Review: All is Not Forgotten

All Is Not ForgottenAll Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Published July 12, 2016

St. Martin’s Press

 

My rating: 5 of 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 everything 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.

Jenny’s mother and father did not agree about giving her treatment at first. 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 and I wasn’t at all bored, exactly the opposite. 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 surprising.

I can’t imagine being given the opportunity to literally erase an event from my memory, traumatic or otherwise. Honestly I wouldn’t know 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 on and what had happened but for the most part I was way off. Some moments snuck up on me, leaving me stunned. I would finally gather my thoughts again and get back into the story eager to read 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 it’s way into the civilian world. And as the author says it’s likely extremely controversial.

Thank you to NetGalley, Wendy Walker and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Review: Don’t You Cry

Don't You CryDon’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

Published May 17, 2016

MIRA

 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A couple of years ago I read “The Good Girl” by Mary Kubica and really enjoyed it. I thought the book description for “Don’t You Cry” sounded promising and I was looking forward to reading it.

When I first started the book I had a bit of a hard time getting into it. I kept getting confused. I think part of my confusion with the book was due to some formatting issues. A couple of chapters or sections looked like they were kind of smooshed together which made it hard to figure out whose point of view it was. Because this was an advanced readers copy I’m sure that would have been fixed on the final copy.

The book opens on a Sunday morning in Chicago and is told at first from Quinn Collins point of view. Waking with a bit of a hangover to the jarring noise of her roommates alarm clock. Irritated with the noise, Quinn gets out of bed to see why on earth Esther has not turned it off yet. However, when she gets to her roommates room, she sees that Esther is not there. She sees the fire escape window open, but no sign of Esther anywhere in the apartment.

Quinn isn’t worried at first. She figures as it’s Sunday that Esther has probably left for church and has just forgotten to turn off her alarm clock. After most of the day has gone by with no sign of Esther, Quinn decides to have a look around Esther’s room to see if she can glean any information about where she could be.

When she finds a strange letter addressed to “My Dearest” she’s not sure what to make of it. Quinn is usually the one who is known for not making the best decisions (for example the stranger in bed with her when she woke up that morning). But all of a sudden she’s not so sure everything is okay with Saint Esther.

“I should have known right away that something wasn’t right”.

Quinn isn’t sure what to do as she doesn’t know Esther’s parents or anyone else to call. Where is Esther? Is it possible Quinn doesn’t know her roommate as well as she thinks she does?

Next we meet Alex. At this point we’re not sure who Alex is and what he has to do with the original plot. I was a bit confused but I decided to keep reading, and trust that everything would come together. Alex is an eighteen year old boy with an absent mother and alcoholic father. He doesn’t seem to have a lot of friends but is very friendly with fifty-year-old agoraphobic woman named Ingrid. He often delivers her groceries and runs other errands for her. He’s also recently become a bit obsessed with a woman who has recently started coming to the restaurant where he works as a dishwasher.

There was a whole lot going on in this novel. As the book alternates from Quinn’s point of view to Alex’s it almost felt like I was reading two different, but interesting stories. I was enjoying the read but I did find I had to pay very close attention to what was happening. Lots of twists and turns in this book.

I have to say i was very surprised by the ending. I think even if I had figured out what was happening I would still have enjoyed this book. But the fact that I wasn’t even close with any of my guesses made it even better.

Mary Kubica knows how to write an engrossing and suspenseful novel that kept me in its grips right up until the dramatic conclusion.

Thank you to NetGalley, MIRA, and Mary Kubica for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Review: Behind Closed Doors

Behind Closed DoorsBehind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Published February 16, 2016 (UK)

Published August  9, 2016 (US & CA)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished this book late last night and I still can’t stop thinking about it.

I have been wanting to read Behind Closed Doors for quite some time. So when I finally got my hands on it I just had to put everything else aside and start reading. And I was pulled in right away.

***Possibly some minor spoilers but I honestly tried my best!!!***

“The perfect marriage or the perfect lie?”

The story alternates between the present and past and is told from Grace’s point of view. The past only a few months before Grace and Jack get married.

The book starts in the present. Husband-and-wife, Jack and Grace Angel are hosting a dinner for two other couples. One couple are old friends of Jack’s and another couple is new to the area. Everyone marvels over dinner and the house. When talk turns to Jack’s job as a lawyer, everyone congratulates him on his most recent conviction.

Jack champions battered wives and has never lost a case.

“I have nothing but contempt for men who are found to be violent towards their wives”, Jack says firmly. “They deserve everything they get.”

But of course things aren’t always what they seem. As the title suggests we do not know what goes on behind closed doors. Is Grace Angel an example of a woman who has it all? A perfect house, a perfect husband, the perfect life?

