My Review: The Rockwell sisters Esme, Liv and Ru had an unusual upbringing living with their mother, Augusta. The three sisters are very different, buMy Review: The Rockwell sisters Esme, Liv and Ru had an unusual upbringing living with their mother, Augusta. The three sisters are very different, but after hurricane Sandy they are once again all at home with their mother. They are a family of women and it is hard for any man to really be a part of the group.
A father they had not met returns to the family. A father who was on the outskirts of their lives the entire time, trying to a part of their lives without them knowing. How do you put a family back together after all this time??
While I found parts of the story interesting and entertaining, there were a number of parts in the story where I felt the plot just fell flat for me. Without spoiling the plot, I will say it felt contrived and unrealistic at times.
My Rating: 3/5 – it was ok - the characters in All of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher are quirky and interesting to an extent. I had a hard time being pulled into this story. It is a lighter read. I found the characters hard to connect to and found parts of the story unrealistic. ...more
My Rating: 4/5 – really liked it- I don't like to share too much about a thriller, because it takes the fun out of it for those who have not yet readMy Rating: 4/5 – really liked it- I don't like to share too much about a thriller, because it takes the fun out of it for those who have not yet read it. Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica deals with child abuse, homelessness and the failure of the foster care system. The characters are well developed and you really understand their feelings of guilt, loss and regret. I read Pretty Baby in a day......no housework was done that day! Mary Kubica is a new author to me, but one I will be checking out again. ...more
My Review: Those Girls by Chevy Stevens is a story of three sisters, Jess, Courtney and Dani who had a very difficult life after their mother dies andMy Review: Those Girls by Chevy Stevens is a story of three sisters, Jess, Courtney and Dani who had a very difficult life after their mother dies and are raised by their father on a ranch in western Canada. After an altercation with their father the sisters leave home. Those Girls by Chevy Stevens starts out as story of 3 sisters trying to get through a difficult situation to a story of survival for their lives.
The sisters make their way in a stolen truck to Cold Creek, which is where their nightmare begins. This is a difficult read as you see the darkest of humanity and their actions. The story is initially told by Jess and 18 years later the narration is taken over by her daughter Skylar.
Halfway through listening to Those Girls, I realized I had already read the book. It is so powerful as an audio that I had to finish it. It is a very emotional read and you truly feel the fear and anger of the characters.
The nightmare begins again 18 years later when one sister is set on revenge. Chevy Stevens is a masterful suspense writer that truly has you heart beating out of your chest until the end.
My Rating: 3/5 – liked it- Those Girls is not get everyone, it is very intense and touches on the darkest side of humans and trauma they can cause. You truly feel the fear of the characters. I literally wanted to stop listening, though I knew the ending. Those Girls is a true thriller with skillful pacing, which maintains the suspense throughout the story and great character development. You are really invested in and care about the characters. ...more
Sarah Quilan was an investigative reporter before her marriage and having her daughters. She and her husband, Jack head to Penny Gate, Iowa after JackSarah Quilan was an investigative reporter before her marriage and having her daughters. She and her husband, Jack head to Penny Gate, Iowa after Jack's Aunt Julia fall down the steps. Jack and his sister Amy were raised by their Aunt Julie and Uncle Hal after the death of their mother. Jack hasn't been entirely honest with his wife about the circumstances of his parents' death, but that will all start unraveling once they are in Penny Gate.
The relationship between Sarah and Jack is strained due Jack's dishonestly. Sarah puts her investigative skills to work to look into the death of Jack's mother as well as the death of Jack's Aunt Julie. The characters are well developed and you get a good feel for them. I was surprised though at how quickly Sarah began to question or distrust her husband. After that many years of marriage I would hope my trust of my spouse could not waiver so quickly.
I loved the quaintness of the small town described in the Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf. Because, of course someone would help you out and have you back because they used to babysit your husband, Jack.
Dean and Celia, Jack's cousin and his wife are an interesting couple. Throughout the book, you wonder about Dean and the relationship between him and Celia. This is put to rest quickly in the conclusion of Missing Pieces.
