Margaret is 91, lives in a house in Tennessee on a mountaintop. The house across from the pond from hers has remained empty since the woman that had lived there had died. Empty., until Jennifer and her four year old son moved in, an occurrence that both intrigues and upsets Margaret. She had come to prize her solitude, but she can't help but be curious. Jennifer has come, seeking a new life for her and her son.
The structure of this book is rather simple, each chapter narrated by Margaret or Jennifer and a little later on by Zoe. While the structure is simple the unraveling of the plot is brilliant. Slowly the reader comes to realize that both these women have secrets in their pasts. The novel is a quiet one, told in linear fashion but with many flashbacks to let the reader know what happened in their pasts. Margaret tells hers or most of hers in conversations with Jennifer because she wants to leave a written record of her life, having been a nurse in WWII, and had seen many terrible things. Margaret's curiosity soon turns into an obsession. She will not stop until she learns all of Jennifer's secrets. There is no overt air of suspense to this novel just a feeling of dread, or at least that is how I felt.
Not sure if I really liked any of these characters, but I understood them. Beaten down in different ways by life they has each put up a shell that was hard to break through. I do love that the author avoided a cliched ending, instead wrote on that I felt was more realistic to the storyline and the characters past actions. A good book that takes a fair amount of patience, especially at the beginning.
I think the motto of this novel is: If you have secrets do not move anywhere near an elderly, single woman.
Alice Pearse is a likable character, a character many of us can identify with. She is a mother to three young children, married and works three days a week at a magazine, reviewing books. That is until her husband finds out he did not make partner and wants to open his own law office, which means Alice must find a full time job until his own office is up and running.
She is offered what she thinks is a dream job, a new type of book store that offers first editions, e-books and other things in awesome setting. Until things change and her dream job morphs into something different.
This is a novel about books vs. e-books, her friend's independent bookstore versus a whole new reading experience. There are humorous bits, usually coming from the mouths of babes, (we all know kids say the darndest things),. A novel that asks the question, Is it ever possible to really have it all? To find out what Alice decides you need to read the novel. A lighter read, but one that deals with some important issues, issues relating to what is called the sandwich generation among others.
ARC from publisher.
3.5 I am a very picky memoir reader. Don't get me wrong, I love those that turn out to be interesting, not pity memoirs as I call them. This book is done well and I loved reading this author's thoughts and conversations about everything and anything. The title What Come Next, came from her wondering what her life will be like after the death of her husband.
This book celebrates her thirty-five year platonic friendship with Chuck. I loved her relationships and writings about her dogs, past and present. Her love for them definitely shines, as does those relating to her family. Not all the news in these writings are good news, but I feel that the author let us be privy to her innermost thoughts and feelings. I could have happily kept reading, long after the book ended. Her writing is beautiful, thoughtful and honest, amusing at times too as in this passage,
"Then I remember an insight I had when I woke up this morning. The words "yo" and "like" (when beginning a sentence) are not parts of speech at all! They are punctuation. "It's like starting a sentence with a comma," I tell Chuck, "isn't' that brilliant?"
"With a little refinement," he answers, "it might achieve the level of a thought."
Good memoir, with many good thoughts, I quite liked this one.
3.5 This suspenseful and psychological thriller can be representative of many things. Dysfunctional families, keeping problems in the home, alcoholism, narcissism, how two damaged people can come together to create a nightmare of a life. The disastrous effects of a emotionally empty childhood, showing us how little we actually know about what goes on behind closed doors even if we consider them good friends. The many masks people can wear and how easily we can be deceived by charm.
Yes, all these things are in this book but it is done very well. The author uses a loving family, a normal family of you will, to offer as a sharp contrast to the one that is dysfunctional. Took a while for me to figure out who was telling the truth. A good solid and well thought out thriller.
ARC from NetGalley.
3.5 Jack Taylor is a wreck of a man, a heavy drinker, blunt to the extent of rudeness, with very few he can call friend, addicted to violence but if there is a miscarriage of justice to right he is the one you want on your side. He reads like there is no tomorrow and has his own moral compass.
