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Stillwater Bay #1

Stillwater Rising

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After losing her son in an elementary school shooting that devastates the tight-knit community of Stillwater Bay, Jennifer Crowne finds herself unable to settle back into her role of perfect stay-at-home mom and committee organizer. Meanwhile, her best friend, Mayor Charlotte Stone, struggles to keep the town together, and Charlotte’s husband, the school principal, may not be the hero everyone thinks him to be.

As they try to heal from this irrevocable trauma, Jenn and Charlotte find themselves at a crossroads—within the town and within their friendship. For Jenn, broken and grieving, there is no going back, and she demands that the school be closed so that she can bury the past. Yet Charlotte is equally desperate to hold the town together, fighting the school closure and helping the shooter’s mother regain her place in the community. Jenn and Charlotte’s relationship is put to the ultimate test as each weighs her own interests against the bonds of their friendship.

Audio CD

First published November 11, 2014

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About the author

Steena Holmes

50 books1,318 followers
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author - Steena is the author of the heart wrenching Finding Emma series.

Her latest novel - LIES WE TELL OURSELVES - is out October 2020.

The Word Game was included in the Top 20 Novels to be Written by Women in 2015 by Good Housekeeping. The Word Game also won the 2015 USA Books Award for Best Fiction and her novel, The Memory Child was a finalist in the same category.

Steena Holmes grew up in a small town in Canada and holds a Bachelors degree in Theology.

In 2012 she received the Indie Excellence Award. Holmes was inspired to write Finding Emma after experiencing a brief moment of horror when she’d thought her youngest daughter was missing.

She currently lives in Calgary with her husband and three daughters and loves to wake up to the Rocky Mountains each morning.







Stillwater Bay Series:
Stillwater Shores
Stillwater Rising
Stillwater Tides
Stillwater Deep

The Memory Child & The Memory Journal

Finding Emma series:
Finding Emma
Dear Jack
Emma's Secret
Dottie's Memories
Megan's Hope

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5 stars
490 (31%)
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378 (24%)
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114 (7%)
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27 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 203 reviews
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,026 reviews2,626 followers
November 16, 2014

Jenn Crowne could not pull herself out of the hell hole she had fallen into – a month ago the devastating shooting at the school her ten year old son Bobby and thirteen year old daughter Charity attended had changed their lives forever. And now the school was opening for a half day before the summer break to give the children some kind of closure. Jenn was determined Charity wouldn’t attend – she couldn’t face the place where she had lost her son, and was sure other parents must feel the same.

Charlotte Stone was mayor of Stillwater Bay and her husband Jordan was principal of the devastated school – twelve children and two teachers had lost their lives on that terrible day – but Charlotte was determined to bring her town back together, to find some sense of closure and move forward. The summer months with the local influx of tourists would be the help the community needed she hoped, so the usual summer activities – the Teddy Bear’s Picnic; the fair – all would go ahead. But there were tensions and simmering resentments among some of the residents; moving forward was proving harder for some than others, though they all grieved and would for a very long time.

But as Charlotte tried to keep the town together, she found herself at odds with her best friend Jenn. The difference in them was profound – Charlotte hadn’t lost a child; she didn’t even have children – how could she possibly understand? Plus Jenn’s husband Robert was burying himself in his work, and Charlotte had noticed Jordan wasn’t himself either. What would be the outcome of the horror that had hit the little community of Stillwater Bay that day? Could they all move past it; could they come to terms with what had happened?

