Review – No Ordinary Life

No Ordinary LifeNo Ordinary Life by Suzanne Redfearn

Published February 2, 2016

Grand Central Publishing

 

 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

No Ordinary Life is Suzanne Redfearn’s second novel. I read her first book Hush Little Baby a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. So I was very excited to read her newest novel!

This was such a great book. I had high hopes and they were surpassed.

After Faye Martin’s husband, Sean leaves on a road trip and doesn’t come back, Faye quickly realizes it’s up to her to support herself and her three children. She makes the decision to move her family in with her mother to try to get them back on their feet. It’s only after a trip to the mall to look for a job that things start to turn around, but in a very unexpected way.

A video uploaded on YouTube showing Faye’s daughter, four-year-old Molly in all her cuteness, goes viral which leads to Molly being offered a starring role on a hit TV show. Is this the answer to all of their problems? But Faye has three children. All with different needs. Can she be the mother she needs to be to all of them? While managing the new career of her youngest child?

And along with all of the fame, the new cars, the money, the clothing, comes hard decisions and dangers of all kinds. Who can Faye trust? More importantly can she trust herself? If it all becomes too much can she make the right decisions to save her family?

I used to wonder if I could survive in Hollywood….or if my child could. Not often but occasionally when I would see an especially cute or funny child on TV I’d wonder if my child could do it. I admit I am a helicopter parent. I’m a bit over protective but I try to balance it out. Hope that she’ll be protected but still able to grow and flourish. I just can’t imagine how that happens in Hollywood!

We all think we know what we would do in certain instances. How we will raise our children. What we would do if this or that happened. It’s so easy to say how we will react…but you just don’t know sometimes.

This book really made me think…

How can you always trust an agent to have yours or your child’s best interests at heart? What if I felt like a line or scene was inappropriate for my young child or if a situation was dangerous. Would I be able to stand up against a producers demands? I think I would but when you’re in that position it can be a different story sometimes.

We’ve all seen the tragic stories of child stars…drugs, sex, money, and all kinds of addictive behavior. How do you avoid that? How do you stay grounded when your ego is being fed by so many people….

When I hear of actors who talk about being hounded, followed etc. I’ve occasionally thought “oh poor them, they’re so famous and rich and all they have to do is pose for a few pictures and sign some autographs”.  But everyone should be afforded some privacy. Especially a child…. Do they really know what they are getting into? No not really…it’s fun, exciting but they have to trust the adults around them to make the right choices.

It’s scary! Even little kids can have admirers that at first seem harmless enough but can be extremely dangerous stalkers. Honestly I am paranoid as it is, I can’t even imagine being in a crowd that could suddenly go wild and security can’t control them. People losing their minds just to catch a glimpse of someone they consider a friend or more.

“Childhood is a fleeting blink, a momentary bridge of time that shapes who you are and your life to come. It’s incredibly precious and brief, and you can’t get it back.”

This was an excellent book from start to finish. My emotions were in overdrive. I felt so much for Faye, for Molly, and the rest of the family. The characters are unforgettable. I could just picture Molly with her mop of blond curls and the cute way she talked in rhyme. Not all of the time but just enough that I found it adorable. I was occasionally angered by the actions of certain people and as it happens when I’m very involved with a book I start yelling at characters and talking to myself.

Suzanne Redfearn has incredible insight and obviously did her research as I found the book not only riveting but very realistic. Faye wasn’t a perfect mother but that made her even more real. I felt that all the things that were happening potentially could happen in real life. Which in some cases was terrifying. I learned some things about the laws around child acting (and how they often skirt around it). I also learned a lot about how the money is handled and how easily it can be mishandled. Interesting information that made the book even more interesting to read.

I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it!

I really want to thank NetGalley, Grand Central Publishing, and especially Suzanne Redfearn for providing me with a free copy of this novel to read in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews

Review – Domestic Secrets

Domestic SecretsDomestic Secrets by Rosalind Noonan

Published February 23, 2016

Kensington

 

4.5 Stars

I read Rosalind Noonan’s previous novel All She Ever Wanted and loved it. When I read the book description for Domestic Secrets I knew I had to read it. I hoped I would enjoy it as much as her previous novel.

I was not disappointed.

I had a very hard time putting this book down. While there was a lot going on, I found most of it very interesting and couldn’t wait to see where and how it would end.

Rachel Whalen and Ariel Alexander have been friends for what seems like forever. Now both are trying to navigate their way through single motherhood. Rachel has two teenage sons and owns a successful hair salon but still struggles to keep her head above water financially.