Grace serves an extravagant meal and both her and Jack are wonderful hosts. Grace makes sure that everything goes flawlessly. The food is wonderful, she asks all the right questions and answers all questions perfectly.

We learn more about Jack and Grace and how they got together. They met about 6 months before at a park Grace frequently went to with her 17-year-old sister, Millie. They liked to go there as there was often a band playing and Millie loves music. Millie was enjoying the music and started dancing. After a few minutes, though her dancing seemed to annoy a few people. Grace was just about to ask Millie to stop when Jack came out of nowhere, dancing with Millie and charming everyone watching, including Grace.

Grace’s sister Millie has Down’s syndrome and can be very spontaneous. When Jack came to her rescue instead of people staring they started to clap, leading to a very special moment. Both Grace and Millie fell almost immediately in love with Jack.

At first Grace was hesitant to get involved in a relationship. Her sister Millie boards at a school that she loves and where she is well taken care of. Unfortunately, when she turns 18 she’s no longer eligible to remain living there. Grace’s parents want to find alternate living accommodations for Millie as they want to be free to travel. However, Grace does not want that and has promised to take care of Millie herself. But when Jack proposes he says he understands that Grace and Millie are a package deal and that he loves Millie. He will be happy to take care of Millie along with Grace. When talk turns to Millie coming to live with them though, Grace seems more nervous than excited.

Jack really seems like the perfect man. Not just handsome and charming but loving and caring.
On the day of their wedding, Millie falls down the stairs and must go to the hospital. Grace is frantic and considers putting off the wedding but Jack convinces her that while Millie has a hurt leg and won’t be able to attend the wedding, she is otherwise okay. Jack and Grace go ahead with the wedding. After that they are off immediately to Thailand for their honeymoon.

And the nightmare begins…

I may have said it before about other books but this really took hold of me. I was constantly thinking about it or talking about it. One of my best friends and my mom let me go on and on as I got further into the book. Neither of them were going to read the book but they ended up being quite interested in the story once I started telling them about it. My mom actually phoned me at one point asked me what had happened next.

The book covers some difficult topics and can be hard to read about. However, I really found that the author did a wonderful job of telling them the story in a chilling way, but without going overboard with graphic descriptions. It’s hard to explain but it was still just as terrifying and kept me on the edge of my seat.

“Fear is the best deterrent of all”

Honestly this is a fantastic psychological thriller, complete with a sadistic monster. I had no idea what was going to happen next. Every time I put the book down I tried to figure out how this horrible monster would possibly be defeated. Going over and over different scenarios in my head.

The characters were so well-developed. I absolutely loved Grace’s sister Millie. She stole my heart. Although I questioned some of Grace’s decisions, It felt like one of those situations where you couldn’t possibly know how you would react unless it was happening to you.

There may be some things that may not seem completely realistic or believable but I didn’t care. I’ve read things and seen things on the news that seemed like they could not possibly be real. Yet they were. I tried not to analyze everything to decide if it could realistically happen that way. I just went with it and enjoyed the ride.

Honestly, in my opinion this was worth the wait. I’m very excited for this author’s next book.

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Review: The Girls

The GirlsThe Girls by Emma Cline

Published June 14, 2016

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book by Emma Cline. I wasn’t sure when I picked it up what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised.

It’s the start of summer in Northern California and Evie Boyd, an average teenager is a bit lonely and bored. Her parents are splitting up, she’s fighting with one of her only friends and feels like no one understands her. However, that all changes after she meets a wild and fun group of girls in the park who seem to be all about having fun and being free. She can sense an undercurrent of danger and it only makes her want to belong to this group even more.

It’s not long before Evie starts to pull away from her mother, spending more time with the group especially Suzanne. Suzanne is an older girl that Evie is completely enamored with.

“No one had ever looked at me before Suzanne, not really, so she became my definition. Her gaze softening my centre so easily that even photographs of her seemed aimed at me, ignited with private meaning.”

But Evie is quickly becoming obsessed. Especially once she’s been to the ranch and meets the larger than life Russell. Evie desperately wants to stay on the ranch. She feels like no one else understands her like these people do, especially Suzanne. But Evie doesn’t realize how quickly things can change and soon comes the time where everything changes…in what seems like the blink of an eye.

I really didn’t know how I was going to feel about this book. I really felt like it snuck up on me. There wasn’t non-stop action, but there didn’t need to be. The writing was great and I really liked how the story was laid out. We hear about Evie’s life both back then and now. We see how it all plays out and it’s fascinating. This is a well-written, intoxicating book that I won’t soon forget.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and Emma Cline for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

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