MY RATING: 4/5 - I was quickly sucked into Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf, which is fraught with tension and suspense. Heather Gudenkauf is one of my favorite authors, so I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. I love her descriptions of small town life. Growing up in South Dakota myself, I can tell you she is right on with life in a small town.
Gudenkauf never disappoints. Missing Pieces is a murder mystery/thriller, which had me guessing throughout. When the final reveal came, that person wasn't even on my suspect list. I read Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf within 2 days. The missing pieces are revealed at a nice pace that keeps you guessing and engaged in the story. Well done once again, Heather Gudenkauf.
When reading the description of One more Day by Kelly Simmons, I was drawn to the book. I don't know why I am drawn to child abduction stories as theyWhen reading the description of One more Day by Kelly Simmons, I was drawn to the book. I don't know why I am drawn to child abduction stories as they are my worst nightmare and could not imagine living through such an experience regarding my sons. Haven't we all wished for just One More Day with a loved one? Carrie and John Morgan were granted that wish, just one more day with their child who had been abducted 15 months earlier. After the one day, their son Ben is missing again. The reader then embarks on a suspenseful, fast paced journey to discover what happened to Ben?
I love books that you think are going one way and you find yourself heading in a different direction. The story is more about the characters and psychology of grief and how people each handle it differently. I found the character's emotions well portrayed and strong. I understood Carrie's past, it's effect on the present, her pain and confusion.
One More Day by Kelly Simmons is psychological suspense about parenthood, family, relationships, loyalty, faith, and hidden secrets with a paranormal twist. While other reviewers disliked the twist, I enjoy a book that takes me on a different journey than I was expecting.
MY RATING: 4/5 - One More Day by Kelly Simmons is a fast paced story about my worst nightmare, a lost child. This is a story you need to come to with an open mind. I read One More Day in nearly one sitting. Even though I questioned some elements of the story, I just had to find out what happens. I will admit, that at one point in the story I got actual goosebumps. That has never happened to me when reading a book. ...more
The Children’s Crusade by Ann Packer is a family drama spanning from 1950 to present day. Bill Blair is a pediatrician and veteran of war. Bill meetsThe Children’s Crusade by Ann Packer is a family drama spanning from 1950 to present day. Bill Blair is a pediatrician and veteran of war. Bill meets Penny and they marry. Penny has dreams of her family, 3 children would be perfect. The first child born is Robert than Rebecca and Ryan, the three R’s, perfect. Later James is born and Penny is unhappy about this, three children was the plan. James is a rambunctious little boy and just too much for Penny. She withdraws from parenting him and the other children and Bill and the older children really parent James. This really shows the impact that childhood experiences can have on someone into adulthood. James always feels like the odd man out, not an “R” name.
Children’s Crusade is really a coming of age story of a family. A real family drama with complicated relationships. There is a strong character story of each individual. You really feel like you understand the characters, except for Penny. Penny is very self-centered and removed from her family physically and emotionally. I would have like to know more about her thought process regarding her decisions. With Penny being the exception I felt like I knew the characters equally, but didn’t like them equally.
The audio book of Children’s Crusade was performed by a cast of narrators, which allowed for great distinction between the characters. I really felt the different voices fit the characters well and were easily distinguishable. The pace of the narration went well this the story and plot. Listening to Children’s Crusade did not have a huge impact on me…I wasn’t driving around the block to listen to more. This had more to do with the actual story than the narration.
My Rating: 3/5 – liked it- Children’s Crusade had me wishing for more throughout the book. When was something of significance going to happen?? I struggle with stories that don’t have a real pivotal point in the story. The family overall, left me wondering how Bill could let this situation continue. He often said “children need care”, but that was something his children were missing, at least from their mother. This had a lasting effect on the children, especially James. Good reminder that our actions as parents stay with our children much longer than we think.
Children’s Crusade is really a character study of the Blair family. Children’s Crusade is a family drama which touches on the themes such as healing, hope, innocence and forgiveness. In all honestly, if this wasn’t a review book, I would have most likely not finished the book.
The other item that was difficult for me was the ending of Children’s Crusade by Ann Packer, I was very disappointed in the ending. It didn’t feel like much of an ending, I felt that as a reader I was left wishing for more once again.
