Review – I Liked My Life

I Liked My LifeI Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

Published January 31, 2017

St. Martin’s Press

 

 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I more than just liked, “I Liked My Life”, I LOVED it!!

From the very first sentence I was hooked!

Madeline (Maddy) tells us…..

“I found the perfect wife for my husband” and “Recruitment is the least I can do”

You see Maddy is not among the living anymore, but she’s not exactly gone either. She is somewhere not here. Her life is just out of reach. At first she wonders if she’s in purgatory.

“The Last World sits unceremoniously like a movie screen below me. There’s no spirit offering guidance”

She senses that this isn’t her last stop. She feels like there is a world beyond where she is right now, but she doesn’t see a path yet. There is just space and time….

So for now she’s going to make the best of it. And that’s where finding someone perfect for her husband, Brady comes in. However, she’s not just looking for someone to make her husband happy. She’s looking for someone to help her teenage daughter, Eve too. She doesn’t feel like she can move on or find peace until she fixes things for her family.

Then Maddy spots Rory. Cool, calm, level-headed, lovely and she even likes to cook. Rory has the patience of a saint, from what Maddy can see. However, Rory has a lot going on in her life and has suffered through her own devastating loss. Maddy feels that Eve and Rory will be able to relate to each other. She’s convinced that Rory is perfect for Brady and Eve and that they are perfect for her.

“This woman is my chance to make things right. My family deserves more than I left them”

*** Possibly very minor spoilers ahead. Usually things that are already mentioned in the description or within the first few pages of the book.***

 

Maddy was a devoted and loving wife and mother. So what could possibly have made her take her life?

When we first meet Maddy’s daughter, Eve, we can see right away how hard she is grieving. She’s thinking about the fact that it’s Mother’s Day but that it’s no longer a holiday for her. She’s also thinking about how bad her father is at this parenting thing without her mom there to tell him what to do. Eve and Brady have been at each others throats lately and without Maddy there to smooth things over, things only seem to be getting worse.

Eve spends a lot of time on her own. Her friends don’t know how to deal with someone who is mourning the loss of a parent. They either ignore it or go completely overboard. Her friend, Kara is a drama queen who even made a spectacle of herself at Eve’s mother’s funeral, crying as if she lost her own mother. Eve also feels incredibly guilty about how she thinks she treated her mother. She feels horrible about every time she may have forgotten to say thank you or every time she interrupted her and so many other things she may have said or not said to her mother. She wonders if it’s her fault.

She doesn’t know how she’ll make it without her mother.

Then there’s Maddy’s husband, Brady. Brady is lost in his own grief (and glasses of bourbon). He cannot believe Maddy is dead, that she jumped off a building. He had no idea that anything was wrong. Even the last text she sent him was benign, something about how to fit everyone for Easter dinner. Why would she ask about dinner and then kill herself? Psychologists try to tell him that suicide can often be impulsive, especially in cases like Maddy’s, but Brady calls bull on all of that.

But why did she do it? How could she leave them?

Brady is so caught up in what he’s going through that he’s not aware of how much his daughter is suffering, and how much she needs him.

Brady and Eve attempt to work their way through a grief so unimaginable. At times they are almost positive they can feel her presence. Brady thinks he hears her laugh and Eve even feels like her mother’s comforting her at times. When Brady finds Maddy’s journal, both him and Eve cling to it, hoping they will find the answers in her private thoughts.

I really enjoyed this book. I thought how the story was told from multiple points of view worked very well. I LOVED how Maddy “communicated” with people from her perch/eye in the sky. Finding out how everything came to the point it did. The characters and relationships felt very genuine. Oh did this book ever make me emotional. A few times I had to stop reading just to go hug my daughter….or call my mother. But it wasn’t all sad, there were many lighthearted moments. Both Eve and Maddy were quite witty, with some great one-liners. I grew very attached to these characters and their stories. There was a lot going on and although some parts were unexpected, I thought it all fit together very well.

In my opinion, this was a fantastic novel. A story about love and loss, life and death, and above all healing and forgiveness. One of the best debut novels I’ve read.

Please hurry and write more for me to read, Abby Fabiaschi. I can’t wait!

 

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.

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Review – The Girl Before

The Girl BeforeThe Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

Published January 24, 2017

Ballantine Books

 

 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Girl Before is a psychological thriller that is getting a lot of attention. The movie rights have even been sold to Universal with Ron Howard to direct. I didn’t know any of that when I first read the description for the book. I just thought it sounded like an entertaining read.

“Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.”

One Folgate Street in London, is a high-tech minimalist house with so many cool amenities and features that you would figure the rent would be sky-high. But the rent is actually very reasonable.

So what’s the catch? Well there’s no catch really…

Except for….THE RULES!!

Tenants are required to follow very a list of very strict rules. Things like no pets, paying rent on time, no loud noise after 11pm, take out the garbage. You know, things like that…

NOPE…not at all like that.

There are over 200 rules that tenants MUST be abide by in order to live in the house.

To say that the owner/landlord of One Folgate Street is picky about who lives in the house is an understatement. To say that he’s a bit particular about his rules for the tenants is putting it mildly. The rental application is extremely long and includes many bizarre (and impossible) questions.

“A person close to you confesses in confidence that they ran someone over while drunk. As a result they have given up drinking for good. Would you feel obliged to report it to the police?”

Is it worth it to live in such a beautiful high-tech home? This home with its awesome hidden gadgets. A house cleaner comes weekly. The lights, heat and cooling will set to tenants personal preferences. The shower will also adjust to their personal settings. Even the air in the house makes you feel better with its ultrasonic – mood enhancing waveforms.

“Imagine a hospital where the structure itself becomes part of the healing process, or a home for dementia sufferers that actually helps them to remember. This house might be simple, but it’s ambition is extraordinary.”

Just don’t forget…..the RULES. The main one? NO CLUTTER! Everything has its place, usually out of sight. So no pictures, no plants, no ornaments, no books….wait NO BOOKS???? (OMG!!! that’s just wrong!)

The owner, Edward Monkford is the architect who built the house. He also lives a minimalist lifestyle. He will not rent unless he finds the perfect tenant. But his need for control goes so much farther than that. And yet… some people are drawn to the “tormented genius”. But who is Edward really? What happens if someone does break the rules?

Emma and her boyfriend, Simon are looking for a safe place to live after a recent break-in. However, their budget is a bit tight and everything is either horrible or too expensive. Then the agent shows them One Folgate Street. She explains the lengthy process for application. Simon is hesitant but Emma feels like the place might be exactly what they need. The rules make her feel secure. She wants to reinvent herself, bring order to her life, to change and be a better person.

The house may change her, but will it be for the better?

We then meet Jane. After a devastating loss, Jane is looking for new place to live. She wants to make a new start and hopes that One Folgate Street is the place to do it. But it’s not long before some strange things start happening. Jane learns some of the dark history of the house and is determined to find out more, especially what happened to the previous tenant.

The house may be inexpensive and full of high-tech gadgets, but the walls of the house are also full of secrets. Where is the previous tenant? and is Jane in any danger?

“That’s all anyone’s looking for really, isn’t it? Someone to take care of the mess inside our heads?”

This book may not be for everyone. There is a lot of sex. Some of the characters “turn-ons” may be “turn-offs” for some readers. It wasn’t really my thing and I could have done without those parts. However, it didn’t really interfere with my enjoyment of the rest of the book.

The chapters alternate between THEN and NOW and are narrated by Jane (NOW) and Emma (THEN). I flew through the pages. Occasionally I had to flip back to double-check whether it was Emma or Jane but most of the time I was able to keep up. The story may have been hard to believe and far-fetched at times, but I decided to try to go with the flow and enjoy it…

In the end I really liked this novel. I was pulled and it got right inside my head. I had to know what was going to happen! A thrilling story about a house I would NEVER want to live in, (seriously I could not handle any of the rules) but I sure enjoyed reading about it.

 

P.S Put your shampoo away

Thank you, Ballantine Books for providing an advanced copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.

