Professional Reader 80% 25 Book Reviews 2016 NetGalley Challenge

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Siracusa - Review

Siracusa    🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Delia Ephron
Published July 12 2016 by Blue Rider Express

Finished 11/23/16

Looking back now, reading this was similar to reading a Patricia Highsmith novel.  Two couples and a very weird child take a trip to Siracusa and nothing will ever be the same again.  Love triangles, naughty desires,  sophisticated and rich prose--all here.  Personally, I quite enjoyed the story  as each character and their quirks are revealed, even though I  couldn't relate to any of them.  Sort of liked Lizzy, though, starting from the point early on when she said she didn't go in for using hand sanitizers.  Me neither!  They don't remove dust and dirt and are just plain gross.  Lizzy, thank you, it needed to be said!

But that has not much to do with the plot of course.  Not much can be said about that without ruining all the small reveals that lead up to the BIG reveal.  The ending and what all the adults decided to do about the big little problem is just crazy.  I highly recommend.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer    🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Fredrik Backman
Published November 1 2016 by Atria  Books

Finished November 20, 2016

Wow.  Can that be my entire review, please?  Just wow?  I have known Alzheimer's  and it isn't pretty.  But this little novella is simple and beautiful, simply beautiful.  This short book gets a short review  with short words.  Wow.

Thank you, NetGalley and Atria  Books for approving me to review this.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Everybody's Fool - Review

Everybody's Fool
by Richard Russo
Published  May 3, 2016, by Knopf

Finished 11/1/16

3.5 stars

Wow, 18 1/2 hours of audio is a long book.  And some of it is a rehash of the first book, Nobody's  Fool, so the mind wanders.  If it wasn't for the mix of every day, ordinary characters  and the outright crazy bunch that inhabit North Bath, there would be nothing special about the book.  My favorite remains Sully, a gruff old guy, getting up in years now and not exactly healthy, but compared to everyone else in town, he's heroic, iconic, and angelic. I kept wanting more of him!

Mark Brammall again flawlessly narrates the audio.  

I Liked My Life - Review

I Liked My Life    🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Abby Fabiaschi
Expected Publication January 31 2017 by St. Martin's  Press

Finished 11/19/16

"If we could learn to learn from pain, even as it grasps us...." is a quote from a real poem mentioned in the book, so it's allowed in this review of a  galley copy. And it so aptly forecasts the theme of the book -- how a teenage girl can grow while grieving over her mother's suicide.

Maddy is a ghost, stuck  in transition or purgatory, following her fatal leap off a building.  Her daughter Eve and husband Brady are picking up the pieces, not always successfully; so Maddy feels she is there to give them an occasional  gentle nudge in the right direction.  For Brady, she already has the perfect successor wife  picked  out because  that's  what  he is needing most, in her opinion.  For Eve, getting happiness back is the ticket, in Maddy's  opinion.  Maddy discovers she can turn a repeated mantra into action on the part of these mortals on earth, and uses her power quite effectively.

Making it more difficult for Eve and Brady was that Maddy didn't  leave  a note; she left a To Do list.  She left nary a clue as to WHY she might kill herself.   What Maddie did leave for those who survived her were wonderful memories, a wealth of wisdom, and words to live by. 
"...Love, compassion, and forgiveness are capacities you have to actively engage because experiences will strip you of them if you aren't careful."
There is so much sage advice offered here, I wonder what the author could possibly have leftover for her next book; but God I  hope there is another!

The book is humorous while being achingly sad.  From heartwarming to heartbreaking. You will go  from smiles to tears in a heartbeat.  As a teenager, the author lost a good friend  in an accident, which makes the motivation behind the novel even more touching.  

4.5 stars   Very impressed with this debut AND that  20% of all proceeds from it will go to support women's and children's charities around the globe.  A thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Little Deaths - Review

Little Deaths    🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Emma Flint
Expected Publication January 17 2017 by Hachette Books

Finished 11/6/16

The story is a heartbreaking one. A single mother of two wakes up to find her kids are gone and no clue what happened to them, that is until both turn up dead at different times.  Ruth has had so many men in her life and has been drinking so much, it's possible she can't think clearly and can't trust anyone.  She is thought guilty based on her attractive appearance, her aloofness to other housewives, her occupation as a cocktail waitress, her reputation for bringing men home.  Poor example of a mother maybe but didn't she love those kids with all her being?   

One of the men interested in her is a rookie newspaper reporter who can't let the story go until he finds that one incredible clue that will help prove Ruth's  innocence.  He uncovers police shenanigans and a possible ex-boyfriend who could have done it.  He will do anything to help her.  The book starts with Ruth in prison, so how's that going to come about?

This was just a bit of a slow  starter for me but gets pretty intense  during the investigation and trial.  Then there's a Holy Sh!* ending I  for one did not see coming.  An excellent debut.  I was given an ARC copy by a friend.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Fire Child - Review

The Fire Child  🌟🌟🌟🌟
by S. K. Tremaine
Published  June 16 2016 by Harper Collins UK

Finished  11/1/16

I loved the setting of this story from the start, which  is Cornwall, near the old abandoned copper mines of the past--Wheal Rose, Wheal Chance, and dozens in ruins, yet ever present....  I was constantly reminded of Poldark. 

Rachel has just married into  a wealthy family, a widower  with a small  son and elderly mother.  There in the huge family manor house  with a name (Carnhallow) are  constant reminders of Wife #1, the beautiful Nina who died too young in an accident.  Rachel is left to wander the rooms and the grounds while husband David spends every week lawyering in London.... Shades of Rebecca? 

OK, I'm hooked!  However... it's  not as simple as all that. There are also -- thank God I read this around Halloween -- shades of The Twilight Zone.

The 8 year old son Jamie has taken his mother's  death hard.  Rachel is challenged to make life normal again for the little fella.   But maybe his world cannot  be exactly  normal.   His mind seems  preoccupied, and Rachel witnesses him  talking to apparitions and dreaming of events yet to happen.  Who is he talking to when by himself?  What does he know about the night of his Mummy's  accident?  

A great start and a decent ending, but some of the middle  felt like it was coming completely apart, plummeting into uncharted territory. It kept me guessing. A big Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher.