Mini Review… Wednesday?

Well guys, it’s not Monday but at least these reviews are getting posted! I have two fantastic crime fiction novels to talk about today; each is completely different from the other, so I’m hoping there will be a recommendation for everyone between the two. One is the latest psychological thriller from Tom Bale following a single mother, her seven year old son, and one poor decision that will wreck her life as she knows it. The other follows a detective from Chicago who is secretly battling MS and raising her niece as a single woman while trying to solve a seemingly simple case that is much more complex than originally suspected. I highly enjoyed both and hope you’ll give them an extra glance and possibly a place on the ever growing MOUNT TBR. 😉

Book Title: Each Little Lie
Author: Tom Bale
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Goodreads
Pub Date: 07/29/17
4 STARS

One split second can destroy your life forever

Single mother Jen Cornish is just trying to hold things together for the sake of her seven-year-old son Charlie. Until the day when she does an impulsive good deed to help a neighbour, setting off a terrifying chain of events that quickly spirals out of control… When she is arrested for a crime she didn’t commit, Jen quickly starts to wonder if someone is playing a cruel game with her – or is she losing her mind? Desperate to clear her name with the police, she must first untangle a chilling web of lies. But someone is watching her every move – and it isn’t just Jen who is in danger.

They’re watching her child as well.

It’s safe to say I was hooked on this story from beginning to end. I have seen lots of reviewers who were wary of the premise; how could anyone in their right mind enter someone else’s house to return their lost keys and think that was the best idea? I’m going to touch on that below, but needless to say since this is fiction, if you can suspend your need for a realistic catalyst, I think you’ll enjoy this story as well. One of my favorite attributes to Bale as an author is how, as a man, he can write such relatable female characters. In each book of his that I’ve read I feel as though he has taken some of my darkest fears and deepest worries as a parent and brought them to life; this could be due to the fact that he was, for a time, a stay at home parent himself and fully involved in child rearing. I always find the tiny details he places in his stories of various emotions and fierce protection of the mothers he creates to be what has placed him in my circle of favorite authors.

I really want to stay away from talking about the plot, but I did want to mention that yes, the premise here is quite out there for most folks. What really got me thinking though was how quick we are to judge what other’s do without thinking of how we might act under similar circumstances. I began pondering how, as a mother of two small ones, I am constantly exhausted and walking around in this state that is relatable to the people in the Claritin commercials before they pull that blurry film off and get to be “Claritin Clear”. I have done more than my fair share of stupid things solely under the umbrella of being depleted. Our main character Jen is a single mother strapped with more anxiety and stress than any one person should shoulder, but unfortunately is rather common these days. Long story short, this train of thought is what initially caused myself to stop and dig deep to feel for this poor woman.

Overall I was really pleased with this one; it was very different from his previous novels I’ve read, but I feel Bale did a fantastic job crafting this slow burning suspense with heightened emotion. If you enjoy your crime fiction focused more on the characters than high action, you may want to give this a go.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy via NetGalley; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here.

Book Title: The Lies We Tell
Author: Theresa Schwegel
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None (BUT PLEASE?!?!?!)
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
Goodreads
Pub Date: 07/04/17
4 STARS

Chicago police detective Gina Simonetti is keeping a secret from the department: she has multiple sclerosis. Raising her young niece on her own, Gina hides her disease; she can’t afford to lose her job. Anyway, she is healthier than most of the cops she knows, and greatly appreciates the responsibility of caring for a child.

But Gina’s secret is threatened when a colleague calls her in to help trace a suspect: Johnny Marble has added to his rap sheet with an assault charge—this time against his mother. When Gina pays a visit to the mom in the hospital and winds up running into—and after—Marble, she finds herself in a physical confrontation she can’t possibly win. He gets away, and Gina is faced with an impossible situation. She has to find him, but knows doing so means turning in the one person who knows the true story of what happened. After all, now that he’s seen her fight, Johnny Marble can reveal her deepest secret to the police department.

Though alone in her struggle, Gina isn’t alone in her search: in addition to a loyal partner, there is a curious detective and an entire force of coworkers on the hunt. And she’s sympathetic to Marble’s mother, a woman who is losing her mind to Alzheimer’s. Still, Gina fears the fallout: she has no idea how will she keep her own world intact once Marble is found and the truth is out.

