Recent Read: The Possessions

When someone dies, they leave their physical possessions behind. These possessions allow loved ones to have something remaining of their dearly departed.

And in the case of Edie and the other bodies at the Elysian Society, it allows them to channel the departed’s spirit and personality while under the influence of a “lotus.”

For the five years Edie has worked as a body, she has remained detached and never gotten close to a client. She vows to never break her rule … until she meets Patrick Braddock.

possessions

From Goodreads page

And so begins Sara Flannery Murphy’s The Possessions.

This type of book isn’t my normal fare. The ventures into the paranormal aren’t normally entertaining to me, but the mystery aspect of The Possessions convinced me to try it.

Patrick Braddock’s wife, Sylvia, died under suspicious circumstances. And Edie finds herself drawn to the mystery — both the mystery of Sylvia and of Patrick.

As Edie and Sylvia become more entwined (in more ways than one), Edie begins to question what is going on at the Elysian Society, especially when it relates to Hopeful Doe, a woman who was found dead in a vacant home nearby.

When Hopeful Doe is found to have connections to the Society, Edie starts to think about her exit strategy and worry about her own past being unearthed.

I was really intrigued by this book. It’s a unique premise that isn’t overdone and was used well in this narrative. Edie is a compelling main character because she tells the reader just enough to keep them reading. She doesn’t reveal too much and she reveals things on her own terms.

I did, however, find her “big reveal” to be a little anticlimatic for what it was built up to be over the course of the book.

Overall, Murphy’s debut novel is well-written, easy to read and provides conclusions to many of the questions the reader will have as the book reaches a close. I would be curious to see what Ms. Murphy writes next.

 

Recent Read: The Fate of the Tearling

One of the worst fears I have about reading a book series is that I won’t like the ending. I’ve always been afraid that I will become emotionally invested in a series I enjoy and then the way it ends will change my whole opinion.

And that’s what happened to me with The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen.

I really enjoyed this entire trilogy. Johansen created a world in the Tearling that is totally fascinating and unique to anything else I had ever read.

fatetearling

From Goodreads page

The Tearling is a world in the future, but it feels a lot like the past. There is not technology or medicine like we would expect. There is no printing press, no telephones, no firearms even.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

Fate of the Tearling picks up right where Invasion of the Tearling leaves off: Queen Kelsea has been taken prisoner by the Red Queen of Mortmense and Kelsea’s guard are desperate to get her back.

In the meantime, Kelsea is continuing to have visions of the past, but instead of following Lily, she’s now following Katie. These visions show the crumbling of the “Better World” created in the immediate aftermath of the Crossing and the rise of Row Finn.

I was really enjoying the story line in the third book. As a reader, I was finally getting answers to questions I had since the first book with regards to how the Tearling came to be and the history leading the “country” to the point it was at.

And then, I got to the last chapter.

I don’t know what exactly I was expecting the ending to be, but I wasn’t expecting what I got. While it makes sense given the plot and the Tearling trilogy being in the fantasy genre, I didn’t like it.

I actually really hated the ending.

I wanted there to be some recognition between the former queen and the people who had been most loyal to her. I didn’t want there to be just an entirely clean slate with only Kelsea having memories.

However, I will acknowledge that Kelsea got what she wanted. She got a normal life with lots of books and none of the pressures of ruling a kingdom. She also got a world in which the amount of evil inflicted upon it by Row Finn did not exist.

But it wasn’t how I envisioned this series ending. It really wasn’t. The ending has now colored my view of what otherwise is a fantastic series.

The Tearling trilogy is incredibly well written and is unique in its premise, character development and plot. I really truly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to anyone (I’ve already done that to be honest…). But the last chapter of the last book.

Maybe as time passes and  I reflect on the series as a whole, my reaction will soften.

Have you read the Tearling trilogy? What did you think of the ending? Let me know in the comments!

Recent Read: Don’t You Cry

As the summer season has officially begun, let me give you another book to add to what is hopefully a lengthy beach reading list.

Don’t You Cry is the third novel by Mary Kubica. The thriller centers on Quinn and Esther, roommates in Chicago.

Quinn wakes up on a Sunday morning to discover her roommate is gone without a trace. Esther’s keys and cell phone are still in the apartment and a window to the fire escape is open.

