Mini Reviews: Verses For The Dead & Beartown

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Hello and welcome to the new mini-review post! Today I’m writing, again, about two books that have nothing in common. I guess this is the theme now. Read them both and enjoyed them, although Beartown was a better story hands down. Verses For The Dead was quite entertaining, though.

Verses For The Dead by Preston & Child

40697525.jpgI had never read a book by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child before, but a friend asked me to join him, so I started this book not knowing who Pendergast really was. It was also the 18th book in the series, so I was quite worried I wouldn’t get anything. Turns out, VERSES FOR THE DEAD can easily be read as a standalone. Except for a couple scenes involving some recurring characters I didn’t know about, the book features Pendergast with a new colleague, so their dynamic as detectives was new for everyone. I found this novel to be a decent mystery that kept my attention and I was never bored. However, it wasn’t super unforgettable or fascinating in any way.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

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I’ve been trying to catch up with books that have been in my TBR forever and BEARTOWN was one of them. Everyone I’ve come across here loved it, so I figured I had to read it as soon as possible. I admit the novel captivated me from the very beginning because Fredrik Backman writes in such a particular way. I really loved his meaningful prose and the way he introduced all the characters and thoughts. The story told here is important (no spoilers), but there were some moments when I just wanted them to stop talking about hockey. Beartown is a small town where the only thing that matters is hockey, they don’t really talk about anything else. And even though this reminded me of Friday Night Lights in the best possible way, I didn’t fall in love with it as much as my favorite bloggers. However, I still think this is a sad yet compelling book.

Have you read any of these books? What do you think of them? 💙

 

 

 

Review: Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes @sarahannjuckes

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The Proof of the Outside follows the story of Ele, who is held captive in a small room by a man known as ‘Him’. Ele is determined to prove there is a world Outside. And when she finds a hole in the wall, the proof starts leaking in. In this dark and compelling debut novel, Ele’s strong and heartbreakingly optimistic voice shines through, revealing an important lesson about the power of stories to save lives.

My review:

To be honest, I didn’t even remember requesting OUTSIDE on Netgalley. When I saw it had been released a month ago, I wasn’t really excited because I hadn’t seen many reviews around the blogosphere. And that was a big mistake on my part. This book should be getting way more attention.

Let me tell you guys: OUTSIDE completely amazing and of the best books I’ve read lately. I think one of my favorite feelings is when I don’t expect anything from a book and the novel ends up becoming a huge success for me. And this is exactly what happened here. I devoured this short, compelling gem in a sitting, and I was completely captivated all the way through. I can’t recommend it enough.

The book reminded me a bit of another recent favorite (Resin), although they are quite different in many aspects. For example, in OUTSIDE, our main character, Ele, doesn’t really have a family that cares for her. We meet her when she’s been locked up for ages and she’s never seen the outside world. She has a few friends with her, but they are not really like her. I won’t say much about the plot, because I believe it’s best if you discover what happens as you read it, but it was nothing like I expected.

There was a small reveal that I didn’t think was at all surprising, maybe because I thought we were supposed to have known that from the beginning. However, there was another detail at the end that made me super emotional and I loved the conclusion to this dark, sad, and ultimately uplifting story.

My favorite aspect of OUTSIDE was Ele’s voice. It was so completely captivating, just like in RESIN. You know how much I love child narrators, and even if Ele was actually a teenager, her vocabulary and behavior weren’t exactly what you would consider “normal” for her age. I loved reading about her learning process and she became an instant favorite character. The same goes for the other two characters that appear in the story later on.

I would highly recommend OUTSIDE to everyone who loved RESIN, and for those who are looking for a short and stunning book. Let me clarify that I haven’t read THE ROOM, so I don’t really know if they are similar or not. But I’m sure this will be a great choice anyway.

