Dragged for me

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The Sinner by Petra Hammesfahr

Book Review:  3 out of 5 star rating

Cora goes to the lakeside to enjoy the sun and water with her husband and young son. There she inexplicitly stabs a man to death.  There are witnesses and Cora’s own confession but the police commissioner does his own investigation into Cora’s past, uncovering secrets even Cora has trouble remembering.

I, like many others, was pulled in by the trailer for the USA mini-series starring Jessica Biel. I figured the book had to be good to have been made into a TV series.  But it really dragged for me and I can’t count the times that I thought of putting the book down for good.  But something kept making me pick it up.

This is yet another unreliable narrator book. Sometimes Cora admits to the reader that she’s lying but sometimes she’s not even sure if she’s lying.  So it’s a bit hard to follow what’s happening.  Events are gone over again and again, each time a little bit differently.  The book has its merits as the story is quite unique and I didn’t see the reveal coming.  I’ve recorded the TV series and will probably watch it even though I now know what’s going to happen.  I’m not sorry I read it but I really didn’t find it as gripping as described.

Moving and disturbing

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The Child by Pascale Kramer

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

Claude is a former gym teacher who is battling cancer and losing. He lives in a low-income neighborhood with his wife, Simone.  There has been rioting in their neighborhood with the constant sound of police sirens.  There isn’t much calm inside their home either as they each in their own way try to adjust to the end of Claude’s days.  It’s just the two of them until a young boy comes for a visit and throws everything into even more discord.

The author doesn’t flinch at describing the horrors of a death from cancer. That and the effects of his decline on those around him make for a very disturbing read.  But as in her book “Autopsy of a Father”, Ms. Kramer writes in such a poetical manner that her books are beautiful to read despite the subject matter.  This is an in depth look at the end of a marriage as a result of death that I know will stay with me for some time to come.  It’s a short book, only about 150 pages, and I hope to read it again one day, not so much as to know what happens in the book as I already know that but just to enjoy the writing again.

Recommended.

Handling both motherhood and artistry

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The Resurrection of Jjoan Ashby by Cherise Wolas

Book Review:  5 out of 5 star rating

Joan Ashby is a celebrated author at the peak of her career. She’s been open about avoiding love and motherhood and wanting to give all to her creativity.  But then love finds her heart but she makes it very clear to her soon-to-be husband that there will be no children in their future.  When Joan finds herself pregnant and her husband is ecstatic at the news, Joan decides to devote herself to her family with all intentions of resuming her career at some point.  However, the future holds a betrayal that is a very grievous one.

This author is so very talented. I can’t say that I agreed with her character’s assessment of motherhood and her reluctance to embrace it over her career.  I’ve always thought that being a mother was the highest honor a woman could have.  But then again, I’ve never been a celebrity or in the limelight due to any particular talent of mine so I may have felt differently in her shoes.    Despite our differences, the author gave me a clear understanding of where Joan was coming from and I was immediately pulled into her world.  This is a fascinating portrayal of a woman who selflessly chooses motherhood and pays a heavy price.  The betrayal that I don’t want to give a hint of a spoiler about was truly a shocking one.

As an added bonus in this book, it includes short stories written by Joan which are as entertaining as the main story. Her stories before motherhood are quite dark.  Some of them have a connection with Joan’s story, some not as much, but all are engrossing.

I couldn’t be more impressed with this debut novel and am looking forward to more of this author’s work. This is an intelligent look at not only motherhood but all aspects of being a woman.  Each of the characters in this book will stay with me for a long time to come.

Most highly recommended.

I won this book in a contest given by the publisher and am under no obligation to give a review.

 

The stuff nightmares are made of

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The Hole by Hye-Young Pyun

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

Oghi has woken from a coma only to learn that he has been involved in an accident that has left him paralyzed and unable to speak and his wife dead. He is left in the care of his mother-in-law and is the object of neglect and abuse.  He only has the small bedroom and his memories and has no control over anything in his life – his health, his money, his home, his future.  His mother-in-law obviously doesn’t have Oghi’s best interests at heart.  She starts to work in her dead daughter’s garden, strangely digging larger and larger holes.

