Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas

Holy shit.  That's what I kept saying to myself as I read this book.  I didn't think it could get any weirder, any scarier, or any more chilling.
The story begins with a daughter, Violet, being locked into a mental ward for attacking her younger brother with a knife while being high on psychedelic seeds. Her mother doesn't want her to come home because she needs to keep her autistic son safe.  Seems legit, right?  But then as you listen to the mother (I don't even want to say this freak's name), you start to see the subtle disconnect in each person's version of the truth.
I love books that show each person's interpretation of the story, but in this case, it seemed a little too scary, a little too real.  The mother feeds people her version of reality, but you can tell that even she doesn't believe it, but that she just seems to enjoy the power of making people fall in line in order to keep her happy.
Being unjustly admitted to the psychiatric hospital turns out to be the best thing for Violet.  She has fellow patients who listen and believe her when she tells them that her mother is evil on a stick. 
They even give Violet a definition for her mother, "narcissist".
I think the common definition of narcissist is just that girl in your office that thinks she is God's gift to the building and the UPS man, but in the true mental health definition, it is a pervasive need for admiration and a lack of empathy.  The mother tried to get her needs met first by Violet's older sister Rose, but Rose eventually tired of trying to please her mother and ran away.  The final straw for Rose was her mother's demand she have an abortion, then torturing her about having an abortion. W.....T.....F....... who does that????  Rose refuses to have any contact with her mother, which is unacceptable for a narcissist.
After being gone for over a year, Rose reaches out to Violet via letter, which her mother delivers to the mental ward.  This is just one example of things that the mother does where you are left raising your eyebrows, thinking, "this doesn't seem right".  Throughout the whole book, I could never get a handle of this woman.  She was scarily unpredictable, and I felt myself wondering what was real and what was a lie.
Violet finds her father speaking at an offsite AA meeting, and his newfound experience of sobriety give him the courage to start taking a look at his crumbling family.  He takes the creepy little brother, Will, to his own psychiatrist, who determines that the diagnosis Will has is anxiety disorder leading to dissociative attacks.  Following Will throughout the book, you can see this kid may be too far under the mother's spell to get out.  There are times that his thought pattern mimics her perfectly.  It made me wonder about nature vs. nurture, as two daughters spent their teen years trying to escape and Will spends his time trying to make sure he can stay with the mother.
With Violet continuing to speak the truth to anyone who will listen, and her father coming out of his alcohol induced walking coma, the mother's world is crumbling.  Suddenly, Rose writes a letter to Violet saying that she can come and live with her in the city.  This sent my nerve endings screaming, "It's a trap!".  I just couldn't figure out who was setting the trap.
At this point, I was thinking the mother had murdered Rose.  I won't go into any more detail about that since this review is already full of dumb ass spoilers, but it's hard to describe this book without spoilers because
the whole book was so intense and full of plot twists.
Love, love, loved it.  Will be telling everyone I know to read it!!
I was given a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books and the publisher, Broadway Books in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

Reading a Diane Chamberlain book is like snuggling under a blanket on a cold winter's day. 
I've read a bunch of her books and even the ones that aren't my favorites are still good. The Silent Sister was no exception. It was a story that definitely pulled me in. 

Riley returns home to clean out her family home after her dad passes away. Riley isn't The Silent Sister, but she is a weak sister. She is easily pushed around by her father's girlfriend, her recluse brother, and some squirrely neighbors who seem to feel a sense of entitlement towards her father's property.
For some reason, the friends and neighbors decide that her father's death is the perfect time to tell her that she is adopted and that her sister, who she has always been told committed suicide, actually took off after murdering her music teacher.
The book follows Riley's search for the truth, interspersed with her sister, Lisa's, story.  The story culminates in their collision and reunion, after some pretty major turns in the road.
Chamberlain always has a wide cast of characters, and sometimes the best part of her books is figuring out who has ulterior motives. Great characters, great story, great ending.
I was given an ARC of The Silent Sister in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Finding Sky......Susan O'Brien

Finding Sky was a quick summer read.  The heroine, Nicki, is a widow, who for some reason has decided to take a PI class.  No matter how many books I read with this setup, I'll never understand this.  Why would a single woman decide to become a private investigator?  Especially, Nicki Valentine, a widowed mother of two small children.  Nicki is a bored stay at home mom.  While my cure for boredom is binge watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians, for Nicki, it's getting involved in a gang war and searching for a pregnant teen, Beth, who has gone missing.
Her best friend lives across the street from her and is supposed to be adopting Beth's baby.  When Beth turns up missing, Nicki is asked to track her down.
Nicki wants to help so she jumps right in.  Her first night on the case ends up with her holding pressure on a gang member's gunshot to the head, after a drive-by shooting.  Surely, this would send most suburban moms straight home to a bottle of wine and a new appreciation for locked doors and a Netflix account, but not Nicki!

