The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth audiobook banner

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

There’s only been one time that Rose couldn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be…dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden.

My Review:

You can’t beat this clever read for the tension, suspense, and riveting pacing. The author has managed a brilliant masterpiece of unreliable voices.

Who are you to trust? The voice of Fern, on the autistic spectrum, is super sensitive, reticent, intelligent but socially inept. She often views simple concepts literally and it’s confusing to her. Her sister, the slightly older twin, has been successful in life. Marrying, holding a responsible, well-paying position, and always,

…always,

watching over her vulnerable sister.

The Good Sister by Sally HepworthThe sisters, however, have had a chaotic childhood and suffered traumas along the way. They both hold devastating secrets. Rose, through years of therapy, has been advised to keep a journal, chronicle her thoughts and the reader is spoon-fed her entries, alternating with the direct, open, and cloistered life of the librarian, Fern.

When Fern discovers Rose appears incapable of conceiving, she decides this is what a good sister would do—surrogate a baby for Rose. But Fern also decides it’s she who must decide who the sperm donor will be and when she meets Wally (the name she assigns to him), it seems he will be the perfect donor. Wally (Rocco) has issues of his own and understands Fern so it might appear these two are a good match. Indeed, it’s easy to invest in these characters.

While the head might be saying…”wait a minute…there are problems here,” the heart is nodding with joy that these two people, damaged though they might be, found each other and make a happy match.

In the meantime, Rose is beginning not to look so rosy. Doesn’t ring true. She’s manipulative—all those years taking care of Fern—protective? Or controlling.

In the meantime, the well-plotted narrative takes alternate dark and light turns, yanking sensitivities, emotions, pushing boundaries and begins to sneak in a few little revelations—twists you wouldn’t have suspected and the rug starts gently being pulled out from under you.

These two are so different. In looks. In character. In their memories. How could they view the same event with such diverse recollections?

Not prepared for the ultimate reveal, this one knocked the wind out of me. WOW. Have I just been played or what?

I received a review copy of this audiobook from my local lovely library and the narrator did one very fine job—totally had me hooked. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Family Life Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B089XJLJ43
Listening Length: 8 hrs 31 mins
Narrator: Barrie Kreinik
Publication Date: April 13, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Good Sister [Amazon] 
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Sally Hepworth - authorThe Author: Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives (2015), The Things We Keep (2016) The Mother’s Promise (2017), The Family Next Door (2018), The Mother In Law (April 2019), The Good Sister (April 2021) and The Younger Wife (April 2022). Hollywood actress and producer, Amy Poehler, has optioned The Mother In Law for a TV series.

Sally’s books have been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s novels as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”. Sally’s novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 10+ languages.

Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.

©2022 V Williams

V Williams

#throwbackthursday

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

 

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Literature & Fiction 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.

By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.

In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.

The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it—the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

“My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.”

My Review:

Elsa Martinelli got sick when she was a teenager and though she survived, the family kept her at arm’s length and isolated until too late for marriage, she is overwhelmed and succumbs to the attention of the first man to notice her, the son of landowners, a Texas farmer.

Her urban family, wealthy and more worried about appearances than the love of their daughter, dumps her at the porch of the boy’s family. Rafe’s family has no alternative other than to take her in and teach her about the farm where she must learn to (gasp!) work. But they are good people, as we used to say “the salt of the earth.” Rafe does what he must with a shot-gun marriage and gives up his dreams of college.

The Four Winds by Kristin HannahThere is much to learn on the farm and the years pass, now with two children, and a tenuous marriage, but his parents come to embrace Elsa as the daughter they never had and love their grandchildren. When the drought hits and hits hard several years after the Great Depression started, the struggle to make severe changes in an effort to survive wears on all of them.

Rafe’s parents are determined to stay on their land, but Rafe is ready to head west. When their son confronts a devastating lung disease born of the Dust Bowl situation, Rafe has enough and he leaves them all in the dead of night. Elsa makes the difficult decision to head west, alone, with her two children hopefully to save her son.

