Mary Kubica: Double Review Feature

Last month for my book club we read, Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl.  I was really excited to read this book as I had heard good things about her novels.  I love a good suspense book so I nominated this for one for book club.  Maybe my expectations were too high going in, as this novel fell a bit flat for me.

 

the good girlTHE GOOD GIRL by Mary Kubica

2014; 352 Pages (Mira, Harlequin)

Genre: suspense, mystery, psychological thriller, fiction,

Rating: ★★★

Mia has gone missing.  Mia has been found.

After dinner with her boyfriend, Mia Dennett has never been seen again.  We find out that Mia goes home with Colin Thatcher who kidnaps her and holds her hostage.  Besides her mother, Gabe Hoffman (the cop) are the only ones who seem to be really looking for her.  Then Mia is found and she cannot remember her ordeal.

Kubica divides this novel into before and after – before Mia is kidnapped and after Mia is found.  In this format we are given the beginning and end of the story, but not the details of why and how. I kind of liked this aspect of the story because you build up to what actually happens.   Mia’s kidnapping is told through Colin (her abductor), Gabe (the detective) and Eve’s (Mia’s mom) point of view.  I wasn’t really interested in Eve’s point of view other than to know what Mia was going through post-kidnapping.  Gabe’s point of view gives us a bit of the inside to Colin’s life and how they find Mia.  Colin’s point of view is probably the best as it provides us with most of what is going on with Mia during that time.  BUT, a lot of the story is tell instead of show.  This seems to slow the story and pace down and also takes out the action.  I did finish the novel,  and was interested in knowing how it ended, but it wasn’t a page turner for me.  I would put it down and only the looming date of book club motivated me to pick it back up. I just didn’t connect with the most of the characters as they felt a bit distant.  Instead of hearing their point of view and feeling the emotions, it felt more like getting a third account of a story.  I didn’t care for the ending and just could not buy all of what was happening.  I gave it a three as it was an okay read but nothing stellar.  This is just one book, so I am looking forward to reading her newest novel…Every Last Lie.

 

every last lieEVERY LAST LIE by Mary Kubica

June 2017; 288 Pages (Mira, Harlequin)

Genre: suspense, mystery, psychological thriller, fiction,

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY)

Rating: ★★1/2

Before Nick and his daughter, Maisie return home from ballet class they stop off to get Chinese food.  Clara waits at home with their infant son, Felix.  Instead of returning home, Nick has been killed in a car accident (Maisie survives without a scratch).  The police rule it as an accident, with Nick at fault.  Clara is devastated.  She cannot tell her daughter that Nick is dead and soon starts to suspect maybe his death is more than accident.

This is my second novel by Kubica, and the second time she goes back and forth between before and after an incident.  In this case there is before Nick dies and that is told through Nick’s point of view.  Then there is after he dies, that is Clara’s point of view.  I liked the first half of the novel, then it started to get a bit weird.  I found the ending not satisfying at all. I get the allure of taking the story that way, but it just left me feeling disappointed.  Again it was hard to connect with the characters, but at least this time they were fleshed out a bit more.  I think I am going to pass on Kubica for now…or maybe try an audio version and see if that can bring the characters come to life.

 

 

 

 

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Book Club: August 2016

*originally published on 08/16/2016

15818107ORPHAN TRAIN Written by Christine Baker Kline

2013; 278 Pages (William Morrow)
Genre: historical fiction, contemporary, history, fiction

BOOK CLUB – AUGUST BOOK

Rating: ★
Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from “aging out” of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.” (From Publisher)

First of all, I am probably in the minority when I say that this was just an okay read.  I have heard of orphan trains from my history class in university, so I was really looking forward to this book.  Actually, I am the one that suggested it to my book club because I had heard good things.  I do want to read more on this subject – whether fiction or nonfiction – in the future.  The best moment in the book was when Baker Kline described the orphans and the process they had to go through.

