Almost Missed You: A Review

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The most recent First Reads Goodreads giveaway book that this pedometer geek reader had the pleasure of reading was Almost Missed You. Written by Jessica Strawser, it is her debut novel. This reader looks forward to reading her second novel, Not That I Could Tell (which will be reviewed here some time in the not-so-distant future). In the meantime, here is the extended review of Almost Missed You.

Almost Missed You
By Jessica Strawser
Published by St. Martin’s Press, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-10760-2

The Advanced Reader Copy describes the novel thusly:
“The secrets we shouldn’t keep. The past we should let go.
Imagine your perfect vacation day at the beach, drink in hand, and taking in the cool ocean breeze. Your adoring husband in the hotel room with your three-year-old baby boy, the love of your life.
Now imagine them gone, erased from existence, the life you thought you knew, the man you thought loved you, and the spaces between what was meant to be and what is now—a nightmare that is your new reality.”

Missed chances, missed connections, and the almost-happened are just some of the ideas behind the events of this novel. The tale unfolds, moving back and forth between the past and present, and the characters Violet, Finn, Caitlin, and George (not to mention their children) deal with secrets, lies, and perceptions.

Beginning with the random meeting of Violet and Finn on a Florida beach to the sudden disappearance of their son Bear, who is taken by his father Finn, there is the story of their in-between, both together and apart, and what brought about the events which brings them to the present.

Their friends Caitlin and George have an equally compelling story, which is interwoven and twists around Violet’s and Finn’s. This further entangles the truth from the lies for both of these couples. How these two stories all fit together makes for a complex and engrossing read of suspense and mystery, one that this reader thoroughly enjoyed.

In an attempt to avoid spoilers, this review is necessarily vague; however, it is definitely worth the read.

Questions arise (and are answered). What will a parent do to protect a child? What will a parent do for the love of a child? And how will lies of omission and commission affect these two couples? And imagine if…

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Daily Prompt: Churn

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via Daily Prompt: Churn

This should be posted under my regular blog; it is NOT a book review.

Churn! Churn! Churn!

Paraphrasing the Byrds’ song

To everything (churn, churn, churn)
There is a season (churn, churn, churn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

I could go on with the paraphrased lyrics, but won’t (you probably can sing it yourself and insert church in the appropriate places). The point: with each new revelation of what is going on in this country, my stomach churns, churns, churns. Staying positive is difficult, and I am sure I am not alone in this.
Do you churn, churn, churn, or are you one of the 37% who are happy with our leader?

As for me, I need to go take some antacid.

Exiting soapbox mode…

Dunbar: A Review

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The latest book that this pedometer geek reader read was Dunbar, which was received through Blogging for Books. It is a literary novel written by Edward St. Aubyn, who has also written several other novels including Never Mind. This is the first novel of his that this reader has read, but it may not be the last. This is the extended review.

Dunbar
by Edward St. Aubyn
Published by Hogarth, 2017
an imprint of Crown Publishing Group
a division of Penguin Random House, LLC
ISBN: 978-1-101-90428-2

“They all want to play Hamlet” is a line from a play, “The World of Carl Sandburg” by Norman Corwin. People often read “Hamlet”, too, as part of their education, but that is not true for Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” When friends and family were queried, this reader could not find one person who had ever read the play, and only one person who had ever seen the play. She told me she had difficulty with the flowery language, making the understanding of the play itself difficult. Even asking online friends, this reader could only find a handful of those who indicated they had read “King Lear.”

In truth, this reader has never read “King Lear” either so that having the opportunity of reading the novel adaptation, Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn, was both a pleasure as well as a daunting undertaking as literary fiction is not a favorite genre.

This modern day retelling of the play is in the Hogarth Shakespeare series: a series of commissioned novels written by current, successful (in their own right) authors. This is the first of these this reader has read, but during the reading, it sent this reader back to commentaries to further understand the story of King Lear; however, it is not necessary to do this to recognize the power of this tale.

Now, about the novel. In a nutshell, Henry Dunbar, the leader of a global media company called the Dunbar Trust, has decided to nominally withdraw from holding the reins of his company and give over control to his three daughters, Abigail, Megan, and Florence, with the help of his best friend and attorney, Wilson. Nominally, that is, as he still retains some control.

