2017 Book #52 – No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan

519Jdw7vpALTitle: No Turning Back
Author: Tracy Buchanan
Date finished: 6/12/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
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:

Anna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.
But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.
Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life? Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book tells the story of Anna Graves, a mother who is confronted with a mother’s worst fear, a threat to the life of her child. Acting on instinct, she defends the lives of herself and her child, but unfortunately takes another life in the process. While at first people are supportive of her actions in protection of her daughter, as people dig more and more into the story they start to question whether or not they could really take someone’s life. And as every little secret in Anna’s closet is exposed, her actions are questioned as to whether they were really the product of instinctual protection or revenge. Then Anna starts receiving emails from the Ophelia Killer, a serial killer who hasn’t surface in the area in 20 years. She wonders why she’s being targeted by this madman, and the police don’t take the emails seriously, thinking instead that Anna’s behind it all. And so her only hope is to solve the mystery with the help of Jamie, the brother of the boys she murdered, and not only clear her name but hopefully stop the threat on her life.
Overall I really liked this book. It got a little repetitive, with how ostracized Anna became and how much everyone hated her. It got almost to the point where it was just so frustrating to hear about how badly Anna was still being treated. Other than that though, the plot line was pretty good. The whole book the author is leading you in one direction and making you think you know who the real killer is, but its not anyone you would have ever guessed. I thought I knew for who it was and I was wrong. This was a make you look over your shoulder kind of creepy read, which sounds bad but really was great. I was finishing it late last night and I had trouble going to sleep afterwards. I would definitely recommend this one, I think it will be a great summer read!

The bottom line: I really liked this book, it was creepy and thrilling for sure. I think this is a great summer read.

Link to author website

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

2016 Book #27 – Good on Paper by Rachel Cantor

51yNVF+3b+LTitle: Good on Paper
Author: Rachel Cantor
Date finished: 3/30/16
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Melville House
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Pages in book: 295
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: I won it! On Reading with Robin’s Facebook page

Blurb from the cover:

Is a new life possible? Because Shira Greene’s life hasn’t quite turned out as planned. She’s a single mom living with her daughter and her gay friend, Ahmad. Her PhD on Dante’s Vita Nuova hasn’t gotten her a job, and her career as a translator hasn’t exactly taken off either.
But then she gets a call from a Nobel Prize-winning Italian poet who insists she’s the only one who can translate his newest book.
Stunned, Shira realizes that—just like that— her life can change. She sees a new beginning beckoning: academic glory, demand for her translations, and even love (her good luck has made her feel more open to the entreaties of a neighborhood indie bookstore owner).
There’s only one problem: It all hinges on the translation, and as Shira starts working on the exquisitely intricate passages of the poet’s book, she realizes that it may in fact be, well … impossible to translate.
A deft, funny, and big-hearted novel about second chances, Good on Paper is a grand novel of family, friendship, and possibility.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I won this book on the Reading with Robin Facebook page in a contest. This book is actually going to be discussed with the author on her Facebook page tonight at 8pm so be sure to check that out if you’ve read the book! And here is a listing of future books selected for the page’s book club in case you’re interested in participating in any of those. Anyways, so this book tells the story of Shira Greene, who lives in Manhattan with her daughter, Andrea (Andi), and her best friend Ahmad, who has been helping Shira raise Andi since birth. Shira is offered the chance to translate for Nobel Prize-winning Romei, much to her surprise. She accepts even though this action alone forces her out of the comfort zone in which she’s been living for years, never really having to strive to any potential heights or success.
After she gets engrossed in the story though, she begins to realize things she didn’t know about herself, her daughter and her odd little family she’s formed. And Romei isn’t exactly what she expects. Many pieces of his work are hitting a little too close to home, reminding her of things that she’s written in the past herself. To help her figure out what Romei’s all about, she enlists the help of Benny, a bookstore owner/Rabbi across the street. In the end though, this work of Romei’s ends up being more for Shira than she realizes.
Overall I honestly loved this book. The author did an amazing job of crafting the words just so, it felt almost like I was reading a 300 page poem because it was crafted so wonderfully. While I really enjoyed the book, I do have to admit that I had some trouble connecting with Shira’s character. She basically drops out of grad school in her late twenties (I think I’m remembering the age correctly) over a guy and lets her life basically fall apart after she finds out that he hasn’t been honest with her. That to me was completely baffling. There were a couple other things that didn’t sit right with me about Shira’s character but it definitely did not detract from my enjoyment of the story. Just the opposite, Shira was one of my favorite (and least I guess) parts of the book. The way she discussed literature was profound and moving and being able to insert myself in those conversations throughout the book was one of the most interesting aspects of the story. Overall this book had a sweet ending but what really captured me about this book was the character’s flaws and also the intense psycho-analytical discussions on literature. This was a great read for anyone who loves reading!

The bottom line: This book was just wonderfully well done. It was magical to read, the author honestly did an amazing job of stringing words together to make the text almost lyrical. I loved the in depth discussions included in the conversations between characters. Really just a lovely book to read, I would most definitely recommend.