But the harrowing drive alone to California is just the beginning of more years of extreme poverty, struggle, and the overwhelming competition for manual labor work with the many thousands who’ve also left their own Dust Bowl states to find a better life. It’s not.

My father’s family were among those who left for California (from Missouri) in 1938 and lumped in with the cruel denigration of “Okies” (Oklahoma). The staggering numbers of the destitute overwhelm the state and the farmers quickly take advantage of the infinite labor pool setting outrageously low levels of pay for back-breaking work sun-up to sun-down.

Emigrant camps blossom the length of every fertile valley with crops to tend including cotton, which when ready to pick is cruelly heavy with thorns as well as cotton bolls. The author paints a grim picture of the unsanitary conditions of tent and cardboard camps, lacking any potable water and tied to the “company store” where more money is deducted from paltry wages.

There are themes of love—the love given to each other in extreme situations—family, the love of a mother for her children, hopeless conditions, and those who overcome and who don’t. It’s not that hard to imagine the same can happen to anyone. The haves and have-nots and those who take advantage of the victims.

“Doom and gloom and agony on me” says the little ditty riddled throughout the old “HeeHaw” variety show. But can there be any light at the end of the tunnel?

The author does an amazing job of describing the devastation wreaked by the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, the thousands of migrants that choked California’s economy, services, and infrastructure. The characters are so well fleshed you can smell them, see the cardboard in their shoes, and wonder how much longer they can live on stone soup, their ribs prominent.

In the end, this is not a totally depressive narrative but one of triumph over all the odds and ultimately the indomitable spirit of human nature.

Book Details:

Genre: Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B0882VNQKS
Listening Length: 15 hrs 2 mins
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Four Winds [Amazon]
 

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Kristin Hannah - authorThe Author: Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. It was also named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week. In 2018, The Great Alone became an instant New York Times #1 bestseller and was named the Best Historical Novel of the Year by Goodreads.

The Four Winds was published in February of 2021 and immediately hit #1 on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Indie bookstore’s bestseller lists. Additionally, it was selected as a book club pick by the both Today Show and The Book Of the Month club.

The Nightingale is currently in production at Tri Star, with Dakota and Elle Fanning set to star. Tri Star has also optioned The Great Alone and it is in development. Firefly Lane, her novel about two best friends, was the #1 Netflix show around the world, in the week it came out. The popular tv show stars Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke and Season Two is currently being filmed.

www.kristinhannah.com

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Book hangover

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes – An #Audiobook Review – #historicalfiction

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Book Blurb:

Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So, when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically. 

The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.

What happens to them – and to the men they love – becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity, and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they’re committed to their job: Bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.

Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, enthralling, it is destined to become a modern classic – a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.

My Review:

Well, add me to the list of those who read The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek (by Kim Michele Richardson) prior to The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. Richardson’s book was first. Jojo Moyes is a NY Times bestselling author and a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club (of the month) pick. It was also chosen to be one of “USA Today’s top 100 books to read while stuck at home social distancing.” A London author of this magnitude would not have to plagiarize anything, but that’s been the controversy since the Moyes book was published…and now set to be a major motion picture. ?!

I wrote my review of The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek after I tried to join a local library book club in February, 2020. They discussed many of the similarities during the meeting. When I saw this audiobook become available, I had to check it out.

I loved that first book for several reasons:

  1. It was my introduction to the 1930’s Pack Horse Library Project in Kentucky and as such a historical fiction—you know I have an affinity for those.
  2. It introduced me to the “Blue-skinned people” of Kentucky and that was quite the revelation.
  3. Intensely immersive into the times, the people, and the mountains of Kentucky.
  4. The hopeless stories of the desperately poverty-stricken (Depression era) people, living so isolated the only people they might see was the pack horse librarian.
  5. They received old newspapers, magazines, outdated books from other libraries, and homemade journals gleaned from other mountain folk of recipes, patterns, hints, and wise sayings or poems.
  6. A coal mining state, many miners died of black lung disease and the despairing living conditions of their families, lack of sanitary conditions, health care, and food.
  7. Heavily character-driven storyline.
  8. Many issues including political, societal, religious, domestic abuse, women working (gasp!) outside of the home (which really doesn’t widely occur in this country until WWII), and racism.

