Review – The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers

The Widow of Wall StreetThe Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers

Published April 11th 2017
Atria Books

 

 

5 Stars!!!!

I wasn’t sure how Wall Street/Ponzi scheme aspect of the book was going to work for me. However, I have read a couple of other books from Randy Susan Meyers and really liked them.

So I figured I would go for it and I’m really happy I did.

November 2009

“Phoebe never hated her husband more than when she visited him in prison”

Told from Phoebe’s point of view. The trip to prison is eleven hours by cab, bus, and train. Visits are hard. So many things are off-limits and can’t be talked about. Things like the kids, lack of money, his fall from grace. This makes conversation difficult. But Phoebe makes the trip. She even dresses to please him. He feels she should represent him well – EVEN THOUGH HE’S IN PRISON. (I do believe I yelled that part out loud).

Jake had the audacity to ask (well whine really)….

“Why won’t you stay longer? Other wives come Saturday and Sunday, not for a measly few hours”

She spent her life pleasing Jake, and look at how he returned the favor? He betrayed everyone…including her. In some ways he’s safer in prison. It’s Phoebe who has to walk down the street with people glaring at her or worse. She is the one the reporters hound and follow….NOT Jake. Phoebe is the one getting threatening emails and phone calls….NOT Jake. But she doesn’t know how to break the habit. How to abandon him. He only has her to lean on, she’s his security but he’s her prison…

“Jake was as much brother, father, and sometimes even child, as he was her husband”.

The book is broken into six parts that take place over the span of about fifty years. We hear mostly from Phoebe but there are parts from Jake’s perspective as well.

The early years begin in 1960. Fifteen-year-old Phoebe is young and restless. When she starts dating eighteen-year-old Jake, her mother thinks she’s getting too serious too quickly. But there’s no slowing down Jake and Phoebe. Jake has big plans. Plans to conquer the world. Phoebe believes him capable of anything.

Red flags, a few years later. Their relationship still going strong but Jake wants Phoebe all to himself. She’s in University but Jake wants her to skip classes, go to parties with him…prove her loyalty. The two sides of Jake. The charmer, protecting her but needing her at the same time. But the other side, a man who didn’t take it well when he didn’t get his way. Half the time she wants to break up with him. His ambition starts to bother her. He needs constant admiration and attention. It’s exhausting. She likes College and learning and wants more.

It’s a pivotal time in Phoebe’s life. New experiences, new people…and plates of delicious Blintzes. Then something happens that changes the course of all their lives. Now Phoebe needs rescuing and Jake is there. She tells herself she’ll never doubt him again.

Jake grows his dynasty. Children come and Phoebe remains her husband’s biggest supporter. Phoebe is close with her kids. Katie is very open with Phoebe but keeps things from Jake. Noah turns himself inside out trying to impress his father. The best athlete, the best student, but suffers from anxiety for which Jake prescribes RUNNING because no one in HIS family will ever see a therapist.

I wanted Phoebe to stand up to Jake, especially when it came to her children. I wanted her to open her eyes, to wake up…

As Jake’s success grows, Phoebe seems to grow smaller. A good mother, but always Jake’s wife. She is his biggest asset. She works the parties for him. Talking to everyone, getting them interested. All the while having no idea what things are going on behind her back.

She has suspicions but doesn’t delve too deep…

One place that Phoebe is completely happy is at the not for profit, Mira House, where she has volunteered off and on over the years. It is her refuge – a place of her own. She loves the women there and they have plans. The “Cupcake Project” to help women from all walks of life.

But will Jake get his hands in that too?

Reading Jake’s point of view made me see red at times. Did I ever want to throttle him! When he would say something egotistical or demeaning to his wife or when he would say something that he thought his son needed to hear in order to “toughen him up”. Jake talks about how much he loves Phoebe but so much talk is around her looks. How proud he was that his wife turned heads. But he would belittle Phoebe by making a comment about what she should eat. Or his thoughts about her size when she was pregnant? He hated seeing her body stretched out. His mother “let herself go” and he’d be damned if he’d ever “let a fat wife bring him down”. (My daughter has stopped checking when she hears me yelling at my books).

But there were also times that I felt his love for Phoebe and his kids. He wanted to make them proud of him.

I can’t imagine how exhausting it would be to make sure everything is perfect ALL the time. Nothing out-of-place. Even having someone tell you what perfume to wear. All the hard work to stay in shape…. trying to fight the normal aging process.

But there are some good times too.

