A Spark of Light

By Jodi Picoult

A Spark of Light: A Novel by [Picoult, Jodi]

5 out of 5 stars

I think so many of us are Jodi Picoult fans. She can weave a story that makes you look at every side of the issue with a better understanding. This has to be my very favorite Jodi Picoult book.

The story revolves around a shooting/hostage situation in a women’s health clinic. It begins at the end and takes us back through the eventful day. It also gives us a look into the lives of the women and men there and why they came to be there on this fateful day. I loved how we saw that they were intertwined in many ways even before this happens.

This is also a book about decisions. What makes us decide to do what we do and the aftermath of our decisions. No one can really tell you what is right for you and as these characters learn, there is more than one side to every story.

It is about abortion. It is about both sides of the argument. It is about choice, religion, family, society, penance, punishment. It will tear at your heart. I felt as if I was crying through most of it with this heaviness weighing on my heart. It did not change my mind about how I feel about abortion but it did make me think about how others feel too. It will make you think and think and think. It will make you feel and feel and feel.

A line that stuck with me and is so fitting for the climate of the country today:

“Laws are black and white. The lives of women are a thousand shades of gray.”

Think about that.

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

 

The Exes’ Revenge

By Jo Jakeman

 

The Exes' Revenge by [Jakeman, Jo]

4 out of 5 stars

Our story begins at a funeral and ends with a funeral. It is the funeral of Imogen’s soon-to-be ex-husband. In front of Imogen sits his latest girlfriend Naomi and behind her, his first wife Ruby. These three women are as different as night and day but they all have something in common, the abusive Phillip. What starts as a disagreement between Imogen and Phillip over their house, ends up with someone locked in a basement converted room and lots of violence.

The book takes us back before the funeral and what leads up to his death.  But in between, there is a ton of action. I definitely could see this being a movie. I have no idea who I would cast but it would be quite the film.

I loved watching Imogen come into her own after years of mental and physical abuse from Phillip. I also loved that the spunky Naomi was not having any of it period. Ruby, on the other hand, seemed to be in a la la land but you have to know that the truth can slap you in the face.

This is definitely a page turner that you will read very quickly. Just desserts are the most delicious.

Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing for this review copy.

Where the Crawdads Sing

By Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing by [Owens, Delia]

5 out of 5 stars

This is Reese Witherspoon’s book of September and I see exactly why she chose it. It leaves you feeling a lot of different emotions. It also keeps you turning page after page to see what happens with Kya, the Marsh Girl.

Kya lives in a rundown shack off the coast of North Carolina. Her family is what they call trash. Her mother leaves one day and then all her siblings, leaving her alone with her drunken father. He too leaves at one point. This poor little girl,  just a child, is left feeling that rejection is a part of life. Her loneliness is palpable.  The steeling of her heart is understandable. It was heartbreaking to read. Kya is one with all the water creatures, birds, and plants of the marsh. They become everything to her. The story tells us of her growing up into womanhood, without much help from anyone else. There is Tate, a boy with more ties to her than she really knows. He is such a good man but he does have his faults. There is also Jumpin and Mabel. In a segregated town, Kya finds a family in them, They are two wonderful characters.

A member of the town is murdered, someone with close ties to Kya and the murder trial and her confinement are a big part of the storyline. Everyone blames those who are different, don’t they?

This book had me in knots at times. I just wanted to hug this poor little girl and tell her that she was worth it. As she got older, she reminded me of Debbie Reynolds in Tammy. Maybe she didn’t have the right way of talking but she had some spunk. Watching as she grew into a woman who accomplished a lot, was the purest joy of this book. And I felt some incredible justice with the ending, even if that’s wrong.

The description of the marsh and the surrounding area, made me feel as if I was there. I am going to look up the birds that are mentioned as soon as I finish this review.

This is truly a story of survival and the human spirit. You will fall in love with Kya.

Thanks to Netgalley and G.R. Putnam’s Sons for this wonderful review copy.

 

The Sound of Gravel

By Ruth Wariner

 

The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir by [Wariner, Ruth]

4 out of 5 stars

I am fascinated by polygamy. I have read many books about it and by people who have escaped it. This is really a terrific book on the subject.

Ruth was raised in Mexico in a group that was founded by her prophet father. He died when she was a baby. Her mother remarried another man from the family named Lane. He was not a good guy, to put it simply. Her family lived pretty much in poverty. They would cross the border to collect food stamps for her family. Her mother having to pretend she did not know who the father was of her children. Their education was pretty lax. They spent a few years in some other cities , even living with her grandparents when her mother left Lane for a while. I was so happy for them during that period and then Lane shows up again.  But there was also some sexual abuse by Lane on Ruth and other kids in the compound. Her mother espoused forgiveness. This I had a hard time with. I am not sure if her mother’s tears were for what happened to Ruth or her fear of not having her husband anymore.  Or were they because she believed so deeply in her faith? That left me very emotional.