This was not the first book I have read by Ann Packer. My book group read The Dive from Clausen’s Pier which I enjoyed. So don’t let this review discourage your from giving Ann Packer a try. ...more
Liar’s Bench, a debut novel by Kim Michelle Richardson, is set in the south in the early 1970’s. A time of change that is slow to happen in some partsLiar’s Bench, a debut novel by Kim Michelle Richardson, is set in the south in the early 1970’s. A time of change that is slow to happen in some parts of the south, such as Peckinpaw, Kentucky.. Mudas “Muddy” Summers parents are divorced due to her father’s infidelity. Mudas lives with her father who is the town prosecutor. Muddy’s mom, Ella is married to Tommy. On Muddy’s 17th birthday, her mother is found hung from the rafters of the home she shares with Tommy.
Mudas does not believe her mother committed suicide. She sets off with her friend, Bobby Marshall, who happens to be Afro-American, to find out what really happened to her mother, Ella. Sadly, the town is not ready for a mix race friendship and this cause problems for Bobby and Mudas. Ella worked for Mr McGee, who is a bit of a unsavory character. He is a racist and corrupt on many levels. Mudas thinks he might have something to due with her mother’s death as she was his bookkeeper.
The other story line in Liar’s Bench is set in the past about 100 years is about a slave,Frannie Crow who was unjustly hung by her master at the nearby planation. Bobby Marshall is a descendent of Frannie Crow. Liar’s Bench, which is in the center of town and is important to the story, was built from the Frannie’s gallows.
The audiobook of Liar’s Bench was narrated by Jorjeana Marie. This is the first time I have listened to this particular narrator. I think Jorjeana Marie is a new favorite! She does an amazing portrayal of characters who are children. I had to actually research to she if she was an adult. Love her voice! I have since selected two more audiobooks based on her being the narrator. She does a nice job of differentiating the voices and the differences in gender. I particularly was drawn to the voice of Muddy. Jorjeana Marie does an excellent job in portraying the more suspenseful parts of the story. You can really feel the suspense.
Kim Michelle Richardson delivers a very good debut novel with Liar’s Bench. There was one point in the story where Muddy and Bobby are being chased by McGee and his men, that really bugged me. They are being chased and they all of a sudden think, they can just stop and investigate a graveyard. While, the graveyard was important to the plot, it seemed unrealistic to me to stop running at that particular point in the story. If someone is chasing me….I am going to run and run until I find help!
My Rating: 4/5 –really liked it- Liar’s Bench by Kim Michele Richardson is a debut novel that is well worth the read/listen. I would really recommend listening to the audiobook narrated by Jorjeana Marie. She is a very talented and interesting narrator, which really added to the Liar’s Bench experience. I found myself needing to walk an extra mile just to hear a bit more of Liar’s Bench, a very enjoyable story and narration. Even with her initial indecision, I really liked Muddy as a character. By the end of the story she redeems herself in my eyes. The ending was sufficiently suspenseful and satisfying.
Liar’s Bench is a mystery, but also a coming of age story. Other themes in Liar’s Bench include racism, racial tension, secrets, corruption and racial and gender inequality. The tension is palpable at times in regards to the racial bigotry and brutality of that sad time in history.
Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs is one book in the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reich. Kathy Reich is a new author to me. Though Speaking in BSpeaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs is one book in the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reich. Kathy Reich is a new author to me. Though Speaking in Bones is part for the Temperance Brennan series, I read it as a stand alone book and found it very intriguing. There might have been some small connections between characters I may have missed due to not reading previous books, but they were not obvious to me. So definitely can be read as a stand alone book. Speaking in Bones is a forensic thriller, which is very well researched. Considering the author is a forensic anthropologist, it is no surprise how well researched the books is.
The characters in Speaking with Bones are very compelling. I am actually wanting to read previous books so I can get to know Temperance Brennan better. She is an interesting character. Being the main character in all the books, there are many details about her that may have added to my reading of Speaking in Bones. Another character that was interesting is Hazel “Lucky” Strike. Who knew there is a community of amateur sleuths online that spend their time researching missing people and unidentified remains in hopes of finding a match and bringing the remains home to their family. Hazel believe the remains she has found are that of Cora Teague an missing persons who disappeared at the age of 18. Cora comes from a very religious community, almost zealots of sorts, they never reported her as missing. They said she ran away with a man…such wicked ways in their minds.
