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review 2017-04-05 17:42
Not a Sound
Not a Sound: A Novel - Heather Gudenkauf

By:  Heather Gudenkauf 

ISBN: 0778339998

Publisher: Park Row

Publication Date:  5/30/2017 

Format: Other 

My Rating: 5 Stars +++

**Top Books of 2017** 

 
I am utterly speechless! Brilliantly crafted . . . 5 Stars ++++ LOVED. Just finished this incredible and compelling book. It may take some time to get my heart rate back to normal. My nails will never be the same.

Heather Gudenkauf returns following Missing Pieces landing on my Top 50 Books of 2016 with her "Best Yet," NOT A SOUND. Hands down, this is the "best book I have read in 2017!" I have no doubt by year end, it will still be the best of the year.

As the book opens we meet ER nurse Amelia Winn, specialized in domestic abuse. She has a patient, Stacey and she is leaving. Amelia walks with her to the car and another car is barreling at them, full speed ahead, which ends in tragedy. An unsolved hit-and-run. (hopefully another book here . . . )

Flash forward two years later, Amelia has found herself deaf, jobless, and now separated from her doctor husband, David, her home and her seven-year-old stepdaughter, Nora.

Life has not been easy. She is not able to continue her career as a nurse, and suffers from alcoholism, since the accident.

She has moved to a cabin in the woods and spends her time on the river, paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking, and running with her service dog, Stitch. She is trying to rebuild her life.

Amelia delivers all her commands in Czech to Stitch. His former trainer Vilem was originally from Prague and trained all of his police and rescue dogs using Czech commands, including Stitch and Jake’s K-9.

Jake a childhood friend (her brother Andrew's best friend), now Detective and her best friend. He too has experienced tragedy in his life with his wife’s suicide four years earlier off the Five Mines Bridge. He has helped pull her out of the gutter.

Just when Amelia thinks she is getting her life back on track with a job interview at the hospital (a file clerk), not what she was trained to do, but a step back in the direction, she stumbles upon a dead body in the river that same morning. The body turns out to be a fellow nurse, Gwen.



There are only three ways to get to this remote Five Mines River location: by boat, by four-wheeler, or by foot. She cannot believe Gwen Locke is dead and she cannot help but think of her own accident two years ago, which she is not convinced was an accident, after all. They met being sexual assault nurse examiners. Could it be a rapist or an abusive boyfriend for husband looking for revenge?

What if Gwen’s murder and her attempted murder are connected? She and Gwen both treated patients who were abused by very bad people. Would it be a stretch to think they would come after the nurses who were trying to gather forensic evidence to put them in jail for a very long time? Now she is a witness.

Turns out Amelia had pushed everyone away during the two years after the accident while she spiraled down with the devil (alcohol). In looking at some old emails, Gwen had tried to reach out to her. They had been good friends once before she got hit by a car. Before she lost her hearing and abandoned her family and friends for alcohol. They had daughters about the same age.

Presently, Amelia has not had a drink in eighteen months and determined more than ever to get her life back in order to spend time with Nora.

Amelia is one tough cookie (love her) . . . and she soon suspects there is more than meets the eye with the murder. Crazy things begin happening. There are tons of suspects. However, she keeps her suspicions to herself, after Jake tells her to let them handle the case.

She becomes obsessed with finding the killer and begins her own investigation (she is some detective –no slouch here). Her dog Stitch was a gift from her friend Jake and he is always at her side as her loyal companion. Being deaf really sets her back, working with her handicap--especially with a killer on a loose and she may be next.

Without her hearing, she has to rely on her vision to gauge the world around her.

Pretty soon, she begins suspecting things are not as they appear at work, plus she finds herself doing all sorts of illegal things to gather information. She is determined whoever murdered Gwen, is out to get her next. She will not look the other way.
 

She has two choices when she gets the urge to drink.  The devil is calling her in the back of the cabinet (booze), or she can do what she does to make the urge pass.  Go for a run.  However, when it is dark, remote, and a killer on the loose, the two choices are not so great.  She chooses the darkness and lurking danger outside, over the bottle.


