Monday, February 23, 2015

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Inside the O'Briens is my third Lisa Genova novel, and as I expected... it was fantastic!!  I mean this woman can do no wrong.  I truly am in awe of her writing and the way she portrays these rare & incurable conditions or diseases that individuals are left to face every day.  It helps that she's a Neuroscience graduate of Harvard - I mean whoa.

I fell in love with her first novel Still Alice back when I read it in 2009, then again her third novel, Love Anthony when I read it in 2013. And now again, her fourth novel, Inside the O'Briens which releases in stores April 7, 2015.  Why I haven't picked up her third book, Left Neglected is beyond me - I have to do that ASAP.

With each heart-wrenching story she gives such a personal and in-depth understanding of what an individual and a family goes through when diagnosed with a difficult condition or disease.  With Still Alice it was Alzheimer's, with Love Anthony it was Autism and with Inside the O'Briens it's Huntington's.

My absolutely only issue with this book - is how it ended.  I do hope to God that she's writing a sequel to it, because I just can't be at peace with the conclusion.  I need a bow Lisa - it doesn't even have to be a pretty one, it can be ugly, it can even be downright disgusting - but I NEED A BOW!  ha!!  I sat there venting to my husband at the end of the book - "Oh no she didn't! I don't accept this - this can't be the end."  And then I proceeded to start searching all over the Internet for clues of a sequel (*cue tears*).

This is a great story folks - the kind that makes you think, makes you cry and makes you look at this reality for some from all different sides. I Loved it.  A massive thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for allowing me the privilege of reading an advanced copy.  Pre-order your copy here!  (*All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.)

Description: From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova comes a powerful new novel that does for Huntington’s Disease what her debut Still Alice did for Alzheimer’s.

Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

Praised for writing that “explores the resilience of the human spirit” (The San Francisco Chronicle), Lisa Genova has once again delivered a novel as powerful and unforgettable as the human insights at its core.


Rating: *****

Recommend:  I recommend all of her books, they are just incredible and is in the top 5 of my favorite authors. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Centurion's Wife by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke

Typically the only Christian historical fiction you'll see me picking up is by Francine Rivers - the woman knows how to do it right.  Unfortunately, I haven't found many other Christian authors that I enjoy historical fiction from.  BUT I will say, I LOVED the Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke, so when my mother-in-law dropped the Acts of Faith trilogy off at my house to give a try - I thought - heck why not?!

Sigh.....but it was not to be folks.  I read the first of the series, The Centurion's Wife and I just couldn't get into it.  And I'll admit I was actually a bit frustrated.  Here's why - because when Christian authors take actual historical Biblical accounts and "add" their spin to it, it confuses the absolute crap out of me.   And then next thing I know - I genuinely think there was a niece of Herod's out there by the name of Leah who fell in love with a Centurion of the name Alban and they had a bunch of interactions with Jesus and the disciples.  Didn't happen people.  Every now and then I do love a great historical fiction novel, but it has to keep some distance from actual historical events or it just loses me all together. I hope that makes sense.  Of course, that doesn't mean that I give up on Janette Oke all together, I just wasn't too keen on this one and therefore didn't feel compelled to read the remaining 2 books in the series.  Hey, at least I tried right?

Description: Janette Oke has dreamed for years of retelling a story in a biblical time frame from a female protagonist's perspective, and Davis Bunn is elated to be working with her again on this sweeping saga of the dramatic events surrounding the birth of Christianity...and the very personal story of Leah, a young Jewess of mixed heritage trapped in a vortex of competing political agendas and private trauma. 

Caught up in the maelstrom following the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first-century Palestine, Leah finds herself also engulfed in her own turmoil--facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions. Head of the garrison near Galilee, he has been assigned by Palestine's governor to ferret out the truth behind rumors of a political execution gone awry. Leah's mistress, the governor's wife, secretly commissions Leah also to discover what really has become of this man whose death--and missing body--is causing such furor. 


This epic drama is threaded with the tale of an unlikely romance and framed with dangers and betrayals from unexpected sources. At its core, The Centurion's Wife unfolds the testing of loyalties--between two young people whose inner searchings they cannot express, between their irreconcilable heritages, and ultimately between their humanity and the Divine they yearn to encounter.

Rating: **

Recommend: If blending between fiction & actual historical events doesn't bother you, then by all means give this one a shot! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Follow The Leader by Mel Sherratt

You know you've picked a winner of a read when you can't stop thinking about the characters long after you put the book down.  My husband was asking me the other day which book I was reading at the moment and I completely delved into the whole story of Follow The Leader trying to explain who was who and what I couldn't figure out and all the little details - really it was just an extremely futile effort, as I just could barely wrap my own mind around everything.

But wow - so good.  It was intense, it was well-paced and it was insane.  And I honestly didn't even realize that I had read Book #2 in the DS Allie Shenton series!  Follow The Leader definitely stands just fine on it's own, but now I HAVE to pick up the first one, Taunting The Dead and keep my eyes pealed for #3.

Y'all, if you like a seriously intense & suspenseful read, you'll really enjoy this one!  Holy crap.  Thank you to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing for the opportunity to receive an advanced copy of Follow The Leader by Mel Sherratt.  You can pick up your copy when it releases on February 10th, by clicking here.  (*All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.)

Description: A man’s body is found on a canal towpath. In his pocket, a plastic magnet in the shape of an E.

Days later, a second victim is found, this time with the letter V tucked into her clothing.

As the body count rises, the eerie, childlike clues point to a pattern that sends DS Allie Shenton and her colleagues into full alert.

The race is on. Allie and the team must work quickly to determine where the killer will strike next.

The rules are simple but deadly—to catch the killer, they must follow the leader.

From the acclaimed author of Taunting the Dead comes a flesh-creeping tale of a child's game with a terrifying, grown-up twist.

Rating: *****

Recommend: For reals.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Illusionists: A Novel by Rosie Thomas

Plowing through The Illusionists was like re-reading Gone With the Wind all over again...and I don't exactly mean that in the best way.  It's a hefty novel rounding out close to 500 pages and was divided into Parts - you know like Part 1, Part 2...and so on. When it comes down to it, I just didn't understand where it was going.  When I finally delved into Part 2, all of a sudden the story turned into sorta a murder mystery - what the what?  There were certain chapters where I was glued, and other's I was barely able to keep my eyes open - it was really just a flip of the coin for me.

I don't always do so well with period type novels, so maybe that's where I was struggling, but I just didn't get it and was fairly disappointed in the long run.  Man I hate having to admit that.  Some of you might really enjoy this novel, since I've seen some really great reviews on Goodreads.

Thank you to BookReporter for sending me this beautiful, complimentary hard copy of The Illusionists: A Novel by Rosie Thomas. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for my review.

Description: Over the course of a brilliant career, bestselling novelist Rosie Thomas has earned an untold number of awards and the devotion of millions of loyal readers. Her new novel The Illusionists, set in London in 1870, is a thrilling step forward—a captivating tale of passion and intrigue in the theater world.

At the start of The Illusionists, we meet Eliza, a young, beautiful woman of limited means. Through her work as an artist’s model, she meets the magnetic and irascible Devil—a born showman whose dream is to run his own theater company. Devil’s righthand man is Carlo Bonomi, an ill-tempered dwarf with an enormous talent for all things magic and illusion. And then there is Jasper Button, the enigmatic, unlikely final member of this fascinating cast of characters. Thrown together by a twist of fate, their lives are inextricably linked. As Eliza gets sucked into their seductive and dangerous world, she risks not only her heart, but also her life, which is soon thrown into peril.

Rating: **

Recommend:  My personal opinion is to pass on it, but then some of you might really enjoy it - check out other reviews on Amazon or Goodreads and decide for yourself!