My Rating: 4/5 –really liked it- I read Speaking Bones in a little over a day while camping in the middle of a State Park in Minnesota. An ideal setting to read a psychological thriller, when you have to walk to the satellite toilet alone in the middle of the night. I was very intrigued by the story and found it hard to put down. The pace of the story was very good and kept you on the edge of your seats. Temperance tends to make some bad decisions in the story, which puts her in dangerous situations and heights the intensity of the story. I found myself liking the determination and character of Temperance very early in the story. Temperance and I definitely need to get to know each other better.
In Speaking in Bones, Kathy Reich tells a story of religious zealous, obsession and murder with a bit of psychological twist.
Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry is a riveting story told from the point of view of Sally, who was violently killed on a farm South Africa. The farmBlack Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry is a riveting story told from the point of view of Sally, who was violently killed on a farm South Africa. The farm was an peaceful animal sanctuary. Sally and her daughter Gigi lived on the farm with others. Sally, her sister Adele and Adele’s husband, Liam have a complicated past that has significantly effect their relationship. Sally and Adele have been estranged for a number of years. Gigi, Sally’s daughter survives the attack which take her mother’s life. Gigi is understandably traumatized. After being released from the hospital, she goes to like with her Aunt and Uncle, Adele and Liam, and their children.
Sally is stuck between the here and now, and the afterlife. She is able to see threads and if she follows them she is able to connect with various family members connect to each thread. She is able to see what is going on in her daughter’s life. Adele and Liam’s neighbor, Lesedi is a South African Sangoma. The only person Sally is consistently able to interact with is Lesedi.
Part of the story is also told from the point of view of Bryony. I found Bryony to be a very intuitive girl for her age.
My Rating: 4/5 –really liked it- Jilly Bond’s narration of the story, Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry is riveting. You are immediately drawn into the story and care for the characters. Jilly is very good at building suspense with the pace of her narration. There is a scene between Gigi and her younger cousin, Bryony toward the end of the story that had a real effect on me. I actually had chills and found myself holding my breathe listening to this scene, something that has never happened to me before. That is some great narration to be able to evoke such a physical reaction from the reader.
I enjoyed the point of view from which the book was written. I enjoyed being able to hear the story through Sally’s voice and observations. I really felt her frustration as she was only able to watch and not change the course of events in a meaningful way. I loved the idea of the brightly colored thread connected to each person. The threads represent the complexities of family relationships and how our stories are interwoven. Black Dog Summer is about the complexities of family and our relationship and how a death can affect those relationships.
Black Dog Summer, a debut novel by Miranda Sherry is a very emotional book. If you enjoy family drama, complex relationships with a hint of supernatural, you will love Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry. ...more
From the get go, Other Side of Midnight by Simone St James had me with the engaging story line and the wonderful narration by Mary Jane Wells. I do noFrom the get go, Other Side of Midnight by Simone St James had me with the engaging story line and the wonderful narration by Mary Jane Wells. I do not believe I have listened to a book narrated by Mary Jane Wells, but glad I have discovered her. A very engaging narrator who really performs with great emotion!
Other Side of Midnight is set in 1925 in London following World War I. Gloria Sutter and Ellie Winter are women with true psychic powers. After the War there were plenty of charlatans playing on peoples desperate need to communicate with their lost loved ones. Psychics, séances and spirit communication were common as death and grieve were plentiful after WWI; too many, sons, husbands and lovers lost to the war.
Gloria Sutter is murdered during one of her séances. She left a message to be delivered to Ellie Winter, to “Find Her”, in the spirit world. Communication with the dead was not something Ellie did anymore, she found lost things for people. Ellie investigates the under belly of the psychic world to find clues to Gloria’s murder. She is accompanied by James Hawley an investigator wishing to debunk the psychics.
All characters were very well developed. I was especially impressed by the development of the secondary characters. I felt I had a good understanding of each very unique character. They each added to the story line in their own way. I also really like the details put into the description of Ellie’s psychic powers and what it must have felt to be her.
