Before She Was Found

By Heather Gudenkauf

Before She Was Found: A Novel by [Gudenkauf, Heather]

4 out of 5 stars

I have never ever ever been disappointed in a Heather Gudenkauf book and the streak continues!

!2 year old Cora Landry is found stabbed and bloody on the train tracks. What lead to such a horrible crime? Our story takes us into the life of Cora as we read her diary. We also are brought along by the doctor in charge of finding out what is going on in her mind and the minds of her friends and family. We also hear from her friends’ mother and grandfather as they try to sort out just what happened.  Jordyn, a classmate, has bullied Cora and yet she was spending the night with her that night. Violet is new to school and has been working on a project with Cora and Jordyn about urban legends. They are doing their report on a local man who supposedly killed young girls. Is he back? Who has Cora been talking to online?

This tale had some whopper twists! Finding out what happened to Cora was pretty darn shocking. I loved how we saw the happenings through the eyes of a few people. It made you look at it all with different perspectives. I felt so sorry for quite a few of them. I did wonder about how grown up the kids acted, being only 12, but kids grow up so fast these days (I sound old). The ending left me chilled. Heather Gudenkauf is always good for a good chill or two.

Thanks to Netgalley and Park Row for a copy of this book.

The Last

By Hanna Jameson

The Last: A Novel by [Jameson, Hanna]

4 out of 5 stars

Washington D.C. has been hit with a nuclear bomb. This message comes across everyone’s phones in a Swiss hotel. Jonathan Keller, an American academic, is at a loss. Everyone in the hotel is stunned. As news of other bombs occur, many decide to leave and some decide to stay. Jon starts keeping a log of their days, in part to leave for someone in the future to find if they never make it. They begin living in the hotel, people running things, rationing food, when on around the 40th day, a little girl’s body is found in one of the water tanks. Jon begins a quest to find out who she was and just who killed her. Was it someone among his hotel mates?

This is such an interesting premise. With everyone from different walks of life and different cultures living together, you get to see the interactions, the fear, the resolve. There is also an eerie aspect as Jon searches through abandoned rooms and their are stories about the devil and a strange boy. Paranoia sets in, as you would think it would. We learn of everyone’s past stories before they became this ragtag group of survivors. You see the change in people.

The  ending had me believing it went a certain way and NOTHING will make me feel any different!

This is a very interesting look at the nature and character of people. It makes you think about how you would react in this situation. I loved the different characters and I loved Jon, even with all his flaws. The hotel itself was a character. The descriptions of the rooms, stairwells, etc. were moody and dark. I felt as if I was walking around it with someone right behind me.

Thanks to Netgalley and Atria for a copy of this book.

The Night Before

By Wendy Walker

The Night Before: A Novel by [Walker, Wendy]

4 out of 5 stars

Laura Lochner is back in her hometown and living with her sister Rose. They are a close pair and with Rose’s husband Joe and his best friend Gabe, they have always been a tight group. After a tragic death, Laura has tried to start her life over, away from home. Something happens that brings her back and she tries to get her life on track. She is going on a date with someone she matched up with online.  The story takes us between the present and the night before when Laura meets up with the mysterious Jonathan Fielding. When she doesn’t return home the next morning, Rose sets out to find where she is and just who this man really is.

I loved how this story took us between the actual date, the search for Laura, and her sessions with a therapist. You learn so much of the back story of how she got to be who she was and there are a few excellent twists thrown in. I cannot say I saw what was coming but it all made such perfect sense. I loved the character of Laura. The way she was written, you could just see all the wheels turning in her brain. You could see how she wanted to be so different than how she was. So much of what we are is a product of the past and not only our own past.

Definitely a page turner! It comes out May 14th so put it on your radar.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy of this book. They are really one of my very favorite publishers.

The Editor

By Steven Rowley

The Editor by [Rowley, Steven]

4 out of 5 stars

Imagine if you walk into your publisher’s office, unsure of what is going to happen, and they tell you they have an editor for your book! Now imagine that the editor is Jackie Kennedy Onassis! That is exactly what Steven Rowley does in this very charming book.

