2020 Book #30 – Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich

Title: Salvation Station
Author: Katrhyn Schleich
Date finished: 5/19/20
Genre: Fiction, mystery
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: April 14, 2020
Pages in book: 328
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Library Thing
NOTE: I received this book for free from  Library Thing 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:

Despite her years of experience investigating homicides for the force, Captain Linda Turner is haunted by the murders of the Hansen family. The two small children, clothed in tattered Disney pajamas, were buried with their father, a pastor, in the flower garden behind a church parsonage in Lincoln, Nebraska. But Mrs. Hansen is nowhere to be found—and neither is the killer.

In St. Louis, the televangelist Ray Williams is about to lose his show—until one of his regular attendees approaches him with an idea that will help him save it. Despite his initial misgivings, Ray agrees to give it a try. He can’t deny his attraction to this woman, and besides, she’d assured him the plan is just—God gave her the instructions in a dream.

Multiple story lines entwine throughout this compelling mystery, delving into the topics of murder, religious faith, and the inherent dangers in blindly accepting faith as truth. While Reverend Williams is swept up in his newfound success and plans for his wedding, Captain Turner can only hope that she and her team will catch the Hansens’ cunning killer—before more bodies surface.

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 haven’t read anything by this author before but I was intrigued by the cover on this book and by the description. I am really glad I requested it because I really enjoyed it. The plot line of this book was really interesting and I enjoyed the suspense of the story. The characters I thought could’ve been developed a tad more but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. I really liked getting Susannah’s point of view at the end of the story and I just thought that the “creepiness factor” could’ve been a little higher if we had gotten her POV more throughout the book. I overall really liked that the book featured a woman serial killer since that is seen less in media and it was a really interesting story. I liked how the author tied in all the different pieces of the story also – I didn’t see at first how Ruth & Emma’s story fit into the grand plan but by the end it was all connected and made sense. Overall I really liked this book and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2016 Book #59 – The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass

61x4fmYyKmL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Cresswell Plot
Author: Eliza Wass
Date finished: 6/5/16
Genre: Young adult
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Pages in book: 272
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:

The woods were insane in the dark, terrifying and magical at the same time. But best of all were the stars, which trumpeted their light into the misty dark.
Castella Cresswell and her five siblings-Hannan, Casper, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem- know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.
Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.
Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.

My rating:  3.0 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. Also, this book will count towards my Book Riot 2016 Read Harder reading challenge, marking off the “read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction)” since this book features a family involved in a cult-ish doomsday religion. Castella Cresswell is one of the six children in the Cresswell family. Everyone in town gives the family a wide berth since they are so odd. The patriarch of the Cresswell family has started his own weird religion that is extremely strict and foretells that their family is the only pure one left and therefore they will be the only ones to get into heaven. The more the reader learns about the family though, the more we learn that the patriarch is really just a crazy abusive dad with a short temper. Cass is a junior in high school who makes a new friend in her drama class, and when she starts learning more about who she is as a person and that she wants to have more of what is a normal life, she begins to stand up to her father. Unfortunately, circumstances are not great for the Cresswell family since the mother and father both don’t work, and the father counts on God to provide for the family. When things become bleak, the father decides that it is time for the family to take their rightful place in God’s kingdom, and yes that is as sinister as it sounds.
Overall I thought this was a good idea for a book and I liked the book. I thought that the story line could have been organized a tad bit better and the characters could have been a little better developed but the book itself was dark and thrilling and also a little sad. There was a wealth of emotions in the writing and as a reader I was looking to empathize more with the main character but I couldn’t connect with her enough to feel a lot of emotions towards her. I still think it was an interesting idea for a book though and I would recommend reading it. Although I would add a warning that if you get scared or freaked out easily this may not be something to add to your to read list.

The bottom line: I liked the idea behind this book but I thought it could have been developed a little better. It was a good story but I had trouble connecting with some of the characters. I would still definitely recommend it with a forewarning that it is a little horror-ish.

