It's hard to imagine the heartbreak of a parent that has lost a child. What's even more unimaginable is when that loss is at the hands of3.5 star read
It's hard to imagine the heartbreak of a parent that has lost a child. What's even more unimaginable is when that loss is at the hands of another child. We've all read headlines or listened to stories about the horror of school shootings. Even though we may empathize with the families, it is difficult to imagine the pain the families feel or how they can ever learn to live with their grief and heartbreak. Stillwater Rising is a story of one town's struggle to survive in the face of such tragedy and loss.
Ms. Holmes has presented a story that not only shines a light on the tragedy of school shootings, but shows how the fictional small town of Stillwater Bay bands together to survive. At the heart of the story are three women: the mother of one of murdered children, Jennifer Crowne; the mayor of the town and wife to the school principal, Charlotte Stone; the mother of the murderer, Julia Berry. Jennifer is in deep mourning over the loss of her youngest child, Bobby. She used to be an active member of the community, but is struggling to survive each day without her son. Charlotte is trying to be there for her town, her friends, and her husband. She's also struggling to provide some semblance of normality for the town by being strong. There are some that feel she doesn't understand because she isn't a parent and didn't suffer a direct loss as a result of the tragedy. Julia Berry is another parent struggling with grief, but also with guilt. It is her son that perpetrated this atrocity and she feels that she must be responsible since she was his parent. In addition to her guilt and grief, she is also struggling with a serious health condition. As a direct result of her guilt, she has become a hermit and has confined herself to her home. All three of these women are dealing with their own sense of guilt over that fateful day. One feels the answer is to shutter the school, tear it down, and build a memorial to honor those lost. One feels that closing the school isn't the answer as it will put the teachers and staff out of work and harm the economy of the town. The other is simply overwhelmed by her guilt and feels that she should run away from Stillwater Bay in order to allow the other grieving families peace and space.
Stillwater Rising wasn't an easy read but it was a touching story about recovering from an impossible loss. The characters were realistic and the action wholly plausible. I find it difficult to quantify Stillwater Rising in any specific genre other than contemporary fiction. This isn't a lighthearted read, but it is a powerful story about hope and survival in the face of tragedy. I don't know if this is the type of story for everyone, but it definitely left this reader with the sense that people can work together to overcome their worst nightmare. The healing may not take place in a few months, or even a few years, but with hope and respect for one another it is possible. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series, Stillwater Deep, as I want to watch this community continue to heal....more
Donald Langham, mystery-thriller writer, and Maria Dupré, literary agent, are recuperating from the emotional trauma and physical wounds3.5 star read
Donald Langham, mystery-thriller writer, and Maria Dupré, literary agent, are recuperating from the emotional trauma and physical wounds from their last encounter with a blackmailer (Murder by the Book). They are also in an established romantic relationship and looking forward to spending some time together in the country away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Unfortunately, their weekend in the country quickly becomes a hunt for a missing person, an investigation into a purported centenarian occultist, and more. All the while Donald is looking for the perfect opportunity to propose to Maria as Maria obsesses over whether or not he's actually interested in a permanent relationship. Will murder and mayhem keep these two off-balance? Can they ascertain the truth about the Satanist and the village's hauntings?
I found Murder at the Chase to be a fast-paced and enjoyable read. I did have a few issues with the male Vivian character as I usually enjoy reading about characters that share my first name, but sharing it with a guy?! (Okay, it wasn't that big a deal but it was a little strange at first to read about Vivian the guy.) Donald and Maria are in an established relationship, so there isn't as much about the romance as there is intrigue in the storyline. Their weekend in the countryside is interrupted by a request to investigate a missing person with the classic locked-room scenario. As their attention turns toward the investigation of the missing person, they are introduced to a host of characters: an aging ex-Hollywood movie star with a secret past, an eccentric and lascivious artist, a lovable and young bumbling country vicar, the shy son of the missing person with a secret, the purported centenarian Satanist, and a crafty private investigator. This missing person case becomes a murder investigation when the Satanist's body is found with his head bashed in. The only problem I had with this book was the expectation of a locked room murder because there isn't an actual murder victim in a locked room. Murder at the Chase does provide murder, mystery, mayhem, and a hint of the macabre with the occult storyline. If you enjoy old-fashioned whodunits, then you'll definitely want to read Murder at the Chase. (No, I won't tell you if Donald pops the question . . . you'll have to read the book to find out for yourself!)...more
They're back . . . Rachel de Luca and Mason Brown are back in the fourth book in the Brown and de Luca series by Maggie Shayne, Deadly3.5 star review
They're back . . . Rachel de Luca and Mason Brown are back in the fourth book in the Brown and de Luca series by Maggie Shayne, Deadly Obsession. Rachel is preoccupied by Mason's recent use of the "L-word" (love) but their relationship is steady and progressing. This book starts off with a bang . . . literally; a house explodes and erupts in fire. Fortunately Rachel and Mason have just finished a date and are on their way home when they spot the fire. Since Mason is one of the first on the scene, he enters the home to rescue two children. His rescue attempt is successful in more ways than one because he now has attracted the attention of a killer. Will he be able to survive this killer's attempts to rid him of all of his loved ones, including Rachel? Better yet, will Rachel be able to survive?
