Tag: family

Book Review: The Mother-in-law, by Sally Hepworth

the mother-in-law
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  The Mother-in-law
Author:  Sally Hepworth
Genre:  Domestic suspense
Rating:  4 out of 5

When Lucy married Ollie ten years ago, she couldn’t wait to become part of his family. But his mother, Diana, had other plans. She kept Lucy at arm’s length, always said exactly the wrong thing and made Lucy feel never-good-enough, and prioritized her job aiding refugees. Who could compete with that? Not stay-at-home mom Lucy.

Now Diana has been found dead of an apparent suicide, a note beside her blaming advanced cancer. But the police aren’t so sure. There are traces of poison in her system—and no trace of cancer. Things aren’t adding up, and every member of the family is under scrutiny—especially Lucy, whose tumultuous relationship with Diana is no secret from anyone.

I was kind of on the fence about this one. I know every mother-in-law isn’t evil—they’re just typecast that way—and I wasn’t sure I wanted to read something predictable. This was not a predictable read. It’s told in alternating viewpoints—Lucy and Diana—then and now, gradually revealing the truth of the relationship between the two—and what drove someone to kill Diana.

Sally Hepworth is a bestselling author who lives in Australia. The Mother-in-law is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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Book Review: The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green, by Erica Boyce

15 wonders
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Landmark.

Title:  The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green
Author:  Erica Boyce
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  5 out of 5

Daniel Green is a member of a secret organization. He travels the country making crop circles. He loves making art in secret, art that leaves people talking and wondering what if. Daniel is no stranger to being alone, but when a Vermont farmer’s dying wish brings him to a small farming town, Daniel finds himself involved in much more than making crop circles, as the lives of the farmer’s family erupt in struggles.

I know basically nothing about crop circles. Is this secret organization who makes them at people’s covert request based on the truth? No idea. But it’s a very cool concept, so I bought into it for this novel. The setting was so well-done that I could see this small farming town—unsettling, considering towns that small make me want to break out into hives—and its residents clearly. I enjoyed this book very much!

Erica Boyce is a member of the Massachusetts bar and an editor. The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Little Lovely Things, by Maureen Joyce Connolly

little lovely things
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Landmark.

Title:  Little Lovely Things
Author:  Maureen Joyce Connolly
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Claire Rawlings can’t afford to get sick. Her two little girls are asleep in the back seat. She’s a medical resident. And she’s speeding down the highway. She doesn’t have time to get sick. But nausea and dizziness wait for no woman, so she exits the freeway to find a gas station, runs to the bathroom, and passes out.

When she wakes up a short while later, her car—and her two little girls—are gone. There are no witnesses, and the police struggle to find any leads. As the days pass, Claire struggles against her own guilt as her marriage crumbles under the strain.

The only lead they have—a witness who’s unreliable at best—only leads them to more devastation, but Claire is convinced there is still hope…if only she can hold things together and hang on.

Little Lovely Things is about a mother’s worst nightmare and is at turns horrific. The mystery over who took the girls haunts Claire’s every moment and even when it seems all hope is lost; she clings to the remnant. There’s some interesting—and depressing—bits about Traveler society, and overall, the book is dark with glimmers of hope and light.

Maureen Joyce Connolly is a poet, a foodie, and a dragon boat racer. Little Lovely Things is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Cliff House, by RaeAnne Thayne

 

the cliff house
Image belongs to Harlequin.

Title:  The Cliff House
Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

After the death of their mother, Daisy and Beatriz were raised by their aunt Stella, barely 10 years older than Daisy. Stella gave up all her dreams to raise the girls, but now she’s hoping for a chance to realize her deepest dream—and maybe get a chance to correct a mistake she made long ago.

Bea made a happy life for herself after her marriage ended. Her beautiful daughter keeps her on her toes, and her art keeps her fulfilled. She’s even wondering if there’s something more between her and her best friend when her ex-husband shows back up, eager for reconciliation. It would make their daughter happy, but what about Bea?

