[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]
I loved “The Martian”, so of course I was bound to request this one. To be fair, I didn’t enjoy it as much, but it was still a good, fun read in several ways.
I found the characters in general likeable enough, in definite ‘shades of grey. The ‘heroes’ of this story are seldom all white, and go about their business with good intentions and shady ways. The businessman who moved to the moon to help his ailing daughter, but is a crook on the side. The economist who almost single-handedly set a whole country as the only entry point to the Moon, and won’t shy away from closing eyes on criminal deals as long as they help keeping Artemis afloat. The city’s policeman (Artemis has something like 2,000 inhabitants, minus the tourists, so Rudy does the job) who’s keeping order by breaking a few arms at times if he deems it’ll be a better punishment than prison. And, of course, Jazz Bashara herself, porter by day, smuggler by night, of sorts, running her little operation with no one the wiser.
(Granted, not everyone is a complete a-hole here, Jazz’s father for instance is a law-abiding citizen who doesn’t want anything to do with his daughter’s shady side; on the other hand, Jazz clearly has him to thank for her own ethical side, the one that makes her never renege on a deal, and puts her in the (trustworthy criminal’ category, so to speak.)
The story itself starts in a fairly typical way for heist stories: Jazz needs money, her criminal activities aren’t bringing in as much as she needs, nor quickly enough, so when a dangerous but particularly juicy deal comes her way, she shoves her qualms in her pocket and accepts it. Only it turns out she’s bitten more than she could chew, and finds herself embroiled in an almost conspiracy, forcing her to gather all her wits, resources and allies in order to find a way out. All in all, the kind of story I like to read: maybe not the most original, but with high potential for action, fun, quirky characters, and, well, capers.
There isn’t as much technical detailing in this novel as there was in “The Martian”, so it’s definitely not hard to follow. The whole caper(s) resting on scientific knowledge and using the moon’s gravity and peculiar sides to work within the plan, that was really interesting for me. Maybe the welding-related descriptions were a little too long at times, though; at least, I didn’t care as much about those as I did about other scientific explanations.
I liked the overall diversity in Artemis. This small city has, from A to Z, a multicultural side that I think worked well, and didn’t rest on the usual ‘Western world colonises space’ (Kenya and its space company holds the entry door to the moon, Artemis’s administrator is a Kenyan woman, the policeman is Canadian, Jazz and her father are from Saudi Arabia, many of Jazz’s contacts are Vietnamese or Slavic, etc.).
I wasn’t totally on board with the way Jazz told the story, though. The wit didn’t work as well here as it did in “The Martian”, mostly, I’d say, because there’s too much of a dichotomy between Jazz’s ‘voice’ and her age: sometime in the middle of the story, we learn she’s 26, but from her tone, attitude, expressions and way of being, I would’ve thought her late teens/20, and not older. There -is- an immature side to her character, so in itself it’s not like her voice doesn’t fit at all, yet it didn’t feel ‘right’ either.
Conclusion: 3.5 stars. Disregard the author’s previous best-seller, take this story as it comes, and enjoy the heist parts, the assembling of Jazz’s motley crew, the description of Artemis, and the outings on the Moon in an EVA suit that can spring a leak just any time due to the characters attempting bold moves and daring rescues.
A Chesapeake Shores Novel #14
By: Sherryl Woods
Publication Date: 10/17/2017
My Rating: 4 Stars
Sherryl Woods returns with her popular Chesapeake Shores series following (2015) Willow Brook Road Chesapeake Shores, #13 with LILAC LANE (#14) —From Ireland to Chesapeake Shores – A magical place for healing and a little romance.
This time around we catchup with Moira and Luke O’Brien and their baby girl, Kate. Of course, with Nell and many of the familiar characters and places we love.
Moira is concerned about her mom, Kiera. Her husband Peter’s unexpected death was shocking after her second chance and raising her children on her own. Moria wants her to come and live in Chesapeake.
A steady dose of the O’Briens will restore her spirits. She had wasted years of bitterness and regrets after Moira’s dad left. She had taken a chance on love and now he was gone.
Maybe she could tell her she needs help with the baby, but possibly she can get her a job at the Irish pub, keeping an eye on the chef and making sure he does not stray too far from the proper Irish recipes.
Her mom needed the family. With much persuasion, she agrees to come to charming Chesapeake Shores as a consultant. She can always return to Dublin.