Yet, Florence, his favorite daughter, doesn’t want to be involved with the company and is disowned for her honesty, and his other two scheming daughters want Dunbar out and convince all that he is crazy, secretly lock him away in a sanatorium, and set out to take over the company completely. The machinations of these two and his own physician, who joins forces with them, are particularly evil.

Florence only wants what is best for her father, fears for his safety, and is actively looking for him despite her older sisters’ actions of hiding him away.

Two factions emerge, those who are trying to destroy Dunbar and those who genuinely want what is best for the man (and his company). In the meantime, Henry and his friend from the sanatorium escape. This causes major upheavals for Dunbar as he nearly goes crazy and dies on the snow-covered, windy, slippery slopes as each faction races to intercept him. Will Florence and those helping her find him first, or will Abigail, Megan, and their entourage be there first, thus hushing him up permanently?

Like the play itself, this story is full of avarice, power, money, double-crosses, and betrayals, but it is also about reconciliation, redemption, and forgiveness. The whole range of the human condition is explored, especially in the character of Henry Dunbar. In the end, just as it appears that Dunbar’s humanity is restored, it becomes tragic with an ending that brought tears to this reader’s eyes.

Overall, this novel has all the complexity of Shakespeare’s play in a more understandable format. Set in modern times, it shows the machinations of a corporate takeover and what lengths some people are willing to go through to accomplish the feat, including murder. The characters are complex, and Dunbar in particular shows the most complexity and change throughout as he begins to doubt his own sanity.

Be forewarned: the novel has adult themes including sexual situations and drug use.

Am I glad I read it? Yes. Would I have purposely chosen this book to read? Probably not; however, the story drew me in and kept me in thrall until the very end. I think that is the power of this tale of a man and his dysfunctional, scheming family.

Bad Deeds: A Review

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The latest First Reads Goodreads giveaway novel this pedometer geek read was an Advance Uncorrected Proof of Lisa Renee Jones’ Bad Deeds, a Dirty Money novel. Knowing that it was an uncorrected proof, it became easy to overlook the many tiny errors and typos, which this reader presumes were corrected in the final published novel. This is the extended review.

Bad Deeds
By Lisa Renee Jones
Published by St. Martin’s Press, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-08384-5

Knowing that this was the third book in the series, this reader took the time to read the two previous books (Hard Rules and Damage Control) prior to reading this one. This was fortunate because there is no way to jump into this series at this point; it is absolutely necessary to read the first two (and the author posts a disclaimer to this fact, at least in the copy I had. On the other hand, she also gives a quick recap of the previous two novels ending with picking up where this one begins as well as includes a list of the main characters with pertinent information about each). Because they were read several months earlier, there were enough details that were forgotten. I don’t think the same would be true if read sequentially, one right after the other.

Regardless, this novel continues the love story of Shane Brandon and Emily Stevens. It also continues Shane’s and Derek’s power struggle for control of their family business, Brandon Industries. Much of the struggle is over whether the business remains legitimate or continues down a dark road that involves illegal drugs and the Martina drug cartel.

Like the previous two novels in the series, there is the love-hate relationship between the brothers; there are also their father and mother, who both know how to pull strings of their own. Added to this, there is deceit, there is sex, there is money, and there are double crosses (and plenty of unsavory characters). And no one in the family is safe from the machinations of others, both inside and out (of the family). This includes Emily, who has secrets of her own.

The comparison to a chess game (as is shown on the cover) is highly appropriate as the pieces (read: characters) change with each move. Who will win? Who will lose? (Including who will live and who will die?)

Written from the perspectives of Shane, Emily, and Derek, Jones finishes the novel with a dramatic cliffhanger (and according to the note addressed to her readers, even she wasn’t sure what was next for Shane, Emily, Derek, and the others). It is to be hoped that End Game, the final book of the Dirty Money series, will answer these questions. All I know for sure is that I have plans to read it as soon as I can get my hands on a copy because I have to know how all the dangling threads will be stitched up. (And yes, it has been ordered.)

These were the first of her novels I have read, but they probably won’t be the last. This novel, as well as the previous two, has complex characters with emotional depth. There are some adult situations and language, too. I suspect her other series might be the same.

Starring You and Me: A Review

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The latest First Reads Goodreads giveaway novel this pedometer geek reader had the pleasure of reading was Starring You and Me by Susan Coventry. It was read in an e-book format. This novel was the first of this author’s works this pedometer geek has read, but it probably won’t be the last. This romance is just one of many Coventry has written, and discovering new authors to read is just one pleasure of reading.

