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: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie
Expected publication: September 4, 2018 by Wednesday Books

 

19 year old, Sadie and her younger sister, Mattie struggled to get by. Cold Creek is a small town with very few opportunities for employment. Many have to go to a neighboring town for work and school.

Mary Beth Foster was Mattie and Sadie’s neighbor and the manager of the trailer park where they lived. Mary Beth tried to look out for the sisters but basically, it was just the two of them. Their mother, Claire had been out of the picture for quite a while.

The bond between the sisters was very strong, but something horrific happens that severs that bond forever. Now Sadie is missing and Mary Beth Foster just wants to find someone who can help. Someone who will give a damn…

West McCray is a radio personality who just happens to overhear a little bit of Sadie and Mattie’s story. At first, he thinks what many others seem to be thinking…

“Girls run away all the time; girls go missing, there isn’t anything new here.”

West and his producer have been talking about West hosting his own podcast. His producer is the one who suggests he dig a little deeper into Sadie’s story. West doesn’t really want to do it at first, but finds that he can’t stop thinking about their story and ends up creating a serialized podcast called “The Girls

“when a devastating crime reveals a deeply unsettling mystery.”

After working on the story for awhile, West starts to get nervous. He’s scared of what he might find.

If you want the truth, I didn’t even want this story. And the more I have it, the less I want it because I don’t think it’s headed anywhere good. But I’m in this now, so I have to see it through.”

So where is Sadie? What or who is she looking for?

I thought this was an incredible read. A fantastic and powerfully written story. I was addicted and hated having to put the book down.

I thought the layout of the novel was interesting and the characters all very well developed. We get to hear from many people that knew Sadie and Mattie which was a great addition to the story. The story jumps back and forth between Sadie’s journey and “The Girls” podcast whose investigation retraces Sadie’s steps. The novel deals with some tough subject matter, but I thought the author handled these issues with sensitivity and respect. I was hooked from start to finish.

Sadie” is a compelling and riveting story about love, loss, revenge, and the power of a sister’s love.

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

REVIEW – An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

An Anonymous Girl

Expected publication: January 8th 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

 

I really enjoyed Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen’s previous novel “The Wife Between Us”. So as soon as I saw the cover for this novel and read the synopsis, I knew I just had to read it.

I devoured this novel in just a few hours, ignoring everything and everyone as I read.

The book opens as twenty-eight-year-old makeup artist; Jessica Farris is heading to her last appointment of the day. She travels to her clients instead of them coming to her. Even though she doesn’t always know who will answer the door, Jessica doesn’t fear strangers. She’s learned that “more harm can come from familiar faces”.

Jessica enjoys what she does. Her appointment is with two young women who are going out to a club that evening. As she applies their makeup, she loses herself in her work, barely hearing the women chatting to each other. But then she overhears a voicemail message one of the women plays…

“This is Ben Quick, Dr. Shields’s assistant. I’m confirming your appointments this weekend, for tomorrow and Sunday from eight to ten a.m. The location again is Hunter Hall, Room 214. I’ll meet you in the lobby and take you up.”

Jessica doesn’t know that this message will change her life completely.

A psych professor needs subjects for a study on morality and ethics. Applicants will be paid to answer questions. Jessica could really use the money. So when she hears that her client likely won’t be attending, she decides to go in her place…

She’s accepted into the study and will be bound by a confidentiality agreement. Jessica is told there are no right or wrong answers, she just needs to be completely open and honest. The questions are personal and may trigger very emotional responses….

“Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?”

But Jessica surprises herself and the doctor when she doesn’t shy away from the questions. When the sessions are complete, the doctor asks if Jessica would consider expanding her participation in the study. It would mean more would be asked of her…. SIGNIFICANTLY MORE. It would also mean more money.

Jessica really opens up to the doctor. She talks about the pressure she’s under and the secret she’s kept for so many years. “Guilt is always the heaviest thing I carry”. With Dr. Shields, she’s able to reveal things she’s never talked about before.

But as the project expands, Jessica starts to wonder what the doctor is doing with all of the information collected. What will the doctor do with Jessica’s innermost thoughts? Her confessions? Her mistakes? Then the assignments take a strange and unexpected turn. Is she just being paranoid or is something sinister going on?

An Anonymous Girl” was a thought-provoking and phenomenal read. It pulled me in from the beginning and wouldn’t let go. The chapters are a nice length and alternate between Jessica and the doctor’s point of view.

In my opinion, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen knocked this one out of the park. This was a fascinating psychological suspense novel with a great storyline, excellent characters, and twists and turns that kept me flipping pages at a rapid pace.

A wonderfully dark and suspenseful novel about love, anger, betrayal, morality, and obsession.

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