James Smale has written a thinly veiled story about his mother and their relationship. Ms. Onassis takes his hand and helps him to realize so much about life and love and family. Their working relationship develops into a friendship, as much as that can happen, and James begins to understand the mother-son relationship. I love how his relationship with his mother progresses through the story. We think we know everything there is to know about our parents in our lop-sided view but we really don’t.

Growing up Catholic, I have always been fascinated by the Kennedy family, and although this is a fictional account, it rang so true for me. From the descriptions of her attitude, to her home, to her dress, it was exactly as I picture Ms. Onassis, right down to the sweater thrown across her shoulders.

It is a funny, touching gem of a book.

Thanks to Netgalley and Putnam for a copy of this book.



The Ash Family

By Molly Dektar

The Ash Family: A Novel by [Dektar, Molly]

4 out of 5 stars

Berie seems to be at odds with life. She is heading off to college, wanting to leave her mother, not really wanting to leave her ex. She comes across a man named Bay who tells her he can take her to a place where she will find her answers. His “family” is run by a man named Dice. He teaches them to live off the land, buck the system, prepare for the worst. Berie becomes Harmony and tries to adapt to a whole new way of life. Things are not all peaches and cream though.  Are there ever in a cult? What happens to those who want to leave?

I always wonder about what makes a person become so involved in a cult. I am still wondering about Berie. I did not get the vibes that she was really that lost but she sure becomes more so while she is at the commune. I also did not get that enigmatic feel from Dice. That is not to say that the writing was not great, because it was. The descriptions of the day to day life were deep and I felt like I was there. You actually felt like you were as dirty as their bodies are described. Made me want to soak in a hot tub. Berie was not a very likable character but I really loved Queen. My heart broke for her.

Thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for an advance copy of this book.


In the Blink of An Eye

By Jesse Blackadder


In the Blink of an Eye: A Novel by [Blackadder, Jesse]

4 out of 5 stars

I am not going to lie, this was a very hard book to read. Losing a child has to be the hardest thing to ever happen to a family. After little Toby is found in their pool, this family has more than it’s share of guilt and blame. Like the title says in the blink of an eye, your whole life can change.

Finn, Bridget, Jarrah, and Toby have moved from New South Wales to Tasmania to begin afresh after a little indiscretion. I don’t honestly think they have found what they were looking for but they are living their lives and starting over. After the accident, the three remaining family members each fall into their own space of grief. Each one is different. Can their lives ever go on again?

This book really shows you the ache and pain of grief. No one’s grief is the same, even as you mourn over the same person. This book clearly shows us that. It is raw and at times hard to read but it is very honest. I loved the glimmer of hope that it did leave me with. Having grieved a few loved ones, I totally got every emotion.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for a copy of this book.

Me For You

By Lolly Winston

Me for You by [Winston, Lolly]

5 out of 5 stars

Lolly Winston definitely knows how to take a sad thing like grief and make it into a beautiful story. As she did in Good Grief (I highly recommend it), she has done again in this lovely book.

Rudy wakes up one morning at the age of 54 to his wife lying next to him. He goes about chattering about breakfast and things, as one does, and after a while, realizes she still isn’t stirring. His beloved wife Bethany has passed away in her sleep. Rudy is lost. The world as he knows it has crumbled. What do you do with such a loss? He still goes to his part time job as a piano player at Nordstrom’s. He has a wonderful friend there in Sasha, a woman who has seen her own share of loss, but he is losing his grip. His daughter arranges for him to enter the hospital for a while to work through his depression. The scenes in the hospital are just so touching. Everyone is so kind and everyone is working through their own pain. It shines a light on mental health.

His doctor says something that sticks with me. He said that we have to think of grief as a chronic disease. You know it is always there and sometimes it rears it’s head. That is so very true! That made me cry because I have so many of those moments.

This is such a wonderful book. It is sad and emotional but it is also very uplifting and hopeful. I think, in fact, that hopeful is the word for this book. The characters are all wonderful, so well written. You will laugh and you will cry. You will feel everything and that is always the sign of a great book.

Thanks to Netgalley and Gallery Books for a copy of this lovely novel.