Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Watching Edie - Book Review

When Heather shows up on Edie's doorstep, Edie is not exactly happy to see her high school friend. It's been so many years and she's tried to put all of the dark and painful memories behind her when she moved away. But Edie can feel Heather lurking and watching and waiting.

When Edie sinks into serious postpartum depression after the birth of her baby, she has no one to turn to. But Heather is there. Heather can help her pick up the pieces. Heather will take care of everything.

I was immediately freaked out by the atmosphere of danger and paranoia in Watching Edie by Camilla Way. Way does a fabulous job of building the tension and fear as Heather's obsession with Edie becomes apparent. It's dark and beautiful with surprising twists and turns that kept me constantly on edge.

Watching Edie was the kind of psychological thriller that I really enjoy. I love that I was surprised by the ending but that once I knew it, I could see the truth though the entire plot. It's dark and twisted and raw with human emotion, frailty, and obsession.

There is some foul language and some sexual content.

Watching Edie by Camilla Way is published by New American Library and released on August 2, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of the novel. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**

Friday, August 26, 2016

With Love From the Inside - Book Review

Grace has been on death row for over 17 years, sentenced for the murder of her baby son William. The new governor has declared a hard line on criminals and the date of her execution has been set. Grace has always maintained her innocence. She didn't murder William. She loved him deeply. Her last wish is to reconnect with her daughter Sophia and let her know just how much Grace has always loved her.

Sophia has tried to put the awful history of her family behind her. After her father died of a heart attack, Sophia left for college and stopped visiting her mother in prison. Now, Sophia is married to a handsome and successful doctor from an upper class family and her story cannot include this tainted history. On the first date, she told him that her parents were dead. But now, her mother's attorney has found her.

With Love From the Inside by Angela Pisel is a tender and emotionally rich novel about the love a mother feels for her child and how that love can sustain someone even in the most horrible of circumstances. This novel looks behind the stereotypes of women in prison and shows Grace as a strong and compassionate woman in spite of a system that is trying to break her. She is nearly powerless and yet she does what she can to maintain her personal goodness. It's so fantastic and different from our typical perceptions, that at times it was hard to believe. After reading the novel, I found myself in an online rabbit hole of reading of the women on death row and their convictions.

The writing in With Love From the Inside is taut and passionate, immediately engaging. The characters were sympathetic and I felt their pain, suffering and the powerful feeling of love that binds them together. For her debut novel, Angela Pisel offers an impressive novel.

With Love From the Inside by Angela Pisel is published by Putnam and released on August 9, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of the book. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Couple Next Door - Book Review

Every day these last few weeks has been exhausting. Getting kids ready to go back to school; cramming in the last summer activities and fighting the heat has left me so ready for bed. The other night I finished reading a book at exactly 12:15 and thought for sure the second I closed my eyes I'd be out cold. But I tossed and turned for an hour. I tried to read an ebook on my phone under the covers but only a few pages in I knew it wasn't for me. I tossed and turned some more. Finally, at three in the morning, I completely gave up on sleeping. I didn't want to wake Randy so in the dark I grabbed a random book from the shelf in my bedroom and headed downstairs to read. I happened to grab The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. Within an hour, I was engrossed in the story. I finished the book the next day and was surprised that even without sleep, I managed to read without falling asleep during the day.

The babysitter called to cancel at the last minute. It's just next door, they reason. We will check on her regularly. We'll have the monitor. She'll be fine. Anne and Marco leave their baby sleeping in her crib and go to the dinner party next door. But their worst nightmare is just beginning when they come home to an open front door and an empty crib. Their baby is missing. The police don't seem to be doing enough to help and the parents are the top suspects. Anne is simply in shock. Who would want to take her baby?

The writing in The Couple Next Door is pretty basic. Initially, I was not impressed and thought it a bit juvenile. However, the story is so gripping that I excused the lack of writing skill and quickly became engaged in the twisting tale of intrigue. Lapena takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of intensity that keeps the reader guessing.

The Couple Next Door is fun and thrilling and a quick read. It's a perfect read for the doctor's waiting room or an airplane flight because the writing is simple enough that a few distractions won't leave you too confused. Overall, I rather enjoyed the novel. It was nice to just get lost in it for a day.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena is published by Pamela Dorman Books and released on August 23, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of the book. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Swear on This Life - Book Review

Emiline is struggling to write and fulfill her dream to be a published author. Her long-time relationship with her college boyfriend is dull. Uninspired and depressed, her roommate hands her the latest literary sensation. As soon as Emiline starts reading the novel by J. Colby she recognizes her own story within the pages.

