Thursday, September 30, 2010

Alice's Review: The Last Bridge

The Last Bridge: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle)Summary: Coyne's compelling debut shines an unnerving light on the fallout from a childhood rooted in abuse. Alexandra Cat Rucker, an alcoholic strip club cocktail waitress, returns to her childhood home after her mother kills herself. She's been gone 10 years and is now uncomfortable around her brother, Jared, and sister, Wendy; while confronting her past, she also tries to discern the meaning of her mother's suicide note: He isn't who you think he is. Alternating between the complicated present and the horrific past, Coyne portrays the myriad ways family members cope with abuse. Cat's mother lived in a world of her own; Cat, the oldest, bore the brunt of her father's attacks; Jared buried himself in school sports, occasionally coming to his sister's defense when it was safe to do so; and Wendy focused on being the perfect daughter. Then there's Addison Watkins, the son of a family friend who at once offered a haven and a challenge to teenage Cat. Though the occasional one-liners distract rather than enhance, Coyne's prose effortlessly carries the reader through a thorny history and into possible redemption. Publishers Weekly

Review:  I have been looking forward to reading this book since Julie's review a few months back.  As always, I'm not quite sure where to begin.  To me The Last Bridgeis a mystery more than anything else  that reads a lot like a memoir.  It is told by Cat, an alcoholic trying to forget her past, as she tries to decipher what her mother's cryptic suicide note means.

This book was a hard one to read, not in prose but in subject matter.  It deals with physical and sexual abuse by a parent.  Ms. Coyne did a fantastic job of writing this story from the abused's point of view.  Cat was truly amazing to know.  She started out as a wary teenage, constantly hiding from her abusive father.  She experiences love in the form of a slightly older family friend who comes to stay with her family.  Her only protector is her older brother Jared.  Her sister, for all intents and purposes, is pretty useless to her.  Although her mother tries to do what she can to help her, I couldn't help but feel that as long as it was Cat getting the abuse and not her, she was totally fine with that. 

And then it happens, that one thing that Cat can't hide from.  That one thing that completely destroys her life. And gone is the teenager and in her place is a scared woman whose only way of coping with her past is to drown it in a bottle of booze. 

This novel is incredible on all accounts.  I loved the memoir feel to it.  After I was finished reading it, I wanted to go online and google Cat.  I wanted to know what she was up to, if she was able to change her life for the long haul.  I wanted to know if she kept in touch with Jared, if she found her happy ending with Addison.  I lost count of how many times I told myself she wasn't real, that she was just a character made up by a woman with an incredible gift.  And what a gift Ms. Coyne has.  She writes in a way that you can't take you eyes off the page.  You want to know what happens next. 

I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who has the courage to look inside the broken.  Who is not afraid of the truth, no matter how startling it may be.  I usually include a quote from the novel in my review.  There are many to choose from in this book, but I think the one the author herself picks says it best...

What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?  The world would split open. - Muriel Rekeyser.

And what a truth it is. 

Final Take:  4/5


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Julie's Review: The Shadow Woman

Summary: It's August and the annual Gothenburg Party is in full swing. But this year the bacchanalian blowout is simmering with ethnic discord spurred by nativist gangs. When a woman is found murdered in the park-her identity as inscrutable as the blood-red symbol on the tree above her body-Winter's search for her missing child leads him from sleek McMansions to the Gothenburg fringes, where "northern suburbs" is code for "outsider" and the past is inescapable-even for Sweden's youngest chief inspector. Psychologically gripping and socially astute, The Shadow Woman puts this master of Swedish noir on track to build an American audience on par with his international fame.

Review: Inspector Erik Winter has a hell of a case on his plate. A woman is found in a park with no id and seemingly no past. Obviously, this makes his case all that much harder when you can't identify your victim. It's hard to deduct motive without knowing who your victim was at the time of death. The Shadow Woman takes us through his journey to figure out who she was and what happened to her.

Now I don't know much about Swedish culture and the kinds of issues they have over there in regarding political or societal, but it seems to me from this book that biker gangs are a huge problem. They seem to be at the bottom of every bank robbery, murder, mayhem ensuing issue.

The case takes us in a variety of directions and I was never really sure how all of this was going to be wrapped up nicely but it did. Not only are their different directions but there is a fair amount of twists in the novel as well. I was concerned that this was not going to be related to the case and just hang out there unresolved but there is one thing Ake Edwardson does well, it's wrapping it up. You are not left wondering about something that was brought up early in the novel and then dropped. Ake Edwardson does a great job of making you care about the characters. You also get a very real feel of how police work affects the police officer's lives and psyches.

