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.

If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison

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If I Could Turn Back Time

by Beth Harbison

Published by St. Martin Press

July 28, 2015 release date

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

My Review

Ramie Phillips is celebrating her 37 birth day with friends on a yacht and thinks she has it all.  Single, wealthy and successful, she has never regretted the decisions she mad that led her where she is.  The joyful pregnancy announcement sends Ramie reeling and she proceeds to get good and drunk.  When she her drunken dive winds up smashing her head on the boat, Ramie wakes up- not 37, but 18 and in high school.  As she relives the days leading up to her high school graduation, she begins to second guess her big choices- what  and where to study in college, breaking up with her high school sweetheart, etc.

This was a fun, fast book that I really enjoyed.  I loved the beginning and the end, but felt the middle  became bogged down with too much “reflection” that really didn’t tie into the story or the main character.  It felt like it disrupted the flow of the story in order to make it major meaningful.  Once past that, it was really terrific, and I loved the ending (no spoilers).  I love the idea of revising major life decisions and possibly seeing the aftermath of the path not taken.

Summary

Thirty-seven year old Ramie Phillips has led a very successful life. She made her fortune and now she hob nobs with the very rich and occasionally the semi-famous, and she enjoys luxuries she only dreamed of as a middle-class kid growing up in Potomac, Maryland. But despite it all, she can’t ignore the fact that she isn’t necessarily happy. In fact, lately Ramie has begun to feel more than a little empty.

On a boat with friends off the Florida coast, she tries to fight her feelings of discontent with steel will and hard liquor. No one even notices as she gets up and goes to the diving board and dives off…

Suddenly Ramie is waking up, straining to understand a voice calling in the distance…It’s her mother: “Wake up! You’re going to be late for school again. I’m not writing a note this time…”

Ramie finds herself back on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, with a second chance to see the people she’s lost and change the choices she regrets. How did she get back here? Has she gone off the deep end? Is she really back in time? Above all, she’ll have to answer the question that no one else can: What it is that she really wants from the past, and for her future?

 

 

 

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

The Sound of Glass by Karen White

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The Sound of Glass

by Karen White

published by NAL

May 12 2015

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

Review

I have been on a role (knock on wood) lately with my ARCs from Net Galley.  I have been reading some pretty awesome books and I am so thankful for it!  This might have been one of my frecent favorites.  I have read some other books by this author, but I like this one best.  In it, she truly evokes life in the Lowcountry, and how beautiful and different it is to live there.

I loved the characters here- Merritt, who has suffered greatly in the past and is trying to start over in the family home of her deceased husband in Beaufort, S.C.- Loralee, her very young stepmother, who shows up uninvited on Merritt’s new doorstep, with her 10 year old son in tow- and Gibbes- her unknown brother in law, who wants to understand what happened to his family years ago.  We have southern mansions and mystery as the story is told through Merritt, Loralee, and Edith, Gibbes’ grandmother who’s death left Merrittt the house.  If you enjoy tales set in the Lowcountry, you will love this book.  I would love to know what comes next for these characters.

Summary

It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal’s reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt.

Charting the course of an uncertain life—and feeling guilt from her husband’s tragic death—Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life—a new life complicated by the arrival of her too young stepmother and ten-year-old half-brother.

Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low Country.

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

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Inside the O’Briens

by Lisa Genova

published by Gallery Books

April 2015

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

My Review

I loved Still Alice and Left Neglected by Lisa Genova, so when I saw she had a new novel coming out, I was really excited to read it.  I was not disappointed! Inside the O’Briens is the story of an Irish Catholic family from Boston.  Joe is a Boston cop, patrolling his hometown of Charlestown and he is married to his high school sweetheart, Rosie.  Their four children, all in their 20s, live with them on separate floors of their triple decker home.  Joe begins to have some strange symptoms he cannot explain- muscle tics, explosive rages.  When he eventually screws up at work, unable to run through drills because his legs aren’t fully under his control, a good friend reached out to Rosie with his concern. Joe promises her he will see a doctor and is shocked to learn, after genetic testing, he has been diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease.  This is a degenerative neurological disorder that is 100% fatal.  As if that wasn’t hard enough for Joe and Rosie, they also learn that there is a 50% chance that their children have inherited the disease.  Now the kids have to decide if they want to find out if they have the gene, which they can then pass on to their own future children.

This book reminded slightly of Still Alice, where the main character is diagnosed with an untreatable degenerative disease that could be passed on to their children.  In that book, the main character in an intellectual shoe is suffering early inset Alzheimer’s Disease.  in O’Briens, the main character is a tough as nails Irish Boston cop, who is not only losing his own ability to control his body, but is also incapable of protecting his family from the same fate.  Both are moving stories, and so informative about the disease that centers them.  I loved the O’Brien family, with their foibles and quirks.  Genova avoids making the characters stereotypical, but manages to give a real glimpse into not only the life of a Boston police officer, but also a Huntington’s patient.  The author has certainly done her research and it shows.  This is a wonderfully well written book that I definitely recommend.

To learn more about the author visit her website at –http://lisagenova.com

To learn more about Huntington’s Disease, you can visit- http://hdsa.org

Summary

Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

 

 

Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm

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Unbecoming

by Rebecca Scherm

published by Viking Adult

January 22, 2015

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

My Review

I usually enjoy books I receive as ARCs, and every once in a while, I love them!  I felt this way about The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, The House We Grew Up In, and The Boston Girl.  And now I feel this way about Scherm’s debut novel, Unbecoming.  I picked this book up in the morning, and finished it 12 hours later.  It is not only a fast read, but captivating.  It flows at such a nice pace, keeping you interested and moving along.  We meet Grace in Paris, where she is know as Julie, working as a restorer of antiques at a not so reputable business.  She is hiding from her boyfriend and his friend, who are being released from prison in Tennessee, for a robbery that she was somehow involved in, yet was never implicated.  To go beyond this point in the story would be to spoil some really great plot twists, and there are quite a few!  This is the first book in a long while that I devoured in a day.  When I put it down, I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it.  I hope you will give this wonderful book a try soon.

 

Summary

On the grubby outskirts of Paris, Grace restores bric-a-brac, mends teapots, re-sets gems. She calls herself Julie, says she’s from California, and slips back to a rented room at night. Regularly, furtively, she checks the hometown paper on the Internet. Home is Garland, Tennessee, and there, two young men have just been paroled. One, she married; the other, she’s in love with. Both were jailed for a crime that Grace herself planned in exacting detail. The heist went bad—but not before she was on a plane to Prague with a stolen canvas rolled in her bag. And so, in Paris, begins a cat-and-mouse waiting game as Grace’s web of deception and lies unravels—and she becomes another young woman entirely.

About the Author

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Rebecca Scherm is the author of Unbecoming, a novel. She received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she was also a postgraduate Zell Fellow. She lives in Michigan, where she is working on her second novel, Beta.
Find her on Twitter @chezscherm or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rebeccascherm