Strange, to say the least.

dontyoucry

From Goodreads page

Even stranger is a letter Quinn finds among Esther’s things, addressed to “My Dearest” and signed “EV.” And in the shredder, Quinn finds a photograph … which has a familiar face in it.

Meanwhile, in a small town in Michigan, Alex begins his shift at the local diner thinking it will be a normal day. That is until the new girl with the ombre hair and the pearl bracelet walks in and sits down.

Dubbing her Pearl, Alex begins to develop a relationship with someone he feels may be a kindred spirit … until Pearl begins acting strange.

Told in the format of alternating between Quinn and Alex’s viewpoints, Don’t You Cry is a slow burn thriller. There’s a lot of buildup and then — you hit the last 40 pages or so.

This seems to be Kubica’s signature style. In The Good Girl and Pretty Baby, her two previous novels, the plot was developed in a similar way. Alternating viewpoints, a slow build and a fast tidal wave of information and resolution.

The quick release at the end of Kubica’s novels might be the one complaint about her writing. There seems to be so much build for such little reward. And the amount of closure the reader receives isn’t always in proportion to the amount of buildup.

With that being said, I would strongly recommend Kubica’s books. The writing style is easy to follow, the alternating viewpoints keep the reader engaged and the stories are unique.

Pick up Don’t You Cry this summer and you won’t be crying over a bad book while on the beach. (See what I did there …. OK, enough with the puns. But seriously, you should check this book out.)

Recent Read: Dreamland

Dreamland is a must-read book. It’s as simple as that.
I began reading this book after Sam Quinones was scheduled to speak locally during a forum on heroin/opiate abuse and how the community could work together to find solutions to this problem. I was fascinated from the moment I started reading Dreamland.

dreamland

From Goodreads page

As a reporter covering the court system and crime, I hear a lot about heroin. I see the cases as they come through court and I hear the stories from the families whose loved ones have died. But, I hadn’t heard the story from the dealers and how they got their heroin. I hadn’t heard the stories of the pill mills (which had decreased in size and scale before I became a full-time reporter).
Sam Quinones tells those stories and the history of heroin and opiates/opiods. His writing (as a former reporter) is clear and concise and easy to follow.
With the heroin problem continuing to grow, especially with the growth of the use of drugs like Fentanyl and Carfentanil,  Dreamland is the definitive account of heroin in the United States.

Sidenote: Unfortunately, I did not get to hear Sam Quinones speak when scheduled because of an unexpected health issue. I look forward to hearing him speak at a later date.

Recent Read: Invasion of the Tearling

After finishing Erika Johansen’s Queen of the Tearling, I had to start the second book in the series.

And after finishing Invasion of the Tearling, I’m itching to start the Fate of the Tearling, the conclusion of the trilogy.

Johansen’s writing style in Invasion, bouncing between Kelsea’s story and the story of Lily, who lived before the Crossing and creation of the Tearling, is once again on point. The story is told in third-person narrative format, but the narrator does not let the reader know everything they do. The reader learns things as the characters do.

We, as readers, are discovering what the Crossing truly was as Kelsea figures it out. In some ways, Johansen has written this Tearling trilogy as a bit of a mystery, with clues for readers to try and figure things out in their own way.

This writing style is fascinating to me and while the action itself may be slow developing, the plot moves quickly and keeps the reader engaged throughout.

tearling2

From Goodreads page

The Invasion of the Tearling picks up with Kelsea Glynn facing the prospect of an imminent invasion by the Mort army, and the likely destruction of her kingdom and people.

But Kelsea is having visions of Lily, who met William Tear (the Tearling’s founder).

Kelsea begins to learn about pre-Crossing society through Lily’s eyes and the reader learns right along with her. Book 2 takes us right up through the Crossing and shows Lily coming with Tear to the brave new world he is creating, without weapons or technology.

At the end of the Invasion of the Tearling, Kelsea makes an important decision in an effort to save her people. And that slight cliffhanger is where Johansen leaves us.

What will happen to the Tearling? How did the Red Queen become leader of the Mort? Can Kelsea be saved?

I can’t wait to see how this dramatic trilogy ends.

