REVIEW – Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

Before and Again

Expected publication: June 26, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

 

I’ve enjoyed quite a few novels written by Barbara Delinsky and as soon as I read the description for “ Before and Again ”, I knew I had to read it. I’m thrilled to say that I really enjoyed this novel.

After a very heartbreaking beginning, I was immediately pulled into the story…

Mackenzie Cooper has a wonderful life. She is a talented artist, she has many good friends and above all, she has a wonderful husband and five-year-old daughter.

But in one moment she loses it all.

A shattered version of her former self, Mackenzie, now known as Maggie Reid, slowly begins to build a very different kind of life. She craves privacy and she finds it in a small town in Vermont. Four years later she lives a quiet life in her secluded little house with her beloved pets. Maggie has also found meaning in the work she now does. Helping people feel good about themselves is very healing.

“To live through trauma and thrive? That was my goal”

Though she likes to keep to herself, she has made a few good friends. She’s become especially close with a co-worker, Grace. Grace also likes the privacy the town provides. By an unspoken rule, they don’t discuss the past….

“Our friendship was about the here and now”

But everything changes when Grace suddenly needs Maggie’s help. On top of that, people from her past start turning up; disrupting the life she has made for herself. There are three things Maggie avoids as much as possible “law offices, police stations, and the press – and now here they all were”

Will Maggie help her friend? Even if it means that her own anonymity may be threatened?

This was such a great read! The story was engaging and I thought the characters were wonderfully fleshed out. I loved Maggie along with many of the other characters, their stories captured my heart. Even the characters with smaller parts were intriguing.

“When you lose the most precious thing in your life, how do you go on?”

The story shows that no matter how old we, we continue to learn from all of our experiences… including trauma. We may try to keep things locked up in a box (real or imagined) but eventually, we will likely need to go through that box to confront things that may be painful to think about.

I love how Barbara Delinsky tells a story. The story was very emotional at times. However, this well-written novel also had many humorous moments that kept things from being too heavy for too long. “Before and Again” is a touching story about loss, grief, blame, love, and forgiveness.

This was a fantastic read that I won’t soon forget.

I’d like to thank St. Martin’s books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

Music Monday – Blue October – Hate Me

musicmonday

Music Monday is a meme that was created by Drew from The Tattooed Book Geek. You pick a song and/or video and share it on Monday.

The song and video I am sharing today is:

 

Blue October – Hate Me

Released in 2006, this is one of my favorite songs and I love the video. It has great personal meaning so it always makes me emotional.  Blue October has many awesome songs but this is definitely my favorite.

 

Blue October – Home

This song was released ten years later in 2016. It’s from their album entitled  “Home”. I had to include this song. It’s a feel good and positive song. A new favorite!

 

Hate Me by Blue October
I have to block out thoughts of you so I don’t lose my head
They’re crawling like a cockroach leaving babies in my bed
Dropping little reels of tape to remind me that I’m alone
Playing movies in my head that make a porno feel like home
There’s a burning in my pride,
A nervous bleeding in my brain
An ounce of peace is all I want for you
Will you never call again?
And will you never say that you love me
Just to put it in my face?
And will you never try to reach me?
It is I that wanted space
Hate me today
Hate me tomorrow
Hate me for all the things I didn’t do for you
Hate me in ways
Yeah, ways hard to swallow
Hate me so you can finally see what’s good for you
I’m sober now for three whole months,
It’s one accomplishment that you helped me with
The one thing that always tore us apart
Is the one thing I won’t touch again
In a sick way I want to thank you
For holding my head up late at night
While I was busy waging wars on myself,
You were trying to stop the fight
You never doubted my warped opinions
On things like suicidal hate
You made me compliment myself
When it was way too hard to take
So I’ll drive so fucking far away
That I never cross your mind
And do whatever it takes in your heart
To leave me behind
Hate me today
Hate me tomorrow
Hate me for all the things I didn’t do for you
Hate me in ways
Yeah, ways hard to swallow
Hate me so you can finally see what’s good for you
And with a sad heart, I say bye to you and wave
Kicking shadows on the street
For every mistake that I had made
And like a baby boy,
I never was a man
Until I saw your blue eyes crying,
And I held your face in my hand
And then I fell down yelling,
“make it go away!”
Just make a smile come back
And shine just like it used to be
And then she whispered,
“How can you do this to me?”
Hate me today
Hate me tomorrow
Hate me for all the things I didn’t do for you
Hate me in ways
Yeah, ways hard to swallow
Hate me so you can finally see what’s good for you
For you
For you
For you
Songwriters: Justin S Furstenfeld
Hate Me lyrics © BMG Rights Management US, LLC
 

 

REVIEW – Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

Whistle in the Dark

Published May 3rd 2018 by Viking

 

This has been the worst week of my life” was the first thing, Jen said as paramedics wheeled her daughter, Lana into the hospital.  It wasn’t the first thing she had planned on saying after such a terrifying ordeal.