Starring You and Me
By Susan Coventry
Published by Coventry Industries, LLC, 2016
Via CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN: 978-1535479844

This contemporary romance hits all the marks with lines deftly delivered by actor Nate Collins and small town realtor Nicole (Nikki) Branson.

When Hollywood comes to Clarkston, Michigan to shoot a romantic movie, love may be in the air, but Nicole doesn’t want have anything to do with it. She’s sworn off men because she’s been burned before; however, after meeting Nikki when she helps him find a rental home during filming, Nate is out to convince her otherwise. It all begins with a series of non-dates.

Over the next couple months, romance blossoms with all the setbacks of an early relationship: Is it real? Is it possible? Is it just a fling? Is she enough for him? How can they make a long distance relationship work? Will she have to give up her career and lose her independence?

Will Hollywood glitz and glamour and the paparazzi intrude, or will there be a man under all the greasepaint, who wants a starring role with the woman who has her feet on the ground?

Ultimately, what is seen is that the Midwestern values of those who come from Michigan are what rules the day. As expected, Nikki is a beautiful ‘girl next door,’ but even superstar Nate Collins is down-to-earth and not self-centered. More than anything else, she is the more reluctant party in this romance especially when outside forces discover the growing relationship.

This romance is fun, flirty, and spicy, yet it’s not too graphic (and it hits almost all the What-the-tuck trends except for the ubiquitous green-eyed character…instead, Nate has hazel eyes). There is, however, over-utilization of the word smirk/smirking. This is not the only novel where this occurs, but there has to be some other synonym for smirk, perhaps smart-ass grin. It has gotten so pervasive that this reader has added it to the list of WTT trends.

Overall, this is a fun romance to read, starring two characters you wish you could meet for real.

Black-Eyed Susans: A Review

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The latest First Reads Goodreads giveaway book this pedometer geek reader read was the paperback edition of Julia Heaberlin’s novel, Black-Eyed Susans. This is her third novel, but it is the first of this author’s works read. Nor will it be the last. This is the extended review.

Black-Eyed Susans
By Julia Heaberlin
Published by Ballantine Books, 2016
An imprint of Random House,
A division of Penguin Random House, LLC
ISBN: 978-0-8041-7801-3

Black-Eyed Susans is a suspense novel that doesn’t quit until the very last page. Although the story started out a bit slow to begin with, the tale becomes more intense as it continues, making the reader race through the pages toward a rather twisty conclusion. Told through the perspective of the events of now and then (1995), Tessa Cartwright tells her story of being nearly buried alive alongside the bones of several other young girls in a field of black-eyed Susans. Labeled the “lucky” Susan for the fact that she survived, Tessa’s testimony helps put away the man who is on Death Row and about to be executed.

But did he do it? Now a mother of a teen, Tessa is having conversations with the other “Susans” and her best friend has disappeared. Working with her current therapist, the lawyer who works on Death Row reversals, and the forensics scientist studying the DNA of the bones of the girls, she thinks the monster who abducted her is still out there since she has had too many odd things, related to the crime, happen to her. From the mysterious planting of black-eyed Susans in her front yard to vicious notes, Tessa worries that the killer is at-large. She also worries about the safety of her daughter Charlie, who is about the same age as she and those other young girls were when they were taken by the killer, whom she calls my monster.

Spending time with a psychologist may unlock the secrets of the past, for she doesn’t remember much about her abduction until the time she was found barely alive. It is almost as if she has amnesia. Moreover, there was a period of time when she went (temporarily) blind. Even now, years later, there are too many things that don’t add up, and time is ticking down toward Terrell’s execution.

This is a psychological drama with much of the action seen only through the eyes of Tessa and what she is willing to share with her therapists and her best friend Lydia. Unfortunately, suddenly Lydia disappears leaving Tessa with more unresolved questions than ever.

Can Tessa figure out what happened so many years ago in order to save the man who is sitting on Death Row? And also can she protect her daughter from outside forces which may be related to past events including her monster? Will she ever know what happened to Lydia?

These are just a few of the mysteries, which eventually get revealed, of this suspenseful read. The story is complex as are the characters. It will make the reader think about the emerging science of forensics as well as those who work to exonerate those unjustly convicted felons on Death Row.