Ariel is a former tv star who is a bit of a Diva, wanting to hang on to her glory days. She has two teenage daughters as well as two younger children. Ariel gives private voice lessons. As she receives a lot of referrals from the local High School Glee Club she’s kept pretty busy.

Rachel is often more of a mother than a friend to Ariel, always trying to keep her focused and on track. She also finds she seems to worry about Ariel’s children more than Ariel does. In many ways if circumstances hadn’t brought them together you wouldn’t think they would become friends. Rachel does everything for her kids, putting them first while Ariel seems to most often put herself first.

The story is told from three points of view, Rachel, Ariel and Ariel’s oldest daughter Cassie.

Rachel’s son KJ, is in university playing football on a scholarship. However, after frequent injuries he’s in danger of not being able to play anymore which puts his scholarship in jeopardy. Rachel has no idea how they will pay for tuition if he no longer has a scholarship. Her younger son, Jared doesn’t communicate with her as much as she wishes he would. Lacking in self-confidence, he has had a tough time over the years. However, lately things seem to be improving. He’s  happier than normal lately and she suspects he may have a girlfriend.

When Ariel looks in the mirror she wants to see the beautiful young woman she once was. However, Ariel feels she’s one movie or tv role away from making it big again. Self absorbed and narcissistic, she finds that male attention is the only thing that makes her feel better about herself. Worries about herself  more than her children, Ariel tries to fill the emptiness within her in other ways.

Ariel’s daughter eighteen year-old Cassie is happiest when she is away at college. She constantly butts heads with her mother. Cassie tries to hold her mother accountable for her actions and wants her to step up and take better care of her children. She worries about her siblings and thanks god for her mother’s best friend, Rachel who is always there to help.

Then a horrible tragedy pulls apart the families and changes everything. Everyone wonders what went wrong, especially Rachel.

The character development was fantastic. The author’s descriptions were very realistic. She seems to have a good handle on describing not only adult friendships and relationships but also the relationships of teenagers both with each other and adults.

We know that there are many things that go on behind closed doors.  No one is perfect but sometimes we are very surprised at what goes on in someone’s life. Especially when you thought you knew them so well.

“Sometimes people do terrible things. And I’ll let you in on a secret. Even when you know the reason why they did it, you don’t feel any better.”

This was an emotional read that really made me think about so many different things. Things like nature vs. nurture, bullying, abuse, mental illness, addiction, and secrets. I like books that make me think (even though I sometimes get so mad I want to throw my book or kindle). We all have secrets and no family is perfect. But I think we all hope to get through life relatively unscathed.

This book brought out a lot of emotions in me. I was livid with many of the characters actions comments, and decisions and I was heartbroken at the way things worked out.

While this may not be action packed thriller, it’s just one of those books that’s going to stay with me. I don’t really know how to explain it. I even figured out part of what was going to happen early on but I didn’t care, I was engrossed in what was happening and in the characters. I was still surprised in many ways.

I don’t know if this book is for everyone but I want everyone to read it. It has many important elements, things that are so relevant to what’s happening in our families, the families of people we know, and our children’s lives.

I really enjoyed this novel and look forward to more from Rosalind Noonan.

View all my reviews

Review – The Other Sister

The Other SisterThe Other Sister by Dianne Dixon

Published November 1, 2016

Sourcebooks Landmark

 

 

 

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first book I’ve read from Dianne Dixon. I was really intrigued after reading the book description.

Morgan and Ali are fraternal twins. These sisters have a bizarre obsessive type love/hate relationship. Morgan has always felt that Ali has had everything handed to her while she gets the scraps that are left over. At the same time, Ali feels like Morgan has always been there breathing down her neck never letting her have a life of her own.

Ali has the personality Morgan wishes she had, the ease of making friends while Morgan feels awkward making conversation with people. Ali gets the men Morgan wants, the attention Morgan wants. Everything Ali has ….Morgan wants. Morgan even feels that their mother loves Ali more than she loves her.

Sometimes Morgan wonders if life would be better without Ali in it….

The book opens in Newport, Rhode Island. The sisters are twenty-seven and attending a lavish wedding. Ali is the maid of honor and Morgan is a last-minute fill in bridesmaid. We are given first glimpse into the current state of the sisters relationship as the bouquet is tossed. Morgan wants to catch the bouquet but just as it seems like she’s going to catch it, it instead falls into her sisters outstretched hand…

“the poisonous look that went from Morgan to Ali was a disturbing glimpse into the darkness that can cling to the underside of love”

No one could know that the random events that occurred that night after the wedding would lead to violence and heartbreak in the years that followed.

