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Book Review: Turning Point

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Turning Point by Danielle Steel– Bill Browning heads the trauma unit at San Francisco’s busiest emergency room, SF General. With his ex-wife and daughters in London, he immerses himself in his work and lives for rare visits with his children. A rising star at her teaching hospital, UCSF at Mission Bay, Stephanie Lawrence has two young sons, a frustrated stay-at-home husband, and not enough time for any of them. Harvard-educated Wendy Jones is a dedicated trauma doctor at Stanford, trapped in a dead-end relationship with a married cardiac surgeon. And Tom Wylie’s popularity with women rivals the superb medical skills he employs at his Oakland medical center, but he refuses to let anyone get too close, determined to remain unattached forever.

These exceptional doctors are chosen for an honor and a unique project: to work with their counterparts in Paris in a mass-casualty training program. As professionals, they will gain invaluable knowledge from the program. As ordinary men and women, they will find that the City of Light opens up incredible new possibilities, exhilarating, enticing, and frightening. When an unspeakable act of mass violence galvanizes them into action, their temporary life in Paris becomes a stark turning point: a time to face harder choices than they have ever made before—with consequences that will last a lifetime.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published: January 8, 2019

Acquired: Public Library E-book

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: I’ve been a fan of Danielle Steel for year, ever since my grandmother gave me a stack of her books when I was a teenager. So I was really excited to read this one. The subject matter is very timely and current with all of the violence going on around the world. The novel follows 4 ER doctors from various hospitals around the San Francisco area as they participate in a 3 week mass casualty training overseas in Paris. All 4 have personal issues going on in their lives but those issues take a back seat when a traumatic event happens while they are in Paris requiring their full attention. 

The 4 main characters are very well developed and have very distinctive personalities and the secondary characters added so much to the story. While there is a good amount of action in the story, this is definitely a character driven novel. I kept thinking of Grey’s Anatomy while I was reading- there’s a lot of drama, some action, some romance, and some scandalous behavior. This was close to a 5 star read for me but the actions of one of the characters was really over the top for me and I had a hard time with the choices that were made. But that’s a personal preference of mine and others probably wouldn’t feel the same way. The story is well paced and a very realistic look at a traumatic event from the perspective of first responders and emergency personnel. I definitely was drawn into the story and wanted to see what decisions the characters would make after their experiences in Paris. I did feel as though the ending of the story was rushed and could have been drawn out a bit better. It felt a little like tying all the loose strings up into a quick knot. I wish the last quarter of the book had been further expanded but I was pleased with where the characters ended up. 

 



Book Review: The Boy

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The Boy by Tami Hoag– A panic-stricken woman runs in the dead of night, battered and bloodied, desperate to find help. . . . When Detective Nick Fourcade enters the home of Genevieve Gauthier outside the sleepy town of Bayou Breaux, Louisiana, the bloody crime scene that awaits him is both the most brutal and the most confusing he’s ever seen. Genevieve’s seven-year-old son, P.J., has been murdered by an alleged intruder, yet Genevieve is alive and well, a witness inexplicably left behind to tell the tale. There is no evidence of forced entry, not a clue that points to a motive. Meanwhile, Nick’s wife, Detective Annie Broussard, sits in the emergency room with the grieving Genevieve. A mother herself, Annie understands the emotional devastation this woman is going through, but as a detective she’s troubled by a story that makes little sense. Who would murder a child and leave the only witness behind?

When the very next day P.J.’s sometimes babysitter, thirteen-year-old Nora Florette, is reported missing, the town is up in arms, fearing a maniac is preying on their children. With pressure mounting from a tough, no-nonsense new sheriff, the media, and the parents of Bayou Breaux, Nick and Annie dig deep into the dual mysteries. But sifting through Genevieve Gauthier’s tangled web of lovers and sorting through a cast of local lowlifes brings more questions than answers. Is someone from Genevieve’s past or present responsible for the death of her son? Is the missing teenager, Nora, a victim, or something worse? Then fingerprints at the scene change everything when they come back to a convicted criminal: Genevieve herself.

The spotlight falls heavily on the grieving mother who is both victim and accused. Could she have killed her own child to free herself of the burden of motherhood, or is the loss of her beloved boy pushing her to the edge of insanity? Could she have something to do with the disappearance of Nora Florette, or is the troubled teenager the key to the murder? How far will Nick and Annie have to go to uncover the dark truth of the boy?

Genre: Suspense/Thriller

Published: December 31, 2018

Acquired: Public Library E-book

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: A 7 year old boy is brutally murdered and his panicked mother, battered and bloodied, runs for help. The beginning of the story captured my attention easily. The characters were well developed with enough flaws to make them real. The Boy is book 2 in the Broussard and Fourcade series but I did not read book 1. Honestly I didn’t even realize it was part of a series so this book definitely stands alone. There are so many twists and turns and AHA moments in this story but they all work seamlessly into the plot. It never felt over the top or cliche, both of which are big turn offs for me in a book. I enjoyed the characters of Nick and Annie, two of the detectives assigned to the case. Seeing their relationship both at work and at home added an extra layer of depth to the story. There are a lot of characters in the book- some you will hate, some you will pity, and some you will identify with. 

I honestly had no idea where the story was going for the majority of the book. Every time I thought I knew the who, what, and why another layer of the mystery was pulled back and I was left guessing again. I didn’t figure it out until probably the last few chapters and I was shocked! I did not see it coming but in hindsight there were definitely clues throughout the story. The book deals with some disturbing themes including violence against children but it’s written in such a way to further the story instead of with the intent to shock the reader. 



Book Review: A Life Made of Lava

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A Life Made of Lava by Lissa Del– Evie Danvers has three beautiful, if slightly out of control, children; a stray cat named Dr. Moxley and a best friend who drinks unapologetically at 9 a.m. Evie also has stage four bone cancer and a gallows sense of humour that drives her husband, Nick, demented. 

Nick wants Evie to fight. Evie, on the other hand, is almost ready to die. This is not Evie’s first rodeo. She kicked her cancer twice before. But this time around, Evie knows it’s a battle she can’t win. Instead, she focuses on avoiding her oncologist, playing wicked pranks on her mother-in-law and getting her affairs in order, which includes hiring a nanny to take care of the kids after she’s gone. 

Having Julia Soanes in his house would not have been Nick’s first choice. Julia smells of memories. And sex. Something Nick hasn’t had in a while. Nick’s moral objections, however, are short-lived. The woman he loves is dying. He can honor her dying wish. Can’t he?

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published: March 7, 2018

Acquired: Kindle Unlimited

My Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: I don’t even know if I can do this book justice. I loved it. I loved every single page of this book. This is not a light and fluffy read. The subject matter is heavy and painful. I almost felt like a voyeur watching through the kitchen window as this family dealt with the crap hand they’d been given. The premise is simple. Evie is dying and she needs to hire a nanny to care for her 3 kids and husband, Nick, when she’s gone. She finds Julia and she’s perfect. There are so many layers to this story. It’s told from 3 points of view- Evie, Nick, and Julia. I’m normally not a fan of books told from multiple POV’s because they can be confusing if not done well. It really really worked with this story and it added one of those layers I mentioned. The book would not have been nearly as powerful without reading the point of view of each character.

The characters truly made this book stand out. The 3 main characters- Evie, Nick, and Julia- are so real that you’d swear you knew them personally by the end. But the secondary characters added so much to this story- from Evie’s best friend, Kat, to Julia’s father, Ted, to Nick’s mother, Mary-Anne. They all add an extra layer of depth to the story. Rarely does a book invoke an actual physical reaction from me. I’m a true introvert and I internalize all my feelings. I laughed out loud more than once and cried real tears during the hard parts. I hope that faced with imminent death I would have the strength and grace that Evie displayed. She never lost her sense of humor and when the inevitable happened I felt as though I had lost a real life friend. This book is not only a 5 star read for me but it easily makes my list of all-time favorite books. 



