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!