Tag: fiction

After the Fire by Will Hill

Author: Will Hill
Published: October 2, 2018
464 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.

Before, she lived inside the fence. Before, she was never allowed to leave the property, never allowed to talk to Outsiders, never allowed to speak her mind. Because Father John controlled everything—and Father John liked rules. Disobeying Father John came with terrible consequences.

But there are lies behind Father John’s words. Outside, there are different truths.

Then came the fire.

Kim’s Review:

Well, this book caused me to have an epiphany. But first, I’ll say that the only reason I gave this book 4 stars, is because I already read Minnow Bly and it’s so similar, that it took a little out of the reading. But I still loved this book so much! Now, back to my epiphany: I was raised in a cult. I don’t mean to make every review about myself, but part of the review process seems to be “how did this book affect me?” The main difference I saw between After the Fire and Minnow Bly was the realism factor. Minnow Bly was far more imagined, whereas After the Fire was based far more on real life events. It was easy to write off Minnow Bly as purely fiction. After the Fire was based on the Waco standoff, therefore it felt more based in reality.

Due to said realism, it was much harder to shrug off the similarities that kept popping up. Mostly, it was the manipulation. The tactics used by the Lord’s Legion were very similar to the tactics used by Bob Jones University. The idea of belonging and merit based on personal belief is the same. At BJU, your “spirituality” affected your status within the social and professional structure. If any perceived wrongdoing or disbelief was detected, it was dealt with swiftly and with no real winning on your part. I wasn’t allowed to go forward during any invitations at the end of services because my parents knew that if we confessed anything, it would stick to us throughout the rest of our BJU careers, however long that would be. It would also affect my parents professional standing. And that was the main similarity: our entire lives were so wrapped up in BJU, that if anything happened, if for whatever reason, my parents lost their jobs or we had to leave, our entire lives would be completely uprooted. Housing, education, childcare, jobs, insurance, social standing, church membership, everything. True, the Lord’s Legion used threat of violence to keep people in line, but they called into question one’s spiritual state, overall morality, and their place in the afterlife. Thankfully, BJU didn’t use violence, but they sure did love questioning spirituality and Christlikeness based on their own interpretations and opinions.

What made After the Fire unique and interesting, was the look into the coping and mental states of the survivors. The whole book was about Moonbeam and how she was “deprogrammed” and psychologically cleared after surviving the cult. Her experience during the fire was actually pretty predictable, which is another reason for the 4 stars. But the process she went through with Dr. Hernandez and Agent Carlyle was fascinating and in depth. And I loved the rapport that Moonbeam had with both men. I liked their father like roles. I also liked how Will Hill dealt with the elephant in the room in his Author’s Note: this book was not a condemnation of religion. I learned so long ago to separate Christ from Christians, so I never had to abandon my faith. He tried to focus on the psychological aspects and he went into good detail in the Author’s Note, enough that I felt very good about it. Overall, this was an interesting read and one that I would definitely give to older teens.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Release Day Review: The Mother-In-Law

Author: Sally Hepworth
Published: TODAY, April 23, 2019
352 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 11-20, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Someone once told me that you have two families in your life – the one you are born into and the one you choose. Yes, you may get to choose your partner, but you don’t choose your mother-in-law. The cackling mercenaries of fate determine it all.

From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana is exquisitely polite, but Lucy knows, even after marrying Oliver, that they’ll never have the closeness she’d been hoping for.

But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Lucy had wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.

That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something…

Jessica’s Review:

We are pulled into this novel of mystery from the first line as we know something has happened: I am folding laundry at my dining room table when the police car pulls up.

The Mother-In-Law does have the mystery of what happened to Diana, but it is more of a women’s contemporary fiction book.  If you are looking for a psychological thriller, this is not it.

Both Diana and Lucy are our narrators and they go between the present and the past over a 10 year time period.  Diana and Lucy never really had a chance to get to know and like each other.  Their personalities just did not mesh. Diana is very guarded with ‘high walls’ that take effort to break down, and with good reasons. I actually liked Diana more than Lucy, as I understood Diana.

This book was a page turner with short chapters.  As the novel progresses, it really began moving and the chapters became even shorter.  The last quarter of the book really moves fast and I stayed up late to finish it.  I had made my decision as to who the guilty party was but I was wrong! Everyone has their secrets in this novel and finding out all these secrets is part of the pull of the novel. 

I am fortunate to get along with my mother-in-law, but not everyone has that. Do you get along with your mother-in-law?   If you don’t would you want to kill yours?  Did Lucy kill Diana? Did Diana kill herself or was it something else entirely?

The Mother-In-Law is recommended. I received a copy of The Mother-In-Law from St. Martin’s Press via a Goodreads giveaway. 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Author: Gail Honeyman

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 12-23, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 2 stars

Book Description:

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .

The only way to survive is to open your heart.

Jessica’s Review:

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine or is she?  For me she was not.  I have heard many rave about this one and wanted to see what it was about.  It appears that I am in the minority when I say that Eleanor Oliphant was not for me.  Despite her rough childhood, I did not connect with the character.  It was a very difficult childhood that no one should go through. I was just curious enough to want to know what was going to happen and then we have that unexpected ending. I can’t discuss it as it would involve spoilers. I don’t really know what I think of this one other than it was a big miss for me.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK