TLC Book Tour Review: Help for the Haunted by John Searles

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  Paperback: 400 pages
  Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (7/15/2014)

Boston Globe Best Crime Novel of the Year
An Entertainment Weekly Top Ten “Must List”
Winner of the American Library Association’s Alex Award
Publishers WeeklyLibrary Journal, and Booklist starred reviews

Synopsis:

Sylvie Mason’s parents have an unusual occupation: helping “haunted souls” find peace. After receiving a phone call late one snowy night, they are lured to an old church on the outskirts of town, where Sylvie falls asleep in the car and is awoken by the sound of gunshots.

Orphaned on that night, Sylvie comes under the care of her reckless, distant older sister, still living in the rambling Tudor house that guards the relics of her parents’ past. As she pursues the mystery of their deaths, Sylvie’s story weaves back and forth between the time leading up to the murders and the months following, uncovering the truth of what happened that night—and the secrets that have haunted her family for years.

my book thoughts

Wow!  That is the one word that I would use to define this incredible, fantastic story.  It is easily the Best Book of 2014 for Books in the Burbs, and will definitely be one of my all time favorite books for many years to come.

From the very first page, there is an eerie, Gothic approach, which makes the book even more creepy to read.  It’s a perfect mystery thriller for anyone that loves this genre, but even those who love books about relationships, family secrets, religious fanaticism, too.  I was determined to find out the ending as soon as possible, so I actually took this book with me everywhere to sneak in as much reading as I could.  I ended up reading this book in about 2 days, and in the end, I just cried.  My heart broke for Sylvie and I wanted to process this book with someone, who had also read it.  It’s a book that you can’t just read and move on from.  You will need to talk to someone, who has read it, just to get some closure and talk through some of the scenarios that occur in the book.

Sylvie is a young girl, still grappling with the loss of her parents and adjusting to living with her sister, Rose.  The story is told through present and past flashbacks from Sylvie’s perspective.  She is the only witness to who she says murdered her parents, and as she slowly retraces her steps and those of her family’s, the truth reveals itself to Sylvie and the reader at the same time.  So, as Sylvie is shocked…you will be, too!

Religion fanaticism, healings, demon possession…those are some of the topics that will be brought up in the book, albeit a murder mystery.  John Searles raises incredible points: How far will a family go to finding peace?  At what point does the preacher/healer use his influence and plays “God”?  How can family secrets destroy a family and keep them from truly being happy? Do you do what is right, even if it means that you lose everything? Or do you hold a secret and tell a lie to maintain the status quo?

I absolutely loved the topics John brings up and weaves it into a fantastic storyline.  This book shows how something that starts out with good intentions can go wrong, and go off course because of different factors, such as : greed, selfishness, fear of realizing everything was an illusion, and the way that one lie has the domino effect of building upon other lies that eventually tear up a family.

This would make a great book club pick, because the discussions would be endless!  I would love to hear people’s own personal stories about healing services, tent revivals, and their own personal experiences.  I would equally love to know what people think of this particular family, the lengths one person goes to shield the truth, and what happens when secrets have a stronghold on a person.  Sylvie is a beautiful, remarkable, and brave little girl, who I am sure many will love and cry for, too.  Get the book and move it to the top of your TBR pile, because it’s that good!

supreme cupcake rating 6

*This book was provided through TLC Book Tours and the publisher! Many thanks to both of them!

 

Special offer for book clubs:

Book clubs that sign up to chat with John Searles about Help for the Haunted could win a tote bag of books for each member of their book club! Find out more details about John Searles’ goal to speak to a book club in each state of the United States over at Book Club Girl!

 

About John Searles:

John Searles is the author of the national bestsellers Boy Still Missing and Strange but True. He frequently appears as a book critic on NBC’s Today show and CBS’s The Early Show. He is the Editor-at-Large of Cosmopolitan. His essays have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other national newspapers and magazines. He lives in New York City and can be found on Facebook and also on Twitter: @searlesbooks.

