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review 2017-02-22 00:29
The Mother's Promise
The Mother's Promise - Sally Hepworth

By: Sally Hepworth 

ISBN: 9781250077752

Publisher: St. Martin's Press 

Publication Date:  2/21/2017 

Format: Other 

My Rating:  5 Stars 

 

Master storyteller, Sally Hepworth returns following The Things We Keep (2016) landing on my Top Books of 2016 and Secrets of Midwives (2015) all 5 stars, with an unforgettable story of courage, THE MOTHER'S PROMISE.

Richly told. Memorable and poignant. An emotionally-charged portrayal of motherhood friendship, and love — in the midst of tragedy. Hepworth digs deeply into the ties of love, between both family and strangers. Mixed with humor, the author knows how to grab you by the heartstrings and never let's go.

“With what price we pay for the glory of motherhood.” – Isadora Duncan

Set in Atherton, CA, a twenty-minute drive from Silicon Valley, Alice Stanhope is a giving and caring single mom. Barely forty. Her her job has been taking care of others.

Alice has her own business, taking care of elders. She is not a nurse; however, she offers in-home help to the elderly. She keeps them company, cleans and runs errands. Her daughter Zoe is now fifteen. They are extremely close. The dad is not in the picture and we later learn the details. Let me say, the twist surprise at 90% was an added bonus surprise, a shocker.

As the book opens, Alice receives some devastating news. She has ovarian cancer. She seemed to have a knack for attracting illnesses and ailments that required just enough investigation to be financially and emotionally draining. It was happening again. She exercises and eats well. How could she have cancer?

Both her parents have passed away. Her brother, Paul is an alcoholic. Her mother died of ovarian cancer. She has no one, except for Zoe. She has lived her life alone. Just mother and daughter. Zoe is not a normal teenager, so she has to protect her. She needs to keep the surgery, and cancer news to herself. Zoe cannot be a support person for her. Alice wasn’t going to need someone. Zoe was.

How would she get to her appointments, chemo, the surgery? How can she die? What will happen to Zoe? She could not turn to her brother since he was drunk most of the time. She did not have a single person she felt she could nominate to walk beside her in what was going to be the hardest journey of her life.

Now she has met her nurse, Kate. Kate knew there was one thing that a patient needed more than a doctor, more than a nurse, even more than medicine, and that was a mother. Someone had to fight for them. Kate had a mother only when she was a toddler, and she recalled her mom’s nurse. Now she had to be a mother to her patients.

Kate in her mid-thirties, has her own issues. From one miscarriage after another. Her husband, David, and his two children her stepchildren—of his own (Jake and Scarlett). She longed for a baby. She fantasized about the day she would have a child of her own. She currently is pregnant again; however, will she be able to carry it to term?

Zoe, age fifteen has the normal teenage issues; however, her situation is magnified. She has Social Anxiety Disorder. No one understands. Like being anchored to damp sand. Like waiting for the next wave. You want to turn and look, to see what’s coming, but you can’t move. You don’t know. You wait helplessly, envisioning the worst. She yearns to be invisible. Everyone thought she was weird. Every day is a struggle to deal with her anxiety.

Currently, due to her circumstances, the hospital is bringing in a social worker, Sonja. Sonja is not the normal social worker. She gets Botox, she is married to a wealthy man. He is abusive. However, she stays with him. She should know better. After all, she works with women in this same situation. Happiness was something you shared, chatted about, asked after. "Suffering was something that you had to do behind closed doors, in silence, all alone."

How will Zoe survive without Alice? Alice is Zoe’s safe place. How will all these characters connect? What will they learn from one another? Will Alice’s past catch up with her during the worst possible time?

An entertaining tale of parental love, motherhood, friendship, loss. Piercing and uplifting at the same time. Well-researched, suspenseful, thought-provoking and character-driven, this cast of resilient heroines will inspire readers and renew their faith in humanity.

Even though I had to re-live some of the painful and loving times with my mom and her three- year battle with cancer (she passed away in Aug 2016), her bravery reminded me a lot of Alice. What great characters: Kate, Alice, Zoe and even Sonja. A beautifully written story –the unbreakable bonds, and characters which remain with you long after the book ends. A beautiful book for Mother’s Day and an ideal choice for books clubs and further discussions.