The main character of Troublesome Creek is Cussy (a blue-skinned woman). One of the two main characters of The Giver of Stars is an English woman, Alice Wright, crazy to leave her London home and stifling parents for an exciting new life. But the new life in the backwoods of Kentucky is not the life she imagined, and her groom, not the man. In fact, it is her father-in-law who is head-of-household and he’s old school in a staunchly patriarchal society. In an effort to make contact with the other women of the area, she jumps at the chance to become a part of the pack horse program. There, she meets the co-protagonist, independent minded and outspoken Margery O’Hare.

The men (and many of the women) are against the program, thinking it’ll put thoughts in the heads of the women, up until now kept “barefoot and pregnant” as they used to say. Also being in the Bible Belt of America, strict religious tenets played a strong part in defining a woman’s role and the participants distributing books were thought scandalous.

Am I largely repeating my review of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek? Yes, and it would appear to a large extent the storyline of this book as well. Most of the above are included albeit rewritten to more closely match the author’s writing style. The shunned blue woman now the shunned English woman. But fans and readers of author Jojo Moyes (there must be some romance) will find their expectation granted. This book, however, doesn’t describe the recipients of the program and their circumstances to the extent of the former, which I missed.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo MoyesBefore you start throwing rocks, there were also several things I liked about this book:

  1. A greater explanation of the “company store” and the castigation of the owners.
  2. The unfortunate division of the races, their roles, and living circumstances.
  3. The sisterhood of the widely differing women of the pack horse program.
  4. Descriptions of the mountains and remarkable heroism.
  5. The murder, jail account, and courtroom drama.
  6. Nicely done conclusion pulling not one but two rabbits out of the hat. Loved the first; not crazy about the second although at that point you had to figure it would happen.

Does all the drama over-shadow the story of the pack horse librarians? To a large extent, it does, and many of the support characters remain one-dimensional. Yes, I enjoyed a second take of the story of those courageous women, this one done in a strongly Jojo-esque style of drama and romance. But I still prefer the emotional impact, the prose, and the immediately engaging narrative written by author Kim Michele Richardson.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
ASIN: B07QQ3J91J
Listening Length: 13 hrs., 52 mins.
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Giver of Stars [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Jojo Moyes - authorThe Author: Jojo Moyes is a British novelist.

Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full time novelist.

Moyes’ novel Foreign Fruit won the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004.

She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children.
Bio from Goodreads.

 

Julia Whelan -authorThe Narrator: Julia Whelan is an actor, writer, and narrator of over 400 audiobooks. Recently named one of AudioFile magazine’s Golden Voices, she has won numerous other awards, including the 2019 Best Female Narrator Audie for Tara Westover’s Educated and a SOVAS for the performance of her own novel, My Oxford Year. She is also a Grammy-nominated audiobook director as well as a certified tea sommelier. [Penguin Random House Audiobooks]

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen – An #Audiobook Review No. 1 BestSeller

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Audiobook - Where the Crawdads Sing

 Book Blurb:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

My Review:

Admittedly, this may be a book you’ll struggle with or wholeheartedly love. I went on the WL side. The story of six-year-old Kya Clark, abandoned by her mother and shortly thereafter by her (much) older siblings is now living in a marsh shack with her despotic father. Kya has to pretty quickly learn to survive on her own near Barkley Cove, North Carolina.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia OwensThe novel is divided by her story that begins with her mother leaving in the early morning hours of 1952 and the discovery of a body in 1969 near the old tower. Kya saw her mother leave–she’d left before following violent outbursts by her father sporting bruises and split lips. He often went into violent rages–and could–with or without the alcohol or moonshine infusion. But she’d always come back–this time she doesn’t. They are living on her father’s disability and at her age, a girl, not like her older siblings taught her much.