Book Review: Before We Were Strangers

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Before We Were Strangers by Brenda Novak– Five-year-old Sloane McBride couldn’t sleep that night. Her parents were arguing again, their harsh words heating the cool autumn air. And then there was that other sound–the ominous thump before all went quiet.

In the morning, her mother was gone. The official story was that she left. Her loving, devoted mother! That hadn’t sat any better at the time than it did when Sloane moved out at eighteen, anxious to leave her small Texas hometown in search of anywhere else. But not even a fresh start working as a model in New York could keep the nightmares at bay. Or her fears that the domineering father she grew up with wasn’t just difficult–he was deadly.

Now another traumatic loss forces Sloane to realize she owes it to her mother to find out the truth, even if it means returning to a small town full of secrets and lies, a jilted ex-boyfriend and a father and brother who’d rather see her silenced. But as Sloane starts digging into the past, the question isn’t whether she can uncover what really happened that night…it’s what will remain of her family if she does?

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Published: December 4, 2018

Acquired: Public Library E-book

My Rating:  4 Stars

My Thoughts: I was anticipating this book to be just a mystery when in reality it was a romantic suspense with a very well done mystery. The story begins with Sloane returning to her hometown for the first time in 18 years to finally confront the mystery surrounding her mother’s disappearance when Sloane was only 5 years old. Sloane suspected her father had caused her mother’s disappearance based on the memories she retained from that night 23 years ago. By returning home to investigate Sloane was forced to confront not only her father but her brother, her high school boyfriend and her childhood best friend- all of whom she left behind when she ran. 

The story sucked me in immediately. There were several subplots running within the main plot but they all added to the story and were integral pieces of how the story ended. I found Sloane to be a great main character- she was intelligent, determined, flawed, and she felt very real. Micah, her high school boyfriend, was another character that I liked but I did not care for Sloane’s childhood best friend, Paige. She was manipulative and spiteful- in the beginning she came across as a friend but as the story went on the depths of her manipulation and deceit started to become evident. The strange relationship between the three characters of Sloane, Paige, and Micah was not exactly a love triangle and it involved no cheating but there was a real creepy off-putting factor to Paige’s obsession with Micah and with Sloane, to a certain extent. 

From very early on in the story I was sure I had the mystery figured out. It seemed very straightforward and all foreshadowing pointed in one direction. Then the twists started happening and things were clearly not as they appeared to be. I could not put the book down at that point. I had to know the how and the why immediately. The ending was very satisfying and the epilogue wrapped up all the story lines perfectly. 



Book Review: The Good Liar

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The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie– When an explosion rips apart a Chicago building, the lives of three women are forever altered.

A year later, Cecily is in mourning. She was supposed to be in the building that day. Instead, she stood on the street and witnessed it going down, with her husband and best friend inside. Kate, now living thousands of miles away, fled the disaster and is hoping that her past won’t catch up with her. And Franny, a young woman in search of her birth mother, watched the horror unfold on the morning news, knowing that the woman she was so desperate to reconnect with was in the building.

Now, despite the marks left by the tragedy, they all seem safe. But as its anniversary dominates the media, the memories of that terrifying morning become dangerous triggers. All these women are guarding important secrets. Just how far will they go to keep them?

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: This is a book about lies- so many lies. There were so many lies told by so many characters that it was nearly too much to keep of while reading. The story revolves mainly around 3 women- Cecily, Kaitlyn, and Franny- whose stories are connected in more ways than they thought. It all begins with a tragedy but things aren’t always as they seem. All 3 characters have major secrets they are protecting and those secrets affect everyone around them. 

This is a psychological thriller that takes more twists and turns than a roller coaster. The characters- love them or hate them- are very well written and their actions stayed true to the character throughout that book. For the purpose of this book it seemed less important to like the characters and in fact I enjoyed the book more because I despised 2 of them! I knew very early on who was going to be the villain of this story but I didn’t see the magnitude of the twists that were coming. The ending was satisfying and most of the loose threads were tied up.