Book Club: The Last Flight

It is one of my most favorite days of the month…Book Club Day.  I have loved reading for my entire life, and I love talking about books and choosing new books to read.  I was the nerd in high school that joined a subscription book box before subscription boxes were all the rage. Ha ha!   I would get 3-4 books delivered to me once a month, and I loved it.  I just love to read.  I am not super picky about genres because I have favorites in multiple genres.  I tend to lean toward fiction more than nonfiction, but there are some nonfiction books I do love as well.  Anyway, this month I actually read 2 books.  Before I started with my book club pick, I read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins.  If you are a Hunger Games fan, this book is great.  It is a prequel to The Hunger Games series and follows the early life of Coriolanus Snow well before he became the infamous President Snow.  It was a great addition to the series, and I highly recommend it.  

For the book club for July, I chose The Last Flight by Julie Clark.  It is a psychological thriller of sorts that quickly captivated my attention.  A chance meeting at the airport altered the course of two women’s lives forever.  Both were trying to escape their troubled lives and saw an opportunity to create a whole new life and identity. Claire, the wife of a well-known philanthropist and son of a powerful senator, was trying to escape a life of verbal and physical abuse.  Eva, a bright chemist who had been expelled from college, had been living her life in the drug ring making and selling drugs for a powerful drug lord.  In a split second the two women decided to swap plane tickets and lives in the stall of an airport bathroom.  Not giving each other many details of their current lives, Claire got on a plane headed to California while Eva got on a plane headed to Puerto Rico.  Little did they know all that would lie ahead for them following the crash of the flight to Puerto Rico where no survivors were found.  Nothing for either woman would ever be the same.  

I really liked this story and it kept me on my toes guessing what was coming around each corner.  The characters were very well developed, and I felt the anguish that led both women to the decision to begin a new life completely from scratch, as well as, the struggle for survival.  It is a story of redemption that will tug at your heartstrings while also leaving you on the edge of your seat.  Many people have compared it to Gone Girl.  While I can see the similarities, I don’t feel like this one was as dark and sinister nor was it quite as shocking.  However, I do think that if you were a fan of Gone Girl, you would be a fan of this novel as well. I wouldn’t say that I liked it as much as I liked Gone Girl, but I thought it was good.  I give The Last Flight 4 out of 5 stars.

My pick for August is the highly anticipated, instant New York Times Best Seller, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell.  This is a story that echoes the current #MeToo movement and involves a young student who becomes involved in a relationship with her English teacher and the effect it has on her later in life.  Here is what Apple Books has to say about this novel.

“We couldn’t stop thinking about Kate Elizabeth Russell’s powerful and deeply disturbing debut. Told from the point of view of its titular heroine, the novel maps two distinct areas of Vanessa’s life.  We’re pulled into the thrill and turmoil of 15-year-old Vanessa’s experience as she embarks on a “romance” with her much older English teacher, Jacob, and grows to feel like he’s the only one who truly understands her.  But adult Vanessa is starting to see the story differently, struggling to reconcile the relationship that altered the course of her life with the accusations of other former students who were targeted by Jacob. A palpable feeling of unease pervades Russell’s novel—she does an amazing job of trapping us inside Vanessa’s claustrophobic, traumatized mind. A vitally important read for the #MeToo age, My Dark Vanessacombines visceral detail with thoughtful nuance. Your book club will spend hours discussing this one.”

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

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Book Club: The Henna Artist

This month I read The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi and I really enjoyed it for the most part.  I learned a lot about the Indian culture and their caste system, which is what I was hoping.  Working with artisans in India through Trades of Hope, was what sort of piqued my interest in this book, and it allowed me to gain a better understanding of how their caste system works and what it means for women.  There were a lot of Indian words in it that I obviously didn’t know, but I could figure out some of them just using context clues.  The author did provide a glossary of terms at the back of the book. However, reading it on my iPad made it a little more difficult to access it easily.  I think I would have utilized it more had I had the actual hard copy.  There was also a list of characters at the beginning of the book that gave a sort of background explaining who each person was.  This was helpful information, but, again, it was difficult to reference it as I read since it was an eBook. Those two things were probably my biggest issues with this book. Other than that, I really enjoyed the storyline.  The characters were well developed and there was a good balance between the actual plot line and the historical facts about the economy and customs in India. I thought that the storyline was very well developed even with multiple intricate parts and multiple characters.  I would recommend this book to anyone that has an interest in Henna art, Indian culture, or a great storyline.

