4 star reviews, Book reviews, thriller

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

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4/5 stars

Description:

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants—the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming—until one of them mysteriously disappears…

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past—and a voice that won’t be silenced…

Review:

I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would.  It starts out kind of scary with a girl running through the woods.  I knew there was a supernatural element and that is not normally my jam, but I read so many excellent reviews that I wanted to see what all the hype was about.  The hype was, in this case, much deserved even for this wuss who doesn’t like supernatural elements in books.

The book switches back and forth between 1950 and 2014, but it is not hard to follow.  It was scary and the ghost was a fairly large portion of the book.  The girls in 1950 could see her, as well as the woman in 2014.  The ghost made them face their worst fears or see the worst thing they had done and in a way this was a very interesting element of the story and made me think about situations I have been in and how it would be nice if someone could see what they were doing.  I have probably also unintentionally hurt people as well.

The one flaw I found with the book was that I found the ending to be underwhelming, which is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5, but it’s definitely worth the read.

 

4 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, thriller

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

4/5 stars

I absolutely, positively LOVED this book!

Addictive, fast-paced page-turner with lots of hooks and wonderful characters

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy was everything I wanted it to be and more.  It was a great thriller, with a mystery that I could not figure out.  There were a lot of hooks at the end of chapters making me want to read “just one more” before turning out the light at night.  But the thing I loved most was the relationship between the moms.  I loved the bonds that were formed in this group of women brought together because they lived near each other and had babies that were born in the same month.  I loved how they helped each other and were there for each other.  I also loved that they each probably thought the others’ lives were perfect because they talked mostly about the babies or the missing baby and not about their marriages, careers or other insecurities.  It was a reminder that we all have challenges that we are facing even if the face we show the world looks perfect.

 

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From the publisher:

A night out. A few hours of fun. That’s all it was meant to be.

They call themselves the May Mothers—a group of new moms whose babies were born in the same month. Twice a week, they get together in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for some much-needed adult time.

When the women go out for drinks at the hip neighborhood bar,they are looking for a fun break from their daily routine. But on this hot Fourth of July night, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is taken from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but her fellow May Mothers insisted everything would be fine. Now he is missing. What follows is a heart-pounding race to find Midas, during which secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are destroyed.

Thirteen days. An unexpected twist.

***

I was reminded so much of my own experience in a moms group when my first child was born.  One of the women in my Lamaze class, who happened to be from the UK – though nothing like Nell – and was homesick for family and friends, had organized first weekly afternoon tea get-togethers where we indulged in beautiful cakes and talked about babies and breast-feeding and all of our concerns.  Over time we did get together in the evenings with our husbands and we did meet at the park.  Although I had friends from growing up, friends from college and friends from work, there was a special bond with these women who could understand exactly what I was going through at the moment because they were going through something similar.  Unfortunately, when we moved from Connecticut to New Jersey, I lost touch with these women.

But when we moved to New Jersey, I joined a MOMS Club, which I thought was the greatest thing at the time.  We met weekly in a community center and the kids played and the moms talked.  We had a monthly newsletter and monthly Moms Nights Out and we scheduled park dates and day trips to fun places.  One woman gave Music Together classes in her house.  It was a great community!  Our first meeting there, I was talking to a mom who was also pregnant with her second child and she pointed to her older daughter who was rocking in a toy boat right next to my daughter.  We are all still friends to this day.

4 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, Mother/Daughter Read, race relations, YA

The Child Finder/The Hate U Give

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The Child Finder by Rene Denfield

I was nervous about this book because, as a mom, child abductions have long been my worst fear.  I found the hunt for the abductor thrilling, I loved the strong main character and I was very interested in people who still live a very old-fashioned lifestyle of trapping game and trading furs.  The Pacific Northwest is on Jason and my shortlist of places to visit, so I ate up all the descriptions of the setting.

Naomi, a private investigator who had been abducted as a child, is hired to find Madison Culver, a little girl who went missing three years ago when her family was out looking in the woods for a Christmas tree.

The characters are very well developed, the plot is rock solid and the storyline was different and intriguing.  I give this book 4/5 stars.

While I was reading The Child Finder by Rene Denfield, my 15 year old was reading (and loving) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

My daughter LOVED this book.  She found the main character, Starr, very relatable.  She said she wanted to be friends with Starr and help her through everything that was going on in her life.  Starr lives in a poor neighborhood but attends a prep school.  The other kids at the prep school can not relate to the issues Starr faces at home.  Starr’s best friend is fatally shot and killed by a police officer.  His shooting makes national headlines and some say he was a thug, while others say the police officer was wrong for shooting him.  Starr’s family is targeted by both the police and drug lords and Starr is the only one that knows what really happened that night.

My daughter’s review reminds me how different the world she is growing up in from the world I grew up in.  I grew up in an upper-middle class town, there were a few Black kids and I was and still am friends with them.  They may have been going through things – I am pretty sure that they were – but I did not know about it.  I just saw them as friends, we talked and joked and made plans to hang out.  I always thought that we were so much further along with race relations than we actually are.  I really believed, up until a few years ago, that we needed to be color blind and not so shallow as to judge people based on the color of their skin.  I was so proud to be an American in 2007 when Barack Hussein Obama accepted the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States and won the election.  I cried along with the prolific newscaster, who was on his knees weeping because he never thought he would see a black man become President, his own grandfather having been a slave–I think that was the moment that it hit me that I could never really understand this.  I could have sympathy.  I could support equality, but my experience as a white person would protect me from things and feelings and situations that I had no idea existed.  I wish that the world was the way I thought it was 15 years ago, but since it is not, I am glad that I have raised two girls who want to read books like this and want to stand up for people of color.  I am glad that publishers are publishing books like this and I am glad that we can have this conversation.  I hope that at some point soon, this conversation won’t be necessary and we will all be treated equally.