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review 2017-04-20 18:09
All the Best People/Sonja Yoerg
All the Best People - Sonja Yoerg

Vermont, 1972. Carole LaPorte has a satisfying, ordinary life. She cares for her children, balances the books for the family's auto shop and laughs when her husband slow dances her across the kitchen floor. Her tragic childhood might have happened to someone else.

But now her mind is playing tricks on her. The accounts won't reconcile and the murmuring she hears isn't the television. She ought to seek help, but she's terrified of being locked away in a mental hospital like her mother, Solange. So Carole hides her symptoms, withdraws from her family and unwittingly sets her eleven-year-old daughter Alison on a desperate search for meaning and power: in Tarot cards, in omens from a nearby river and in a mysterious blue glass box belonging to her grandmother.

An exploration of the power of courage and love to overcome a damning legacy, All the Best People celebrates the search for identity and grace in the most ordinary lives.

I thought this book was really beautiful and eloquently written and a fine example of how women's fiction can be literary fiction, deep and moving with a great portrayal of mental illness.

It did take me several chapters to become engrossed in this novel and to get my bearings regarding who was who. Even then I felt I could have stepped away; however, the characters were intricately developed and crafted with each having their own and I thought of them affectionately.

This story has its origins in a real law case and though the rest of it is fictionalised I was impressed by the way that Yoerg set up the effect of the case on the generations to come. Additionally, the setting of Vermont was well done and I felt like this could have been memoir at points.

Classism was portrayed in such an incredible manner. I was fascinated by how we saw it slowly creep through the story to play a huge role, and the way that prejudice was so easily dismissed and explained away. The concept of bad blood coming back later through Carole's illness was so incredibly poignant and ironic, and I loved the way the last twist of information worked against those who'd used the idea.

The connection between Solange and Alison was honestly so sweet. Alison was an absolute delight to read about and was incredibly well-written; I could see aspects of my twelve-year-old sister in her. The way she talked about feeling lonely and forgotten leading up to how she comes to really appreciate her mother was incredibly touching.

Not all characters were 'good' and I appreciated the way this showed all facets of people--the good, the bad, and the ugly. I loved how even when I adored a character, they showed their flaws and did something I wouldn't expect.

Finally, and most importantly, I loved how this talked about mental illness. So often literature does no justice to this very important matter, but this showed how mental illness is real, how it needs to be talked about, and how it is something that we can live with.

Beautiful, beautiful novel. I highly recommend for those looking for a deeper women's lit read.


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review 2017-04-14 00:56
The Girl Who Was Taken/Charlie Donea
The Girl Who Was Taken - Charlie Donlea

Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald are both high school seniors in the small town of Emerson Bay, North Carolina. When they disappear from a beach party one warm summer night, police launch a massive search. No clues are found, and hope is almost lost until Megan miraculously surfaces after escaping from a bunker deep in the woods.

A year later, the bestselling account of her ordeal has turned Megan from local hero to national celebrity. It’s a triumphant, inspiring story, except for one inconvenient detail: Nicole is still missing. Nicole’s older sister Livia, a fellow in forensic pathology, expects that one day soon Nicole’s body will be found, and it will be up to someone like Livia to analyze the evidence and finally determine her sister’s fate. Instead, the first clue to Nicole’s disappearance comes from another body that shows up in Livia’s morgue—that of a young man connected to Nicole’s past. Livia reaches out to Megan for help, hoping to learn more about the night the two were taken. Other girls have gone missing too, and Livia is increasingly certain the cases are connected.

But Megan knows more than she revealed in her blockbuster book. Flashes of memory are coming together, pointing to something darker and more monstrous than her chilling memoir describes. And the deeper she and Livia dig, the more they realize that sometimes true terror lies in finding exactly what you’ve been looking for.


Simply for the forensic pathology element, this book is worth the read. And the mystery was pretty great, too.


I absolutely adored the clinical perspective of this book. Dr. Cutty starts looking at living people and seeing how they might die, which was grotesque but at the same time terribly intriguing to read about and gave her a unique perspective on characters.


I was intrigued by the disconnect between how Megan viewed herself, how her parents viewed her, and how society viewed her. The way that the public so desperately wanted her to be okay was so heartbreaking, and it was also harrowing to see how it was hard for her to truly have her thoughts heard. Her psychologist hypnotises her in an immensely fascinating process to watch and learn about.


I thought the organisation was confusing and I found it hard to follow the separate timelines at points. There are a lot of characters to keep track of and a lot of girls that are hurt. I think it would have benefitted from seeing fewer points of view.


The ending was highly satisfactory, though sad and not at all what I expected. This book had my emotions going and the mystery led me in several different ways, yet the ultimate resolution was not as I expected, though it made total sense.


The relationships that the various characters form was the icing on the cake for this book. I didn't expect them to evolve as they did, yet all details were satisfying to hear about.


This book is definitely worth the read.


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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review 2017-04-13 00:24
The F Word/Liza Palmer
The F Word - Liza Palmer

Olivia Morten is perfect. Maybe her high-flying publicist job has taken over her life, but her clients are Los Angeles' hottest celebrities. Maybe her husband is never around, but he is a drop-dead-gorgeous, successful doctor. Maybe her friends are dumb, but they know how to look glamorous at a cocktail party. And maybe her past harbors an incredibly embarrassing secret, but no one remembers high school…right?

