The Patient #SteenaHolmes

Since February is Heart Month featuring heart health awareness, my husband decided to have a heart attack so that we could fully embrace the month’s theme. Okay, so he didn’t plan on the attack… (insert eye roll) but we still are dealing with the repercussions of this and his upcoming quadruple by-pass surgery in two weeks. REMEMBER – you have one heart so take care of it! An interesting note, however, is that his issue is 100% hereditary so know your family’s medical history. It could save your life! Since we’re dealing with all things medical, I thought now would be a good time to re-post a “lost” review of The Patient by Steena Holmes.

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A therapist must face her own worst fear—one of her patients is a serial killer.

A series of horrific murders are occurring in Danielle Rycroft’s small town. As a psychologist, she comes to believe that one the killer is one of her patients – but which one?

Rarely do I describe a book as a “roller-coaster ride,” but that is the perfect term for Steena Holmes newest book, The Patient. As Rycroft meets with each of her patients she comes to realize the horror that one of them has to be guilty of the brutal crimes in her town. Each time she meets with one of them, the suspicion shifts from one patient to another until finally you feel as though you and Rycroft are a free-fall into madness. This fast paced, taut thriller will have you hanging on for dear life until the very final page!

Homes has proven through multiple books and awards, that she is a very talented and gifted writer and readers of The Patient will understand why she is considered one of the best writers of today. My only drawback – and it is indeed a very small one – is that I knew early on what was happening and going to happen. Perhaps I’ve read too much crime fiction. This did not stop my over all enjoyment because the who and what is not nearly as important as the Why. If you love crime fiction and suspense then The Patient is definitely a must-read.

Thank you to #netgalley and #LakeUnionPublishing for my copy of this terrific thriller.

 

Strong Women Stories: Love Heart Lane, Things You Save in a Fire and A Bittersweet Surprise

Rather than concentrate only on “thrillers,” my go-to genre, I decided to read women’s fiction, including a few light romances. What I discovered was there quite a few solidly written books in these genres that make you proud to be a woman. Although all three are very different, they each feature a strong woman at the heart of the story.

FOXGLOVE FARM – #ChristieJBarlow

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Foxglove Farm is meant to be a sweet romance. I suppose that it is – to a point. Isla and Drew are experiencing marital problems and Isla is unaware of exactly why. The man she loves is suddenly withdrawn and sullen but refuses to tell Isla why or what might be wrong. When a birthday surprise blows up in her face, she flees with her infant until she can sort out what to do. The fact is that they are having financial difficulties which Drew has not shared with Isla. He is depressed and angry at not being able to provide for his family. Together they find a way to persevere and rekindle their love for one another once more but the journey is a difficult one.

There were multiple issues that the author introduced: lies and secrets in a marriage, the difficulty of having a newborn on a marriage and, of course, male depression and mental health. While all of these are very important topics – very – at times there was just too much hardship to be believed. There was one problem after another after another in such a short period and within a relatively short story. Yes, there are those who are faced with mounting challenges and generally when it rains, it pours. However, for the good of the novel and to really explore any of these topics thoroughly, either the book needed to be longer or there should have been fewer fires. Regardless, the story itself is well told, well-written and uplifting. This is the second in a series and each set of characters is different from the last, however, I felt as though I was missing some backstory that others might have known from reading the first book in the series. I would suggest reading them in order. They are quick reads so that shouldn’t be a problem.

 

THINGS YOU SAVE IN A FIRE – @KatherineCenter

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There has been a lot of hype and publicity for Katherine Center’s latest book: Things You Save in a Fire and there is a good reason for that – it is a wonderful book featuring a strong, interesting, intelligent woman who also is a firefighter.

When Cassie is first introduced she is receiving a medal for valor and bravery. This really isn’t something that she wants but she deserves it. She’s with her department family having a great time when she becomes aware that the person is handing out her award is someone with whom she has a traumatic past. Things do not go well after that, to the point that she is giving the choice of being fired or transferred. She takes the transfer which is back her hometown, a new station, the need to prove herself once again and to a mother with whom she has a difficult past.

Through the remainder of the book we see Cassie as she grows into the person she was meant to become – strong, capable, funny and even loving. The transformation is poignant, heartfelt, hard and very relatable. Things You Save in a Fire is one of my favorite books of the year. With impeccable writing, believable characters and a story line that is captivating and heart-felt, this is a book you will not want to miss.

A BITTERSWEET SURPRISE @CynEllingsen

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Emma loves running her family’s candy shop, creating new delicious treats and seeing her friends savour her new offerings; however, her father left the candy shop to his second wife who is selling the shop to a corporation. The only way that Emma can keep the shop is to buy out her step-mother at a higher profit than the corporation has offered her. The catch, of course, is that Emma has no extra money and very little self-esteem to think outside of the box. What she does have is loyal customers, friends whom Emma has helped over the years who are ready to return the favor and…. a mysterious painting that has hung in the candy shop since her father was alive. When a stranger makes Emma a flabbergastingly large sum of money for the artwork, Emma begins to suspect there is more to the painting than she realizes.