Have you heard of OUTSIDE? Are you excited to read it? 💙

Review: The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir @MeghanWeir @AAKnopf

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A debut novel of family, fame, and religion that tells the emotionally stirring, wildly captivating story of the seventeen-year-old daughter of an evangelical preacher, star of the family’s hit reality show, and the secret pregnancy that threatens to blow their entire world apart. Esther Ann Hicks–Essie–is the youngest child on Six for Hicks, a reality television phenomenon. She’s grown up in the spotlight, both idolized and despised for her family’s fire-and-brimstone brand of faith. When Essie’s mother, Celia, discovers that Essie is pregnant, she arranges an emergency meeting with the show’s producers: Do they sneak Essie out of the country for an abortion? Do they pass the child off as Celia’s? Or do they try to arrange a marriage–and a ratings-blockbuster wedding? Meanwhile, Essie is quietly pairing herself up with Roarke Richards, a senior at her school with a secret of his own to protect. As the newly formed couple attempt to sell their fabricated love story to the media–through exclusive interviews with an infamously conservative reporter named Liberty Bell–Essie finds she has questions of her own: What was the real reason for her older sister leaving home? Who can she trust with the truth about her family? And how much is she willing to sacrifice to win her own freedom?

My review:

When I picked up THE BOOK OF ESSIE, I was looking for a different kind of read. I had seen glowing reviews (Janel’s & Susie’s for example) and I found the whole religious “cult” angle and reality tv show quite interesting. As soon as I started reading it, I was instantly captivated by this book… who wouldn’t, with such a shocking beginning?

This is the story of Esther “Essie” Hicks, a reality tv child that grew up in the spotlight because of her family’s religious tv show. Being the daughter of a tv minister, Essie never got to decide anything in her life and her existence was filled with hypocrisy and secrets. Her sister left the family when she still a kid and Essie wants to know why. Everything changes when Essie falls pregnant and the family has to decide if she should get married or have an abortion instead (of course, in secret). As you could expect, she can’t decide anything for herself… or can she?

The book is narrated by Essie, Roarke, and Liberty Bell. Hands down, my favorite aspect of this novel was that I absolutely LOVED the three main characters with all my heart. It’s been a few weeks since I read this book and I could still remember their names and their story. Essie was the protagonist and, to be honest, from what I knew when I started reading THE BOOK OF ESSIE, I never expected to like her as much as I did. But as soon as I read the first chapter, I realized she was strong, determined and I found myself rooting for her. On the other hand, Roarke was probably the most mature and kind young man that has ever existed in modern fiction -too unrealistic? 🤣- . Finally, Liberty Bell was such a complex and interesting character that my only complaint is that I wish I could’ve read a book about her story. I know I’m not the only one.

Keep in mind that the book deals with familiar themes so I can’t say the truth of it all would surprise many readers. But I certanly know that didn’t really mind, as the narration had completely won me over. You should read this because of the characters, not for the sake of shock value. And of course, you should read this because of Essie and Roarke, whose relationship was lovely and undoubtedly among my favorites.

In the end, THE BOOK OF ESSIE is an emotional, insightful and provocative book about fame, abuse, religion, mass culture and the modern world.

Have you read this novel? Did you love the characters as much as I did? 💙

Review: The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain @D_Chamberlain

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When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back. Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby’s heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline’s part. And all for the love of her unborn child. A rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother’s quest to save her child, unite her family, and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget.

My review:

There’s something about Diane Chamberlain’s writing and the worlds she creates, something that grabs me from the very beginning. Maybe it’s the southern setting, the historical side of the story, or the way she makes you care about the characters after only a few pages. I’ve read some of her books and although I haven’t loved all of them, a couple are among my personal favorites. And The Dream Daughter is probably my favorite of hers yet. It’s a WONDERFUL book.

