Neverworld Wake

By Marisha Pessl

Neverworld Wake by [Pessl, Marisha]

5 out of 5 stars

I bought this book after doing one of those online “what should you read next” quizzes. I had no idea about it. I had not heard a thing which is weird because I loved her other books, especially Night Film. Her books are not the norm. Her imagination and way of writing are unlike most authors.

In this story, Bea meets up with friends she has not seen since the death of their mutual friend Jim. After a night out, they are in a car accident. They all feel lucky to be alive but they aren’t! They are in the Neverworld , they have a certain amount of “wakes”  and the keeper tells them that they must choose between the five of them, who is the only one to live. As they are in between wakes, they each handle it differently but we follow Bea who is watching all of them. She knows that the one thing they need to figure out is Jim’s death.

The story is so strange and so riveting. There is a twist I did not see coming. The characters all had their secrets and watching how they all dealt with what was happening was perfect. I almost felt like a voyeur with Bea as she lived the wake over and over trying to see what everyone else was doing.

I am so glad I took the quiz and bought the book!

 

I’ll Never Tell

By Catherine McKenzie

I'll Never Tell by [McKenzie, Catherine]

4 out of 5 stars

A family tree can be a wondrous thing with it’s branches spreading out and leaves sprouting up. It also has roots, roots that can get twisted and tangled. Such is the family tree of the MacAllister family. The siblings have reunited at the summer camp their parents owned and ran, on the anniversary of their tragic deaths. The will is being read and a memorial service is being held. When their lawyer lays out the details of the will, the family has to deal with repercussions of an accident that happened years ago at the camp to a friend of Margaux’s, Amanda. Their father believes their brother Ryan was responsible and they have to vote on if they also believe him or not. The truth will be revealed but it might not be what any of them really want to hear.

I really enjoyed how the book was told in the different siblings’ voices and also Amanda’s version of what exactly happened that fateful night. There is also a timeline, a schedule of where each person was supposed to be at the time. Your suspicion will go back and forth between all of them until the very end. There were some surprising things uncovered along the way. It is a great whodunit with some family drama mixed in. Having a strained relationship with a few of my siblings, I really understood where they were coming from.

This is another notch in the ladder of Catherine McKenzie’s books. You will not be disappointed in any of them.

Thanks to Netgalley and Lake Union for a copy of this book.

Mrs. Everything

By Jennifer Weiner

Mrs. Everything: A Novel by [Weiner, Jennifer]

4 out of 5 stars

Mrs. Everything is really about everything that is a woman. It is every stage of womanhood from daughter to the end of life. It is what we see ourselves as. It is what society sees us as. It is finding yourself and your place.

Jo and Bethie are sisters and different as anyone can be.  The story follows them from the 50s through today. Their ups and downs. Their pains and sorrows. Their loves and joys. Following their lives, you really get to know the characters to their cores. Bethie has something extremely tragic happen to her and throws her life into chaos. Jo, always attracted to women, lives a somewhat “normal” life of marriage and kids. Watching them go full circle is the complete joy of this book.

It is a long read. It slowly takes you through the changes of the decades, ones I remember so well. Each character is given their voice in alternating chapters so you see the world from both sides. We go from women waiting on the man of the home to a woman running for president. Wow. Times do change but one thing that does not change is you will enjoy a book by Jennifer Weiner until the very last page.

Thanks to Netgalley and Atria Books for an advance copy.

Have You Seen Luis Velez?

By Catherine Ryan Hyde

Have You Seen Luis Velez? by [Hyde, Catherine Ryan]

4 out of 5 stars

In this crazy world, we all need that light in all the dark. This book will shine some peace into your soul.

Raymond Jaffe lives with his mom, stepdad, and sisters in the same apartment building as 92 year old Mildred Gutermann. One day, he sees her outside asking if he knows Luis Velez. Something about her sticks with him and he goes back to talk to her. Luis used to stop by and do errands for Mildred, who is blind and alone. Raymond strikes up a friendship with Mildred and makes it his mission to find Luis. It takes him to places he has never seen and in the process, he finds himself in ways he never knew he could.

There is just so much hope in this story. Even in the sadness, the kindness in the people Raymond meets , brings joy. Mildred imparts such simple yet profound truths to Raymond and watching him grow was perfect. You cannot read this without walking a way with a ray of hope.

Thanks to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for a copy of this book.

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.