Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

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In spite of the wide range of tastes we Muses have in books, there have been several times two of us have read & reviewed the same book. But I do believe this may be the first threepeat.  And it’s one that’s well worthy of that distinction.

A nurse.  A new father. An up and coming attorney.  After the unexpected death of a newborn, their paths cross in a most unfortunate way.  Ruth has worked hard to get where she is, and as a much respected nurse she never expected to be on trial for murder.  But that’s just what happens when the white supremacist parents decide that she alone is responsible for the death of their baby.  Her only hope is Kennedy, a still wet-behind-the-ears public defender who has never defended a murder case.

If you’re interested in a story that just sticks to the plot outlined above, this is not the book for you.  But if you’re interested in something that goes deeper, to the very core of what we believe, then you’ll be pulled in from the very first page.  Whether you agree with the ideas presented by the author or not, it will no doubt make you question everything you believe.

Jodi Picoult never ceases to amaze me.  And she never shies away from controversial issues, taking them and weaving a story so compelling that you can’t put it down.  This one is no exception.  And as an aside, the Audible version of this one was outstanding with different narrators bringing the main characters to life for better or for worse.  A timely story from one of the best!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Small Great Things

Review: A Necessary End by Holly Brown

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All Adrienne wants is a baby.  Is that too much to ask?  Unable to have one of her own, she and husband Gabe have jumped through every hoop to make their dream come true.  And it almost happened once.  Now that chance is here once again, and Adrienne’s not about to let this one slip away.  She’ll do anything to make it happen.  Even if the birth mother’s demands seem a bit….unusual.

So Leah moves in with Adrienne and Gabe.  And they craft a most nontraditional agreement.  Not only will she live with them for a year following the birth of the baby, she’ll also wait until the end of that year to sign the baby over to them.  Oh and she gets an allowance of several hundred dollars a month.  If that’s what it takes, though, Adrienne will do it even if Gabe is a bit less enthusiastic.

When the baby is born, she goes to increasingly sneaky lengths to keep the baby from Leah.  Meanwhile, Leah’s starting to pull away from Adrienne and form more of a bond with Gabe.  And then the baby daddy shows up, throwing everything into a tailspin.

There’s so much more going on with this book.  Leah has a secretive past.  Something bad happened with the previous birth mother, although we don’t find out the full details until the very end.  I have to say, I didn’t like any of these characters.  But in this case, that’s okay.  I think that was the author’s point.  A great little suspense of a story!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  A Necessary End

 

Review: Preston’s Honor by Mia Sheridan

01-aa “Make a fuss.”

The last time I felt this way, after reading a Mia book, was when I read Kyland. This story is about love, forgiveness and honor. It will make you think and make you cry. You will be gutted. But most of all, this book brings attention to a very real issues that many people face in this country. In fact, it brought to my attention another serious issue that many women deal with, but often no one talks about it. I realize that many people read books differently and some won’t even think about this. This story has so many things going on, many real life issues, that this may get glanced over. But to me, it broke my heart. Like the quote up top, make a fuss. Don’t settle. You’re worth fighting for.

SYNOPSIS
There were two brothers—identical twins—and though I loved them both, my soul belonged to only one.

Annalia Del Valle has loved Preston Sawyer all her life. The daughter of an impoverished migrant farmworker, she grew up as an outcast in what was no more than a tiny, cooped up shack in California’s Central Valley. But her heart found freedom in the land, in the wide-open spaces of Sawyer Farm, and in the boys who were her only friends.

Preston has yearned for Annalia since he was a boy. But a sense of honor kept him from pursuing her until he’s unable to hold back any longer and their worlds—and bodies—collide one hot summer night. A night that sets off a chain of events that will alter their lives forever.

Now Annalia is back in town after disappearing without a trace for six long months. Determined to reclaim her heart, her life, and the baby she left behind—the son who was created in a moment of lust and love and pent-up yearning.

Preston has survived grief, a ravaging drought, and the despair of heartache, but he’s not sure he can survive Annalia again. And he might be unwilling to try. Will pride and bitterness keep him from the one thing he’s always longed for?

How do you heal what is irreparably broken? How do you forgive that which is unforgivable? How do you discover that real honor comes not from circumstance, but from the place deep in our hearts where truth resides? And how do you move beyond the wounds of the past to discover that some loves are as solid as the ground beneath your feet, and as enduring as the earth itself?

This is not your usual love triangle. Trust me. Read this book with an open mind and open heart and you can thank me later. This is a story about a girl who keeps everything to herself. It’s about not standing up and thinking you need to take what life hands you, without complaint. It’s about not being strong enough to say, “Enough!” Lia represents a lot of people. She thinks she’s all alone and keeps to the sidelines of life. She’s created this wall around her heart so she doesn’t get hurt, but in doing so, this wall is slowly closing in on her and not allowing love to reach her. When you don’t feel love, you can’t give love. She was slowly dying inside but didn’t understand how to fix herself. What she needed to do was break free and let others in. But unfortunately she learned that the hard way.

I loved Preston. He was so strong, even when he thought he was weak, he was strong. He would do anything to keep his family afloat during tragedy after tragedy. There is no better person than him. He loved with a fierceness that even if it cost him everything, he would do what it takes to keep going.

“I vowed to prove to her that her secrets – the tender places inside her – were safe with me. And I promised myself I’d trust her with my tender places, too.”

I made the mistake of starting Preston late one night and read until about 12:30, then cried myself to sleep. I woke up at 6 to finish up. What an absolute beautiful and very thought provoking story. Mia is a word wizard. She created a world that I feel a part of and makes me want to step in and live it. This book and these characters are so very real. You will be moved to tears and your heart will be full. So many emotions.

~Melpomene

Buy Preston’s Honor HERE

Review: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

fine-balanceHow does one even attempt to review such a scopious novel? Seriously…I think I need to weep, but there’s just nothing left inside of me at the moment. Perhaps a bit of happiness, hope, faith restored…but only a tiny bit…and perhaps there is some despair, hatred, anger, even dubiosity….or maybe they all just cancel one another out and that is why I feel so much…nothingness…I want to be all of these things…I want to have all of these emotions…and I want to make sense of it all…but I just can’t…

Who can make sense of destiny? Who can think they know better than fate?

“..my life would have been so different today. But our destinies are engraved on our foreheads at birth.”

I think this novel has left me in shock…it gives so much hope in so many places, but just as real life often does, it snatches it all away in a blink of an eye. You want to be angry, but how can you? What gives you that right when the characters themselves handle their fate with so much grace and acceptance. How can you even attempt to place blame, when they themselves do not…How can you weep for them, when they do not weep for themselves?

As I sit here writing this review, I am not ashamed to say that as I sit here, trying to make sense of it all, that my numbness has turned to me openly weeping at this book’s ending…Nor am I ashamed to admit I do not know who I weep for the most…it could be any single one of these characters..they have all touched me in some way….or maybe I weep for myself…or all of humanity together…

Read this book…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Review: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Think Devil Wears Prada, but with a stronger protagonist and a nicer antagonist. And parents who live out in farm country. And a cute guy. With a tasteful tattoo. 

Sigh. 

Katie loves her job — and London — but not so much the people. Good thing for her, then when she’s needed at the family “farm” and actually has an opportunity to show her marketing skills and get a little sweet revenge. And fall in love. Action on the farm reduced me to tears of hilarity, and I literally read while brushing my teeth because I needed to see out the rest of Demeter’s bespoke resort activity. Well done you, Katie! 

I appreciate that Kinsella put family at the heart of this story – Katie’s family, Demeter’s family, and the true family at the London office. Though I always adore a satisfying romance, this might be one of the first times I eagerly anticipated the next friends-and-family move over the the next romantic move. 

So… there was more than one happily ever after in My Not So Perfect Life. What went around came around, to the winning pleasure of Katie, her friends, her family, and her man. We won’t talk about the losers. 

-calliope

 Buy MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE

Review: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

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A missing baby.  A maybe slightly psychotic mother.  A lying father.  Kinky next door neighbors.  They’re all there, a cast of characters to set you up for one heck of a story.

When their babysitter cancels at the last minute,  Anne’s first instinct is to skip the dinner party next door.  But somehow, her husband Marco convinces her that it’ll be okay to leave the sleeping baby home alone.  Their houses share a wall, after all.  And they’ll be checking up on Cora every thirty minutes.  What could possibly go wrong?

Of course it does go wrong.  Baby Cora goes missing.  And there are very few clues left behind.  It’s natural that suspicion would fall upon her parents.  Anne has been slightly depressed, after all. And Marco’s business isn’t doing so well. Was he so desperate for money that he’d stage a kidnapping and ransom demand?

But wait.  There’s more. There are also the shady dinner party neighbors, especially the wife Cynthia who has eyes for Marco.  And Anne’s dad? He’s got a ton of money, thanks to her mom.  Along with that, he has some questionable business dealings.  Or was it really just a random event, a crime of opportunity?  Somehow the detectives in charge don’t think so.  But the deeper they dig, the more twists and turns they find.

This was quite an enjoyable book.  There are so many characters who could be guilty that even when I found how who dunnit, I was still suspicious of the others.  And it’s very twisty and turny, right up until the very end.  Also to note, I listened to the audio version which had an excellent narrator.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Couple Next Door

 

Review ~ The Muralist, by B.A. Shapiro

24001083I was looking forward to this novel as I liked Shapiro’s previous novel, The Art Forger. An easy and fun read, The Muralist is split into a dual narrative, set in present day and in the 1930’s. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, featuring real people, you’ll love the 1930’s narrative. Guest appearances include: Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Lee Krasner, and, Eleanor Roosevelt. Through this narrative, we learn a lot about the real historical people, and the events and circumstances of 1930’s America.

Although entertaining, this story did tend to gloss over some important parts of history, and, seemed to sometimes name drop for the sake of it, although an argument for entertainment value can be made to support this stylistic choice. Generally speaking though, the characters were entertaining and somewhat fleshed out, and they definitely helped the development of the plot.

This is definitely a sit back with a glass of something and read sporadically throughout the week, kinda book. You can put it down and pick it back up without having to re-read chapters. I recommend it if you’re a fan of historical fiction, dual time narratives, and fun characters. Be warned though, you may well spend more time researching the real events and characters, than reading the book! Learning is never a bad thing though, so pick yourself up a copy, sit back, get a glass of your favorite tipple, and immerse yourself into Shapiro’s world.

Until next time,

Pegasus.

The Muralist