Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review: The Weight of Blood

The Weight of Blood
by Laura McHugh

Why did you choose this book? It is set in Missouri
When did you read this book? March 2014
Who should read this book? readers of mystery and suspense
Here is a synopsis of The Weight of Blood from Goodreads

For fans of Gillian Flynn and Daniel Woodrell, a dark, gripping debut novel of literary suspense about two mysterious disappearances, a generation apart, and the meaning of family-the sacrifices we make, the secrets we keep, and the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love.

The Dane family's roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn't keep sixteen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago. When one of Lucy's few friends, slow-minded Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls-the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn't protect. Everything changes when Lucy stumbles across Cheri's necklace in an abandoned trailer and finds herself drawn into a search for answers. What Lucy discovers makes it impossible to ignore the suspicion cast on her own kin. More alarming, she suspects Cheri's death could be linked to her mother's disappearance, and the connection between the two puts Lucy at risk of losing everything. In a place where the bonds of blood weigh heavy, Lucy must decide where her allegiances lie.

My Review

I was first drawn to this book because of the setting, the Ozarks of southwest Missouri, and the fact that the author is from Missouri. Once I read the synopsis, I was hooked!

Lucy Dane lives in a small Ozark town of about 700 people, where everyone know everyone, and outsiders are not welcome or trusted. Her mother, Lila, was one of those outsiders, rejected and feared by most, and even thought to be a witch by some. Lila disappeared when Lucy was only an infant, thought to have committed suicide. Twenty years later, Cheri, a mentally-challenged girl and a classmate of Lucy’s, also disappears mysteriously, and reappears gruesomely murdered one year later. Lucy feels she was not a good enough friend to Cheri, and takes it upon herself to discover what happened. She uncovers evidence and circumstances that appear to implicate her family members, and as she becomes more involved, things get more suspenseful, and possibly dangerous.

In some ways, this book reminds me very much of The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard. Both books are set in the midwest, and involve a young women seeking information on her mother who disappeared when she was very young. Both are surrounded by extended family. And both stories are suspenseful!

I’m not sure I really like how this book ends, but the more I think about it, the more I’m ok with it. There are still a lot of ‘secrets’ that are kept within the family at the end, and it leaves me a teensy bit dissatisfied to not have the complete truth revealed, but I will get over it. The story is a good one, and if you like suspense and crime mysteries, you will like this one. However, be warned that some of the scenes are pretty graphic and violent. There is a violent rape as well as a gruesome murder, so if this will bother you, be forewarned and move on to something else.

I won an Advanced Reader’s Edition from This did not affect my review.

My Rating:  ★★★   3 Stars
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Summer House With Swimming Pool

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine in which we spotlight upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating!

Summer House With Swimming Pool
by Herman Koch
Expected Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads

When a medical mistake goes horribly wrong and Ralph Meier, a famous actor, winds up dead, Dr. Marc Schlosser is forced to conceal the error from his patients and family. After all, reputation is everything in this business. But the weight of carrying such a secret lies heavily on his mind, and he can't keep hiding from the truth…or the Board of Medical Examiners.

The problem is that the real truth is a bit worse than a simple slipup. Marc played a role in Ralph's death, and he's not exactly upset that the man is gone. Still haunted by his eldest daughter's rape during their stay at Ralph's extravagant Mediterranean summerhouse-one they shared with Ralph and his enticing wife, Judith, film director Stanley Forbes and his far younger girlfriend, Emmanuelle, and Judith's mother-Marc has had it on his mind that the perpetrator of the rape could be either Ralph or Stanley. Stanley's guilt seems obvious, bearing in mind his uncomfortable fixation on the prospect of Marc's daughter's fashion career, but Marc's reasons for wanting Ralph dead become increasingly compelling as events unravel. There is damning evidence against Marc, but he isn't alone in his loathing of the star-studded director.

Why I am waiting....
I won a copy of this through the Read It Forward giveaway! (so be sure you check out the Contests and Freebies page above. You, too, could be a winner!) It looks like a good one and I can’t wait until it arrives!
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday Memes: The Unfinished Child

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where you can share the first paragraph, or a few, of a book you are reading or thinking about reading soon.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Today I am spotlighting The Unfinished Child by Theresa Shea

Theresa Shea's first book explores female friendships, prenatal testing, infertility, and Down syndrome. Shea tackles a complex moral issue with great sensitivity. This is a must read not only for parents in the Down syndrome community but for all parents, and for anyone who appreciates masterful story-telling.

When Marie MacPherson, a mother of two, finds herself unexpectedly pregnant at thirty-nine, she feels guilty. Her best friend, Elizabeth, has never been able to conceive, despite years of fertility treatments. Marie's dilemma is further complicated when she becomes convinced something is wrong with her baby. She then enters the world of genetic testing and is entirely unprepared for the decision that lies ahead.

Intertwined throughout the novel is the story of Margaret, who gave birth to a daughter with Down syndrome in 1947, when such infants were defined as "unfinished" children. As the novel shifts back and forth through the decades, the lives of the three women converge, and the story speeds to an unexpected conclusion.

With skill and poise, debut novelist Theresa Shea dramatically explores society's changing views of Down syndrome over the past sixty years. The story offers an unflinching and compassionate history of the treatment of people with Down syndrome and their struggle for basic human rights. Ultimately, The Unfinished Child is an unforgettable and inspiring tale about the mysterious and complex bonds of family, friendship, and motherhood.

Opening Paragraph
    At five in the morning, Margaret felt her water break -- as if a crystal had been shattered by a lone, high note. An invisible hand, or perhaps the unborn child’s deft heel, flicked a switch and the floodgate opened. As the warm liquid rushed from her body she moved as quickly as her lumbering figure would allow from her reclined position on the couch, where she’d been elevating her feet to relieve the swelling in her ankles, to a standing position beside it. It’s time, she thought calmly. Finally it’s time.

My Teaser
    Four women cried their eyes out for every one who threw a party. She had never won anything in her life, and after years of trying to get pregnant naturally, she wasn’t feeling the least bit lucky.
page 30
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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Review: The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans
by M.L. Stedman

Why did you choose this book? This is a book club selection I’ve been meaning to read
When did you read this book? April 2014
Who should read this book? readers of mystery and suspense
Source: library
Here is a synopsis of The Light Between Oceans from Goodreads

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.

My Review

This is a hard one for me to review for a couple of reasons. The first is that I am still thinking about this one, and am not yet sure what I think of it. The second is that, no matter what I think of the book, it will be difficult to review without leaking spoilers.

I’ve heard many good things about this one, but though I’d been meaning to read this book for over a year, I did not get around to it until it was picked as a selection for my book club. I’m pretty sure I would not have finished the book had it not been a book club selection. When I mentioned on our book club Facebook page that I was struggling with this one, a couple of members agreed that they, too, struggled, but that it got better after about 90 pages. This is into Part 2 of the book, when the baby enters the picture, so I kept plugging away. It took me quite a bit longer than that, almost into Part 3, but eventually the book got my interest and I needed to know what happened next.

I struggled with this one for multiple reasons. Initially I found the desciptions of Janus Rock, the island with the lighthouse, to be very boring. Also, while many characters were introduced, it was hard to see how they tied together or had any real relevance to the story. And of course, since the prologue and synopsis both let us know there was a baby coming, I kept waiting for the ‘action’ to begin. Even once the action began, there were so many poor choices made and so much unhappiness, it was hard for me to feel any connection to the characters. Other than saying I really didn’t like Isabel much at all through most of the book, I don’t want to say much else and risk spoilers.

Though I probably would not have finished this book had it not been a book club selection, I think it is an excellent choice for book clubs (with the understanding that it is slow to start!).There are so many poor choices made leading to so many unhappy consequences, that book clubs will have plenty to discuss! Book clubs will also enjoy dissecting the motivations of the different characters. You can find discussion questions online at LitLovers and BookMovement. My book club likes to develop our own questions to encourage member participation, and I will be posting those on the blog later this week.

I found a book trailer on YouTube.

My Rating:   ★★★1/2   3-1/2 Stars
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