The author has a rare talent of taking wounded souls and pairing them with just the right person. Fans of Catherine Ryan Hyde, Diane Chamberlain, Lisa Genova and Jodi Picoult will find a lot to love here.

Highly recommend the author and all her books. Loved the inspiration behind the book. Sally is "tops" when it comes to writing about Mothers. A rare gift. She has a special way of making you fall in love with her characters.

I also listened to the audiobook, narrated by Barrie Kreinik for an outstanding performance.

A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for a complimentary reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

JDCMustReadBooks

 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/10/04/The-Mothers-Promise
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review 2017-02-18 22:14
Class
Class - Lucinda Rosenfeld
ISBN: 9780316265416
Publisher: Little Brown & Co. 
Publication Date: 1/10/2017 
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 4 Stars

 

Lucinda Rosenfeld's CLASS features New York, Karen Kipple as she struggles to balance the demands of motherhood and career, always convinced that she was shortchanging one or the other.

Married for ten years and for the last five Karen had been the director of development for a small non-profit devoted to tackling childhood hunger in the US. For the past two years, she had been trying to write an oped which she hoped one day to publish in a major newspaper, about the relationship between nutrition and school readiness.

Matt, her husband is also a career activist in the nonprofit sector and she is always worried about Ruby, her eight-year-old daughter’s education. She encourages her former lawyer husband to quit his job and work with low-income people to assist their housing needs.

Karen had enrolled her daughter at Betts, aware that it lacked the reputation for academic excellence of other schools nearby, but Ruby would be exposed to children who were less privileged than herself. Even though the white population of the school hovered around 25%. Being in the minority in what she had chosen. However, was he sacrificing her education? Diversity or inferior education?

She had always aspired to a life of making a difference and helping those less fortunate than herself. She tried to live in accordance with the politics and principals, which of course included the notion that public education was a force for good and that without racially and economically integrated school, an equal opportunity couldn’t exist.

Ruby was smart and a voracious reading and life should be good. Karen, an advocate for non-food additives and chemicals as well as diversity. She has a nice condo, hubby, and daughter, Karen’s life seemed to be good in New York; however, she is unhappy.

“Karen’s complex and contradictory relationship to eating had also grown more in the last few years, along with weight, teeth, and marriage—somehow become a dividing line between the social classes with the Earth Day — esque ideals of the 1960s having acquired snob appeal, and the well-off and well-educated increasingly buying “natural” and “fresh” and casting aspersions on those who didn’t.”

Then when a classmate of Ruby’s transfers out of Betts to a more privileged school of white students, all of Karen’s earlier thoughts and commitments, quickly vanished. Her husband wants a divorce because she enrolled Ruby in a new school without telling him.

Following the lead, she moves Ruby and then begins an affair with a rich guy, Clay, among other things. More lies. Her emotions are all over the board. Karen is torn between social classes, seeing the poor living in shelters and the rich and their superficial ways. Hypocrisy. Guilt.

She was capable of paying hundreds of dollars for an espresso machine from Italy, Karen had a deeply ingrained cheap streak as well, which caused her to do things like go to the library and photocopy the crossword puzzle from the Sunday paper rather than pay for a subscription.

Rosenfeld kicks butt and puts it all out there. With keen insights, raw honesty, a brutal portrayal ---the truth of our unequal society in urban America. With humor and highly-charged topics, the author hits the bull's eye, with CLASS.

I especially enjoyed the wide range of topics from privilege, class, identity, entitlement, education, politics, domestic, marriage, social economics, philanthropy—to ethical dilemmas, the author does not miss a beat in this delightful satire.

A tale of one woman’s struggle between the madness of liberal and reality. The lesson liberals need to learn is that despite their arrogance, they do not have the power to alter reality. From liberals to progressive—is equality among human race the exception, and inequality the norm?

Much to like here whether you are a modern-day urban parent, grandparent, or single. Smart, witty, engaging, absorbing, and thought-provoking! The hardcover was stunning with a perfect fitting cover. An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions.

A special thank you to Little Brown & Co., Goodreads Giveaway, and NetGalley for a complimentary reading copy, in exchange for an honest review.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/12/01/Class
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review 2017-02-18 13:27
I See You
I See You - Clare Mackintosh

By:  Clare Mackintosh 

ISBN: 9781101988299

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date:  2/21/2017

Format:  Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars 

 

Clare Mackintosh returns following her smashing debut and international bestseller, (2016) I Let You Go, landing on my Top 50 Books of 2016, with a strong follow-up. A clever, gritty, dark and twisty psychological thriller, I SEE YOU.