John’s Tour Stops

Thursday, July 17th: Bibliophilia, Please

Monday, July 21st: Great Imaginations

Tuesday, July 22nd: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Wednesday, July 23rd: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Monday, July 28th: missris

Tuesday, July 29th: Books in the Burbs

Wednesday, July 30th: Excellent Library

Friday, August 1st: Sweet Southern Home

Monday, August 4th: Books in the City

Wednesday, August 6th: Kahakai Kitchen

Book Review: The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

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I loved this book! There was so much mystery surrounding the truths behind the “suicide” of Riley’s sister, Lisa.  It was a novel that definitely kept me turning each page, with increasing curiosity, as I learn the truth behind Lisa’s suicide and fatal accident, Riley’s mom, and the many secrets that the MacPherson parents died with.

It’s definitely a page turner and will keep everyone on their toes, trying to connect to the missing pieces as Diane Chamberlain slowly reveals little hidden truths along the way.  I read this book in about a couple of days and loved that the ending didn’t end so nicely.  Rather, there are some loose ends and I do hope that Diane Chamberlain will consider writing a sequel.

The only thing I didn’t like too much was the title.  I didn’t feel the title reflected the storyline because both sisters were not very quiet, rather the opposite.  Although, one sister was more hidden.  Nonetheless, it’s a fantastic book!

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She Reads July Book Club of the Month: That Night by Chevy Stevens

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Click here to win a copy of this fantastic book!

Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 384
Genre:  Mystery, Thriller

Synopsis:

They said she was a murderer.

They said she killed her sister.

But they lied.

As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night.

Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.

Now thirty-four, Toni is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni’s innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni’s life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.

But the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all.

my book thoughts

Have you ever read a book that was from a genre you don’t typically read, and when you do, it’s the book that busts wide open your interest in that genre??  Well, this book absolutely did!  I do read Mystery Thriller books, but it’s not often, so I was amazingly surprised at how incredible this book was.  Chevy Stevens delivers a brilliant book to readers, who will be on the edge of their seat the whole time!
The storyline is real, raw, and the character development is detailed.  While each character is developed, the action and drama is what drives this book home.  It’s a book that will definitely deals with complex issues of: family, parenting, perfect child vs. troublemaker, mean girls, social injustice, abuse of power, sexual abuse, and murder.

Tori is the “troublemaker” daughter, who has been recently released from prison.  She and her boyfriend, charged with the murder of her younger sister, and is shunned by her community and family.  While Toni just wants to move on with her life and forget about the past, Ryan wants to know who framed them and why.  The secrets that are unveiled are unexpected, sad, horrific, and in the end…the readers are left with a little hope.

Brilliantly written, it’s a book that deserves to be a “Summer Must Read!” I would love to share more about Tori’s family, but doing so, would give too much away to the storyline.  This is the book your book club needs to read, because the discussions will be endless!!!

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*A huge thanks to the publisher and She Reads for allowing me the opportunity review this book!

 

Chevy Stevens. Photo Credit Poppy Photography

CHEVY STEVENS grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island and still calls the island home. For most of her adult life she worked in sales, first as a rep for a giftware company and then as a Realtor. While holding an open house one afternoon, she had a terrifying idea that became the inspiration for Still Missing.Chevy eventually sold her house and left real estate so she could finish the book. Still Missing went on to become a New York Times bestseller and win the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel.  Chevy’s books have been optioned for movies and are published in more than thirty countries.

Chevy enjoys writing thrillers that allow her to blend her interest in family dynamics with her love of the west coast lifestyle. When she’s not working on her next book, she’s camping and canoeing with her husband and daughter in the local mountains.

 

 

TLC Book Tour Review: Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert

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Reading this novel, I could imagine break out female actresses and singers, who are single moms and travel with their child(ren).  This story details the struggles and daily challenges Naomi faces to become a star, even at the expense of her daughter, Sophia.