To say more about the plot would be to spoil the author’s meticulous rendering of this chilling story. She builds up a feeling of dread and suspense that had me on the edge of my seat.  There was one scene in the book where I literally jumped out of my chair and walked around the room reading it.  I flew through the book and am looking forward to more of this author.  It’s a short read but definitely intriguing.  Quite a literary accomplishment in the thriller genre.

Recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Fascinating, illuminating and moving

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The History of Bees by Maja Lunde

Book Review:  5 out of 5 stars

There are three stories in this wonderful novel about the history and destiny of bees and their ties to humanity. The stories take place in 1851, 2007 and 2098. 1851 tells the story of British shopkeeper William Savage, whose dream is to build a better bee hive to ensure his children a better future. 2007 centers on George and his son, Tom. George is a beekeeper who longs to build up his business together with Tom, but Tom’s longings lie elsewhere. In 2098, Tao has the horrendous job of hand painting pollen on trees in an effort to provide enough food for the Chinese inhabitants. There are no longer bees in her world. It’s a very physically taxing job and she fears for her little son who will soon be old enough to join the workers. But then tragedy strikes and Tao sets off on a perilous journey looking for answers.

I absolutely loved this book. Each of the three stories touched my heart. The chapters are short and I would no sooner get pulled into one story than the author would switch to one of the other stories so there are often cliffhangers. I was never disappointed to switch as I found each of the stories as fascinating as the other. This style of writing really moved the book along and kept me wanting to know more. This Norwegian author cleverly maps out this beautifully written book so that each of the stories have a final connection.

Bees. Such little creatures but so very important to our existence. Our world has seen what might happen should bees disappear completely. The author has provided a fascinating look at the beginning of bee keeping, the period when bee colonies first started encountering difficulties and what the future might look like without hard working bees. Even more than a study of bees told in a very moving way, this book also touchingly delves into the bond of parents and their children.

Most highly recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

A heartwarming tale of a charming curmudgeon

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The Temptation To Be Happy by Lorenzo Marone

Book Review:  5 out of 5 stars

Cesare Annunziata is a very cynical man. His is a rather lonely life.  He’s a 77-year-old widower who doesn’t have much of a relationship with either his son or his daughter.  His long-time friend, Marino, lives downstairs in Cesare’s building but Marino hasn’t been out of his apartment in years.  Cesare occasionally does see a nurse, Rossana, but he’s not sure exactly how he feels about her.  There’s also the cat lady in the building who Cesare tries to avoid at all costs.

And then beautiful, young Emma moves into the building with her husband and life will never be the same for Cesare. He’s always had an eye for the ladies so he’s completely intrigued by the elusive Emma.  But then he and the cat lady start hearing awful sounds coming from Emma’s apartment and she starts showing signs of abuse.  Should Cesare become involved or keep his nose out of it?

What is a perfect delight this little book is! It’s written in a light manner but has deep philosophical undertones.  I laughed out loud as I read, that is whenever I wasn’t crying.  I continually nodded my head in agreement at the things that Cesare said and thought.  This is really quite a touching story and I absolutely loved grumpy old Cesare and all of the residents in the building.  I was shocked to learn that the author is only 42 as he nailed this elderly man to a tee.  The author is Italian and I believe this is the only book of his that has been translated to English.  I do hope to see more of his work available.

Highly recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Quietly discomforting

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Autopsy of a Father by Pascale Kramer

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

Ania is estranged from her father, Gabriel, a prominent journalist, not having seen him for four years. However, she decides to visit him with her young son, Theo.  The visit is an awkward one.  Ania is shocked to learn the next day that her father has committed suicide.  Ania returns to her father’s home where she grew up and tries to piece together the last years of her father’s life.  She discovers that her father was fired from his job when he defended the murder of a harmless African immigrant.  Her father’s actions have released a violent response in the community.  How did her father turn into such a racist?

