Thursday, August 16, 2018

Review: The Distant Hours

The Distant Hours The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love multiple stories told over time - the story of Edie, in 1992, as she figures out her life, her career, her relationship with her parents.

Edie's favorite book as a child leads her to tour the castle where the book was written, and to meet the three sisters who live there, the daughters of the author. They are all old women now, living in a run down house, with history and each other but little money.

Edie discovers that during WWII, her mother was a child evacuee. And where was she evacuated to? That castle, when those three sisters were younger.

The stories unfold, in 1939, in 1941, in 1992 -- and before, also. A mystery, several mysteries.

Without spoilers, I'll also add that it was a relief to read a book that was a mystery that did not involve sexual abuse, rape, and babies. Seriously, one of my recent historical reads had plot/character development centering around so many various unplanned/ out of wedlock babies that it got a little ridiculous.

Also, I would love to read the fictitious book that was at the center of this book. It sounded amazing.

Finally, the time period that most of the book is about -- Britain during WWII -- was fascinating. I want to read more.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Review: What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alice is in her late 20s, expecting her first child, in love with her husband.

Until she wakes up on the gym floor -- she fell, hit her head, and is 39, with three kids, in the midst of a messy divorce.

I loved Alice discovering her current life: adjusting to three children, finding out her best friend is no longer in her life, finding out about the person she has become.

Twentysomething Alice doesn't always like present-day-Alice or the choices she's made.

It's a fascinating concept and it's done very well. A twentysomething judging the person she becomes; bewildered by the person she now is. I confess, maybe someone younger would have a different view, but at times I found Alice (the 2o something Alice) a bit too annoying and frustrating. Almost, even, stupid, in her failure to sympathize with her older self. To understand her.

That said, there was also something sweet and hopeful in the younger Alice, the Alice who wasn't so hurt by life, and how she tried living, and fixing, the life she found herself in.

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Review: Under the Harrow

Under the Harrow Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nora is visiting her older sister Rachel. When she walks into her sister's house, she finds her sister's body.

Rachel has been murdered.

About 15 years ago, when both girls were teens, Rachel was brutally attacked. The person was never caught. So Nora stays around her sister's town, investigating, not trusting the police.

Nora is a bit of an unreliable narrator, and she holds back certain information from the reader. I'd go, wait, what, and then realize that Nora holds some details back. And the way Nora tells the story -- sometimes it's almost dreamlike. In that Nora thinks "if only." Pretends alternates. Like, if Rachel was still alive. Or, what if I do this. So now and then -- including at the end -- I wasn't sure what was real and what Nora was hoping was real.

One more thing, and I don't consider this a spoiler. I like mysteries but I hate how often teen girls or women are Victims. Not in, the victim the story revolves around; but in how victimized they are. Rachel is a victim without being a Victim.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Review: Someone to Care

Someone to Care Someone to Care by Mary Balogh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I so adore all Mary Balogh books.

Viola is in her early 40s and lived her life the way she was told do. Married the person her parents wanted, and so got the title and the money and the whole perfect Regency life. Book #1 starts with her husband dead, and the family finding out Viola wasn't his first wife; and that his first wife was still alive when he married Viola. Yeppers! She was never his wife, her three children are illegitimate, and it's Regency England so it's scandalous and terrible and the worst things ever.

So. In this book, Viola meets Marcel: they had met years ago, when she was unhappily married and he was a known flirt. She was proper the whole time, never disclosed her emotions and feelings, and sent him away. So now they are both single and both decide, hey we're grownups... and read the rest yourself.

What I like about this book is what I like about Balogh books: most of the people are good, decent, and kind. The example here is that all of Viola's friends and family -- including her not-really-husband's family -- are as loving and welcoming to her as always. The worst person is the dead not-really-husband. Even among Marc's family, when I first thought "oh this is going to be the person who causes trouble because of x or y or z" -- they turned out to be good folks, even if often of differing opinions on how things should be.

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Monday, August 06, 2018

Review: Then She Was Gone

Then She Was Gone Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Half mystery: what happened to Ellie, who disappeared ten years ago at age fifteen?

Half a look at a mother's grief over a lost child: how Laurel has put together a life, in the ten years since, but it's not a complete life. How can it be?

Like many others, I'm the type of reader who adds "Ellie disappeared ten years ago" and "Laurel's new boyfriend has a nine year old daughter who looks like Ellie" and gets four.

Then She Was Gone is about what happened to Ellie and what is happening to Laurel. And yes -- I skipped to the end to find out what happens, in part to reassure myself about how it would end. And then I went back and read it to see the why of how it got there and the motivations.

And while there is a mix of grief and hope, and love and forgiveness, there is also evil.

I need to find mysteries that don't involve bad things happening to teen girls.

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