A suggestion for those of you who may read these books: Block off time to read when you start. The Tearling books are not ones you’ll want to put down easily.

When I’ve started reading, I’ve taken hours to sit and explore the world, dissolving into it in a way that jars me awake when I put the book down.

I was sitting outside in Midwest spring temperatures one evening reading and when I looked up from the book, it took me several seconds to realize I was not in a moss-covered tunnel under a castle. Johansen’s writing is just that engaging.

I would absolutely recommend these books to all those who enjoy fantasy, science fiction, mysteries or books with a strong female lead. The Invasion of the Tearling has it all.

Recent Read: The Queen of the Tearling

I recently finished the first book in a trilogy that is wholly fascinating to me and a great read for anyone who is a fan of the fantasy/science fiction/series with a strong female lead genres.

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johnansen introduces readers to Kelsea, the queen of a kingdom in a future that seems a lot like the past.

The Tearling kingdom was founded after “The Crossing” and while it takes place in the future, there are not many of the technological advantages the future would normally have. There are no books, no computers, limited medical capabilities. The feudal system has taken hold once more.

Kelsea, 19, ascends to the throne from the back country home she had been hidden away in for nearly her entire life. As soon as she begins her journey to the throne, her life in in jeopardy and the Queen’s Guard, including Mace (also called Lazarus), are charged with protecting her.

QueenTearling

From the GoodReads book page

Once crowned, Kelsea has to deal with the strong likelihood of an invasion from the neighboring kingdom of Mortmense and a variety of other issues, namely gaining the trust of her subjects (and her guard) and figuring out how the sapphires that are part of her birthright work.

I found out about Johnasen’s trilogy when I had read that Emma Watson was interested in producing a movie based on the first book. If Emma Watson is on board, that usually means I’ll enjoy it.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this trilogy because it really didn’t sound like anything else I had read before. The cover of the book is beautiful and, although I wasn’t judging based on that alone, the presentation of the novel is spectacular.

Johansen’s writing is also a treat. While the action moves at a slower pace than other novels I’ve read in the fantasy genre, the writing moves the story along well. We get glimpses into Kelsea’s mind, her past and the world she’s learning about.

The most fascinating thing to me was learning about Tearling and the Crossing as Kelsea does. The reader doesn’t have all the information readily at hand to judge Kelsea’s actions accordingly as they occur. You learn along with the main character.

As soon as I finished Queen of the Tearling, I dove into the second book in the trilogy, The Invasion of the Tearling, which so far is just as intriguing.

This is the kind of series that you need to block out some time to read for a while because once you sit down and enter Tearling, you won’t want to leave right away.

Recent Read: Truly Madly Guilty

About an hour ago, I finished Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty, so I’m writing this review really fresh.

I had read two other books by Moriarty (The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies) in the past and thoroughly enjoyed both of them. Moriarty’s style with a twist at the end if something I truly enjoy.

trulymadlyguilty

From Goodreads page

With that being said, I have to say I wasn’t as impressed with Truly Madly Guilty. I was almost — for lack of a better word — bored with it.

Truly Madly Guilty focuses on the events immediately before, during and after a barbeque at a home in Sydney. Three couples and three children are enjoying a nice meal and some fun when the unthinkable happens: one of the children nearly drowns.

This near drowning, which isn’t unveiled until about halfway through the book, is the catalyst for a lot of discussion. Was it an accident, was the child pushed, who is at fault, is anyone at fault?

There are subplots galore, another hallmark of Moriarty’s writing style. Erika’s mom is a hoarder. Clementine and Erika have an incredibly complex friendship that is starting to unravel. Oliver and Erika want a baby, or do they? Sam and Clementine are struggling in their marriage while Clementine struggles to prepare for an important audition. Vid and Tiffany are trying to figure out parenthood and how to help their daughter, Dakota.

The “twist” at the end really didn’t shock me. I had kind of suspected something had happened. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to feel shocked even. It almost felt like Moriarty had gotten tired of writing the book and said, OK, here’s an ending. I’m done now…

I was really disappointed in Truly Madly Guilty. I wanted it to be better and live up to the other books by Moriarty that I’ve read. I intend to read The Hypnotist’s Love Story in the future as well. But this book was not her finest work.