The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman

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The Murderer’s Daughter

by Jonathan Kellerman

published by Ballantine Books

August 18, 2015

I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

Psychologist Grace Blades treat patients that have suffered extreme trauma.  As a child, she witnessed the murder-suicide of her parents and had to suffer through many difficult situations in foster care.  Now she helps people through the hardest parts of their lives, while keeping her own life sealed off from relationships.  When a new patient is murdered, Grace feels she must solve the crime herself.

I am sure I have read other books by Jonathan Kellerman in the past, but I honestly don’t remember them.  I was excited to read this book, because it wasn’t a part in a series, like many of his are.  While I enjoyed the book, I didn’t love it. The story is in alternating times- the past and present of the main character.  It did keep me absorbed for about 3/4 of it, but I began to feel the parts with the adult Grace were a lot less  interesting than those with young Grace.  I think that a reason for this is that young Grace, despite such a difficult childhood, still had the potential to become a happy person.  Adult Grace simply has not, but instead has crafted a very lonely life.  The murder mystery was pretty cool- I love anything to do with cults- but the idea of this beautiful, smart psychologist running around in disguise and breaking the law herself just didn’t seem that believable.

 

 

Summary

A brilliant, deeply dedicated psychologist, Grace Blades has a gift for treating troubled souls and tormented psyches—perhaps because she bears her own invisible scars: Only five years old when she witnessed her parents’ deaths in a bloody murder-suicide, Grace took refuge in her fierce intellect and found comfort in the loving couple who adopted her. But even as an adult with an accomplished professional life, Grace still has a dark, secret side. When her two worlds shockingly converge, Grace’s harrowing past returns with a vengeance.
 
Both Grace and her newest patient are stunned when they recognize each other from a recent encounter. Haunted by his bleak past, mild-mannered Andrew Toner is desperate for Grace’s renowned therapeutic expertise and more than willing to ignore their connection. And while Grace is tempted to explore his case, which seems to eerily echo her grim early years, she refuses—a decision she regrets when a homicide detective appears on her doorstep.
 
An evil she thought she’d outrun has reared its head again, but Grace fears that a police inquiry will expose her double life. Launching her own personal investigation leads her to a murderously manipulative foe, one whose warped craving for power forces Grace back into the chaos and madness she’d long ago fled.

Black-Eyed Susans by Julie Heaberlin

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Black Eyed Susans

by Julie Heaberlin

published by Ballantine Books

August 2015

I received and advance review copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

That cover!  It totally caught my eye and piqued my interest.  In this case, you can judge the book by the cover because the story inside is just as catching and captivating!  This was a suspenseful, fast read that I didn’t want to put down.  As with many books today, it is told in two parts: the past and the present of Tessa Cartwright.  After she is found in a field of black eyed susans, the only living victim of a serial killer, Tessa struggles to cope with her experience.  Despite having no recollection of the actual crime, prosecutors use her testimony to convict and sentence a man to death.  Fast forward almost twenty years and Tess is now living a happy, if very sheltered life with her daughter.  When she sees a fresh batch of the infamous flowers planted outside her bedroom window, she begins to fear the wrong man is about to be put to death.  Agreeing to help the lawyers fighting for appeal, Tess struggle to open her mind, daring herself to remember the worst thing that has ever happened to her.

What I really enjoyed about this book was that it wasn’t as predictable as so many suspense novels out there.  Tess wasn’t just a victim, she was a heroine in my eyes.  The writing keeps you engaged and always a little surprised.  If you enjoy a good suspense story this is a must read for you.

 

Summary

As a sixteen-year-old, Tessa Cartwright was found in a Texas field, barely alive amid a scattering of bones, with only fragments of memory as to how she got there. Ever since, the press has pursued her as the lone surviving “Black-Eyed Susan,” the nickname given to the murder victims because of the yellow carpet of wildflowers that flourished above their shared grave. Tessa’s testimony about those tragic hours put a man on death row.

Now, almost two decades later, Tessa is an artist and single mother. In the desolate cold of February, she is shocked to discover a freshly planted patch of black-eyed susans—a summertime bloom—just outside her bedroom window. Terrified at the implications—that she sent the wrong man to prison and the real killer remains at large—Tessa turns to the lawyers working to exonerate the man awaiting execution. But the flowers alone are not proof enough, and the forensic investigation of the still-unidentified bones is progressing too slowly. An innocent life hangs in the balance. The legal team appeals to Tessa to undergo hypnosis to retrieve lost memories—and to share the drawings she produced as part of an experimental therapy shortly after her rescue.

