2021 Book #21 – The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

Title: The Night Olivia Fell
Author: Christina McDonald
Date finished: 3/18/21
Genre: Supsense, mystery
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Pages in book: 313
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Do No Harm and Behind Every Lie comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heart-wrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had requested this book awhile ago (over two years ago at this point) because it sounded interested but I didn’t get the chance to read it until now. I thought this was a pretty good book, it kept me guessing throughout which is kind of the point! I just felt so bad through the whole book for Olivia and Abi – it was heartbreaking reading their story and knowing that Olivia would never wake up. It was a solid mystery though, and had a good cast of suspects. I kept flip flopping on who I thought the killer was. I really liked that the story was told through alternating points of view between Olivia leading up to the event and Abi after the event. This version of storytelling for this specific plot was perfect and created more tension while also giving important pieces of the plot to the reader. I thought this book was also a great portrayal of a mother’s love in different forms. Abi’s love from her mother and older sister, her love for Olivia, and Olivia’s brief experience also (**spoiler I think?**) – all of these came together to give an overwhelming depiction of a mother’s love for her child. Overall I enjoyed the book and I’d recommend it.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #48 – The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert

51dDfp8SvQL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go
Author: Amy E. Reichert
Date finished: 6/19/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Three generations. Seven days. One big secret. The author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cakeunfolds a mother-daughter story told by three women whose time to reckon with a life-altering secret is running out.

Gina Zoberski wants to make it through one day without her fastidious mother, Lorraine, cataloguing all her faults, and her sullen teenage daughter, May, snubbing her. Too bad there’s no chance of that. Her relentlessly sunny disposition annoys them both, no matter how hard she tries. Instead, Gina finds order and comfort in obsessive list-making and her work at Grilled G’s, the gourmet grilled cheese food truck built by her late husband.

But when Lorraine suffers a sudden stroke, Gina stumbles upon a family secret Lorraine’s kept hidden for forty years. In the face of her mother’s failing health and her daughter’s rebellion, this optimist might find that piecing together the truth is the push she needs to let go…

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had read Simplicity of Cider by this author last year and I just loved it. And while this book wasn’t quite as much of a home run as that book was, I did still really enjoy it. This author has a way of really reaching in and grasping around your heart and squeezing. And while this book did have somewhat of a happy ending, I would classify it more as bittersweet than anything. There was such sadness in this novel and such struggle in each of the characters’ lives. I especially didn’t like the conflict between Gina and her daughter, May. While it was probably pretty accurate for human emotions that result from the situation they were going through, it was still so unbearably sad to see how May was continually lashing out at her already grief-stricken mother. I especially liked the descriptions of the different grilled cheese and brownie variations that Gina and May would come up with, they all sounded so good! This book, while sad, was still really good and I would recommend it.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #72 – Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

51pkE2hbOuL._SY346_Title: Emma in the Night
Author: Wendy Walker
Date finished: 8/29/17
Genre: Fiction, thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Pages in book: 298
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.

Bestselling author Wendy Walker returns with another winning thriller, Emma in the Night.

My rating:  5.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Cass Tanner, the daughter of a classic narcissist who disappeared three years ago along with her sister Emma. Cass suddenly appears after the three years on her mother’s doorstep, with claims that Emma is being held against her will and that they need to go save her. Spending most of the next few days with the police telling them every detail she can remember in the hopes that it will help piece together where they were being held and where Emma is now. Through all this, Dr. Abby Winter, a forensic psychiatrist who is familiar with this case, notices oddities about Cass’s story that don’t quite add up.
Overall I loved this book. I didn’t want to put it down – the story was so interesting and engaging. It was perfectly in your head psychological and i could see into the mind of Cass and could understand her thought process. I loved the plot and all the plot twists and everything the story encompassed. Also funny story, I read this one while visiting my family’s house in Maine, which is off the coast near South Bristol. And funny enough when they’re trying to find the island where the girls were being held this was the exact location they were looking at. They even mention the island of Thrumcap in the book which is so cool because I could see that island from my house! Even without that added coincidence though, this was a great book with a lot to offer for a thriller and I would definitely recommend it!!

The bottom line: I loved this book, I was hooked right from the very beginning. I loved how the author unfurled this story, I didn’t want to put the book down. I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #75 – I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

51F48s-ByKLTitle: I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places
Author: Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
Date finished: 8/15/16
Genre: Non-fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Pages in book: 324
Stand alone or series: It’s similar to 6 other books they’ve published I think but its not like a connected series
Where I got the book from: The Reading Room NOTE:I received this book for free from The Reading Room in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Lisa and Francesca are back with another collection of warm and witty stories that will strike a chord with every woman. This six book series is among the best reviewed humor books published today and has been compared to the late greats, Erma Bombeck and Nora Ephron. Delia Ephron said of the fifth book in the series, Have a Nice Guilt Trip, “Lisa and Francesca, mother and daughter, bring you the laughter of their lives once again and better than ever. You will identify with these tales of guilt and fall in love with them and fierce (grand) Mother Mary.” This seventh volume will not disappoint as it hits the humorous and poignant note that fans have come to expect from the beloved mother-daughter duo.

My rating:  2.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book will count towards my ARC August 2016 Reading Challenge. Also, this book will count towards my Book Riot 2016 Read Harder reading challenge, marking off the “read a collection of essays” square since this book is made up of a number of non-fiction essays. The essays were written alternating between Lisa and Francesca. The essays were about their lives and their experiences. This is not the first book they’ve written in this style, I think that they mentioned this is around the 6th book in this similar style. While some of the stories were interesting, this isn’t something I would have normally chosen to read for myself. I’ve always had trouble with collections of poems or essays, I grow frustrated with the lack of plot/focus. There were some good points made in the book and a few topics I became engaged with, but each story was only about 2-6 pages. It was interesting to see in some cases how their stories interacted with each other but the compilation of so many short essays made it more difficult for me to stay engaged, There wasn’t really an overall “story line” which made it more difficult for me to read. And in many cases whoever was writing at the time would go off on a preamble completely unrelated to the story they were trying to present, which made it even harder to concentrate.

The bottom line: This just wasn’t really a style of book that I enjoy. I think that it would make a good beach read since it is a collection of shorter stories/essays and is therefore easy to put down and pick up again.

Link to author website: Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page