Throwback Thursday – Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts

throwbackthursday

Throwback Thursday is a meme created by Renee at It’s Book Talk to share old favorite books rather than just the new shiny ones. This is a great idea to bring back to life some much-loved books. Please feel free to join in.

My choice for this week is : Where the Heart Is
by Billie Letts

Image result for where the heart is billy letts

I loved this book!!!

Usually having read a book so long ago, I can’t remember much about it.  However, that is not the case with this book. I read it in 1999 when I was pregnant with my daughter and it seems like yesterday. It is such a well-written, wonderful book that has stayed with me all these years.

The main character is Novalee Nation. Novalee is a pregnant 17-year-old girl who is abandoned by her boyfriend in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store.  She ends up giving birth to her baby inside the Wal-Mart. Novalee was such a great character. Easy to love and you just had to root for her.  This book has great supporting characters. Most are treasures but a couple that you will love to hate! Characters who open their hearts and home to Novalee. They teach her many lessons while helping her raise her daughter, Americus.

This was such a unique story that was so hard to put down. Heartwarming, funny and quite intense at times. A page turner with so much heart!

Highly recommended!

 

Review : Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman @GailHoneyman @VikingBooks

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely FineEleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Published May 9, 2017

Viking Books

 

 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ALL THE STARS !!!

I won an advanced copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you!

To be honest, I’m not sure if this book would have been on my radar if I hadn’t won it. Although the great reviews may have pulled me in. At any rate, I am so happy I read it.

I LOVED THIS BOOK !!

Just like it says in the title of the book, Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine….well she thinks she is. She is honestly not worried that she may be missing out on anything. She is content with her life.

Eleanor is a little bit….odd. She’s very intelligent and well-spoken with impeccable grammar (thanks to Mummy) but she lacks the ability to filter what she says and therefore she will tell you exactly what she’s thinking. This can lead to very awkward situations.

Eleanor is comfortable with her routines. She’s worked at the same job for nine years. She starts work at 8:30, at lunch she buys a newspaper which she reads from cover to cover and then does the crossword. She finishes out her day, leaving work at 5:30. Eleanor listens to the Archers as she makes a simple dinner (usually pasta and salad – one pan one plate), watches TV or reads for a little while then off to be at ten. Her weekday routine only changes on Wednesday when she talks with “Mummy” for ten minutes.

Weekends are a bit different. After work Friday she picks up pizza, wine and two big bottles of Vodka for the weekend. She drinks the vodka over the weekend…..in a state where she’s neither drunk nor sober, waiting for Monday to come. No one comes over and she doesn’t go anywhere to visit. She sometimes wonders if she’s a figment of her own imagination.

But she’s fine with it. She’s fine. There’s nothing missing, she doesn’t need anyone else. Well that was what she told herself. But then it happens…


“He was light and heat. He blazed. Everything he came into contact with would be changed. I sat forward on my seat, edged closer. At last. I found him”

Now Eleanor is on a mission. First she decides a make-over is in order….and where she starts is both shocking and hilarious. I really want to write about what happened but I think I would spoil a very funny moment for many readers.

Things don’t go exactly as planned.

When her computer at work stops working she meets Raymond from IT. An easy-going guy, Raymond is intrigued by Eleanor, but she’s just not interested. She’s busy trying to re-create herself for the man of her dreams. But after work one day Eleanor and Raymond come across a man who has fallen on the sidewalk. Together they help the man, Sammy and so begins a friendship along with the start of many changes in Eleanor’s life.

The story is told from Eleanor’s point of view. We go along for the ride as she navigates her way through her life, learning to stand up for herself. But it won’t be easy. Secrets and memories that have been tucked away for many years can be painful to remember.

When you have trouble with social skills I can see how it would be easier to refrain from situations where things could go wrong so fast….. It would be easier being alone. As I mentioned there are many funny moments throughout the book. I really like how the author wrote these parts. I never felt like I was laughing AT Eleanor but at the things she said or the situations she ended up in. However, there are also many sad and painful moments. Times where I felt terrible for Eleanor.

Some of the funniest parts came out of nowhere – the phone doesn’t ring often but if telemarketers call Eleanor whispers “I know where you live” and hangs up. Often it was what she would be saying to herself that was funny.

An incredible read that had me bouncing from one emotion to the next. The author did a tremendous job bringing these wonderfully unique characters to life.

It’s hard to believe this is the author’s debut novel.

There are so many words that can be used to describe this novel – hilarious , unique, heartwarming, heartbreaking, charming, hopeful, inspiring, and COMPLETELY unforgettable.

You should read it!!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

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Review – Here and Gone by Haylen Beck @CrownPublishing @HaylenBeck

Here and Gone: A NovelHere and Gone: A Novel by Haylen Beck

Expected publication: June 20, 2017

Crown Publishing Group

 

 

4.5 Stars !!

After reading just a few sentences of the description for “Here and Gone”, I knew it was a book I wanted to read. The plot sounded intriguing and I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy it.

I was right. After reading only a few pages I was totally engrossed in this story. It was INTENSE.