When I received this one in the mail from Minotaur last month I was mildly intrigued; Schwegel was a new to me author but the blurb on the back caught my attention featuring a main character with MS. I’m always looking for diversity in my books and, up until this book, had yet to read one highlighting the disease and what it looks like. I was incredibly pleased with this book; I truly wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did and had a hard time putting it down when trivial things like “food” and “potty breaks” were necessary. While the writer’s style is completely her own and hard to pin point who it reminds me of, I think this story held an air of that same dry humor used by Harlan Coben and the strong, independent females featured by Alafair Burke. That should be enough to sell you on reading this one alone, right?

As I said above, I was utterly compelled to read this novel as quickly as possible. I loved everything about it; the lifelike characters, the complex relationships, the multi-layered plot and twists, they were all pieces to make this read exactly what it should be-gritty perfection. I was so on board with this book and these characters that I was shocked to find out this is a standalone. You mean to tell me I won’t be seeing these fabulous characters again? I don’t want to imply that there wasn’t closure, simply that the author left many things available to be furthered and the entire structure of the novel felt like a set up for a long running police procedural/crime fiction series. How about the author furthers this into a series and I give you all of my money Minotaur? Quietly chants-series, series SERIES! In all seriousness this was one of the best police procedurals I’ve read this year and I’ll be thinking about it for a long time. Highly recommended to all readers who like fast action and relatable characters with a side of witty humor!

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my thoughts here. 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Cover Love: YA Fiction

Welcome to the second part of my Fall/Winter TBR edition of Cover Love! Yesterday I featured my 5 adult fiction picks that I am most looking forward to (based on cover) and, if you missed it, you can find it HERE. Today I wanted to focus on my 5 young adult fiction picks; once again, these aren’t all arcs, but just a mash up of some highly anticipated titles I’ll be putting in my reading line up for the latter half of this year. I felt all of these choices had goo-goo worthy cover art, which really is what draws me into a book initially before I’m even gripped by the story itself. Which covers are your favorite? Do you see any featured below that you can’t wait to read yourself? ❤

AN ENCHANTMENT OF RAVENS BY MARGARET ROGERSON

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumn lands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There’s only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

THE GATEKEEPERS BY JEN LANCASTER

Anyone passing through North Shore, IL, would think this was the most picture-perfect place ever, with all the lakefront mansions and manicured hedges and iron gates. No one talks about the fact that the brilliant, talented kids in this town have a terrible history of throwing themselves in front of commuter trains, and that there’s rampant opioid abuse that often leads to heroin usage.

Meet Simone, the bohemian transfer student from London, who is thrust into the strange new reality of the American high school; Mallory, the hyper-competitive queen bee; and Stephen, the first generation genius who struggles with crippling self-doubt. Each one is shocked when lovable football player Braden takes his own life and the tragedy becomes a suicide cluster. With so many students facing their own demons, can they find a way to save each other—as well as themselves?

Inspired by the true events that happened in the author’s home town.

BLOOD AND SAND BY C.V. WYK

Roma Victor. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to build an empire–an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves.

Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and sword maiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master’s favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.

Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end–and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus….

NO VAIN LOSS BY M.C. FRANK

She was never supposed to be the sacrifice…
(teaser for book #3 in the NO ORDINARY STAR series!)

THE GOBLINS OF BELLWATER BY MOLLY RINGLE

Most people have no idea goblins live in the woods around the small town of Bellwater, Washington. But some are about to find out.

Skye, a young barista and artist, falls victim to a goblin curse in the forest one winter night, rendering her depressed and silenced, unable to speak of what happened. Her older sister, Livy, is at wit’s end trying to understand what’s wrong with her. Local mechanic Kit would know, but he doesn’t talk of such things: he’s the human liaison for the goblin tribe, a job he keeps secret and never wanted, thrust on him by an ancient family contract.

Unaware of what’s happened to Skye, Kit starts dating Livy, trying to keep it casual to protect her from the attention of the goblins. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Kit, Skye draws his cousin Grady into the spell through an enchanted kiss in the woods, dooming Grady and Skye both to become goblins and disappear from humankind forever.

It’s a midwinter night’s enchantment as Livy, the only one untainted by a spell, sets out to save them on a dangerous magical path of her own.

