The bulk of this novel tells the story of Jack and Libbie. The high school sweethearts seemed destined for a happy life together, but their happinessThe bulk of this novel tells the story of Jack and Libbie. The high school sweethearts seemed destined for a happy life together, but their happiness is short-lived. Planning the wedding was stressful enough for Libbie, but it doesn’t end after the wedding. Libbie continues to struggle with fears and feelings she can’t control, not to mention her mother’s mysterious “illness” and her older sister’s resentment at having to care for their mother. Libbie is determined to be perfect in every way, but her perception of failure and methods of dealing with her stress lead her, and Jack, down a road that can only end in disaster.
I didn’t want this story to end. Jack and Libbie felt so real to me, and when I read of how their marriage came to an end, it broke my heart. I already knew it was going to happen—it’s right there in the blurb—but it was still painful to read about. I thought about these characters constantly when I wasn’t reading, and I kept hoping that Libbie would be found. I wanted so badly for them to have the happy ending they were denied when they were young. I couldn’t stand waiting to find out if it would happen!
Finding Libbie is a beautifully written novel, and I enjoyed reading it very much. I have a feeling these characters are going to be fresh in my mind for quite some time. Sletten just earned a spot on my author radar with this one!
I received an advance review copy of this novel courtesy of Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review....more
I wanted to like this book. I really did. The plot—an America ruled by Christian fundamentalists and biblical law—was ripe with possibility. UnfortunaI wanted to like this book. I really did. The plot—an America ruled by Christian fundamentalists and biblical law—was ripe with possibility. Unfortunately, The Punishments failed to live up to it. There is at least one scene that borrows heavily from a scene in George Orwell’s 1984 (if you’ve read it, you’ll recognize the similarities instantly). I found that a bit annoying as it threw me out of the story I was reading, but it happened very early on, so I was willing to overlook it.
What I couldn’t overlook was the predictable way the story advanced. The one twist that actually surprised me a little wasn’t enough to impact the way I felt about the story overall. Something else that bothered me was there was too little ‘show’, and far too much ‘tell’ in the writing. Towards the end, it felt like I was reading a lists of actions and reactions, rather than losing myself in a story.
I was greatly disappointed because I felt it could have been so much better.
I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and Boulder Digital Publishing, LLC in exchange for an honest review....more
I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review.
Books with child abuse as the fouI received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review.
Books with child abuse as the foundation of the story are difficult to read; paradoxically, they are also the books that are tough to stop reading, because you feel compelled to keep going “just a little longer” before calling it a night. (In the wee hours of the morning, of course!) Such was my dilemma as I read Dear Mother.
It was painful to read about the suffering of the sisters when they were children, and to see the consequences the abuse had on their lives as adults. Fictional characters or not, it was an emotional wallop each time one of the sisters had a memory of their mother’s cruelty. On the flip-side, whenever something good happened for one of the characters, I felt ridiculously happy for them.
I’ve read many novels where the character(s) struggled to deal with the effects of an abusive childhood, and in my opinion, Marsons’ Dear Mother is one of the best I’ve read. Her writing is excellent throughout; the ebb and flow of the story’s intensity is wonderfully done in such a way that the reader is kept enthralled and reluctant to set the book aside for any reason. Your heart will break, but there are also moments when it will sing.
This is the first book I’ve read by Angela Marsons, but I’m planning on reading more of her work in the future. The next read may very well put me through the emotional wringer as this one did… but I’m pretty sure it will be worth it!...more
After the death of her mother, Denise Russo, Siobhan needs to understand what caused her to vanish six years earlier, and finds herself caught up in aAfter the death of her mother, Denise Russo, Siobhan needs to understand what caused her to vanish six years earlier, and finds herself caught up in a nightmare centuries in the making. Traveling to the convent in Zamora where her mother lived, Siobhan is in danger from the moment she arrives, and it is with great difficulty that she is able to access her mother’s final written confession. Reading it, she learns of a terrible betrayal that led her mother to make a deal with the Devil, risking Siobhan’s soul if Denise didn’t hold up her end of the bargain. As disturbing as all that is to Siobhan, other discoveries made in later parts of her mother’s confession are absolutely horrifying… as is the unfinished task her mother begs her to complete.
The Devil’s Prayer is unlike any book I’ve ever read; this historical horror thriller has it all. The historical aspects of the book are based on actual events that occurred in the 13th century, and the locations mentioned actually exist—a bonus to any readers who are also history buffs. (Go here to see photographs and read information about the locations mentioned in the book.) Gracias’ historical research is excellent, and the masterful blending of fact and fiction makes this story even more chilling.
The novel ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, but the point it ends on felt like the perfect stopping point, in my opinion. Don’t let that dissuade you from reading this fascinating novel. It’s my understanding that a sequel is in the works, and that’s a good thing because there is plenty more story waiting to be told.
The Devil’s Prayer is an excellent read, and superbly written. I recommend this one highly… add it to your reading list!
