REVIEW – A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

A Spark of Light

Published: October 2nd, 2018 by Ballantine Books

As soon as I see that a new Jodi Picoult book is going to be released, I can’t wait to read it. But as much as I wanted to drag out this novel and make it last, I couldn’t stop reading. I had to find out how it all began…and how it all came together in the end. This novel is written in a way I wasn’t sure I would like. But I actually really enjoyed how the story was told. The book begins at five pm and moves backward in time with each chapter one hour earlier than the previous chapter.

“The Center” was formerly known as The Center for Women and Reproductive Health. Due to the restrictions designed to make these centers disappear, The Center is now the last clinic of its kind in Mississippi. Though it’s been through many battles the fluorescent orange building is still standing, offering services and support to those who come through its doors. It is a safe space…until the day a distraught and desperate man barges into the building, opens fire, and takes everyone inside hostage.

We learn the stories and hear from a variety of people inside The Center. What brought these people together on this fateful day?

Fifteen-year-old Wren doesn’t think today is a good day to die.

Hugh McElroy is a hostage negotiator and has dealt with all types of hostage takers. Some are drunk or high, some are on a political mission, and some are depressed and determined to take others with them. But this hostage situation is very different. In fact, Hugh should have stepped down and let someone else take over.

Dr. Louie Ward is a fifty-four-year-old ob-gyn. He decided to become an ob-gyn, in honor of his mother. Dr. Ward attended mass faithfully but also became an abortion provider. He wanted women to feel that they were not alone. He knows the protestors don’t realize just how many people they know have actually visited places like The Center ……”Wipe away the stigma and all you were left with was your neighbour, your teacher, your grocery clerk, your landlady.”  

George Goddard knew he hadn’t been the best husband, but he was determined he would be the best father possible. “It was why, this morning, he had driven all this way to The Center, the last standing abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi”.

Three hours away in another part of Mississippi is seventeen year old, Beth.  She is terrified and alone and has just found out that she’s being accused of a horrible crime.

Those are just a few of the characters we meet in this story. Just like in real life, we have people with many different views. I thought the characters were well-developed, their stories intriguing and heart-breaking. They are all very different yet have more in common than they would have ever thought possible.

As I mentioned earlier, the way this story is told is a bit different. But in the end, I thought it was the perfect way to tell this story. I’m sure this novel will spark debates and there will be a variety of opinions. I understand it may not be for everyone. Regardless of opinion, I feel that many people will still find this book interesting and thought-provoking.

I have been reading Jodi Picoult’s books for years. Her books bring important issues to the forefront, using ordinary people’s stories. In my opinion, “A Spark of Light” is another incredible and unique novel.  This story will stay with me for a very long time.

It stood to reason that both life and death began with a spark of light”

 

I’d like to thank Ballantine Books for providing me with an advanced copy of this novel.

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REVIEW: The Exes’ Revenge by Jo Jakeman

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Published September 11th 2018 by Berkley Books

 

I was really intrigued after reading the description for this novel. Three women mistreated by one man will have their chance to get revenge for all that he has put them through.

Phillip Rochester is a police officer who treats the women in his life terribly.

We first meet Imogen (the second Mrs. Rochester). Imogen suffered a devastating loss early in her marriage to Phillip. She never did find out who was responsible but she had her suspicions. Her already unhappy marriage continued to deteriorate. Phillip blamed Imogen for everything. Now she is the midst of a bitter divorce from the abusive, controlling, and unfaithful, Phillip. She doesn’t want their son, Alistair to suffer because of the divorce, but Phillip wants to make things difficult. If she doesn’t agree to his terms he has threatened to take sole custody of Alistair.

Naomi is Phillip’s current girlfriend. The younger woman is supposed to make Phillip look good. An interaction with Naomi leaves Imogen feeling like Phillip is still using the same tactics he’s used before. She wants to help Naomi but Naomi declines her help.