What happens when it all comes crashing down? Will Phoebe get it together and do what’s best for her? But what is best for her?

I really enjoyed this book and I had a very hard time putting it down. It’s about money, greed, love, lies, secrets, and betrayal and more! I had worried that the book would have a lot of financial talk. The author’s descriptions helped me understand enough to keep up but didn’t go overboard. I was completely entertained and invested in this family and their lives.

Highly Recommended!

Thank you to NetGalley, Randy Susan Meyers, and Atria Books for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Throwback Thursday: Reasons to be Happy by Katrina Kittle

throwbackthursday

Throwback Thursday is a meme created by Renee at It’s Book Talk to share old favorite books rather than just the new shiny ones. This is a great idea to bring back to life some much-loved books. Please feel free to join in.

My choice for this week is :Katrina Kittle – Reasons to be Happy

https://i1.wp.com/katrinakittle.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/ReasonsToBeHappy-comp31.jpg

This is the third book from this author that I’ve picked for Throwback Thursday.

One of my ‘Reasons to Be Happy’ is that I have read this book. I read it and then passed it on to my daughter. This is a fantastic book by one of my favorite authors. I wish I could convey all the appreciation I have for the time that Katrina Kittle takes when researching and writing her books. There are times while reading her books that I have felt like she has read my mind.

This is an emotional read that deals with many important issues. Bulimia, addiction, disease, death, sexual pressures, bullying and more. I have had personal experience with some of the subject matter and thought I was fairly well-educated in regards to these issues. However, I feel like this book exposed me to things I may not have thought about otherwise. I loved the fact that the book showed how healing can take place anywhere. Even on the other side of the world.

The main character, Hannah is struggling. Her mother has cancer and her father is an alcoholic. She also battles with her own issues of low self-esteem etc. Some parts of the book may be hard to read but I feel the author serves us well by showing the true picture of topics like bulimia and addiction, as well as many other important issues.

Although this book was written for a Young Adult audience, I highly recommend it for everyone. Hannah’s struggles will resonate with many readers. Also helpful to anyone who knows someone suffering from any of these issues. Helps for better understanding.

Beautifully written, filled with inspiration and insight.

I have and will continue to read anything Katrina Kittle has written. I have read all of her books and loved them all.  They have stayed with me long after the last page.

I look forward to her next novel.

Review – Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan

Secrets of Southern GirlsSecrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan

Expected publication: June 6, 2017
Sourcebooks Landmark

 

 

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Julie Portland was raised by her aunt after losing her parents when she was young. When she met her new next door neighbor, Reba it was as if they we destined to be best friends. They were extremely close. But it’s almost like tragedy follows, Julie. When they are teenagers, Reba dies. Her death is ruled an accident but Julie feels that it’s her fault, that she’s the one responsible. She leaves Mississippi not long after.

Ten years later, after a failed marriage, Julie is living in Manhattan with her five-year old daughter Rebecca (Beck). In many ways she feels like she’s just barely surviving. Julie has found ways to deal with her pain, well at least to distract her for a little while. During those times she doesn’t have to think about a bridge or a field….or a dead girl.


“It’s not your fault she’s dead”

If only she believed that. The memories are everywhere, they refuse to let her be. She thinks she can push them away, but no matter how she tries to bury them, they always resurface.

Then out of the blue, Reba’s former boyfriend, August shows up. He claims Reba left a diary behind and he thinks that Julie has it. She assures him she doesn’t but she’s curious as to what could be written in it.


“Reba wrote about everything in that journal, if you don’t have it, then who the hell does?”

Now, August wants Julie to return to Lawrence Mill with him to find the diary. Back to the place Julie couldn’t wait to leave. But if someone else does have the diary ….then it means they may have been there that night and know what really happened. Who else is keeping secrets? August and Julie may find out things they aren’t prepared for and that maybe they didn’t know Reba as well as they thought they did.

I generally enjoy stories told from multiple points of view. I liked hearing from Julie, August and other characters. However, the chapters weren’t labelled and occasionally I would get confused whose perspective it was and had to go back to re-read. There seemed to be a lot of extra information that wasn’t really necessary in my opinion and it felt like things were a bit out-of-order at times. I understand the author was trying to build suspense, but in some ways it was distracting. I did like the inclusion of Reba’s diary entries. I enjoyed hearing the story from her point of view, though I did find that sometimes her voice sounded like it might be from someone older and more mature than she was.

