Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult)

Home Front by Kristin Hannah

Home FrontHome Front by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just love Kristin Hannah so darn much!

After reading The Nightingale and The Great Alone and absolutely falling in love, Kristin Hannah became my favorite author. And I’m now on a mission to read all of her books. Home Front happened to be the next one available at the library and in typical Kristin Hannah fashion, it was wonderful!

Home Front is set in 2005 and is about Joleen, a wife and mother of two daughters, who is a helicopter pilot in the National Guard. Her marriage is crumbling. Her husband, a workaholic, is regularly absent from family activities and events. And he doesn’t particularly agree with her participation in the military. When Joleen is unexpectedly deployed to Iraq, it could not be worse timing. Will her husband be able to fulfill the role of “Mr. Mom” when Joleen is gone? How can Joleen possibly miss a year of her children’s lives? But her sense of honor and duty propels her forward and there is nothing left to do but go.

Kristin Hannah plays with a lot of important issues in this book. Set only a few years after 9/11 when America was in the throes of the War on Terror, she perfectly portrays the split views of the American people. Some vehemently disagree with the war efforts. Some adamantly support the military and the men and women sacrificing their lives for their country. There is clearly a divide. In addition, PTSD has a heavy presence in multiple parts of the book. How soldiers deal with their grief. How they reincorporate into their family life after experiencing so many horrific events abroad.

I also found myself thinking of how our country supports its veterans when they return from home, particularly those who are wounded. This book is a perfect reason to make a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project. Donations to this important organization can be made here.

This book took me back to my high school years when the War on Terror was very real. Soldiers were constantly being deployed. The Middle East, terrorist groups, and war were terrifying concepts to wrap my young mind around. And Kristin Hannah’s portrayal of this time period is perfectly in line with my memories. I had a couple of friends who were deployed in the mid-2000s with whom I regularly communicated with while they were in the Middle East. It definitely takes a toll on the brave men and women fighting in a foreign place away from family and friends which was evident throughout the pages of Home Front.

I don’t know how Kristin Hannah manages to write books with such utterly different and diverse subject matter, and do it with expert execution. She is remarkable. And I cannot wait to read the rest of her work!

View all my reviews

Mystery, Thriller

Guess Who by Chris McGeorge

Guess WhoGuess Who by Chris McGeorge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Recently published!

This was the perfect horrifying Halloween read!

The tagline for this book is “One room. Five suspects. Three hours to find a killer.” And it is truly that simple.

When Morgan Sheppard wakes up handcuffed and locked in a hotel room with five other people, he has no idea why he is there. But when they discover the dead body in the bathtub, he really starts freaking out.

In the vein of the Saw series, a masked man appears on the hotel TV and notifies Morgan that he has three hours to uncover which of his five hotel-mates is the killer. Succeed and be freed. Fail and the hotel will be blown up, killing everybody inside.

The real success of this book was in Chris George’s writing style. His perfectly time use of cliffhangers regularly throughout the story gave the reader an appropriate amount of tension. I honestly didn’t want to stop reading because I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. The characters were developed well and differentiated. And I appreciated the author’s use of past and present to bring the story together.

The only reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 is because I felt like the story got kind of convoluted toward the end, and the ending seemed a little bit dragged out. Whereas the rest of the book had that fast paced style, the ending felt a little clunky as the author tried to tie up all the loose ends which were still yet to be addressed.

Fans of the Saw series looking for a fast paced and “messed up” read will love this book. I sure did.

-I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Chris McGeorge, and Hanover Square Press for the opportunity to review.-

View all my reviews

Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult)

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires EverywhereLittle Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Little Fires Everywhere is a book I’ve seen off and on for many months now in various Facebook groups and forums. People rave about it. So I put it on the wait list at the library. I finally got it after a couple months of patient waiting, and it was great!

Celeste Ng writes the tale of a few suburban families, the way their lives are interconnected, and the dynamics/relationships among the various characters. The Richardsons are a typical upper middle class family – Mom, Dad, and four kids. Mia Warren is a struggling artist who totes her daughter, Pearl, around the country, living with very little possessions. When the Warrens move to Shaker Heights, they rent Mrs. Richardson’s cozy duplex, and Pearl finds herself befriending the Richardson children. The McCulloughs also live in the neighborhood and have struggled for years to have children, until a baby is left at the fire station and their dreams come true. These three families will find their lives tied together in web of complication.

