Wednesday, June 26, 2024

The Teacher by Freida McFadden


I listened to this audiobook while I was at the beach, taking walks around town and listening as I listened to Eve who seems to hate her job as a teacher and her teacher husband Nate, who really, really loves shoes and misses her mentor who lost his job due to rumors.  Then there was Addie, a student in both Eve and Nate, who is at the heart of last years rumors and is being shunned by her best friend and bullied by the most popular girl at school.  At times you get to hear it all from Nate's point of view as well.

As I was walking around town I was wondering if I liked any of them and who I disliked the most, no spoiler for which one  but by the end there was one of them that I really did not like and had little sympathy for.  I liked that we were seeing it from each of their sides so when you were in Eve's head you knew all she knew, when you in Addie's you knew all she knew, Nate didn't come in until a bit later, the beginning of the book was the other two, but you got a much clearer picture of it all when he was added in there too.

Since this is Freida I knew there would be some twists and some darkness and those are definitely there, I wanted to love it but have to say I did not which mainly had to do with some of the events and situations, the issues were just too much for me at times.

So who can you trust and who do you go to in a school when you are having trouble?  What do you do when what you think is real is not?  Or when you find out that you aren't the first one who has been in this situation?  

If you want to read this twisty story and make your own decisions about it you can reach it here

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Summers at the Saint by Mary Kay Andrews


For many of us summer has started, it officially started last week, but for some school has been out for a bit longer.  One of my favorite things to do in the summer is read!  Of course, it is one of my favorite things to do in the other three seasons as well, but there is something about the lack of structure in the summer that makes it ideal for reading!

Last week I decided I wanted to read something to put me in the summer mood and I picked up Mary Kay Andrews book Summers at the Saint.  I loved that it was a mystery and brought best friends back together, I loved the underdog making it to the big time and I loved the setting!  I also discovered in listening to an interview with the author that she writes under a pseudonym  using her children's first names, which was a fun new fact for me.

So the hotel is in a small town and you can be from the right side of the tracks or the wrong one, and if you are from the wrong one the reason you might be at the hotel is because you work there.  Years ago Traci and her best friend were lifeguard there.  Traci fell in love with the son of the owner and her friend lost her job after a child died in the pool and lost touch with her friend.  Fast forward a couple decades and Traci has lost her husband and is fighting his family to keep running the hotel the way he wanted to while his brother manages the land interests for the family.  Add in a group of young people living in a dorm setting working at the resort, some drugs and murder, some missing mattresses and liquor, and some uncovering of family secrets and you have a fun summer read.  While I did not read this on a beach, it would make a great beach or poolside read.  I loved her summer book last year too!

I would give this four or five starts, I think on Goodreads I said 4 but thinking back I really liked the mystery element and might need to go back in and make a change.  I can recall many a summer that I would read library mysteries on my bed after coming home from the pool, warm and tired from the water and would immerse myself in solving a mystery.  This was a great start to my summer reading!

Link for Amazon:  here

Friday, July 28, 2023

Drowning by T.J. Newman


From Goodreads: Flight attendant turned New York Times bestselling author T. J. Newman—whose first book Falling was an instant #1 national bestseller and the biggest thriller debut of 2021—returns for her second book, an edge-of-your-seat thriller about a commercial jetliner that crashes into the ocean, and sinks to the bottom with passengers trapped inside, and the extraordinary rescue operation to save them.

Six minutes after takeoff, Flight 1421 crashes into the Pacific Ocean. During the evacuation, an engine explodes and the plane is flooded. Those still alive are forced to close the doors—but it’s too late. The plane sinks to the bottom with twelve passengers trapped inside.

More than two hundred feet below the surface, engineer Will Kent and his eleven-year-old daughter Shannon are waist-deep in water and fighting for their lives.

Their only chance at survival is an elite rescue team on the surface led by professional diver Chris Kent—Shannon’s mother and Will’s soon-to-be ex-wife—who must work together with Will to find a way to save their daughter and rescue the passengers from the sealed airplane, which is now teetering on the edge of an undersea cliff.

There’s not much time.

There’s even less air.

With devastating emotional power and heart-stopping suspense, Drowning is an unforgettable thriller about a family’s desperate fight to save themselves and the people trapped with them—against impossible odds.

My thoughts:  Last year I read Newman's first book, Falling, and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to give this one a try.  Both books were very fast paced and hard to put down.  There was a palpable sense of hurry and worry as you wondered how the characters would get through each of the challenges they encountered.  I love how Newman uses her knowledge of air planes and flying from her time as a flight attendant in the books.  It feels real, she really makes the time on the plane real.  I wonder if maybe the scenarios she comes up with are fears she had while she was working on planes.  

