REVIEW: AFTER THE END, BY CLARE MACKINTOSH

 

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son.

What if they could have both?

A gripping and propulsive exploration of love, marriage, parenthood, and the road not taken, After the End brings one unforgettable family from unimaginable loss to a surprising, satisfying, and redemptive ending and the life they are fated to find. With the emotional power of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, Mackintosh helps us to see that sometimes the end is just another beginning.

 

My Thoughts: After the End is an emotional story that spotlights a family in crisis. Alternating between the perspectives of Pip, Max, and even Leila, the doctor in the middle of it all, we follow the before and after moments of Dylan’s life.

We are thrust into a legal battle, a media circus, and an emotional tug of war that heightens the intensity of the crisis and the family pain.

I couldn’t stop reading the story of Pip, Max, and Dylan, although the leaps on the timeline were a little confusing. We went back and then forward so often that I felt a little lost…until I decided to just flow with the events and immerse myself in the moments.

As the story came to its conclusion, I did feel connected to the characters and will not forget them. 4.5 stars.***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

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MONTHLY WRAP-UP: WELCOME TO MAY!

Where did April go?  Great books kept me engaged throughout, however.  My top favorites:

 

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Genres:

     Mysteries/Thrillers:  9

     Contemporary/Historical Fiction: 1

     Literary Fiction:  1

 

Looks like I really immersed myself in thrillers/mysteries this month.  I still read only 11 books, though, just like last month.  Hmm, what’s that about?

Books Read and Reviewed – Click links for my review:

APRIL 2019:

1.All the Wrong Places (e-book), by Joy Fielding – (358 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 4/4/19

2.Before She Knew Him (e-book), by Peter Swanson – (320 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 4/6/19

3.Editor, The (e-book), by Steven Rowley – (300 pages) – (literary fiction) – 4/10/19

4.Girl He Used to Know, The (e-book), by Tracey Garvis Graves – (291 pages) – (contemporary/historical fiction) – 4/27/19

5.My Lovely Wife (e-book), by Samantha Downing – (378)- (domestic thriller) – 4/25/19

6.Never Tell (e-book), by Lisa Gardner – (414 pages) – (murder mystery) – 4/17/19

7.Night Visitors, The (e-book), by Carol Goodman – (320 pages) – (suspense) – 4/7/19

8.Perfect Girlfriend, The (e-book), by Karen Hamilton – (352 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 4/13/19

9.Someone Knows (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline – (387 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 4/29/19

10.Stillhouse Lake (e-book), by Rachel Caine – (302 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 4/19/19

11.Sunset Beach (e-book), by Mary Kay Andrews – (432 pages) – (suspense) – (NG-5/7/19)

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN APRIL 2019:    11

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN APRIL:  3,854

BOOKS READ YTD:   42

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What did your month look like?  Enjoy May!

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REVIEW: THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW, BY TRACEY GARVIS GRAVES

 

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game—and his heart—to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

My Thoughts: The Girl He Used to Know takes the reader back and forth in time, between 2001, when Annika and Jonathan serendipitously reconnected, to 1991 when they were in college.

Annika’s social anxiety and other issues seemed to trigger the protective, nurturing aspects in Jonathan. But were they destined to fail back then? Can they sort through the issues and do better this time?

As Annika and Jonathan alternately tell their story, we learn more about them and the events that separated them in the past. Moving forward, with the help of a therapist for Annika, we come to understand her struggles and how she has worked to overcome them, and how the two of them have grown and changed.

August 2001 was a significant time period for them to reconnect, as something traumatic loomed on the horizon for them that would require all of their strength to overcome. An emotional ending kept me turning pages as I could not help but root for the two of them. 4.5 stars.

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BURIED IN BOOKS: A JOURNEY

I now have THIRTEEN unread NetGalley ARCs…most of which have tumbled down onto my shelves in recent weeks.

Three of them came in 2018…but their release dates are in August (along with three others that arrived this year).

FOUR are releasing in June, so they will be up next.

After I read the August books, I’ll tackle the two releasing in September and one in October.  But I’ m sure there will be more!  I’m loving them, but I am also a little nervous about how they are showing up at unexpected times.

I used to get only books I requested.  I had some control that way.  But surprise offerings are delightful, too, and it feels good to be selected.  Yes, that’s what I feel when I first see a new one already approved in my inbox.  Sigh.

I enter each book on my review pages here, and then add the links once I’ve read and reviewed them.  I also have a trusty little notebook, but I have had to redo it when the new additions fill up the page.

If I had all of these books in a pile instead of on my Kindle, they might look like this…sort of:

That image reminds me of how my book stacks looked when I started this blog.  I had boxes of unread books when I moved (see below), and decided creating a blog to address the issue was a great idea.  All these years later, I don’t regret that action…since it worked.  But I keep adding to my TBR.  The books I receive for review now are mostly e-books.

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How do you manage your unread books?  Do you curtail the number of review books that come your way?

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BOOKS PURCHASED IN 2019…AND THOSE READ

Check out the titles I added this year, so far; and then see the links to my reviews of the 2019 purchases read.  Not bad.

 

JANUARY 2019:

1.A Simple Favor (e-book), by Darcey Bell

2.Becoming Mrs. Lewis (e-book), by Patti Callahan

3.Best of Us, The (e-book), by Robyn Carr

4.Come Find Me (e-book), by Megan Miranda

5.Her One Mistake (e-book), by Heidi Perks

6.Late in the Day (e-book), by Tessa Hadley

7.Liar’s Room, The (e-book), by Simon Lelic

8.Red Address Book, The (e-book), by Sofia Lundberg

9.She Lies in Wait (e-book), by Gytha Lodge

10.Suspect, The (e-book), by Fiona Barton

11.Untouchable (e-book), by Jayne Ann Krentz

12.Wallis in Love, by Andrew Morton

13.Woman Inside, The (e-book), by E. G. ScottDNF

14.Woman Who Kept Everything, The (e-book), by Jane Gilley

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FEBRUARY 2019:

1.Don’t Wake Up (e-book), by Liz Lawler

2. I Invited Her In (e-book), by Adele Parks

3.I Owe You One (e-book), by Sophie Kinsella

4.Never Tell (e-book), by Lisa Gardner

5.Next To Die, The (e-book), by Sophie Hannah

6.Silent Patient, The (e-book), by Alex Michaelides

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MARCH 2019:

1.All the Wrong Places (e-book), by Joy Fielding

2.Back Stabbers (e-book), by Julie Mulhern

3,Before She Knew Him (e-book), by Peter Swanson

4.California Girls (e-book), by Susan Mallery

5.Liar’s Child, The (e-book), by Carla Buckley

6.Library of Lost and Found, The (e-book), by Phaedra Patrick

7.Maid (e-book), by Stephanie Land

8. Night Visitors, The (e-book), by Carol Goodman

9.Perfect Girlfriend, The (e-book), by Karen Hamilton

10.Things We Cannot Say, The (e-book), by Kelly Rimmer

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APRIL 2019:

1.Editor, The (e-book), by Steven Rowley

2.Girl He Used to Know, The (e-book), by Tracey Garvis Graves

3.My Lovely Wife (e-book), by Samantha Downing

4.Someone Knows (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline

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REVIEW: THE NIGHT VISITORS, BY CAROL GOODMAN

 

ALICE gets off a bus in the middle of a snowstorm in Delphi, NY. She is fleeing an abusive relationship and desperate to protect…

OREN, ten years old, a major Star Wars fan and wise beyond his years. Though Alice is wary, Oren bonds nearly instantly with…

MATTIE, a social worker in her fifties who lives in an enormous run-down house in the middle of the woods. Mattie lives alone and is always available, and so she is the person the hotline always calls when they need a late-night pickup. And although according to protocol Mattie should take Alice and Oren to a local shelter, instead she brings them home for the night. She has plenty of room, she says. What she doesn’t say is that Oren reminds her of her little brother, who died thirty years ago at the age of ten.

But Mattie isn’t the only one withholding elements of the truth. Alice is keeping her own secrets. And as the snowstorm worsens around them, each woman’s past will prove itself unburied, stirring up threats both within and without.

My Thoughts: I was immediately swept up into the drama of The Night Visitors as Alice and Oren get off the bus and are pulled into the unknown life ahead of them. Fleeing abuse, but not sure who they can trust, Alice braces herself against the challenges ahead.

Alice and Mattie’s stories are told in alternating narratives, and we learn more about their lives and their experiences as their stories unfold.

I could relate to Mattie, having had a career in social work. Her own family life was full of secrets and dark judgments, so I could empathize with how she had struggled.

Alice’s secrets brought darkness into their new lives, and because she wasn’t sure if she could trust Mattie, she almost lost the opportunity to accept the good offered to her.

Mysteries seemed to lurk in the old Victorian house where Mattie offers refuge, and I liked the “ghostly elements” in the story. In the end, I was happy that many of the issues were resolved for the characters. 4.5 stars.

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HELLO, APRIL: MONTHLY WRAP-UP

Another month bites the dust!  Tomorrow is the April First, and I’m not foolin’,  Yeah, that was silly.  March brought some good books, so let’s take a peek.  First are my two favorites…I couldn’t choose just one.

Genres:

     Mysteries/Thrillers – 5

     Contemporary Fiction – 5

     Literary Fiction – 1

 

 

Here are the books.  Click my titles to see my reviews.