I had a difficult time figuring out how to rate this book. It started out quite slow which sometimes works out, but in this case it made it harder for me to get into the story. But I kept with it and it did eventually pick up. I was very interested in finding out what was in the diary and what really happened to Reba. So while I did have some issues with this book, I still thought it was an interesting read. I look forward to seeing what the author writes next.

Thank you NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS Landmark for providing an advanced copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.

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Review: All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

All Is Not ForgottenAll Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Published July 12, 2016

St. Martin’s Press

 

 

5 STARS!

Wow!! This was a fantastic book. It gets all five stars! And if I could steal some stars from somewhere I would give it even more!

I really don’t even know where to start with this one. It’s one of those books that makes you think hard about everything you are reading. Quite often I can read a book and my mind will be on other things while still enjoying the story. But not with this book. I was focused on everything I was reading.

However, there are some parts that were extremely emotional and disturbing to read. I did have to put the book down a time or two especially when reading about the details of the attack. Although it was upsetting and there was a lot of detail, I didn’t feel like the author was trying to sensationalize anything. It was graphic but I really feel the author just wanted to try to show the reader what Jenny went through.

After she was brutally attacked at a party, Fifteen-year-old Jenny Kramer undergoes an experimental treatment that is supposed to rid her of memories of the night she was attacked. However, this doesn’t work at all like the doctors, Jenny and her family hoped it would.

There will be unexpected consequences for everyone involved….

 

**There may possibly be some very minor spoilers ahead**

The treatment has to be given within hours of the trauma for it to be effective. The parents are told that every minute that passes can reduce the effectiveness. This doesn’t give the family very much time to think things over, let alone speak to a psychiatrist or anyone else for more information or a second opinion.

At first, Jenny’s parents don’t agree on whether or not to give her the treatment. However, her mother pushes for it and her father eventually gives in. Because the treatment has to be done right away, it causes concern for the police and her father. Because if Jenny has no memory of what happened, she won’t possibly be able to help the police find who did this to her.

“if she couldn’t remember, how could she help them find this creature? How could she help put him behind bars, where he would get what he deserved?”

Jenny’s parents had been told it was a miracle treatment – to have the most horrible trauma erased from your mind. This did not end up being the miracle for Jenny. Unfortunately it didn’t completely rid her of the emotional and physiological memory of the assault. So what was removed from her mind lived on in her body and soul. Causing horrible depression and anxiety.

Dr. Alan Forrester is a psychiatrist that the family hires to help Jenny regain her traumatic memories, to return what was taken away by the drug. This psychiatrist works with other patients who have suffered after undergoing the so-called “miracle treatment”. He also runs a support group for these patients.

While the psychiatrist works with Jenny, her family begins to unravel. Her father feels that he failed as he was not there to protect her. He becomes crazed with trying to find out who did this to her. Police don’t have a lot to go on and the mother is dealing with things in her own way. It was very interesting to see how this all played out among the family.

There’s a lot going on in this novel but I found it was easy to keep up. Though we don’t know who the narrator is for the first while, there are some good clues and so when we find out who it is, it’s not a compete surprise.

I can’t imagine being given the opportunity to literally erase an event from my memory, traumatic or otherwise. I have no idea how I would react….unless I was in a position where it would be an option. I feel that prior to reading this book if I had suffered a horrible trauma I may have jumped at the opportunity. But honestly after reading this book, I’m not so sure.

But I can also understand the pull. A pill that can make you forget something so horrific? A pill……instead of years in therapy. It might sound good at first. But I guess we should know by now that nothing is that simple. Trauma cannot be cured by taking a pill. But when a doctor is telling you that it will work, that it has to be done now or never? It might be a very difficult decision to make. I’m sure I would desperately want to believe it would work.

This book had quite a few OMG moments, that I did not see coming. Of course I had some ideas about what was going on and what had happened but for the most part I was way off. Some moments snuck up on me, leaving me stunned. But I would eventually gather my thoughts eager to get back to the story to see what was going to happen next.

Very well written, this was a great psychological suspense novel. With an amazing plot and great characters. I was hooked from the start right up until the very satisfying ending. I can’t wait to read more from Wendy Walker.

 

***The author does clarify in her note that the drug treatment in the book does not currently exist (entirely). Scientists have in fact used drugs to successfully alter memories and alleviate the emotional impact with similar drugs and therapies described in this book. They are still looking for a drug to erase the memories completely. Originally intended to potentially help soldiers with things like PTSD. However, apparently it has already made its way into the civilian world. And as the author says it’s likely extremely controversial.

 

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