Book Review – Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Book Review – Nineteen Minutes by Jodi PicoultNineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Published by Atria Books on March 5, 2007
Genres: Family Life, Fiction, General
Pages: 440
Format: eBook
Goodreads
five-stars

Old School

I know, I know… this book was published in 2007 and I’m only reading it now. I’m slow to the party on this one. I wish I had read it sooner. I’m a converted Jodi fan.

I had read another of Jodie’s books (The Pact) and I loved it and several friends recommended Nineteen Minutes as another great read.

The book was a change of pace for me. It’s not a thriller in the traditional sense, more of a drama, but has moments leaving you on the edge of your seat. I had trouble putting it down.

A school shooting is a horrible reality in the US and has been for a long time. The details of the school shooting were heartbreaking. Jodi does a fantastic job of describing the events leading up to and the post impact of the shooting. There are many players in the telling of the story. From the police investigator, to the lawyer (hello again Mr McAfee from The Pact), to the parent of the shooter and of the victim. Jodi accurately reflects the thoughts and feelings of the characters and yourself as the reader.

From the investigator:

He had no fucking idea how to process a nightmare this massive…

From the mother of the shooter:

no one seemed to have the right words of comfort for someone whose son had just killed ten people.

The overall feeling and questions you ask yourself when reading:

Did every teenager have the capacity to fall on one side or the other of that tightrope, and could you identify a single moment that tipped the balance?

As well as the courtroom drama that plays out, the book focuses on relationships. In particular the relationship between mother and daughter and the associated struggles. Also worth mentioning is the exploration of relationships between friends and the cruelness of young people.

I loved the book and a friend advised me it reminded them of the book We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I loved that book too, but they are different. There are many more perspectives in Nineteen Minutes and I don’t think it is as dark as We Need to Talk about Kevin, although the same feeling of heartbreak and senselessness is there – as it is with all the shootings that occur on a daily basis. I’m grateful  I live in Australia, where thankfully, since the Port Arthur massacre, shootings are not commonplace in my country.

Read this and be prepared to be moved.

Synopsis

In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five….In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.


Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens — until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town’s residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy. For them, the lines between truth and fiction, right and wrong, insider and outsider have been obscured forever.

Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge sitting on the case, could be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened in front of her own eyes. And as the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show, destroying the closest of friendships and families.

five-stars

About Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is the #1 bestselling author of twenty-five novels including My Sister’s Keeper, Nineteen Minutes, The Storyteller, Leaving Time, the acclaimed #1 bestseller, Small Great Things, which explored the issues of power, privilege and race, and has sold more than 1.5 million copies. Picoult’s most recent novel, A SPARK OF LIGHT., published on October 2, 2018, was her tenth consecutive instant #1 New York Times bestseller, and was praised as “Picoult at her fearless best” by the Washington Post.

Book Review – The Orchid Girls – Lesley Sanderson

I received this book for free from the author, Craig M Dial, in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Thank you to the author for the opportunity.

The Orchid Girls Published by Bookouture on November 13, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, General, Crime, Psychological, Suspense
Pages: 425
Format: ARC, eBook
Goodreads
five-stars

Secrets from the past make for an exciting read…

The Orchid Girls is the author, Lesley Sanderson’s first book. I was drawn to the title of the book and when I read the blurb, I was sold. I enjoy novels about women and I liked the idea of a secret in the past coming back to haunt the characters.

Molly as an adult is troubled, an alcoholic, in a complicated relationship. Molly presents as being tortured and feels immense guilt about her past.

We liked being the Orchid Girls until I went and spoilt it all.

Grace is almost exactly the opposite. She is successful, in a seemingly loving relationship, despite having a really rough childhood. Grace is happy to leave the leave the past in the past.

The past has no room in my life. It has to stay where it belongs.

What did I love?

I really liked how the book was written. We hear from Molly, Grace and Charlotte in the present and get to read past newspaper articles and diary entries to fill in the missing pieces of their past.

The book isn’t particularly scary, or thrilling, but I was caught up in the story and I wanted to know what happened. I empathised with both Molly and Grace at different times throughout the book. When I have a connection with characters like that it makes me want to keep on reading.

