Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
This powerful debut is the story of the unheard and seemingly powerless women of Odessa. Elizabeth Wetmore understands the West Texas mentality with an emphasis on "men". It begins in 1976 with the brutal rape of a young Mexican American girl and what happens leading up to the trial. Told entirely from the women's perspective (young and older), their stories mirror the hard life and the emotional abuse if not physical many of them have suffered. Sadly, only one woman stands up to testify at great risk to herself and her family. She will face the town's hatred, threats, and even her own husband's wrath but still looks for justice. What stands out most in the story is that the harshness of the people matches the hardness of the land and their lives. In spite of this harshness, there still is compassion to be found in some of the female population. For fans of stories of women who endure and character-driven novels.
The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel
A very dark murder mystery of two twelve year old girls. One of the moms is a single mother whose own childhood with a meth-head mom in a trailer crowded with mom's various boyfriends was something she did not want for her own daughter. Her brother turned out ok and became a cop but once Eve's daughter and friend are found in the park with their throat cut everyone's life goes off the rails. Eve has nothing to live for except vengeance. The book moves at a fast pace but I just didn't like any of the characters enough to care about the outcome. It just left me feeling sad for all involved.
Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawson
A fast-moving and remarkable story of an Australian journalist who comes to Europe marries a well off Frenchman and becomes one of France's greatest resistance fighters and little known heroes. Nancy Wake was known by many names, had no formal training in spying or weapons and yet she led a powerful band of fighters with a big price tag on her head. While she always seemed close to being captured and death she never turned her back on a friend, her adopted country or the love of her life.
With a swipe of her red lipstick, she would bravely go into whatever situation was called for and never looked back. Nancy Wake seemed larger than life but Ariel Lawhon tells this nail-biter with wit, more than a bit of suspense and helps us view her as a real woman, not as a superhero. This will appeal to historical fiction lovers with heroic female characters.
Conjure Women by Afia Atakora
Mother and daughter are healers capable of great good but also able to create charms for those that do them harm. May Bell and her daughter Rue’s stories are told in alternating chapters ,slavery time and freedom time. After the war there is still a difficult time pulling away from what they all knew. Many did not trust that they were free or that relationship would not go back the way it had been. There is also a young preacher that comes into Rue’s life who will break away their connection to Rue and her healing and lead them towards God doing the healing. Fear, change, control, changing relationships and family are all strong themes as well as old superstitions leading to religion. The beautiful prose creates an authentic voice in this examination of the transition from slavery to freedom.
Providence by Max Barry
A handful of astronauts go into deep space to rid the galaxy of some pesky aliens who attacked a research ship. They travel in a brand new A.I. driven spaceship but letting the ship run itself and all the attacks prove difficult for the human crew and soon they begin to lose faith in why they are even there at all. The Salamanders (pet name for the alien race attacking them) seem to be outnumbering them and learning from their encounters with the spaceship. Can they rid the universe of the Salamanders and will they ever get home? First-rate space thriller that delves into the human psyche and other issues about space travel that should give us pause. Maybe humans aren't cut out for this.
Fans of space exploration with human dilemmas like THE MARTIAN will absorb this faster than a black hole.
At 68 Loreatha is looking pretty good. She has a great marriage, a close-knit group of friends and is successful with a couple of beauty shops. Her relationship with her addict daughter and antagonistic sister could use some work and she could stand to lose some weight for her health but nothing too horrible. A series of surprises, the first being the death of her husband and his son turning up out of the blue, sets her ship on an unstable course. Hopefully, with the help of her friends, she will sail calmer seas. Terry McMillan's writing speaks to women of all backgrounds and ages. She serves up guidance with a dose of humor to get us over the rough spots. Fans of her other books will see nothing different except the average age is a bit older.
When a young Hawaiian boy is gently guided back to the boat he fell from in the jaws of a shark unharmed, his family and the others who witness the event know that he has been blessed by the gods. Soon, people are coming from all over for Noa to bless them or heal them. It is exhausting for Noa but the money helps his family make it from week to week. Fast forward and Noa and his sister and brother are all going to school on the mainland where their lives will take a much different course than their parents back on the island. This story of a family falling apart and then coming back together through a tragedy. The old ways and old gods struggle against the lure of the mainland and its promise of prosperity. The old legends and beliefs of the Hawaiians have been expertly meshed with the real-life powerlessness the three siblings face. Anyone with a love of Hawaii and its people but also enjoy family-centered stories will want to read this powerful debut.
This story is a blending of lost souls and remade lives. Paul is an addict who can't seem to find his purpose in life just as Vincent, his half-sister, is searching her wild side and blindly moving from one job to the next. They both are working for a remote hotel near Vancouver when an incident forces them to run again. Vincent meets someone at the hotel who elevates her social status but still remains lost. Chapters jump from the late '90s to the present as we see how and why they ended up where they are. The author is very good at creating a misty setting always around water that seems to mirror how much (or how little) the main characters reveal themselves to others. Guilt, ghosts and the search for acceptance drives this story. Lovers of misfit families and flawed relationships will find much to love in this book.
The Return by Rachel Harrison
Three friends gather at the funeral of their friend who disappeared on a hike. They have waited for some news for two years but then with no warning she reappears, not knowing anything of where she has been for all that time. Thrilled that she is back they go on a trip to a remote hotel in the mountains to reconnect. The hotel is creepy, their friend Julie is creepy and then the weird stuff starts happening. This is THE EXORCIST meets THE SHINING. Scary, gory and one I wouldn't recommend reading on a vacation to the Adirondacks.
A memoir of sorts and also a love letter written from grandmother to granddaughter only it is written by the granddaughter channeling her dead grandmother's thoughts. It is a Jewish grandmother's guide to life. The imagined conversations along with hysterical phone messages and emails blend wonderfully. Heartwarming and comforting as a cup of coffee and a slice of rugelach. A family history of Jewish immigrants and the push to give future generations a better life than the one they fought for. Love, life lessons and advice from Grandma Bobby - it will put a smile on your face.
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