Someone is watching when you least expect.

FindTheOne.com is more than a dating site. An online matchmaking service for more than dating. Find the victim, and go for the kill.

A commute to work. A dreaded task. The Tube. However, someone has hacked into the system and they are watching the daily routines of women. A devious dangerous plan. Cyber Crime, coffee shops, CCTV, money laundering, greed, stalking, adverts, a killer, FindTheOne.com, an ax to grind, payback, and murder. Trust no one.

Middle-class Zoe Walker, a mother of two teens (Katie and Justin) -divorced, and dating a guy named Simon- must take the train to work. The only jobs worth taking were in zone one; the only affordable mortgages in zone four. She could only dream of working close enough to her home to walk.

On her morning commute, she is shocked to discover in the London Gazette a photo of herself in the personal ads. FindtheOne.com. What the heck? She is looking at herself. A forty-year-old woman. The woman in the advert is none other than herself. Soon other women’s photos appear, and they end in a crime.

We also are introduced to Kelly Swift, the detective who has been disgraced and back on the scene with the latest murders. Her departure four years earlier from British Transport Police’s Sexual offenses Unit had been rapid and uncomfortable. She had spent nine months off sick returning to what had been presented to her as a clean slate but was really a punishment posting.

She had thrown herself into her shift work, quickly becoming one of the most respected officers on the Neighborhood Policing Team, pretending to herself she was a uniform cop through and through when every day she yearned to be dealing with serious investigations again. Will she lose control again?

The Underground Crime soars with the investigation into crime on public transport after record increases in reported sexual offenses, violent assaults, and thefts. Terrifying enough to make you stop using the Tube altogether. Kelly is back on the case full force.

With sprinkles of spine-chilling words in italics, from the mystery person throughout the novel (the best parts). Told from three POV: Zoe, the mom; Kelly the determined police officer, and the creepy mystery person.

“I see you. But you don’t see me. You’re engrossed in your book; a paperback cover with a girl in a red dress. I can’t see the title but it doesn’t matter; they’re all the same. If it isn’t boy meets girl, it’s boy stalks girl. Boy kills the girl. The irony isn’t lost on me . . . You’re still reading. And I’m still watching.”

Zoe is worried for all the women and girls out there as well as her daughter and herself. She feels the danger. She cannot see it, but she can feel it.
She knows it is getting close.

“Routine is comforting to you. It’s familiar, reassuring. Routine makes you feel safe. Routine will kill you.”

"You never know where you might meet The One. A way of introductions between London’s commuters on FindTheOne.com. A matchmaker. A broker. A go-between. To give coincidence a head start. . ."

Soon the adverts are all-consuming for Zoe, and Kelly is determined to find the killer. They work together and believe the adverts are at the heart of the series of crime against women. What is the motive and who is stalking and preparing information on each woman? Who are the buyers/subscribers? These customers come from all walks of life.

Who are these men?

“They’re your friends. Father. Brother. Best Friend. Neighbor. Boss. The people you see every day; the people you travel to and from work with. You think you know them better than that. You’re wrong.”

The ruthless psychopath is more than a matchmaker. “Someone could be downloading your profile right now. . . A facilitator for desires hidden so deep inside they’re barely acknowledged. The chance to kill someone.”

From making notes of everything from hair color, body size, duration, availability, employment, routines, timing, locations, and a rating of easy, moderate, difficult. A cost. Chilling!

As Zoe and Kelly plan an attack, they are in danger as well as Katie. Any woman on the train could be the next victim. Once the photo appears, are they worth the amount someone is willing to pay to kill?

With a cast of characters, the author leaves you in suspense as you doubt everyone close to Zoe. Who is the sinister mastermind behind this elaborate cybercrime – a deadly scheme of cat and mouse?

Mackintosh spins an elaborate set up with the slow burning background of Zoe and her family as well as Kelly. Two interesting women. The suspense builds to a fast-paced heart-pounding climax, with an array of red herrings. Readers will be mindful of their own daily routines and possibly be looking over their shoulders, or mixing up their daily grind. I know, I will. Take a different route, a different time.