The next time Imogen sees Phillip he’s back to threatening to take their son. He wants her to sign papers he’s had drawn up. He continues to belittle her, telling her how useless she is.  Finally, Imogen has had enough, and she makes a very impulsive decision.

For the first time, SHE is in control. But what will she do next? And when a visitor shows up unexpectedly, will she once again lose to Phillip? Or will help come from where she least expects it.

Will the man who made three women’s lives a living hell FINALLY get what he deserves?

Most of the story is told from Imogen’s point of view, though there are a few chapters told from other characters perspectives. The chapters go back in time and help tell each woman’s story.

I enjoyed this novel. The characters were interesting. I hated Phillip of course. The author was good at creating the vile character that you love to hate. Though the story lulled in a few spots, I still read it rather quickly. I was interested in the plot and curious to see how things were going to play out for Phillip and the women he mistreated. There were a few things that were over the top so I had to put my issues with believability aside. However, it was still a good story…pure escapism.

The Exes’ Revenge” was an engrossing story of betrayal and revenge. A good debut novel that has me looking forward to Jo Jakeman’s next book.

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

First Line Fridays – Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

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Welcome to First Line Fridays, hosted by Hoarding Books!

 

The book I’ve selected for this week’s First Line Friday post is Things You Save in a Fire” by Katherine Center.

(Click on the book cover if you would like to read the Goodreads description for this novel).

Things You Save in a Fire

Expected publication: August 13th 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

 

The first line:                           

 

“The night I became the youngest person – and the only female ever – to win the Austin Fire Department’s Valor Award, I got propositioned by my partner.”

 

I love this book and I think it’s a great first line!

 

I would love to hear what you are currently reading. Feel free to join in or if you like you can also let me know what your first line is in the comments below.

 

Happy Friday!

Happy Reading!

REVIEW – The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

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Expected publication: April 23rd, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

 

I am a huge fan of this author. “The Mother’s Promise” was my first Sally Hepworth novel and is one of my favorite books.

The first line in the description of this novel grabbed my attention…

A twisty, compelling novel about one woman’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in murder…

I couldn’t wait to start reading!

The story begins with a police car pulling up to the home of Lucy and her husband, Ollie. Although the car doesn’t have its lights or siren on, she knows immediately that something isn’t right. “Police don’t arrive on your doorstep at dinnertime unless something is wrong.”

The police ask if they are relatives of Diana Goodwin and right away Lucy knows what they are going to say next…

The story then jumps back ten years to Lucy’s first visit to the Goodwin home. Ollie’s father is friendly and seems happy to meet Lucy as does Ollie’s sister, Nettie. But Ollie’s mother’s greeting is lukewarm. She’s not rude to Lucy, she is very polite…she just seems sort of cold and standoffish.

When Diana meets Lucy, her first thoughts are that Lucy was probably adored by everyone in her life and things probably came very easily to her.

“Take the pregnant refugee girls I deal with every day. They’ve been through unimaginable hardships, and here they are working hard, contributing and grateful”.

Lucy just wants Diana to like her. However, it seems the harder she tries the more strained their relationship becomes.

And now…Diana is dead.

But things aren’t always what they seem. As they learn more about Diana’s death and more things are brought to light, Lucy finds herself questioning everything…some things just aren’t adding up.

Did anyone really know Diana?

I thought this was an excellent story filled with engaging characters and an entertaining plot. We are given insight into the complicated relationships within the family. I liked how it alternated between Diana and Lucy’s point of view in both the past and present. It was interesting seeing how they each read or misread the same situations.

As I mentioned in a previous review of “A Mother’s Promise”, Sally Hepworth does a wonderful job of bringing her characters and their individual stories to life. She creates characters that readers can relate to and empathize with.

This was definitely a thought-provoking read. I’ve read other novels that deal with the relationships between men and women and their in-laws, but I found this to be quite a unique story. I was really surprised by a few things and extremely satisfied with how everything came together in the end.

In my opinion, this was another winning story from Sally Hepworth.

 

I’d like to thank St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an advanced copy of this novel.