Genre: Fiction

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Who Is The 4th Man + Enter to Win Phone Consult with Lisa Gardner

November 29, 2016 Book Review, Giveaway 0

 

lisa gardner phone consult

I’ve been a fan of Lisa Gardner’s since reading The Perfect Husband so many years ago. When I found out she was offering a phone consult to kick off her new book, Right Behind You, I knew I had to share the opportunity with you! Wouldn’t it be so amazing if you were chosen to consult with an author at the top of her game! Imagine all the possible ways the conversation could go “Hi this is Lisa Gardner, so you like my books?”….

“Hi, this is Lisa Gardner, you have a concept for a possible book you want to write? Let’s talk…”

“Hi this is Lisa Gardner, you’ve written a book and want to know if it’s ready for publication…”

Ok, you can probably tell I’ve been imagining all kinds of things to talk about once I got over the absolute fandom act. If you win, you’ll have to share with me all the details – inquiring minds want to know!


the 4th manIf you’ve been around The Novel Life for any length of time, you’ll know I thoroughly enjoy the book that delves into the reasons behind the action. Give me a book that digs into the behavior that led up to the crime or the climax, and I’m quite the contented reader.

Which is why I enjoy Lisa Gardner’s books so much. She not only creates unbelievable plots, but she gets at the why.

In The 4th Man we have a college student found strangled on a stairwell in the library with only her sneakers missing. Three men become possible suspects. It takes ten years and FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his wife, former police officer, to solve the mysterious murder. There’s no motive, no sign of sexual assault and no physical evidence other than the body.

Though it is a short story, only 40 pages and therefore a quick read, The 4th Man is a great escape from politics and news. It’s the book you can enjoy while taking a long bath, waiting at the doctor office, or while in the school pickup line. A quick read with a satisfying ending only made weirder by the fact it’s based on a real case!

Are you a fan of short stories? Share your favorites in the comments.

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Questionable Women, Dirty Cops and Murder in The Kept Woman

November 18, 2016 Book Review, reviews 1

Questionable Women, Dirty Cops and Murder in The Kept WomanThe Kept Woman (Will Trent, #8) by Karin Slaughter
Published by William Morrow on September 20th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 461
Source: purchased
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

A couple of days ago I took Karin Slaughter’s latest book, The Kept Woman, outside to read for just a bit. I only planned to read for an hour or so, but three hours later I had to finally move inside because the sun was going down so fast I couldn’t see the words to read!

Karin Slaughter is brilliant when it comes to pacing and plot. The Kept Woman is #8 in her Will Trent series based in Atlanta, Georgia. Normally I prefer to read the all the books in the series, in order. But with Karin Slaughter I will make an exception! Believe it or not, I did not start reading her books until the standalone Coptown came out. This is only my third novel by Slaughter and she’s become one of those authors I will automatically buy.

Back to Will Trent ~ oh my goodness what a flawed man he is! He grew up in the foster care system, married his teenage sweetheart, Angie Polaski, who also happened to be in foster care with him. The novel begins with a gruesome murder of a cop no one liked or respected in an abandoned club being built by a basketball star who got off on a rape charge. While investigating the crime scene they figure out Angie was involved and is critically injured. Will loses it in front of his ME girlfriend and goes on a frantic search for Angie.

[Tweet “Brilliant pacing and plot in this thriller! “]

I plan to go back and read the previous seven books in this series. If those are half as good as The Kept Woman, I may come up for air in a few weeks! Learning the background of how and why Will and Angie became the people they are is sad and realistic. Their childhood is in stark contrast with that of Sara, the Medical Examiner. I’ve noticed in the three books of Slaughter’s I’ve read so far, crimes against women and children are the focus. She does a fantastic job of bringing awareness to the pitfalls of the foster care system; the hard-to-explain cycle of abuse in domestic violence situations; the flawed police who investigate crimes and finally, the resilience of some children after surviving horrific circumstances.

The Kept Woman is one of those thrillers that you can’t put down. Every page is another revelation. There are underlying plot points that surprised me even though I figured out who the killer was early on. Karin Slaughter knows Atlanta well, writing about Buckhead and downtown with equal aplomb. Highly recommended with one caveat:

Trigger warning ~ The Kept Woman addresses crimes against women and children. Please be aware before going into this book if these types of triggers are detrimental to your well-being.