She continues to look for the missing teen - even after someone breaks into her house and leaves her a message on her computer.  I personally love the saying "Bitches get stitches", but finding that message, with the touching addition of "Snitches get ditches" on my laptop would be a never event for me.
Overall, the book was enjoyable - I wish there had been more background on how Nicki became a widow or how she decided to take PI classes.  I felt like I was missing a large part of her story, and it may have shed more light on the crazy decisions she made that kept putting her in danger. 
I give this book 3/5 stars.  A good way to pass the time.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Triple Knot by Emma Campion

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This was a fast, easy read.  Phillippa Gregory first got me interested in historical fiction, with The Other Boleyn Girl.  That book was like crack to me - I just couldn't put it down.  So having read a few more of Gregory's books, I had a passing knowledge of the Plantagenet dynasty.  But this was the first book I had read that was specifically about them. 

Joan of York was the primary character in this book, and the book was written so well, after I finished, I found myself googling her to learn more about her.  It is so weird to read about the betrothal and consummation with her first husband, Thomas Holland, and then later read that she was only 12 years old.  These girls literally went from sleeping in the nursery to having sex with men at least twice their age.

It definitely gave some insight on Prince Edward's character, and finding out later that he was called the Black Prince made perfect sense.   It is so crazy to see how women had no real control over their own lives back then, but they were so good at developing work-arounds to get what they wanted in the end.

I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who loves Phillippa Gregory - I'll be looking for more by Emma Campion. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Reviewing Stillwater Rising.....Steena

Hmmmm.....what to say.  I really wanted to love this book.  I'm a sucker for school shooting stories, I freaking loved Jodi Picoult's, "19 Minutes", and I was moved by Laura Kasischke's "The Life Before Her Eyes".  So, it wasn't the subject matter that bothered was the the way the story didn't really move.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


I was a little leery of this book - I'm a 44 year old woman, and don't have a lot of interest in a story about someone losing their virginity.  I received an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and it was definitely not something I would have sought out on my own.  But I was pleasantly surprised - this book felt Bridget Jones-eque, which is one of my favorites
The story was completely focused on sex, but somehow it never felt lascivious or skeevy - it was surprisingly funny and you definitely rooted for the main character.
I never really bought into her love interest, Jack.  The description of him never really matched - was he a political activist? Was he attractive?  At different times, it seemed like he was different things.  And do liberal guys actually judge a girl by her pubic hair?  According to this book - everyone does!
But overall, it was a cute, fast chicklit read.  I enjoyed it and would read this author again.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dean Koontz.....not so scary anymore?

I received a free copy of Dean Koontz's new book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This was the first book that I received through NetGalley and I have to say, I was a little nervous.  I used to love Koontz - but after reading his books Lightning and Intensity - I just got too scared to take him on after my divorce.  They are definitely not books to read in bed alone, late at night.
But I felt like I had made a commitment by downloading the book, so I took a deep breath and plunged in.
I ended up loving this book.  It had a completely different feel than any previous Koontz books I have read.  It felt like it had tinges of Alice Hoffman's magical realism, but it also felt like it had the character development of Stephen King.
The characters were believable and I felt invested in all of them, even the villains.  This was a welcome change after recently reading Herman Koch's The Dinner.  The Dinner was one of those books that I had to force myself to finish - and even at the end, I didn't care that evil had won out, none of the characters struck any chords with me.
Jonah is being raised by his mother, after his father leaves them for a second time.  He comes from a musical family, his mother is a gifted singer, his grandfather is a piano player, and Jonah dreams of being a piano man.
Jonah's father appears throughout the the story - although I was never sure of how he ends up mixed up with the group of baddies - as a matter of fact, I'm never sure of how the entire group of bad guys end up together.  Koontz does spin a realistic web of how they could have met, but I never ended up understanding what brought them together or why they chose the crime that was the pinnacle of the story.
But that may have been Koontz's intent, I was struck by something that Jonah's mother said, " wasn't all news, she'd said, and what held the world together was the way all those people who never made the news were inclined to live their lives.".  I feel like the book followed this same path, the baddies were never the focus, there wasn't much attention paid to what motivated them, but there was such careful attention to the lives of the characters who held Jonah's world together.

Overall, I would give The City 4 out of 5 stars.  The Dinner 2 out of 5 stars.