I never really related to Molly as one of the main character so that may have been one of the reasons the book didn’t work for me.  I also felt like we never really got to know Vivian – just a moment in her life.  We rushed through her teens and early adulthood and got a smidge about her later life.  I always felt a little on the outside – as if I was hearing this account third-hand.  By 75% I was just reading to finish the book for book club.  BUT people love this book so I will leave it up to you, as usual 🙂

Past Blog Tour – If the Earl Only Knew

*originally published on 06/06/2016

As promised, today is the book blog tour for IF THE EARL ONLY KNEW! I was happy to read, review and be part of this tour as I really enjoyed this historical romance novel.  I have previously read (and reviewed) Amanda Forester’s Marriage Mart Regency series.

25827706IF THE EARL ONLY KNEW (The Daring Marriages: #1) Written by Amanda Forester

2016; 384 Pages (Sourcebooks Casablanca)
Genre: historical romance, fiction

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY)

Rating: ★★★★

The chase is on in award-winning author Amanda Forester’s brand-new Regency romance series!

A sizzling scandal just waiting to happen…

Orphaned at a young age, Lady Katherine Ashton and her brother have spent most of their lives on the high seas, seeking to restore their family fortune through somewhat dubious means. After that kind of adventure, Kate knows she won’t ever be accepted as a proper society lady.

To the annoyingly clever, temptingly handsome, and altogether troublesome Earl of Wynbrook, society ladies are a dead bore. Kate, on the other hand, is scandalous, alluring, and altogether fascinating. And Kate can’t decide which she relishes more, the thrill of chasing fearsome pirates, or having Wynbrook chase after her…” (From Publisher)

I really enjoy Amanda Forester’s wit and writing. Very much like Jane Austen, Forester means more than what she has literally written.  Forester writes strong sassy women that are trying to maneuver in a world dominated by men. I have to say…and hopefully, Amanda reads this…I kind of wish there was a novella when Kate was in her teens to early 20s (I can’t say anymore without spoilers)! With the steamy romance of Kate and John we also have adventures, banter and realistic themes.  John’s sister was in an accident and loses both of her legs.  I found this portion very interesting as you don’t always get “disabilities” discussed in historical romances.  I am really hoping we get more Ellen and how she progresses in life. The adventures in this book involve both Kate and John and isn’t just John rescuing Kate.  John, as well as a few other men, don’t seem so rigid about gender roles especially when it comes to women they love (familial and romantic).  This is great as a beach read or after a hard day of work…it takes you away but I will warn you that is a bit more than romance fluff!

*Please note: I would read Marriage Mart Regency Trilogy before reading this series IF you like to know all about reoccurring characters.  This character makes only a slight appearance but knowing that character’s back story will make you chuckle and feel like you are in on the secrets!

Audio Review: Whispers

*Originally published 2016/01/26

23846081WHISPERS Written by Lisa Jackson

Narrated by Alyssa Bresnahan

1996 (reissued Oct 2015), 416 Pages (16 Hours and 15 Minutes) Kensington Books

Genre: romance, mystery, suspense


★★

Miranda, Claire and Tessa have been summoned to their family home in Lake Arrowhead, Oregon where their father announces he is running for governor, and needs their cooperation.  Their father also hires an investigator to rifle through their family secrets to see what will hurt his campaign.  Kane Moran, now a reporter, has returned home to also expose family the candidate’s secrets and what find out what really happened sixteen years ago.

Sixteen years ago – eldest daughter, Miranda is love with Hunter and is pregnant with his baby; Claire is in love with Harley and they are engaged to be married; and Tessa has given her virginity to Weston who wants to sleep with all three of the sisters, especially Miranda.  Kendall is also in love with Harley, and is in cahoots with Weston to get Harley back.  Paige, Weston and Harley’s sister, wants Harley to marry Kendall so she can have Kendall in her life.  Their parents are all having affairs with one another and not for love.  Then one night everything blows up when Harley is found dead and the three sisters were in a car accident – all on the same night.