I thought I had all the twists and turns figured out, but I didn’t until much later in the book. I love this because it means that the author has appropriately challenged my ideas about how I see the characters and the events. I’m pretty switched on to the route of thrillers these days and it is tricky to fool me now. I know the recipe.

Ummm it has to be said…and it won’t ruin the outcome of the story for you, but I think Grace’s husband Richard is a DICK. I made note of this in my reading notes. He was a character that I really hated (and I’m sure this was intentional by Lesley) and I specifically wrote DICK next to his name. Ha ha ha ha.

The wrap up

Overall this was a great read and I would recommend to any readers who enjoy reading books about women. Strong women, weak women and loving women. It ignited my teenage female gossip side too!

I’d definitely like to read more from Lesley Sanderson  – I think she is an author to watch!

Synopsis

They called them the Orchid Girls. Grace. Molly. Charlotte.

One of them is in love. One of them is a liar. One of them is dead.

On a jagged Dorset cliff, wind whipping their hair, waves crashing on the rocks below, three friends became two when Charlotte’s body was pulled out of the sea.

Fifteen years later Grace and Molly are worlds apart. Grace has a glittering career and a loving husband. Molly is a lonely, unemployed alcoholic. Grace has everything to lose. Molly has nothing.

They have moved on from the tragic accident that shadowed their childhood. But somewhere lies a photograph waiting to be unearthed – waiting to reveal a secret one of the Orchid Girls is desperate to keep hidden…

Book Review – The Affair – Sheryl Browne

Book Review – The Affair – Sheryl BrowneThe Affair by Sheryl Browne
Published by Bookouture on August 10, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Psychological, Suspense
Pages: 383
Format: eBook
Goodreads

four-half-stars

Ok, this was not what I expected, although I wasn’t disappointed. 

The Affair started with a bang and it really didn’t slow down or stop, which made for a very quick, gripping read.

Each chapter spoke from a different character’s perspective, which was interesting and could have been why it felt so fast paced. I haven’t seen this before….usually it’s one or two characters, but I really liked that we heard from most of the characters in the book. I will say that didn’t feel particularly attached to any of the characters and perhaps because we heard snippets from all of them my attachment to any one of them was minimal.

My initial feelings about the characters, their motivations and drivers, were correct. The book wasn’t overly twisty or turny (professional literary speak right there)  in my view…but perhaps this is because I guessed several of the outcomes. Again, this is not a bad thing. I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

I’ll be honest, I was expecting more affair and less thriller, but the book is so much more a thriller and very much focused on family. It was a surprise. I liked the relationship between Justin and Alicia very much because despite any difficult situations and misunderstandings – they really loved each other.

He was always attentive in that way, making sure she was safe.

The theme of safety crops up throughout the book and the importance of family is emphasised. Justin is a very admirable character in this respect.

The events occur so quickly in this book that I think it would be hard not to enjoy for most readers.

Synopsis

The moment she opened her eyes, she knew everything had changed. The stale taste of alcohol; her uneasy stomach. She looked at her husband sleeping peacefully, and knew she would never tell anyone what happened last night.

You will think you know what happened to Alicia that night.

You will see a desperate wife, lying to her husband.

You will watch a charming lover, trying to win her back.

You will judge her, just like everyone else.

You will assume you know what happens next. But everything you think you know about the past, the relationships, what drives Alicia and her husband to lie… is wrong.

About Sheryl Browne

I’m a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, the Romantic Novelists’ Association and I have several books published, along with two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies where I completed my MA in Creative Writing, finally. It took me some while. Please see above. Undertaking my MA was something I’d put off due to life commitments, as we sometimes have to. When I managed to make the time, I had to summon up a huge amount of courage to walk through those university doors. What if I failed? Where was my confidence? Well, the road to publication being paved with rejection letters, as it sometimes is, my confidence wasn’t much in evidence. The MA course didn’t offer any magical solutions to my writing dilemmas but it did expand my knowledge and confirm my belief that, no matter how bumpy the road, I needed to continue to write. To quote the title of one of the university anthologies, “I am a writer, therefore I am”. I wouldn’t know how to be any other way. I’ve also recently completed a forensics course which I undertook as necessary fuel for my thriller writing. I’m relieved to say I passed that with flying colours and found it totally inspiring, which brings me to a question I’m often asked: What gives you inspiration for your books?