The writing is wonderful. I honestly felt like I could taste the dust of the desert and smell the mice droppings that littered their home in Mexico. You could feel the cold in your bones as the wind blew through the thin walls.

For so much sadness, Ms. Wariner seems to have come out stronger and a lot more forgiving than I might be. If you are as absorbed in polygamy as I am, you definitely must pick up this book. If you are looking for a good memoir, you definitely must pick up this book.

Rust & Stardust

By T. Greenwood

Rust & Stardust: A Novel by [Greenwood, T.]

4 out of 5 stars

I must have been too young to remember the story of the kidnapping of Sally Horner. This book follows the two years that Sally spends with her kidnapper Frank LaSalle. It is told in the voices of Sally, her mother Ella, her sister Susan and at the end, in the voices of a few people who knew something was up and tried to do something about it. Nabokov supposedly wrote Lolita with this case in mind. It is harrowing. It is tough to read. It is very sad but it is also a homage to the human spirit. Sally is a sweet, innocent child in the beginning but she sees way more than any child ever should. Her mother is dealing with much more than her disappearance, she blames herself. Her sister just wants her back.

T. Greenwood does a beautiful job and writing what these people would be feeling. I felt every single individual’s emotions. It is such a heartbreaking story. I cried through quite a lot of it. Being a mom, I cannot imagine this happening to a child. Frank LaSalle is written with no sympathy, as he should. He was a despicable man who preyed on little girls. Don’t come to this book thinking that you will read it and go about your merry way. It will stay with you for a long time. It will haunt you.

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

Not Her Daughter

By Rea Frey

Not Her Daughter: A Novel by [Frey, Rea]

4 out of 5 stars

St. Martin’s Press knows exactly what books I will love to read. They really have not let me down.

Being a mom, I gravitate to books where there are mothers and children. This book tells a story of  motherhood , the good, the bad, and the ugly. When Sarah spots a sweet little girl being mistreated by her mother in the airport, she never thinks she will see her again. When she does, she become obsessed with knowing about her. As she watches, she sees Emma’s mother being very abusive to her. It brings flashbacks of Sarah’s own childhood. She acts on it and takes Emma one night when her mother has locked her out of the house. She knows she shouldn’t but everything in her wants this little girl to have a good life. As we follow Sarah’s train of thought, we also follow Amy’s. Amy is Emma’s mom and you know, some people just should not be mothers. She wonders what her life will be without her daughter. (and her son and husband) She is one of the unhappiest characters I have read in a while. It jumps off the page.

I loved getting the insight into both of these women. They were on such an opposite side of the spectrum and they were both written perfectly. The whole situation is so completed and you might be conflicted with the actions that are taken, and then again, there were times I was rooting for the actions taken. This will really make you think and wonder what you would do. I found myself getting very nervous as time ticked away, that is how good the writing is, you will feel as if you are there in that cabin with Sarah and Emma. And if you are like me, you will hope that everything works the way it should. And if you are like me, you will probably tear up at the end.

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

Are You Sleeping

By Kathleen Barber

Are You Sleeping: A Novel by [Barber, Kathleen]

4 out of 5 stars

When I saw that this was going to be a television show, I knew I had better get to reading before it came out. It is very topical in this age of podcasts and Netflix shows that go over older criminal cases. Is it sensationalism or is it really news?

Josie has tried to forget her past and move on but can you ever really do that? Especially when your past is about the murder of your father. Polly Parnell’s podcast about convicted murderer Warren Cave has brought everything into the limelight again. Did Josie’s twin sister Lanie tell the truth?

This is about so much more than just the murder case. It is about the feelings of abandonment and the feelings of sadness at not being able to help the ones you truly love. You will want to slap Polly Parnell quite a few times. Though I do feel as if a lot of these shows do really want to get at the truth for truth’s sake, I did not get that feeling at all with Polly. Polly was out for Polly. I cringed a few times when she would turn up at the wrong time. I also felt a lot for Josie. I could understand her need to move on but I also could understand the need to reconnect, even when she thought she didn’t want to. I loved her relationship with Caleb. I always enjoy a sympathetic partner and not a jerk.

I look forward to seeing how the show turns out. I hope it does justice to this wonderful writing.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book.