Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies

By Michael Ausiello

Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Other Four-Letter Words by [Ausiello, Michael]

4 out of 5 stars

A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Other Four-Letter Words

I knew of Michael from TVLine and before that Entertainment Weekly but I didn’t know his story. From the title, you know that we are talking about someone dying. Christopher “Kit” Cowan was Michael’s husband. Throughout the book, Michael details their meeting, their relationship, and Kit’s disease. When Kit is diagnosed with a rare cancer, Michael jumps in full throttle as his caretaker. His story touched home for me because I took care of my mom as she died and so many of the things he talks about, I felt. But this isn’t just a sad story, (Oh but you will cry, let me tell you) it is a story about love and friendship and family and finding joy in the simple things in life. Whether it was watching Drag Race together or decorating a Christmas tree, this book is filled with so much love and joy. Things are not always peachy between the two and he doesn’t shy away from writing about it but to me, it made them even more human. This is a story for anyone who has loved someone and lost them, be it your husband, wife, partner , mother, friend. It is written with intimacy, joy and pain. I applaud you for telling your story so openly, Mr. Ausiello.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Atria Books in exchange for an honest review.

The Blackbird Season

By Kate Moretti

The Blackbird Season: A Novel by [Moretti, Kate]

4 out of 5 stars

The day a thousand dead starlings fall on a high school baseball field in Pennsylvania, a chain of events begins that changes everything for the small town. Nate Winters, the baseball coach, is caught on camera, in an embrace with student Lucia at a local motel. When she disappears, he becomes the prime suspect. His wife Alicia doubts him and she is so wrapped up in her autistic son that she really can’t see past anything else. Lucia had a horrible family life and was called a witch by a lot of the kids in school but why would she suddenly leave and why not clear Nate’s name? The only person who seems to believe Nate is Bridget, a fellow teacher and good friend who has her own issues with Lucia. She just might find the answers in Lucia’s journal. Can she find out in time to change the course of what’s going to happen?

This book will definitely draw you in from the get-go. How many stories start with birds, tons of birds, dropping from the sky? Is there some kind of magical voodoo going on? You will have to read and find out. These characters are not the most likable. They all have their tics and secrets and sometimes I wanted to shake a few of them but that is what keeps you reading. How easy would it be for them to be black or white instead of shades of grey? Bridget was my favorite, I will say that. Nate, probably my least favorite because he was so hard to read. Another character summed him up nicely when she said he wanted to be liked by everyone. He did walk a fine line between appropriate behavior with a student and not appropriate behavior. It is a good suspenseful story with a thoughtful look at morals .  The ending was really good, fit perfectly.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Atria Books in exchange for an honest review.

 

Something Like Happy

By Eva Woods

Something Like Happy: A Novel by [Woods, Eva]

4 out of 5 stars

After Annie suffers from the most terrible loss imaginable, her life becomes one long day after another. She exists but doesn’t live. When her mother begins the descent into dementia, she finds her days spent at the hospital. What she doesn’t expect to find is Polly. Polly , with her colorful clothes and dynamic personality, swoops into Annie’s life like a gale wind force. Polly is at the hospital because she has a brain tumor and not much time left on earth but she wants to live that time to the fullest. Annie becomes a project of sorts for Polly. She wants to bring Annie back to life. What they both don’t know is just how much they will change each other’s lives.

There is something just so beautifully sad or sadly beautiful about this story. We all know Polly is going to die and I cried some good tears, let me tell you, but it’s the living that makes your heart soar. The cast of characters are all in need of something and watching them find it is truly wonderful. My heart hurt for Annie but watching as she came out of her shell was the best part of the book. I loved Polly and her devil-may-care attitude, she was fun, but Annie was really the heart of the book. One hundred days of their mission will be one hundred days that you will devour.  It’s got everything; love, friendship, laughter, tears and even the northern lights.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.

Close Enough To Touch

By Colleen Oakley

Close Enough to Touch: A Novel by [Oakley, Colleen]

4 out of 5 stars

Can you imagine being in a world where you can have no physical contact with any other human being? This is the world Jubilee Jenkins lives in. She is allergic to any human contact. A mere kiss from a boy in school, sent her almost to her death. But that’s not the only thing that is missing in her life, her mother left her when she was young to live alone in their family home. Jubilee has pretty much been a hermit for most of her life. When she gets word that her mother has died and her stepfather will not be sending her any money, the house will be hers free and clear, she has to venture out into the real world. She has become agoraphobic. She hasn’t had any contact even verbally with anyone. She stumbles across her old school nemesis who gets her a job at the library. It is a whole new world for Jubilee.

