Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

The more time he spent around her, the more he realized how rarely he thought anybody else was actually good. Nice, maybe, but niceness was something anyone could be, whether they meant it or not. But goodness was another thing altogether.  - The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Nadia Turner(17) is young, beautiful and tragic. She is grief stricken and dealing with the recent suicide of her mother. She finds solace in the arms of Luke Sheppard (21). He was once the star athlete in college whose leg injury ended his football plight and he is now reduced to waiting tables at the local diner. He is also the pastor's son.

A pregnancy  and it's cover up ends the relationship and the two go their own separate ways, each dealing with the ramifications of choices. Nadia keeps the secret to herself, moves away to college and the years pass swiftly.

Luke Sheppard's life hasn't changed much since Nadia left until one night an event occurs that puts him on a path and a life with Aubrey (Who just so happens to be, Nadia's best friend! Scandalous!). Nadia returns and as, Benjamin Franklin once said, Three can keep a secret, if one of them is dead.

Secrets spill, emotional tidal waves crash but will it become a tsunami of destruction? Read more to find out...

The book takes place in San Diego, my heart, my home, my happy place and as I no longer live there it made me nostalgic. If you have ever lived in San Diego or visited it for an extended period of time, the landmarks and places will jump out at you and bring the places alive.

This is an excellent debut novel.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Border by Steve Schafer

A quincenera is a right of passage. A large celebration for most latin girls. It is when a girl turns fifteen years old. A big party to celebrate this milestone in life is usually thrown. There is family, lots and lots of family, friends, good food, cake and music.  It marks the transition from childhood to young womanhood. There is a big pretty dress and a court made up of friends and family. It is a memorable event. Not one I see mentioned in novels or movies, much. Schafer opens up his novel with this celebratory event.

The reader is lured into a fun and safe place but  tragedy strikes fast and the story unfolds right before your eyes. Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Glady are our main characters and they have stepped away from the main event when gunshots ring out. When they return to the scene they find they are the only survivors. Everyone else is gone except the gunmen. The gunmen are Narcos and the only way to escape with their lives is to flee.

The fighted, young group of teens are wanted  by the narcos and  have price put on their heads. The only way to make it alive it to cross the border from Mexico into the United States. Getting to the border is the easy part.  Crossing the vast empty, hot land with little to no supplies and surviving will be near impossible. 

Their voyage is fraught with many issues and one can't help but to imagine the desperation not only these characters feel but that of those who attempt to cross the border into the United States every day. There are predators all around, animal and human. Minimal water, oppressive heat, no medication, no map are a few of the issues they will be forced to face. 

The character's are realistic. The story is touching and covers a variety of topics that we don't see in the media or that isn't understood. 

The characters' are flawed and Schafer does an excellent job of giving them voice and making them "alive". I felt a connection to each of them and could easily see them in the people I know, the people I lov and  the strangers on the street whose background story I don't know. 

This was an extremely emotional read for me and it left me feeling helpless, powerless and slightly misanthropic yet I  encourage you to read this. I highly recommend it. 

There is spanish in the novel and it isn't always translated or translated correctly but I feel that a reader would still get the gist of what is being said. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

Tom Krupp returns from work and something is amiss. His wife, Karen is not home and her purse and cell phone have been left behind and there is indications that she left in a rush. A knock on the door raised more questions than answers. His wife has been in a car accident and is left with partial amnesia. She has no recollection of what happened before and after the accident. 

Not for from the scene of the accident a body has been found. The police wonder if the events that happened on the same day are in some way connected and an investigation begins. 

The story unravels slowly and while it was interesting enough it didn't hold my full attention. The characters needed further development and the final reveal and plot twist wasn't nearly as scandalous as I would liked. I was able to easily predict it. 

The secrecy and betrayal between the characters is spicy and keeps the story rolling. It's like watching a novella or hearing juicy gossip  that sucks you in and before you know it, your addicted to finding out the truth.

The book does end rather abruptly and I have to wonder if there was a major edit because I felt as though something was missing. This book was "ok" but it took me far longer to read than usual as it didn't "call" to me.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Oliver and Alice are married and have written children's novels together. Oliver is the writer, Alice the illustrator. One night, Oliver goes mad and violently beats, Alice putting her in a coma.

In order to get the present, one must revisit the past and the following chapters are filled with Oliver's life. Oliver's life history is filled with shame, depravity, deception and a sociopathic dipistion.

The first few chapters are dark and juicy. Empathy ensues and then Olivers character begins to emerge. Oliver's. The following chapters are "fillers" and predictability settles in and then a interesting turn of events happens. Revealing much about Oliver.

I had to be honest here -- I really enjoyed the start of the book but struggled getting through a little more than a quarter. I usually give up on the book by that time but I felted committed to finishing the book and the end was worth it and very interesting.

Did it deliver? A little bit but I wouldn't put it in front of my to read pile.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Life's Work: A Moral Argument by Dr. Willie Parker

Life's Work is an argument for Choice. If  abortion is a sensitive topic, I suggest that you scroll past this post.

Dr. Willie Parker grew up in the south, in a Christian home and is an abortion provider. His book chronicles the path that lead him to this and the struggle that many women go through in order to obtain this elective procedure.

He brings a lot of clarity and compassion to this hot topic. Life's Work is well written and it clearly illustrates what a strong advocate and activist he is.

I strongly recommend this book and give Dr. Willie Park two thumb's up.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

Newlywed's Jake and Alice have just opened up a wedding gift from one of Alice's prominent clients and the gift is enticing enough for Jake and Alice to accept it and become part of, "The Pact."

Alice is a successful lawyer and Jake is a therapist. Their lives seem to be headed in the right direction and when presented with this seemingly innocent "gift" they naively sign the documents without reading them which turns out to be a big mistake. They each have their own reasons for joining but are quick to find out something sinister is afoot.

The Pact has one goal and it is to keep marriages happy and intact. Seems simple enough,  right?  Not so much! Their are rules and infractions but the initial seduction of  glamour and ritz entices them.

Everything seems to be perfect until a penalty is assessed on Alice and then suddenly things take a dark turn. Jake and Alice find out that something sinister lies amongst The Pact and it's members but getting out could cost them their lives.

This is a page turner for sure! It's bizarre, strange and takes readers on a mysterious thrilling ride.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Best of Enemies by Jen Lancaster

The Best of Enemies is full of snark and loads of fun! I love all the 80s and 90s references and spent the better half of an afternoon laughing and really enjoying one of Jen's fictional novels.
This book has a bit of mystery to it and I think Jen has finally found her niche in fiction novels as this is her best one yet (I have loved all her non-fiction ones to date).  The Best of Enemies introduces us to some interesting, relatable characters. 

We have Jack, Kitty, Sarabeth, Teddy and Bobby. They are all connected through friendship of sorts and when Sarabeth's husband dies in a plane crash they are all reunited.

 Jack and Kitty are at odds with one another and have been for years - This plays out in past and present tense with Jack and Kitty giving their version of events.The back and forth dialogue and chapters is hilarious as you can easily see how interpretations can and do create chaos. 

This book is has laugh, plot twists and engaging characters. The story unfolds in a clever manner and will keep you up until the wee hours of the night!

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

The more time he spent around her, the more he realized how rarely he thought anybody else was actually good. Nice, maybe, but niceness was ...