The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A well written and suspenseful novel and a coming of age story dealing with the mystery of two women one who is murdered and the other who disappeared and both a generation apart.

Lucy grew up never knowing what happened to her mother but when a friend of hers goes messing she sets out to find answers and what she discovers brings the truth back into her own family.  This is not a happily-ever-after land for Lucy. Not when we first meet her.

A solid suspenseful and atmospheric debut. A novel exploring the ties of blood and exactly how much one will do for family. A fast moving novel that reveals secrets kept and crimes hidden. How much does one really know about the people to which one is closest?

If you are looking for a good mystery with a strong sense of place, some compelling suspenseful moments combined with great descriptions of the rural countryside and life, then The Weight of Blood is very likely for you. I will look forward very much to Laura McHugh’s future novels.

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

One year ago, Olive’s mother went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and never came back.  There was no body found, only a hiking boot and a smashed cell phone and is then decided that Billie Flanagan had died.

As Olive and her dad try to cope with the loss Billie, strange things begin to happen.  Olive starts having visions of her mother, leading her to believe that her mother is still alive and wants Olive to come find her.  Olive’s dad starts to question these ‘visions’ until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that brings into questions everything they thought they knew about her.

As they embark on a quest for the truth, no stone goes unturned and the clues leading up to her suspected death become clear.  Was Olive’s mother really dead or did she just…..disappear…..and if so…..where had she gone?

This is one of those books where you won’t want to read ahead because there are so many surprises. The last sentence — well, just wait!

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Reporter Camille Preaker is asked to cover a developing story in her hometown, two young girls have been murdered.  Camille is less than excited to head back to Wind Gap, she hasn’t spoken to her family for a very long time, including her neurotic mother and a half sister that she barley even knows.

Once she arrives home, Camille sees the eerie grip closing in on the small town.  After doing lots of leg work around her hometown, she finds herself learning about the young victims and starts to piece together a terrifying truth hidden right under her nose.  Dealing with her own demons, Camille is set on finding the killer and when she does it’s as if she’s opened Pandora’s Box.

I knew this book was going to be good, but was a little blown away at how the author formed this story with the sucker punch to the gut at the end that you didn’t seen coming.  If you’ve enjoyed Flynn’s ‘Gone Girl’, then this is a must read.  It’s a haunting read that you won’t be able to put down.

The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Alys was the only witness to the night the soul eaters came into her village and only the children were spared, although put into a deep trance.  Little did she know then, Alys would be the key and lock from this moment on.

The soul eaters…happen to be twin sisters.  When they were young, the two girls and their mother were banished from their village and into the forest, villagers claiming they were witches.  Then, slowly the sisters did start to morph into something not quite human and hungry for things you cannot cook or grow….they were becoming hungry for human souls.

After Alys’s village was terrorized, her and the other children were sent to live in a neighboring village, although most of the villagers there were filled with fear hearing the story of how all of these children became orphans.  In this new village, the inhabitants are strict in their ways with their fundamentals of ‘good’ and ‘evil’.  Along with their fears of the soul eaters, they also believe that another entity is what leads these beings and they call it, the Beast.

Alys begins to feel different, almost as if she is somehow connected to these twin sister soul eaters and…..a connection to the Beast it’s self.  She has always been drawn to the forest since she was a child and has a gift that she doesn’t want to tell anyone about as she may also be deemed a witch and suffer the same fate as the twin sisters had, banishment.   She soon learns the truth of her abilities and along the journey, it becomes her mission to protect the ones she loves from the danger that is threatening them all.

Lucky You: A Novel by Erika Carter

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This is a tale about three women, who are somewhat friends having worked together at the same bar in a Arkansas college town.  Each woman is dealing with their own battles of alcohol and self-destructive acts of sexual promiscuity.  One of the gals, Chloe, pulls out patches of her hair and another, Rachel, under the spell of another new boyfriend has agreed to live off-grid for a year in order to return to “health” and asks Ellie and Chloe to join them in “The Project” in a house that Chloe’s boyfriends parents own, deep in the Ozarks.   Although once there, all three of the women are succumbed to boredom and the longings of being back in the ‘normal’ world causing tension to rise in the house especially as Chloe’s boyfriend becomes a little to obsessed with “The Project”.  Told in alternation persons, this isn’t a tale of growth, but almost a story of acceptance.