I absolutely loved and adored A Bittersweet Surprise. There was drama, family issues that had to be overcome but, most importantly, it illustrated how women, given the chance, can overcome obstacles in order to succeed. Emma not only has the skills necessary to be a successful business owner, she a heart that is full of gold. We see Emma as she selflessly helps the other people in her town, a homeless woman and her son, everyone she comes in contact with. She isn’t perfect but she shows what goodness means. I found myself completely immersed in Emma’s story and all of the characters in the book. A Bittersweet Surprise is the third installment of a series but it works beautifully as a stand-alone. Ellingsen uses the “shared universe” style of writing where, as readers, we are introduced to a town or setting that is common throughout the series but the characters, though they may be familiar to us, each have their own story and plot. She has done a great job introducing the characters so that you know their backstory without the need to read each book in order. I highly recommend the book and the entire series – which I’ve now read.

 

 

I’ll Never Tell – the perfect summer read

I’ve never read a book by Catherine McKenzie but have heard so many great things about her books that I wanted to try one to see what I was missing. Well, apparently I’ve been missing a lot. I’ll Never Tell was the perfect summer read for me: not too serious, super quick, a nice mystery and interestingly quirky characters. What more could a reader ask for in a summer book?40201006._SY475_.jpg

The MacAllister siblings grew up at Camp Macaw, the typical summer camp with cabins that surround a lake, stories re-told over and over, sports, games and art workshops. What wasn’t typical was the summer that Amanda, a popular counselor and friend of the siblings, washed ashore dead in a rowboat. The police never found the killer. When the siblings’ parents die and the will is read, they discover that the only way they will inherit the camp is to solve the mystery of Amanda’s death. However, what once was an unsolvable murder mystery is now shrouded in closely guarded family secrets as well. None of these siblings is who they appear to be.

I’ve come to love domestic noir especially when it is done well and I’ll Never Tell does, in fact, handle this genre very well. There are six points of view – yes six – which could get muddled and confusing but McKenzie deftly moves back and forth between the chapters and personalities so that never once does the reader lose focus on who is who. The book also jumps back in time through Amanda’s point of view but this also adds to the dimension of the story rather than detracts. We are able to put into perspective the tales that the siblings are weaving from the actual facts as they happened. This does not, however, give the reader a clear cut view of the actual killer. There are so many twists and possibilities that I was clueless until the very end.  Literally, it could have been any of them, or all.

I’ll Never Tell is a well written “whodunnit” and a great mystery, perfect for any season but even better for summer because of its setting. I highly recommend it and will be pursuing other McKenzie books for myself.

Thanks to #Netgalley, #CatherineMcKenzie @CEMcKenzie1 and #LakeUnionPublishing for my copy of this great read.

The Trailing Spouse

Ooops, surely no one who blogs is as scatterbrained as I, but as a reminder it is always a good thing to hit “publish” before leaving the blog. Yep. I really am that stupid forgetful.

I wanted so badly to read Jo Furniss’ first book but never could get my library to get it for me so I was really thrilled to receive a copy of The Trailing Spouse, her second book which you can now find at “most” libraries and at Amazon

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The Trailing Spouse follows the story of three characters, each of whom have a relationship with a man, Edward Bonham. Amanda, his wife, who traveled around the world to Singapore to be with Edward. She is “the trailing” spouse, a phrase used to describe the spouse who follows the person with a job wherever that job takes them. Here, Amanda has left Great Britain to move to Singapore, a city built on illusion, beautiful yet filled with horrors. This imagery is present throughout the marvelously crafted story.  Camille Kimball has returned to Singapore to find answers from her childhood, her missing parents, and closure to her past. And, there is Josie, Edward’s daughter who still is recovering from her mother’s apparent suicide. Her relationship with Edward is a strange one, to say the least. As the story progresses, the web around these characters grows and becomes more intricately tangled until the climactic conclusion.

Furniss has woven a story that is both beautiful and frightenly realistic. Amanda is, at first, described as the very typical “trailing spouse” who is interested only in being in a glamorous place and with the money that most often goes with the move. These spouses have no rights, very little ability to work independently, in many countries – such as Singapore – they cannot have a bank account in their name or conduct financial transactions on their own. They are, therefore, totally reliant upon their spouses for all of their needs. After her maid, the helper, is found dead, Amanda’s precarious life begins to unravel. As we watch her life come undone, we are left to ask ourselves “who is sane, who is not and how can we know who is telling the truth.” The answers will shock you!

I will admit that I was fascinated with the story and its setting. I had heard from those who had traveled to Singapore about its beauty but, more often, about the illusion upon which this city is built. It has more millionaires and billionaires than any other country; it is, quite literally, one of the richest places on earth. And yet, its people have limited freedom and its immigrants, often used for servitude and menial jobs, are often abused and exploited. Furniss does an excellent job recreating this side of Singapore’s tale. Her writing is skilled, filled with picturesque imagery and it was this  craftsmanship that elevated the book for me. However, there are parts that drag as a result of too much detail. There were times that I really did not want to read another word about Amanda’s embryos calling out to her or dancing in the freezer.  While this storyline added depth to Amanda’s character, it wasn’t entirely necessary to the actual plot so, for me, it dragged on too long and too often. It does not take away from the overall suspense of the book, but it does keep it from being a non-stop, page turning thriller. Despite this, I loved the book and absolutely recommend it for all who enjoy suspenseful tales. You won’t be disappointed.

I owe much appreciation to #JoFurniss, #Netgalley, and #LakeUnionPublishing for my copy of this terrific book!