The novel is written to reflect the personality of Jack, blunt and to the point. There are no wasted words here and the humor is the sarcastic type or dark irony.
A very different type of main character, yet something in this series speaks to me. Maybe it shows that there is some good in even the flawed and that there is someone there to right a wrong. In this one he meets his match in a young woman he comes in contact with, a young woman who changes her personalities like a chameleon. There is one part of this one I had a hard time with and if you are a animal lover you will too.
A different type of series, one more bold and in your face but I love it. Many quotes from authors in this one which made it even more interesting.
ARC from NetGalley.
Beautiful words that form sentences that makes one stop and think. A exquisitely written story, very descriptive, one can picture the scenes down to the minutest of detail.
Friendship, the most expressive definition of a friendship between two men from different backgrounds that I have ever read. Betrayal, love, pride and at the last a definition of aging that is searing.
I cannot say enough about the experience of reading this book except to say it is one that I will long remember and that I must seek out more of this amazing author's work.
One quote from the book had me thinking about it on and off all day,
"It is not true that fate slips silently into our lives. It steps in through the door that we have opened, and we invite it to enter"
I feel in love with Kurson's Shadow Divers, so when this came up I just has to grab it. These divers are amazing men, the amount of time and money this takes is astronomical and this plays havoc on lives and relationships.
In this book they are looking for a pirate's ship, the Golden Fleece of John Bannister. Bannister is the only pirate that actually beat the Royal Navy. There is so much more to, this book, a history of piracy, the leasing pirates of the time and how they fought and the treasures they stole. Some of the descriptions of what they did to captains and crews of the ships that fought back were quite graphic but relatively short. An incredible time for piracy. One thing I found most interesting is that there was a true democracy on these pirate ships, way before democracy was even a thought elsewhere.
There was quite a bit of bouncing back and forth, but it was all interesting to me, so it was okay and did not take away from my enjoyment of the book. Interesting reading about this because I never had to great an interest in pirates, these men and Munson seem to make everything and anything interesting.
ARC from librarything.
3.5 Sometimes things are not as they appear, and in McMahon's books this is usually the case.
Two sisters, one sister and an uncle go missing. Years later three friends find a big secret, a secret that end their friendship.
Takes place in an old hotel, one built with a tower. Starts off rather innocent and slow, than before you know it you are absorbed in the story and the characters.
Strange, creepy, unbelievable all the things usually associated with this author's novels. The things that go bump in the night can sometimes be real. Another amazing read, good escapism.
ARC from publisher.
Much of the history in this book is actually true, the vets not being given their bonus pay, the racial injustice blacks faced after serving in the armed forces and then returning home to their families. The vets sent to the Florida Keys to build roads and the abysmal conditions they lived in. The hurricane that hit Islamorada in the Keys, though in this book it is called Heron Bay.
But what makes the story
our the people on the island, this is the part that is created and the author did a wonderful job. One gets the full force of racial segregation, relationships that are not what they should be and even a little voodoo thrown on for a little magical realism.
When the storm hits it is horrific and powerful, as are the descriptions. The desperation, the fear, which brings out the worst and the best in people. Intense and violent, the few whom are left after the storm must work to bring their community back together.
Wonderful, solid storytelling, using historical events as a background for a little known period of history. As always the author's note is
appreciated. One interesting fact is that when the actual hurricane hit the Keys, Hemingway was living in Key West and was one of the first people who came to help.
ARC from NetGalley.
Sometimes a story just grabs you, either for the plot or for the characters. In this one it was some of both, I loved the characters, their flaws, their hope and dreams, their struggles, but I also loved the plot. Young love, trying to become a mother for Letty, after a very long time when she let her parents raise her two children, Alex fifteen and Letty six. Loved Letty, her exuberance, her determination and her fun personality. Some of her antics had me laughing.
I loved this author previous novels but I feel that this novel is more tightly structured, that she has definitely matured as a writer. She writes with a light touch on some serious issues. The struggle for immigrants, especially undocumented ones to learn the language and to survive speaking very English. The constant fear of deportation. The bullying and struggles young people who are at all different or have physical challenges have in schools in so called less than ideal areas.
