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 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.

 

REVIEW: Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

Pieces of Her

Published: August 21, 2018 by William Morrow

 

Can you ever truly escape your past?

Andrea Cooper and her mother, Laura are having lunch and celebrating Andrea’s thirty-first birthday at the Rise n’Dine restaurant at the mall of Belle Isle.

Just as they are about to finish up their lunch…

Suddenly it feels like the world explodes.

People are screaming and crying, trying to take cover. Andrea’s mother tackles her to the ground.  What happens next shocks Andrea to her core. When it’s over, Andrea tries to make sense of what happened. Laura Oliver is a quiet middle-aged speech pathologist. She’s been a great mother to Andrea. She’s not the type of person who keeps secrets.

But it turns out Andrea may not have known her mother at all.

Why is her mother telling her not to speak to the police? She wants her to claim she can’t remember what happened. “Promise me, don’t talk to the police”. Then on top of everything else, her mother wants her to move out. She wants her to leave that same night. She says she needs space. Andrea is confused. Why is her mother acting so angry and cold towards her? Andrea wonders what she did wrong. But as she’s packing up to leave that evening something else happens that changes everything….and sends Andrea spiraling in a whole new direction.

As she tries to figure out just who her mother really is, Andrea learns more about herself as well. But is she strong enough for what’s ahead?

Will Andrea be able to save her mother? And herself?

Karin Slaughter excels at storytelling. Her novels are known for their heart-pounding intensity, twists and turns, and well-developed characters. This was an exciting and intense read that had me gripped, wondering what was going to happen next.

The majority of the story alternates between Andrea’s mother’s point of view in the past and Andrea’s point of view in the present. I liked the length of the chapters and found it easy to follow the alternating viewpoints.

“Pieces of Her” was a well-paced intriguing read with some very startling and unexpected twists. As usual, the author has written an exciting story loaded with suspense and fascinating characters. 

I am a proud member of the “Slaughter Squad” and I can’t wait to read what the author writes next.

 

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

 

REVIEW: Our House by Louise Candlish

Our House

Expected publication: August 7th 2018 by Berkley

 

Can you imagine coming home one day to find strangers moving their belongings into YOUR home? Unpacking and putting things away while you stand there in shock? Well, that’s exactly what has happened to Fiona Lawson in “Our House”.

The book starts off right at the heart of it. Our female protagonist, forty-two-year-old, Fiona Lawson is heading down her street and sees what looks like someone carrying items into her house. She thinks that she must be seeing things. But she’s not…two moving men are clearly walking down HER path, taking things into HER house.

She sees a woman who she thinks must be a friend of her estranged husband, Bram. But when she speaks to this woman she’s in no way prepared for what she hears.

“We’re just moving in. My husband will be here soon with the second van.”

She’s also not prepared for what she sees inside the house. ALL of their things are gone. The house is empty…well except for the stranger’s things being moved in.

“I’m telling you – you must have made a mistake. I’m telling you it’s not possible for you to have bought a house that was never for sale.”

Prior to this, Fiona and her soon to be ex-husband, Bram have been sharing custody of their boys, as well as their house at 91 Trinity Avenue.  Whoever’s turn it is to be with the children stays in the house with them while the other parent stays somewhere else.  It’s a fairly new and unique way of doing things. It’s called “Bird’s nest custody”.

But right now Fiona has no idea what’s going on. Plus she can’t find Bram. She calls him but his phone is out of service. It’s like he’s fallen off the face of the earth. At that moment, she realizes her house is the least of her worries. Where is Bram? Where are her children?

 “And in that instant, her waking nightmare becomes something so terrifying it has no name.”

This was such an interesting and unique read. I really enjoyed how the story was told with alternating perspectives. I also enjoyed the social media aspect. “The Victim” is a podcast where Fiona tells her story. Interspersed throughout the novel are comments from listeners of the podcast as well as excerpts from a word document that help to give readers another point of view.

“This was how human disaster worked: you began by trying to conceal a mistake and you finished up here, the perpetrator of a hundred further mistakes.”

Though I did figure out a couple of things ahead of time, I was still completely in the grip of this intriguing story. An interesting plot, some great characters, along with a few great twists made this a very enjoyable read. I also really liked how everything came together in the end.

In my opinion, “Our House” was a  well-written, intriguing domestic suspense novel that has me excited to see what Louise Candlish writes next!

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