 

 

Posted in General Post | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Cover Love: Adult Fiction

It’s a new week, and while I didn’t get my act together quickly enough to write my reviews for Mini Review Monday, I decided to move forward with a new edition of Cover Love! I chose to make this a two part post and share some of the covers of the books I’m looking forward to this Fall/Winter. Please note, these are not all ARCS or books being published in the upcoming months, simply ones that I have on my personal TBR and cannot wait to read. This first post will include 5 adult fiction books and part two will feature my 5 young adult fiction picks. As always, I’d love to hear if you have read any of the following books or if any have caught your eye as well! ❤

THE REASON YOU’RE ALIVE BY MATTHEW QUICK

After sixty-eight-year-old David Granger crashes his BMW, medical tests reveal a brain tumor that he readily attributes to his wartime Agent Orange exposure. He wakes up from surgery repeating a name no one in his civilian life has ever heard—that of a Native American soldier whom he was once ordered to discipline. David decides to return something precious he long ago stole from the man he now calls Clayton Fire Bear. It might be the only way to find closure in a world increasingly at odds with the one he served to protect. It might also help him finally recover from his wife’s untimely demise.

As David confronts his past to salvage his present, a poignant portrait emerges: that of an opinionated and goodhearted American patriot fighting like hell to stay true to his red, white, and blue heart, even as the country he loves rapidly changes in ways he doesn’t always like or understand. Hanging in the balance are Granger’s distant art-dealing son, Hank; his adoring seven-year-old granddaughter, Ella; and his best friend, Sue, a Vietnamese-American who respects David’s fearless sincerity.

WORKING FIRE BY EMILY BLEEKER

Ellie Brown thought she’d finally escaped her stifling hometown of Broadlands, Illinois; med school was supposed to be her ticket out. But when her father has a stroke, she must return home to share his care with her older sister, Amelia, who’s busy with her own family. Working as a paramedic, Ellie’s days are monotonous, driving an ambulance through streets she’d hoped never to see again.

Until a 911 dispatch changes everything. The address: her sister’s house. Rushing to the scene, Ellie discovers that Amelia and her husband, Steve, have been shot in a home invasion. After Amelia is rushed to the hospital, Ellie tries to make sense of the tragedy. But what really happened inside her sister’s house becomes less and less clear. As Amelia hangs on in critical condition, Ellie uncovers dark revelations about her family’s past that challenge her beliefs about those closest to her…and force her to question where her devotions truly lie.

SLEEPING BEAUTIES BY STEPHEN & OWEN KING

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain? Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is wildly provocative and gloriously absorbing.

THE LIGHTKEEPER’S DAUGHTERS BY JEAN E. PENDZIWOL

Though her mind is still sharp, Elizabeth’s eyes have failed. No longer able to linger over her beloved books or gaze at the paintings that move her spirit, she fills the void with music and memories of her family—a past that suddenly becomes all too present when her late father’s journals are found amid the ruins of an old shipwreck.

With the help of Morgan, a delinquent teenager performing community service, Elizabeth goes through the diaries, a journey through time that brings the two women closer together. Entry by entry, these unlikely friends are drawn deep into a world far removed from their own—to Porphyry Island on Lake Superior, where Elizabeth’s father manned the lighthouse seventy years before.

As the words on these musty pages come alive, Elizabeth and Morgan begin to realize that their fates are connected to the isolated island in ways they never dreamed. While the discovery of Morgan’s connection sheds light onto her own family mysteries, the faded pages of the journals hold more questions than answers for Elizabeth, and threaten the very core of who she is.

THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE BY MEG ELISON

When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead.

In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it.

A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence.

After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.

Posted in General Post | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Weekly Wrap-Up: 7/7

Yay! It’s Friday, which means FRIYAY and Weekly Wrap-Up time! I’ve been furiously pumping out reviews for books being published in the next week or two, so I’m hoping next week I’ll be able to focus more on some discussion posts. Ideally I’m hoping to post my next blog in the FAQ feature and discuss gaining followers, and I’m also hoping to post a two part Cover Love feature on upcoming Fall/Winter reads in the Adult and Young Adult Fiction categories. I’ll be including all of this week’s NetGalley approvals, blog posts, and the handful of Bookstagram pictures I managed to take below. Tell me, how did your week in books go? Which books are looking forward to the most in the second half of the year?

NETGALLEY APPROVALS:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POSTS FROM LAST WEEK:

Review: Everything We Left Behind

Review: No Ordinary Star

Mini Review Monday: 7/3

Review: The Almost Sisters

Officially Obsessed: Atria Books

Review: Bring Her Home

BOOKSTAGRAM:

That’s it for this week! Feel free to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads. Until next week, have a great weekend and happy reading! ❤

Posted in General Post, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Review: Bring Her Home


Book Title:
Bring Her Home
Author: David Bell
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Goodreads
Pub Date: 07/11/17

Just a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.

As Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.