Emiline has been haunted by her tragic childhood for years but now she's confronted with it in the pages of a best-selling novel. Her childhood best friend has published a book with her story. Devastated, she knows she must see him and face the past she has been trying to forget.

Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino is the story of a young woman reconciling her past and finding peace and hope in forgiveness all while discovering a true love. It's a sweet story. Initially, I had trouble getting into it and stalled about a quarter of the way into the novel. After a few weeks when I wondered if I would completely abandon it, I decided to give it another chance. I read the remainder in a matter of hours.

It's a cute story. I wasn't blown away by the writing or the predictable plot or flat characters. However, for an easy, feel-good read, I found Swear on This Life rather enjoyable.

There is quite a bit of swearing and a few scenes that get a little steamy.

Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino is published by Atria Books and released on August 9, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Decades of Doubt - Book Review

In 1969, 15 year old John McCabe didn't come after the dance. His parents drove around searching for him. The next morning two young boys found John's body, tied up and abandoned in an empty field. The investigation would stretch over forty years before two men were finally charged with his murder.

Decades of Doubt by Eric Wilson and John Turner focuses on the investigation of John McCabe's murder and the defense of those charged with the crime.

It's not often that I read true crime books but Decades of Doubt was immediately intriguing. The details of the horrific crime that shocked a small Massachusetts community and kept the detectives guessing for so many years were equally gripping and appalling. Just like everyone else in the community, I wanted to know who killed John McCabe. The first part of the book is an easy read, comfortable style and it wasn't long before I was completely immersed in the mystery.

The second portion of the book covers the trial of one of the men eventually arrested for the murder. In this portion, the defense attorney (Eric Wilson) inserts his own first person chapters and perspective of the trial. I actually found these sections awkward and disruptive to the flow of the book. I found them completely unnecessary.

It was interesting how the defense poked holes in all the evidence. The book became a study on the justice system. However, by the end, as a reader, I was completely unsatisfied. It felt like a very one- sided defense of the defense and I wasn't convinced.

Overall, the book started out with promise. It was a fascinating mystery with fairly solid writing that kept my interest. The book lost it's way with the loss of objectivity and it's new focus on the defense and the defense attorney's ego.

Decades of Doubt by Eric Wilson and John Turner is published by Waldorf Publishing and releases on August 15, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Reading in July

July was one of those crazy months where we were so busy having fun that I didn't have time to do anything else. Since I didn't have as much time to read, I'm so glad that I was able to enjoy fabulous books with that precious time.

Champion of the World by Chad Dundas follows a cast of rich and fabulously larger-than-life characters through the fascinating world of wrestling during the 1920's. I couldn't get enough of this epic novel that showed the underbelly and mob involvement of the professional sport.

Pepper Van Dean and his wife have been making their living in the traveling circus since his humiliating loss as the former lightweight champion. Each night, he performs the dangerous hangman's drop and then wrestles the locals. Pepper is bored and anxious for an opportunity back into the sport he loves. When he is offered a chance to train the African-American heavyweight wrestler for a chance at the Heavyweight title, Pepper can't resist the lure of the wrestling world.

The plot and characters were thrilling enough to keep me reading late at night when the excitement of our busy days finally settled down. Dundas expertly captured the era in this fascinating historical fiction. It quickly made it to the top of my favorites of 2016 list.

Champion of the World by Chad Dundas is published by Putnam and released on July 12, 2016.

In a completely different shift, The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan took my breath away.  In language that is stunning and powerful, Flanagan tells the story of Australian POWs forced to built the railroad through the jungle during World War II. It is a brutal story that details the suffering and torment of individuals at the hands of other men caught up in the horrific war.

Flanagan's characters are not necessarily likable and are bent to their very breaking points. I couldn't stop reading and I can't stop thinking about the stupidity of war. I finished the novel late last night and I can't even fully articulate my thoughts. I'm not sure I'll be able to ever put my reactions into clear and concise thoughts. It's so overwhelming to realize what people went through. Even when their bodies survived, their souls were so damaged. Yet, there was always hope.

I loved Flanagan's writing--it was beautiful and sometimes I had to read a passage over to try to glean the full and rich meaning. It was compelling and thought-provoking and exhausting. The Narrow Road to the Deep North was absolutely unforgettable.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan was published by Vintage and released in April 2015.

**I received complimentary copies of both books. These reviews reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**