There were times when I thought the novel dragged or didn't seem to flow well but that could be due to translation. It didn't really take anything away from the novel though. There is a lot to say about this book but as usual I wouldn't want to ruin the book.

I found myself engaged in Inspector Winter's life as well. He's a very interesting character; although it does make me wonder, why cops in books are always a bit messed up in the head. Probably their line of work.

If you are looking for a great crime/thriller/mystery novel set in a different part of the world, then go pick up
The Shadow Woman. If you are looking for a replication of Steig Larson's books, this won't do it for you. These books are similar in nature to Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch novels. You will enjoy these as well if you are a fan of James Patterson's Alex Cross series.

I will be looking for the other Inspector Erik Winter novel's to add to my to be read list in 2011. I want to know more about this man who is Sweden's youngest Inspector.

Final Take: 3.75/5


Sunday, September 26, 2010

And The Winner Is...

Congratulations to Heather W for winning a copy of Elle Newmark's novel, The Book of Unholy Mischief!

Please email me (Julie) your mailing address so we can send the book off to you as soon as possible. Thanks to all of you for participating.

Girls Just Reading uses to produce the winner.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Julie's Review: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

Summary: McNees lightly imagines the life of Louisa May Alcott, whose Little Women has enjoyed generations-long success. The story begins with a 20-year-old Louisa unhappily moving with her family from Boston to Walpole, N.H., where her Transcendentalist philosopher father pursues a life sans material pleasure. Louisa, meanwhile, plans on saving enough money to return to Boston and pursue a career as a writer. Then she meets the handsome and charming Joseph Singer, who stirs up strong emotions in Louisa. Not wanting to admit that she is attracted to him, Louisa responds to Joseph with defensiveness and anger until, of course, she can no longer deny her feelings and becomes torn between her desires and her dreams. While certainly charming, the simply told, straightforward narrative reads like YA fiction. It'll do the trick as a pleasant diversion for readers with fond memories of Alcott's work, but the lack of gravity prevents it from becoming anything greater.

Review: I had been hearing some buzz about this debut novel in the blogosphere for awhile but then I had the joy of hearing Ms. O'Connor McNees read from the book. I bought it immediately after hearing her read and I'm so glad I did.

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott is a wonderful back-story to an iconic American Author. I read Little Women a couple years ago and definitely found myself wondering if Jo and Laurie were autobiographical.

Author Kelly O'Connor McNees does a fantastic job of bringing the Alcott family to life and how people lived in the late 1800s. Let me tell you, those women had hard lives and were strong, mentally and physically. There was only one person that I truly didn't like and that was Bronson Alcott. What a selfish and insufferable man! Since the man was head of the household it was his job to ensure that his family was provided for to the best of his capabilities and well the only thing he did was sit behind his desk and "think".

The book focuses on the summer that the Alcott's lived in Walpole, NH before Louisa left to go live her life as a writer. It's also the summer that Louisa fell in love with a young man, Joseph Singer. The minute they meet you know this is the relationship that transforms her, that makes her a young woman and makes her understand love and the subsequent heartbreak.

There are many points in the book when the story made me cry and made me laugh. I found Louisa and Anna totally relate-able.

I love how Ms. O'Connor McNees ended the book. She had focused on that specific summer but ended the book years later as Louisa was nearing the end of her life. The story comes full circle and to a bittersweet ending.

If you are looking for a fantastic historical fiction book about a wonderful author, then you need to run out and buy The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott.

I look forward to whatever Kelly O'Connor McNees writes in the future. I also fear that her interest in Louisa May Alcott has rubbed off a bit on me. Just more books to add to the ever growing TBR pile.