The short answer is people, and the whole gamut of emotion that comes with them. I’ve always been fascinated by what shapes people and whatever genre I write in I like to strip away the layers and, hopefully, share with readers a little of what lies beneath the surface. A writer’s mind thrives on exploration. Every scenario, every place, every face tells a story. I see people as not all good or all bad, more opposite sides of the same spectrum with some crossover in between. I can’t resist exploring what might push someone over the line. I hope you will continue to join me on my journey.

About Sheryl Browne

I’m a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, the Romantic Novelists’ Association and I have several books published, along with two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies where I completed my MA in Creative Writing, finally. It took me some while. Please see above. Undertaking my MA was something I’d put off due to life commitments, as we sometimes have to. When I managed to make the time, I had to summon up a huge amount of courage to walk through those university doors. What if I failed? Where was my confidence? Well, the road to publication being paved with rejection letters, as it sometimes is, my confidence wasn’t much in evidence. The MA course didn’t offer any magical solutions to my writing dilemmas but it did expand my knowledge and confirm my belief that, no matter how bumpy the road, I needed to continue to write. To quote the title of one of the university anthologies, “I am a writer, therefore I am”. I wouldn’t know how to be any other way. I’ve also recently completed a forensics course which I undertook as necessary fuel for my thriller writing. I’m relieved to say I passed that with flying colours and found it totally inspiring, which brings me to a question I’m often asked: What gives you inspiration for your books?

The short answer is people, and the whole gamut of emotion that comes with them. I’ve always been fascinated by what shapes people and whatever genre I write in I like to strip away the layers and, hopefully, share with readers a little of what lies beneath the surface. A writer’s mind thrives on exploration. Every scenario, every place, every face tells a story. I see people as not all good or all bad, more opposite sides of the same spectrum with some crossover in between. I can’t resist exploring what might push someone over the line. I hope you will continue to join me on my journey.

Book Review – The Other Wife – Michael Robotham

Book Review – The Other Wife – Michael RobothamThe Other Wife by Michael Robotham
on June 26, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, General, Psychological, Crime, Suspense, Mystery & Detective
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Goodreads
two-half-stars
There comes a time when a not so glowing review is required.

I’m still reading The Affair by Sheryl Browne (almost finished), but I thought I needed to go back to another book I read recently.

It absolutely PAINS me to say it. I did not love The Other wife by Michael Robotham. In fact, I struggled through it.

I was so excited to read his new book. I had read The Secrets She Keeps and thought it was fantastic. It was exciting to have stumbled upon a new author and an Australian one at that. I could not believe I hadn’t read his books previously.

The reason I did not love The Other Wife could be because I hadn’t read the other books based around the protagonist Joe O’Loughlin. So perhaps it’s unfair for me to comment without “getting to know” Joe. I’ll admit it, I’m a Joe amateur!

Also, it could be that I enjoyed Michael’s writing from a female perspective. I hope there are more books to come similar to The Secrets She Keeps.

So what didn’t I love?

I didn’t feel a connection with Joe and as above, this might be because I haven’t read any of the other Joe books.

Nothing surprised or shocked me here. I was waiting for something to happen. There just wasn’t enough of a good thing. I wasn’t intrigued by the fact that Joe’s father had an affair…there was much more to it than that, but this is what I wanted to be excited about.

I almost gave up. There were times when I just wanted to put my kindle down and start something new. That is never a good sign. I kept on going because I thought the ending might be the saving grace and all my worries would be put to rest. The ending did not excite me either.

We are a little spoilt by the twists and turns present in a lot of thrillers lately. So I don’t mind when there aren’t as many twists (and in fact there were a few in this book) but they didn’t surprise me or keep me on the edge of my seat.