The Henna Artist revolves around the life of a woman named Lakshmi Shastri. She was born into one of the highest Hindu caste levels (Brahmin) as her father was a teacher. However, circumstances had left her family very poor.  Her parents arranged for her to marry at the young age of 15.  While living with her husband whom she despised due to his violent nature, Lakshmi learned about natural herbs, teas, and medicines to help women with a variety of medical issues from her mother-in-law.  After 2 years of marriage, Lakshmi couldn’t take it anymore and one day snuck away and left her husband.  At first she was making a living by making contraceptive teas for courtesans to keep them childless while also learning the art of henna. She eventually ended up in Jaipur where she climbed the ladder through hard work and became the most sought-after henna artist to Jaipur’s elite.  She had this to say about working with one particular woman a similar caste.  

“Parvati and I were born to the two highest Hindu casts, she a Kshatriya and me a Brahmin. But she could never bring herself to treat me as an equal because I touched the feet of ladies as I painted their henna. Feet were considered unclean, only to be handled by the low-caste Shudras.  So even though her caste system had relied on mine for centuries to educate their children and perform spiritual rites, in the eyes of Jaipur’s elite, I was now a fallen Brahmin.” 

Despite the elite not truly accepting her as one of them, things were going very well for Lakshmi and opportunities were opening up for her. That was until, out of the blue, her husband, Hari, showed up. He brought with him her thirteen-year-old sister with news that her parents had both died.  Lakshmi never even knew her sister existed.  This set in motion a series of unfortunate events that led her to go from the best of the best to the person no one wanted in their homes.  Lakshmi’s story is one of restoration, redemption, and the will to never give up.  She went from a broken family, to being completely alone, to finding out the true meaning of family.  She learned that success and climbing the ladder wasn’t truly the most important thing in life, and she also learned to use her gifts to help others in a special way. This really was a great story and one that I believe many would enjoy. 

I decided to switch it up a bit and go for a mystery/thriller for my pick for July.  I have chosen The Last Flight by Julie Clark.  It has been said by some to be one of the top books of 2020 so far. Here is what Apple Books has to say about this book.

“For two women on the run, a split-second decision offers a chance at a new life…or a whole new set of dangers.  At the beginning of Julie Clark’s fiercely feminist psychological thriller, Claire—the wife of a beloved philanthropist whose hideous true nature is a well-kept-secret—is at the airport, about to launch into her carefully constructed escape plan. But then Claire makes an impulsive decision to switch passports and plane tickets with Eva, a streetwise survivor on the run from her drug-kingpin former boss.  And we can’t say much more than that because, seriously, things get really crazy from that point on.  Alternating between Claire’s and Eva’s viewpoints, Clark’s book feels like a mix of Gone Girl and The Bourne Identity. It’s that fast-paced and that good. Order takeout, because you won’t be leaving the couch until you turn the last page.”

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items using these links, I may earn a small commission. 

Book Club: Ask Again, Yes

It is book club day! Today I am reviewing my pick for May, Ask Again, Yes, by Mary Beth Keane.  I actually finished this book a couple of weeks ago, so I hope I can remember it enough to write this review.  I did enjoy this book, but I wouldn’t say it was one of my favorites.  It was a quick read that kept my interest throughout.  I did feel sometimes that the story changed tense and went back and forth between whose point of view the story was written from.  I don’t know if it really was changing tense and point of view per se, but I did find it odd and a bit confusing at times.  I also find it interesting that Keane chose this particular title for the book.  While it is sort of a line from the book closer to the end of the story, I’m not really sure that it would have been the title I ended up with had I been the author.  I guess it in a way captures the underlying theme of the book, but I just don’t know if everyone would have caught the quick few lines that the title came from as it isn’t a direct quote. I think I would give this story 3.5 out of 5 stars.  It was good, but there was just something about the writing style that was a bit off for me.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, though. 

