleeping time becauseA Kinsella book never fails to amuse me. Like all the rest, this latest one is totally enjoyable. Had I not been conscious of my sleeping time because I was still recovering from a jetlag, I would have finished this in one sitting. Believe me, this is not the book to pick up and fall asleep in.
Audrey is suffering from an anxiety disorder and is not able to get out of the house (except for appointments with her therapist); not able to communicate with people other than her family and therapist; has to keep herself small even within the confines of her own home. She's got a hilarious but perfectly normal family.
As with other Kinsella books, this is LOL funny (I already mentioned this is not a sleeping-in book). Kinsella's writing style is such that the pages are transformed into a sitcom TV screen.
I only have one issue and that's why the missing fifth star: I thought there was going to be a big reveal of what happened to Audrey, but nada...
Lots of choked-up moments while I was reading this book. Stories about families do that to me; heartwarming romantic stories do that to me; war storieLots of choked-up moments while I was reading this book. Stories about families do that to me; heartwarming romantic stories do that to me; war stories do that to me...Combine all these, and it becomes a one-person sad party.
The story revolves around five women before, during, and after WW II. Frances, Alice, Evangeline, Tanni and Elsie were brought together by the circumstances of war. They were the women who were left to tend the household and the community while their fathers, brothers, boyfriends, husbands marched off to war. It underscores the importance of the role of women, and how they were heroines in their own ways; with some of them daring to go to the frontlines even.
Fifty years after VE Day, four of these women reunited not so much for the golden celebration but to figure out what happened to one of them. The revelations in the last chapters were still shocking, albeit a little expected. The epilogue was the last tear jerker for me, and though I am sure the author would want her readers to make an assumption of what would happen next, I was still a bit disappointed that it ended there already. ...more