Loved all the bird talk, Alex, his grandfather and the feathers. The tie that will forever bind the pair. A very good story that flows well. Curious to see what this author tackles next.
ARC from publisher.
3.5 Seems lately I have read a number of books where I thoroughly disliked the main character but found the book fascinating nonetheless.
Henry is a made up person, he is someone who reinvents himself whenever necessary. A trauma suffered when he was young sent him on to the path of self preservation at any cost. But who is he really?
A good dark read of missing people, finding out what is true or not and trying to figure out what is real or not. Some good writing, some likable and some unlikable characters, a psychological twist novel without alot of graphic violence, all on all a good read.
ARC from publisher.
3.5 Loved the different formats, e-mails, journal entries, newspaper articles and comments, used in telling this story. A small town, a newborn baby found dead, and an investigation ensues. Secrets are revealed and some of them go back years, and some of the leaders of this town are exposed. Nothing is as it seems.
A fast paced and intriguing story with some interesting characters, some that will do, anything to keep the truth from coming out.
ARC from Publisher.
Aron was a young boy living with his mom and dad in a nice house in the Warsaw countryside. When Hitler invades Poland all Jews are gathered up and relocated to what will become known as the Warsaw ghetto. I, think this is the first book I have read that takes place only in the ghetto. The people starving, a street smart Aaron and a group of young boys find ways to get out of the ghetto to bring back much needed items. The ghetto gets smaller and smaller as many come down with typhus and whole streets are closed off.
The random raids by the Nazis, men taken for work crews, promises of food, and never seen again. Eventually the deportations start and Aron who has lost both parents comes under the care of Janusz Korczak, a man running an orphanage trying to save as many of the children as he can.
Janusz Korczak is a real person and what a man He was. I looked him up on wiki and if you read this you, should to. A difficult book to read at times but a book that shows the relationships and hardships of the Jews living in this time and place. I was very impressed with the writing and the story.
ARC from publisher.
3.5 this is one of those quiet stories that creep up on you slowly. Three generations of women, starting in the 1920's, when the matriarch arrives with her husband from Poland. He find employment in the mines, but dies there as does her second husband, Boris. Alone she raises her three daughters, one who has some severe mental issues that is never really talked about in the beginning of the book. A few family secrets will eventually come to light, discovered by Emily, a granddaughter who was basically raised by her grandmother. When she is older and finds out the secrets they will change much in her young life.
Loved the characters and Emily's relationship with her grandmother reminded me so much of the one I has with mine. Not that my mother was ill, but she worked and my grandparents pitched in. The grandmother was my favorite character. The writing is wonderful and it is hard to believe this is a first novel. A generational novel that shows how different members of a family can be and how the mother daughter relationship can be so difficult.
ARC from netgalley.
Moving to an inherited island in Scotland, this family wants only the chance to start over after the death of their daughter, one of a set on identical twins.
The setting was alternately beautiful and intimidating. Very descriptive writing and the suspense and tension rarely let up, throughout the entire book. But which twin died? Who is keeping secrets and is the twin that is left telling the truth?
A good, twisty and creepy, a little suspension of belief is needed here as we follow the unbelievable, and attempt to learn the secrets of that fatal day. Loved the black and white pictures before each chapter. Really helped me picture their location.
Good story that kept me reading to find out what would be the final reveal. Did I guess? No I am never food at that even though with all the mysteries I read one would think I would be a pro. Oh well.
ARC from publisher.
3.5 Edna O'Brien is an author I have always wanted to read but until now never have. Her first book Country Girls was banned in Ireland upon its release for its depiction of female sexuality. Her writing is elegantly descriptive and though their are a few stories I didn't really care for, there were some I absolutely loved.
The rug was one, a rug is unexpectedly delivered to a family, or is a beautiful purple rig and they spend time trying to guess who has sent this rug that they now all loves to them. There is of course s catch but it would a spoiler to tell you the rest. In another a young country girl is thrilled to be invited to her first party, but finds out things are not as she thought. And of course the mother, daughter story which I am always drawn too.
A wonderful collection of stories of want, love and failed expectations. Now I need to get my hands on Country Girls.
ARC from publisher.