Sophia is not your average little girl.  Of course, she is also living on the road, living with different people, and has a different perspective on life.  She is an observer, and journals words/thoughts/ideas in her two little notebooks.  While she doesn’t have a father in her life, Jim (Naomi’s manager) assumes that role and becomes a father figure to Sophia-who she looks to for support.

During a time of racism, sexual revolution, and the challenges of being a single mom, Naomi’s life is revealed through the eyes of her daughter, Sophia.  There are some lesbian moments in the book, although it is not explicit.  Nor does the author go into much detail about that part of Naomi’s life.  It’s an interesting tale and a cautionary one, because sometimes to gain fame, it means to lose those you love most.

 

great cupcake rating 4

 

About Rebecca Rotert:

Rebecca Rotert received an M.A. in Literature from Hollins College, where she was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets prize. Her poetry and essays have appeared in a range of magazines and journals. She’s an experienced singer and songwriter, who has performed with several bands, and a teacher with the Nebraska Writers Collective. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska. This is her first novel.

Follow Rebecca on Twitter: @RebeccaRotert.

Rebecca’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, July 1st: Drey’s Library

Thursday, July 3rd: Kritters Ramblings

Friday, July 4th: Sweet Southern Home

Monday, July 7th: Book-alicious Mama

Tuesday, July 8th: Books in the Burbs

Thursday, July 10th: Books à la Mode

Monday, July 14th: Becca Rowan

Tuesday, July 15th: BookNAround

Wednesday, July 16th: Olduvai Reads

Thursday, July 17th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

TBD: The Written World

 

 

 

 

 

Review & Book Giveaway: A Good Year for the Roses by Gil McNeil

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Molly is a recently divorced mom, who finds herself with the challenge of taking on a huge project that also includes taking care of her Uncle Bertie and his crazy bird-Betty.  The storyline is told primarily through dialogue, from Molly’s perspective, that is humorous, snarky, and at times a little tongue and cheek.  While dealing with her divorce, from Pete (who now goes by Peter), Molly also has to deal with underlying family issues that threaten to tear apart her family (mom, dad, and brother).

Molly is a mom to 3 boys, who are quite rambunctious and Harrington Hall (manor) is the place for them to explore, have some crazy experiences, and learn to be a family that includes some eccentric characters.

What I loved most about the storyline was Ivy and her estranged son.  Ivy is the one who does it all.  She cleans, keeps things tidy, is a huge help to Molly and Uncle Bertie, as well as helping with the bed and breakfast.  I would have loved to learn more about Ivy, the relationship between Uncle Bertie, Aunt Helena, and Molly’s parents, as well as had more opportunities to read about what happened before Molly and Pete divorced.  Molly faces her challenges through humor and quick wit, which certainly helps with all the challenges she faces.

I love the preface before each chapter, that has a lot of interesting information about roses and the different types of roses.  I loved the reason why Aunt Helena doesn’t like red roses, which I have to agree with her on that, too!

Overall, this is a quick, light read, with a good storyline!

 

Book Giveaway Details:

Question: What is your favorite kind of rose?

Include your email and name in the comments section below.

US entries only.

Giveaway ends July 30, 2014.

Review: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton

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This is a book that I’ve had on my TBR list for a year now.  After reading quite a few books for tours, I decided it was time to take this one out to read.  Before reading the book, it is hard for anyone to pick this book up and not already have an opinion about the death penalty and the inmates on death row.  However, regardless of a reader’s stance on the prison system, the judicial system, and crimes/punishments, this book is about the story of one woman: a woman who could really be anyone that grew up in a single parent home, with a promiscuous lifestyle, who has a father that has been in and out of prison all his of life.  Her life could have turned out so much differently, being the salutatorian for her high school class, being accepted into Yale, and trying to make a life for herself.  However, her past is always haunting her and she is never fully able to forgive herself and move on.