My Rating: 4/5 –really liked it- If you are a huge fan of historical fiction as I am, you will enjoy Other Side of Midnight by Simone St James. Set in 1925, in London, following WWI is such a emotionally charged time in history. Add to that the mystery, suspense and romance, you have one very engaging story! I mostly listen to audio books while walking and I can tell you I got some extra miles in at the end of this book! The twists a the end were very suspenseful. I found the end convenient, but very satisfying.
If you are in the mood for a eerie historical mystery with a hint of romance and suspense, checkout Other Side of Midnight by Simone St James. If you love an engaging and emotional narrative, check out the audio book narrated by Mary Jane Wells.
I love reading debut novels and Fortress Defiled, A Jillian Jax Mystery by Connie Johnson is no exception. Fortress Defiled is set in St Paul, MN whicI love reading debut novels and Fortress Defiled, A Jillian Jax Mystery by Connie Johnson is no exception. Fortress Defiled is set in St Paul, MN which added to my enjoyment of this book. It is always enjoyable to read a story set in an area you are very familiar with. Fortress Defiled had me hooked by about 30% through the book. I knew right there and then that I would be awake until I finished! The story moves at a good pace and keeps the reader on edge to the very end.
The main character, Jillian is a strong and talented agent with a special sense. Without giving away too much, I want to say that I really found the premise of this special sense possessed by Jillian to be very unique and intriguing story element. Jillian has many strong relationships in her life such as her family and her friend, Sondra that play an integral part in her life. These relationships are very touching and very well developed by the author.
I found the ending of Fortress Defiled very satisfying. It is evident throughout Fortress Defiled that Connie Johnson put a lot of research into this book regarding Minnesota and Law Enforcement procedures. The author describes herself as a student of human behavior. Her knowledge in this area is evident in her insightful psychological look into the thought process and actions of the characters.
Yep, this book had me losing a bit of sleep. I had to finish! I will be looking forward to the next book in the Jillian Jax Mystery series. I look forward to learning more about the key characters and their stories. Considering, Connie Johnson’s initial development of these characters, I don’t think I will be disappointed in future novels.
The characters in Fortress Defile learn first hand, that the past always shapes our lives more than we realize. If you are looking for a unique mystery with just the right amount of creepy, Fortress Defiled by Connie Johnson will deliver. ...more
Jon Acuff uses his signature wit and humor to provide advice on how to survive a career “Do Over” either due to either a voluntary or involuntary reasJon Acuff uses his signature wit and humor to provide advice on how to survive a career “Do Over” either due to either a voluntary or involuntary reason. Voluntary Do Overs being, Career Ceiling or Career Jump. Involuntary “Do Overs” being Career Bump or Career Opportunity. Jon introduces the reader to the concept of a “Career Savings Account” (CSA). A CSA is filled with your relationships, skills, character and work ethic. Personally, I am currently in a bit of a strange season in my career. I found the tasks in the book very helpful to put Jon’s theory into practice in my career. I especially liked the information on how to have character in the workplace, which I strive to do each day. I know which areas of my CSA need to be strengthened and I now have steps to improve my Career Savings Account.
My Rating: 4 – I found Do Over by Jon Acuff an enjoyable read. I simply love Jon’s sense of humor. I loved him as a narrator. He is a very expressive narrator with just a hint of sarcasm. He made me laugh out loud more than once. I have been fan of Jon Acuff for years. We lead Financial Peace University and he does make an appearance in Week #5 I believe it is.
I am motivated to invest in myself and my career Savings Account after listening to Do Over by Jon Acuff. The tag line on the cover reads, “Rescue Monday, Reinvent Work and Never Get Stuck!” This is exactly what I needed to hear during this changing time in my career. I would recommend Do Over by Jon Acuff to anyone who is feeling the need to change up their career a little bit or have been faced with an involuntary “Do Over”. Jon Acuff provides very sage advice in a very enjoyable format. I will certainly be listening to more of his books as I enjoyed him as a narrator very much. Honestly, I usually do not enjoy author/narrators very much, but Jon Acuff is very enjoyable to listen to. ...more
My Review: A number of book bloggers were saying good things about “The Lemon Grove”. Said to be the summer read not to miss. When I saw it on NetgallMy Review: A number of book bloggers were saying good things about “The Lemon Grove”. Said to be the summer read not to miss. When I saw it on Netgally, I thought I better request a copy to review. I received my review copy and decided to read it on my vacation. It is a quick, easy read so perfect for a vacation.