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel by Steena Holmes. She is an accomplished storyteller – I have read a couple of her books now, and will be continuing to delve into her work. The tension, the struggle to overcome and work through the grief was heartbreaking, and the way the author handled this was excellent. Some of the characters are heartwarming, some are so broken you wonder if they will ever recover. But then the support of their friends was there too. But don’t get the impression this is a terribly sad book – it’s not. It’s a book that will make you realize there is hope out there, always. I have no hesitation in recommending Stillwater Rising highly.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy to read and review.
Profile Image for Cathy.
399 reviews1 follower
November 11, 2014
I got a copy of Stillwater Rising from Netgalley. Its due to be published in November. This is a book you don’t want to miss. It’s an intense read about a school shooting in a small town. We get to find out how it affected some of the families and even the mother of the boy that was the shooter. There are some that blame the mother of the boy and even the mother blames herself. The grieving process is not a simple one and it takes time to work through. One of Mrs Holmes best books yet!
Profile Image for Cheryl.
5,067 reviews183 followers
November 17, 2014
This is a powerful story. So with a powerful story you need strong, good characters. They need to be able to evoke emotions that make you want to love/hate, cry/laugh, cheer/scream with them. I may not have done all of this while reading this book but I sure did enjoy reading it. I liked the fact that this story focused on the after affects of the terrible incident with the three women. I have read other stories where it was focused on the students/victims or the before story leading up to the situation but not usually on the mothers. In the beginning, Jenn rubbed me the wrong way. I totally understood her feelings and why she was so mad and jaded but she came off really bitchy. Whereas, Charlotte I found to have a good balance of trying to be Mayor and at the same time a friend. Then there is Julia. She is the shooter's mother. I really felt sorry for her. Yes, I have read stories of school shooting but the stories are usually focused on the survivors and not the parents of the shoot. They also are victims. So what happens to them afterwards. I am sure the same thing that Julia went through in this story. With people egging her place, writing slur words on her house, among other things. The ending was a good one. I look forward to reading more books by this author.
Profile Image for Marcee Feddersen.
286 reviews13 followers
June 21, 2014

Hmmmm.....what to say. I really wanted to love this book. I'm a sucker for school shooting stories, I freaking loved Jodi Picoult's, "19 Minutes", and I was moved by Laura Kasischke's "The Life Before Her Eyes". So, it wasn't the subject matter that bothered me.....it was the the way the story didn't really move.
In the first place, if you are going to do a book about a school shooting, it's a great idea to actually set the stage for your characters. Describe what happened, put some detail into it (not gory death details, but the event, the feelings, the experience from the victim and/or the shooter's viewpoint).
Holmes starts the book with one of the main characters, Jenn, drowning in her grief. Throughout the book, the portrayal of Jenn is inconsistent. Is she an alcoholic? I don't know. Nothing is mentioned about it until midway through the book and I have no idea how much she drank before her son died (her son never felt like a real person, that I actually cared about). Does she want the school shut down? She changes her mind about that a few times. Is her marriage in trouble? One conversation at the beach with some other lower class townspeople instantly changes her feelings about everything, she is suddenly ready to let go of her anger and grief and move forward for ice cream with her husband and daughter.
I know that I was supposed to feel for Jenn, but honestly, I just found her unsympathetic and annoying. I felt like the book kept setting her husband, Robert, up to have a deep, dark secret that never materialized. It seemed like he was harboring a hidden agenda when he began spending time with Jenn, taking the day off to go to the cemetery, suddenly discussing how much he missed his son. But in the end, it was apparently not motivated by anything. And I mean anything. I never got the idea that he cared very much about his son or his marriage.
The town mayor, Charlotte, apparently loves her town more than anything - she want to fix everyone and pretend like the shooting never happened. She also wants everyone to rally around the shooter's mom, who is currently having her house vandalized and facing eviction. But between running the town and everyone's lives, she notices her husband, Jordan, doesn't seem to be basking in his town hero status. Honestly, I had figured out the big plot twist by the middle of the book, but what is truly amazing, is that I didn't care.
On the last page, the "bomb" is dropped that Jordan is "Gabe's absentee father". Ooookaayyy....lots of kids have absentee fathers, they don't suddenly go shoot up a bunch of little kids over it. It just didn't make sense. There was no detail on why the shooter's mother, Julia, would move herself and her son to the small town where his father lived, why this wonderful citizen would have denied his own child, how the details of his parentage were revealed and why it made him so murderous.
Although this book had great promise, it seemed like the author didn't do enough to tie the story together and she didn't give the kind of details and storytelling that make you care about the characters.
I can only give it 2/5 stars. Boo.
Profile Image for Elaine.
604 reviews231 followers
November 12, 2014
I really liked Memory Child by Steena Holmes so was looking forward to this one which, whilst I enjoyed, did leave me with a feeling of dissatisfaction at the end.