It the meantime, the only person near her is her closest neighbor, Evan who owns the Five Mines Outfitters. She now is dealing with Peter, someone from Gwen's past. An obsessive-compulsive quasi-stalker (used bookstore owner) who lives in his parent’s house and spends his free time in a garage, pasting news articles about his murdered ex-girlfriend into a scrapbook.
 


She cannot seem to wrap her head around all that has happened. Gwen’s death, her mysterious email, missing records at the hospital, David’s newfound interest in her, not to mention Jake’s; the break-in at her house, the condition of David’s boat, Peter’s strange behavior and his cryptic statement making her suspect her ex-husband.

None of this adds up and she must do more digging. Is she missing something? Something very wrong is going on. Could her doctor ex-husband be involved in a murder? Complex. 

Plus, someone is trying to discredit her by breaking into her house (using her past alcoholism), and setting her up. Someone is trying to cover their tracks, and she may be next on their list. The closer she gets to discovering the truth, she and Stitch find themselves in a complex dangerous web of deceit.

A huge fan of this talented author; have read all her books and enjoyed them immensely; however, this one is particularly powerful, compelling, explosive, intense, and emotional . . . as the author mentions, her most personal; referencing "Amelia is one of her most complicated endearing characters to-date."

If you can only read one (moving and emotional) crime thriller this year— this would be the ONE. There is so much here on a number of different levels. Yes, you need to pre-order ASAP and count yourself fortunate if you land an early reading copy. (I am beyond grateful).

Readers, you will fall in love with Amelia and Stitch (side kick service dog). The most courageous (and intelligent), strong-willed, and witty duo I have ever met between the pages. The duo tackles a powerful sociopath on their own. A whodunit on steroids.

Well-written, to give you an idea: A mix of Jodi Picoult, Diane Chamberlain, Amy Hatvany, Lisa Scottoline, Lisa Unger, Lisa Gardner (my other 2017 favorite), Jennifer Jaynes, and Michael and Daniel Palmer (medical thrillers), and of course the icing on the cake: Heather Gudenkauf's own signature trademark style. Top-Shelf.
 


Intricately plotted, fast-paced, memorable characters with realistic inner struggles; highly-charged subject matter, more twists than you can imagine . . . and the riveting taut suspense kept my heart beating non-stop (the scene by the riverbank in the snow) full blown, Tachycardia. This is what I call an "emotional thriller." I would not change one word.

As I mentioned in my comments while reading, I give first prize to Heather, for the "most catching" hook me, at first chapter ever. Jaw-dropping. It does not stop there. The same breakneck speed intensity continues to the explosive heart-pounding finale.

I can see why NOT A SOUND has received rave advance editorial praise. Believe every word. Impeccable research, from cancer, the medical profession, health care, whistleblowing, terminal illness, alcoholism, addiction, step-parenting, marriage, murder, domestic abuse, victims of violent crime, hearing impaired, service dogs, to so much more.

The setting, weather, and nature add to the mystery and intrigue. Reminded me of my days living in Big Canoe (North Georgia mountains) in my log cabin in the woods overlooking a lake; heavenly.

In addition, a huge medical thriller fan as well, and cancer is a topic close to my heart. An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions. A cautionary tale, (more realistic than we know), without saying too much - a timely subject.

I for one, hope we see more of Amelia and Stitch in future books. They are too good to end. If you have not read this author, what are you waiting for? A book to re-read and have also pre-ordered the audiobook (narrated by Julia Whelan).

Publishers Weekly
Kirkus Reviews
Heather Gudenkauf and Lisa Unger in Conversation

A very "special thank you" to Park Row Books and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

JDCMustReadBooks
 
 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/01/01/Not-a-Sound
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review 2017-03-24 14:53
Mama's Knight A Cancer Story of Love by Aurora Whittet
Mama's Knight: A Cancer Story of Love - Aurora Whittet

I would give this book 1000 stars if I could. As a cancer survivor this book is very special to me. My children were not small but were still young when I battled my cancer. I wish this book had of been round to share with them. The book will make a child feel special during a horrible time in their families life. The book is also kind of like a log, that you fill out. The Child is knighted as on the first pages. So they have a special place in the journey.