When troubling new questions about Summer’s life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He’ll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family…

Once again I’ve found myself on the receiving end of the dramatic David Bell hangover; I’ve reached the point of being caught up on all of his books and am sadly waiting until the next one arrives. There are very few authors that I follow long term; I usually burn out after 3-5 books, especially if it’s a series, because there are so many new, shiny novels clamoring for my attention and a majority of authors become stale in their writing due to the pressure to keep pumping out books. Bell is one of the few authors that I have followed for more than 3 or 4 books and continuously kept on my auto-click list. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early copy this go around, and I’ve got to say, this one vies for the coveted “favorite to date” of his novels (tied with Somebody I Used To Know). I’ve seen reviews on both sides of the spectrum so far, so let me tell you WHY I loved this book and maybe it can help in deciding if it’s the right book for you.

The Characterization: One of my favorite aspects of a David Bell novel is the characters, as they really are the focal point of each story. This book, like his others, aren’t your high action, plot driven stories; I’d like to think of them as the type of books you read to get lost in because you feel a part of the story alongside the characters. Sure, there is the slow building suspense that about drives you mad until nearing the end you think “DEAR GOD MAN, JUST TELL US WHAT HAPPENED!!!!!“, and this definitely keeps me hooked throughout, but I think the realness of the characters and how well we get to know them is what makes me care about what happens in the book. From beginning to end, we meet a myriad of people who drive the story onward with their personal drama, some of which is used as red herrings and some which pertains to the actual mysteries at hand.

The Plot: I’ll be honest, once you’ve read about 1,000 books in your lifetime and at least half of those are of the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller variety, it gets difficult to find books that shock you with their twists. It doesn’t make them unable to be enjoyed, it simply takes away that shock value that used to seem so frequent in your reads. It could be that I’m just losing my detective skills, but this is the first book in a long while where I didn’t have it all completely solved before the reveal. In fact, aside from a few minor aspects, I had none of it figured out. I love the way this book was written, because there were just enough characters to keep you guessing the “who” and “why” of each piece of the mystery, but not so many that you felt lost and confused and wanted to throw the book at your husband’s face. <— Not that I’ve ever felt that way. Nope. Not me. Instead of this book containing the ever-popular SUPER ULTRA MEGA BIG ONE MAJOR TWIST, the author chose to take a much more preferred route and slip bunches of them all over the place. I buddy read this book with Sam of Clues and Reviews and we kept messaging each other over a few days going “GASP! OH NO HE DIDN’T!” because we both couldn’t believe the…things… that happened. Just read it for yourself!

The Cover: Come on I had to say it; that cover is gorgeous! We all know I’m THAT shallow… A gorgeous cover is a must for me and this one is a 5/5 stars!

I’ve said it before, but it’s completely true that, when life is throwing me curveballs and I’m having trouble focusing on most books, I reach for a David Bell. I save these for precisely the right moment and, to this day, not one of his books has ever let me down. When you find an author who writes something that you connect with on a level much deeper than the surface, you follow their work for as long as it’s published. With quality books like Bring Her Home still coming, I feel I have nothing to worry about as I’ll be seeing more from Bell for years to come. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy mysteries with a traditional feel and thorough characterization; the subtle suspense grows into full blown desperation as you need to find out just what happened surrounding these girls’ disappearance.

*Many thanks to the author for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here. 

David Bell is the author of seven novels from Berkley/Penguin, including BRING HER HOME, SINCE SHE WENT AWAY, SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW, THE FORGOTTEN GIRL, NEVER COME BACK, THE HIDING PLACE, and CEMETERY GIRL. His work has been translated into numerous foreign languages, and in 2013, he won the prestigious Prix Polar International de Cognac for best crime novel by an international author. He is an associate professor of English at Western Kentucky University where he directs the MFA program in creative writing. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, he spends his free time rooting for the Reds and Bengals, watching movies, and walking in the cemetery near his house. He lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky, with his wife, writer Molly McCaffrey.

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Officially Obsessed: Atria Books

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome back to Officially Obsessed! Today I’d like to focus on one of my favorite publishers- ATRIA BOOKS. While I’ve been a fan of theirs for years, it’s been in the past 12 months that my fondness has grown into full blown obsession. With the publication of a plethora of genres plus multiple imprints under their reputable name, is it any wonder that today they are one of the most popular brands in fiction and non-fiction alike? I thought it might be fun to list some of the reasons why they are one of my favorite imprints to review for and interact with; if you haven’t jumped on board the A-Train, what are you waiting for?