It is the story of a small town in America that has been torn apart by a school shooting. I haven’t read 19 Minutes but I have read We Need To Talk About Kevin. I found Stillwater Rising to be a much more accessible, flowing read, despite a few flaws. There are two main female characters that we follow. Jenn, mother of Bobby who died in the shooting and her best friend Charlotte, town mayor and wife to the school principal. Both agree about the need to move forward but have very different ideas on the best way to do that and their friendship is about to be tested to the limited. A third female character is Julia who we don’t see that much of in the book, although her presence dominates the whole story. She is the mother of Gabe, the boy who shot dead and killed 12 people at the school before shooting himself. I particularly liked the way that the author showed how the town had turned its anger towards Gabe onto Julia and ostracised her, trying to force her to pack up and leave.

It is a good, easy flowing read for the most part but I did feel that whilst we got to know why the town was grieving, I never got a sense of who they were grieving for. Apart from Bobby and Gabe, no other casualties from that day are named or referred to. I think if I knew more about the people who had died, it would have helped me connect with the townspeople as a whole.

I did not like the ending one little bit. One character has a huge bombshell to drop and this is revealed right at the end (although I had already worked it out) which is really nothing more than the first chapter of the next book in the series. Everything is left very much in the air on a cliffhanger and in all honesty, I felt a little cheated when I got to the last page. Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.
Profile Image for Linda.
737 reviews79 followers
August 8, 2014
I got a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

It is by far my favorite book so far by a wonderful Author, Steena Holmes. This book got me from the beginning and kept me all the way through. I loved how it had told about each of the different characters in each chapter.

It is about a school shooting that was very sad. I felt so bad for the children, parents who lost children and the mother of the boy that did the shooting. Even though some of the parents blamed his mother I felt very sorry for her. She was in no way responsible for what her son did and it just might surprise you who is truly to blame... I was shocked until near the end.

It was a story that really touches the heart of anyone that knows about school shootings or has had a family member killed due to this type of shooting. Of course it also is very sad when any child is killed at such a young age anyway. There was also a few teachers killed in this story but the main story was about the town pulling together to get through this tragedy. Even though some had a lot of anger and it seemed their families would possibly not stay together because of this, there is always hope.

It was a very moving story and I can't wait to read the next story or the one that comes before this one. There are still some secrets to come and I am so looking forward to reading about how things do play out.

It was a definite 5 star book and one that has stayed with me. I can't believe anyone can read this story and not be touched by it. Wonderfully told from start to finish.
Profile Image for Sherri Smith.
17 reviews1 follower
January 31, 2015
Wow! What an Ending!

The whole storyline is fantastic, the way Steena writes keeps me captivated. I get all wrapped up in getting to know each of the characters, what makes them tick. Then as the story is ending I'm ready to say goodbye. Stillwater Rising was a fascinating storyline, kept my attention and allowed me to become friends with each of the characters. The ending was closed sure and acceptance and when Jenn ran into Julia and made the choice that would change their lives....I was a blubbering mess! So after wiping away tears I went on to read the last chapter and it completely blew me away! Didn't expect it! Thank you, Steena, for such an awesome story!!
Profile Image for Kayleigh.
144 reviews22 followers
January 28, 2016
Another book that brought to life a mother's worst fears! Losing a child, especially in a place where they are supposed to be safe... I get anxiety over the thought.

I love reading Steena's novels because they are so easy to relate to... even though it's heart wrenching to do so! I can't wait for the next in the series!
Profile Image for Stacy Grimmett.
36 reviews2 followers
July 19, 2015
Just 'meh.' Deep content, shallow writing. Passed the time quickly reading in the pool, read almost the entire book in 2 hours or so
Profile Image for Vivian.
Author 2 books137 followers
December 2, 2014
3.5 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.
Profile Image for Tara - Running 'n' Reading.
316 reviews95 followers
November 20, 2014
First off, let me just provide a disclaimer: I do not have children and can not begin to imagine what it would be like to lose a child in a tragic event like the one portrayed in this novel; however, Steena Holmes does an unbelievable job in describing and detailing, through these powerful characters, the emotion that comes in the aftermath of a terrible event. I found myself wondering how Steena was able to inject all of this emotion into these characters and what experience she drew from to make this such a powerful piece of literature.