Then we come back to the present (1996) where things s-l-o-w-l-y unfolds just how you think it would.  And, somehow the characters come together in a forced way to tie up loose ends.

This was one of those novels where I did not like a single character.  They were all selfish in their own way and not characters I would root for.  I did come to feel for Miranda and Tessa as their characters did grow and redeemed themselves (in my opinion).  They had the capacity to be strong heroines to carry the novel on their own.  I did not like Claire – or like how she turned out or find that she did anything to change my opinion on her.  And, of course, she is the heroine.  The one everyone wants to love or hate.  She has this big secret and every time the person she is keeping it from comes around, she ALWAYS has to mention that she has this secret from them, that they will hate her, and that she can’t believe they haven’t already figured it out. She also has a love interest (the hero who I also don’t care for) where the “romance” seems to pop out of nowhere, as the chemistry between them is not really there.  We hear they are in love but don’t really see it.  I enjoyed the narrator as she kept a good pace for a long drawn out story.  I felt like there was too much going on and we were in the past too much.  I didn’t think we needed whole back story as it gave away the killer right away.  I felt for this reason their wasn’t much suspense.  This book just didn’t keep my interest.  I did finish it just because I was willing to stay with the story for the author’s sake, and then got to a point where I had to finish or admit great defeat.

Book Club November 2012: The Last Time I Saw You

*Originally published in 2015/09/24

51so7tcskyl-_sx320_bo1204203200_THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU Written by Elizabeth Berg (Read by the Author)

2010, 241 Pages (Random House)

Genre: contemporary fiction, humour

Rating: ★★★★1/2

Divorced and defeated Dorothy cannot wait wait for the 40th high school reunion as she longs to finally sleep with Pete Decker. If she can get the most popular guy maybe her life won’t be so sad. Her ex-husband has already found someone new and her grown daughter is getting married with no input from Dorothy. Mary Alice is still single and back living in her childhood home and helping her senior neighbour, Einer and his caretaker. She longs to go back and show them how far she has come – not that she was ever really bothered being herself – she may even try and seduce Pete Decker. 7012055Einer demands to be her escort in case any of them try anything. The still handsome Pete Decker has just slept with his wife, Nora (separated) cheating on his mistress. This has cleared his brain and he now knows he wants his childhood sweetheart Nora back – but she has moved on. The reunion becomes his obsession in that he hopes it will remind Nora of the good times and bring her back to him. Lester the once nerdy student is now a vet in the next town over and a widower of many years. He is bullied into going to his reunion by his receptionist who insists he needs a woman ASAP. Finally there is Candy Sullivan – beauty queen, the object of lust for men and envy of women. She has gotten bad news about her health and realized that she missed out on having kids for the sake of her husband who isn’t even really there. She feels alone and lonely and realizes that it has always been like that. One night will rock these 5 characters life and for once seen beyond their 17 year old eyes.

6a00e398219280883300e54f3fe1fa8834-800wiI listened to this novel on audio – read by the author and LOVED IT!!! Berg is a great reader as well as author. She has a great depth of emotion and humour. I loved the characters even when I strong disliked them as people – that is what makes them so realistic – they are flawed and no one is better than another. I’m in my 30s and I could totally understand the characters’ emotions whether male or female. I still love berg’s writing.

Book Club September: 2015

*Originally published 2015/09/11

August turned out to be a very busy month for the five of us so we decided to meet after Labour Day weekend.  The book selected was Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. Robinson had been on my list for a bit so I was excited to delve into this novel.