This reader looks forward to checking out the author’s other two novels: Lie Still and Playing Dead. Based on this one, I can only imagine the twisted turns they will take.

Pirate Heiress: A Review

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Pirate Heiress, the latest novel that this pedometer geek reader read, was received through a First Reads Goodreads giveaway. Written by Chloe Flowers, it’s the fourth book in the Pirates and Petticoats series. This is also the second romance of hers that this reader has had the pleasure of reading. The first was Hart’s Desire, which was previously reviewed on this site; it was the first of a three-book saga, but it is also part of this series. This is the extended review of Pirate Heiress. 

Pirate Heiress

By Chloe Flowers

Published by Flowers & Fullerton, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63303-971-1

Mixing pirates, intrigue, treasure, and swashbuckling with romance, Flowers presents a historical romance between reluctant pirate Stevie Sauvage and Conal O’Brien, the captain of a ship named Seeker.

The family Sauvage, of whom Stevie is just one member, takes control of Conal’s boat and demands (at the point of a gun) he and his reduced crew help them sail it to Jamaica. This ship is the price to save the lives of the youngest members of the family, twins Jacqueline and Julian. They have been kidnapped by the pirate/privateer Drago Gamponetti (AKA Gampo), who has a vendetta against Conal’s extended family. In the reverse, Conal has some unfinished business with Gampo as well.

Following the leads the family discovered in the letters written by the pirate Anne Bonny, they set out to find the treasure they believe she left for her heirs (in other words, them) to find (each chapter is prefaced with a letter Anne has written to her father through the years up until her death*).

Think Pirates of the Caribbean in book form…humor and betrayals, kidnappings and mayhem, as well as a clean romance as it isn’t too graphic…basically there is a lot going on (but don’t want to provide too many spoilers), yet it concludes the series well (and the author even includes a tease for another series that features one of the characters).

This fourth book in the Pirates and Petticoats series can be read without having read the first three, but this reader wouldn’t suggest it. This reader has previously read the first one (Hart’s Desire) so had an inkling of some of the past events, but there were still events that must have occurred in novels two and three that were unfamiliar to this reader and made for a few ‘what-is-going-on’ moments and ‘okay-now-I-get-it’ moments. (Ironically, this reader actually purchased the e-book bundle of Books 1-3 to read prior to reading this one, but then decided (after reading the synopsis) it was possible to figure the story out as it seemed unrelated to the others, sort of. Nevertheless, this reader still intends to read Hart’s Passion and Hart’s Reward some time in the future, but I digress.)

This reader will say that there are quite a few typos, missing words, and formatting errors. It certainly could have used another look or two during proofing, but they were not so egregious as to ruin the story (it often took a second or third re-read when words were left out or wrong to determine what the author intended). On the other hand, the editing company is mentioned on the copyright page, and this reader hopes that the author didn’t pay an outrageous amount for their services especially if it included proofing as well as editing.

The cover is beautiful and perfect for the story (a man and woman in a chaste embrace with a sailing ship of the period in the background). Again, the author used a cover design company. The cover blurb, however, has the female protagonist’s last name different than what was in the novel.

Overall, this is a fun romance story, and thus, it is suitable for younger readers (young adult and teens), but older readers will enjoy it as well. Although the romance between Stevie and Conal is the primary story, the other characters bring their own impact to the tale. For example, the twins provide humor, and their interactions with Captain Gampo may be some of the most fun. For adventure on the high seas, check it out.

* The author has included a note about Anne Bonny in the front of the book.

Armor of Magic: the Series

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This pedometer geek reader recently finished the Armor of Magic trilogy by Simone Pond. The author gifted me with audio-book versions of Rising Light and Edge of Light (books 2 and 3 respectively), but I purchased Sacred Light, the first book, to get the beginning of the story. This is an overview of the trilogy, rather than an extended review.

Armor of Magic trilogy:

Sacred Light

  Rising Light

 Edge of Light

By Simone Pond

Published by Ktown Waters, 2016

Audio-books produced by Tantor Audio, 2017

ISBN: 9781534682603 (SL)

9781515968177 (RL)

9781536917925 (EoL)

This young adult paranormal, urban fantasy trilogy features Fiona Farrow, a young woman who wants to become a journalist like her parents. As the trilogy opens, the reader finds out that she has just graduated from college, has landed her dream job, and wants to lose her virginity now (on her twenty-first birthday). Her parents are missing, having disappeared during a journalistic junket to the Mideast several years earlier. But probably most importantly, she, like her parents, is a Protector of Light, albeit a reluctant one.