One of the big themes I saw was trust and the strength of relationships.  On the plane that crashes into the water there is a newly wed couple on their honeymoon and a couple who is celebrating 50 years together.  There is a father and daughter on their way to her first off island camp, one she thought she was old enough to fly to alone and that he wasn't ready to send her off to unaccompanied.  

On the crew trying to save them from the crash there are both military and civilians and a mom who has a lot invested in the outcome of the rescue operation as her daughter and estranged husband are aboard.

I found lessons in perseverance and pivoting.  How creative can you be and how much can you rely on your instincts and trust others?  Just as with her first book, it all happens within a pretty short span of time, racing along with some flashbacks to give us background information.

I would recommend this book!  If you use the link below you can grab it on Amazon.  If you use my link I will receive a small commission from your sale at no cost to you. 

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Do Not Disturb by Freida McFadden


My work friends had been raving about this author all school year.  We have  a book group on Facebook where people post recommendations and her books were consistently there so, with the start of summer, I decided to try one out and this was the first one that I read.  I loved Alfred Hitchcock movies when I was in high school.  Rear Window was my favorite one and this had a bit of a feel of that to me.  There is a woman in a window next door who is always watching who never comes downstairs.  The Baxter Motel where hte main character stops when the snow gets too bad to continue her trip reminded me of the Bates Motel.  The tensions was there, with Quinn on the run from a crime.  I loved, then, when the story changed to a different character, four different characters tell their side of the story from their point of view and with each one you gain an understanding of the story of the ones who came before.  Information that those narrators did not know, gaps in their knowledge being filled in for the reader as the full story emerged. Flaws being revealed to make them more real and to show the good and bad of many of them.

Later I read some articles about the author and this one was often rated the best or as one of the best of her books so I was glad that I decided to start with it.  Reading this one made me decide to jump on the bandwagon for Freida McFadden and I have since read some more.  I also found it inspiring that McFadden is a medical doctor specializing in traumatic brain injury.  That she can maintain a full time job and write and publish novels makes me feel more hopeful that I can go after my dreams as well, that the time is there if you want something bad enough you make the time to make it happen,

From Goodreads:
Quinn Alexander has committed an unthinkable crime.

To avoid spending her life in prison, Quinn makes a run for it. She leaves behind her home, her job, and her family. She grabs her passport and heads for the northern border before the police can discover what she’s done.

But when an unexpected snowstorm forces her off the road, Quinn must take refuge at the broken-down, isolated Baxter Motel. The handsome and kindly owner, Nick Baxter, is only too happy to offer her a cheap room for the night.

Unfortunately, the Baxter Motel isn’t the quiet, safe haven it seemed to be. The motel has a dark and disturbing past. And in the dilapidated house across the way, the silhouette of Nick's ailing wife is always at the window. Always watching.

In the morning, Quinn must leave the motel. She'll pack up her belongings and get back on the road to freedom.

But first, she must survive the night.

Do Not Disturb is a Hitchcock-style psychological thriller that will keep you tearing through the pages until you reach the shocking conclusion!

Monday, March 20, 2023

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

 I found myself enjoying this book more than I thought I would.  I have read quite a few of Picoult's novels and some I have loved, while others dragged a bit for me.  This one goes into the "loved it" category.   On Goodreads I tend to give a lot of 4's.  Even if I really liked a book sometimes it is just isn't enough to make me think, "This deserves a 5!", but this one did.

According to the Goodreads synopsis, this book is:

A soul-stirring novel about what we choose to keep from our past, and what we choose to leave behind.

Olivia McAfee knows what it feels like to start over. Her picture-perfect life—living in Boston, married to a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon, raising a beautiful son, Asher—was upended when her husband revealed a darker side. She never imagined she would end up back in her sleepy New Hampshire hometown, living in the house she grew up in, and taking over her father's beekeeping business.

Lily Campanello is familiar with do-overs, too. When she and her mom relocate to Adams, New Hampshire, for her final year of high school, they both hope it will be a fresh start.

And for just a short while, these new beginnings are exactly what Olivia and Lily need. Their paths cross when Asher falls for the new girl in school, and Lily can’t help but fall for him, too. With Ash, she feels happy for the first time. Yet at times, she wonders if she can she trust him completely . . .

Then one day, Olivia receives a phone call: Lily is dead, and Asher is being questioned by the police. Olivia is adamant that her son is innocent. But she would be lying if she didn’t acknowledge the flashes of his father’s temper in him, and as the case against him unfolds, she realizes he’s hidden more than he’s shared with her.

Mad Honey is a riveting novel of suspense, an unforgettable love story, and a moving and powerful exploration of the secrets we keep and the risks we take in order to become ourselves.