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Review- The Fall of Lisa Bellow

The Fall of Lisa BellowThe Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo

Expected publication: March 14, 2017

Simon & Schuster

 

4.5 Stars

I came across this book by chance. I was actually searching for another book and this one popped up. I thought it sounded really interesting.

As the book opens we meet Meredith Oliver age thirteen. Meredith is in the eighth grade, she tells us how it’s all downhill after grade five.

“In fifth grade you were still friends with everyone, whether you liked it or not because it was easier for the adults that way”

The playing field was even and the same things happened to everyone. But by sixth grade the playing field drastically changed. Meredith has spent the last two years since trying to find her place.

All of this is made so much harder by Lisa Bellow….

Lisa Bellow and Meredith Oliver are not friends. They actually don’t like each other much at all.

One afternoon after school Meredith decides to stop at the local sandwich shop. She really wants a root beer. However, when she sees Lisa Bellow in the shop placing an order for moment she debates walking away. But when Lisa catches her eye through the glass, Meredith figures it will look weird if she leaves now, so she walks in. Two minutes later a man enters the store with a gun and orders the girls to the floor.

Both of their lives are forever changed.

Meredith is terrified… positive she’s about to die. But the next moment the man is gone and she’s alone on the floor. The man has left ….but he’s taken Lisa with him.

In the aftermath of Lisa’s abduction the community rallies together, Meredith retreats into herself. She rarely speaks to anyone. Her mother, Claire doesn’t know how to get through to her. She knows she’s still lucky that her daughter is not the one missing, she’s right down the hall in her bedroom…..yet she’s not.

How does a family go on after something like this happens?

A story about a missing girl but also the girl left behind. We also see how the families are affected by this devastating crime. How they relate to each other as they try to deal with what has happened. Each individual copes in their own way, ways very different from what we might expect.

This is a well-written and interesting story that was easy to follow. The characters realistic and well-drawn, flaws and all. I was fascinated with how Meredith coped in the aftermath of what had happened. I found Meredith’s mother, Claire especially intriguing as I tried to understand some of her actions. As the mother of a teenage girl this was a terrifying read in many ways.

The Fall of Lisa Bellow is a novel about a horrible crime and the aftermath of that crime. But it is also about family, love, friendship, loss, anger, guilt, and forgiveness. A dark yet beautifully written coming of age story. I am absolutely looking forward to reading more from Susan Perabo.

Thank you NetGalley, Simon & Schuster, and Susan Perabo for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.

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Review – Her Every Fear

Her Every FearHer Every Fear by Peter Swanson

Published January 10, 2017

William Morrow

 

 

3.5 Stars

I am so far behind on the books I want to read. This is my first read from Peter Swanson. I’ve been wanting to read “The Kind Worth Killing” for a long time, I just haven’t gotten to it. But when this book popped up, ┬áit sounded like something I needed to read right away!

Kate Priddy lives in London and has decided to switch apartments with her distant cousin Corbin, who is from Boston. The switch will be for six months and after the stress Kate has been under, it sounds like a good idea. She can take classes while staying in Boston as well as do some sightseeing.

However, she’s already wondering if this was such a great idea.

As the books opens, Kate is already in Boston, stuck in a tunnel under Boston Harbor. Traffic is blocked and she’s starting to panic. Panic attacks are not new to Kate and she tries to deep breath to calm herself…

“Face it. Accept it. Float with it. Let time Pass” is her mantra

The darkness and the smell reminds Kate of being trapped in another dark place after she was kidnapped and held in a closet. Just when she feels like she’s headed for a full flown anxiety attack traffic starts moving.

She gets to her cousin’s apartment and falls in love with the space and the view. A few moments later she hears noises in the hall. A woman is worried about her friend who has not been answering her messages. Kate has a strange feeling that something awful has happened to the woman.

Now she REALLY feels like she should never have some to America.

The story was told from multiple points of view. Occasionally the different viewpoints of the same event became repetitive, which was a bit annoying. However, I still enjoyed this book. It held my attention and didn’t take more than a few sittings to read.

I look forward to reading more from Peter Swanson.

Thank you NetGalley, Faber & Faber, and Peter Swanson for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.

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