The novel is not about the school shooting, not about the children or the parents or the town; instead it's about how all of these things come together and affect everyone after the fact. I really, really enjoyed the perspective of this story; in my experience, the actual tragedy is usually the story. We usually hear, read, watch and experience so many of the details surrounding an event like this: the story of the shooter, the gruesome deaths, the people who responded, etc. In this story, all of those details are minor in comparison to what happens after the tragedy.

In my work with a trauma unit in a hospital, I've discovered that many people have an instinctual capability to handle a tragedy during its early stages; it's not until the adrenaline, stress and need to get things done has finally faded that the wheels fall off. People are left with only their emotions, their sadness, the heartbreaking reality of what has transpired and this is when nothing seems to help except for the community with which they surround themselves and their willingness to talk about what's happened. This is what Steena Holmes has uncovered for her readers: the raw aftermath and the way in which it changes people, relationships, communities and our culture.

I was completed drawn in by the individual stories of these characters and their respective responses to what they'd experienced; this is not a novel I will soon forget. I highly recommend Stillwater Rising to any reader; you will find something that draws you in, as well, and you will be left thinking about what forgiveness means for you and those with whom you are in relationship. Definitely add this one to your reading list!
Profile Image for Tonya.
1,122 reviews
March 25, 2015
After losing her son in an elementary school shooting that devastates the tight-knit community of Stillwater Bay, Jennifer Crowne finds herself unable to settle back into her role of perfect stay-at-home mom and committee organizer. Meanwhile, her best friend, Mayor Charlotte Stone, struggles to keep the town together, and Charlotte’s husband, the school principal, may not be the hero everyone thinks him to be.

As they try to heal from this irrevocable trauma, Jenn and Charlotte find themselves at a crossroads—within the town and within their friendship. For Jenn, broken and grieving, there is no going back, and she demands that the school be closed so that she can bury the past. Yet Charlotte is equally desperate to hold the town together, fighting the school closure and helping the shooter’s mother regain her place in the community. Jenn and Charlotte’s relationship is put to the ultimate test as each weighs her own interests against the bonds of their friendship.

-- My thoughts. Told in several different voices, we learn lots, and there is one sure mystery. This is a tragedy we have to deal with these days. It really makes you think about what would you do. Holmes does this in an excellent way, weaving a tale that makes you want more of Stillwater, more of its inhabitants, more of the small town and everything even if it is bad.

I can understand the anger Jennifer had towards Julia. I also understand the feeling that you look back and wonder what you could have done to stop it, seen signs. But we have to move on. I like when she goes to the beach and then sees the anger that Merrill's husband has. Charlotte is the mayor and she is just trying to be the glue and keep everyone together. I love the coffee shop, I hope it is included more...

Great storyline, Holmes is a fabulous storyteller and I think you will come to love Stillwater and it will end way too quickly and I can't wait for the next part!
Profile Image for Elaine.
3,271 reviews100 followers
November 16, 2014
First of all I’ll admit that this isn’t the sort of book that I would automatically want to read- indeed I’d probably avoid it! Having said that, I have to admit that I found it sensitively written, in a manner that really sucked me into the dilemmas facing the different members of the community following the death of ten children and two teachers in a school shoot out carried out by a student from the village who shot and killed himself, too. Such tragic events unfortunately bring out the worst in some aspects of individuals and the media. How the villagers had coped with everything is told from the points of view of different individuals, focussing especially on Jenn (whose son Bobby was killed) and Charlotte (the mayor who wants to hold the town together, working to fight the school closure and to shop the shooter’s mum to maintain her place in the community and not be victimised because of the tragic consequences of the actions of her son). Their attitudes, grief, relations with other villagers and what happens are all brilliantly and sensitively portrayed by the author, who shows how time and events can also impact on the attitudes of the characters. It is a heartbreaking story and is obviously the start of a series as it finishes with a real bombshell and cliffhanger. I have since learned there is a prequel to this entitled ‘Before the Storm’ and other books in the series are to be published soon.