Final Take: 5/5


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Alice's Review: I Am The Messenger

I Am the MessengerSummary:   Nineteen-year-old cabbie Ed Kennedy has little in life to be proud of: his dad died of alcoholism, and he and his mom have few prospects for success. He has little to do except share a run-down apartment with his faithful yet smelly dog, drive his taxi, and play cards and drink with his amiable yet similarly washed-up friends. Then, after he stops a bank robbery, Ed begins receiving anonymous messages marked in code on playing cards in the mail, and almost immediately his life begins to swerve off its beaten-down path. Usually the messages instruct him to be at a certain address at a certain time. So with nothing to lose, Ed embarks on a series of missions as random as a toss of dice: sometimes daredevil, sometimes heartwarmingly safe. He rescues a woman from nightly rape by her husband. He brings a congregation to an abandoned parish. The ease with which he achieves results vacillates between facile and dangerous, and Ed's search for meaning drives him to complete every task. But the true driving force behind the novel itself is readers' knowledge that behind every turn looms the unknown presence - either good or evil - of the person or persons sending the messages. Zusak's characters, styling, and conversations are believably unpretentious, well conceived, and appropriately raw. Together, these key elements fuse into an enigmatically dark, almost film-noir atmosphere where unknowingly lost Ed Kennedy stumbles onto a mystery - or series of mysteries - that could very well make or break his life. - School Library Journal

Review:   Let me start by giving you a little background before I jump into my review. Last month, I went a little online book shopping crazy.  One of the books I picked up was critically acclaimed  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  I thought since The Book Thief received such great reviews, I wanted to try something else by the author.  I picked this one up too, and man, am I glad I did.

I Am The Messenger stars Ed Kennedy as a young man with no future, he barely even has a present.  He's a nineteen year old card-playing cab driver who is a bit of a smartalec with no real career, no respect in the community, no great love, well, nothing much at all.  He constantly asks himself "Well Ed - what have you really achieved in your nineteen years?"  He can't come up with anything either.  That's all about to change for him when for some reason he'll "never understand," he thwarts a bank robbery.  And that's when the cards start coming.   First the message is obvious, an address and time written on the card.  Then they start to get a little tricky, riddles he has to solve in order to deliver his messages.  Sometimes his messages are as easy as an delivery ice cream to as difficult as taking a human life.  But he does them, he doesn't know why but he keeps at it until the end.

This has to be one of the best Young Adult novels I've read in a long time.  The best way to describe this novel is that it's a coming of age story.  It's dark, suspenseful and laugh-out-loud funny.  Mr. Zusak does an incredible job of delivering realistic characters.  I know Ed, I've met him before.  He is in my Godson David, he's in every kid who had no idea what to do with their life, who starts a journey and finds their way.  I love how Ed refers to himself as "less than ordinary," when we know he is anything but.  I couldn't put this book down because I wanted to know what he would do next. I loved how the answers just came to him, how they were there all along but it was his growing confidence in himself that revealed them. I loved the relationship he had with his friends, and then with the people he helps.  My favorites are Sophie the barefoot runner and proud family man Lua Tatupu. 

I think even though this novel is written for our younger readers, it's a story that can be enjoyed by all.  I liked it, I really did and I look forward to seeing what else Mr. Zusak has up his literary sleeve.  He does a great job of delivering fantastic kernels of goodness.  I will leave you with this one:  "It's impeccable how brutal the truth can be at times.  You can only admire it."

Final Take: 4/5


Friday, September 17, 2010

Julie's Review: My Name is Memory

My Name Is Memory Summary:  A romance that stretches across centuries and past lives constitutes the core of Brashares's varied second adult novel, the first in a planned trilogy. The story is primarily that of Daniel, as, in the present, he pursues Lucy (whom he knows as Sophia in a previous life) and attempts to persuade her of their history and destiny, but his passion initially and understandably scares her off. He disappears, presumed dead, but Lucy, unable to forget him, investigates his claims of their history until she discovers the truth. Meanwhile, Daniel takes readers on a tour of romantic near-misses, from sixth-century Africa through eighth-century Turkey to WWI. The story moves slowly and predictably, though when a plot finally materializes, Brashares (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) manages some satisfying momentum, even if the story begins to feel like it's borrowed from a James Patterson novel. Brashares's insights into human nature, meanwhile, should appeal to readers who enjoyed The Time-Traveler's Wife, but can appreciate a Nicholas Sparks-esque sensibility. ~ Publishers Weekly

Review: Let me first say this, I LOVED Time Traveler's Wife; therefore I don't take comparisons to that book lightly. Frankly, I don't think anything can/should be compared to that book. I haven't read anything like it since and probably won't again. That being said, there are parallels to it with My Name is Memory but for me the love story in this book isn't as epic as TTW. This is also my first Ann Brashares' novel, as I don't really read YA novels. (I did like the movies based on her Traveling Pants series though). Just like in TTW, you have to suspend belief in My Name Is Memory as well, unless of course you already believe in past lives; which I don't. The novel is about Daniel's quest over his lives to find his true love Sophia. They have met many times previously but this time he is determined to make it work between them. He does find Sophia, and she's currently in high school and living as Lucy. (Yes I know it could get confusing but it doesn't).