Morgan thinks Ali’s life is and always has been perfect and assumes happiness is all Ali ever experiences. Morgan feels like she is the only one who’s ever felt pain and unhappiness. But she really has no idea what Ali’s been through.

From the time they were little, Morgan’s jealousy caused her to do things that negatively affected Ali’s life. She continues to do these things even as they get older….she thinks it’s a way for Ali to pay some dues. She doesn’t realize that some of the things she does will end up affecting Ali in ways Morgan couldn’t have imagined.

There was a LOT going on in this book and at times it had my head spinning. It just seemed like everything was moving so fast. Before I had the chance to catch my breath we were on to something new. It felt like some important things were left unexplained. I love a good twist and this book did have some good ones but there was so many of them.

There were quite a few characters in this book. At times it was hard to remember who did what. There were some well-developed beautiful characters (Ava and Sofie were two of my favorites), but I felt like I barely knew some of the other characters, including ones that were major players in the story.

So why didn’t I stop reading? I’m not sure. I considered it. However, even with the things I just mentioned, I was still intrigued! I had to know how and where this was going to end.

Told from alternating points of view, the story had many themes. Family, Grief, blame, trauma, guilt, love, hate, and forgiveness.

I have to say that I did like how things came together in the end. Even if I had to suspend belief that things could happen they way they did. But there really was some great writing in this book. Lots of things that resonated with me.

“It’s not enough to sit back and rejoice when we receive our miracles. We need to look for opportunities to pass the bounty along. It’s the only decent way to live”.

I am still curious about this author and I am interested in reading more of her work. There’s no doubt that Dianne Dixon is a talented writer.

Thank you NetGalley, Sourcebooks Landmark, and Dianne Dixon for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews

Review : Dangerous Girls

Dangerous GirlsDangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Published July 16, 2013

Simon Pulse

 

 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow!!! That was one heck of a book….

Apparently I am really late in reading this. I can’t believe I missed the hype (maybe that’s a good thing?). I came across it a few weeks ago and it peaked my interest. I thought it sounded interesting but I was very surprised by how much I liked it.

I was hooked right from the start.

A group of friends are excited for their senior year Spring Break trip to Aruba. Anna and her best friend Elise are especially excited for the trip. Anna is also happy her boyfriend, Tate and a few other friends are coming along. A couple of days in and the group seems to be having a lot of fun drinking and partying in the clubs etc..

However, their trip is cut short when Elise is found brutally murdered and Anna along with Tate are the ones being blamed for her death. I was addicted and unable to put this book down as Anna tried to fight the charges and prove her innocence in a country far from home.

There seemed to be some similarities to some real life cases in this book. Amanda Knox and Natalee Holloway to name a couple, but in my opinion there was still a lot of originality to this story. I was very interested in the Knox and Holloway cases. I watched quite a bit of the media coverage and read some of the books so that may one reason why I enjoyed this book so much. However, I really don’t think that’s the only reason.

Told from Anna’s point of view, the story moves easily from past to present. We learn more about Anna and Elise’s friendship and the relationship between Anna and Tate. Although it seems to focus primarily on the three of them, there are many other relationships and interactions with other people essential to the story.

The trial was like a circus. The prosecutor seemed to have it out for Anna from the start. I felt the tension and suspense as if I was in the courtroom watching it all unfold. As I read I remained uncertain about what happened and what was going to happen next…

I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be fighting for my freedom in a foreign country. How terrified I would be. It boggles my mind. However, I would never ever have been allowed to travel as a teenager to a foreign country without my parents. I’m terrified of the thought of it coming up with my own daughter. Would I allow her to go? I would not want to hold her back from experiences that could enrich her life, but I don’t know how I would feel about a trip like this or any other trip for that matter.

I thought the author conveyed Anna’s anxiety and the turmoil she was going through very well. She doesn’t understand how this could happen. How can everyone not see that she’s innocent? Who killed Elise? Was Tate involved? She starts to doubt everyone as they start to doubt her.


“Wouldn’t we all look guilty, if someone searched hard enough?”

This book was about much more than a student who was murdered on a spring break trip. Sex, love, jealousy, youth, guilt, innocence, and a whole lot more. Abigail Haas writes about relationships extremely well. Relationships between lovers as well as friends. The truth can be far from anything you would ever expect.

A fantastic and compelling read that I highly recommend!!!

View all my reviews