Monday, August 20, 2018

Before We Were Yours

Title: Before We Were Yours
Author: Lisa Wingate
Published: June 6th 2017 by Ballantine Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 342 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

Be prepared for the ending of this book to confuse you and leave you with questions, yet fill your heart with hope.

Weaving this tale between present day Avery Stafford from a prominent southern political family and twelve-year-old Rill Foss, the eldest of a family of five children taken away from their family’s shanty boat the day after their mother goes into early labor with twin, and placed in the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in the 1930’s.

After having been found roaming an old shopping mall, Avery’s Grandma Judy is moved to a premiere elder care facility, one that can cause political fallout for the family. It is while Avery is at a less prestigious facility, for a political event, that she runs into Mae Crandall, and during a visit to Mae’s room, Avery sees a picture, a picture of Judy. Avery’s curiosity is piqued. Who is Mae and how does she know Judy.

With Judy’s wandering mind and Mae telling her only bits and pieces, Avery starts her gentle nudging into Judy’s past and with the help of Trent Turner, who has paperwork for Judy’s eyes only, that came from his grandfather, Avery and Trent kindle a friendship and begin their dig that can upend both their lives and possibly the political future of the Stafford family.

Lisa Wingate does an amazing job of slowly revealing the Foss story. There are several times, when the reader will stop, think, back up a couple of pages, reread, then let out a heavy exhale with a giant “oh”. This book is intense and may involve a second reading to get all of the nuances that you did not think were important during your first time through. An excellent book for a group discussion since every person that I have spoken to has taken something different away from their reading. Whether it is enlightenment into each character or their further understanding of the historical events that inspired this book, there are endless discussions that can come from the telling of the Foss story.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Gathering of Secrets

Title: A Gathering of Secrets
Author: Linda Castillo
Published: July 10th 2018 by Minotaur Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 308 pages
Genre: Police Procedural
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Kate Burkholder #10

Saying it is better than her last book, “Down a Dark Road”, is not really saying much considering that I thought that was the weakest book of the series. What I can say, is “A Gather of Secrets”, was reminiscent of her very first book “Sworn to Silence”, and that is not because Kate Burkholder is comparing what happened to her as a child with what is happening to the girls in Painter’s Mill and surrounding areas, but there is a spark in this book that has been missing for the recent Kate Burkholder books. The spark that had drawn me to this series in the first place.

What began with the deliberate arson of a barn exposes the fact that the sainted Danny Gingerich might not have been so golden after all. He had secrets, those around him kept his secrets, and most importantly, the girls of the community had to bear their shame in silence since they did not want to be shunned by their community.

No one is willing to talk. The Amish keep to themselves and bear their pain in silence. This is not going to work for Police Chief Burkholder. She owes her community and she owes a healing to herself for the choice she had to make one dark day. Though the final choice was different for the two girls, if mothers were open, and had protected their daughters, they would not have had to endure having to make a choice and the emotional pain that follows.

As a reader, you are going to be angry at certain parts of this book. You are going to stop and wonder if you would have handled things differently and most importantly, can you find the arsonist guilty for doing what a community should have been responsible for.

Monday, August 13, 2018

A Howl of Wolves

Title: A Howl of Wolves
Author: Judith Flanders
Published: May 15th 2018 by Minotaur Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 304 pages
Genre: Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Sam Clair #4

This is a series built on mystery, humor, great characters, and enough snark from Sam’s mother Helena to keep readers coming back.

Being the supportive neighbor she is, Sam Clair agrees to go to the opening night of a new play in which Kay and her son Bim are appearing. Apparently, it is ghastly and grisly but no one was expecting the body dangling from the hook to be real. Yet it turns out to be the director, Campbell Davison strung up and covered in green makeup.

Days later the costume designer is dead and someone has kidnapped Bim. Yes, things keep piling on, but though Sam swears she is not getting involved in yet another murder investigation, she is front and centers much to the chagrin of her boyfriend homicide detective Jake Field. An investigator whom she has to keep explaining things to since everything get a bit twisty and she is just short of drawing a murder board with names, strings, and timelines.

All the while Sam is trying to get into the office at a reasonable time and having the right words and passion to fight for the talent she represents and going toe to toe with an editor-in-chief and sales director who think women of a certain age are un-promotable. Clair might have a way around that and taking a chapter from her mother’s book of how to play with the boys club, comes to the aid of those she believes in.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Lying in Wait

Title: Lying in Wait
Author: Liz Nugent
Published: June 12th 2018 by Gallery/Scout Press
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

The very end of this book is odd, I cannot say out of character, but I can say that I am questioning the fit and if it even needed to be there. But then again, to fully understand what Lydia had become, it could not have been told in any other way.

Helicopter mothering has been taken to a whole new level in “Lying in Wait” and Laurence Fitzsimons is about to find out the lengths that his mother will go to, to not only protect him, but to keep him as close to her as she can since Annie Doyle reneged on her deal and is now buried in the backyard.

Laurence’s parents had a plan, they were broke, living in a mausoleum of a home that they could not afford, and mentally unstable Lydia wanted just one more child - why not broker a deal according to their terms. The problem was that the legitimate agencies rejected them and now with Laurence reaching legal age, and wanting to branch out on his own, they were in a time crunch with very few options.

When the police start to tie observations together, Laurence begins to ask his own questions. In a strange coincidence he befriends the family of Annie where he can quiz them, guide them, and distracting them all at the same time. With a story told in three voices, the reader is following each of their timelines, and in doing so, realizes the depth of derangement that is all Lydia, and the lengths that Laurence will go to get his answers.

This book would make an incredible movie. The creepy gothic feel, the burgeoning understanding of each character as the depth of Lydia’s mental illness and domination are revealed, resulting in a final true entrapment that Laurence will never be able to escape.