The premise behind the novel is that we all have past lives but Daniel and few others are special in the fact that they can remember theirs, not everyone does but everyone is left with marks from them. It is an interesting theory but let's just say I'm not sold.

Ms. Brashares spends a good portion of the book going between present day and back thousands of years to some of Daniel's past lives. These are the lives that were most important to him because these are where him and Sophia intersect. While I appreciated the stories on the back lives, I really wanted more of the story written in the present. I wanted more of Lucy's story. I wanted more of her journey and we do get that in the second part of the book.

For me the love story was one sided for most of the book until Lucy starts to have her revelation. So for me, the love story isn't epic. Did I buy that these two people needed to be together? By the end yes but during the story, not so much. I felt that Lucy had a long way to go to catch up with Daniel.

I loved Lucy's adventure. I loved how she discovered things about herself and how she took her fate into her own hands. She was courageous and strong. A wonderful role model for young women. Now, I wasn't as disappointed in the ending as Alice was (her review here) but I can understand why she was disappointed. Essentially, there is no resolution. This leads me to believe it's a series or maybe a trilogy. I would love a trilogy. This book dealt with the past, the next one firmly planted in the present and the final book in the future. Makes sense to me. :) I did think that the book dragged a bit in places but it definitely picked up towards the middle.

I did read that My Name Is Memory has been optioned for a movie. Whether it gets made, is another story.

It wasn't that characters that I thought about when I would put this book down but the subject matter. In fact, thinking about past lives one night gave me only 5 hours of sleep. It wasn't my past lives I was pondering but my kids. Do we have them and if so, why? I guess if you were Hindu you definitely believe in them, right? I also had a conversation with my hubby about it. He said it was only 9am and this was more of a conversation for night with a bottle of wine. :) He said he used to believe in past lives but not so much anymore. He also said either we all have past lives or none of us have them. Interesting thought, yes?

So if you are looking for a love story that will jar your brain into other ideas about souls, then My Name Is Memory is the book for you.

Final Take: 3.75/5


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jenn's Review: 13 to Life

13 to LifeSummary:  Everything about Jessie Gillmansen’s life changed when her mother died. Now even her hometown of Junction is changing. Mysterious dark things are happening. All Jessie wants is to avoid more change. But showing a hot new guy around Junction High, she’s about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accent—he’s a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is sure to bring big trouble to Jessie’s small town. It seems change is the one thing Jessie can’t avoid…

Review:  13 to Life is my first werewolf book... and I like it. Shannon Delany, unfurls her plot exposition a little bit at a time, dropping nuggets of information, but they are golden nuggets...

Though slow to start,  the story is engaging.  The characters are interesting, and it's the need to know more about them, that pulls the reader into the book.  Jessica is no meek heroine, but she still has teenage girl vulnerabilities, making her quite accessible.  In particular Jessie's friendship with Sarah is fascinating.  Without spoiling the plot, I must say that I'm just as drawn to the tabula rasa...

Delany's writing style took a little getting used to for me.  She sometimes jumps ahead a little bit in the story, and makes reference to things that occur prior to the jump not included in her story (such a note in someone's pocket without a mention of the note ever being passed, etc.) and for a while I would backtrack while reading, to see if I'd missed something but I got used to it after a while. The only detail that bothered me slightly is Pietr's last name.  Russian names change within a family for males and females... so while his sister's last name would be 'Rusakova', Pietr and his brother's should be 'Rusakov'.  Delany's also not a writer who uses many sensual descriptions, so it forced me a little further into my own imagination to create my own. The plot is solid, however, with plenty of twists and turns, some I saw coming, and some that caught me completely unawares.

All in all, a good introduction to werewolves for me... It is certainly a "pebble that starts an avalanche" type of read.  Once it gets going things start to snowball out of control so that by the end you are desperate for the sequel, Secrets and Shadows, due out in February.  I know I can't wait!

Final Take: 4.0/5

By the way, be sure to check out Shannon Delany's website, especially the 'Fun with Werewolves' section...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Giveaway: The Book of Unholy Mischief

Earlier today, author Elle Newmark did a wonderful guest blog for us. We are lucky enough to have a copy of her novel The Book of Unholy Mischief: A Novel to giveaway.