Jenn and Greg are on vacation in the beautiful island of Mallorca, Spain. The description of the setting is amazing and very descriptive. You can just feel the heat and the carefree life style of the island. Jenn and Greg are joined by Greg’s daughter, Emma and her boyfriend, Nate. A May/December relationship is sparked between Jenn and Nate. A relationship that is filled with passion and heat. For me, this just wasn’t enjoyable. Being a mother of a 20 something old son, I couldn’t not get the image of my son or his friends out of my head. Not fun!
I found Jenn as a character to be very shallow and insecure. The relationship sprung between them very quickly. As a stepmother, I really could not respect Jenn. Her relationship with Emma was very rocky, but much of that was due to Jenn’s mind set that Emma was Greg’s daughter even though she had been in Emma’s life for many years. Being a stepmother myself, I could not fathom having that mindset. I just could not connect with the characters.
The story line was suspenseful in wondering if they will be found out with many near misses and risky behavior. The ending has you wondering if they were found out or not.
My Rating: 2/5 - If you enjoy steamy, quick summer reads than “The Lemon Grove” by Helen Walsh is for you. For me, I am looking for more substance in my stories and I really could not feel comfortable with this May/December relationship. For me it was equivalent to walking in on our your parents. Keep in mind I was probably the only woman on earth who had absolutely no desire to read 50 Shades of Grey by EL James either.
My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing ...more
Let’s just get this out of the way, The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is one of my favorite reads so far this year. I received The Pearl That Broke Its SLet’s just get this out of the way, The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is one of my favorite reads so far this year. I received The Pearl That Broke Its Shell from the reviewer program at AudioJukeBox. In my work as a social worker in a metro area, I meet many people and find myself drawn to stories of life within other cultures.
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is the story of two Afghan women, Shekiba and Rahima. Shekiba lived in the early 1900’s during the reign of King Habibullah. Rahima lived in present day Afghanistan. Shekiba and Rahima shared a commonality of living as a Bacha posh. Bacha posh ("dressed up as a boy" in the Dari Language) is a cultural practice in which some families without sons will pick a daughter to live and behave as a boy. This enables the child to behave more freely: attending school, escorting her sisters in public, and working. Bacha posh also allows the family to avoid the social stigma associated of not having any male children.
I don’t want to share too much about the story as you have to really experience it and I can’t really give it justice. I found learning about the history of Afghanistan very interesting. I found it very interesting how in 1920’s Afghanistan rules by King Amanullah Khan and Queen Soraya was looking towards the ways of the West and were making efforts to modernize and empower the Afghan people. Fast forward nearly a 100 years to Rahima’s life and those previous efforts to modernize and empower the Afghan people are non existent. The country is ruled by warlords and wrought with corruption.
While the Pearl That Broke Its Shells touches of issues such as child marriage, warlords, political unrest, drug addiction, and domestic violence, I really was impacted by the strength, perseverance and determination of Shekiba and Rahima to change their naseeb. Naseeb means destiny or fate. The literal meaning in Arabic is "share", but it came to be understood as "one's share in life", and thus his destiny.
This is my first experience with the narration of Gin Hammond. I really enjoyed listening to The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi. Gin Hammond provides a very emotional and passionate performance. Her narration is easy to listen to and very enjoyable. She bring the story to life in a manner that added to my enjoyment of the story!
My Rating: 4/5 - The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is a debut novel that is wonderfully written. It is hard to believe this is Nadia Hashimi debut novel. I found myself looking for excuses to slip in my earbuds to listen to just a few more chapters. Hashimi provides a very intimate look into the life of two amazing Afghan women. I found myself thinking about Shekida and Rahima throughout my day. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is a story that will stay with you long after you close the book. ...more