She rents a lovely cottage on Lilac Lane and is feeling good being part of a family. However, soon learns her neighbor is none other than Bryan Laramie, the not so pleasant and annoying chef at the pub, with whom Kiera is constantly at war with.
Moira soon sees the electricity between her mom and Bryan (similar to the relationship between her own relationship with Luke), when they first met.
However, Kiera thinks he is infuriating.
Of course, if you know the O’Briens they never mind their own business and the clan is always meddling to make sure everyone is happy.
Bryan, on the other hand, has his own past. He had enough broken hearts to last a lifetime and was still recovering from this last one.
Then his long-lost daughter shows up and both Bryan and Keira may have more in common than they may know. Plus, as always, there is always a community-wide event to ignite the flames.
With two complex personalities, it was time for the annual Fall Festival Irish Stew cook-off. And this town does nothing better than “stir the pot.”
With some competition, stubbornness, clever planning, Irish recipes, sacrifices, meddling, bets, some risks, and of course a little romance, to demonstrate love conquers all.
If you enjoy heartwarming stories of strong family bonds and authentic characters, Chesapeake Shores will draw you into their world with open arms. For fans of Debbie Macomber, Joanne Demaio, Mariah Stewart, and Susan Wiggs.
LOVE the Chesapeake Shores series (TV series and have read all the books in the series)— among many of her other books. A longtime fan of Sherryl Woods, starting in my younger years (before Goodreads) thru today. I love the idyllic settings, vivid descriptions, and intriguing characters.
Looking forward to hopefully Season 3 since Season 2 just wrapped up. Always look forward to the Sunday show. It makes me want to return to these books and read them for the second time. Sherryl allows you to escape and travel without leaving your home. It is the next best thing to being there. An ah moment.
Many thanks to MIRA and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. I also listened to the audiobook, narrated by Christina Traister for an engaging listening experience.
In addition, I am very excited about the highly anticipated A Small Town Love Story: Colonial Beach, Virginia Coming Nov 14, 2017, on my Top 20 Books coming Nov. Part memoir, part oral history. The author gives us a rare and intimate look at Colonial Beach, Virginia.
Readers you will want to add this to your library collection and your must-read list.
By: Lisa Wingate
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 6/6/2017
My Rating: 5 Stars +++
Master storyteller, Lisa Wingate returns following her heartwarming Carolina Series The Sea Keeper's Daughters with her best yet, BEFORE WE WERE YOURS Top Books of 2017— A powerful story within a story inspired by one of American’s most horrific real-life adoption scandals. (stunning front cover)!
A haunting, beautifully written and emotional story of family, sisters, human connections and the strong bonds of love. From good versus evil, deeply-buried secrets, and injustice, to triumph in the face of adversity.
With two storylines, two families generations apart— the bridge between past and present. Before We Were Yoursalternates between the historical story of the Foss Children and the modern-day story of Avery Stafford.
Present day: We meet Avery Stafford. 30 years-old, graduated top of her class from Columbia Law and works for US attorney’s office. A successful career as a federal prosecutor, a fiance’ and an upcoming wedding.
She returns home to South Carolina to help her father, a high-profile politician. He is up for re-election and has some health problems (cancer) and undergoing chemo. Of course, he wants Avery to step into his shoes with a political career.
Avery’s grandmother, Judy is a ghost of her former self. They are keeping it from the media due to the fact they have moved her to an upscale luxury facility. They are currently dealing with a scandal of wrongful death and abuse cases involving eldercare, so they do not want people pointing fingers. Of course, the decision to move to her this facility was not political—her doctor recommended.
They are heartsick about her cruel descent into dementia. Before they moved her to the nursing home, she escaped her caretaker and staff and was found wandering at a business complex near a mall where she formerly shopped. Ironically, since she cannot even remember their names.
While touring on the nursing homes (not as luxurious as Judy's), Avery encounters a woman. She calls Avery, Fern. The nurse called the woman, May Crandall.
Through the mind and voice of May, she has triggers from the past. She thinks of Queenie her mother and Camellia. Thinking back to the Mississippi riverbank to Memphis. The night there was no returning.
Past: Memphis 1939. A twelve-year-old girl Rill. She lives on a riverboat and helps take care of her four young siblings. Life is difficult. However, there are complications during the birth at the hospital and the children are snatched, while Rill was in charge.
