REVIEW – Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Things You Save in a Fire

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

 

“Saving lives was easy. Saving herself was another story”.

What a fantastic read!

Cassie Hanwell is a firefighter with the Austin Fire Department. She is a very busy and independent woman.  Her co-workers think she’s lonely, but she tells them she’s happy with the way things are.

Cassie is about to receive the Austin Fire Department’s Valor Award. She is the FIRST female to ever win this prestigious award. Cassie is anxiously waiting for them to call her to the stage to receive her award from the Mayor.  However, an announcement is made saying that someone else will be giving Cassie the award. When Cassie sees who it is she’s shocked. But the shock wears off quickly…

What happens next is COMPLETELY unexpected.

On top of everything else, Cassie’s mother has been trying to get in touch with her. Cassie and her mother are far from close so she’s stunned when her mother says “I need you to come to Massachusetts to live with me”. She has some health issues and needs Cassie’s help. She asks Cassie to think it over. Cassie says she doesn’t need any time to think…the answer is no.

Unfortunately, before she knows it she’s moving to Boston.

Cassie will be working at the Lillian Fire Department, where she’s needed but not wanted.  The LFD has NEVER had a woman firefighter. Cassie is determined to prove she can do the job just as well as they can. She is advised to do anything she can to keep from reminding them that she’s a woman (no makeup, no long hair, no jewelry…etc) but she also shouldn’t back down, get offended, or show fear. Will Cassie be able to deal with the “good old boys” and their archaic ideas?

“So, to succeed in my new job, I basically need to be an asexual, androgynous, human robot that’s dead to all physical and emotional sensation.”

Easy peasy… right?

Soon some surprising feelings have Cassie rethinking many parts of her life. Is it possible that she may even end up breaking the biggest rule of all?

Cassie survived her past by never talking about it with ANYONE. She closed off many parts of herself so then she wouldn’t get hurt. But could she be missing out on something wonderful?

Every now and then a story comes along that gets me right in the heart. “Things You Save in a Fire” is that kind of story.

I’ve said it before but I really do love the way Katherine Center writes about the messy parts of life with such honesty. The storyline was well-written and there were many great relatable characters. From the laugh out loud moments to the heartbreaking moments, this story had me gripped until I finished the very last page.

Things You Save in a Fire”  is a heart-warming, gut-wrenching, and hilarious story about healing, family, forgiveness, courage, and love.

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

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.

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.