The Favorite Daughter

By Kaira Rouda

The Favorite Daughter by [Rouda, Kaira]

5 out of 5 stars

Yowza!!! I just read about the most narcissistic , crazy  mommy dearest and I could not put it down!

Jane tells us her story. Her older adopted daughter Mary died a year ago. Her daughter Betsy  does not live up to Mary, in her eyes. Her husband David is having an affair.  So Jane sets up an elaborate trap for them. She thinks she is the smartest one in the room and she will tell you so. As you read, you begin to see the cracks in it all and you just know, Jane has done so many bad things and nothing will stop her from getting what she wants.

Jane’s lack of feelings gave me chills. It was like watching Psycho and seeing Anthony Perkins at the end, staring at that fly. Kudos to Kaira Rouda for writing a character that made me turn every page with a sense of dread. Makes you want to hug your mother. I loved the first person style with this book because I don’t think I would have been as terrified otherwise. I was just hoping throughout that it was going to work out the way it should.

You will not be able to put it down.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Graydon House for this deliciously creepy book.

 

Waisted

By Randy Susan Meyers

 

Waisted: A Novel by [Meyers, Randy Susan]

4 out of 5 stars

This one really hit home for me. Being a larger woman, I could related to all the feelings of not being “perfect” in the eyes of society and frankly, of ourselves. Alice and Daphne struggle with their weight amidst a husband who wants the thin wife he married and a mother who has always pushed being thin. When they both enter a weight loss program called “Waisted”, they are into more than they bargained for. The harshness of words, the lack of food, the nine hours a day of workouts, is a cruel experiment gone bad. They are being filmed in the acts of humiliation but they do find themselves in ways that they never had before. It’s amazing what two or more together can accomplish.

It was hard to read some of the agonizing things these women went through. I cringed a lot. I loved how we saw weight through the eyes of different cultures and different expectations within those cultures. Some points were totally me. The author always has a great way with different perspectives. I can’t say it made me think differently about weight than I do but it was a good read.

Thanks to Netgalley and Atria for an advance copy of this book.

Hope and Other Punchlines

By Julie Buxbaum

Hope and Other Punch Lines by [Buxbaum, Julie]

5 out of 5 stars

When I hear that a new Julie Buxbaum is coming out, I go straight to the pre-order page. The lovely talented Ms. Buxbaum has never failed me and she is still on a winning streak. This book is wonderful, with a capital W. She never fails to elicit every emotion in me while I read her books. Hope and Other Punchlines was everything I hoped for and more.

Abbi Goldstein was Baby Hope, a picture from 9/11 that radiated hope in the sadness of the day. She was carried away from the smoke, ash, and rubble by the woman watching her in daycare. Noah Stern lost his father in the two towers yet he has hope when he sees the picture, one he has carried with him. There is a man in the picture running with the others and he is pretty sure it is his dad. Did he get out? When a job at summer camp draws them together, there will be a story to tell. Puns included.

I loved these two so much! Their relationship was written beautifully. It was that slow, easy pull. Their banter was natural, not forced. So many times I have read YA novels where you think that the conversations seem not very realistic but I enjoyed the back and forth between these two. Add other characters that brought so much to the story and you have the perfect read.

When I think of Abbi and Noah, I will always smile. I will always feel hope. (I used that word a lot, Hope, and you will too) And yes, I was in tears at the ending. Well, not just the ending, quite a bit throughout.

There is a line in the book about suddenly bursting with all the warm goodness surrounding you and that is the exact sentiment I felt reading this book.

 

The Last Time I Saw You

By Liv Constantine

The Last Time I Saw You: A Novel by [Constantine, Liv]

4 out of 5 stars

When Kate’s beloved mother is murdered, her old friend Blaire comes back into town. They had a falling out at Kate’s wedding to Simon and have not talked since but Blaire was a big part of Kate’s family when they were friends. Blaire is now a big time mystery writer with her husband and she wants to help find out just what happened. Someone is sending Kate mysterious, creepy messages and gifts and it seems she might be next.

There is a lot going on here. Being a family of means, there are a lot of other people around them. (And I do enjoy reading about how the other half lives.) From lawyers to friends to the help, you begin to wonder about all of them. It was a bit confusing at times, trying to keep who was who in my head, but it did not make it that difficult to follow. You just have a long list of suspects but I have to say, I did not figure out the killer and was quite surprised.  It ended on a creepy, great note.

If you enjoyed their first book, The Last Mrs. Parrish, you will enjoy this one as well.

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

Miracle Creek

By Angie Kim

Miracle Creek: A Novel by [Kim, Angie]

5 out of 5 stars

When an explosion and fire kill two people in the Miracle Submarine treatment device, the whole town is rocked. Pak and Young Yoo have moved to America from Korea with their teen daughter Mary and have started the treatment center to give a good life to their daughter. Matt, a doctor himself, is having treatment for sterility issues. He is the only adult along with three children suffering from handicaps of their own. The Miracle Submarine is a hyperbaric chamber but large enough for the four to sit in. My father-in-law was put in one because of open wounds on his leg due to arthritis. (I could write a book about his suffering alone) It was a small one that made me claustrophobic just looking at so imagining one on a larger scale was very interesting to me. As they sit in their session, things start to go quite off course. The power goes out, the video stops, causing one of the kids to take off his helmet and start banging his head. When Young, who was left alone, runs to get batteries, she comes back to an explosion and fire.

The story takes us into the courtroom as Elizabeth Ward (my daughter’s name so that was a bit distracting for me) is charged with the murder of her son and her friend, the mother of the other boy. Things are not what they seem. There is so much going on in this book, SO much. Everyone has secret, upon, secret, upon secret, one more devastating than the other.  By the time we find out how the fire started, I was emotionally exhausted.

This is so wonderfully written. To be able to get into the minds and hearts of so many characters perfectly is a gift. I really felt like I knew and understood each one’s motives, skewed as they may have been. I did not feel as if there was any villain or any hero. These were humans, flaws and all. I was left in tears. It hit every motherly instinct in me.

Miracle Creek is an incredible first novel and if this is the beginning, I cannot wait to see what comes next.

Thanks to the generosity of Netgalley and Farrar-Straus and Giroux for a copy of this wonderful book.

The Better Sister

By Alafair Burke

 

The Better Sister: A Novel by [Burke, Alafair]

4 out of 5 stars

I was drawn right into this novel from the very beginning. It had that catch that just makes you go hmmmmm….. (I won’t spoil it)

Chloe Taylor is the editor of a women’s magazine that has added to the MeToo movement with ThemToo. She is bright, successful. She is married to Adam, a prominent Manhattan lawyer and they are raising Ethan. Like everything else in life, all is not what it seems. Adam was once married to Chloe’s older sister Nicky and Ethan  is her child with Adam. Chloe stepped in when Nicky seemed to be losing it and Adam begged for her help. All these years later, Ethan is Chloe’s son. Everything seems perfect in their world, if you don’t count the nastiest tweets and posts about Chloe online, and then, Adam is murdered. When Ethan is accused of the crime, the sisters will do everything and anything to clear him.

There was so much that I did not expect to be happening and was quite surprised. The story worked so well with the way of the world and social media. We do get so involved in what is being said about us and others. Chloe’s addiction to it was so understandable. The nastiness that was written, I have actually seen other’s write. It is heartbreaking, really. I loved how the relationship between the sisters evolved. There were some times that I felt it was taking a bit too long to to get to where it was going, but it got there and I was all in.

Alafair Burke is one of the best mystery/suspense/thriller writers writing today and I look forward to what comes next. You really cannot go wrong with one of her books.

Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins for a copy of this book.

Swimming for Sunlight

By Allie Larkin

 

Swimming for Sunlight: A Novel by [Larkin, Allie]

5 out of 5 stars

Don’t you just love when you pick up a book and you fall in love with every character? You love their quirkiness, their joy, their kindness, their camaraderie. You just love everything about them. Look no further because this is the book!

Katie moves back in with her grandmother Nan after her divorce. Katie is so full of anxieties, stemming from the death of her father, but she tries so hard. She was raised by Nan and a delightful group of older ladies in their neighborhood. They are her family. When she finds out that Nan and a couple others were part of a mermaid group back in the day, an idea comes up for them to make a mermaid calendar for charity. Katie gets to use her sewing talent to create costumes for the women. She also reconnects with her ex-boyfriend, a documentary filmmaker.

I am leaving out one of the best parts, Barkimedes. Her dog Bark was the only thing she wanted from her marriage. He seems to suffer from as much anxiety as Katie! They are a pair.

If you are not crying at the end of this book, or during it, I don’t know about you. The love is displayed so beautifully. So many passage just touched my soul. It is one of the best ensembles of characters I have read in a while. I didn’t want it to end. I always say we can learn so much from our elders and I think, even though Katie is the main character, that they are the heart and soul of this book.

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