11741HOUSEKEEPING Written by Marilynne Robinson

 1981; 219 Pages (Picador/ Faber and Faber)

Genre: literature, fiction

Rating: ★★★★★

The story is about Ruth and her sister, Lucille – told from Ruth’s point of view.  She shares with us how they are first abandoned by their father and then their mother, Helen, takes her own life leaving them in the care of their maternal grandmother.  She is a good influence on the girls but soon dies. Their grandmother’s two sister-in-laws moved into the home to take care of the girls. They are unsure of how to raise the girls but were still competent.  Once Sylvie, Helen’s sister, returns home upon hearing about her mother’s death she takes over the girls’ care.  Sylvie has never led a stable life and instead of giving the girls stability she brings chaos that cause Ruth and Lucille to question their future quicker than some others. The title “Housekeeping” describes the novel well…but will leave you to read the novel to find out why 😉

6a00e398219280883300e54f3fe1fa8834-800wiRobinson is great with words and has this ability to convey to readers just what loss means to Ruth.  I enjoyed this story but at times the details are too immense and not relevant to the book.  I found that this book would have been a tighter piece of prose as a short story or more concentrated vignettes  tied together as a book.  I am glad I read this novel and will definitely try another novel but this is not a reread for me.  This is a good novel to try if you enjoy a good writing and don’t mind a little more detail than needed.

Book Club 2013: Double Review

*Originally published in 2014

Lauren B. Davis has been on my TBR (to be read) list since 2005 after picking up a copy The Stubborn Season on sale at a local grocery story of all places.  The cover drew me in and the depression era story line sounded intriguing.  Sadly, it took me eight years to read Davis and that has been my loss for sure.

For our November book club selection we decided to try Davis’s novel, Our Daily Bread – published in 2011.  I started this novel knowing only that it has been described as “backwoods noir”.  And, the result…

our-daily-breadOUR DAILY BREAD Written by Lauren B. Davis

2011; 257 Pages (Harper Collins)

Genre: canadiana, fiction, suspense, noir,

Rating:  ★★★★1/2

Inspired by true events – In Davis’s haunting story we meet Albert Erskine, a smart 21 year old who sells weed to make money.  He and his family are shunned by the town of Gideon and are called the “Mountain People”.  Living among his clan, Albert has seen and been through many horrors and it has caused him to become more frustrated and angry.

Soon Albert becomes a mentor to a young boy in town names Bobby Evans. Bobby and his family also do not fit in among the religious town people. His father, Tom is well-liked but is ridiculed for his younger wife’s unfaithfulness. Ivy, his sister, is brilliant but bullied by girls in her class. Her only friend is Dorothy, the 60-something widow who owns the antique shop. Dorothy sees the righteousness attitude in her peers and tries to stay away from them.

As we get to know these characters that are considered the “others” in Gideon Davis also shows what can happen when we let some people int our life.

After dinner one night I sat down to start Our Daily Bread, hoping that I could finish the novel in the next few days, in time for my book cub meeting. The next time I came up for air was when the novel finished. The way Davis grabs you from the beginning with her characters and plot is amazing. Even if you cannot relate to the characters personally you can empathize and feel for them. These are not good or bad people but normal people with every day flaws. I found myself attached to all the characters – loving and hating them or their actions.

The story, even if it was not based on true events, still lingers in my mind and I think about it time to time. It was a book we all liked in my book club and it provided us with a great conversation. I recommend this novel to everyone who appreciates an absorbing novel and loves words.

We all loved the book so much we decided to read another one the following month…

17284524THE EMPTY ROOM Written by Lauren B. Davis

2013, 314 Pages

Genre: canadiana, fiction, addiction

 Rating: ★★★★

Colleen wakes up hungover and only has flashes of the night before. As the day progresses her addiction to alcohol comes to the forefront. Colleen thinks back of her family and how drinking and other drugs were the ruination of many of her relative by drinking themselves to suicide, accidents, etc.  As people bring her drinking to her attention this only causes Colleen to get defensive and retreat. At the end of the day will Colleen admit her problem and seek help?