In order to qualify for this fantastic book, you need to do the following:
  1. In the comments section, tell us how you follow our blog (Google Friend, Twitter and/or our Facebook page). 
  2. Tell us what excites you about this book and why you want it
  3. Enter the contest by September 25th at Midnight EST
Good Luck!!

Guest Blog: Elle Newmark

Photobucket I LOVE books. Adore them. Go through them like a drunk with a six-pack. And that's why I now can't live without my Kindle.

First I objected to ordering books online. Give up the ambiance of a bookstore? Lose up the comforting sight of shelves jam-packed with literary adventures? Pah! Get thee to a nuthouse.

But then one day it was raining and I was still in my jammies and I wanted to buy a book. I heard the siren song of Amazon and never looked back. It's not only convenient it's cheaper. And here's the thing: They have not banned me from the bookstore. It's not an either/or. And, like it or not, it's here to stay.

Then came the Kindle, and I balked. I'm a writer. I stare at a computer screen all day. And the Kindle has such a tiny screen. What about the nice heft of a real book in my hands? What about the Pavlovian response I have to the smell of ink on paper? No Kindle for me, thank you very much.

But then one day I had to go to India for a month-long research trip for my new novel, and I was faced with needing to carry enough books to last me. Full of shame and apprehension, I bought a Kindle and loaded up about 20 books for India.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the screen does not glare like a computer screen. It's some kind of freaky new technology that makes it as easy on the eyes as paper. And you can change the font size! One night I was reading a really good book in bed and falling asleep, but I didn't want to put it down. I kept making the font bigger until I was only getting like six words on a page. I finally put it down and went to sleep, and I didn't give myself a concussion by dropping a big old hardcover on my head when I passed out.

And the books are cheap. My novel, The Book of Unholy Mischief is $26 in the bookstore and $17 on Amazon. On Kindle it's $9.99. So if you buy enough books, the thing eventually pays for itself.

This is not an ad for Kindle and I don't work for Amazon. I am an author and my first purchase on Kindle was my own novel, The The Book of Unholy Mischief. You can read more about it on my website, Elle Newmark, and that was another thing I objected to at first. Put up a website?

But then one day I got this book deal from Simon & Schuster.

Thanks to Elle Newmark for taking the time to put down her thoughts about reading and technology.

You can find my review of The Book of Unholy Mischief: A Novel here. It was one of my favorite reads in 2009.


Monday, September 13, 2010

And The Winners Are...

First and foremost, a HUGE Thank You for all of you who came by and checked out our blog. We hope you enjoyed what you saw/read and will keep coming back for more. BlogFest 2010 was the first major blogging event we've done and it was a huge success for us!

Now, onto the winners. Below are the names of the winners for our BlogFest 2010 Giveaway. I will be emailing each of you the details of the books you won and will need your snail mail address in response.

Nikki H
Connie Black
Eva SB

As always, GJR used to produce our winners.
Congratulations to all of you!! You are about to receive some fantastic books.


Friday, September 10, 2010

BlogFest 2010

The four of us here at Girls Just Reading are excited to be participating in this year's Blogfest hosted by Journey of Books. It is the first time we've taken part in something like involving a variety of blogs.

What is Blogfest you might ask? 

BlogFest is a massive carnival of giveaways with a great collection of participating blogs. Each blog has a giveaway and the idea is to hop from blog to blog, entering all the giveaways your little heart desires. Hopefully you might even come across a few blogs you might want to bookmark and continue visiting.

How do I enter to win?

Each blog has their own giveaway and their own rules. The giveaways will start at midnight EST on the morning of September 10th and run through 11:59pm on the night of the 12th. That's a whole 72 that you get to visit as many blogs as you want and enter their amazing giveaways.

~Journey of Books

In order to celebrate we have a fantastic giveaway planned. Here are the details:

1 copy each of the following:
Last Writes: A Forensic Handwriting Mystery by Sheila Lowe
Running Dark by Jamie Freveletti
Stein, Stoned by Hal Ackerman
Mothers and Other Liars by Amy Bourret
Outside Wonderland by Lorna Jane Cook
Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas
The Trilogy of Josephine B by Sandra Gulland* - all three will go to one winner.
*To win these books you must be a resident of the US or Canada.

