Cupcakes and Books:
It has been awhile since I’ve read a Middle Grade/Children’s book. I was drawn to this book because of the synopsis, which you can read by clicking on the book cover. The book is told through the point of view of Naomi (who is called by her nickname “Chirp). Chirp is obsessed with birds and loves reading about them, studying them, and locating them by her house.
Chirp is the typical 11 year old girl, who develops a friendship with one of the boys down her street, which she handles delicately because he is known as the school bully. Her mom, a beautiful dancer, that she strives to please is diagnosed with a disease that in the 70’s wasn’t as treatable as it is today. Chirp, her sister (the rebellious teenager), and her father (the psychiatrist).
At first, I didn’t feel the book had enough detail about the mom’s emotional and physical issues and how it truly impacted the marriage and parent/child relationship. Why? Well, because I am so used to reading YA and Women’s fiction. Then, I remembered this is for young children, middle school readers, and even high schoolers. Although, I have a feeling anyone will love this book because Esther truly captures the youthful spirit and hopes/desires of a young little girl, who shows us how she makes sense of what is happening to her family. Chirp is so innocent, so precious, that you just want to hold her and never let her go.
Young readers will relate to Chirp, love the relationship between her and her sister, understand how she feels about her mom’s diagnosis, and enjoy the friendship she develops with Joey.
Older readers will love the innocence Chirp brings, love the nods to the 70’s and vinyl records, and have a better appreciation for the way Chirp understands and experiences the family challenges and shifts in the family dynamics. Most importantly, it will open a window into the eyes of a child and hopefully have families talk more, share more, and learn more from one another.
This is a book of hope, in the midst of tragedy, and is a beautifully written story!
This book is within the genre of Mystery/Thriller, it isn’t the typical “edge of your seat” kind of book. Instead, it’s more of a character driven novel that pulls back different layers of the women left behind, after Felix mysteriously disappears.
While I could completely understand the emotions and personal experiences each woman shares, it really left me resenting the main character-who really never appears in the book. Rather, Felix is described by each woman through flashbacks and present storytelling. It’s only when the disappearance and murder of Felix’s mistress happens 10 years later (after Felix disappears), the story is really shaped and pushed forward by the ever persistent detective: Sandy. It’s his personal mission to solve this cold case, and is really the strong character in the book, who makes the novel quite unique. While this isn’t the typical thriller/mystery book, it is definitely a book that will have you wanting to know more about the women Felix leaves behind.
*A huge thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of the tour. No monetary compensation was given.
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (7/15/2014)
A 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 Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist starred reviews
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.
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!
*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
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!
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
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.
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!!!
*A huge thanks to the publisher and She Reads for allowing me the opportunity review this book!
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.
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.
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
It doesn’t always happen, but with the recent health issues I’ve had, being homebound has allowed me the opportunity to read more than I have in a long time. Reading has been the silver lining, this summer. Usually, summer is the time when I read from my TBR list, which I have yet to touch! I think most readers can relate-but it seems my TBR list is always expanding!!! With new releases each week, it can be overwhelming to keep up with!
Below are some books I’ve read-so far! If you click on the picture of each book, it will take you book page, so that you can read the synopsis.
This is a story that reads almost like a mystery, because Olivia has to piece together the events that happened before the fatal death of her estranged friend, Sally. I enjoyed reading about the relationship between Sally and Olivia (before they became adults), and could certainly relate to having that “crazy friend”-who goes off the edge. Eleanor Moran doesn’t give all the details in order, with the story changing from past to present, which made the book even more fascinating to read! I love a great mystery, wrapped up in a novel that has a little bit of everything: widowhood, survivor’s guilt, infidelity, friendships, lies and betrayal, and a little romance. The reader is given one piece of the puzzle, in random order, as each piece slowly takes shape to reveal the hidden truths that were there the whole time.
I loved Madeline and felt her emotions were true to that of a child, who deals with the loss of her parent. She is angry, distant, reluctant, and slowly opens her heart to the possibilities of loving and honoring her mother, while also accepting a new beginning. My heart ached for her, as she struggles to balance her faithfulness to her mom, while also learning to accept someone else in her life. It isn’t until the very end that Moran reveals to the reader and Sally’s family-the reason for Sally’s demise and “crazy behavior”, which came as a shock but then made sense! Eleanor Moran nails the psychological issues Sally faces and the internal struggles she dealt with and the demons that she faced.
While there were times that it seemed Olivia was in a trance and did whatever William wanted, it seemed that in some cosmic weird way that Sally wanted things to evolve as they do and that in the end, she could rest in peace knowing those she loved were all together.
It’s an excellent read! I read this one quite quickly because I wanted to know what happens! Most of all, I love the style of writing Eleanor Manor has in this book-as it was a puzzle that slowly connects and reveals all the hidden secrets that the characters have. Those who love books about mental illness, family secrets/relationships, and friendships, will certainly love this book!