 

The story is from a Mama with cancer to their special Knight. To give them love and support as well as helping them to understand the battle. I cried while reading this book and am crying again as I write this. Cancer is a horrible time for anyone and their families. Children especially since they want to help but cannot.

 

Aurora Whittet has done an amazing job with this book. She can help so many families with her special story and by making every child feel special. This will also help the Mama's by giving them a way of helping them help their child through their harrowing journey.

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review 2017-02-20 22:01
Audio/Book Review of The Healer by Christoph Fischer
The Healer - Christoph Fischer

When advertising executive Erica Whittaker is diagnosed with terminal cancer, western medicine fails her. The only hope left for her to survive is controversial healer Arpan. She locates the man whose touch could heal her but finds he has retired from the limelight and refuses to treat her. Erica, consumed by stage four pancreatic cancer, is desperate and desperate people are no longer logical nor are they willing to take no for an answer. Arpan has retired for good reasons. casting more than the shadow of a doubt over his abilities. So begins a journey that will challenge them both as the past threatens to catch up with him as much as with her. Can he really heal her? Can she trust him with her life? And will they both achieve what they set out to do before running out of time?

 

Review 4*

 

This is an intriguing psychological/medical thriller. I really enjoyed it!

 

I received a complimentary gift copy of this book in audio format from the author with no expectation of a positive review. This is my honest opinion.

 

This audiobook is narrated by Georgina Tate. She has a clear reading voice. Unfortunately, I was not keen on her reading style. She read the story in a jerky fashion in my opinion, taking unnecessary breaths in the middle of a sentence where no comma should be, and her pacing was a little too slow for my taste. She also did not modulate her voice or change her tone often, which made some sections rather monotonous. She also didn't even attempt to give the characters different tones or accents. This, in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, as not many people can do accents. Nevertheless, it made me feel a little bored at times and I considered switching over to a different story. However, I persevered right until the end.

 

Erica Whittaker is an interesting character. She is a woman who has been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. After a course of chemo that leaves her feeling extremely ill, she turns in desperation to a faith healer called Arpan, who has retired to the wilds of Wales, in an attempt to cure it.

 

I found myself intrigued with the storyline, which is told through the eyes of Erica. I also found some of the dialogue a bit clunky and repetitive, especially in the beginning where Erica first meets Arpan and tries to convince him to heal her. Arpan is an interesting character. He has retired from the limelight as a healer after a healing went wrong and his client died, which created a media circus. He is extremely reluctant to heal Erica and it's not until later in the story that one discovers the reason why. He also has an apprentice called Anuge (sorry, not sure of spelling). What got me curious about this situation is that if he's not practicing healing, why did he have an apprentice? Anyway, as the story unfolded, the mystery and suspense surrounding Arpan's apparent retirement comes to light when a drug company comes calling. I must admit there are several twists to this story that I didn't see coming, though I did have suspicions about a few things that I deduced correctly when they were revealed. The ending, however, left me feeling with a blend of surprise and disgust at how an innocent person can have their life ruined by either a potentially deadly mistake or a deliberate scam. The author has left the ending a little vague so a reader can make their own conclusion on this point.

 

Christoph Fischer is a relatively new author to me in that I've only read some of his short stories in an anthology he contributed to. Nevertheless, I love his writing style and, if I had read this book rather than listened to it, I think I would have enjoyed it better flow-wise. I would definitely read more of his books in the future.

 

Although there are no scenes of a sexual nature, violence or profane language, I do not recommend this book to younger readers due to the dark subject matter. I do, however, highly recommend this book if you love psychological or medical thrillers. - Lynn Worton

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review 2017-02-15 22:02
Everything is possible with a little help from your friends
Life in a Fishbowl - Len Vlahos

Thanks to Net Galley and to Bloomsbury Childrens for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This novel, that although classified in the category of teen and young adult literature can be read by anyone, is the story of the Stone family whom we meet when they are at a moment of crisis. When the father, Jared, is diagnosed with a brain tumour, aware that he’ll lose his faculties and his family are going to be left without his support, he decides drastic measures are necessary. What follows is the story of how his decisions affect all around him and how we can achieve incredible things if we never give up and have the support of our friends.