Ask Again, Yes is a story that revolves around two families, the Stanhopes and the Gleesons, and how their lives intertwined.  The patriarchs of both families, Brian Stanhope and Frank Gleeson, met as young adults when they both entered the police force in New York at the same time and were rookie partners.  While their friendship wasn’t a very strong one and they were only partners for a few months, they ended up as next door neighbors in a quaint little suburban neighborhood as they were just beginning their families.  Not long after they became neighbors, the Gleesons had their third child, a daughter named Kate, and the Stanhopes had their one and only child, a son named Peter.  These two youngsters quickly developed a bond that was unbreakable. Sadly, the Stanhope family was plagued by mental illness and alcohol abuse that led to an unspeakable tragedy that turned both families upside down and tore Kate and Peter apart the summer before their senior year of high school.  That night was one that would haunt both families for the rest of their lives.  It sent both Kate and Peter down very different paths.  Peter suddenly lost both of his parents when his mother was sent to a mental hospital and his alcoholic father left him in the care of his uncle. He was left to cope with the loss of Kate and the terrible tragedy that ripped him away from her all on his own. As a college student Peter headed down a dark place as he himself became an alcoholic.  Kate on the other hand was left with a feeling of abandonment from losing Peter and was conflicted over her loyalty to her family and her loyalty to Peter. 

Years after being ripped apart, Peter and Kate found their way back to each other. Their love for each other and the bond they shared remained, but they were both very different people than the ones they knew as children.  Despite this, they married and began a family of their own, but the two struggled to overcome the events of that night that ripped them apart all those years ago.  The story continues as these two deal with the demons of their past that sent them down a path of discovery to find out if their childhood bond was enough to sustain their relationship despite all they had been through. Their story was one of tragedy and disappointment, but also one of great love, forgiveness, and redemption. 

My pick for June is a New York Times Best Seller that was actually recommended by one of the founders of Trades of Hope.  It is also a Reece Witherspoon Book Club Pick. It is entitled The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi.  This book is set in India and is the fictional story of a young girl who escapes an abusive marriage to the city of Jaipur.  Here she becomes the most sought-after henna artist to some of India’s wealthiest women.  This story reportedly gives a glimpse of India’s history, including their caste system.  This very much piques my interest after learning the many stories of Trades of Hope artisans who have risen up from the lowest caste system in India. I am very much looking forward to diving into this book and learning more about India.  Here is what Apple Books has to say about this story.

“What if, with the flick of a brush, you could paint yourself out of all your pain and unhappiness—and into a brand new life? For teenager Lakshmi, fleeing an abusive marriage in 1950s India means heading for the vibrant city of Jaipur. Once Lakshmi has settled, her artistic talents make her the city’s most sought-after henna painter, hired to adorn the hands and bodies of the rich, powerful women. Told through evocative, lush prose, Alka Joshi’s gorgeous debut novel uses one woman’s compelling story to explore a nation in the middle of earthshaking transitions. We were so wonderfully absorbed in Lakshmi’s journey that we didn’t even realize how much we were learning about India’s complicated history, and about colonialism, social upheaval, and the caste system. The Henna Artist is a full sensory experience, transporting us to another time and another place.”

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items using these links, I may earn a small commission.

Book Club: The Tea Girl on Hummingbird Lane

Yet again, I am off a week on book club.  I just can’t get it together.  Honestly, I didn’t realize that last Friday was the last one in the month. For some reason I had it in my head that today was the last day of April.  Oh well, better late than never, right? For April, I chose The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. I have to say that I really liked this book up until the very last page.  I thought it was a great story that held my interest throughout, but I was shocked when I got to the last page only to discover that was the end of the book.  I turned the page expecting to continue reading, but there was nothing.  This is one of those books where I immediately thought that there had to be a sequel.  Surely, the story doesn’t really end there.  I NEED to know what happens next, but I will never know.  I am left to imagine what happens next in my head.  I assume that is what Lisa See wanted the reader to do, but it still leaves me longing for more.  I know I say that about a lot of the stories that I review.  I never really want them to end, but this one was different.  I was just so surprised at how the story ended leaving me with an unfinished feeling.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is a story of a young girl, Li-yan (or Girl as her family affectionately called her), who grew up in the mountains of China among the Akha.  The Akha people were tea famers who were steeped in customs, rituals, and traditions (including strict roles for men and women).  They lived in the mountains with little to no knowledge of the world outside of their village with no electricity, plumbing, or creature comforts even in 90’s and into the new millennium.  The lived off the land and the very little money they made harvesting the tea leaves.  Li-yan’s mother, A-ma, was a healer of sorts and served as the midwife in the village.  She believed that Li-yan would take over for her as the village’s midwife once she was gone.  She brought Li-yan along with her for one birth in particular as a learning opportunity.  This birth was unusual as the mother gave birth to twins.  The Akha people believed that twins were a bad omen from the spirits and called the newborns “human rejects.” It was their custom to have the babies’ father to kill the human rejects and bury them outside the village in the woods in order to please the spirits.  Her witness to this custom along with her own young love and unexpected pregnancy led Li-yan to question and turn away from the rituals and beliefs of her family.  It sent her on a journey of hardship and loss. She not only discovered who she was and what she truly believed in, but it also led her right back to the family and traditions that she once ran from where she was able to bless her people in ways they never dreamed possible.

