She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell

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I love a good thriller and I especially love YA boarding school settings – the perfect place for a murder! This was a thriller about twins that are sent to a prestigious boarding school and while one is the good, quiet twin, her sister promptly gets in trouble. Told in more than one voice, the story has its twists and turns and will keep you guessing! For older YA and adults due to sexual scenes and violence.

Here’s the overview from Net Galley – thanks for my review e-copy!

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Audiobook Review: CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese

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So — since I’m probably the only person who hasn’t read this book, I put it on my “must get” list to purchase from Audible. I actually started this book when it came out several years ago, but couldn’t stay with it. I thought perhaps an audio version would be easier for me, especially since it had been so long I could not remember what it was about and why I didn’t stay with it.

This novel is the lifelong story of twins boys, Shiva and Marion, born to an English doctor and a young Indian nun. Their mother dies in childbirth and their father wants nothing to do with them, so they are raised by a pair of doctors who take the boys in and grow to love them (and each other). The story traces the boys’ development, growing up amid political turmoil in Ethiopia, falling in love with the same young woman (Genet – their childhood playmate), and making lives for themselves as physicians.

So here’s the thing — I wanted SO MUCH to like this story. It’s extremely well written, it has constant and universal themes in it of family, love, and sacrifice. Plus, EVERYONE I know has loved this book. Loved it. But I have to be honest – this book made me miserable. I found the almost gruesomely vivid medical details to be too much for me (driving to school one day I had to turn it off as I was going to throw up). I loved the part when the boys were young, but then some things occurred that involved Genet and I found them extremely disturbing. I was very troubled by the story and its outcomes. Yes, it’s  an incredible work, but it left me in tears and haunted (not in a good way) by the characters. What can I say? I read to escape and I enjoy positive and uplifting feelings and endings. I’m extremely sensitive.This book genuinely made me miserable, so I was happy to finish it.

I’d love to hear from others who read it and their experience!

The Audiobook was a lengthy 24 hours and was ably read by Sunil Malhotra.

YA Review: THE SECRETS WE KEEP by Trisha Leaver

Publishing on April 28 is the YA read: THE SECRETS WE KEEP, which I got as an ARC from Net Galley.

Teenage twins Ella and Maddy might be identical, but their personalities are very different. Maddy is the “golden girl” – popular, beautiful, homecoming queen material. Ella is more introverted, artistic, and quiet. When a tragic accident leaves Maddy dead and Ella in the hospital, her first words are “Maddy”. Thus begins the charade where Ella decides to take on Maddy’s personality and live Maddy’s life, to make up for the fact that Maddy’s life was cut short.

This was the kind of book that I would have absolutely loved as a teen! I actually really enjoyed it as an adult, too. As a mother, my heart just about broke for Ella, as she felt herself less worthy than her more outgoing and popular sister. As always, I enjoy books with themes of self-forgiveness and self-growth.

Recommended for older YA readers, this is a book that could leave you wondering, “What would I do?”

See this book at an indie bookstore near you — I am an Indie Bound affiliate:


Find it at an Indie!

Quick YA Review: SURVIVING THE ANGEL OF DEATH by Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri

This YA read is subtitled The True Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz. Jewish twins, Eva Mozes and her sister Miriam, along with their parents and sisters, are sent to Auschwitz in 1944 from their home in Romania. While their family is sent to the gas chambers, Eva and Miriam are selected to be part of Mengele’s study group of twins. While their treatment is considered better than the regular prisoners (but don’t kid yourself- this is a concentration camp and no one is treated well!), Eva’s determination to protect Miriam and survive the war gives her an incredible resiliency and strength to carry on.

This was a very short read for me – less than 200 pages – and it follows Eva and Miriam’s story from being taken to the camps, to their experience there, to their survival after the war. Aimed for a middle to high school audience, the book is less graphic than other Holocaust stories, but it is understandably still highly disturbing. The inclusion of pictures from before and after the war are a nice touch. Written as a memoir, we get Eva’s voice throughout. Particularly touching in this book is how Eva found forgiveness in her heart years after her war experience was over.

Thank you, Net Galley and Tanglewood Press, for my review copy.

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

Review: SISTERLAND by Curtis Sittenfeld

Coming out next Tuesday, June 25, is Curtis Sittenfeld’s new novel SISTERLAND – a story weaving twins, relationships, ESP, marital issues and relationships, and earthquakes into its plot. Twins Daisy and Violet share a special bond and use their ESP to gain popularity in school. When accused of being a witch, Daisy decides to never use her “senses” again. The girls grow up and Daisy changes her name to Kate, marries a stable young college professor, and has two children. Vi embraces her quirkiness and becomes a psychic, using her powers to locate an abducted child. Now in current day, the girls are in their twenties and living where they grew up, St. Louis . Vi becomes convinced that a major earthquake is looming. Kate agrees. Violet’s prediction going public leads to a chain of events that threatens all that Kate holds dear. Will the prediction prove to be right?

This story certainly had a lot going on in it! Along the relationship front, Kate is struggling with her at-home mom role, while building a “best friendship” with her neighbor Hank (whose wife works with Kate’s husband). Violet is tentatively trying out a lesbian relationship. Meanwhile, Kate is quite tethered to her two children who are about 1 and 3 (one is nursing – quite regularly throughout the book). I found the ESP portion of the book really interesting. Their “senses” (as they called them) weren’t extraordinary or freaky. They just knew things with a certainty, or had dreams of things. A lot of it seemed like good guessing and common sense to me (with the exception of finding the abducted child by visualizing his kidnapper). I kept reading this book and couldn’t put it down because it was moving towards the date of the predicted earthquake (October 16). I had to know: would it happen? Would they be okay? What would happen if Vi was completely wrong?

I won’t say whether the earthquake happens or not — but I will say some things do occur that are brought about by everything happening in this book. At one point I almost shouted at Kate: “NO! Wait! Stop! Don’t do this!” I found Kate a very likable character, though she was rather immature and self-centered. I thought it was interesting how the twins were so disparate in personality at the beginning of the novel – almost like two parts of the same person – and then both went more to the middle of the continuum. Violet was a bit of a disaster in the beginning, then made some strides to get her life together. Kate was ultra-organized to the point of being an autotron, and she became more human. I liked this piece of character development.

One thing that did throw me off was the point of view at the end. Throughout the book the story is told in Kate’s voice, moving towards October 16, with various pertinent flashbacks thrown in to provide “back story”. Then, post 10/16, the story moves to a future perspective, telling the story from looking back on it from a few years afterwards.  This shift threw me for a bit and felt awkward to me.

Overall, I really liked this novel. I loved PREP and AMERICAN WIFE and really like Ms. Sittenfeld’s writing. Her characters are well drawn and she has a flair for humor.

Thank you, Net Galley and Random House, for my ARC – I was quite psyched to get it!

Review: Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame (The Enchanted Attic Series, #1) by L.L. Samson

A few weeks ago I read this book and posted the book trailer for it. It’s the first in a new series for young readers, coming out in May, in which 12-year-old twins Linus and Ophelia discover a magic circle in their aunt and uncle’s attic, which brings book characters to life. (Of course the circle is also being misused for bad deeds by a nefarious former house occupant). One day Ophelia drops her copy of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” down, and the next thing they know, Quasimodo is there in person. Enlisting the help of a young neighbor friend and a “cool” priest, they have a race against time to get Quasi back to his own world.

I loved this book and look forward to more in this series. I’ve already recommended it for our school library and will be getting it for my own elementary-age children.

Thanks, Net Galley and Zonderkidz books, for my kindle copy!