  • THEIR LOGOS – Ok, so I’m a sucker for anything nerdy when it comes to books. I am all about the aesthetics in any product I am purchasing, so when I can find a book that consistently creates a palate that pleases the eye, count me in. I adore how simple, yet clean each brand keeps their look; the logo easily blends in with any cover art chosen but stands out just enough to make you notice who’s name is on each book. I’ve come to expect an attractive jacket from any book that bears these logos as it’s obvious that Atria takes time and effort in only producing the best of the best, as we all know most readers do tend to judge a book by it’s cover.
  • THEIR COVER ART – I know I mentioned this above, but seriously, Atria always has the best cover art on their books. It’s like they know that we’re more apt to buy the book if the outside is as beautiful as the inside. 😉 In all seriously, I highly respect that they employ the services of only the most talented designers; the fact that they tend to keep most author’s books with a steady theme makes my OCD heart jump for joy and my bookshelf can remain at peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • THEIR APPROACHABILITY – If you haven’t had the pleasure of interacting with one of Atria Books social media accounts then you’re really missing out. One of the first publicists I started working with was David Brown @AtriaMysteryBus (<–you can follow on twitter here) and I soon found out everyone at Atria was really nice and friendly! They really prioritize working hand in hand with bloggers to spread the word about their fabulous books and always show gratitude for the hard work we insert into marketing their stories that we love.

Do you have a favorite publisher that you’re officially obsessed about? Atria is just one of many, but I’m hoping to feature a few per month as time allows. I’d love to hear about publishers that have treated you well in the comments below! Here’s to highlighting those in the book world who make reading worthwhile for bloggers, reviewers, and readers alike. ❤

Posted in General Post | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Review: The Almost Sisters

Book Title: The Almost Sisters
Author: Joshilyn Jackson
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: Women’s Fiction, Southern Fiction, Domestic Drama
Goodreads
Pub Date: 07/11/17

Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs’ weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She’s having a baby boy–an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old’s life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel’s marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she’s been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother’s affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she’s pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she’s got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie’s been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family’s freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.

I swear, every time I pick up a book written by Joshilyn Jackson I say it’s the best she’s ever written and she cannot possibly top it, but every time I’m wrong. I had a feeling before ever cracking the spine (just kidding, I’m not a monster to my books) that this one was special. Sure, the cover is gorgeous and swoon worthy and the blurb on the back was just the right amount of intrigue and feels, but my intuition was telling me that there was something deeper here, something more complex to the plot than portrayed in the description. I think all readers can relate to that feeling on occasion; it seems to be the holy grail of the reading experience and we try to capture that experience as often as possible to contain that wholly satisfied feeling.

As a caucasian female born and raised in the deep south, it’s safe to say I’m a part of the target market for Jackson’s books. This book in particular really spoke to my roots, as I was born in Alabama, raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and have recently moved to Northern Virginia; with two of these states being featured in The Almost Sisters I was completely at ease. While I won’t be getting into detailed plot specifics, I could feel early on that the author chose to focus on a timely issue that I have struggled with for years-the dual nature of the southern states and how that nature affects minorities. In this book, the focus is on the black community and how, even though the years of legal slavery have passed, racism is still alive and well. Perhaps this is why the book resonated with me in such a complete fashion, but my entire life I have witnessed the two very distinct natures of the south. On one hand, it can be welcoming, hospitable, and comforting; I’ve experienced firsthand the warm love and support that a southern neighbor, friend, or family member can provide. On the other hand, underhand racism, as well as blatant racism, is still causing hurt and hatred to thrive in a time where we feel we’ve progressed profoundly. I can’t do it justice in my review, but the narrative created by Joshilyn Jackson is indeed profound, moving, and convicting.

Prejudices are dissected in many forms along the journey; while there are many various appearances of racial discord, past and present tense, there are also situations involving the competitive nature of the step sisters, along with Leia being an unwed mother of a bi-racial baby while coming from a traditional, southern family. I found myself particularly moved by the plot line involving Birchie, Wattie, and “the secret”. I would say the pacing was very steady, one that you would want to take your time through and soak up every detail (it’s the southern way, after all). If you enjoy southern fiction that is well done and so much more than shallow cliches, I would HIGHLY recommend picking up The Almost Sisters. I think fans of the author will agree that this is her best work to date, although I’m equally sure I’ll be eating crow by the time her next novel is published.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here and participate with the SHE READS BOOK CLUB summer session.  

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments