Tag: 5 stars

Midnight at the Electric

Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
272 Pages
Published: June 13, 2017

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 Stars

Description from Amazon:

Kansas, 2065: Adri has been handpicked to live on Mars. But weeks before launch, she discovers the journal of a girl who lived in her house more than a hundred years ago and is immediately drawn into the mystery surrounding her fate.

Oklahoma, 1934: Amid the fear and uncertainty of the Dust Bowl, Catherine’s family’s situation is growing dire. She must find the courage to sacrifice everything she loves in order to save the one person she loves most.

England, 1919: In the recovery following World War I, Lenore tries to come to terms with her grief for her brother, a fallen British soldier, and plans to sail to America. But can she make it that far?

While their stories span thousands of miles and multiple generations, Lenore, Catherine, and Adri’s fates are entwined in ways both heartbreaking and hopeful. In Jodi Lynn Anderson’s signature haunting, lyrical prose, human connections spark spellbindingly to life, and a bright light shines on the small but crucial moments that determine one’s fate.

Kim’s Review:

Midnight at the Electric is a three-part story, ranging in years from 2065 to 1934 to 1919. In 2065, Adri has been chosen to be a colonist to Mars. She goes to the tiny town of Canaan, Kansas to see her long lost cousin, Lily, before she leaves the planet. While spending her remaining weeks on earth with Lily, Adri discovers letters and postcards and journals involving other women, living on the farm in past years. Catherine is a teenager in 1934 Kansas, right smack dab in the middle of the Dustbowl.

Catherine is faced with a sister who has dust pneumonia, a mother who refuses to leave her farm, and a serious crush on the farmhand, Ellis. While keeping a journal of her life on the farm and her struggles with family, economy, and love, Catherine discovers a woman named Lenore, from her mother’s past. Lenore is the daughter of a wealthy factory owner who dreams of going to America, to live with her best friend, Beth. While working at her father’s factory to save up money for her ticket, she meets a stranger living on her family’s estate. Their lives become intertwined and begins a saga that spans the ocean, continents, and time.

This book was awesome! I read Anderson’s previous book, Tiger Lily, based on a recommendation from Margot from Epic Reads. Unfortunately, I was not impressed. But after reading the jacket summary for Midnight at the Electric, I decided to give her another chance. And boy, am I glad I did! Another 5-star book! I couldn’t put this book down. I will admit that I didn’t necessarily like every character in this book, but the story got me emotionally hooked. By the time I finished the last page, I had tears welling up in my eyes. My husband took one look at me and said, “Are you ok? You look so sad!” Yes, I was sad, but the happy kind of sad. This book just brought in all the feelings and it felt good, and sad, and happy, and heartbroken, all at the same time. That’s always the hallmark of an enjoyable book, the feelings it elicits. 😊 Oh, and I would like a pet tortoise . . . so anyone who wants to get me one, that would be great!

 

Behind Closed Doors

Author: B.A. Paris
293 pages in Hardback

Published: August 9, 2016
Dates Read: July 1-7, 2017
Reviewed By: Jessica

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description from Amazon:

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth; she has charm and elegance. He’s a dedicated attorney who has never lost a case; she is a flawless homemaker, a masterful gardener and cook, and dotes on her disabled younger sister. Though they are still newlyweds, they seem to have it all. You might not want to like them, but you do. You’re hopelessly charmed by the ease and comfort of their home, by the graciousness of the dinner parties they throw. You’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are inseparable.

Some might call this true love. Others might wonder why Grace never answers the phone. Or why she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. Or why she never seems to take anything with her when she leaves the house, not even a pen. Or why there are such high-security metal shutters on all the downstairs windows.

Some might wonder what’s really going on once the dinner party is over, and the front door has closed.

My Review:

Things are not always how they appear and we never truly know what goes on with another couple behind their closed doors…

Grace meets Jack and he is perfect. He even has no issue that Grace has a sister with Down’s Syndrome and that down the road she will have to care for her. Her friends also like Jack. Very quickly Jack and Grace become engaged and marry. But from the moment they say ‘I do’ he does a complete 180 and very quickly Grace’s life becomes a living nightmare.

