Review: These Things Hidden

Why I picked it:  I've been meaning to read a novel by this author for a while (I have The Weight of Silence sitting on my bookshelf), so when I saw this title at my library I had to borrow it and give a listen.

Synopsis: When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls' golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It's Brynn—shy, quiet Brynn—who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her.

But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister.

Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.

Type: Fiction

Quick Take: This story is told from two different points of view, Allison and Brynn (sisters), moving easily from current day to events leading up to the night everything fell apart. 

I read (listened) to this novel in two days. I found myself creating reasons to listen just so I could find out what happened.  The author revealed just enough details to keep me wanting more, the parents in this book are terrible people... worried about perception more than their children. The children know what's expected and play their roles perfectly.  It's all a terrible mess leading to an end you won't see coming (unbelieveable, in a good way).

My heart broke for Allison when she's living at the halfway house, working at the bookstore and trying to figure out what the future has in store.

These Things Hidden is a story about family expectations, secrets kept for years... and the consequences.  How far are you willing to go to cover up a crime? 

Rating: 4/5 stars

Source: Library (Audio Book)

Review: Don't Breathe a Word

Why I picked it: Doesn't the cover grab you? Those eyes!  I discovered this book a few months ago and was thrilled to see it was available on Net Galley.  I might be late to the party but this was my first try with NetGalley (love this site) - I haven't used my Nook much since buying it last summer but hope to change this going forward.

Synopsis: On a soft summer night in Vermont, twelve-year-old Lisa went into the woods behind her house and never came out again. Before she disappeared, she told her little brother, Sam, about a door that led to a magical place where she would meet the King of the Fairies and become his queen.

Fifteen years later, Phoebe is in love with Sam, a practical, sensible man who doesn’t fear the dark and doesn’t have bad dreams—who, in fact, helps Phoebe ignore her own. But suddenly the couple is faced with a series of eerie, unexplained occurrences that challenge Sam’s hardheaded, realistic view of the world. As they question their reality, a terrible promise Sam made years ago is revealed—a promise that could destroy them all.

Type: Fiction
 
Quick Take: Have you seen the movie Stand by Me?  I was reminded of this movie while reading the book.  A story filled with secrets, this novel moves back and forth from current day to fifteen years ago and is told in a few different voices.  Phoebe, Sam and Lisa were believable characters, which was important to me. I struggle with fairies and make believe but found that I was curious to know who was the King of the Fairies. 

As with many books, the ending lacked a little but this is a great summer read with just enough 'creep factor' for my taste.

Rating: 3/5 stars
Source: Review Copy (Net Galley)

Review: The Uncoupling

Why I picked it: A few of the women in my book club expressed strong opinions over The Ten Year Nap, a book I haven't had a chance to read yet but I am curious.  I wanted to read something by the author and this new release looked promising.  I hear she can ruffle feathers!

Synopsis: When the elliptical new drama teacher at Stellar Plains High School chooses for the school play Lysistrata-the comedy by Aristophanes in which women stop having sex with men in order to end a war-a strange spell seems to be cast over the school. Or, at least, over the women. One by one throughout the high school community, perfectly healthy, normal women and teenage girls turn away from their husbands and boyfriends in the bedroom, for reasons they don't really understand. As the women worry over their loss of passion, and the men become by turns unhappy, offended, and above all, confused, both sides are forced to look at their shared history, and at their sexual selves in a new light.

Type: Fiction

Quick Take: Honestly...  If I wasn't listening I think I would have put the book down.  It's about 8 hours long and I was doing fine until that last 2 hours.  For me, it was a leap to think that Dori (teacher/mother/wife) would withhold sex from her husband for the reasons she does, and to discover what we do on opening night.... it was a little too much for me.  I don't a man who would do what these men did... it was silly at best.

In one of the last chapters a tennager says, "I'm going to a war conference in Helsinki and have to find a way for the school district to pay..." you know me... the book lost me with this statement (think about this for a minute... it's high school).  All the talk about a spell being cast on anyone within proximity of Lysistrata... the author lost me as a reader.  I just didn't care anymore.

I didn't love it but that doesn't mean you won't enjoy it. 

Have you read this book? Did I miss something?

Check out a few other's reviews:
- Rundpinne is uncertain
- Lit & Life and I share the same opinion but for different reasons
- The Book Lady thinks it's 'fan-freaking-tastic'

Rating: 2/5 stars
Source: Personal Copy (iTunes)

Review: The Sweet Relief of Missing Children

Why I picked it: Ti from Book Chatter loved this book so much that I just had to read it. 

Synopsis: Leonora is a good girl from a good family; she's cautious, studious, and obedient. Her family had supplied a code word that any stranger must know before she follows him. Nevertheless, she agrees to help the wrong stranger, and soon her picture is appearing on posters with the word missing. As Leonora's story unfolds slowly but straightforwardly in intermittent chapters, a larger cast of characters is introduced, with the action occurring over decades.

Children grow up, and adults flash back to their childhoods. An orphan marries early, hoping to reestablish himself in a nuclear family. A 16-year-old runs away from his mother's abusive new husband. Parents protect their own children while exploiting others, and the relationships among all these characters are slowly revealed.

Type: Fiction

Quick Take: I didn't enjoy this book as much as Ti (Book Chatter) or Nomad Reader, they both list this one as a 2011 favorite book. I'm surprised that I didn't like it more than I did since I enjoy family drama, plots that could happen, and books filled with drama.   