Should I keep reading Michael’s books?

The Secrets She keeps can not be just a fluke or a one off. Please let me know in the comments if you have read any of Michael’s other books and can recommend where to start. Do I need to read the other Joe books before I pass further judgement??

Now, I need to state that my reviews are my own thoughts and opinions and I might get some hate from all the Robotham lovers, that is ok. All I ask is that they convince me. Recommend me a book of his that I will love and I’ll review that one too.

Synopsis

Childhood sweethearts William and Mary have been married for sixty years. William is a celebrated surgeon, Mary a devoted wife. Both have a strong sense of right and wrong.

This is what their son, Joe O’Loughlin, has always believed. But when Joe is summoned to the hospital with news that his father has been brutally attacked, his world is turned upside down. Who is the strange woman crying at William’s bedside, covered in his blood – a friend, a mistress, a fantasist or a killer?

Against the advice of the police, Joe launches his own investigation. As he learns more, he discovers sides to his father he never knew – and is forcibly reminded that the truth comes at a price.

About Michael Robotham

Gold Dagger winning and Edgar short-listed author Michael Robotham was born in Australia in November 1960 and grew up in small country towns that had more dogs than people and more flies than dogs. He escaped in 1979 and became a cadet journalist on an afternoon newspaper in Sydney.

For the next fourteen years he wrote for newspapers and magazines in Australia, Britain and America. As a senior feature writer for the UK’s Mail on Sunday he was among the first people to view the letters and diaries of Czar Nicholas II and his wife Empress Alexandra, unearthed in the Moscow State Archives in 1991. He also gained access to Stalin’s Hitler files, which had been missing for nearly fifty years until a cleaner stumbled upon a cardboard box that had been misplaced and misfiled.

In 1993 he quit journalism to become a ghostwriter, collaborating with politicians, pop stars, psychologists, adventurers and showbusiness personalities to write their autobiographies. Twelve of these non-fiction titles were bestsellers with combined sales of more than 2 million copies.

About Michael Robotham

Gold Dagger winning and Edgar short-listed author Michael Robotham was born in Australia in November 1960 and grew up in small country towns that had more dogs than people and more flies than dogs. He escaped in 1979 and became a cadet journalist on an afternoon newspaper in Sydney.

For the next fourteen years he wrote for newspapers and magazines in Australia, Britain and America. As a senior feature writer for the UK’s Mail on Sunday he was among the first people to view the letters and diaries of Czar Nicholas II and his wife Empress Alexandra, unearthed in the Moscow State Archives in 1991. He also gained access to Stalin’s Hitler files, which had been missing for nearly fifty years until a cleaner stumbled upon a cardboard box that had been misplaced and misfiled.

In 1993 he quit journalism to become a ghostwriter, collaborating with politicians, pop stars, psychologists, adventurers and showbusiness personalities to write their autobiographies. Twelve of these non-fiction titles were bestsellers with combined sales of more than 2 million copies.

Book Review – Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Book Review – Baby Teeth by Zoje StageBaby Teeth by Zoje Stage
Published by St. Martin's Press on July 17, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Psychological, Family Life
Format: eBook
Goodreads
five-stars

 

In the spirit of Halloween, it does not get any creepier than a child with evil intentions…

Baby Teeth is author Zoje Stage’s debut novel and I enjoyed it immensely.

The book focuses on the voices of mother, Suzette and daughter ,Hanna.  I loved reading from both perspectives. I felt so much empathy for Suzette throughout the book and the anguish she continually faces in every day dealings with Hanna. Suzette torments herself in relation to Hanna’s behaviour.

She could believe that something hurt inside Hanna, something the girl couldn’t name. Something Suzette had inadvertently planted.

This is a book that stands on its own, without needing those twists and turns to which we have all become accustomed. It was gripping and dark. I know some would describe this book as absolutely monstrous. For me this was not the case.  However,  I am a renowned macabre specialist . I suspect for people who are a little more delicate, this would be a hard subject matter. The idea of a child with a killer instinct is hard to stomach.

Hanna is gruesome and merciless when it comes to her mother.