In our world of identity theft, technology, social media, and cyber-crimes, a horrifying fictional account, and yet a believable one which makes it even scarier.

I See You, would make a great movie. You never know who is watching. Are we ever safe? Highly entertaining, suspenseful, and innovative.

For me, the mystery secret person and the words in italics— "the icing on the cake." The twisty finale will leave you spinning. The secret is finally revealed. I was reminded of the final episode of Season One TV Series, Secrets and Lies. Deliciously evil!

Well crafted, Mackintosh once again uses her cop procedural expertise mixed with her fine-tuned writing abilities, to keep readers glued to the pages for a strong and gritty second installment. Highly recommend both books.

A special thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for a complimentary reading copy, in exchange for an honest review.

JDCMustReadBooks
Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/10/04/I-See-You
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review 2017-02-09 10:10
Under the Knife
Under the Knife: A Novel - Kelly Parsons

By:  Kelly Parsons

ISBN: 9781250033338

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Publication Date: 2/7/2017 

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars 

 

Real life board-certified urologist and novelist, Kelly Parsons, returns following his gripping debut, Doing Harm, (2014), with his latest medical (psychological) thriller, UNDER THE KNIFE.

When a good doctor makes a mistake. A patient dies. The grieving husband takes revenge into his own hands with extreme, sinister, and terrifying measures.

Told from four POVs:

Biotechnology tycoon Morgan Finney has nothing to lose; however, since his wife Jenny’s death, his rage had grown and threatened to consume him. Grief crashed over him without warning. He was drowning in it. He would take justice into his own hands. However, he is sure Jenny would not approve.

He had grown rich from being absolutely certain about things. He had not slept in days and was exhausted. Her death was the action, and cosmic disequilibrium the reaction. Jenny had worked with deaf children in college and had delighted in the cochlear implant concept.

Flash forward a year later.

Dr. Rita Wu, an assistant professor of surgery at the University of California, was strapped to an operating-room table. Naked. She had no clue how she has gotten here. Then she starts hearing voices in her head. There is someone talking to her. The voice in her head is Finney?

The voice is telling her what she has to do. What the heck?There is no way she can operate with this voice in her head. She will go mad. A nightmare. There was no stopping the panic. She was terrified. She wished she could reach out to Spencer.

Dr. Spencer Cameron. He has not gotten over Rita. They had been broken up a year ago. He is stalking his ex-girlfriend. He likes to keep tabs on her. He still loves her.

Sebastian is the mystery man. He had taken a job. Finney had provided him with the dossiers and videos of the early test subjects. Those unlucky enough to have been the first to receive the implants. The device.

Rita had removed Jenny's ruptured appendix. There were complications and she died. Finney tells her his wife, Jenny died because of her. She also had been pregnant.

Finney was going to kill her. He would make her suffer. He would rob her of something precious. The way he had been robbed.

Between madness, insanity, and the unspeakable. This cannot be happening. What kind of sick joke?

No way out. The embedding. Complex commands. Demands.
This grieving, unbalance, crazy husband of a former patient had trapped her, in an elaborate and perfectly executed– setup? What did he want from her?

Terrifying and chilling, the author, keeps you on the edge of your seat with his heart-pounding suspense thriller and a race against time. From sinister medical technology, and human experimentation. Corruption. Murder. A psychopath. Guilt. Revenge.

Character-driven with non-stop action and intensity. Loved Rita and Spencer. For fans of medical thrillers, Michael Palmer’s Trauma and the TV series, Pure Genius. If you have not read his first book, Doing Harm, highly recommend.

I also listened to the audio version, and Nancy Wu delivered an outstanding performance.

A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/11/01/Under-the-Knife
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review 2017-02-08 00:31
Always
Always: A Novel - Sarah Jio

By: Sarah Jio

ISBN:1101885025

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: 2/7/2017 

Format: Other

My Rating: 4 Stars

 

Sarah Jio returns following The Look of Love (2014) with her eighth novel, ALWAYS. Written with the passion, past love, romance, relationships, the music of the 1990s, TBI, and of course the art, beauty, and charm of "spectacular" Seattle. When love never lets go.

“To old love and new, but, most of all, to the kind that lasts, always.”