I was impressed with the way Davis was able to make Colleen’s life and alcoholism work within a day. We were able to see Colleen’s past through flashbacks and interactions with her mother, father and lovers. I like that the chapters were broken up into smaller sections so that the flashbacks were able to flow better. While Colleen is not an overly sympathetic character you still want to follow her story and want her to get sober. The secondary characters help the tension in the story and give Colleen further dimension. I am sold on Davis’s novels! The Empty Room is definitely worth a read

Lauren B. Davis’s website

Lauren was born in Montreal but lived in France for ten years from 1994-2004.  She and her husband, Ron, moved to Princeton in 2004, where they now live with their dog, Bailey, known as the Rescuepoo.

Book Club:An Old-Fashioned Girl

*Originally published 2015/09/09

an old-fashioned girl.jpgAN OLD-FASHION GIRL Written by Louisa May Alcott

1869; 288 Pages (Puffin Classics Edition)

Genre: children, classic, fiction

Rating: ★★★

Polly is invited to stay with wealthy friends in Boston and finds herself to be an old-fashioned country girl. She is not worldly about parties, boys or acting like she has money.  She would prefer to help her elders, read books and spend her time with hobbies.   Polly seems to be helping each of the Shaws more than receiving their patronage.

I LOVE Little Women so was excited to read another book by Alcott but I found this one to lack the heart and story of Little Women. An Old-Fashioned Girl I think is more simplistic and fluffy. You never get to really know Polly like you do the characters in Little Women and the storyline does not have much climax.  It is a fair book and if I read it as a child maybe I would have liked it a lot more.

We read this for our face to face book club and on the whole we found it a bit too simplistic and a bit dull.

BOOK CLUB Review: July 2015

*Originally published 2015/07/28

6a00e398219280883300e54f3fe1fa8834-800wi

Image: Pinterest

This evening at our book club meeting we discussed Toni Morrison’s novel, Home. This short book gave us a lot to talk about – the book, the author and the previous writings of Ms. Morrison.  I have read two other novels by this author, The Bluest Eye and Beloved one I loved and the other left me confused and uninterested.  I was excited when I chose this from our members’ tbr (to be read) list. I have had this need to like Toni Morrison’s writing.

 

home_toni_morrison_novelHome Written by Toni Morrison

2102; 147 Pages (Knopf)

Genre: historical fiction, literary


Rating: ★★1/2 

I was interested in Home as it was set around a Korean War veteran, Frank – a war we never hear much about nor about the effects on veterans – returning home after watching his friends and comrades die leaves him angry, confused and anxious.  As we follow him making his journey home we meet his sister, who gains a job with a doctor that leaves her on death’s door, and having Frank come to her rescue.  Morrison explores many themes -racism, violence, post-traumatic stress disorder and eugenics, to name a few -which I was totally interested in but I felt shafted a bit as she did not delve into details.  There was so much I wanted to know and only caught glimpses.  Her writing felt a bit like excerpts from a novel than a short novel.  Unlike Alice Monroe, I found Morrison was not able to pack a lot into a sentence or two.  And, also unlike Hemingway her quick-straight-to-the-point style fell flat.  While I would not read this book again, nor recommend it (and will probably not keep my copy of the ebook) I cannot say, “I wish I never read this piece.”  Toni Morrison captured my curiosity and interest in looking up some of the historical points in this book and craving to read more about some of the themes she gave an unsatisfying explanation of in Home. It also has me wondering about her back list of books – Sula, Mercy, Tar Baby and Song of Solomon – and makes me want to like majority of her writing.

17307196-_uy200_As for other members of book club – S. enjoyed the short piece and felt satisfy with what Morrison had written though she can understand the points others’ made.  K. who has read a few of Morrison’s novels was disappointed with this book as it didn’t hold up to her usual standards (and had similar views as mine).  H. felt like something was missing and some parts were not explained well.  Overall, we would all give Morrison another shot.  When asked K. and I recommended The Bluest Eye if you wanted to give Morrison a try.

Have you read Home?  What were your thoughts?