A heart breaking story to read only when you feel you can cope with the dreadful aftermath to the shootings - but it is still a brilliant book and highly recommended!
February 19, 2016
I don't give 5 stars lightly. Subject matter of this book worried me but it was beautifully written. Yes, I cried.... several times. Not all sad tears, some happy tears. I was highly invested in these characters. I longed for a happy ending for Jenn & her family. I prayed for the friendships to remain despite the different outlooks on the situations. I grieved with the town and felt uplifted at the coming together. I felt so much compassion for the mother of the shooter. She was not a monster, she was also a grieving mother and had to endure even more knowing that her son was the one who took all of those lives. The twist at the end was good, even though I had figured it out about 1/2 way through (I'm good at that stuff). Reading the other in the series next even though it's more like a prequel to this one and tells about before the shooting. Hoping the author will write an after too as I would love to see where these families and this lovely town end up years later. Only negative I have to say about this book is that I wanted to know more about the reporter's personal story. I felt there was something there, but it never came out. Hoping another book is in the works where maybe that will be answered!
Profile Image for Erin.
48 reviews6 followers
July 12, 2014
I received "Stillwater Rising" as an ARC. I had recently discovered Steena Holmes after reading two of her books and was hooked. When the opportunity presented itself to get an ARC of her newest book, which is due to release in Nov 2014, I jumped on it.

Stillwater Rising is the story of a tight knit community torn apart and put to the test after a local teen goes into the elementary school and fatally shoots several children and teachers. Secrets are kept...relationships are put to the test - not only those between friends but also between spouses and parents and children.

In a day and age when school shootings aren't out of the realm of possibility, this book hits home. It's easy to sit back and say how you would react, but when in that situation you find yourself put to the test. I found myself sympathizing with Jennifer - I understood why she was withdraw...why she had turned to alcohol...why she had so much hate ...when you lose your elementary aged child to a school shooting, it's so easy to be so overcome with so many feelings and lose sight of everything else.

You'll definitely want to add "Stillwater Rising" to your "To Be Read" list.
Profile Image for Michelle Bolton.
114 reviews
March 20, 2015
"Sometimes words aren't enough. And sometimes they are too much."

Stillwater Rising is a book about the aftermath of an elementary school shooting in the small town of Stillwater Bay. Jennifer Crowne is a stay at home mom who has lost her son and is best friends with the town's mayor, Charlotte Stone, who is trying to hold the town together. The best friends have differing opinions on how and when the school should resume and how to move forward after such a horrific tragedy. The characters in this book are well developed and I felt as though I knew each one of them. I was a little apprehensive to start reading this book, because of the subject matter, but I am so glad that I did. I found myself with tears in my eyes during parts of this book, but I also found the storyline to be very positive focusing on hope for the future. I really enjoy books like this that showcase the relationships between the characters and where I can feel their emotions. My favorite line from the book: "The heart of a town isn't an idea, a purpose or even a mission statement. It's a person." I really loved this book, it kept my interest until the end and I can't wait to read Stillwater Deep!
Profile Image for SherrieB.
164 reviews
October 31, 2014
Holmes new book deals with the aftermath of a school shooting. Fans of Jodi Picoult’s 19 Minutes might worry that Holmes book may be similar and thus unworthy. Rest assured, this is a solid book that stands on its own.

Most of the book focuses on two women, friends, who react differently to the shooting; the mayor, Charlotte Stone whose husband is the school principal and Jennifer Crowne who lost a son in the violence. Charlotte wants the town to heal, to move forward, and to understand that the shooter’s mother is a victim also. Jennifer wants the school torn down and blames the shooter’s mother for the violence. The schism this causes between these women overflows to encompass everyone around them. It is Holmes ability to make these women come alive that makes this a great book.

While the book does have a resolution, Holmes throws one last curve ball on the last page, and it is masterful!

Due to be published November 11th, this is a book to buy as soon as it comes out.