The storytelling is so emotionally poignant, the prose flows through beautiful descriptions of the natural setting in the marsh. It’s so easy to smell the decaying vegetation, algae inhabited waterways, spy the marsh inhabitants, amphibians, birds, and insects. Feel and smell the salt air rush inland from the Atlantic as it waves the marsh grasses and reeds. I enjoyed the setting as much as the characters. And the characters are powerful.

The characters are brought vividly to life with the narration, alternately spoken by child or adult, literate or illiterate, as well as the Carolina drawl. More afraid of the occasional human than the critters of the marsh, she becomes adept at hiding and carefully keeps to herself, spying on the few who wander into their area. Once having learned to motor into town on their old marsh fishing boat, she begins to draw the attention of the cashier at the Piggly Wiggly, the African American family, Jumpin’ and Mabel, where she bought the gas, and soon the lady from school, where she was promised a meal–real food–once a day. The problem was the intolerance of the kids, their taunts, sneers, jeers, and humiliation. She never went back. Kya, scrambling to find food, eventually connects with a friend of her brother. Gradually, driven by loneliness, she begins to meet with him and he patiently teaches her to read.

The mystery of the man many years later found just outside of the little village soon becomes a statewide scandal. He’d been a high school football star, son of a well-to-do and well-established family. The “Golden Boy.” And local law enforcement begins to work on tying his murder to Kya, as they’d been spotted together and she an easy target. She is brought up on charges and there are heart-thumping courtroom scenes.

Self-educated, no one knows more about the natural world of the marshlands than Kya. She’s come to be known as the “Marsh Girl.” She’s smart, has gone on to publish books on the wildlife of the marsh. But could it possibly have been she to cause the death of Chase?

The conclusion resolves carefully allowing you long enough for your heart to settle back down when you are knocked off your feet by a shocking revelation you didn’t see coming. It’s a brilliant twist, the well-plotted and written narrative so engrossing, so achingly atmospheric, every sense poised that you are hanging on every word. It’s a serious exploration of not a male coming-of-age this time, but a female left on her own reconciling abandonment, loneliness, hunger, disappointment, and triumph. Completely immersive, so engaging it remains solidly planted long after the end resulting in a tremendous book hangover. I’m going to be awhile getting over this one.

I received this audiobook download from my local library Overdrive offerings. The narrator does an award-winning, stunning job. Heartily recommended now that I have my emotions in check.

Book Hangover

Book Details:

Genre: Romance, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
ASIN: B07FSXPMHY
Print Length: 384 pages
Listening Length: 12 hrs 12 mins
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: Where the Crawdads Sing (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
KoboAdd to Goodreads Rosepoint recommended

Delia Owens - authorThe Author: Delia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in AfricaCry of the Kalahari, The Eye of the Elephant, and Secrets of the Savanna. She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in Nature, The African Journal of Ecology, and International Wildlife, among many others. She currently lives in Idaho, where she continues her support for the people and wildlife of Zambia. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel.

You can also connect with Delia on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authordeliao

The Narrator: Cassandra Campbell is a prolific audiobook narrator with more than 700 titles to date. Winner of four Audie Awards and nominated for a dozen more, she was a 2018 inductee in Audible’s inaugural Narrator Hall of Fame.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Memories We Hide: Can you trust your memories? by Jodi Gibson

Can we indeed trust our memories, especially in the view of a tragic event?

The Memories We Hide by Jodi GibsonBook Blurb:

Laura Murphy thought she could, that was until she returned home.

When Laura returns home ten years after the death of her childhood sweetheart Ryan Taylor, her past begins to unravel and memories she’d long pushed aside begin to resurface.


Having trouble reconciling truth and memory, Laura reconnects with childhood friend Tom, to try and find closure, but Tom has issues of his own. Not only is he faced with the threat of losing his farm, but he is also hiding a secret that could change everything for them both.