Rachel is still quite mouthy, speaks first, thinks later in this book, but she quickly comes to realize that her life is nothing without Mason and the boys, Jeremy and Joshua. She takes charge of Mason's nephews after he is hospitalized from the fire rescue, and learns that she no longer yearns for those quiet, peaceful evenings at home. She's still adamant about not being psychic but rather having NFP (not-effing-psychic) abilities. These abilities will be put to great use in Deadly Obsession as she is realizing that something isn't quite right with Mason's nurse. She also realizes that she's just a little bit jealous and wants to delve into the visiting nurse's background. Unfortunately she's talked out of it by her assistant Amy, whose new title is "She Whose Quitting Will Result in My Complete and Utter Annihilation." While Rachel sulks about Mason not coming to stay at her house after his release from the hospital, Mason's sister-in-law Marie has had a major meltdown at the psychiatric hospital. Marie knows that someone is out to get Mason and her sons but she can't convince anyone because she's psychotic. It probably doesn't help that she refers to this person as a demon. Meanwhile Rachel is trying to write a new book, dealing with two young boys, falling in love, preoccupied and stressing about falling in love, stressing over her lover's injuries, dealing with a psychotic in-law, planning a blowout graduation party, and now dealing with an obsessed want-to-be rival love interest.
I found Deadly Obsession to be a fast-paced read. As with all of the books in this series, it was filled with tongue-in-cheek humor, romance, suspense, family drama, teen angst and drama, and one stylish blind bulldog. Rachel and Mason's relationship is sweet, tender, and prickly. Neither wanted to fall in love and both are trying to figure out the best way of dealing with it. Mason's nephews, Jeremy and Joshua, add a nice built-in family component to their relationship since Mason now has custody. Take two fiercely independent adults – one a police officer and the other a renowned motivational author, add in romance and suspense then watch the sparks fly. I enjoyed reading about the progression of their relationship. I also enjoyed reading about both Rachel and Mason coming to grips with the idea that they are in love. The suspense from a crazed and obsessed would-be love interest and a psychotic sister-in-law just added to the drama. Each book in this series reveals more about Mason and Rachel's characters, to the point that they feel more like long-distance friends than characters in a book. Most of the characters that appeared in previous books reappear in Deadly Obsession, including Rachel's sister, brother-in-law, twin nieces, as well as her perky, personal assistant Amy. Mason's partner, Rosie, his mother Angela, his sister-in-law Marie, and nephews are also featured. The cast of characters is rounded out with the new bad guy, Gretchen, Rachel's beloved bulldog Myrtle, and a new four-legged addition to the family, a bulldog pup - Hugo. The characters are wholly realistic and the situations, some more farfetched than others, seem just as realistic. Ms. Shayne adds more pieces to the puzzle of who are Rachel and Mason and where are they heading with each book. Deadly Obsession reveals just how much Mason and Rachel truly care about one another and solidifies them as a unit. If you enjoy light-hearted romantic suspense reads, then you'll enjoy the Brown and de Luca series. If you haven't read any of the books in the Brown and de Luca series, read them! Start at the beginning with Sleep with the Lights On, before moving on to Dream of Danger, Wake to Darkness (http://www.thebookdivasreads.com/2013...), Innocent Prey (http://www.thebookdivasreads.com/2014...), and finally Deadly Obsession. If you've read the previous books in this series then you'll want to grab a copy of Deadly Obsession as soon as it comes out. This is one series you don't want to miss out on (can you tell I like this series). ...more