Jen and Lana had been on a weeklong retreat. There was to be walking and art and Jen was hoping for some mother-daughter bonding. Things had been tough with Lana for some time and Jen hoped this trip would help them communicate better.

Then Lana goes missing….

She returns four days later. She’s thin, cold, and wet but has no explanation for where she’s been.

Did she get lost? Run away? Was there an accident?

Jen wants to help her daughter but she can’t understand why Lana doesn’t know anything about where she was or what happened. Jen feels like Lana is hiding something. Lana certainly doesn’t like her mother’s constant questions. Her answer is always the same “I can’t remember.”

So Jen tries to think positive. Lana is home…the worst is over.

But then Jen starts to see changes in her daughter. She’s afraid of things that never bothered her before and she’s saying and doing strange things too. With everything that’s happening, Jen starts to feel like she’s losing her mind.

Will she ever find out what happened to her daughter?

This was an interesting read but a bit of a slow burner. However, I was anxious to find out what happened to Lana. I had a bit of a hard time with Lana’s character, I was sympathetic towards her but some of her behaviors really made me cringe.

A family is in crisis. The missing/found person plot was unlike others that I have read.  I thought it was quite unique. The story focuses on Jen’s determination to find out what happened to her daughter. Overall, a very intriguing read.

I’m looking forward to reading more from Emma Healey.

I’d like to thank Harper Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

REVIEW – Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding

Her Pretty Face

Expected publication: July 10th 2018 by Gallery/Scout Press

 

Stay at home mother, Frances is attending a costume party… and she’s not happy about it. Unfortunately, it’s a fundraiser for her son, Marcus’s school. She would rather be doing anything else. The fact that it’s a costume party just makes everything worse. She’s dressed as Cyndi Lauper but feels she looks more like “a cross between a deranged clown and a heavyset bag lady”. She’s sweating and feeling anxious. She’s suffered from social anxiety for many years.

“When one’s past was something to be hidden and guarded, mingling and making idle chitchat became daunting.”

Just as Frances thinks she can’t take anymore, she hears a voice that instantly makes her feel better. Her only friend and ally at the school, Kate Randolph. When Marcus was accepted into Forrester Academy, Frances thought she might finally have a bit of free time on her hands. However, right from the start, her son has trouble fitting in…especially after an “episode” with a classmate. Since then everyone has shunned the Metcalfe’s, except Kate Rudolph.  The two women bond over their mutual disdain for the other mothers whose children attend Forrester Academy.

While Frances in insecure, Kate is the exact opposite and she even stands up for Frances. Kate has a son, Charles the same age as Marcus and the two boys hit it off. Kate also has a teenage daughter, Daisy who is fourteen. Frances does notice that Kate doesn’t seem to spend much time with or worrying about, Daisy. Still, Frances is shocked that Kate wants to be her friend.

We hear from Kate’s daughter, Daisy. Daisy is having trouble at school. It’s always hard for her fitting in as her family moves every few years so she’s always the new girl. Now a rumor has gotten out of hand and Daisy is really struggling. She doesn’t feel like her parents care about her so she won’t go to them for advice or support.

We are given little tidbits into Frances childhood and the “heinous” act she committed in her youth.

Kate is confident, wealthy, beautiful, and powerful. In Frances’ eyes, Kate is perfect. But just like Frances, Kate has secrets ……

But one woman’s secrets are a whole lot darker… 

Her Pretty Face” was a very thought-provoking read. Can people really change? Can the past be forgiven…or are some things just too horrific to ever be forgiven?

I thought the multiple story-lines in this novel were interesting and they all came together well. One of the story-lines reminded me of a very famous criminal case in Canada. Overall, I thought this was an intriguing and addictive domestic drama that was hard to put down. I look forward to seeing what Robyn Harding writes next.

I’d like to thank Gallery/Scout Press and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.