I admit that, at first, I didn’t consider reading it because her last one had left me a bit indifferent. But after reading wonderful reviews from some of my favorite bloggers, I realized I wanted to give it a chance. The blurb doesn’t really say anything about the plot, but I guess I must’ve seen what it really was about in a review, because I knew the “real plot” before I started reading it. Without saying much, I can promise you that the book is SO MUCH MORE than what the blurb says. In fact, I can assure you that the blurb doesn’t make me want to read it at all. Remember A Mother’s Confession? Don’t get me wrong, these two books are not similar at all, but they are both wonderful novels that I wouldn’t have read at first because of their title, cover, or blurb, and yet they ended up being favorites of mine.

This is going to be a top 5 of the year for me, and I have no doubt about that. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to tell everyone about this book, I literally explained the whole story to my boyfriend and I couldn’t stop thinking of what I would’ve done had I been in Carly’s situation. This book made me cry more than once, as it was emotional, sad and yet comforting at the same time.

The storyline is super hard to predict and there was a particularly shocking twist that I never saw coming and left me speechless. I read the book in less than two days because once I picked it up, I couldn’t let it go. I was consumed by it. And I’ll never forget it.

 

Blog Tour: Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer @KelRimmerWrites @headlinepg

Before I Let You Go Cover (1)As children, Lexie and Annie were incredibly close. Bonded by the death of their beloved father and their mother’s swift remarriage, they weathered the storms of life together. When Lexie leaves home to follow her dream, Annie is forced to turn to her leather-bound journal as the only place she can confide her deepest secrets and fears… As adults, sisters Lexie and Annie could not be more different. Lexie is a doctor, successful in her practice and happily engaged. Annie is addicted to heroin – a thief, a liar, and unable to remain clean despite the fact that she is pregnant. When Annie’s newborn baby is in danger of being placed in foster care, Annie picks up the phone to beg her sister for help. Will Lexie agree to help and take in her young niece? And how will Annie survive, losing the only thing in her life worth living for?

My review:

A couple of years ago I read A Mother’s Confession and completely fell in love with it. When I saw that Kelly Rimmer had written a new book, I instantly knew that I wanted to read it. Before I Let You Go is yet another beautiful and devastating novel that had me in tears when I finished it.

This is the story of two sisters, Lexie and Annie, who don’t have an easy childhood. But as it usually happens, some kids face tragedies better than others. And while Lexie grew up to be a successful doctor, her sister Annie, who was full of life and creativity, became addicted to drugs. During many years, Annie turned to Lexie when she didn’t know what to do, but this time it’s her worse yet: she’s pregnant and her baby might be in danger. So Lexie tries to help her one more time… but is it too late for Annie and the baby?

I find stories about addicts to be extremely interesting, and the more books I read about this topic & the more films I watch, the more I believe this illness to be one of the scariest ones. When I was younger, I didn’t understand how people could so easily become addicted and I didn’t even feel super sorry for them. However, many years later, I can understand them perfectly and I wish there were more things we could do about drug addiction.

This book is told in two different voices: first of all, we have Lexie’s story in the present, when we learn all about Annie’s pregnancy and her fight to give up drugs once and for all. But every few chapters, we also read about Annie’s and Lexie’s childhood, told by Annie in a journal format that fitted the story so well. Both storylines were equally compelling, but as usual, I’m always more attracted to the coming of age part of the story, and especially here, because we learn how Annie became the person she is now.

This is a wonderfully written book, smart and delicate, perfect for fans of emotional reads and Diane Chamberlain. Be aware that it’s not a happy novel, so definitely have some tissues nearby… However, even if you cry, I’m sure you will find Before I Let You Go as beautiful as I did.

P.S Does anyone else think that Lexie’s husband was too perfect? I’m so used to thrillers that I was totally waiting for him to become the villain of the story lol

Kelly Rimmer

Kelly Rimmer is the USA Today bestselling women’s fiction author of five novels, including Me Without You and The Secret Daughter. She lives in rural Australia with her husband, two children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Kelly Rimmer Author Picture

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Thanks to the publishers for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review