It is 2008 in Seattle, Kailey Crane, a writer for the Seattle Herald has it all. A successful career, a charming new Craftsman bungalow and an upcoming wedding to the perfect guy, Ryan. He has wealth, looks, and the entire package.

As the book opens, the couple is having a leisurely dinner at the upscale French restaurant, making their upcoming wedding plans. As they are leaving, Kailey comes face to face with a homeless man and his piercing eyes. Shockingly, she recognizes him. Cade McAllister, the love of her life.

Cade was part of her past. They had dated back in the 1990s. A famous record label owner. He loved music. They had matching tattoos. Skin inked a decade prior- a glaring reminder of the past that did not become a future, of the dreams that evaporated into thin air. How he goes from success to thin, bony, and homeless? The sight of him haunts her. Why did he disappear so long ago?

Their tattoos. The word: Toujours, French for “always,” remained on her shoulder. Thinking of Cade reminded her of Tracy her best friend and former roommate. They both had been wide-eyed and idealistic. They believed in true love and happy endings. She and Cade had planned their future.

Kailey is working on an article for work, regarding a series about Pioneer Square and the homeless. Ryan, of course, does not agree with her opinions. They agree to disagree on the areas where their professional interests diverge. Ryan is a developer and thinks they should dynamite the six-block radius. He thinks there is nothing but addicts and vagrants. The homeless.

She wants to help the Hope Gospel Mission, the non-profit organization to help offer shelter to the homeless. The new proposal would entail demolishing thousands of low-income units and shelters. Currently, they were in the midst, of a gridlock with the city.

She believed these establishments needed to keep their doors open. Ryan worked with builders which were ready to throw up apartments, displacing the lifeline for hundreds of homeless people in the process.

Kailey cannot get Cade out of her mind. They had been in love and he left. She had tried to locate him and never found him. He did not recognize her. She must help him and find out what happened to him.

She begins searching the streets for him and ultimately finds him to learn, he has TBI. Traumatic Brain Injury. She puts Ryan, and her wedding plans aside since she is obsessed with helping get Cade off the streets and getting him the medical help he needs.

We revisit the 1990s and the early days of the couple's relationship. Kailey now is torn between her loyalty and love for Cade, and the man she is about to share her future with. Why did Cade leave without a word to her?

A little different novel than some of Jio’s typical historical fiction (have read them all). She brings forth all the charm of Seattle and the strong emotions of a woman, who has to make a difficult choice between two different men.

However, the story of Cade, his former business partner, and his ten years on the street were very undeveloped. The story was quite intriguing, keeping you hooked; however, like most reviewers and readers, we all were hoping for more to "fill in the blanks." I would love to have a POV from Cade. His voice would have been a nice enhancement to the overall story. The ending was tied up in a neat bow; however, left you wanting to learn more about the events leading up the night Cade lost his memory and after.

Possibly more research and discussions regarding TBI, and the homeless social issues. I am a huge fan of Seattle and have spent a lot of time in Pioneer Square, the jazz bars, quaint B&Bs, coffee shops, (ArtWalk, MusicFest), markets, as well as charming inns by the sea in Puget Sound and Snohomish. One of my favorite cities. Nice to revisit through the book.

An intriguing subject, since we learn —as in the book, every homeless person has a story. Any one of us could find ourselves in the same situation, if not for the help of others. We never know their “real” story or their journey. Instead of judging, we all need to join forces to help our communities continue with resources to assist.

The cover is stunning (received the paperback copy) as well as the digital copy. The cherry blossoms, the red scarf, the music, the setting, and the love story. As always, Sarah Jio continues to entertain, with compelling topics and those proposing critical life changing heart-wrenching questions/life choices. What would you do when faced with this difficult choice?

For fans of Colleen Hoover and contemporary romantic fiction.

A special thank you to Random House, NetGalley, and LibraryThing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

JDCMustReadBooks

 

 

 



On a side note: I reside in the urban downtown area Arts & Entertainment, West Palm Beach and walk everywhere; we have many homeless people, while surrounded by wonderful funky art, grunge, and flair and old converted lofts with a similar vibe to Pioneer Square. There are similar projects here facing the same controversial issues of billion dollar condos going up and replacing the low-income housing, leaving these people displaced and nowhere to turn.

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/06/05/Always
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