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Kim.
1,078 reviews22 followers
September 14, 2016
I found this little gem at the library, walking down the isles and randomly grabbing whatever and deciding to try new authors out, looking for that rare new favorite. I liked this authors style of writing, and I'm already itching to get ahold of books 2 and 3 of this series, and her other books sound just as intriguing. I liked how this author took the whole school shooting thing and focused not on the shooter, or victims, but the families, and towns around the shooting. It followed several characters, victims parents, a reporter, the mayor, the shooters mother, there was the anger and grief and small town rallying, hints of secrets and some pretty interesting view points on it. I enjoyed the book.
Profile Image for Stacy.
825 reviews1 follower
January 12, 2016
Whenever I think of the people of Newtown, CT, I can't imagine what they've gone through and how they go on. This book takes place after a school shooting. Very few details about the shooting are revealed, but stories are told from the viewpoints of several parents and townspeople who are hurting from loss. One viewpoint that was of interest was the shooter's mom. Most of us wouldn't be concerned about her plight, but this really made me consider it.

I liked most of the characters in this series and how they interacted. I'll definitely read more of this series.

Profile Image for Barb.
Author 4 books57 followers
January 4, 2015
This book's impact is weakened by its multiple points of view. While chapter divisions coincide with changes in POV, the reader never gets a good look at one person's thoughts and feelings before a chapter is over and another person is front and center.
In addition, the book ends on a cliffhanger to set up a future novel in the series. While I enjoy a good series, I'd prefer that each book stand on its own, not leave the reader hanging.
Profile Image for Pamela Devereux.
975 reviews2 followers
January 4, 2015
Amazing book

This book was beautifully written. Jenn who's son was killed, numbing herself with alcohol. Her husband working himself like crazy so he doesn't have to deal with Bobby's death. Charity just trying to be like a normal kid again. Then you have Charlotte, the mayor and her husband Jordan, the school principal. Each chapter coming from the perspective of either Jenn or Charlotte. The ending was a surprise.
Profile Image for Jazmine.
656 reviews14 followers
July 15, 2016
Intense subject matter, but really amazing book! It's beautifully written as we follow Charlotte, Jenn & Julia as they try to make peace with each other and themselves after the school shooting that left their sons dead. The only reason I didn't give this book a full 5 star review is because it ends in a cliff hanger, as we don't get to find out what Gabe said to Jordan. Will definitely be looking for the second book!
Profile Image for Allison.
145 reviews2 followers
October 17, 2016

I kept waiting for something to happen... I am actually surprised that I finished this book. The author kept hinting that something was about to happen.... It never did. I really enjoyed the other book by this author but this one was quite simply boring. Oh well.
Profile Image for Diane .
220 reviews
January 24, 2020
Free reads can be so rewarding. As a mother you can (hopefully) only imagine the pain these people and the community are experiencing. As school shootings become, almost a constant in the news, this story attempts to bring the aftermath into perspective. A great standalone, but the background clues may encourage you to follow...
Life stories never end that abruptly.
Profile Image for Tonni Callan.
54 reviews23 followers
June 28, 2018
Poignant, and Hard hitting

This is the 6th book or so that I have read of Steena Holmes’.
Also different! No “ cookie cutter” books . I love the uniqueness of each of her novels.
Each one has relatable characters and each one I have read has a very current story.
As much as I love the author’s work, I did not love this one quite as much.
Actually, I loved it right up until the last page. It just stopped. I realize it is a series, so did not take off more stars.
I do think the very ending could use a good tweak.
That being said, I am off the get the next one in the series.
Can’t wait to see wha’s next for this author.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,917 reviews35.3k followers
July 30, 2014
3.5 Stars (A few flaws --but overall a story like this always allows 'us' to look inside our souls)!

A small community faces the horrific tragedy of a grammar school shooting....
I've read other books about school shootings --plus, we've all read about them in our 'real lives' (almost unbearable to comprehend) ---

Authors Jodi Picoult and Lionel Shriver are both two authors that come to thought who write books about 'issues-at-hand': including each wrote a book dealing with school shootings.

In Steena Holmes book, she provides us with a major 'theme' running through this novel (yes, characters are grieving the deaths of their children, suffering the inevitably 'community-harmony', while confronting the massive-violence), ----
but she also asks us (the readers, while the characters are going head-to head), QUESTIONS to ponder....