MARCH 2019:

1.Ash Family, The (e-book), by Molly Dektar – (352 pages) – (literary fiction) – 3/30/19 – (NetGalley – 4/9/19)

2.Back Stabbers (e-book, #8), by Julie Mulhern – (244 pages) – (murder mystery) – 3/31/19

3.Her One Mistake (e-book), by Heidi Perks- (304 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 3/22/19

4.I Invited Her In (e-book), by Adele Parks – (432 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 3/25/19

5.In the Blink of an Eye (e-book), by Jesse Blackadder – (384 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 3/9/19 – (NetGalley – 3/19/19)

6.I Owe You One (e-book), by Sophie Kinsella – (432 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 3/18/19

7.Liar’s Child, The (e-book), by Carla Buckley – (288 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 3/21/19

8.Me For You (e-book), by Lolly Winston – (304 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 3-6-19 – (NG- 3/19/19)

9.Next To Die, The (e-book), by Sophie Hannah – (398 pages) – (mystery) – 3/14/19

10.Night Beach, by Joanne DeMaio – (260 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 3/16/19 – (Author Review Request)

11.Silent Patient, The (e-book), by Alex Michaelides – (323 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 3/1/19

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN  MARCH 2019:    11

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN MARCH: 3,721

BOOKS READ YTD:   31

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REVIEW: HER ONE MISTAKE, BY HEIDI PERKS

 

Charlotte was supposed to be looking after the children, and she swears she was. She only took her eyes off of them for one second. But when her three kids are all safe and sound at the school fair, and Alice, her best friend Harriet’s daughter, is nowhere to be found, Charlotte panics. Frantically searching everywhere, Charlotte knows she must find the courage to tell Harriet that her beloved only child is missing. And admit that she has only herself to blame.

Harriet, devastated by this unthinkable, unbearable loss, can no longer bring herself to speak to Charlotte again, much less trust her. Now more isolated than ever and struggling to keep her marriage afloat, Harriet believes nothing and no one. But as the police bear down on both women trying to piece together the puzzle of what happened to this little girl, dark secrets begin to surface—and Harriet discovers that confiding in Charlotte again may be the only thing that will reunite her with her daughter….

My Thoughts: What a whirlwind ride! Her One Mistake begins  as a lost child scenario, but as alternating narrators reveal more of the story, we see that the players in this layered and deceptive drama are not who they seem to be.

Harriet and Brian caught my interest early on, as there was something very odd about their dynamic. While townsfolk, along with the media, point a finger at Charlotte, they should be paying attention to the two of them.

As the story unfolds, I must stop the revelations, to avoid spoilers. Suffice it to say you will hang on tight throughout this breathless ride…and you will not be disappointed. 5 stars.

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MONTHLY WRAP-UP: WELCOME TO MARCH!

Another month bites the dust.  February was a good month, with lots of intriguing titles.

FAVORITE FEBRUARY READ:

Genres: 

     Mysteries/Thrillers:  3

    Contemporary Fiction:  6

    Historical Fiction:  1

 

Here are my books, linked to my reviews:

FEBRUARY 2019:

1.Best of Us, The  (e-book), by Robyn Carr – (336 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 2/9/19

2.Daisy Jones & the Six (e-book), by Taylor Jenkins Reid – (368 pages) – (historical fiction) – 2/11/19 – (NG-3/5/19)

3.Don’t Wake Up (e-book), by Liz Lawler – (368 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 2/26/19

4.Late in the Day (e-book), by Tessa Hadley – (277 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 2/18/19

5.Making of Us, The (e-book), by Lisa Jewell – (403 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 2/15/19 (Library Book)

6.Not Here (e-book), by Genevieve Nocovo – (218 pages) – (contemporary fiction/suspense) – 2/12/19 (Author Review Book)

7.On Turpentine Lane (e-book), by Elinor Lipman – (322 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 2/27/19

8.She Lies in Wait (e-book), by Gytha Lodge  – (368 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 2/23/19

9.Untouchable (e-book), by Jayne Ann Krentz – (303 pages) – (mystery) – 2/5/19

10.Woman Who Kept Everything, The (e-book), by Jane Gilley – (777 KB) – (contemporary fiction) – 2/2/19

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN  FEBRUARY 2019:    10

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN FEBRUARY:  2,963

BOOKS READ YTD:   20

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How was February for you?

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REVIEW: ON TURPENTINE LANE, BY ELINOR LIPMAN

 

At thirty-two, Faith Frankel has returned to her claustro-suburban hometown, where she writes institutional thank-you notes for her alma mater. It’s a peaceful life, really, and surely with her recent purchase of a sweet bungalow on Turpentine Lane her life is finally on track. Never mind that her fiancé is off on a crowdfunded cross-country walk, too busy to return her texts (but not too busy to post photos of himself with a different woman in every state). And never mind her witless boss, or a mother who lives too close, or a philandering father who thinks he’s Chagall.

When she finds some mysterious artifacts in the attic of her new home, she wonders whether anything in her life is as it seems. What good fortune, then, that Faith has found a friend in affable, collegial Nick Franconi, officemate par excellence . . .

 

My Thoughts: My mood led me to On Turpentine Lane, a book that had been languishing on my Kindle, and as I turned each page with fresh delight, I knew I would be engaged throughout.

The story opens with Faith buying a charming bungalow with a lot of quirky elements, not the least of which would lead to a twisty kind of mystery involving previous residents of the home.

Mix in the delightful banter between two friends and coworkers, Faith and Nick, and you are off on a journey toward a hopeful ending.

In the beginning, Faith had a walkabout fiancé that I was pleased to watch her kick to the curb. From there, it was only a matter of time until she improved her situation. I thoroughly enjoyed how the story came together into a very satisfying denouement. 4.5 stars.

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