Link to author website

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

2015 Book #124 – The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBan

51ZVq3pdcrLTitle: The Restaurant Critic’s Wife
Author: Elizabeth LaBan
Date finished: 12/27/15
Genre: Women’s fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
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:

Lila Soto has a master’s degree that’s gathering dust, a work-obsessed husband, two kids, and lots of questions about how exactly she ended up here.
In their new city of Philadelphia, Lila’s husband, Sam, takes his job as a restaurant critic a little too seriously. To protect his professional credibility, he’s determined to remain anonymous. Soon his preoccupation with anonymity takes over their lives as he tries to limit the family’s contact with anyone who might have ties to the foodie world. Meanwhile, Lila craves adult conversation and some relief from the constraints of her homemaker role. With her patience wearing thin, she begins to question everything: her decision to get pregnant again, her break from her career, her marriage—even if leaving her ex-boyfriend was the right thing to do. As Sam becomes more and more fixated on keeping his identity secret, Lila begins to wonder if her own identity has completely disappeared—and what it will take to get it back.

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. This book will count towards my “Holiday 2015 Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “Free Space” square. This book tells the story of Lila Soto, who recently moved with her husband and young daughter to Philadelphia where Lila’s husband, Sam, has a job as a restaurant critic of a local newspaper. Sam had been temporarily writing as the restaurant critic in New Orleans and was able to find a permanent position in Philadelphia. He is so paranoid about keeping his identity a secret though that he doesn’t want Lila to make any friends or have a job or pretty much be seen in public at all. And when he thinks the restaurant owners start recognizing him, he begins to wear disguises when he’s going out. And while Sam is dealing with all of his paranoia issues, Lila has a new baby boy and is struggling with how to care for two young children.
So this book follows Lila’s story over the course of just about a year. During that time she has many ups and downs. Lila had been a very career-driven and successful woman before her move to Philadelphia, after which she and Sam decided that she would stay home with the kids for a while so that Sam could focus on his job. Lila ends up having more trouble with this than she thought she would though, and misses being in the work force.
Overall I liked this book. To be honest I had a lot of issues with Sam’s character. He was so unbelievably frustrating because he was constantly telling Lila that she couldn’t have any friends that are in any way involved in the restaurant industry. And she can’t work. And she has to take care of two small children with basically no help because even the babysitter will figure out who he is. About halfway through the book I just wanted to scream because Lila says repeatedly that she wants to go back to work and Sam just kept saying that they would talk about when the right time might be for that to happen but it wasn’t now and she couldn’t be interviewed at all for any reason and she couldn’t do FREAKING ANYTHING!!!! What does he want her to do just hide in the house for the next 30 years? He didn’t even want her to make friends with her neighbors. I wanted to punch him in the face, he kept talking about how she was making it impossible for him to do his job but why is his job the only one that is important? Why is his job more important than hers? Anyways, other than that one sticking point for me this was a good book. I think that mothers especially will connect with Lila’s character as most will probably identify with the struggle LaBan describes in many scenes where Lila is alone taking care of her two small children. Good book and I would recommend giving it a try!

The bottom line: I would recommend this book, it was a good story and kept me interested. I had some trouble with the husband’s character but not everyone may have my same issues. I would recommend giving it a try!

Link to author website

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

2015 Book #89 – We Never Asked For Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

51ETKpUBQzL

Title: We Never Asked For Wings
Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Date finished: 8/22/15
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 18, 2015
Pages in book: 320
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 beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers comes her much-anticipated new novel about young love, hard choices, and hope against all odds.
For fourteen years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children—Alex, now fifteen, and Luna, six—in their tiny apartment on a forgotten spit of wetlands near the bay. But now Letty’s parents are returning to Mexico, and Letty must step up and become a mother for the first time in her life.
Navigating this new terrain is challenging for Letty, especially as Luna desperately misses her grandparents and Alex, who is falling in love with a classmate, is unwilling to give his mother a chance. Letty comes up with a plan to help the family escape the dangerous neighborhood and heartbreaking injustice that have marked their lives, but one wrong move could jeopardize everything she’s worked for and her family’s fragile hopes for the future.
Vanessa Diffenbaugh blends gorgeous prose with compelling themes of motherhood, undocumented immigration, and the American Dream in a powerful and prescient story about family.

My rating: 3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for ARC August reading challenge, it is #10 on list from my sign up post. I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I have seen this book a lot in the last month or two as a must read book for summer so when I saw it was available on NetGalley I thought I would try reading it. This is the story of Letty Espinosa and her two children, Alex and Luna. Letty’s mother has raised Alex and Luna since they were babies while Letty works three jobs. But when Letty’s parents suddenly move back to Mexico, Letty is forced to face motherhood in a way that she has never had to before.
I liked this book. It had an interesting story line and was different from anything I’ve read before. There are some political commentary undercurrents about immigration towards the end but mostly I think this book is about Letty’s character growing and discovering what it means to be a mother. I didn’t end up loving this book because I had trouble forming a deep connection with the characters. It was great to see the characters evolve through the story, especially Letty, but at the same time I couldn’t form a personal connection with the story. When Letty got Alex drunk I honestly couldn’t read the book anymore that day I was so disturbed. I loved how supportive Rick’s character was though, he was like a constant pillar of strength. And Luna is just a little cutie. I couldn’t understand how Letty’s parents could leave them so suddenly but its probably better that they did, it forced Letty to stand on her own two feet. While there were pieces of this story I didn’t love, I liked the book overall.

The bottom line: I thought this story had a sweet ending even if I did get a bit freaked out along the way. It was interesting to see the characters grow through the story. I would recommend!

Link to author website

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