2 copies each of the following:
Breaking Night by Liz Murray
Cheap Cabernet by Cathie Beck

3 copies each of the following:
The Marriage Artist by Andrew Winer
Kingdom Under Glass by Jay Kirk
City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell

10 Custome GJR Bookmarks by Kristin at Kristin Lee Cards

In order to qualify as well, you need to tell us how you follow us: Google Friend, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

We will pick 10 winners. Each winner will get 2 books and 1 bookmark! Please follow us, leave your email in the comments, and let us know if you'd prefer a specific book. If not, all of these books look fantastic!

Special Thanks to the following who helped us pull these giveaways together:

Kristin from Kristin Lee Cards
Dana Kaye from Kaye Publicity
Jason from Henry Holt
Brittney from St. Martin's Press
Allison from Hyperion/Voice
Diane Saarinen and SandraGulland

Here is a list of all the other fabulous giveaways going on!  GO: Blogfest List

Next stop on your journey Bookish Delights

By the way, don't forget about the massive BlogFest 2010 grand giveaway! Head on over to and click on the Tracking Site link to head to our own exclusive tracking site. Once there you can register with a valid email address (to be used solely for the purpose of contacting the winner). This site will allow you to track your progress through BlogFest 2010! You can log on from anywhere at any time and continue where you left off. The best part is that every blog that you visit and mark off through this tracking site will give you one entry into the massive giveaway! We have a great collection of books, goodies and other swag that is looking for a new home!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Julie's Review: Secrets of Eden

Summary: Bohjalian (Law of Similars) has built a reputation on his rich characters and immersing readers in diverse subjects—homeopathy, animal rights activism, midwifery—and his latest surely won't disappoint. The morning after her baptism into the Rev. Stephen Drew's Vermont Baptist church, Alice Hayward and her abusive husband are found dead in their home, an apparent murder-suicide. Stephen, the novel's first narrator, is so racked with guilt over his failure to save Alice that he leaves town. Soon, he meets Heather Laurent, the author of a book about angels whose own parents' marriage also ended in tragedy. Stephen's deeply sympathetic narration is challenged by the next two narrators: deputy state attorney Catherine Benincasa, whose suspicions are aroused initially by Stephen's abrupt departure (and then by questions about his relationship with Alice), and Heather, who distances herself from Stephen for similar reasons and risks the trip into her dark past by seeking out Katie, the Haywards' now-orphaned 15-year-old daughter who puts into play the final pieces of the puzzle, setting things up for a touching twist. Fans of Bohjalian's more exotic works will miss learning something new, but this is a masterfully human and compassionate tale.

Review: It's been a while since I've read a Chris Bohjalian novel and while Secrets of Eden starts a bit slow out of the gate; it doesn't take long to wrap me up in the story. He tells the story of Alice and George Hayward from four separate views: Reverend Stephen Drew, Prosecutor Catherine Benincasa, Heather Laurent and Katie Hayward. Each of these views have their own interest in the story, which makes them great fabricators of the truth. Or telling the truth from their viewpoint which is slightly distorted. Mr. Bohjalian decided to start the novel out with the Reverend's story. It's not that I didn't like Stephen, it's just that I found him a little removed from the situation, when he was really knee deep in it. It's not hard to figure out his relationship with Alice from the get go.

Catherine Benincasa has her heart set on going after Reverend Drew. She thinks he most certainly had something to do with one of the deaths in Haverhill that night. What I want to know is why did she focus on him solely? A lot of people knew what was going on in the Hayward house, so it could have been anyone that saw it fit to take care of the situation.

The least interesting part was Heather Laurent's point of view. I somewhat understand why she was brought into the story, she had a similar experience when she was Katie's age but the whole angel angle threw me off. I just didn't get how they fit into the story. Maybe I'm missing the point.

I thought it was brilliant that Mr. Bohjalian finished the book with Katie. She's the only one that knew what happened in that house on a regular basis and the only one who could lend real insight to the readers. The book comes to the climax in the last 10 pages of the book and the last line is a dozy. I loved it! It made me go back and read those pages again to make sure I fully understood what I just had finished.

I thought Mr. Bohjalian handled the subject of religion and domestic abuse in an honorable fashion. Domestic abuse is never an easy subject to write about and address but he did it with no glossing over. He even addressed the typical "honeymoon" phase. Those of us not in those situations will never know what it is like to be living like that on a daily basis.

While I liked the book, it is definitely not my favorite of his but he definitely knows how to weave a story. To read my favorite Chris Bohjalian  novel,  you will need to pick up The Double Bind. That book still remains on my top 10 books of all time. It blew me away.

Final Take: 3.5/5