Let’s face it. The book cover doesn’t scream, “READ ME!”. But….don’t let that deter you from reading it! Once you’ve read it, you will completely understand the cover and appreciate it that much more. This book is a traditional thriller book. It has mystery, electric energy that intensifies as each chapter is read, murder, possible suspects and motives, and psychological drama that will have your head spinning! It’s definitely one of my best picks for 2014, because it the kind of book that any reader will enjoy.
You love history? Check.
You love murder mystery? Check.
You love reading about an underdog protagonist that has a secret? Check.
You want to read a book that you won’t be able to put down? Check.
You want a book that has to deal with sociopaths, psychological issues? Check.
You want a book that intensifies as each chapter is read? Check.
This book has it all. There is so much detail, that Lisa Unger leaves no stone uncovered. She weaves this incredible story, with two alternating voices. Whose voice is the second? That ‘s one of the mysteries! I absolutely loved this book, couldn’t put it down, and read this book in 1 day. That is really unheard for me, and being sick, I actually read this book with a migraine. I literally read with one eye closed at times because my head hurt….but I needed to know what happened! Yeah, this book is that fantastic. Add it to your TBR list, or better yet, just stop what you are reading and grab this book! It’s that good.
*This book was provided for review, courtesy of the publisher.
This is a book that starts out quite intense. Clarissa is a girl that people either can relate to because they see parts of themselves in her, or know someone who is like her. Either way, Clarissa will be someone that will bring out strong emotions in the reader. Clarissa is the typical victim: she is isolated, wants to have a relationship but doesn’t know how to set boundaries because she has self-esteem issues, and doesn’t know who to trust. There are so many issues Clarissa is challenged with, because of the torment she endures from her predator (Rafe). The reader is taken on a journey of the psychological trauma and prison a person can get entrapped in, and how it slowly strips everything from the victim, to a point of panic. It’s an incredible book that shows that cycles repeat, until the victim takes control and makes a shift mentally.
If you or someone you know is feeling threatened, in an unsafe situation, or needs to talk to someone, please call the Crisis Hotline!
24/7, anytime, anywhere.
Elizabeth Zurlo is lost. She’s a wife, a mother, a teacher, a PTA volunteer—but somewhere along the way, she’s lost herself. Depression and despair can lead to desperate measures and when she is pulled back from the brink of suicide, Elizabeth slowly tries to rebuild her marriage and reclaim her life. Just as she has finally started to put herself back together, a scandalous novel rocks her small town … and costs Elizabeth her social standing, friendships and ultimately, her marriage. However, the man who seemingly destroyed Elizabeth’s life, helps her realize who she is and what she needs to do to become the woman she’s not only capable of being, but the woman she used to be.
I was drawn to this book because anything that has to do with mental illness, I naturally gravitate towards. Being a family therapist, that always piques my interest. However, this isn’t a book that dives too deep into that aspect and doesn’t go into much detail about her suicide attempt. Kathryn Biel’s writing reminded me a lot of the movie, “Desperate Housewives”, all rolled into one book.
There is suspense, intrigue, love lost/regained, self empowerment, and the storylines flows well. While this book could have easily dived into a darker side, Kathryn keeps this book to true “Chick-lit”, which balanced well.
I love the title, the storyline is really good, but I didn’t care much for the book cover. It’s a “pre” Elizabeth, and not who she eventually becomes. Otherwise, a good read!
Kathryn Biel’s Blog Tour:
May 19 – Tabby’s Tantalizing Reviews – Review
May 21 – Chick Lit Goddess – Guest Post
May 22 – Authors to Watch – Review
May 26 – The East Village – Review
May 28 – Every Free Chance Book Reviews – Excerpt
May 30 – Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Guest Post
May 30 – Books in the Burbs – Review
June 2 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
June 3 – Cupcake’s Book Cupboard – Review, Guest Post Q&A & Excerpt
June 4 – Two Children and a Migraine – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
June 5 – Every Free Chance Book Reviews – Review
June 6 – Book Reviews and More by Kathy – Guest Post
June 9 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
**Everyone who leaves a comment at CLP Blog Tours will be entered to win a print copy of the book! Please note this is open to US residents only.**
Kathryn Biel hails from Upstate New York and is a spouse and mother of two wonderful and energetic kids. In between being Chief Home Officer and Director of Child Development of the Biel household, she works as a school-based physical therapist. She attended Boston University and received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from The Sage Colleges. After years of writing countless letters of medical necessity for wheelchairs, finding increasingly creative ways to encourage the government and insurance companies to fund her clients’ needs and writing entertaining annual Christmas letters, she decided to take a shot at writing the kind of novel that she likes to read. Her debut novel, GOOD INTENTIONS, was released in 2013, and her second novel, HOLD HER DOWN was released in 2014. Her musings and rants can also be found on her personal blog, Biel Blather.
Connect with Kathryn!