I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of the author and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review....more
Willow’s memories of her parents are filled with love and happiness, but her time with them was brief. A tragedy at sea took them from her when she waWillow’s memories of her parents are filled with love and happiness, but her time with them was brief. A tragedy at sea took them from her when she was just a little girl, leaving Willow to be raised by her mother’s sister, Hope. Years later, she is back at her parent’s home, preparing it for sale, when she discovers an invitation for a photography exhibit—addressed to her, sent by a man she’d never met—opened and discarded in the trash. Willow questions her aunt about it, but Hope refuses to answer her questions. Frustrated, Willow searches for answers and, after discovering secrets that have been buried for years, wonders if her entire life has been built on a foundation of lies.
My Sister’s Secret hooks you from the start, and never lets go. The story is told through Willow’s eyes in the present, along with tantalizing glimpses of the past through the eyes of Charity, Willow’s mother. If you’re like me, you’ll think early on that you’ve got everything figured out, and know exactly where things are headed. And you’ll be wrong. This story is anything but predictable, filled with plot twists you’ll never see coming, and revelations that are as shocking as they are heartbreaking. The writing is pure perfection—the complexities of the characters are revealed with excellent timing, keeping you engaged in the story and provoking a whirlwind of emotions that linger long after you read the final sentence. All of which makes this a Book Worth Reading.
I’ll be keeping Tracy Buchanan on my author radar from now one… and you should, too.
I received an advance review copy of this book via Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review....more
Three couples—Sam and Clementine, Oliver and Erika, Vid and Tiffany—all gathered together for the first time at a barbeque. When Erika and Oliver areThree couples—Sam and Clementine, Oliver and Erika, Vid and Tiffany—all gathered together for the first time at a barbeque. When Erika and Oliver are impulsively invited to their next-door neighbor's home for a barbeque, she explains her oldest friend, Clementine, and her husband are coming over. Rather than being deterred, the gregarious Vid quickly extends the invitation to them as well, though he's never met them. Everyone agrees, and six adults and three children come together for an evening that will change all their lives, put relationships at risk, and make them all wish the barbeque had never happened.
Having read three other books by Moriarty (The Husband’s Secret, Big Little Lies, and What Alice Forgot) I was excited to start reading this one, certain I was in for yet another great adventure in reading. Truly Madly Guilty is the very definition of a page-turner—once you start reading, it's hard to stop. The characters are richly described and the details of what happened at the barbeque are revealed at the perfect pace—quickly enough to satisfy your curiosity, but without giving up too much too soon.
While the story centers on the three couples and their children, several secondary characters are introduced that propelled the story along in ways I didn't anticipate (some more poignantly than others) and made the story even more enjoyable than it already was. The actions and motivations of one of these secondary characters, in particular, broke my heart. As much as I wish I could discuss who it is and why they affected me in such a way, it's one of those things best discovered as you read it yourself. Just have a box of tissues handy... you're going to need them!
If you're a regular reader of my reviews, you know that I've given out several five star ratings lately. It may not seem to be the case, but I give serious thought to it before I give out my best rating, and declare something is a Book Worth Reading. I've simply been on a streak of picking excellent books to read this summer, I guess. I'm thrilled to say that Truly Madly Guilty was a fantastic read, but I'm not at all surprised. With some authors, you know before you even read the first word that you're starting something wonderful. Liane Moriarty is one of those authors. Get yourself a copy of this book today. You'll be glad you did!
I received an advance copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review....more
Still reeling from the scandal that devastated her life, single mother Jeanie meets Matthew, a wealthy, divorced father of two teenagers, and finds heStill reeling from the scandal that devastated her life, single mother Jeanie meets Matthew, a wealthy, divorced father of two teenagers, and finds herself swept away in a whirlwind romance that quickly leads to marriage. Feeling optimistic in their love, Jeanie dreams of blending their families together and living happily ever after… but her step-daughter immediately rejects her and Jeanie’s vision of a happy life seems unlikely to happen. Jeanie begins to feel like an outsider when Matthew’s children are around, and she realizes how little she and Matthew knew about each another before they got married. The one thing she doesn’t want him to know is the secret she’s keeping about her past, but it’s only a matter of time before he finds out because someone has been sending threatening messages to Jeanie, taunting her with their knowledge of the truth. Between that and the strange, frightening things happening at the house, Jeanie’s fairy tale life is quickly becoming a nightmare.
This is a truly fabulous read, guaranteed to hook you immediately. The story is told through the eyes of Jeanie and her younger sister, Marlena. Each have distinct personalities that come through wonderfully in the way each sister tells her side of the story. The characters we see through their eyes come to life not only through the way they’re written, but in how each sister perceives them. Marlena’s responses (spoken or otherwise) to some characters are particularly enjoyable to read, and I often found myself smiling at her no-nonsense attitude towards them.
Rather than a single mysterious element, The Stepmother is comprised of several layers of them. One of my favorite things to do as I read a book is trying to figure out where the story is headed, who the ‘bad guy’ is (if it’s unknown) and why they’re doing what they do. My attempts to do this as I read The Stepmother resulted in glorious failure, for the most part. I did manage to suss out one person/thing, and was feeling fairly pleased with myself until I came to one of several shocking twists near the end. That one little thing I figured out was nothing compared to those explosive revelations.
If you love getting lost in a good psychological thriller, I can’t recommend this one highly enough. Just be sure to set aside plenty of reading time, because this one is damned hard to put down once you get started!
I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Bookouture and Netgally....more