If you like The Kept Woman, you may also enjoy One Kick by Chelsea Cain or The Fixer by T.E. Woods

four-half-stars

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Racism and White Privilege in Small Great Things

November 1, 2016 Book Review, reviews 12

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Racism and White Privilege in Small Great ThingsSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Published by Ballantine Books on October 11th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction
Pages: 480
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

You say you don’t see color…but that’s all you see. You’re so hyperaware of it, and of trying to look like you aren’t prejudiced, you can’t even understand that when you say race doesn’t matter all I hear is you dismissing what I’ve felt, what I’ve lived, what it’s like to be put down because of the color of my skin.

Jodi Picoult never fails to deliver a novel that makes us think, makes us consider what we would do, how we would respond. It’s my favorite kind of book: the one that teaches me about myself and my community.

Small Great Things is the story of Ruth Jefferson, a labor and delivery nurse for twenty years. She’s been a stellar employee and nurse and raised an honor student alone after her husband died serving in Afghanistan. By all appearances, Ruth is a model citizen and a genuinely great nurse. She is also African American.

Why does this matter?

It doesn’t. Except to Turk and Brittany, white supremacists who object to Ruth being the nurse for their newborn baby, Davis.

When circumstances arise that leave Ruth watching over Davis, the baby stops breathing, codes and ultimately dies.

I imagine you can guess what happens next.

Ruth is charged with murdering the baby as revenge.

Small Great Things is told in three alternating voices: Ruth, Turk, father of Davis and white supremacist, and Kennedy, the white public defender assigned to represent Ruth.

Each character is fully developed with a thorough back story. Reading how Turk came to be so filled with hate was a lesson in humanity. Kennedy thought she was not racist because she “didn’t see color.”. Her passion for social justice and winning Ruth’s case was a lesson in humanity. Which was more important: winning or compassionately understanding another person?

[Tweet “Compassionate novel of white privilege and racism by @jodipicoult”]

While the book is not without flaws, a few passages and actions seemed outside of reality, but, then again, isn’t that why we read? as an escape of reality?  Ambiguous endings are not a favorite for me and Picoult has been known to have a few those. Small Great Things gives us a shocking, yet also neatly wrapped ending. I think I’ve read every Jodi Picoult book, and while Leaving Time will probably always be my favorite, Small Great Things is a close second. It is relevant, a mirror for today’s society and told with depth and compassion.

 

*Many thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for the review copy.

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A Story of Hope with The Feathered Bone

September 21, 2016 Book Review, reviews 1

A Story of Hope with The Feathered BoneThe Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell
Published by Thomas Nelson on January 26th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Inspirational
Pages: 384
Source: purchased
AmazonIndieBound
Goodreads
four-half-stars

So maybe a miracle is anything that gets us through another day when life gets too hard.

The Feathered Bone begins with a class field trip to the Big Easy: New Orleans on Halloween. Two best friends, Sarah and Ellie are twelve, best friends and middle schoolers. Since their moms are best friends they’ve grown up to be almost inseparable. When Ellie’s mom, Amanda, is left to chaperone the two girls so Beth, Sarah’s mom can return to her work as a pastor’s wife, the unspeakable happens. Sarah goes to the restroom but never returns to the group. With Sarah’s disappearance, Amanda and Ellie both fight the guilt demons plaguing them. The Feathered Bone is a look at how do you have faith and hope in the face of unspeakable horror? How do you survive the guilt? and as a victim, how do you get through each day, each awful happening and still remain true to yourself and your faith?

That’s what we have to remember. Light defeats darkness. Never the other way around.

The Feathered Bone is also a story of trusting our instincts and valuing our own worth. It’s a testament to *feminism, a story of hope and the power of God to carry us through. Julie Cantrell’s books tackle the worst of mankind yet reveals the hope of mankind as well. Depression, domestic violence and trafficking are all tackled with equal voracity. Honestly, I started crying half-way through and didn’t stop until I closed the book. It’s the story of your neighbor, a friend, a relative, or even one in which you see parts of yourself.

Favorite Passage

He said that the day he tried to kill himself, he sat in front of Walmart for three hours trying to talk himself out of it. He sat right there on the bench, almost in tears, and thought, If one person smiles at me, I won’t do it. That’ll be a good enough reason to live. But in those three hours, nobody did. You know how many people go in and out of Walmart in the span of three hours? But everybody walked right past him, looking down at their phones or off in the distance, pretending he wasn’t there at all. He felt invisible. As if he were already dead. So he figured, what’s the point? And he went home and he did it. And only by the grace of God did he live to tell us that story. So from that moment on, I decided I never want to be the one who walks by and doesn’t smile. I want to be the one who makes everybody feel glad to be alive. To let them know they matter.

Final Thoughts

It’s difficult to beat Julie Cantrell’s debut novel Into the Free. I fell in love with Millie’s character and strength and the Depression-era setting. When  Mountains Move carries forward Millie’s life into adulthood. Both books are historical fiction {one of my favorite genres}. The Feathered Bone is straight from the headlines of today. I could taste the gumbo, smell the wet, swampy marsh and feel the sweltering humid heat during Hurricane Katrina. The characters ring true: Amanda’s guilt, Ellie’s depression, and Beth’s faith. Once you close the pages you’ll have been rung out, but you will know the tremendous power of faith, hope and love.

*my definition: feminism is equality for men and women rather than a continued patriarchal society 

Julie CantrellAbout the Author

Julie Cantrell has got to be one of the nicest authors around! Here she is sharing a favorite recent read for the 30Authors annual event. To learn more about this lovely lady and her books visit her website | Twitter | Facebook.  If you’re a foodie like me, definitely check out some of these recipes for gumbo and jambalaya! AND, if you saw my recent post on authors who create playlists to accompany or inspire their books and characters then you may have seen The Feathered Bone and Julie Cantrell featured there as well!

[Tweet “A story of hope and faith in times of unspeakable horror with @juliecantrell”]

four-half-stars

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Book Review: Into the Free

September 3, 2016 Book Review 5

Book Review: Into the FreeInto the Free by Julie Cantrell
Published by David C. Cook on February 1st 2012
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Inspirational
Pages: 329
Source: purchased
AmazonIndieBound
Goodreads

 

Into the Free begins with 9-year old Millie wishing for a way to escape her life, her abusive father and a mother who gets so blue she forgets to care for Millie.  The family lives in a tiny shack, former slaves quarters, which have since been remodeled into tenant housing for the farm hands. Millie’s dad, Jack, is a rodeo cowboy and helps with the horses on the farm. Millie’s mom takes in ironing and sewing when she’s not gone away to the dark place Millie calls ‘the valley.’

What is remarkable with Into the Free is the seemingly ease of interweaving hope and a realistic faith throughout the threads of the novel. Not all Christians portrayed in the book are “good” just as in real life some proclaimed Christians are bad…very bad. Had the novel been set in most recent times, Millie would have been removed from her parent’s home due to the abuse suffered at the hands of her father and the neglect of her mother. When Millie is around a regular family we can see how hard it is for an abused child to accept kindness, gentleness and love. Having worked with abused children I can attest to the absolute accuracy of Cantrell’s portrayal of Millie.

[Tweet “Beautiful coming-of-age story set in Depression-era Mississippi”]

It would have been easy for Cantrell to fall into the use of stereotypes and yet such is not the case with Into the Free. If anything, stereotypical characters are turned on their head. The gypsy is not dirty nor illiterate and the grandparents who shun Millie are supposed to be of good Christian stock. That’s not to say there’s not a few characters who happen to fall into a stereotype, but they make it so easy! For instance, the ladies who cluck about everything Millie is and does. Although the ladies did offer a little bit of comic relief, even if it was because we’ve all known those types of busy-bodies with an opinion on everything without knowing anything.

Julie Cantrell does a magnificent job of tackling diversity, child abuse, the gross hypocrisy of a few so-called Christians and the resilience of children, to not only survive a horrific childhood, but to then thrive. Believing God has forgotten about her, Millie slowly comes to realize God was with her all along, even in the deepest pits of despair.

I do two things,” she told me. “I remind myself that it’s not all about me. And I focus on the good. There’s always a way to find some good.

I can’t recommend this one highly enough. If you enjoy Joshilyn Jackson or Susan Gregg Gilmore then you’ll most likely fall in love with Julie Cantrell and her band of characters.

Just a note When Mountains Move is the follow-up to Millie’s story taking us into her adulthood. Review coming soon!

In a few words: Emotional, heart-felt coming-of-age story. Inspirational, though not overtly preachy.  Southern, yet diverse with gypsies and Indians playing vital roles. Set in a small train town during the Depression-era Mississippi. Highly Recommended.

Connect with author Julie Cantrell on website | Facebook | Twitter

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