They are thrown into an orphanage. They are told they will be returned to their parents. Rill must keep her siblings together. However, they find evil and something more sinister than they could ever imagine.
“I want a pain that has a beginning and an end, not one that goes on forever and cuts all the way to the bone.”
From past to present, Avery is haunted by this woman in the nursing home. Is there a connection? She had on her grandmother’s bracelet. Her curiosity has been piqued by her sad story. Does this woman May, know her grandmother Judy?
There is no way Avery can let this drop. Secrets from the past. She goes back to her grandmother’s letters and notes.
Who is Trent Turner in Edisto? He does not seem helpful. What is he hiding?
Amidst the suspense and intensity while Avery tries desperately to piece together the mystery of her family’s past, we hear the heartbreaking story of sisters and children taken against their will. Ripped from their biological parents.
A true to life story of Georgia Tann, the director of a Memphis-based adoption organization which basically kidnapped and sold children to wealthy families for many years. Thousands of birth families would never know what became of their children.
“But the love of sisters needs no words. It does not depend on memories, or mementos, or proof. It runs as deep as a heartbeat. It is as ever-present as a pulse.”
If you have read any of Lisa Wingate’s stories, you know she writes of family, love, and deep connections. A master storyteller, her books are thought-provoking, inspiring, emotional, and deeply moving. Her passion shines through as she shares her stories from the heart to her readers.
Normally when reading a dual time timeline story, I find the historical one the most intriguing. However, in this case, both stories are equally as compelling, since the present-day story still revolves around its own past family history.
As in sex and child trafficking today, the abuse and devastation continue to destroy lives and futures of innocent children. The monsters target the poor, single mothers, or those on welfare. In this haunting yet true story of babies and children being kidnapped and abused, molested, and mistreated while waiting for the big payday. Some were stolen from birth and siblings and parent’s lives forever to be ripped apart.
Well-researched, the author offers details as to the number of children who vanished under Georgia Tann’s management range as high as five hundred. Thousands more disappeared into adoptions for profit in which names, birth dates, and birth records were altered to prevent biological families from finding their children. This went on from the 1920s-1950s and was not fully brought to justice until 1996.
From the author: “If there is one overarching lesson to be learned from the Foss children and from the true-life story of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, it is that babies and children, no matter what corner of the world they hail from, are not commodities, or objects, or blank slates, as Georgia Tann so often represented her wards; they are human beings with histories and needs, and hopes, and dreams of their own.”
Lisa Wingate is at the top of her game. Having read all 8 total works in the Carolina Heirlooms’ series, have been an avid fan of the author’s writing.
However, BEFORE WE WERE YOURS, really showcases her strength to blend both historical with modern-day stories in a powerful way to capture the heart and most intimate feelings of her characters and the dual timelines. Resilience and the power of love.
“The heart never forgets where we belong.”
I had the opportunity of reading this book well before its publication date in June; however, I was dealing with my dad’s illness in North Carolina, his death, funeral, and executor of his estate. Playing catch up with reviews/postings I missed this summer. A special thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy.
I enjoyed this book so much, purchased the audiobook for my personal library and listened again this past week. Emily Rankin and Catherine Taber are ideal narrators and in sync with Lisa Wingate’s poignant story.
“Do we carry the guilt from the sins of past generations? If so, can we bear the weight of that burden? Trent” ― Lisa Wingate, Before We Were Yours
Highly recommend! If you can only read one book this year, this would be the one. Wingate fully understands the power of story. If this does not win Historic Fiction of the Year, I will be shocked. Ideal for book clubs and further discussions.
If you have not viewed the The Book Club Kit, by Random House— highly recommend, to enhance your reading experience. Well done!
For fans of Charles Martin, Susan Meissner, Kristin Hannah, Sally Hepworth, Nicholas Sparks and Diane Chamberlain.
As the author mentions in an interview, “In the end, both the modern-day and historical characters in Before We Were Yours are willing to risk everything else for one all-important thing—a place to be authentic and people to be authentic with. That’s what I love most about the book.”
Your fans agree. Cannot wait to see what’s next from this talented author. No wonder it still ranks today as #7 Most Read book on Amazon. Totally captivating!
