Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Year We Turned Forty (Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke)

A lot can happen in ten years -- some very good and some very bad.  But what if you could have a do-over to change your choices?  Would you want that chance?  The Year We Turned Forty, the last reviewed book of 2015, asks us that tough question.

Jessie, Gabriela, and Claire are three best friends who have made some decisions in the past that have changed the course of their lives.  Jessie had a one-night stand which resulted in the birth of her son, Lucas.  While she regrets that her husband left her once he found it, she obviously would never give up her son.  Gabriela is a bestselling author who put off having children, and once she decided she wanted one, her husband said it was too late.  And Claire wishes she had become closer to her own mother before her mom's death from cancer.  

When all three have the chance to return to age forty, they take it.  But did they bite off more than they can chew?  By changing the course of their lives, is their happiness guaranteed?  Or will the new decisions they make just create new problems?  Readers will root for these friends every step of the way, especially when they decide if staying in their new lives is what they really want or if they want to return to reality.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Quality of Silence (Rosamund Lupton)

Rosamund Lupton's truly stunning The Quality of Silence is a book probably unlike anything you've read before.  The gripping plotline will make your heart pound as it races to its powerful climax.

We begin with Yasmin and Ruby, an English mother and daughter trying to find Matt, their husband/father, in the Alaskan wilderness.  Authorities have never searched for him, convinced that he perished in a fire with villagers he was staying with.  Yasmin refuses to believe this, and so sets off to find him with Ruby in tow; Ruby just happens to be deaf which plays an integral part in the story.  Getting to the village is almost impossible, so Yasmin steals a big rig truck.  Of course, there are plenty of obstacles, such as an enormous storm and someone ominously following them in their own truck; this person will apparently do anything in his power to prevent them from finding Matt.

Besides the engrossing plot, what makes The Quality of Silence also great is that the setting is almost a character in and of itself.  Lupton's descriptions of the Alaskan terrain are mesmerizing, and we as readers can't help but root Yasmin and Ruby on in their determined quest.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Eleanor (Jason Gurley)

Every so often a book comes along that gets wonderful reviews from others but that I just didn’t like that much.  Such is the case with Jason Gurley’s Eleanor.  This novel is so fantastical (and not in the effective Neil Gaiman way), that it was difficult to follow along with, and by ¾ of the way in, I wanted it to be done.

The beginning of Eleanor leaves no indication of where it’s eventually going.  Eleanor is mother to Agnes and wife to Hob, who one day swims into the water never to be seen again.  Fast forward decades later and Agnes is now mother to red-headed twins, Esmerelda and Eleanor, who is obviously named for her grandmother.  On the way to pick up their husband and father, Paul, from the airport, Esmerelda is tragically killed in a car accident.  Everyone is shattered, and a few years later, Eleanor enters another world —literally.  This is where the story takes a downturn, and while I admire Gurley’s ambition, I felt this just didn’t pair well with the beginning of the book.

If I’ve learned nothing else as an avid reader and reviewer, it’s that all books aren’t for everyone.  But don’t let my opinion stop you from picking up Eleanor — you might just love it.