We also have Eric, who has moved to town for six months with this adopted son Aja. Aja has so many issues since the loss of his parents and Eric is still dealing with his teenage daughter Ellie and how she doesn’t want anything to do with him.

When these three people stumble across each other, their lives will change in ways that none of them could imagine.

This book will definitely tug at your heartstrings. My heart broke for the kind of life that Jubilee lead for all those years. She really had no life at all. I love how Ms. Oakley wrote her with such care and made her so multi-dimensional, not just some scared woman. She was fully thought out.  She could break your heart and in the next turn, make you laugh.  I had a few problems with Eric. He seemed pretty stuck in his own world and not open to listening for quite a while. He did grow on me after a bit. And Aja, poor sweet Aja. You just knew that he was hiding something that was making him do what he was doing. This is one of those books that you will remember for a while and that ending!

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review.

Good Me Bad Me

By Ali Land

Good Me Bad Me: A Novel by [Land, Ali]

4 out of 5 stars

Milly’s mother has been arrested and charged with killing children. Their home was a torture chamber and Milly knew what was going on. Milly turned her mother in with the last child’s murder. Now, her mother is on trial and Milly must testify. She has been placed in a foster home and her foster father Mike is working with her to remember her past and to confront her mother. His wife Saskia is in her own little world, highly medicated most of the time. Phoebe, there daughter, is the queen witch of their home and of Milly’s new school. She will not make life easy for Milly. The one thing they all have in common are the secrets they carry. Oh yes. There are secrets. Milly probably has the most damaging secret of all. What happens with nature vs. nurture? Can the apple fall very far from the tree?

This book is chilling. There is definitely a sense of doom that hangs over every page. You know something bad is going to happen. You can feel it in every chapter. But what will that be? It was very hard to read at times because of the subject matter of killing children but it doesn’t overpower the whole book and it is written so well. You will close the book thinking that there really are some screwed up people in this world. If you like twisted and disturbed, this is for you.

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads and the review is humbly my own opinion.

 

Lies She Told

By Cate Holahan

 

Lies She Told: A Novel by [Holahan, Cate]

3.5 out of 5 stars

Liza writes romantic suspense murder novels and though her first novel sold very well, she hasn’t had a big one again. She is writing about an affair and a murder that comes from that affair. The chapters of this book go between Liza’s life and writing to Beth’s life, the main character in her story,  whose husband is having an affair. The lines begin to blur between her novel and her own life when there is a murder and things are way too similar.

I loved the concept of the story line. Liza struggles with trying to work out the points of her story but you can tell there is something more going on in her brain. Beth had fertility struggles and has a baby. Liza has been struggling with her own fertility problems. Her husband is obsessed with his missing partner. Beth’s husband has an affair with a cop he is working with. They all go hand in hand. There were a few times that I was more interested in the fictional story line than Liza’s own story and it dragged a bit. But this was a quick, easy read with a very interesting outcome. I would definitely read more books by Ms. Holahan.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sourdough

By Robin Sloan

Sourdough: A Novel by [Sloan, Robin]

4 out of 5 stars

Lois is an software engineer at a robotics firm in San Francisco. She goes to work everyday. She has the “Slurry” like her co-workers. (Slurry is some kind of liquid food.)  She goes home at night to her little apartment. It is all the same routine until a flyer appears at her door one night. It advertises spicy soup and bread. That’s it. Lois calls and with that call, her life changes. There is something about that soup and bread that seems to light a spark in her. When the brothers, who were just cooking out of their apartment, move away, they leave her the magical sourdough starter and this changes her life forever.

I don’t know how to explain this book. It has a lot going on. From the the magic of the starter to the joy of baking, the bread and starter have a life of their very own. I loved how Lois changed throughout the story. Her analytical mind took her beyond baking to the science of the oven or the way music made the starter bloom. I also loved that this was set in the bay area because that is where I am from and it highlighted it beautifully. I loved when I knew exactly where they were talking about. It is written with such perfect detail and I swear sometimes I could actually smell that starter bubbling with it’s hint of banana or the bread baking and popping out warm from the oven. I also loved the different chapters between Lois and Beo, one of the brothers. We were able to see how everything is really connected and the history of the starter.  It is a great story of self discovery. Now if you will excuse me, I think I need some bread and butter.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux in exchange for an honest review.