The novel is told, in the third person, from a variety of characters’ point of view, including Jared (although he becomes progressively confused), Jackie, his oldest daughter, and the central point of the story, Deirdre, the mother, Megan, the younger sister, and a number of characters extraneous to the family, including a young girl whose main contact with the outside world is Warcraft, a millionaire who’d do anything to keep himself entertained, a ruthless TV executive, a hard and unforgiving nun, and even Glio, the tumour that takes over Jared’s brain.

When Jared’s plan of offering himself for sale in e-Bay doesn’t work out and he ends up signing a contract to become the star of a reality TV following the last days of his life on the screen, everybody’s lives end up in turmoil. Shy Jackie, whose only refuge is social media and her friendship with a Russian schoolboy (fantastic Max), can’t think of anything worse than having cameras at home. The way the television crew manipulates the images and creates a distorted version of her family and her reality makes her want to resist, and by the end of the novel she’s discovered that she’s strong and resourceful and she’s strengthened the link with her sister (who is seen as cruel and superficial at the start).

Most of the adults in the novel (other than one of the teachers and the members of the Stone family) are depicted as egotistical and self-serving, and they don’t truly care about others. Although some of the reviews comment that the description is not accurate as it states that the novel is Jackie’s story whilst the action is split between many characters, for me, Jackie is the heroine, the main protagonist of the book and the heart of the story. Some of the characters that occupy quite a few pages at the beginning disappear when they’ve served their purpose and others are there to either aid or mostly hinder Jackie’s attempts at helping her father end up his life with dignity.

There is a strong element of criticism of the invasion of privacy by media, in this case, a reality TV programme that, like the cancer, feeds on what it likes and leaves destruction around it. Their commercialism, manipulation and money grabbing tactics are resisted by Jackie and her friends, in a David versus Goliath situation. On the other hand, the novel also shows that social media and platforms like YouTube aren’t good or bad in themselves and they can be used to great effect to subvert the established order.

For me, the younger characters are rendered more realistically and are easier to empathise with (as is to be expected from the genre and its intended audience). The novel is particularly focused on less popular and more introverted characters, who aren’t happy in standard social situations and suffer the unwanted attention of their peers when they are not openly bullied. They get to shine through and are shown as talented, imaginative and loyal friends, in contrast with both the adults and the popular but superficial kid.

I am intrigued by the use of the tumour as one of the narrators. It allows us to share in some of Jared’s memories (and due to his rapidly progressive illness that’s one of the only ways we have of getting some sense of who this man was before his diagnosis) but most importantly perhaps, the destruction it creates (and the way it takes over his host) parallels what the TV programme do, progressively limiting the freedom of the occupants, eventually leaving them nothing. At least the tumour is not aware of it and has no will of its own. The amount of anatomical and functional detail is impressive without slowing the action or interfering with the development of the story.

An inspiring novel that deals with a difficult subject (several difficult subjects) and ultimately emphasises the importance of friends, family and of standing up for what we think is right.

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review 2017-02-03 17:47
The Truth About Cancer - Kelly Strenge

The truth about Cancer by Kelly Strenge
Wanted to read this book because we do have young children in our family and with odds of somebody getting cancer the book would be able to prepare us in how to talk to the kids. I am terrified of cancer myself and I think children would be able to see that in how I talk to them.  This book would make it easier.
What I like about this book are the colors on the pages-they are not vibrant and brilliant, they are calming with muted tones to help relax you.
The story starts out by reading to your child about what cancer really is, showing parts of the body and what is happening inside but in a way as not to scare the child. There are so many inspiring, positive thoughts in this book it reinforces that others are also around to help you.
Enjoyed this book for such a devastating diagnosis because you have to have faith and hope. I was afraid to read this book thinking it would terrify me even more. Glad I got over the fear and read it through to the end as it's calming and filled with faith and hope through the stages.
I received this book from the author and this is my honest review.

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