The book opens as Audra Kinney and her two children are driving through Arizona on their way to California. The land is so beautiful that she can almost pretend they’re sightseeing. But this is no pleasure trip. The farther away she gets from New York and her abusive husband the better. Traveling with her eleven-year-old son, Sean and three-year-old daughter, Louise, she keeps her eye out for any law-enforcement vehicles. Audra’s not sure if they are looking for her yet but she doesn’t want to take chances.

If only she hadn’t had to run.

Technically she hadn’t had to run….yet. Waiting to see what the courts decided in regards to custody of her children. But in the end she just couldn’t wait. She packed up and headed for safety in California.

It’s only five more miles to a motel where they can stop for the night. A good night sleep and a shower is all Audra wants. But when she looks in her rear-view mirror her heart jumps into her throat. A police cruiser is behind her. She hopes he just wants to pass her but those hopes are dashed when he flashes his lights and indicates that she should pull over. It’s the local sheriff. What starts as a routine stop ends up with Audra being taken into custody.

The Sheriff calls a female officer to come and take care of the children. I could feel Audra’s panic, the children’s panic…..what is going on? As Audra was trying to calm herself by taking deep breaths, I found myself doing the same.

The story is told from multiple points of view. We hear from Audra’s son, Sean. This kid was impressive. Sean is eleven years old but wise beyond his years. When the Sheriff puts his mom in the back of the cop car, Sean tries to keep it together for his little sister. But when the Sheriff tells him everything is going to be alright….Sean just doesn’t believe him. He sees something in the sheriff’s eyes when he looks at him and Louise, something that terrifies him.

There are also emails and reports in between chapters. These add more to the story and give readers an idea of where things are heading.

Audra feels helpless and alone, but she knows she has to be strong for her children. We learn more about her past and just how diabolical her husband is. But she may not be as alone as she thinks. Across the country someone sees the TV coverage about Audra and her missing children. Something similar happened in their own past which makes them want to reach out to help.

I really liked the authors writing style and the plot kept me in suspense the entire time. The characters were very well written and I liked the pace of the book. Some of the content can be very difficult to read. It’s dark and disturbing, but I felt that the author handled it well and didn’t overdo it with too much detail.

Here and Gone was the kind of book that had me thinking about it even when I wasn’t reading it.

A thrilling and compelling read, that I highly recommend. I look forward to reading more from Haylen Beck.

Thank you NetGalley and Crown publishing, 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 Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

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The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

Published April 11, 2017
Simon & Schuster

 

My rating:  3 Stars

I really enjoyed Megan Miranda’s previous novel “All the Missing Girls”. After reading the description of “The Perfect Stranger”, I was looking forward to reading it as well.

“A journalist sets out to find a missing friend, a friend who may never have existed at all.”

Leah Stevens runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey at the perfect time. She needs to get out of Boston after her career as a journalist takes a nosedive and Emmy wants to get away from a toxic relationship. It’s the answer to both of their problems. They move to rural Pennsylvania, a place where they can both start over. Leah starts her job as a teacher and Emmy seems to work a few odd jobs here and there. Leah tells her mother she quit her job and is moving to Pennsylvania to teach. But she doesn’t tell her mother the real reason she quit her job….

“My God, Leah, What did you do?”

Leah and Emmy settle in. They don’t see each other a lot during the week as Emmy often works the night shift. She doesn’t have a cell phone either, so Leah has to leave her post-it notes if she has a message for her. When Leah realizes that the notes haven’t been moved at all, she realizes it’s been a couple of days since she has seen her. Because of their different schedules, it’s not completely out of the ordinary so she tries not to worry.

The next day on her way to school, Leah comes upon a police roadblock….

A woman has been attacked.

Leah immediately worries that it’s Emmy who’s hurt. Thankfully it’s not. But things get even stranger when she sees a picture of the woman who was attacked…The woman’s name is Bethany Jarvitz, and she looks a LOT like Leah.

Now the police and Detective “easy on the eyes” Donovan, want to talk to Leah about this man. Leah tells the police about the phone calls she has been getting, nuisance calls from someone who didn’t seem to get the hint. She figured the calls were harmless.

“You think you’re too good for us, Leah?”

The police want more information but Leah is hesitant to get involved. She doesn’t want her name attached to anything. She has her own secrets. But when Emmy still hasn’t shown up after four days, Leah knows she needs the detectives help and she’ll have to help him too. When he starts asking questions, Leah realizes there’s a lot she doesn’t know. She isn’t even sure where Emmy works.

Does she REALLY know Emmy at all?

As excited as I was to read this, I had a hard time getting into the story. A few of the decisions Leah made really annoyed me and I had a hard time connecting with her. There really was a lot going on. I started feeling like things weren’t coming together and I was a bit confused.

In the end I thought this was a decent read, I guess I was just hoping for more. But of course, this is just my opinion and there will probably be many other readers who will really enjoy this book. While I definitely didn’t like this one as much as All the Missing Girls, I still look forward to reading more from Megan Miranda.

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

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