Who can you trust and how well do you know even the people you are closest to?  Olivia has done a remarkable job starting over again in her hometown in the house she grew up in.  She loves her son and his girlfriend.  When the unthinkable happens and Asher's girlfriend is found dead and he is brough in as a suspect she starts to doubt both herself and even him.  Could his father's abusive temperament have been passed down?  Did he see enough as a child to rewire his brain?  Who would have wanted Lily dead?

Going back into the past in people's memories and seeing more and more about Lily and her life before coming to New Hampshire starts to paint a much larger picture, but there was a twist that I did not see coming that seemed like it answered the question of why Lily was killed, but at the same time did not.

I read this over the course of just a couple of days because I wanted to see the conclusion of the mystery.  I didn't even realize until I went to write this up that there were two authors for this book.  I listened to the audiobook and the thumbnail was super small for the book.

<a target="_blank" href=";keywords=mad+honey+jodi+picoult&amp;qid=1680897956&amp;s=books&amp;sprefix=mad+hone%252Cstripbooks%252C79&amp;sr=1-1&_encoding=UTF8&tag=booksbookseve-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=f4dfcc64cefb943eebde5514ffe3a029&camp=1789&creative=9325">Mad honey</a>

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron


This book has been on my want to read list for quite some time.  One of the book clubs I attend picked it for this month's read and I was excited to dive in, but I didn't like it quite as much as I thought I would based on the star ratings on Goodreads.  I felt a bit like I was in a soap opera, walking along in the present with the main character.  Daniel starts out as a ten-year-old boy and gets to be age 18 in the main part of the story.  The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where Daniel went with his father was enchanting.  Just the right book was waiting for you among it's stacks and it would speak to you and let you find it.  Each book was there to be preserved for others.  So starts Daniel's desire to find out more about the author of his chosen book, Julien Carax, and to find more of his books.  But someone has been finding the few books there were and destroying them by setting them on fire.

The blurb from the back cover from Goodreads says:
Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals from its war wounds, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer's son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author's other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax's books in existence. Soon Daniel's seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

Barcelona came to life in a dark way, the Barcelona of 1945 did not strike me as a place I would have wanted to visit.  It seemed like in the shadow of recovery from the war there was a lot of fear and darkness, all the homes and apartments that were visited were dark for the most part.  Some of the characters were very believable, but people falling in love in one day to me was not.  Being able to ascertain that a woman was pregnant one day after having had sex was not.

I both read a paperback copy and listened to an audio version and it was interesting that they were two different translations.  The print copy I have is the one the picture above came from, but the translators used different word choices in multiple places.  I wonder how the experience would have been if  I were able to read it in Spanish as it was written.  

I am not sure if being on a timeline to finish is what took some of the enjoyment out of it, but I do not think I will be hunting down more books in what appears to be a series about the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, though that was the part I most liked about this book so maybe I will change my mind.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney


I listened to this book over the course of 24 hours, I just couldn't seem to walk away from it. It kept pulling me back in. According to Goodreads, "

The New York Times bestselling Queen of Twists returns…with a family reunion that leads to murder.

After years of avoiding each other, Daisy Darker’s entire family is assembling for Nana’s 80th birthday party in Nana’s crumbling gothic house on a tiny tidal island. Finally back together one last time, when the tide comes in, they will be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours.

The family arrives, each of them harboring secrets. Then at the stroke of midnight, as a storm rages, Nana is found dead. And an hour later, the next family member follows…

Trapped on an island where someone is killing them one by one, the Darkers must reckon with their present mystery as well as their past secrets, before the tide comes in and all is revealed.

With a wicked wink to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, Daisy Darker’s unforgettable twists will leave readers reeling.

I thought I had the twist figured out a time or two as I could recall the twist in Sometimes I Lie and Rock, Paper, Scissors which were a bit similar in their twists, but this one was not what I was expecting. I got some things right, but others all wrong which to me makes it an even better book, I like when the clues are there, but maybe not enough to come around to the totally correct solution.

I really liked Daisy and Nana, they were probably my favorites. Some of the others seemed a but like caricature at some points, but maybe that was so that I wouldn't feel bad as one by one the family members died at the stroke of the next hour.

The house was cut off from the mainland during high tide and only accessible by boat at that time. It had no cell service and Nana had recently canceled her phone line. The perfect recipe for a murder to come around, during a storm, when everyone is trapped in the house or nearby land and unable to reach anyone else.

It would be the perfect read on a cold winter night with the wind outside, you'd feel like you were inside the book with Daisy and her sisters trying to figure out who was picking them off one by one!