What they don’t know is that Tessa and the scared, fragile girl she was have built a  fortress of secrets. As the clock ticks toward the execution, Tessa fears for her sanity, but even more for the safety of her teenaged daughter. Is a serial killer still roaming free, taunting Tessa with a trail of clues? She has no choice but to confront old ghosts and lingering nightmares to finally discover what really happened that night.

Shocking, intense, and utterly original, Black-Eyed Susans is a dazzling psychological thriller, seamlessly weaving past and present in a searing tale of a young woman whose harrowing memories remain in a field of flowers—as a killer makes a chilling return to his garden.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

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Circling the Sun

by Paula McLain

published by Ballantine Books

July 28, 2015

I received this book as an advance review copy from the publisher through net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

I loved McLains’ The Paris Wife so much and I was so happy to receive Circling The Sun from the publishers.  I was not disappointed!  First- this makes me want to read, and then watch Out of Africa, which I never have.  Then I want to read Markham’s own memoir West with the Night.  The author has presented an amazing description of aAfrica in the early 20th century, as well as one of the Europeans who either treated it as a part of heaven, or a playground for the wealthy and bored.

Beryl Markham lived an amazing life.  She grew up on a farm in Kenya, raised only by her somewhat neglectful father after her mother leaves them to return to England.  She was permitted to run wild, learning how to hunt and shoot with the native boys.  When her father tries to send her to school in her teens, she repeatedly runs away until she is kicked out.  She lived her life in such an unconventional way, at at time when there weren’t many choices for women living on their own.  She did marry two times- both were very unhappy and ended quickly.  Markham had many affairs, but was only made truly happy but three things- horses, Denys Finch- Hatton, and flying.

This might be one of my favorite books of the year so far.  The writing was wonderful and the author obviously did a meticulous job with her research.  My favorite part of the book is the descriptions of Africa, and the obvious love Markham had for it.  I would definitely recommend this book.  A big thank you to Ballantine Books and Net Galley for sharing it with me!

Summary

Paula McLain, author of the phenomenal bestseller The Paris Wife, now returns with her keenly anticipated new novel, transporting readers to colonial Kenya in the 1920s. Circling the Sun brings to life a fearless and captivating woman—Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who as Isak Dinesen wrote the classic memoir Out of Africa.

Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships.

Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly.

Set against the majestic landscape of early-twentieth-century Africa, McLain’s powerful tale reveals the extraordinary adventures of a woman before her time, the exhilaration of freedom and its cost, and the tenacity of the human spirit.

To learn more about Beryl Markham, check out some of these site-

http://scandalouswoman.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-many-lives-of-beryl-markham.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beryl_Markham

http://womanpilot.com/?p=67

Review- A Dual Inheritance

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A Dual Inheritance

by Joanna Hershon

published by Ballantine Books

2013

Summary

For readers of Rules of Civility and The Marriage Plot, this engrossing, very smart novel about passion, betrayal, class and friendship delves deeply into the lives of two generations, against backgrounds as diverse as Dar es Salaam, Boston, Shenzhen and Fisher’s Island. It is the most accomplished book-by far-of this prominent young author’s career.

Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1963: two students meet one autumn evening during their senior year at Harvard-Ed, a Jewish kid on scholarship, and Hugh, a Boston Brahmin with the world at his feet. Ed is unapologetically ambitious and girl-crazy, while Hugh is ambivalent about everything aside from his dedicated pining for the one girl he’s ever loved. An immediate, intense friendship is sparked that night between these two opposites, which ends just as abruptly, several years later, although only one of them understands why. A Dual Inheritance follows the lives of Ed and Hugh for next several decades, as their paths-in spite of their rift, in spite of their wildly different social classes, personalities and choices-remain strangely and compellingly connected.

My Review

This is the first book I have received as part of the Early Reviewers program at Library Thing in return for a fair and honest review.  When I read the synopsis, I was so excited to start it.

The story follows the lives of two men from very different backgrounds who become improbable friends at Harvard in the 1960s. Hugh is from a wealthy, WASP, well known family and Ed is a poor Jewish boy from from Dorchester. These two become best friends in their senior year, and are joined by Hugh’s girlfriend Helen to become an inseparable threesome. I really enjoyed the first half of this book, especially the descriptions of Harvard, and the beach house on Fishers Island. As the characters left college and moved on with their lives, the tone of the story seemed to change. I felt the main characters were becoming desperate and very depressing. It wasn’t until the later part of the book, where the Hugh’s and Ed’s daughter meet in boarding school and become best friends, that I regained interest.
I though Joanna Hershon’s writing was very good, and did enjoy reading it, but not as much as I had hoped.

rating- 3 out of 5