This story was so simple but wonderful at the same time. It felt like a real life story free of embellishment and exaggeration. I felt like it easily could have been nonfiction given how realistic and genuine the characters felt. They each had their own personality that shined through. I felt particularly connected to the stories of the children, and felt that their struggles throughout high school and their teenage years were very believable.

The ending didn’t make me feel very good to be honest, but it was bittersweet and fitting. This is my first Celeste Ng novel and it won’t be the last.

If you’re looking for an easy read that’s simple but lovely, this is the book for you.

View all my reviews

Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult)

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

My Sister's KeeperMy Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m a little late to this party considering the book was published in 2005 and the movie premiered in 2009, but better late than never! I’ve never read Jodi Picoult but hear fantastic things about her work so decided I would give this one a try. What a fantastic choice!

Anna, at age thirteen, hires a lawyer to pursue medical emancipation from her parents. What’s unique about Anna is that she was conceived specifically to save the life of her sister Kate, who suffers from cancer. Years and countless surgeries and procedures later, Anna continues to be poked and prodded for the sake of saving Kate, and she can’t do it anymore. Meanwhile, their mom is torn between allowing Anna freedom to make her own choices and keeping Kate alive.

The beauty of this book was the internal struggle I felt as the book progressed. The topic is tragic, heartbreaking, and so difficult to navigate. There is no right answer; there is no wrong answer. I could see the perspectives of all characters and found myself unable to pick a side.

I could tell that Jodi Picoult did her research too! The medical aspects of the book were done very well. They were clearly studied extensively, but furthermore, were explained in a way that would be understandable to the typical non-medically-educated reader.

And the ending was completely unexpected, but felt like it was destined to be. Exquisitely executed!

This book comes highly recommended if you want to read something a little controversial that will leave you internally questioning what side of the fence you lie on.

View all my reviews

General Fiction (Adult)

A Thousand Doors: An Anthology of Many Lives Edited by J.T. Ellison

A Thousand Doors: An Anthology of Many LivesA Thousand Doors: An Anthology of Many Lives by J.T. Ellison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Expected Publication: November 5th!

Wow. Wow. Wow!

What a collection of short stories by an absolute powerhouse of authors:

*J.T. Ellison (Review for Tear Me Apart here)
*Kimberly Belle (Review for Three Days Missing here)
*Laura Benedict
*A.F. Brady
*Patti Callahan Henry
*Paige Crutcher
*Rebecca Drake
*Heather Gudenkauf
*Joy Jordan-Lake
*Alisha Klapheke
*Ariel Lawhon
*Kerry Lonsdale
*Catherine McKenzie (Review for The Good Liar here)
*Kate Moretti
*Lisa Patton (Review for Rush here)
*Kaira Rouda

The concept of this book is pretty simple. Mia finds herself in a less than stellar life, unhappy with her choices, and headed toward divorce with her husband. When she threatens to testify against her soon-to-be-ex-husband in an embezzlement case, he savagely murders her.

Fortunately, in death, Mia is able to get a glimpse of all the lives she could have lived if she had made different choices in her life. Each of those lives is detailed by the various authors above via individual short stories.

This book for me was kind of a cross between The Butterfly Effect and A Christmas Carol (minus the whole holiday thing and the three ghosts). I loved all of the individual stories, some more than others. It’s so hard to choose but some of my favorites were: The Widow, The Primatologist, The Homeless Woman, The Archaeologist, and The Suicide.

I will say there were two things I wish would have been more present in the book overall. I found myself wanting to know what choice was made differently in order to land Mia in this alternate life. There’s really no discussion of how she ended up where she was, and that may have been done on purpose. But, I found myself curious about the “how.”

The second thing that I found puzzling was this underlying theme of the telephone ringing at the end of each of the short stories. I guess I thought at the end of the book there was going to be some significance to the telephone ringing and (unless I missed it) there wasn’t any real closure there.

Otherwise, this is a fabulous book. And the beauty of it, is that you don’t even have to read it in order (aside from the beginning and the end). All the parts in the middle can be read in whatever sequence the reader chooses.

Kudos to this all-star cast of authors for collaborating on such a fantastic project. Anybody looking for something unique and different should read this book.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, J.T. Ellison and all contributing authors, and Two Tales Press for the opportunity to review.-

View all my reviews