Despite my need to know more at the end of this story, I still really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to you all.  It was such a great story, and I will hold on to hope that a sequel will be written one day. See’s development of the characters was so well done that it helped me totally picture what it was like to live in those mountains, the reality of the hardships the Akha people faced because of their beliefs, and the incredible hard work it took them to harvest the tea leaves.  Despite my need to know more, I still really enjoyed this story and would recommend it to you all.  It was such a great story about the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters, and I will hold on to hope that a sequel will be written one day. This story truly was one of growth and change, and I really loved it.

My pick for May is a New York Times Bestseller that was named one of the best books of the year last year by PeopleVogueParade, NPR, and Elle.  Ask Again, Yes is a novel by Mary Beth Keane.  This is a story of the lifelong friendship and love of Peter Stanhope and Kate Gleeson and the night that changed them both and tested their bond for many years to come. Here is what Apple Books had to say about this novel.

“We lost track of time reading Mary Beth Keane’s novel about two families linked by professional and neighborly bonds—before they’re blown apart by tragedy. Ask Again, Yes centers on the Gleesons and the Stanhopes, two families whose fathers met as rookie policemen and whose children develop a deep and lasting bond. Keane is sympathetic to all of her characters, which makes the story of how one destructive person can harm a web of relationships all the more affecting. Like a brilliant painter’s use of negative space, Keane withholds certain information to make this saga a thrilling and moving read.”

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items using these links, I may earn a small commission.

Book Club: When Time Stopped

I know that I normally do my book club book review on the last Friday of the month.  However, I was so excited to share my new CAUSEBOX last week that I kind of forgot that it was the end of the month.  In all honesty though, I actually had not finished reading the book last week.  I know that I have had plenty of time to read lately, and I said I was going to jump on reading my March pick, When Time Stopped by Ariana Neumann, when this whole coronavirus thing began. I did try to start reading the book, but I had a really hard time getting into it initially. This book is the real-life story of the author’s quest to find the truth of her father’s secret past and survival during the Holocaust.   I honestly had high hopes for this story as I have read many historical fiction books about the same time period. I was fascinated with the thought of reading about a real-life story during that time.  Unfortunately, I was struggling at the beginning because it just wasn’t holding my interest. I found myself having to reread pages and paragraphs because I had zoned out.  In the initial chapters the author was setting up the story and how she came to find out that her father even had a secret past.  She was introducing a lot of the characters who had similar names and I was having a hard time keeping them all straight in my head and how they connected to the story as a whole.  It wasn’t until around chapters 10 and 11 that she really got to the meat of the story and where my interest picked up.  Although I still find the events of that time period very intriguing and the storyline did eventually develop, I really didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. I didn’t hate it and did find parts of it very interesting. It just didn’t seem to live up to my expectations.

Ariana Neumann’s father was Jewish man who grew up in Prague and was a young man when Germany first occupied the Czech Republic.  Although he was not a practicing Jew, “for the Nazis, Judaism was not a choice but a ‘race’ determined by your grandparents. What you believed or practiced did not matter; what was important was your genetic makeup.”  Neumann only learned that her father had a secret past after his death when she found a box of documents, letters, and photographs that her father had left for her. For most of her childhood in Venezuela, she was even unaware that her family was Jewish as her father never spoke to anyone of his past.  One of the documents she found in the box was an identification card that had a photograph of her father but identified him as someone under a totally different name and date of birth.  This box led her on a journey of discovering that her father had lived a terrifying, secret life in the wake of the Holocaust. Her investigation into his past led her to discover that her father lived under a false identity in order to avoid transport to one of the many Nazis concentration camps and a fate that many of his relatives were unable to avoid.  He ended up living in Berlin where he assumed a totally different identity while hiding in plain sight under the noses of the Germans. This is a story of tragedy, deception, extreme bravery, and the will to survive under the harshest of conditions during one of history’s most tragic periods.  Along Neumann’s journey in her search for the truth, she discovered a story that is unfathomable not only about her father but also about her grandparents, uncles, aunts, and other relatives endured at the hands of the Nazis regime.  While it is hard for me to highly recommend this story to everyone, I do think that those interested in this period of time in history will find this story fascinating.  It truly is an unbelievable story of heroism and survival.  If you do choose to read this story, I urge you to be patient and stick with it in the beginning.  The story is slow to develop but once it does, it becomes more captivating.  

My pick for April is a #1 New York Times Bestselling novel entitled The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See.  It is the story of Li-yan, a girl who grew up in a remote mountain village in China among a family of tea farmers and members of the Akha people.  In this story, the arrival of a mysterious stranger, leads Li-Yan to question her life and the customs she grew up with.  This causes her to leave her family and begin a life in the modern world. Here is Apple Books’ review of this novel.

“Lisa See’s novel about one woman’s journey from southern China’s mountains to the tiny Los Angeles suburbs opens with an aphorism: “No coincidence, no story.” As a child, Li-yan lives among the Akha, picking tea with her family in the countryside. When her life turns upside-down, she heads to the city, carrying her home village’s customs while gathering her heart’s shattered pieces. Full of luminous prose and surprising plot twists that render its opening line prophetic, See’s deception of loss, love, and tea is spirited and inspiring.”

Will you come along and read with me? It is a great way to escape the chaos that is our lives during this coronavirus pandemic.  Let’s jump into a good book together. 

Anchored in a Good Book,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you chose to purchase items using these links, I may earn a small commission. 

Friday Favorites: Books

With everything that is going on in the world right now with the Coronavirus, I decided to make a detour on what favorite thing I had planned to write about today.  Even if you haven’t been confined to your house yet, it seems that you most likely will be in the near future.  Schools are closing, events are being canceled, people are asked to telework, and everyone is being told to stay home.  Well, I don’t know about you, but the thought of having to stay confined to my house for an extended period of time has me fearing for my sanity.  I am certain that there will be a lot of binge watching and moving watching going on. However, you may start to feel like you want to stimulate your brain a little more, so I thought I would share some of my favorite books with you.  It is a great opportunity for you to dive into a good book.  If you prefer a real book to an ebook, I think that Amazon is still delivering (at least for now).  Becoming enthralled in a book can certainly help save your sanity.  I plan to do a lot of reading while I am stuck in the house.  Up first for me is my book club pick for March, When Time Stopped by Ariana Neuman, since I haven’t started it yet.  

I am a big fan of books in a series. I love the anticipation of the next book. My favorite author of all time is Karen Kingsbury.  I have read so many of her books and there has never been one that I didn’t love.  I also really like most books by Jodi Picoult and Kristen Hannah.  Check out 20 books/series that I have read over the years and loved. Some will be very familiar to you and others you may have never heard of.  

The Redemption Series by Karen Kingsbury

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

The Bronze Horseman Trilogy by Paulina Simons

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

Nightingale by Kristen Hannah

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Educated by Tara Westover

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

Room by Emma Donoghue

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Dive into a good book while you are stuck in your house in the coming weeks. Stay well everyone!

Anchored in a Good Book,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items using these links, I may earn a small commission.

Book Club: The Other Daughter

My day has been totally thrown off.  My kids unexpectedly got the day off of school today for freezing rain.  Having them home completely messes up my normal routine.  On the plus side, though, they can now help me pack for our trips.  Anyway, let’s move on to today’s topic.  I am doing our December Book Club post a little early this month because this will be my last post for December.  This month I chose a short thriller by Shalini Boland entitled The Other Daughter.  This was a super quick read.  In fact, I read it in one day.  I have to say that I have mixed feelings about this book.  Initially, I really was into it, and I was totally surprised by the sudden turn of events at the end.  However, it changed so abruptly and ended so quickly after the twist was revealed that I was kind of thrown off.  I liked it, but I just think I needed a little more.  

The Other Daughter is a story of twists and turns.  It begins when a little girl named Holly is abducted from right under her mother Rachel’s nose.  The abduction caused Rachel to end up divorced and starting her life over again in a new town as a single mother to her younger daughter Jess.  Once she began her new life, she never spoke of her lost daughter again to anyone. She completely put it out of her mind.  She went on to have a serious boyfriend who she had a son with, and they lived a normal life as a family of 4 for several years. During the time they were together, she never told her boyfriend about Holly until one day when she came face to face with a young girl named Bella whose family had just moved to town.  Rachel’s heart stopped the moment she saw Bella.  She had a gut-wrenching feeling that Bella was her missing daughter that had been stolen from her all those years ago.  Rachel became obsessed with learning the truth to the point of lying to everyone and breaking into Bella’s house to obtain her DNA.  Rachel was losing control, but she was convinced that Bella was Holly.  She was beginning to lose everything that meant something to her in her quest to prove that Bella was her daughter.  

As I said, I have mixed feelings about this story.  I think overall, I liked it though.  I was totally not expecting the twist at the end which is always a good thing.  I generally like it when I can’t predict what is coming.  I just feel like it happened so fast that I was left wanting more.  I guess I felt like the ending could have been more developed. I can’t quite put my finger on what more I really wanted, and I understand that probably was the author’s strategy.  I know that she was going for the shock factor, and she definitely got it from me.  I guess I just felt like it was too fast and the story was too short.  I was all into it trying to figure it all out, and then out of nowhere it was over.  I would love to know what you thought if you read along with me and if you were surprised by the ending as well.  

My pick for January is by New York Bestselling author, Lisa Jewel.  It is her latest thriller called, The Family Upstairs.  It is the story of three families, unknowingly intertwined, who find themselves living in a house with deeply buried, dark secrets.  Here is what Apple Books had to say about this novel.

“The past is never far behind us. In Lisa Jewell’s tense phycological thriller, it’s right in front of us, too, ready to reveal some very alarming things. When Libby unexpectedly inherits her family’s London mansion, she’s pulled in by a history of family dysfunction, a mysterious stranger, and several deaths. The tension keeps building—and secrets keep being revealed—right up to the final page. If you feel like you’ve seen it all in contemporary thrillers, trust us, you won’t know what hit you. 

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

Book Club: Redemption Road

It is Book Club day! I am doing it a week early this month due to the holiday next week.  I hope you all read our November book with me because it was such a great read.  Our book for November was Redemption Road by John Hart.  This book was a change of pace from the books I had been choosing.  This one was more of a psychological thriller, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. I was totally wrapped up in the storyline and characters.  I really could not put it down.  The twists and turns throughout the story kept me guessing on the edge of my seat.  My only complaint is that I didn’t really love the ending.  I felt like it left me wanting more.  I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what more I needed out of the ending, though. I just know that it felt a little unfinished to me.  Maybe it was just that I didn’t want it to end.  I’m not sure.  Despite that, I really enjoyed this book.  I loved the mystery and the thrill of it.  I spent most of the time reading it trying to predict what was going to happen. John Hart certainly did a great job of keeping me guessing up until the end.  I definitely recommend this book if you haven’t already read it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Redemption Road is a story that revolves around four characters whose lives become intertwined in the aftermath of murder and mystery.  It all began thirteen years ago when a police officer, Adrian Wall, was convicted of murdering the mother of a young boy named Gideon.  Elizabeth Black, a fellow police officer, was the first on the scene. Because of that, she developed a very close relationship with Gideon.  She became his protector and took on a motherly role with him in the years that followed.  It turned out that Elizabeth’s path had crossed with Adrian’s a few years before the murder, and that incident had altered the course of her life. As a result, she did not believe that Adrian was capable of such a crime.  She had an unshakeable belief that he was wrongly convicted and was one of only two people that supported his claim of innocence leading up to his conviction.  

Thirteen years after the murder of Gideon’s mother and Adrian’s conviction, Elizabeth was caught up in another case when eighteen year old, Channing, was kidnapped.  Elizabeth was put on suspension from the police force and faced criminal chargers after admitting to shooting the two men who had kidnapped, tortured and raped Channing.  She had allegedly shot the two men 18 times.  Elizabeth again developed a strong connection with the teen and took on a protective roll with her after the ordeal.  In the days following Elizabeth’s suspension, Adrian was released from prison on parole. His time in prison had not been kind to him as he had suffered through abuse and torture at the hands of the warden.  The day Adrian was released put him on a collision course with Elizabeth, Gideon, and Channing.  Little did the four know that they would be thrown into a wild ride together mixed with more murder, mystery, obsession, and ghosts from their past. Their stories intertwined and eventually led all four of them down the road to redemption. 

It was a beautifully written story filled with intrigue and mystery.  I really did not see the ending coming.  Again, I highly recommend this story especially if you like psychological thrillers and murder mysteries.  It reminded me of stories like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, which I loved. I will definitely be reading more books by John Hart in the future.  

My next pick for our Book Club is another psychological thriller that is said to be addictive with a jaw-dropping twist.  It was just released this month and is already making waves.  My pick for December is The Other Daughter by Shalini Boland.  It is about a mother whose 2-year-old daughter is kidnapped right under her nose. That little girl makes a return to her mother’s life 9 years later.  Here is what the publisher has to say about this book.

“From the million-copy-bestselling author of The Secret Mother and The Perfect Family, this utterly gripping psychological thriller will have you up all night reading. If you loved Gone GirlThe Girl on the Train and The Sister this book is for you.”

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

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Book Club: This Tender Land

It is hard to believe that it is the last Friday of October and that November will be here next week. It is just crazy to me.  The last Friday of the month means that it is Book Club day, which is one of my favorite days each month.  I love that doing this book club each month forces me to read because it is something that brings me so much joy.  I have loved reading my whole life, but I had gotten away from reading regularly because I let life get in the way.  This book club forces me to make time to get wrapped up in a story, and I love it.  This month we read a book fresh off the printer entitled This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger.  It came out last month and was an instant best seller, and I could see why after only a few chapters in.  I really enjoyed the journey that this story took me on.  Not only did it instantly take me back in time when the world was much different, but it also kept me enthralled in the story page after page. I was totally wrapped up in each character’s storyline.  It was really a great read, and I enjoyed it immensely. 

This story begins in the summer of 1932 when 4 unlikely friends set off on an adventure after escaping from the Lincoln Indian Training School in Minnesota. The Lincoln School was a place where Native American children who were taken from their families were sent to be educated. Mrs. Brickman and her husband ran the school.  They both seemed to despise children and gained pleasure from their suffering.  The students called Mrs. Brickman the Black Witch.  She would lock them in a quiet room, farm them out for hard manual labor in the community, barely feed them, and turned a blind eye to beatings and other inappropriate actions towards the children by an employee of the school.  Needless to say, these children suffered greatly at her hands.  Mose was a descendent of the Sioux tribe and came to the school at a young age after he was found next to his dead parents in a ditch.  His own tongue had been cut out in the attack, so he communicated through sign language. Odie and Albert O’Banion were brothers who ended up at the school after their father was killed during a bootlegging run. They were not of Native American descent but were told that they were sent to the Lincoln School because the state orphanage was full. The last of the 4 was sweet Emmy Frost, the daughter of 2 teachers at the school.  Her father had been killed in a farming accident a few years earlier and her mom had a sweet spot for the 3 boys and wanted to take them in as her own. After Mrs. Frost was killed in a tornado, Emmy was left to live with the horrible Brickmans. Those events lead the 4 to band together and escape from the Lincoln School and begin a long journey down the river to St. Louis in search of family.  The events that followed would change their lives forever.  