The writing was good, although the abrupt closer wasn’t what I was hoping for but once you learn about the lives of these women, it was almost perfect.  I was waiting for some kind of epiphany, but it never came for any of them.  Sometimes people will come to the realization and acceptance of themselves as they are and be okay with it without ever wanting to change a thing.

 

 

 

Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

From the beginning I loved little Edgar’s character, an eight year old albino.  Edgar and his grandmother have a very special relationship.  In the book, she is his care giver despite that fact that his mother also lives with them, but has agendas of her own.  Lucy is scarred by her past and the traumatic death of her husband, is not much of a mother to Edgar.  I was slow to read this book, but I felt like the characters were always waiting for me when I picked it back up again.  The story want necessarily ‘slow’ but it seemed as if the author was in no hurry to tell the story, except in the end.

Unfortunately, Edgar’s grandmother passes away.  Shortly there after, Edgar is kidnapped in a strange way, but you have to read the book to understands Edgar’s characteristics to understand why it’s a tad strange.  His kidnapper, a father who’s son he had accidentally killed in a hunting accident, trying to fill a void I think, takes Edgar to his secluded cabin deep in the forest.  Although most kidnappers  you think of as terrorizing the ‘prisoner’, but this is not the case here.  Edgar and the kidnapper form a relationship of sorts with both characters realizing their own life’s paths aren’t always going to paved in gold, some times it’s a ‘sugar sand road’.

This book is a journey although hard to describe, it’s a book with a story line that I can guarantee you’ve never experienced before.  At some points it was confusing but with some of the characters dealing with mental health issues, you eventually come full circle to understanding it’s depths.  I was surprised that perhaps it ended so neatly when there was so much to the different parts of the tale.

The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals by Joel Sartore (National Geographic)

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This is a book that should be on everyone’s coffee tables and book shelves!  I found it on the ‘new’ release shelf at my local library, being an animal lover I had to check it out.  National Geographic the Photo ark is a lifelong project, already spanning 25 years, of photographer Joel Sartore.  It is his goal to take portraits of the world’s animals, especially those that are endangered and put them at our fingertips.  Joel has a powerful message sprawling through this fantastic book conveyed with humor, compassion and art.  Joel hopes we will look into the eyes of these animals, to know these animals, in order to save them.

Sartore’s intends to photograph every animal in captivity around the world.  He is visiting zoos and wildlife rescue centers to create studio portraits of 12,000 species, with an emphasis on those facing extinction.  He has photographed more than 6,000 already and now, thanks to a multi-year partnership with National Geographic, he may reach his goal.

As I was going through the book, I happened upon an Albino North American Porcupine with the caption “This albino porcupine is named Halsey for the spot in Nebraska near where she was rescued after being hit on the highway.  Today Halsey is thriving, despite a dental condition that prevents her from ever being returned to the wild.”  This caught me off guard because I happen to live in Nebraska!  Not only that, but as I kept reading I read more captions and descriptions of animals that were photographed at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium (Nebraska),  Nebraska Wildlife Rehab in Louisville (Nebraska) and the Lincoln’s Children Zoo (Nebraska).

Then, after finishing the book, I read about the photographer and author Joel Sartore.  He is a photographer, author, teacher, conservationist, National Geographic Fellow and a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine.  He is the founder of this project, the Photo Ark, has contributed to Audubon magazine, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, Smithsonian magazine and numerous book projects.  Are you ready for the icing on the cake????  Joel is always happy to return from his travels around the world to his home in Lincoln, Nebraska, where his lives with is wife and their three children.

I cannot stress enough how amazing this book was, especially from the fact that this project is being conducted by a fellow Nebraskan.  I look forward to seeing more of Joel Sartore’s work in the future!