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

 

Review: The Fifth To Die #4MK by @jdbarker @HMHCo

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Release: 2018
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

In the thrilling sequel to The Fourth Monkey, a new serial killer stalks the streets of Chicago, while Detective Porter delves deeper into the dark past of the Four Monkey Killer.

Detective Porter and the team have been pulled from the hunt for Anson Bishop, the Four Monkey Killer, by the feds. When the body of a young girl is found beneath the frozen waters of Jackson Park Lagoon, she is quickly identified as Ella Reynolds, missing three weeks. But how did she get there? The lagoon froze months earlier. More baffling? She’s found wearing the clothes of another girl, missing less than two days. While the detectives of Chicago Metro try to make sense of the quickly developing case, Porter secretly continues his pursuit of 4MK, knowing the best way to find Bishop is to track down his mother. When the captain finds out about Porter’s activities, he’s suspended, leaving his partners Clair and Nash to continue the search for the new killer alone.

Obsessed with catching Bishop, Porter follows a single grainy photograph from Chicago to the streets of New Orleans and stumbles into a world darker than he could have possibly imagined, where he quickly realizes that the only place more frightening than the mind of a serial killer is the mind of the mother from which he came.

Last year, I read The Fourth Monkey and while I enjoyed it, I felt it ended up being a little predictable. Still, I wanted to keep reading this series because of the mystery and the serial killer theme, which I love, so when the publisher sent me this copy, I quickly began to read it and I was definitely curious.

Soon enough, I realized I was enjoying Fifth To Die way more than its predecessor. I still can’t explain why exactly, maybe it was my mood, or maybe because I didn’t feel like I knew what was going to happen, but I found this sequel to be an amazing mystery novel and I couldn’t stop thinking about the story and its characters.

There are two cases here: 4MK and the salt water deaths, but you quickly realize the two cases are related. How? I had no idea.  But I sure wanted to find out. And what about the parents and the obituaries? My mind was going crazy! Some of the aspects I loved the most about this book were the short chapters and the fast pace. This basically meant there wasn’t a moment of boredom and I couldn’t stop turning the pages. It doesn’t matter if the book is long: you will devour it!

I also enjoyed the way the story was told, how Porter followed a clue while his team continued to investigate the other case. I was equally invested in both storylines. Besides, I really like Porter, Nash, and Clare and I love the way they interact as a team. Some additions were a nice touch as well. I did guess a couple of things but nothing could prepare me for that explosive ending. I can’t get over it!

The Fith To Die ended with a major cliffhanger and I seriously can’t believe the author could leave us like this. TFTD was definitely one of my favorite reads this summer and I’m counting the days until the third installment is released. Don’t miss it!

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

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Review: Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter @SlaughterKarin

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Release: 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery & Thrillers

Andrea knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we?

But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one would ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.

The police want answers and Laura’s innocence is on the line, but she won’t speak to anyone, including her own daughter. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumb trail of her mother’s past. And if she can’t uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either one of them. . . .

If you read my blog often, you know that Karin Slaughter is undoubtedly one of my favorite authors. I absolutely loved The Good Daughter and I was looking forward to reading her new novel: Pieces of Her. I think I’ve mentioned before how much I love reading books during my vacations, and this year, Malta’s choice was Karin’s new standalone. Now, every time I think about the trip, I will remember how much I enjoyed reading this novel while lying on the beach.

If you’ve read other reviews, you already know that Pieces of Her is quite a different book and unlike her usual mysteries. I wouldn’t say this is a mystery per se, although, of course, Andrea is trying to find out more about her mother and her past. But I’d say this is more of an adventure… and what a ride! Andrea wasn’t an easy character to like, as she appeared to be pretty bland in my opinion, but I still wanted to know what was going on. However, the past narration was my favorite aspect of the novel and one storyline that will be incredibly hard to forget.

I don’t want to say much because I’d love for you to find out for yourselves, but I was incredibly gripped from the moment the flashbacks started. At first, I wasn’t sure what the book would be about, but once we started to get to know Laura a bit more, the book took a direction I honestly didn’t expect and I really like stories like this one. The story reminded me a bit of Diane Chamberlain’s The Secret Life of Ceecee Wilkes, and, after all, that is definitely a favorite of mine.

I am well aware that this will not be for everyone because it’s not exactly fast-paced and it’s quite long, but if it manages to grip you like it did with me, I’m sure you will love it, too. It’s not full of twists, as the story is pretty straight-forward, but it’s so incredibly well-written and full of interesting dynamics between the characters, that I couldn’t help to admire Karin Slaughter’s ability to make me care about her characters no matter what she writes about.

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Review: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

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Release: 2008
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Contemporary, Chick Lit

In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to be loved unconditionally. In the glittering, big-hair era of the eighties, she looks to men to fill the void in her soul. But in the buttoned-down nineties, it is television news that captivates her. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success . . . and loneliness.

Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and mother will change her . . . how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend. . . .

For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship—jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart . . . and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.

Ever since I read The Nightingale years ago, a couple of friends recommended Firefly Lane by the same author. I haven’t read many chick-lit/contemporary books for the last ten years, so I thought this could be a nice change given how much I liked Nightingale. Almost 600 pages and many tears later, I think I know now why I don’t usually read this kind of books. I was a mess after finishing Firefly Lane!

This is a story about a friendship. As simple as that. And yes, it’s also about two women’s professional and personal lives, but the main concept behind this novel is friendship, and I loved the focus, as opposite to the thousands of books that revolve around romantic relationships. Tully and Kate were the best of friends and I loved seeing their friendship grow and evolve during so many years.

I admit I am very fond of this type of stories spanning many years, although I don’t read them as often as I would like to. I was hooked from the very first page when we know something has happened and the two friends aren’t speaking anymore. But what happened to make them grow apart? I admit I was sure it would had to do with something, but I was incredibly wrong. Then again, I had to wait like 500 pages to find out.

I guess Kate was more relatable, but I also admired Tully’s strength and determination. They were a great combo. Johnny was an interesting character as well, although he made me suffer a lot. Love triangles are not a favorite trope of mine, but here it was handled beautifully.

A beautiful and moving book about life, friendship and family.

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