When Ben Dunn, Olivia’s high school arch nemesis and onetime crush, suddenly resurfaces, Olivia realizes how precarious all of her perfection is. As she finds herself dredging up long-suppressed memories from her past, she is forced to confront the most painful truth of all: maybe she used to be the fat girl, but she used to be happy, too.


How fun this book was! And it had a great message of self discovery and self love also.


This wasn't comedic enough for me to really call it a chick flick, but it was a light women's fiction read that, though fairly simple and a little predictable, was very pleasurable leisure reading and brought me a lot of enjoyment.


Olivia's relationship with herself is something that a lot of us can relate to. She's been suppressing "Fat Liv" for many years and seeing how this interacts with "New Liv" is intriguing. She's putting on a facade for so many people, even her husband, and her realisations about how she treats other people are intriguing.


I would have liked to have seen more of how she lost her weight. She talks about having surgery scars, but she also puts a lot of effort into her diet and into going to the gym, so she made some lifestyle changes too. It's interesting to see how this doesn't affect her life terribly much. I did adore her commentary about noticing people on first dates because the girls would eat a lot to show they were low maintenance.


I also appreciated how she had anxiety and suffers from a severe panic attack--this is something I'd like to see more of in books. It fit in with Olivia's character and gave her more merit for being as strong as she is.


I adored Caroline Lang, the celebrity of the book whose life is falling apart in a way that greatly parallels Olivia's. Seeing Olivia do her publicity magic was really interesting; she and her assistant had a great grasp of how the public viewed events and how they could effectively turn this around.


This was a fabulous light read and I highly recommend it.


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-04-12 17:12
Beartown/Fredrik Backman
Beartown: A Novel - Fredrik Backman

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.


Backman has really gone and done it again with this heart-wrenching novel that has characters that will resonate with all readers.


"Why does anybody care about hockey? Because it tells stories." I was a little apprehensive when I realised that this book would revolve around hockey; however, some of the characters in this book were apprehensive when they realised that they were living in a town where the world revolved around hockey. There's a character for everyone here.


Only about a quarter of the way through I had realised that I was reading a gorgeous depiction of what it meant to be a parent, especially to be a mother. A striking scene was one mother counting her children at night, remembering to include the one that was in heaven. Little did I realise how much more intense it would get before the end.


The myriad of characters in this book was absolutely delightful and while I am normally horrid at remembering a main character's name, I kept everyone in this book straight because they were all so distinctly important and memorable. Benji was definitely my favourite but in their own ways they all had really sweet or interesting aspects to them.


This tells such an important tale about people's priorities and the way that they will see certain events. It battles a huge topic but depicts it with thoughtful accuracy. It portrayed the reasoning behind these perspectives without ever justifying them. The ultimate ending was interpretive yet satisfying.


I loved this book mainly for its class commentary and for the way it depicted hope, trust in adult figures, and the way that kids are forced to grow up. This is a must-read.


This is Backman's best work yet and is ever so important.


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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review 2017-04-05 17:12
One Perfect Lie/Lisa Scottoline
One Perfect Lie - Lisa Scottoline

A handsome stranger moves to the small Pennsylvania town of Central Valley, and his name is Chris Brennan. He’s applying for a job as a teacher and varsity baseball coach at the local high school, and he looks perfect, on paper. But his name is an alias, his resume is false, and everything about him is a lie. And he has a secret plan - for which he needs a pawn on the baseball team.

Susan Sematov loves her younger son Raz, the quirky and free-spirited pitcher of the team. But Raz’s adored father died only a few months ago, and the family is grief-stricken. Secretly, Raz is looking to fill the Daddy-shaped hole in his heart.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who’s dedicated to her only son Justin, the quiet rookie on the team. But Justin’s shy and reserved nature renders him vulnerable to attention, including that of a new father-figure.

Mindy Kostis is the wife of a busy surgeon and the queen bee of the baseball boosters, where her super-popular son Evan is the star catcher. But she doesn’t realize that Evan’s sense of entitlement is becoming a full-blown case of affluenza, and after he gets his new BMW, it’s impossible to know where he’s going – or whom he’s spending time with.

The lives of these families revolve around the baseball team – and Chris Brennan. What does he really want? How far will he go to get it? Who among them will survive the lethal jeopardy threatening them, from the shadows?


Well, this book really surprised me time after time. Scotterline has a knack for thrilling books that also present some interesting thought about life, and this was indeed the case here.


And this one definitely threw me for a total loop. I'm used to not being able to guess what will happen in a book; however, I'm not used to books crossing over to entirely different genres than I thought they were in.


Chris as a character had much more depth to him than I initially thought. The way that his background led him to be the type of person he was really sad to read about but made him a more well-rounded person. At first, I definitely thought that he'd be pretty flat and predictable, but he was far from it, and the kind of psychopathic tendencies he had were fabulous.


I can't say I adore Scottoline's writing style; there's something a little bit too fatalistic to it though I can't place my finger on why. However, the curves this threw me for (one so much so that I had to reread five pages to make sure I hadn't missed something) were a lot of fun. Still, though there was some gore, I didn't feel completely on edge.


There were politics to this also that were intriguing. I'm not going to add much more so as not to spoil anything, but yeah.


This is a pretty solid thriller. Would recommend.


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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