Will Laura and Tom find the answers they need to move forward, or will they discover that memories can’t always be trusted?

 My Review:

Having fled her small town in her teen years following a tragic accident, Laura Murphy returns after ten years to be with her terminal mother. Returning, however, has begun to push powerful emotions stemming from the accident so long ago that ended the life of her boyfriend in the last week of their twelfth year.

The Memories We Hide by Jodi GibsonThe mind is forced sometimes to take heroic measures to shield the person of an event too horrendous to accept. And though Laura had spent those years steadfastly refusing to revisit the event, attempting to shove it out of her life has only resulted in confusion, her heart unsettled and unable to quell the feeling that the terrible memory is just beyond her reach and inability to resolve.

The debut of this author’s contemporary women’s fiction explores the problem of understanding and coming to peace with the past. Until those issues have been determined and resolution implemented, there can be no peaceful future.

The narrative tackles some major family matters, depression, friendships, young love and relationships that shape life as well as the crush of betrayal. There is a lot to sort through and the mystery of what happened is gradually revealed as Laura attempts to sift through the snatches of her memory to attain the truth–perhaps too difficult to bear.

It’s a heavy subject and the novel worked to create a small-town vibe, collective secrets slowly revealed. Inherent in the anguish, however, is the repetitive nature in the storytelling. There were times either the protagonist or support characters spilled into wringing emotional scenes. Laura is not as well-developed as she might be, and scenes flipped to reliving the moment during the school years sharing obscure details and YA angst.

Ryan Taylor, the lost love, is a character well-fleshed by Laura’s memories as well as a personal journal. Tom, a close childhood friend is most engaging and sympathetic but also possessed of closely held secrets.

The author waxed prose at times, with an interesting turn of phrase or description (“The rain formed a diagonal drizzle that slid slowly down the windowpane“), but I missed some investing into the small-town feel of the people. The sense of hopelessness and frustration in the depressed young interwove a powerful statement.

The climax came with a ring of disclosures almost shocking and one more far-reaching than you’d have guessed.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. The conclusion is satisfying but the book would benefit from one more pass through an editor.  Recommended for those more inclined to emotional family struggles and women’s fiction.

Book Details:

Genre: Australian & Oceanian Literature, Small Town & Rural Fiction, Women’s Friendship Fiction

  • ISBN-10:0648551202
  • ISBN-13:978-0648551201
  • ASIN: B07VBCHJ53

Print Length: 260 pages
Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Memories We Hide

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Rosepoint Publishing: 3.5 of Five Stars 3.5-stars

Jodi Gibson - authorThe Author: Jodi Gibson is an Australian author of women’s contemporary fiction. She writes in two genres – character-driven contemporary drama, and light-hearted rom-com.

Her contemporary dramas revolve around the lives of seemingly ordinary people and usually involve secrecy, lies, and a touch of mystery.

Her lighter style rom-coms are the perfect escape from the mundaneness of everyday life with characters who will make you laugh, cringe, and whom you’ll love spending time with.

When she’s not writing you’ll find Jodi managing our family bathroom renovation business, kid-wrangling, and tending to the many animals on her mini-farm in regional Australia. You’ll also often find her with my nose in a good book, or in the kitchen baking and dreaming of her next traveling adventure.

2019 V Williams V Williams

Book Beginnings and The Friday 56 – Rose City Reader and Freda’s Voice

Book Beginnings and The Friday 56–HOPE EVERYONE IS HAVING A MOST EXCELLENT TGIF!

Book Beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56

Every Friday you have the opportunity to share the first sentence of the book you are currently reading. I started participating in Book Beginnings last October. It is hosted by Gillian at Rose City Readers. You can too! Just include the title of the book and the author’s name. You may wish to share your impression of the book to date as well. Also please share your post with Mister Linky on her blog site. This week I am spotlighting Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins.

Rose City Reader

Chapter 1 – Emma – “‘You don’t have a brain tumor,'” said my best friend, who, conveniently, was also a neurologist..”

(And because there is a natural tie-in to Freda’s Voice, it is common to combine the two.)

The only rules for participation in Freda’s Voice is to grab a book, any book or the one you are #currentlyreading, turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader, and find a sentence (or a few, but don’t spoil it!), post it, and then add your post URL to the Linky on the host site Freda’s Voice – and there yah go! How’s that for easy!

Book Beginnings and The Friday 56

 

Friday 56:

Chapter 6 – Genevieve – “It was Friday, and Friday meant cocktails with the Jameson and Smiths, my neighbors, and Miller. Donelle was once again complaining of a swollen toe, so it was I who made the drinks. I suppose I didn’t mind. No one could make a better martini than I could, either, so really, the ‘swelling’ served us all well.”

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So what am I thinking?

Told in multiple POVs, this contemporary women’s fiction (also listed as women’s humorous fiction) did start humorously with an educated therapist (Emma) an admitted hypodrondriac. Not satisfied, however, to read into every nuance of her own body, she is also totally in her daughter’s head constantly measuring her thoughts, agonizing over her effectiveness as a mother. She immediately comes off as neurotic–she’s a therapist(?). Her grandmother (Genevieve) is a piece of work. (So far I see Emma losing.) This novel is absolutely riveting.

Did you read this author’s NY Times bestselling book Good Luck With That?

Or have you already beat me to this one? Did you love it? Am I right? (Wait…no, don’t tell me.)

©2019 V Williams V Williams

House of Ashes by Loretta Marion #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

House of Ashes by Loretta Marion

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for House of Ashes: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery by Loretta Marion on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win this super Giveaway!

Book Details

House of Ashes: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery
Supernatural Mystery
1st in Series
Crooked Lane Books (November 13, 2018)

Hardcover, 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1683318439
ISBN-13: 978-1683318439

Book Blurb

A family patriarch’s dying proclamation, an enigmatic disappearance, and a century-old curse converge in the shadows of a majestic home on Cape Cod’s craggy coast.

Thirty-seven-year-old painter Cassandra Mitchell is fourth-generation to live in the majestic Battersea Bluffs, a brooding Queen Anne home originally built by her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, and still standing despite tragedies that have swept the generations. Local lore has it that there was a curse placed on the family and the house is haunted, though opinions are divided on whether it’s by malicious or benevolent spirits. Cassie believes the latter―but now she stands to lose her beloved home to mounting debt and the machinations of her dream-weaving ex-husband.

Salvation seems to arrive when a nomadic young couple wanders onto the property with the promise of companionship and much-needed help―until they vanish without a trace, leaving behind no clue to their identities. Cassie is devastated, but determined to discover what’s happened to the young couple…even as digging into their disappearance starts to uncover family secrets of her own. Despite warnings from her childhood friend, now the local Chief of Police―as well as an FBI agent who pushes the boundaries of professionalism―Cassie can’t help following the trail of clues (and eerie signals from the old house itself) to unravel the mystery. But can she do so before her family’s dark curse destroys everything in its path?

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My Review

House of Ashes by Loretta MarionCassandra Mitchell is the great-granddaughter of Percy and Celeste Mitchell who built the gorgeous Battersea Bluffs mansion in Whale Rock, Massachusetts, Cape Cod where she now lives alone. She is 37 years old and tenaciously clings to the family Victorian despite its history, local folklore, and apparent supernatural experiences.

The author sets up a time warp storyline that begins with the events that set the stage for the tragic deaths of her great-grandparents. There is an apparent curse that has followed them from England and has followed generations of their male descendants. Cassie has weathered a disastrous marriage and impending divorce and her scoundrel ex pretty much spent every dime he could lay his hands on before he split. She is presently facing foreclosure and looking at the possibility of having to ask her older and geographically estranged sister for another loan. She refuses the idea of selling.