There are a lot of characters, I wrote them down on a piece of paper so I could remember who was connected to whom. Around page 130 the story comes together when characters crossover from one storyline to another.

Looking back, I struggled with the parent/child relationships throughout the novel (the ability to parent, show compassion, poor decision making).  The writing was wonderful and the story was original.

Based on Nomad Reader's review, if you enjoyed One Day you will probably like this book.  I didn't like One Day at all but see similarities with these novels.  This makes sense.

Have you read this book?

Rating: 3/5 stars
Source: Personal Copy

Review: Save Me

Why I picked: I didn't know this was a new release and just happened to see it on the shelf of my local library.  I have listened to one other book by this author and thought I would give her another try.

Synopsis:  Look Again is an emotionally powerful novel about a split-second choice, agonizing consequences, and the need for justice.

Rose McKenna volunteers as a lunch mom in her daughter Melly’s school in order to keep an eye on Amanda, a mean girl who’s been bullying her daughter. Her fears come true when the bullying begins, sending Melly to the bathroom in tears. Just as Rose is about to follow after her daughter, a massive explosion goes off in the kitchen, sending the room into chaos. Rose finds herself faced with the horrifying decision of whether or not to run to the bathroom to rescue her daughter or usher Amanda to safety. She believes she has accomplished both, only to discover that Amanda, for an unknown reason, ran back into the school once out of Rose's sight. In an instance, Rose goes from hero to villain as the small community blames Amanda’s injuries on her. In the days that follow, Rose's life starts to fall to pieces, Amanda’s mother decides to sue, her marriage is put to the test, and worse, when her daughter returns to school, the bullying only intensifies. Rose must take matters into her own hands and get down to the truth of what really happened that fateful day in order to save herself, her marriage and her family. 

Type: Fiction

Quick Take: This is the second novel I have read by Scottoline where the main character, a mom with no training in crime solving, solves a crime.  Is this what she writes about?  Let me start by saying I enjoyed this book more than what my review will say... if my book club read this and we were discussing it I would have a few issues to discuss.

The first half of this book was much more believeable, in the second half Rose went undercover, walked around a union managed plant with ease and solved a crime that the police claim was an accident.  If part of a school explodes I can't imagine the investigation taking less than a week. 

I also didn't like that the elementary school mom's left hostile voicemails and emails telling Rose how terrible she was for choosing to save her daughter over another student.  This bothered me throughout the entire novel (it happend over an over).

Birthmarks can be removed easily these days, right?  Rose's daughter is bullied (third grade) over her love for Harry Potter and a birthmark on her cheek.  It's not discussed in the novel why the parents chose not to have this removed, instead they move school districts to get away from bullying.  I think I would have a mole/birthmark removed (if possible) rather than have my child go through life being bullied/low self esteem.  What would you do?

So now you are wondering why I finished it, right?  So am I, I can say I did enjoy the constant plot twists. 

Have you read this book?  Do details like the ones above bother you when you read?  I struggle with this stuff all the time.... if you can overlook this stuff, I would give this 3/5 stars for pure entertainment purposes.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Source: Library (Audio)
Challenge: 2011 audio book challenge

Review: Caleb's Crossing

Why I picked it: I was given the opportunity to read this book for review and since I have read most of Geraldine Brooks' novels (loved Year of Wonders)... I was excited to read this book.

Synopsis: Geraldine Brooks takes a remarkable shard of history and brings it to vivid life. In 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Upon this slender factual scaffold, Brooks has created a luminous tale of love and faith, magic and adventure.

The narrator of Caleb's Crossing is Bethia Mayfield, growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans. Restless and curious, she yearns after an education that is closed to her by her sex. As often as she can, she slips away to explore the island's glistening beaches and observe its native Wampanoag inhabitants. At twelve, she encounters Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a tentative secret friendship that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia's minister father tries to convert the Wampanoag, awakening the wrath of the tribe's shaman, against whose magic he must test his own beliefs. One of his projects becomes the education of Caleb, and a year later, Caleb is in Cambridge, studying Latin and Greek among the colonial elite. There, Bethia finds herself reluctantly indentured as a housekeeper and can closely observe Caleb's crossing of cultures.

Like Brooks's beloved narrator Anna in Year of Wonders, Bethia proves an emotionally irresistible guide to the wilds of Martha's Vineyard and the intimate spaces of the human heart. Evocative and utterly absorbing, Caleb's Crossing further establishes Brooks's place as one of our most acclaimed novelists.

Type: Historical Fiction

Quick Take: Brooks' makes me a stronger reader and for that I'm grateful.

I'm not sure what I loved more, the history, the push/pull of puritan life compared to Caleb's being Native American or the story of Caleb and his journey to attending Harvard.  I fell in love to Bethia!

I adore Brooks' writing and as I read this novel I kept thinking, 'I should read Year of Wonders again'. 

This novel will hold a special place in my heart.  M was Native American, her grandfather converted her tribe to Christianity so this novel gave me a glimpse of her life.  I hope I'm stating that right, my Dad will correct me if I don't have the facts right.

Don't forget to watch the book trailer, written by the author.  If you enjoy historical fiction, you will love this one.

Geraldine Brooks is a favorite author of the Omaha Bookworm's, here's an article that I know they will enjoy: Interview with The Australian



Rating: 4/5 stars
Source: Review Copy

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