This small community sits with uncertainty:
#1- Either allow the children to take the steps needed to move towards healing --move forward --and return to normal school days.
#2 - Demolish the entire school building --add a memorial in its place. Build a new school elsewhere.

I asked 'myself': What's MY view?

Another Question to ask myself? How would I separate my feelings from 'The killer' and the killer's mother?

Each time I read a book on this subject --I 'hope' I might learn something new to add my 'part' in STOPPING these REAL events in our lives.
I was reminded once again of the impermanence in our lives --
How in the hell do we deal with them in any type of meaningful way?

The little community in this novel demonstrates the way THEY DID IT. This novel is an 'opening'. (it would make a good discussion book) ---Allowing readers to ask --and ask --and ask the many questions 'together' about community and the dealings of extreme upheaval.

Profile Image for Jennifer.
481 reviews1 follower
January 2, 2017
After losing her son in an elementary school shooting, Jennifer Crowne finds herself unable to settle back into her role of stay-at-home mom and committee organizer. Meanwhile, her best friend, Mayor Charlotte Stone, struggles to keep the town together, and Charlotte's husband, the school principal, may not be the hero everyone thinks him to be.

As they try to heal, Jenn and Charlotte find themselves at a crossroads within the town and within their friendship. For Jenn, broken and grieving, there is no going back, and she demands that the school be closed so that she can bury the past. Yet Charlotte is equally desperate to hold the town together, fighting the school closure and helping the shooter's mother regain her place in the community.

I was intrigued by the premise of this book. It seems like every week there is a story in the headlines about another school shooting and I enjoy books that have a "true crime" feel to them. However, Stillwater Rising, held no emotion. The story never "rose". I thought for sure that I would sob through the whole book while the characters dealt with the loss. Nope! It all fell very flat. I didn't care about any of the characters at all. There wasn't enough character development to help the story grow to what it could have been. Jenn lost her child but I could find no sympathy for her, she just annoyed me and I'm not sure why. Disappointed in this book. It had great potential.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for karmaforlifechick.
122 reviews15 followers
November 19, 2014
sitename] http://www.karmaforlifechick.com http://www.karmaforlifechick.com/book... My Review

I received a copy of Stillwater Rising by Steena Holmes in exchange for an honest review.

This book follows family and friends from a small community called Stillwater Bay during their attempt to come to grips with the loss of a son and brother.  Something we've seen in the recent years far too many times.  A child gets a gun and goes into a school and opens fire on innocent victims, many lives are lost and in many cases no one ever knows the reason why.  Jenn and her husband and daughter have lost their child and brother and each find a way to deal with the senseless loss.  Family relationships are tested and friendships are on the line when everyone, based on their own perception of the situation, take opposing sides where the shooter's mother is concerned.  It asks the questions, who's to blame?; society? the parents? in this case a single mom.  and if we find someone to blame - what would change, the loss of life will remain the same.  Hate, anger, vengeance - an eye for an eye?  nothing will change.  No one knows the answer and this book gets us thinking and will get into the head of any parent.



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November 9, 2015
Trite, repetitive, annoying

I must say, I'm surprised that no one gave this book a rating of 1. I've read far better Amazon recommendations that have been shredded by other reviewers, so when the lowest rating was a 2, I thought maybe the book would be decent. It wasn't. The author's poor grammar, repetitive phrases, and the editing errors drove me to distraction. I did two searches for phrases that popped up over and over: "Her lips thinned" and "wrinkled her nose." Eight repetitions for one, nine for the other. When I find myself focused on how many times an author uses the same annoying phrases over and over, rather than on the story, there's a problem. This book seemed to have been written by a juvenile with a poor grasp of the rules of basic grammar, more like a high-school student's creative writing assignment than the creation of a professional author. There were so many errors, I feel like the editor must have merely skimmed this book rather than given it his or her full attention. I agree with other critiques in regards to the ending. What a waste of time. This was the first book I've read by this author, and will also be the last.
Profile Image for Alicia Smock.
68 reviews4 followers
July 31, 2018
Can you imagine this? You are a parent taking your child to school on a normal weekday. You drop them off, tell them “I love you,” then head off to wherever your next destination is. Hours later, you receive a call telling you that there has been an incident at the school and that your child is dead… What would you do? How could you possibly cope with a tragedy such as this? In Stillwater Rising, the first in her Stillwater Bay Series, author Steena Holmes expresses the point of view from multiple women who endure this very tragedy and offers a heartbreaking, yet hopeful story for fans of her work as well as to new readers.