Not without some form of income, she does what she can to bring in food money though she inherited an artistic gift from her mother which she has been too depressed to exercise. Sinking deeper into the funk that has enveloped her in the situation, she meets a young couple, Ashley and Vince, on her property, accompanied by a German Shepherd, and impressed with them and taken by the moment invite them to stay with her for a while in exchange for their work on the carriage house.

Ms. Marion flips both chronological timelines as she brings in further details of Cassie’s family, both current and 80 years ago. Chapter headings clearly tell in which timeline the narrative is heading and it doesn’t take long to get into the rhythm. It is Cassie’s belief that her great-grandparents frequently visit her, signaling their presence by a distinctly pleasant odor, depending on the situation.

The couple suddenly disappears without explanation which sets off a chain of investigations that begins with local law enforcement and extends to the FBI. There is an attraction to the FBI agent, and Cassie appears to be in full rebound mode. The romance of Cassie and her suitors weaves in and out of the well-plotted story adding tension to the already increasing pressure to find the kids and confirm their well-being.

She is consumed with the problem of figuring out what happened to the kids after they’ve nearly completed the remodel of her carriage house and made a place in her heart. She flits between responsible and irresponsible as she gleans little clues to follow and discovers she didn’t know them, really at all. Not where they came from, not where they may have gone or what happened to them. Happy with having the couple around, they had created in her the urge to paint again and she is facing a large gallery showing by a friend and local art gallery owner who had previously handled some of her mother’s paintings.

I had a little difficulty getting into the well-developed protagonist’s shoes. She has that artist’s aura about her, tormented but talented. Headstrong and smart, she seemed to make less than informed decisions, while craftily planning her next move toward solving the mystery of the couple. The dog, Whistler, has become as much a part of her life as did his owners and she is happy to care for him, as he is now protecting her.

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley for this book tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy a mystery, supernatural or paranormal qualities, thriller and suspense, and strong women sleuths.

Giveaway

Sign up for  your chance to win (1) GRAND PRIZE – One $50 Barnes & Noble gift card Two signed hardcover copies of House of Ashes (one for the winner and one for a friend) Two signed paperback copies of The Fool’s Truth (one for the winner and one for a friend) Plus two book bags (one for the winner and one for the friend) (U.S. Only) in this  Rafflecopter giveaway 

About the Author

Loretta Marion - authorAn author of fiction, Loretta Marion’s writing bridges the genres of mystery and suspense and women’s fiction, always with hints of romance and humor, sometimes delving into the psychological and paranormal. She creates strong but flawed and struggling characters as appealing as the rich atmospheric settings in which the stories take place.

Loretta is a true bibliophile and has loved reading and creating with words since she was a young girl. And that affection for the written word followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she put pen to paper crafting marketing and advertising copy, educational brochures and newsletters. But her passion for writing fiction evolved from the unlikely world of hospice. As a volunteer, she set out to establish a Legacy Story program to honor and preserve the rich heritage of the fascinating people who were soon to leave this world. The meaningful experience inspired her to create her own interesting characters and stories. Her debut novel, The Fool’s Truth, was a twisty and suspenseful mystery with whispers of romance. Her newest novel, HOUSE OF ASHES – A Haunted Bluffs Mystery, is the first in a series published by Crooked Lane Books.

Though born and raised in the Midwest, Loretta fell in love with New England and has made it the setting for much of her writing. When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey, and their beloved Mr. Peabody, a sweet, devoted and amusing “Corgador” (Corgi-Labrador cross).  (www.LorettaMarion.com)

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!

Tour Participants:

November 1 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

November 1 – Readeropolis – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 2 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

November 2 –  A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 3 – fundinmental – REVIEW

November 3 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

November 4 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW, GUEST POST 

November 5 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW, GUEST POST 

November 5 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

November 6 – Valerie’s Musings – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 6 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 7 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

November 7 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 8 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

November 8 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT  

November 8 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 9 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

November 9 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

November 10 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

November 10 – Curling Up by the Fire – REVIEW Great Escapes Book Tours 

Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this supernatural mystery!

©2018 V Williams V Williams

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