Link to author website

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

2015 Book #118 – The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Warner

818qsZ+z4ELTitle: The Sound of Gravel
Author: Ruth Wariner
Date finished: 11/23/15
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse NOTE: I received this book for free from BookBrowse 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:

RUTH WARINER was the thirty-ninth of her father’s forty-two children. Growing up on a farm in rural Mexico, where authorities turn a blind eye to the practices of her community, Ruth lives in a ramshackle house
without indoor plumbing or electricity. At church, preachers teach that God will punish the wicked by destroying the world and that women can only ascend to Heaven by entering into polygamous marriages and giving birth to as many children as possible. After Ruth’s father―the man who had been the founding prophet of the colony―is brutally murdered by his brother in a bid for church power, her mother remarries, becoming the second wife of another faithful congregant.
In need of government assistance and supplemental income, Ruth and her siblings are carted back and forth between Mexico and the United States, where Ruth’s mother collects welfare and her stepfather works a variety of odd jobs. Ruth comes to love the time she spends in the States, realizing that perhaps the community into which she was born is not the right one for her. As she begins to doubt her family’s beliefs and question her mother’s choices, she struggles to balance her fierce love for her siblings with her determination to forge a better life for herself.
Recounted from the innocent and hopeful perspective of a child, The Sound of Gravel is the remarkable memoir of one girl’s fight for peace and love. This is an intimate, gripping tale of triumph, courage, and resilience.

My rating: 4.05 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 Ruth, a young girl growing up in a polygamist Mormon community in Mexico near the US border. Ruth and her siblings are all technically American citizens, so even though they live in Mexico, their mother (Kathy) still collects welfare and food stamps from the US. This book is about Ruth’s childhood and also about her family. Ruth bares all in this book and readers should be warned, there are descriptions of multiple unfortunate deaths/funerals and also child abuse. After seeing a few episodes of that show Sister Wives on TLC I will admit I have a weird interest in hearing stories of people who have lived or grew up in the polygamist lifestyle. The idea of it is just so foreign to me that I can’t understand how a marriage can be shared between more than two people, the logistics of it and how it can survive the tests of time. So when I saw this book available on BookBrowse I was immediately interested.

While growing up, Ruth and her family move around a lot over the years. At one point her mother leaves her step-father (after an incident with him buying a shower head for wife #1 with Ruth’s mother’s money) and they go to the US to live with Kathy’s parents for awhile. They don’t ever end up in one place for very long, though they are forced to live in El Paso, TX for about 2 years when DCF gets involved after the kids are left alone for almost a week (the oldest child at that time was 12 and the youngest was 1 or 2 if I remember correctly). I thought Ruth did just such a fantastic job describing the different locations where she spent time growing up. The imagery seems so real in the book that the reader feels like they are standing right beside Ruth seeing it with her. The events and timeline in this book are well-laid out and very detailed. I felt like I really got to hear about Ruth’s story and all the details of her childhood growing up.

Overall I really liked this book, it was moving and heart-breaking and a beautiful story about a woman’s traumatic childhood but also about how she overcame that childhood to become the person she is today. At 19 she was taking care of all of her younger siblings, trying to support them while also getting her GED and then going to college. Honestly as heart-breaking as her childhood was, I thought this book was inspirational. To think that someone can live through so much heartbreak and still come out not only surviving but thriving, really it is a feat to be admired. Also at this time of year especially when we are giving thanks for the things in our lives we are most grateful for, this book is a great reminder that I should be grateful for the childhood I had and for the two loving, caring parents that God gave me. I think the story was well written and poignant, and I have so much respect for Ruth not only for what she went through but also for having the courage to share her story with the world.

 

The bottom line: The story line for someone to say they “enjoyed” this book, but it was inspiring and heart-breaking and extremely moving. I would definitely recommend.

Link to author website

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