Daisy works hard, gets thing done, and never, ever takes risks. That’s the way to get hurt, and Daisy has had quite enough of that, thank you. Until she meets a handsome stranger who makes her question everything she thought was true.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Cliff House. The characters are so distinct yet make such a perfect family. I could relate to all of them and their struggles—poor Stella—and I wanted them to find happiness. An enjoyable read!

RaeAnne Thayne was a journalist before she started writing fiction. The Cliff House is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/HQN via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: In Another Life, by C.C. Hunter

in another life
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  In Another Life
Author:  C.C. Hunter
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Chloe was three years old when she was adopted and became Chloe Holden. She wishes her biological mom had wanted to keep her, but she’s had a good, happy life. Until her parents’ divorce, when her mom moves her to Joyful, Texas—where joy is in short supply for Chloe’s mom, still bitter and angry from her dad’s betrayal.

Chloe runs into Cash—a hot guy from her new school—but his suspicion makes her wary. Who does Cash think she is? Chloe’s trying to parent her mother, and she could really use someone to rely on, but when Cash tells her he thinks she’s the kidnapped daughter of his foster parents, Chloe can’t deal with the questions this possibility raises.

In Another Life is a quick, read. It’s billed as a suspense novel, but I’d just say it has a little suspense in it. The focus is on the relationship between Chloe and Cash, but also on Chloe’s mom and her issues. I enjoyed reading it, but there weren’t any “I didn’t see that coming!” moments. Chloe and Cash both have some growing-up to do, and this novel explores the beginnings of that.

C.C. Hunter is a NY Times-bestselling author. In Another Life is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Woman 99, by Greer Macallister

woman 99
Image belongs to SOURCEBOOKS Landmark.

Title:  Woman 99
Author:  Greer Macallister
Genre:  historical fiction
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Charlotte Smith’s family is wealthy, and she is expected to marry well and improve the family’s fortunes. She and her sister are to never do anything to embarrass the family. So, when Charlotte’ sister, Phoebe does embarrass the family with her behavior, she’s sent to the notorious Goldengrove Asylum.

Charlotte knows it’s her fault Phoebe was sent away, but she’s determined to make it right, so she disguises herself as a destitute woman with mental health issues and becomes Woman 99 at the asylum.

It’s not what she expected. Some of the women desperately need the help the asylum could provide—if it weren’t twisted by greed and power—but some of the women are there because they are merely inconvenient to their families. As Charlotte searches for Phoebe in the asylum, she realizes there are deeper wrongs to be righted.

I found Woman 99 engrossing from the first page. I love a good historical, and I thought this one was extremely well-done. Charlotte’s growth through the book is wonderful to see:  from a compliant, agreeable young woman to a strong and forthright woman who is not afraid to challenge the status quo. Definitely worth reading!

Greer Macallister is a USA Today-bestselling author. Woman 99 is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of SOURCEBOOKS Landmark via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Quiet You Carry, by Nikki Barthelmess

the quiet you carry
Image belongs to Flux Books.

Title:  The Quiet You Carry
Author:  Nikki Barthelmess
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Victoria Parker lost her mother to cancer a few years ago, but promised she’d always take care of her father. Now he’s remarried, and she has a stepsister a little younger than herself, and her dad’s been acting weird. She knows something isn’t right, but she has no idea how not right it is—until she finds herself locked out of the house at 3 a.m. because her dad called the cops on her.

Now she’s in foster care away from everything she’s every known. The small country school is a nightmare, but she soon has a few friends…but she doesn’t let anyone know she’s in foster care. And she definitely doesn’t talk about why. Her dreams of college are the only things keeping her going. Certainly not her hateful foster mother.

But Victoria can’t stop worrying about her stepsister. She knows she must protect Sarah from her own father, but she can’t do it alone. She’ll have to give up her secrets if she’s to keep Sarah safe.

This is a book about some hard topics:  abuse, foster care, the loss of a parent. Victoria spends a lot of time in denial, but the author takes care to show the reader why she’s in denial, and how she rationalizes things to herself. I found this story both horrifying and sad, but it’s very well-written and engrossing, and I highly recommend it.

Nikki Barthelmess is a journalist and an author. The Quiet You Carry is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of North Star Editions/Flux via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Roam, by C.H. Armstrong

roam
Image belongs to Central Avenue Publishing.

Title:  Roam
Author:  C.H. Armstrong
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Abby is 17, new to town, and she and her family are living on the streets as a result of her mother’s bad decision. They had to leave Omaha behind because of the backlash—and the friends who abandoned them.

Now they’re ready to make a fresh start. Abby dreams of having a boyfriend, going to college, and a career in music, but the winter is bad, and they never know where their next meal is coming from. Her stepfather is having trouble finding a job. Her mother is similarly out of luck. Abby’s family needs help, but she’s afraid to tell her new friends the truth, after the devastation of losing all her friends at her old school.

Roam was a difficult book to read. The subject matter is heavy—and sad. I cannot imagine being homeless, much less homeless with two kids. Abby is a strong person, but guarded, after everything she’s been through. Sometimes, asking for help is the hardest thing to do.

C.H. Armstrong holds a B.A. in Journalism, and lives in Minnesota. Roam is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Central Avenue Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

 

 

Book Review: The Inbetween Days, by Eva Woods

the inbetween days
Image belongs to Graydon House/Harlequin.

Title:   The Inbetween Days
Author:   Eva Woods
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:   4 out of 5

Rosie Cook wakes up in a hospital, having been hit by a bus, but no one knows she’s awake. Everyone thinks she’s in a coma, on the verge of death. Rosie can’t remember anything:  who she is, what her life is like, or how she got hit by a bus. She just knows she wants to live.

Then Rosie starts remembering things:  a fight with her sister, a walk on a beach, the day her brother was born. But why these memories? And what do they mean? Rosie has trouble facing what the memories reveal about who she was before she woke up, but if she doesn’t make sense of them and figure out who she really is and what she wants, she may never get the chance to try.

The Inbetween Days is touted as emotional and comic, but I wouldn’t really say it’s a comic novel. There are some funny moments, and every page is full of emotion, but it’s not a humorous book. Rosie wasn’t a very happy person—or a nice one—and her memories are not usually happy ones. However, the story follows Rosie’s change from a person she can’t stand, to one filled with hope and promise, and this is truly an excellent read, although Rosie’s sister, Daisy was the one I really related to.

Eva Woods is a writer and lecturer. The Inbetween Days is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Graydon House/Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: What You Hide, by Natalie D. Richards

what you hide
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Fire.

Title:   What You Hide
Author:   Natalie D. Richards
Genre:   YA
Rating:   4 out of 5

Mallory’s step-father is so controlling her mother can’t breathe without him knowing about it, and Mallory is afraid his control will turn violent. She’s sure something sinister lurks in his past, and she’s desperate to get her pregnant mother out of danger. But her mother refuses to leave, and Mallory finds herself staying with a friend for a few days, then out on the streets. The local library is her only refuge:  a warm place to get her online schooling completed while she searches for a more permanent solution.

After a stunt gone wrong, Spencer is doing community service at the library. He likes the peace and quiet there—until a body is discovered in the stacks—and he likes Mallory. He’s sure she’s hiding something, and he’s desperate to help her. It takes his mind off his own problems: his parents have certain expectations for him, expectations that make him miserable.

Mallory doesn’t want to trust Spencer, but there’s no one she can turn to, so she slowly accepts his help. But there’s more going on at the library than they imagine. Black fingerprints. Footprints that lead nowhere. Mysterious cries. And the messages left scrawled on the walls. Mallory realizes her secrets are no the only things hidden in the library.

This is billed as a thriller, but I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. Mallory’s storyline is tough and frustrating:  her mother’s refusal to leave a bad situation, Mallory’s inability to find help, her struggles while homeless. She has major trust issues, but she starts to work through them with Spencer’s help. Spencer has his own issues—while they may not seem like a big deal to everyone, they’re huge for him, but he still wants to help Mallory. Mallory and Spencer both learn a great deal about who they are—and who they want to be.

Natalie D. Richards lives and writes in Ohio. What You Hide is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.)