Book Review – What Comes After

What Comes After by Joanne Tompkins / Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis

After the shocking death of two teenage boys tears apart a community in the Pacific Northwest, a mysterious pregnant girl emerges out of the woods and into the lives of those same boys’ families–a moving and hopeful novel about forgiveness and human connection.

In misty, coastal Washington State, Isaac lives alone with his dog, grieving the recent death of his teenage son, Daniel. Next door, Lorrie, a working single mother, struggles with a heinous act committed by her own teenage son. Separated by only a silvery stretch of trees, the two parents are emotionally stranded, isolated by their great losses–until an unfamiliar sixteen-year-old girl shows up, bridges the gap, and changes everything.

Evangeline’s arrival at first feels like a blessing, but she is also clearly hiding something. When Isaac, who has retreated into his Quaker faith, isn’t equipped to handle her alone, Lorrie forges her own relationship with the girl. Soon all three characters are forced to examine what really happened in their overlapping pasts, and what it all possibly means for a shared future.

Thoughts

This is a very heavy book with regards to subject matter. It contains multiple trigger warnings such as suicide, rape, and domestic violence. I liked that the story is told from multiple viewpoints. Even with the heavy subject matter throughout, it did keep my interest from start to end.

I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Book Review – Tell Me No Secret

Tell Me No Secret by Brandon Ellrich / Genre: Thriller

Synopsis

Can you keep a secret? High school student Joe wishes he’d never been asked that question. In the small town of New Haven, Missouri, murder is not a common occurrence, so when Joe kills his “best bud” Brad, a tidal wave of shock washes over the community. It makes no sense that Joe killed Brad. However, among teens, you never know what evil lurks beneath the surface.

Take a journey inside Joe’s mind as he reveals the details, planning, and tumultuous emotions that went into murdering his best friend. It’s no mystery that Joe is guilty; he admits that on page one. The question is why? What causes a nice young man to commit a murder? The answer isn’t as clear as it initially seems.

Details slowly float to the surface as time moves from the present into the past. Joe might admit guilt, but who is truly to blame for Brad’s murder? Will those responsible for heinous acts be brought to justice? Keeping a secret can be risky, but in Tell Me No Secret, a group of teen friends discovers just how dangerous it can be. 

Thoughts

FULL DISCLOSURE: I was provided a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoyed this book! It was a super quick read and I enjoyed how the story started in the present day and then went backwards to tie all of the events together so the reader would know how everything related.

I’d definitely recommend this book!

I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Book Review – The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton / Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis

Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.

In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.

Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.

Thoughts

I had heard this book was being compared to Daisy Jones & The Six. In my opinion, the only similarity was that this book is done in an interview format.

I liked this story and the characters. The only problem I had was that there were parts of the story that were slow for me (mainly in the first half). Other than that, this was a good debut novel!

I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Book Review – Death In The Family

Death In The Family by Tessa Wegert / Genre: Mystery

Synopsis

A storm-struck island. A blood-soaked bed. A missing man. Senior Investigator Shana Merchant believes it all adds up to a killer in their midst—and that murder is a family affair.

Thirteen months ago, former NYPD detective Shana Merchant barely survived being abducted by a serial killer. Now hoping to leave grisly murder cases behind, she’s taken a job in her fiancé’s sleepy hometown in the Thousand Islands region of Upstate New York.

But as a nor’easter bears down on her new territory, Shana and fellow investigator Tim Wellington receive a call about a man missing on a private island. Shana and Tim travel to the isolated island owned by the wealthy Sinclair family to question the witnesses. They arrive to find blood on the scene and a house full of Sinclair family and friends on edge.

While Tim guesses they’re dealing with a runaway case, Shana is convinced that they have a murder on their hands. As the gale intensifies outside, she starts conducting interviews and discovers the Sinclairs and their guests are crawling with dark and dangerous secrets.

Trapped on the island by the raging storm with only Tim whose reliability is thrown into question, the increasingly restless suspects, and her own trauma-fueled flashbacks for company, Shana will have to trust the one person her abduction destroyed her faith in—herself. But time is ticking down, because if Shana’s right, a killer is in their midst and as the pressure mounts, so do the odds that they’ll strike again.

Thoughts

This book was so good!

While I had suspicious of who was guilty I didn’t have the complete picture until it was revealed at the end. Speaking of the ending . . . what a cliffhanger!