“No matter how much we may love the melody of a bygone day or imagine the song of a future one, we must dance within the music of today, or we will always be out of step, stumbling around in something that doesn’t suit the moment.” ― Lisa Wingate, Before We Were Yours
By: Anna Snoekstra
Publication Date: 10/17/2017
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Anna Snoekstra returns following her dark and edgy debut, Only Daughter, with her second psychological suspense thriller, LITTLE SECRETS — an arsonist, a cop, porcelain dolls, a stranger, dark secrets, mystery, and a journalist are all part of a dying town.
Rose Blakey is living in the small town of Colmstock, Australia. a small town. She is tired of the dead-end job at the Eamon’s Tavern Hotel and her dead-end life.
After the car factory shut down the town had quickly lost its sense of purpose. Small enough to have a strong community, but big enough that you could walk down the street without recognizing every person you passed.
Everything and everyone seemed broken and ugly. People were not friendly. Crime was up. People had meth habits. She wanted out. She is a journalist.
The local paper had closed with all the setbacks. She was still on a list for a larger national paper. It had been a wealthy town with its grand buildings. Now cracked and weathered.
The mines closed in the eighties. The newspaper closing, had been the worst for her.
A boy had died. Ben Riley. He had been only thirteen and was brain damaged. He acted like a kid instead of a teen but everyone liked him. His parents owned the local grocery store.
A fire at the courthouse. Bored teens or a psycho? Since the high school had been closed down, the crime was worse.
Then there was Senior Sergent Frank Ghirardello. He was hot for Rose since she started working there. His partner Bazza was a good looking buy. Frank could picture them double dating. Mia, Rose’s friend with Bazza and he with Rose.
She had written about everything including the search for the arsonist. Regardless of the topic, there were endless rejections.
Rose wonders about the mysterious newcomer, Will.
Then someone was leaving porcelain dolls on the doorsteps of houses. Plus the dolls looked like the little girls in the respective home. Creepy.
If she does not get a good paying job, she will never escape this dark town. She was living on borrowed time. Most people in the town had given up, trying to escape. She would not give up on her dreams.
She would write about the “Porcelain Terror in Colmstock.”After all, everyone loved a good mystery. Is there a link to child molesters and pedophiles?
There is also the mum, stepfather, and the younger siblings. If she could learn more about the fire and person behind the dolls, it would help her stories.
Rose gets caught up in the stories. She may be making things worse. She needs to dramatize the stories for flair. The person who had left the dolls was marking his victims. Some monster had her sister.
“Hack journalist wanting their piece of the pie, religious groups looking for a cause, children’s groups trying to find a new level of outrage, they were all here.”
The entire town felt changed, paranoid and suspicious. It was her fault. Did the truth matter?
. . . "People didn’t care about human life like she’d thoughts they did. People cared about purity, they cared when something unexpected happened, something that confirmed the deep-seated fears they already held. They wanted black and white, someone was good or someone was bad and nothing in between."
If something didn’t sound good in a headline, it wasn’t news.
From a bleak remote town pulled down by its economic misfortunes and crime, there is a sense of ongoing claustrophobic darkness infiltrating the town.
Gloom and doom. A town of devastation. From police misconduct, an old mine, desperation, drug trafficking, as well as being overwhelmed by arson attacked and the highly publicized porcelain doll case.
On an emotional level, there is betrayal, dark secrets, revenge, tension, domestic abuse, anger, rage, friendship, menace, evil, lust, unhappy families, and envy. A need to protect. A means of survival. Fear. Coverups.
The author creates Rose, a complex woman who wants nothing more than to escape this Aussie town. She is desperate. However, how far will she go?
Not a "feel good" kind of book; however, some intriguing twists and turns you do not see coming. Several of the characters had plans, with good intentions in the beginning, but their plans unravel and ignite a spark which spirals out of control. Creating havoc for many. The butterfly effect.
The author does a good job of creating that “Noir” feeling and a sense of dark foreboding lurking with mystery, suspense, and tragedy — throughout the book.
A lot of tug-and-pull between characters; at war, with one another and themselves. The characters are deeply flawed and everyone seems to wear a mask. A good pick for Halloween.
A town full of little secrets and big lies. For those who enjoyed Big Little Lies and The Blackbird Season, in a rural darker Australian remote setting.
A special thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy.
I also purchased the audiobook, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld(love her accent) for an engaging listening experience.