This is a story of heartbreak and struggle.  These 4 children faced things in their short life that no children should ever have to face. Murder, imprisonment, abuse, snakebites, loss, and more plagued their journey. They also came across people who were a danger to them and people who showed them great love along the way. Their determination, resiliency, and love for each other helped them along their journey. While their journey to freedom only lasted a little over a month, it felt like it was years in the making.  Although they experienced and lost so much in those few short weeks, their bond only grew stronger as they became the family they all longed for. I really loved this story and highly recommend it.  It certainly did not disappoint.

My pick for November is a bit different than the last few I have chosen.  I am moving away from the historical fiction genre for this pick to give us a little variety.  I thought I would spice it up a little this time. This month I am choosing Redemption Road by John Hart.  This story is more of a mystery/thriller this time.  It is a New York Times Bestseller from the only author to ever win the Edgar Allan Poe Award back-to-back. Here is what Apple Books has to say about this novel.

Redemption Road took five years to write, and that investment shows. John Hart’s thriller is masterfully written and haunting.  At its center is suspended policewoman Elizabeth Black, who under investigation for the murder of two men who abducted and tortured a teenager Channing Shore. Liz is plagued by nightmares, not all of them related to Channing’s horrific ordeal. Hart has not only created a strong, vulnerable heroine to root for, he’s written a Southern gothic crime novel that’s flush with eeriness and themes of righteousness and redemption.” 

I hope you will come along and read with me.  

Anchored, 

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission.

Book Club: The Orphan’s Tale

It is Book Club Friday today, and I am excited to share my review of this month’s book, The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff.  I really liked this book a lot.  It certainly held my attention, and I was very attached to the characters.  I actually finished it early in the month, which is unusual with my crazy schedule, but I couldn’t stop reading at night and stayed up way later than normal to keep reading.  It was a great historical fiction tale, which is probably my favorite genre.  The story takes place during World War II and revolved around 2 women who became an unlikely pair.  One was a young teen, Noa, who had become pregnant by a Nazi soldier and then was cast out by her parents as a result.  She was sent to a center where she delivered her a baby boy and was forced to give him up against her will.  She was living and working at a train station when she came across a train car full of Jewish infants, some of which had already frozen to death.  Reminding her of the baby she lost, she snatched one little boy and fled on foot in the snow to escape being discovered by Nazi soldiers. The second woman, Astrid, was the daughter of a Jewish family that ran a circus in Germany and around Europe for many years. She had left home and the circus life to marry a German Soldier.  When the war got worse, her husband was forced to cast her out for fear of his own life.  Her family was nowhere to be found and thought to have been killed, so she found refuge with a nearby German circus that used to be her family’s rival.  The head of that circus knew her and her family and gladly brought her in to give her safety as the circus’s lead aerialist.  It was understood that all circus performers were like family no matter what circus you came from. When Noa was discovered passed out in the snow with the baby near the circus by one of its top performers one night, they took her and the baby in.  While Astrid was forced to teach Noa how to be an aerialist in order to also provide them with refuge, their relationship, strained at first, eventually became one of survival and sacrifice.

As I said, I was very wrapped up in the characters and loved seeing how the two women’s relationship went from rivals to a tender, caring and protective relationship.  Their struggles for survival and strong urge to protect the baby and each other at all cost brought the two of them together in a way that neither of them ever dreamed was possible.  The horrors that the Jewish people faced as a result of the war was depicted in a way that made you feel deep emotions for the characters and what they faced during that time.  It truly gives you a glimpse of what life was like during that time period and what a family the circus performers are to each other.  The descriptive language allowed me to visualize what it was like under the big top of that circus as they all feared for their lives and tried to maintain their composure during each performance.  If you like historical fiction, you will really enjoy this book. It is filled with extreme sadness, heartbreak, and loss; but it is also filled with love and triumph.  I highly recommend The Orphan’s Tale as one you should read.

My pick for October is a new release by the best selling author, William Kent Krueger, entitled This Tender Land.  This book became an instant New York Times Best Seller just after its release earlier this month.  It is another historical fiction novel that will take us on the journey of 4 Native American children in Minnesota in summer of 1932 during the Great Depression. These 4 children became orphans when they were forcibly removed from their parents and were sent to be educated.  It is said that fans of Where the Crawdads Sing and Before We Were Yours will love this book. I really enjoyed both of those novels, so I am hoping this one will not disappoint. Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission.