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: Blame by Nicole Trope

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Being a parent is not an easy job.  On the very best of days, children fill us with warmth and joy and hope for the future.  On the very worst of days, they make us wonder what ever made us think we could do the whole parenting thing.  And fair or not, mothers seem to carry an unfair share of the burden.  But still, we keep doing it because of the love.  What happens, though, when your child is not easily loved?  What does a mother do when you are blessed, or challenged, with a child so difficult that on most days you just barely get by?

Anna seemed to find Caro just when she needed her the most.  As the mother of a young child with autism, she finds herself sinking deeper and deeper into herself.  Then Caro reaches out to her, and a friendship is born.  Although they have daughters around the same age, their lives couldn’t be more different.  But their close bond withstands that.

Until the night that Maya is killed in a tragic accident.  Who is to blame?  Is it Caro, who was driving the vehicle?  Or is it Anna, who maybe wasn’t as vigilant as she knew she needed to be?  Their friendship is tested in ways they never thought possible as the truth is slowly unraveled.

I loved the style of this story.  The author alternates between Anna and Caro, narrating from the perspective of each.  Most of the story takes place as each is being interrogated by detectives.  We think we know who is at fault, and then we change our minds.  The author drags it out until almost the very end.  An excellent read!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Blame

 

Review: The Goodbyes by Leslie Welch

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I’ll be the first to admit that romance is not my preferred genre.  Wrap it in a nice little murder mystery and I’m good to go.  But sweet little romance stories are not typically my thing.  Still, there was something about this one that intrigued me…

When young Webb meets Bree for the first time, it’s love at first sight.  Sure there’s something damaged and not quite right about her, but he can’t help himself.  He’s drawn to her in a way he can’t explain.  And that attraction remains strong through the trials and tribulations of adolescence, the confusion and turmoil of high school, and into young adulthood.  So even though they haven’t seen each other for years, Webb finds himself rushing to her side when he finds out she only has a short time to live.

Is this one of the best and most unforgettable stories I’ve ever read.  Not by a long shot.  It’s not particularly deep or earth shattering.  But it’s a very good story.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Goodbyes

Review: Where I Lost Her by T. Greenwood

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All authors tell a story, using their written words to weave a tale. And many are really very good at it. But it’s the rare author who creates a narrative so compelling, so lyrical, that the reader simply cannot pull away. T. Greenwood is one of those authors for me.

Something tragic happened to Tess many years ago.  We know it involved a child, and we know that it’s forever changed her.  But other than that, we are left to find out as the story progresses.

So when she claims to see a lost child out on the road one evening, the reader isn’t sure what to think.  Is it her imagination playing tricks on her yet again?  Or did she really see a disheveled, bleeding four-year-old on a dark country road?  She had been drinking, after all.  But everyone believes her.  At first.  A search commences, but when nothing is found, not even a body, doubts start to creep in.  Still, Tess knows what she saw and is steadfast in her commitment to find the child.  At all costs, even.  Her marriage and reputation are at stake, but she won’t be swayed in her determination.

I’ve loved absolutely everything from this author, and her newest book is no exception. Her stories are always captivating from the beginning until the very end. Full of life experiences that could happen to anyone, they make you think “What if…” So grab this one. Enjoy. And then go read her others!

~Thalia

Buy it Now:  Where I Lost Her

Review: The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

51SgHDOF15L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Ah, social media. For better or for worse, it’s part of our society, ingrained into our culture these days. Checking in at favorite restaurants, posting selfies at every opportunity…welcome to 2015. Sure, most of us post only the best of the best for the world to see. After all, who wants to read about the argument you had with your significant other? And why would you want the world to know about that, anyway?

But what if, with one quick status update and a fast click on the “post” button, you could change your path, rewrite history even? That’s the premise of this delightful new book cowritten by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke.

Kate has everything going for her. She has a demanding yet highly fulfilling dream job. She has two best friends who have been with her since childhood. And she’s getting ready to marry the man of her dreams in a wedding straight out of a fairy tale.

Everything comes to a screeching halt, though, when Max calls it off the day before the wedding. Kate’s devastated, and of course she goes on Facebook to share her heartbreak with her nearest and dearest friends. But something has happened. Kate discovers that she unexplainably has the ability to change the past, and the future, by simply writing about it in her status.

Her first order of business is to get Max back, so of course she uses her newfound power to go back in time, to the time before things went so wrong. She soon discovers, however, that nothing is without consequence. And there’s a ripple effect to everything. Each attempt to keep Max as her own leads to another unforeseen outcome, and Kate is left wondering if it’s truly possible to change her path in life, her destiny.

This was a sweet story, funny and witty while also serving as somewhat of a cautionary tale. The authors write with humor but at the same time address the issue of presenting a picture perfect life for the world to see. And it serves as a reminder that what you see is often not the true picture. That status update that’s full of cheer and happiness? It may not be telling the whole story. This story, though, is a perfect summer read!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Status of All Things: A Novel

Review: Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde

1427470530869Catherine Ryan Hyde is one of my most reliable authors. Without fail, her stories make you feel. Their characters are so real and appealing that you can’t help but root for them. Her newest book is no exception.

Worthy is his name, but that wasn’t always the case. Once upon a time, not so very long ago, he went by the name of T-Rex. I know, that’s not a very practical name for a dog. But there’s rationale behind it. Anyway, he once belonged to a woman who loved him very much. But there was a man, a not-so-very-nice man who didn’t want to compete with a dog. So he was dropped off, destined to freeze to death.

But a young man found him and saved him. Or did he actually save the young man? It seems as if they both needed each other at the same time. Through this one not-so-extraordinary dog, two people find each other again.

Never fear, this isn’t a love story. Not really, at least. It’s more than that. It’s the story of a tragic ending to what might have been. And it’s the story of friendship and connection many years later. It’s the story of people helping each other get over their fears and their weaknesses. And it’s not really so much about the dog. Worthy just becomes the key that unlocks the past for both the woman and the young man.

This is a story that’s both sweet and sad. Things don’t end perfectly and happily ever after, but life seldom does. It’s a story that will leave you satisfied, and your heart will be a bit fuller.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Worthy

Review: The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

luckiest-girl-alive-9781476789637Most of the time, when I finish a book I’m able to talk about it right away. But every now and then a book comes along that makes me hesitate, sit back and think about it a bit. This debut novel by Jessica Knoll is one of those books.

Meet Ani. She’s a young women living in New York, not yet thirty and already an established contributor to The Women’s Magazine. She’s the epitome of success. Ani knows how to dress, how to walk and talk, how to order at a restaurant. And she’s engaged. Not just any average Joe will do. Luke comes from old money, a well-to-do and highly respected family. He’s her ticket to security. Does she love him? Does it even matter?

But Ani is hiding a secret from most of the world. Something from her past has come back to tarnish the image she’s worked so hard to cultivate. Everyone thinks they know what happened when she was a student at the prestigious Bradley School, but now it’s time for Ani to tell her side of the story.

I’m the first to admit, it took me more than my typical 10% to get into this story. Even after 20%, I was still skeptical. But I knew, just felt even, that something was going to happen to make it worth my while. So I stuck with it. And I’m glad I did. Because it paid off.

This is a dark, sarcastic, humorous, witty story. There’s a depressing sadness that comes from finally hearing what happened to Ani. But at the same time, she’s not always a very likable character. She’s kind of mean, biting, cruel even. Once you hear her story, however, you understand. And you find yourself pulling for her, even cheering her on as the story reaches its ending. It’s a story that I think will leave people pondering for a bit, wondering about what they just read. And it’s a book that I believe people will recommend to others, just like I’m now recommending it to you!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel