Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

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Thoughts on Before the Fall

June 17, 2016 Book Review, reviews 7

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.

Thoughts on Before the FallBefore the Fall by Noah Hawley
Published by Grand Central Publishing on May 31st 2016
Genres: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 400
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonIndieBound
Goodreads
four-stars

 

Before the Fall has been packaged as the summer blockbuster and I can certainly see why. A private plane slips off the radar only 16 minutes into its flight between Martha’s Vineyard and New York. Eleven people are on board but only two survive: a painter, Scott Burroughs and JJ, the 4 year old son of David Bateman, creator of the number one 24-hour news station {pretty much patterned after Fox News}.

The story begins with the crash along with Scott’s miraculous survival and rescue of JJ. Told in alternate chapters we get a behind the scenes look at the lives of those who were on board the fatal crash. We also get to see the aftermath with the news media and various government agencies involved in the investigation. It’s both fascinating and terrifying. What the news media {especially David Bateman’s own company} does to Scott and anyone surrounding him is a testament to culture today. Even how the various government entities choose to handle the investigation is scary – most are compassionate and matter-of-fact but the few that are not….woe to those in the warpath.

This author is brilliant in portraying ‘real’ people. His characters are so involved and believable. The characters’  actions leading up to the plane crash go far beyond stereotypes. Part of the joy in reading Before the Fall was for that very reason – Noah Hawley created totally believable characters with a back story, emotional depth and unique traits.

There are two issues I had with the book that kept me from giving it a solid 5 stars. The first being when we are seeing Rachel’s ‘before the crash’ chapter. Rachel is the 10 year old daughter of David Bateman and Maggie. Precocious, brilliant and a sweetheart, but her chapter drifted more into her mom’s thoughts rather than Rachel’s. Perhaps I misread the chapter, but it just didn’t quite sit well with me.

The other issue was in the last few pages. Survivor Scott is giving an interview and some of the things he says doesn’t make sense to me. It’s impossible to be more specific without going into spoilers.

[Tweet “Believable characters + a look at society’s obsession with news makes this the summer book to read”]

After reading Before the Fall and seeing what a brilliant storyteller Noah Hawley is, I plan to read the rest of his previous novels. And maybe even turn the television on to watch some Fargo! Read it. Before the Fall is so worth the hype!

Before the Fall is a She Reads Summer Selection. To see what other members are saying visit She Reads here.

Many thanks to She Reads and Grand Central Publishing for providing a free copy to review. All opinions are my own.

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four-stars

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Book Review: Mercy Snow

January 29, 2015 Book Review, reviews 3

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.

Book Review: Mercy SnowMercy Snow by Tiffany Baker
Published by Grand Central Publishing on January 27th, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Magical Realism
Pages: 368
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

 

Set in rural New Hampshire along the Androscoggin River, Mercy Snow is at turns a portrait of a prejudicial society and a testament to how one person can redeem a town.

The Snows have quite the reputation in this logging town that goes back several generations.  The McAllisters also have a reputation, as the owners of the mill and the town.  When a youth group bus crashes into the river a chain of events are set off that causes the town to implode.

At times my heart was breaking for the Snow family, Mercy, age 19, Hannah, the 8-year-old “wild baby sister,” and Zeke, the older brother intent on saving his sisters.  In a town where work was scarce and opinions rampant, being considered “backwoods,” was not a good thing.  Living off the land, illiterate, and poorer than church mice, the Snows were not welcomed in the paper mill town of Titan Falls.

After the bus rolls off of Devil’s Slide Road due to a maniac trying to pass on the ice, Zeke is accused and must disappear deeper into the woods.  This leaves Mercy with the bulk of responsibility caring for Hannah through a scarce winter.

While not stated, it seemed to me that the book was set in the early 80’s soon after the Clean Water Act was enacted.  It was interesting {and sad} to read how protecting the water source affected so many livelihoods.

There’s a touch of magic or what mountain folk call ‘the gift’  in Mercy Snow. Mercy comes from a long line of female healers ~ those who know which herbs and touch to use for all kinds of ailments.  Living in the Appalachian Mountains I can attest to that belief still going on strong.

My fave quote:

You know, there’s a difference between healing and saving.  Only one of them is God’s work.

My one fault with the book is that not everyone got his or her due.  Which doesn’t happen in the real world either, but I really really really wanted a couple of people to suffer for the evilness caused.

Truly a spiritual Southern gothic tale set in the mountains of New Hampshire, Mercy Snow is both rich in atmosphere and character.  Highly recommended to readers of Sarah Addison Allen, Angela Hunt and Beth Hoffman.

[Tweet “Lyrical spiritual southern gothic tale set in New Hampshire “]

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I’m honored to be a member of the She Reads Blog Network. Five lucky winners will receive the set of She Reads Books of Winter of which includes Mercy Snow. ENTER HERE by January 30th, 2015 {that’s tomorrow folks!}  The complete set includes The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag, The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister, Mercy Snow by Tiffany Baker, and The Good Girl by Mary Kubica.

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A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson

April 12, 2012 Book Review, reviews 13

A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty by Joshilyn JacksonA Grown Up Kind Of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
Published by Grand Central Publishing on January 25, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Southern
Pages: 322
Format: Audiobook
Source: purchased
Goodreads

Joshilyn Jackson hit the ball out of the freakin park with A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty!  Told in alternating voices of Big (Genny Slocum); her daughter, (Little) Liza Slocum; and the granddaughter, Mosey Willow Jane Grace Slocum.  If you have ever lived in the South, or know a true Southerner, then you will have heard many a time the southerner calling a loved-one’s full given name, especially if that loved one is in a heap of trouble!  I was laughing so hard and in a flash crying as well, at the descriptive antics of all involved, and knowing full well that in a small southern town, finding tiny bones in your backyard can never be a discreet, quiet event.

Big has decided to put in a pool to help her daughter, Liza, with the rehabilitation from a stroke four months prior.  In order to put the pool in, Liza’s beloved willow tree must go.  Mosey knows that no matter how gone her mother’s brain may be, removing the willow tree may very well destroy Liza…so on the day the tree is set to be cut down, Mosey hides with her best friend Roger (Raymond) in the backyard tree house.  From the moment the tree is cut down and the stump yanked out, life becomes a plethora of secrets revealed and kept and lives forever changed.

I listened to the audio version narrated by Ms. Jackson, herself, and her background in theater was incredibly apparent.  From Mosey’s higher-pitched teenage voice to Liza’s guttural noises as a result of the stroke and finally to Big’s no-nonsense, go-getter tones, the individuality of each character shone through…..Not to mention all of the side characters who each had their own voice!  That Ms. Jackson narrated A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty made the book that much more divine – she knew where the inflections should be, the pauses, how the vowel-like noises from Liza should actually sound and oh my, how she made these characters come alive ~ both through her writing and with her narration.

Ms. Jackson has a talent for exposing the underbelly of the fringes of society, then carefully stitching the pieces all back together with such a fine, yet strong, thread that you know if these characters can survive this (whatever this may happen to be) then they can survive anything.

For lovers of great southern literature, mother’s and daughters, family devotion and anyone who enjoys a romping good (read) audio!

In a Word: Delicious!

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