Noa is only 10 months old when she has her first experience with lies and the judicial system.  Her first experience is that of her mother, who is a struggling actress that makes a rash judgement to protect herself from the possibility of jail or child services.  This stays with Noa.  Honestly, I don’t have any recollection before the age of 4, but this seems to be ingrained in Noa (or not), as she says that her memory is foggy and it’s hard to separate fact from fantasy.  However, I somehow believe her because it starts the cycle of loss, feeling less than, isolation, and hopelessness.

While the story is told through Noa’s viewpoint, the reader will get glimpses inside Marlene’s head, through her letters to her daughter (Sarah), who is murdered.  While Noa’s life is that of someone who is tragically put in the line of fire due to circumstances by her parents, it is Marlene’s story that most interested me.

Marlene is a woman of influence, with a lot of money, who realizes early on that she really has no control over her daughter-her only child.  Paying off someone to follow her daughter and then threatening both that person and the boyfriend, doesn’t end there.  Marlene decides to mask her way back into Noa’s life, under the guise of MAD (Mothers Against Death), to find out what happened to her daughter’s last moments of life.  In some ways, Noa vindicates herself because she doesn’t give Marlene those last moments, although I don’t Marlene truly wanted to know.  I think Marlene has loads of guilt, hidden under her callousness towards others and her brashness, and she somehow wants to know that Noa doesn’t blame her for the events that happened leading up to Sarah’s death.  In some ways, if Noa doesn’t place any blame on Marlene, then Marlene can feel justified in her own role with Sarah’s death.

In the end, everyone wants something from Noa: her compliance, her silence, her devotion-and when they get that-they leave.  In the end, the judicial system only hears what attorneys want the jurors to hear, rich people get passes, poor people get passed the buck, and our system is truly screwed.

But there is hope.  There is hope, everyday, with the choices people make as humans, as parents, as children, as a society.

This is a book that is very character driven, with not a lot of unraveling until 200 pages in, but it’s still a great book.  It is at times dry, and sometimes it seems that the novel drifts, but be patient- there is a reason for it all.  I don’t think this book can be read without discussing it afterwards.  It’s what makes this book unique-because the dialogue continues long after Noa’s story, long after Marlene’s and long after the last page.  It is thought provoking, would make for a great book club discussion, and also in a class to talk about family cycles, the judicial system, and victims of circumstance.

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Review: One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

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  Click on book cover to read synopsis and book info.

 

My Review:

Earlier this year, I was first introduced to the author, Jojo Moyes, through She Reads.  I read and reviewed, The Girl You Left Behind, which I loved!

I was quite excited to read her latest book, One Plus One.  What I love most about Jojo Moyes, is that she truly explores every aspect of each character.  So that by the middle of the book, the reader will truly be vested in each character and feel every emotion he/she experiences.

This book is a huge deviation from, The Girl You Left Behind, because the story is told in present time.  Although, there are many perspectives that are told, which is similar to her last book.  Why do I mention this? Because I absolutely loved this!! Jojo Moyes doesn’t stick to a formulaic way of writing-rather her writing changes each time to compliment the storyline in a brilliant way.

I read this book very fast…not because it is a quick read, but because I had to find out what happens to each character.  I literally stayed up until 5am one night, because my heart ached and I was crying so freaking bad, and I couldn’t sleep until I knew that everyone was going to be okay.  This storyline will tug at everyone’s heart, that knows someone (or is) a single mom trying to make the most of what she has to help her children succeed.  There are moments that readers will laugh, sniffle, feel bad for the characters, and full blown ugly cry….at least I did!

After I read this book, I took some time reflect and could picture this family being like the Hoover family in the movie, “Little Miss Sunshine”.  Jess, Nicky, Tanzie, and Ed are that little family that from the outside looks quite dysfunctional, but from the inside, are quite brave, love each other, and rise above challenges they face.

I loved this book….every little bit of it!

supreme cupcake rating 6