Sometimes mummy was an octopus with a sharp blade in each hand. It seemed fair to Hanna that when mummy bruised her heart, or made her feel all icky crumbly inside, that she should be able to hurt her back.

Overall, this is a great read if you are a fan of the genre and think you can bear the thought of a child with a very disturbed mind. I loved it.

Synopsis

Afflicted with a chronic debilitating condition, Suzette Jensen knew having children would wreak havoc on her already fragile body. Nevertheless, she brought Hanna into the world, pleased and proud to start a family with her husband Alex. Estranged from her own mother, Suzette is determined to raise her beautiful daughter with the love, care, and support she was denied.

But Hanna proves to be a difficult child. Now seven-years-old, she has yet to utter a word, despite being able to read and write. Defiant and anti-social, she refuses to behave in kindergarten classes, forcing Suzette to homeschool her. Resentful of her mother’s rules and attentions, Hanna lashes out in anger, becoming more aggressive every day. The only time Hanna is truly happy is when she’s with her father. To Alex, she’s wilful and precocious but otherwise the perfect little girl, doing what she’s told.

Suzette knows her clever and manipulative daughter doesn’t love her. She can see the hatred and jealousy in her eyes. And as Hanna’s subtle acts of cruelty threaten to tear her and Alex apart, Suzette fears her very life may be in grave danger.

About Zoje Stage

Zoje Stage is a former filmmaker with a penchant for the dark and suspenseful. Her debut novel BABY TEETH, released by St. Martin's Press in July 2018, was a USA Today bestseller. It was published in the UK by Transworld, under the title BAD APPLE. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA.

About Zoje Stage

Zoje Stage is a former filmmaker with a penchant for the dark and suspenseful. Her debut novel BABY TEETH, released by St. Martin’s Press in July 2018, was a USA Today bestseller. It was published in the UK by Transworld, under the title BAD APPLE. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA.

You – Caroline Kepnes Book Review

by Caroline Kepnes
Published by Simon and Schuster Genres: Fiction, General, Media Tie-In, Psychological, Suspense, Thrillers
five-stars

I’m starting this blog with a book I can’t get off my mind. It’s You by Caroline Kepnes. I did a mini review on Facebook singing it’s praises. I love it even more now that there is a Lifetime TV Series of the same name. The book was recommended to me by my friend Jac (hi Jac!) and I am so glad I  read it.

Whilst the TV show is also fantastic, I don’t want the TV series to take away from the book.

I read it quickly and was disappointed when I finished and I would no longer hear Joe Goldberg’s crazy voice inside my head. Joe is clearly very deluded, psychotic and quite fearless, but I loved his character so much.

Joe becomes obsessed with a woman he meets and nothing will stop him from pursuing her. The book is gripping, with all the right kinds of heart racing moments. Before you know it, you are on Joe’s side and you are rooting for him (well I was ok?).

There are quite a few raunchy sections, which I don’t mind at all. The characters (particularly Joe) are interesting and Joe’s narration throughout makes them even more enjoyable. There are characters Joe despises, making for an entertaining read.

The good news?

There is a sequel called Hidden Bodies, which continues right where You leaves us. It is as heart stopping as You, possibly even more. I didn’t think Joe could go that far…even my dog loved it (see pic).

The better news?

Hidden Bodies finishes with the opportunity for a third instalment and I really hope Caroline is working on that.

Caroline is an author I want to read again and her book Providence is on my list of books to read soon!

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About Caroline Kepnes

Caroline Kepnes is the author of You, Hidden Bodies and Providence. She has worked as a pop culture journalist for Entertainment Weekly and a TV writer on 7th Heaven, The Secret Life of the American Teenager and the upcoming adaptation of You. Originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts she now writes full-time and lives in Los Angeles.

About Caroline Kepnes

Caroline Kepnes is the author of You, Hidden Bodies and Providence. She has worked as a pop culture journalist for Entertainment Weekly and a TV writer on 7th Heaven, The Secret Life of the American Teenager and the upcoming adaptation of You. Originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts she now writes full-time and lives in Los Angeles.