Jennifer Crowne struggles daily to live a normal life as a mother and as a committee organizer. How can she be normal when her son was killed in an elementary school shooting? Yet not everyone feels like this for not everyone lost a child that day. Charlotte Stone, Jennifer’s best friend and Mayor of Stillwater Bay, must look beyond the tragedy and keep the town together, no matter the emotional cost. This puts a rift in the friendship between these two women as they both deal with struggles the other will never understand. Now, they face each other on opposing sides: Jennifer wants the school closed down and a memorial put in its place while Charlotte wants to keep everything the same while also aiding the mother of the shooter to find her place in the community once more. It is a tough time for everyone within this small seaside town and the only way the town and its people will make it through this ordeal is with hope, strength, and courage.

Reading about tragedies is always difficult, but they are terrible events that have the possibility of happening. There are even people out there now who have endured terrible tragedies of their own, who have lost loved ones because of terrible incidents. However, there is something amazing about these people, for even though they have endured pain and hardship, they had the strength to heal and the hope to keep living day after day. That right there is truly amazing and beautiful and Holmes commemorates these people within Stillwater Rising by making her characters and her town rise up from the ashes of a terrible tragedy and discover the strength to keep living. She even dedicates her book to these people, truly humbled by their strength.

The talented Holmes expresses her beautiful and flowing writing style with her detailed descriptions, her well-plotted story, and her amazingly developed characters. All of these elements paint a clear picture in the minds of readers and makes them want to keep turning pages. She makes her story realistic, making it seem at times like the town will never heal from this tragedy, then at other times like the town is gradually on its way to being healed. This is all too true for it most certainly takes time to heal from hard times, but it is possible.

This message is actually very inspiring to another audience of readers as well: those who are enduring a hard time in life. There will always be tough moments in life, some more difficult than others can hope to endure, and it will seem as if one cannot get through these times and be happy again. Holmes’ message of having strength and hope reaches out to those people, as well. There is always a way to pick oneself back up again and it is always easier to pick oneself up with the help of others: loved ones, friends, complete strangers. One must fight and win their inner battle, but they must also know that they are never alone in their fight.

Holmes’ four main characters are what truly bring the story to life and express the aforementioned message to the readers. No one truly knows how they would react after a tragic event. Would one step up and do whatever it took to help others or would one shut down emotionally? Would one constantly blame whoever was at fault or would one be able to forgive and move on in life? There must be dozens of different ways people would react and each of Holmes’ four main characters has her own unique personality and handles the aftermath of the school shooting differently.

There is Jennifer, the woman who can’t seem to get past her son’s death, who can’t forgive someone who is not at fault, and whose husband and daughter, unlike her, just want to get past it all. Next is Charlotte, a woman who did not lose anyone, but as Mayor must be strong for her town and keep it together, and who is proud of her husband, principal of the elementary school and hero of the tragedy, yet he never admits to being one. The most heart-wrenching is Julia, the mother of the boy who attacked the school and then was killed himself, who only wants to say goodbye to her son, yet is forced to stay indoors due to the town’s residents blaming her for raising her son “wrong.” And finally, Samantha, a reporter who is the last to remain in the town after the incident because she believes there is something more to the story as a whole and begs her editor for time to stay and find out what it is.

Stillwater Rising is a story about a terrifying tragedy and a story of healing from it. It is a story of pain and being able to have the strength to keep living even through that pain. It is a story about having the courage to be that light for others and to have everyone join together to make a once proud community strong once more. Holmes impresses once again with her storytelling and being able to evoke all kinds of emotions with each passing chapter. Her characters carry the story on seamlessly and even make readers wonder how they would react if they were thrust into that situation. A wonderful story about strength, hope, and picking oneself up again, Stillwater Rising is only the first in Holmes’ Stillwater Bay Series. Upon completion of this book, readers should be on the lookout for book two, Stillwater Tides.
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