Frankly, in the first novel, Sacred Light, all she wants is what many young people want: to have a life, that is, to have fun with her friends, enjoy her job, and to get laid. She is tired of being a Goody Two Shoes while her best friend’s sister Lilith gets all the hot guys, often stealing them right way from Fiona.

What she doesn’t want is to accept her destiny as a Protector of Light; she would rather avoid this annoying guy from the Monarchy, who seems to be stalking her.

Despite this, she connects with a guide named Ezra, who only wants to train Fiona in the ways of the Monarchy. She lives in a rundown Victorian house she inherited from her aunt, and she meets Asher, a hot guy who is willing to fix up her home for an unbelievably low price, which all leads to the beginning of the battle between the light and the dark to control all of humankind. Vampires, mages, demons, other paranormal creatures, and the most evil of demon mages, Cagliostro, are all out to steal the Sacred Scrolls and take over the world.

As the trilogy continues, Fiona accepts her fate as a Protector and begins to relish her role within the Monarchy. She then becomes a kick-ass heroine, utilizing the powers of her Armor of Magic. She meets up with other Protectors, Julian and Rocco, to fight evil paranormal creatures including  a particularly strong vampire within the Ancient Order of Vampires. He has captured another of the Sacred Scrolls and is causing trouble for Fiona, Charlotte, and her friends.

Yet, always in the background Cagliostro is pulling strings, and he may become the leader of the world if Fiona and the other Protectors cannot stop him, and the second novel ends with a cliffhanger ending.

The third and final novel in the series, Edge of Light, finds Fiona reunited with her parents and other Protectors, but the world is quickly falling into darkness as Cagliostro is becoming more powerful particularly in the embattled city of San Francisco.

The battle between the dark and light is spearheaded by Fiona, but she will have to defeat Cagliostro first, and only one of the Protectors of Light still has a Sacred Scroll. Using the power of the Logos may be the only way to defeat Cagliostro, but at what cost? Destruction of all mankind? And destruction of the Monarchy? Will Fiona be willing to make the toughest sacrifice to prevent these events from happening?

 

Pond has written another series that features a strong female lead in Fiona Farrow (although she was a bit juvenile with her desire to lose her virginity*). She is offset by a particularly evil character in Cagliostro. There are plenty of engaging ancillary characters, some of whom are decent, and others who are not.

 
The author keeps it light with plenty of humorous circumstances and dialogue throughout. Language is, at times, stronger and more graphic than what has been seen in her other novels that this reader has read.

 
Further, like her other series, she adds a subtle (or not-so-subtle) spiritual component. It comes down to a battle between good and evil, between the dark and the light. Still, she doesn’t smack the reader over the head with it.
While the first novel was read in an e-book format, the last two books in the trilogy were “read” as audio-books. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of audio-books as they tend to lull me to sleep. The narrator, Caitlin Kelly, does a great job here, making each character come alive, varying the voices, even the male voices, so that the ‘reader’ can distinguish between each.

On the other hand, audio-books seem to accentuate repetitive language, and there is some of that in this story. For example, the term demon bats and the word smirk/smirked appeared over and over again. This is just an observation that doesn’t seem as egregious when the text is being read as opposed to being heard.

Overall, for those who love paranormal urban fantasies, this may be the series for you. A few of her other series, The New Agenda and The Mysterium Chronicles, are also series that appeal to YA and new adult readers (and are also reviewed on this site).

 

* and yes, Fiona finally, finally loses her virginity (but you have to read them all to find out when!).

 

 

 

 

The Sleepwalker: A Review

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The latest Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) this pedometer geek reader read was Chris Bohjalian’s The Sleepwalker. This is not the first of his novels this reader has read, nor will it be the last. In fact, the first was his The Law of Similars, which was discovered (and subsequently read) when this reader was studying for a degree in homeopathy. Since then, there have been others (Midwives, The Sandcastle Girls, and The Double Bind to name a few) that this reader has read. Each has been so different, but all have been compelling reading. So, too, is this one, and this is the extended review.

The Sleepwalker

By Chris Bohjalian

Published by Doubleday, 2017

A division of Penguin Random House, LLC

ISBN: 9780385538923

The subject of the novel is a woman, Annalee Ahlberg, who has parasomnia (sleepwalking) and disappears one night. She sleepwalks all too often, but only when her husband is away. Finally after months and years in which he hasn’t traveled for his job as a professor, he goes to a conference in Iowa, and this is when she disappears and is presumed missing or dead.

Her two daughters, Lianna and Paige, are looking for answers and clues to her whereabouts as the novel opens. Paige, especially, is concerned and willing to swim the river Gale near where a scrap of her nightgown was found.

Enter detectives and police including one detective, Gavin Rikert, looking for information.

Told through Lianna’s perspective, the story is told of her mother’s sleepwalking habits and how it has affected/affects the family. The story also includes a secret romance between Lianna and Gavin. Despite Lianna’s pushing for information, Gavin doesn’t give up information about the case.

Eventually, months later, Annalee’s body is found, but it only produces more questions than answers for Lianna and her family. Yet, Lianna keeps trying to figure out more about the circumstances of her mother’s death. Frankly, she can’t let it go.

Complex and disturbing, full of lies, half-truths, and family secrets, this novel is interesting for various reasons, one of which is the snippets of a journal describing parasomnia and its manifestations. All the way through, this reader wondered: Who is writing the journal? There are several possibilities, making this as much a mystery as Annalee’s disappearance and subsequent death.

This reader found the descriptions of parasomnia particularly riveting, and it appears that the author did his research on the subject. If, for no other reason, this makes the novel worth reading; however, there are plenty of other reasons to recommend it (and suffice it to say, this reader does!).

The Mother’s Promise: A Review

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The latest Advanced Reader’s Edition this pedometer geek reader had the pleasure of reading was a First Reads Goodreads giveaway uncorrected copy of Sally Hepworth’s The Mother’s Promise. This is the first of Hepworth’s novels that this reader has read, but it probably won’t be the last. This is her third novel; the previous two are The Secrets of Midwives and The Things We Keep. Another novel is slated to be released in early 2018,but this is the extended review of The Mother’s Promise.

The Mother’s Promise

by Sally Hepworth

Published by St. Martin’s Press, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-07775-2

As the author indicates in her acknowledgments, nothing moves her more than the lengths a mother is prepared to go to for her children. In a nutshell, this explains this story. From the blurb on the back of the copy: “The author delivers a powerful portrait of a single mother’s love for her teenage daughter.”

Alice Stanhope and her daughter Zoe are close…real close. It has just been the two of them since the day Zoe was born. They are basically complete as is; no others need apply (including a non-existent father). Until it becomes necessary.

The day Alice receives a cancer diagnosis of Stage 3 ovarian cancer, things radically change even as they appear to stay the same. Always optimistic, Alice shields Zoe as she keeps the diagnosis to herself. She does this to protect her daughter, who deals with an extreme case of social anxiety disorder. It is so bad that Zoe rarely, if ever, speaks up in class, avoids the other kids, and often skips school with her mother’s tacit approval. So, as far as Alice is concerned,  there is no benefit and could be harmful to Zoe to inform her until it becomes absolutely necessary.

Enter two women: Kate and Sonja. Kate is a caring oncology nurse; Sonja is a social worker who is helps with patient issues. Both will have integral parts to play in Alice’s and Zoe’s lives. Yet, they both have lives of their own, which are fraught with their individual, painful issues.

Throughout the novel, each character’s life is shown individually as well as in regards to the two main characters. Told from each woman’s perspective, this story explores what is going on in each of the women’s lives. Ultimately the reader experiences the difficult realities of  Alice, Zoe, Sonja, and Kate.

From Zoe’s school issues to Alice’s chemotherapy and aftermath to Kate’s and Sonja’s marriages, this is a finely drawn drama. The reader roots for Zoe to overcome her fears and anxieties; the reader hopes that Alice’s chemo will bring about remission; the reader worries about Kate as she struggles in her marriage; the reader wants to help Sonja find a way out of an abusive situation.

If it seems as if this could be a bit depressing of a read, it is ultimately hopeful. Yes, not everything the characters experience go exactly as planned, but then does anyone’s life go exactly as planned? Despite this, it is a book worth reading.