Monday, December 15, 2014

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

As cozy and snugly the fall & winter seasons are for curling up with a good book - they're also insanely busy!!  I really do want nothing more than to be able to get some more books under my belt before the end of the year and it's just not looking likely that I'll meet my 35 book goal for 2014. *sniff*  I might have been a teensy bit too ambitious this time.  Even still, wrapping up with Little Mercies brought me in at #25 for the year and it's been a great year of reading for me!!

A massive part of why I've had such a wonderful year of reading goes to NetGalley and all that they offer for everyday readers like me to be able to request advance copies of books online. Seriously, when things get slow at work -

I actually finished Little Mercies back earlier this month, but only have a free moment to write a little something of my thoughts on it.

It was so good y'all!!!

I've even passed it on to my Mother-In-Law who also loved it and then on to one of my best friends, Jessica. Intense, moving, heart-breaking, mind-blowing...and you know what's the most sobering aspect about this story?  It happens a lot.  I can't really go into details, I just don't believe in sharing more than what the synopsis already gives you.  But let me say this - I'm not a mom, so I can't relate on a personal level of how tragic and devastating something like Ellen goes through.  But even still, just imaging it is traumatizing enough.

Seriously, pick this one up you won't regret it!  I received my copy compliments of NetGalley and Harlequin.  I bought The Weight of Silence, by Heather Gudenkauf a while back and now am anxious to dig into it even more now!   Little Mercies is already out now, so don't hesitate and grab yourself a copy here!

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity; the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children's advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends' couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen's and Jenny's lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.

Rating: *****

Recommend: Yes!  But do keep in mind, if you're a mom to little ones this could be hard to digest.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Stillwater Rising by Steena Holmes

I realize I've been quite MIA for a while now - things got a bit crazy with my sister's wedding last month and I was fairly consumed with all the preparations, travel and all that goes along with it. But I'm back now and ready to pick up where I left off and hopefully able to somewhat achieve my goal of reading 35 books this year!!

Even though I am a massive fan of The Memory Child by Ms. Holmes, I do admit I struggled to get through Stillwater Rising.  I don't know if it's because I had difficulty relating to the subject at hand or what - but I just wasn't all that connected to the characters.  Even still, I thought it was a hugely interesting story and really appreciated the perspective surrounding the shooter's mother.  We hear about these horrible school shootings and tragedies and always sympathize with the victim's families and their losses, but we don't often think about how hard it must be for the shooter's family to deal with the guilt or weight of responsibility that they must feel at being the perpetrator's parent or loved one.  \

This is the first book in the Stillwater Bay series, but I'm not sure if I'm all that interested in continuing on with the following books.  This one was already quite predictable and I'm pretty satisfied with how it all ended. 

There are 2 covers for this book that was printed - the picture above and then this one below.  I seriously can't decide which one I like better, they're just both so beautiful!

NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing (um crazy, back from my hometown Seattle!) graciously allowed me the opportunity to read Stillwater  Rising by Steena Holmes, for which I am still insanely grateful for!  You can pre-order a Kindle copy from Amazon for $5 right now by clicking here!  Stillwater Rising releases on Nov. 11th.

Description: 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."

Rating: ***

Recommend:  I still think this is a great read and I for sure recommend!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

When I started The Good Girl, I thought I was reading an almost identical plot line to Chevy Steven's - Still Missing.  It had a very similar feel and I was getting stuck on the way things were developing along. Chevy Stevens is one of my absolute favorite authors and so unfortunately I was struggling a bit to lose myself entirely in this debut novel of Mary Kubica's.  However, to The Good Girl's credit, it did take some unexpected turns and for that I found that it completely redeemed itself.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the way the chapters jumped between "before" and "after" and alternated character's voices. The further along in the book I got, the more I needed to know what exactly had happened to cause a "before" and "after"!!

I do feel terrible that I have that comparison in the back of my mind to Chevy Steven's book when writing this review and I'm sorry if it doesn't seem fair, but for me that for sure hindered my ability to lose myself within this book.

All that aside - this book is definitely worth reading and I would highly recommend you pick up your own copy here!

A huge thank you to Harlequin and NetGalley for an opportunity to read an e-copy!

Description: "I've been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don't know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she's scared. But I will." 

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life. 

Colin's job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter. 

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a compulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems….

Rating: ****

Recommend: For fans of suspense & mystery/thrillers - you will very much enjoy this ride!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

Can we just take one second and talk about how beautiful this cover is?  I just love it and after finishing the story, I now understand the fragility implied within.  As for the narrative itself, I've never read one that quite dealt with these types of issues before...hoarding specifically.  That's not really a spoiler, as it's addressed throughout the entirety of the novel - but of course there's other more deep-rooted matters at hand here, as is often the case with unresolved wounds. It was sad - it was moving - it was tragic......AND it was redemptive.

I very much enjoyed The House We Grew Up In and without giving away too much, I think it gives a very real look into today's crumbling family model when pain, selfishness and mental issues are involved.

Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an opportunity to read an Advance Copy!  You can snag your own copy here!

Description: Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children's lives.

Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they've never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in -- and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.

Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family's desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.

Rating: ****

Recommend: It's definitely a no holds barred type of family drama, but nonetheless I would for sure recommend.