I was very impressed by this short novel translated from the French language in which the author wrote. It’s a quiet book but kept me riveted to the pages with a chill up my spine.  The title is a perfect one as this book is in fact an autopsy of this man, an in depth look at his life, family and animosity towards immigrants.  It’s insightful and compelling and casts a light on the racial tension in France.

I now want to read more of this author’s work and I’ll be getting a chance to do just that since, along with an ARC of Ms. Kramer’s newest book, the publisher also kindly sent me a copy of “The Child” by the same author. You’ll be seeing a review on that book fairly soon!

Very unsettling and quite fascinating. Recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Packed with emotion

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The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

Book Review:  5 out of 5 star rating

This book is based on the real-fire catastrophic wildfire that took place in 1947 in Maine. There’s been a very long drought and Grace Holland and her best friend, Rosie, long for rain.  But the lack of water isn’t the only drought Grace is facing.  From what she hears from Rosie, Grace knows that her marriage bed is not what it should be.  A violent night with her husband leaves her pregnant with her third child.  This is her third pregnancy in less than two years and she’s exhausted.

When Grace is five months pregnant, the wildfires start to rage out of control. Her husband, Greg, leaves her with their two very young children to join the firefighters. The fires wreak havoc upon the homes and lives of Grace and Rosie.  But Grace’s tragedy doesn’t end the day of the fires.

I’ve been a longtime fan of Anita Shreve and she has surpassed herself with this book. I’ve read reviews saying that it’s too slow moving but I thought it was just perfect.  This is a complex plot that only begins with the tragic fires.  The author has done a masterful job of depicting the difficulties of this marriage, its effect on Grace and her longing for a better life.   I was glued to each page of this book and had no idea what was going on around me while I was reading it.  The day of the fire is edge of your seat suspenseful.  The story of Grace and her marriage and the time following the fire is so gorgeously written.   The ending brought tears to my eyes.

Most highly recommended.

Quite a captivating book

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The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase

Book Review:  4 out of 5 stars

Jessie hopes that a move to the country will help her relationship with her teenage step daughter, Bella. Jessie is also trying to escape from being surrounded by memories of her husband’s deceased wife, Mandy, and wants a fresh start.  But their new home is not the haven that Jessie had hoped for.  Bella is caught up in the disappearance of a young girl, Audrey, some 50 years ago.

The book fluctuates between telling the present-day story of Jessie and the story of the missing Audrey 50 years ago. Five years after Audrey’s disappearance, Margot and her three sisters are sent off by their mother to stay with Audrey’s parents, their Aunt Sybil and Uncle Perry.  Sybil and Perry have been housebound since their daughter’s disappearance and pretty much shunned by their neighbors since Perry had been a suspect in his daughter’s disappearance.  Margot is pulled into the strange world Audrey has left behind and the sisters are drawn apart by the attentions of two young men.  When disaster strikes, hard decisions need to be made.

This is the second book by this author and I’ve had the pleasure of reading them both. I very much enjoy the characters and atmosphere that she creates in her books.  While in many ways, it’s a typical tale of an old English house with past secrets, the author has quite a knack for bringing her characters to life and has wonderful insight into the human heart.

Spellbinding and recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Free Promotion… Miedo 2: A Reckoning With Fear

BOOKS & MUSIC

Starting tomorrow, Thursday, 29th June and through to Monday, 3rd July, Miedo 2: A Reckoning With Fear will be free at Amazon.

I’m doing this promotion with the hope of obtaining some honest reviews and attracting new readers for my third and final project of this series. The link below is universal. I do hope you take up on this offer, and thank you in advance for your support.

Miedo2

As Miedo comes into young adulthood, he is confronted with new demons while he searches for answers to his past through Spiritualism. But, rather than finding answers, he is left with more questions as a plethora of paranormal experiences occur in his life yet again. His spiritual journey leads him towards the path of Christianity, but where will his physical journey take him?

Contains adult themes

Amazon Universal Link

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