I’m so glad that this is a series because there is definitely more to learn about Shana!

I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Book Review – Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston / Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis

Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate, Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person — no mean feat for a black woman in the ’30s. Janie’s quest for identity takes her through three marriages and into a journey back to her roots.

Thoughts

An extremely heavy story following a woman’s journey through life and love and loss.

I did not realize that this book was written in the 1930’s. I won’t lie, I ended up downloading the audio version because the dialect was hard for me to follow. I’m glad I did that because Ruby Dee did an outstanding job narrating. I would definitely recommend listening to the audio version!

A powerful story that will stay with me for awhile.

I gave this book a 4 star rating.

Book Review – Pachinko

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee / Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis

In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant — and that her lover is married — she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan’s finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee’s complex and passionate characters — strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis — survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.

Thoughts

This book was long, but it moved at a very steady pace for me and I loved it! It gives the reader a glimpse into 20th century Korean history and the multigenerational storyline is filled with love and sacrifice. There’s a part of me that felt like the book ended abruptly; however, that just could be I didn’t want it to end!

A beautifully written book that earned 4.5 stars from me!

Book Review – The Bridge of Little Jeremy

The Bridge of Little Jeremy by Indrajit Garai / Genre: Fiction

Synopsis

Jeremy’s mother is about to go to prison for their debt to the State. He is trying everything within his means to save her, but his options are running out fast.

Then Jeremy discovers a treasure under Paris.

This discovery may save his mother, but it doesn’t come for free. And he has to ride over several obstacles for his plan to work.

Meanwhile, something else is limiting his time…

Thoughts

I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

I was intrigued by the synopsis of this book. A young boy (Jeremy) trying to save his mom from going to prison for unpaid taxes while also dealing with serious health issues.

I enjoyed that the story was told through Jeremy. This book was definitely a slow burn for me but the story itself was good.

I gave this book 3 stars.

Book Review – Invisible Girl

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell / Genre: Thriller

Synopsis

Owen Pick’s life is falling apart.

In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel—involuntary celibate—forums, where he meets the charismatic, mysterious, and sinister Bryn.

Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.

Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre Maddox disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.

Thoughts

A super fast paced thriller with dual timelines and a fabulous twist at the end that I didn’t see coming! I was hooked right from the beginning and kept me guessing the entire time who was guilty for the disappearance of Saffyre. This was such a great read!

I gave this book 4 stars.

Book Review – How To Fail At Flirting

How To Fail At Flirting by Denise Williams / Genre: Contemporary/Romance

Synopsis

One daring to-do list and a crash course in flirtation turn a Type A overachiever’s world upside down.

When her flailing department lands on the university’s chopping block, Professor Naya Turner’s friends convince her to shed her frumpy cardigan for an evening on the town. For one night her focus will stray from her demanding job and she’ll tackle a new kind of to-do list. When she meets a charming stranger in town on business, he presents the perfect opportunity to check off the items on her list. Let the guy buy her a drink. Check. Try something new. Check. A no-strings-attached hookup. Check…almost.

Jake makes her laugh and challenges Naya to rebuild her confidence, which was left toppled by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Soon she’s flirting with the chance at a more serious romantic relationship—except nothing can be that easy. The complicated strings around her dating Jake might destroy her career.

Naya has two options. She can protect her professional reputation and return to her old life or she can flirt with the unknown and stay with the person who makes her feel like she’s finally living again. 

Thoughts

A really good fast paced read and while most of the book was light hearted the subject of domestic violence was woven throughout the storyline (mostly towards the end) so this could be a difficult read for some.

I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Book Review – The Four Winds

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah / Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis

Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.

In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

Thoughts

To me, a great story teller is someone who transports the reader and makes them feel as if they are in the story watching it unfold within the pages and that is exactly what Kristin Hannah did to me with her latest book. I couldn’t help thinking as I read this story that even though it took place in the thirties it was so relatable as to what is taking place in our country today. I knew nothing of the dust storms that ravaged the Great Plains during this time in history. It broke my heart to learn that people who had lost so much went to a place they thought could provide them a new beginning but they were instead met with such hatred and made to feel less than. If this book isn’t on your radar, add it NOW, and in case you couldn’t tell, this one earned all the stars from me (5/5)!