That is really all I want to say about the premise of Behind Closed Doors. If you say too much, you will give something away.  This is a domestic abuse nightmare and I was pulled in from the beginning of the novel. Behind Closed Doors chapters flip between the past and the present and it all comes together in the conclusion.

Warning:  This will not be a book for everyone.  The mental abuse that Grace experiences is horrific and it may be too much for some readers.  Discretion is heavily advised on this novel.  There is abuse that involves an animal that we find out after the fact.  There is not much physical violence, but Behind Closed Doors really shows how bad mental abuse can be.

Behind Closed Doors will disturb you and it made me thankful for my husband.  I told him a couple of times “I’m glad you aren’t a psycho!” while I was reading this.  His answer: “Not that you know of…” (In an evil sounding voice of course… LOL) It might even affect your dreams, it did with mine.

I was pulled into this story from the beginning and it was a quick read for me. It only took me seven days to read. As I was reading, I often wondered how Grace would find a way to get away, especially when she discovers Jack’s true intentions. It really seemed to me that there was no way out. And if she did somehow get away, how will Jack get what he deserves?

Behind Closed Doors shows how a person who is stuck in a domestic violence situation realizes they need to get away, but faces that big question of “how?” and “what could happen if I try to get away and fail?”

And the ending: I loved it!

B.A. Paris, thank you for a brilliant debut, and I am currently reading your second novel The Breakdown to be released July 18th here in the US.

Thank you to Saint Martin’s Press for providing me a copy of Behind Closed Doors.

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The Chosen One

Author: Carol Lynch Williams
AUDIOBOOK

Published: May 12, 2009
Dates Read: June 21- 28, 2017

My Rating: 5 stars

Description from Amazon:

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much—if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.

But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

My Review:

I first came across The Chosen One in my local library in 2014. I was looking for my next audiobook and found it. The description on the audio case left me not expecting much:

Kyra is a member of the Chosen Ones, a polygamist group isolated from the rest of its community.  Suffocating from the restrictions placed upon her, Kyra’s only form of rebellion is checking out library books and immersing herself within them up in her favorite tree.

The Chosen One exceeded my low expectations! It is so much more than that description. It made my list of top reads for 2014. Now that I have this site, I wanted to listen to it again and properly review it here. The Chosen One is a novel that will evoke a very wide range of emotions in the reader, as I experienced. Despite being a young adult novel, it is a disturbing one that deals with many issues which could be troubling to some readers. I will mention this a little later.

The Chosen One centers on Kyra who is also our narrator.  She lives in a polygamist community and is almost 14 years old. She has three mothers with twenty brothers and sisters and two more siblings on the way. From the beginning you can tell Kyra has torn feelings about her community, despite loving her large family. In the beginning she believes she is going to Hell for her ‘sins’: wishing the Prophet dead, liking a boy, and reading books other than the scriptures.  Then one day the Prophet announces to her family that he received a ‘vision from God’ that Kyra is to become the seventh wife to her uncle who is over 60 years old, and the marriage is to take place in a month.  From this point on she becomes determined to leave and you can feel her growth over the course of the novel.

*WARNINGS/SPOILERS*

The Chosen One will not be for everyone.  The Chosen One feels very realistic. Carol Lynch Williams did her research well.  There are some issues in this novel that may disturb some readers:  Incest, assault, sexual assault, subservience, and girls being force into marriage with much older men.

There is a scene that involves a severe beating of one girl because she ‘disobeyed’, as well as a scene with a premature birth.  The most disturbing scene for me was one where some parents are forced to ‘punish’ a baby that is under one year old for crying in front of the Prophet. (A screaming child is considered a disobedient child).  All I will say about the ‘punishment’ is that it involves water.

*END SPOILERS*

The Chosen One is very well written; you get pulled into the novel as Kyra narrates and you really want her to get away from the community.  You feel everything that that Kyra feels through the course of the novel.  She is truly conflicted with getting away, yet she knows if she does get away that she will never see her family again. Williams puts us into the head of a young teen girl perfectly.

Williams was interviewed in the audiobook that I listened to. It took her two years to write The Chosen One and it was very difficult for her to write because of the subject matter.  In addition to research she spoke with polygamists and former polygamists. One former polygamist she spoke with apparently asked William’s daughter, “How did she know?” after he read the book. That’s how realistic this novel is.

The Chosen One is highly recommended.

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