NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Woman of God by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

2.0 out of 5 stars -- A test of faith. A HUGE test.

OK this woman had it so much worse than Job of the Bible. At first it was hard to see her go through the tragedies, but then it got to be WAY TOO MUCH. I often get suckered in to requesting a book based on the synopsis, but sometimes the actual story is nothing like what was written in the publicity materials. As it is here.

I thought this novel was going to be about a woman Pope. NOT. So ignore the blurb. This is about a woman doctor, a humanitarian from KIND HANDS (an NGO), who goes to South Sudan to a hospital outpost to care for the victims injured in a bloody civil war there. The tide of hopelessness overwhelms the workers and all the intentions to do good works is futile in the face of murderous outlaw gangs, marauders, and the Gray Army. This militia has only one objective -- to kill everyone. Dr. Brigid Fitzgerald is dedicated and fiercely protective of her patients and her colleagues. But she is no match for the Gray Army leader, Colonel Dage Zuberi -- the king of atrocities. Death and more deaths...

In between her stints at the outpost hospital in Sudan, Brigid deals with personal relationships, love and marriage. She has trials and more trials as she questions her faith in God and her religion. She has visions. She and her husband start a church that is an offshoot of Roman Catholicism and they become the targets of some powerful enemies, including those in the hierarchy of the church. She becomes one of the first female "priests" and that causes further problems. Will her adversaries get the best of her as at each point her faith is tested?

I was totally disappointed in this novel and don't recommend it. Sure it's interesting for me as a Catholic to imagine a female priest and possible Pope, but despite the religious overtones, the novel never fulfilled my expectations. I felt let down by the continual drama and bad luck for Brigid. I never really connected with her character. Her "visions" left me in a state of disbelief. I had to struggle through to the end and deal with my disappointment of let down expectations. I rarely read Patterson anymore, and now, again, I know why.

Thank you to Little, Brown and Company and Edelweiss for the e-book ARC to review.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi

4.0 out of 5 stars -- If you were really desperate for a baby, what would you do to get one? Is there really hope after a series of miscarriages and barrenness?

That question is at the heart of this contemporary fiction novel that begs for debate and discussion. In this case, a surrogate is hired in India to carry the baby that a US couple, Priya and Madhu want so badly. In the awkwardness of the encounters between the surrogate and the natural parents are the twins angst and doubt. Who is using whom? For Asha and Pratap, the opportunity to grow this baby will provide much needed money to give their brilliant son a chance to attend a good school or for the family to buy a real home. For the donor couple, a bit embarrassed by the whole ordeal of secret surrogacy, the use of a host mother gives them the baby that Priya feels she NEEDS in order to create a family. Is this a moral dilemma? And if you don't have children, are you really a "family?"

Segregated away in India at a special clinic in the House for Happy Mothers, Asha waits anxiously for the delivery of this child. She is in the company of other women who are doing the same thing as she -- and those women display a variety of emotions and rationalizations. Asha feels the baby move inside her and questions her own motives. Will she be able to give this infant up after carrying it for 9 months? Her husband, son, and daughter visit her faithfully but they don't understand the sacrifice involved here. Asha is no longer in control of her own body.

These two couples undergo extreme examination of conscience. As they attempt to explain to others their reasons for choosing this route, both women especially have to look deep inside to analyze their motives to explain their choices. Families are divided, the verdict is in question--was this the right way to do it? Is it OK to use the baby farm? Are there winners and losers?

As always, this author creates characters that could be you or me. She puts us in the position of having to evaluate our own set of beliefs and values. There is no right or wrong here, or is there?

Personally I can't imagine hiring a surrogate, but then again, I was never desperate enough to have a child to have to think about this option. I do know women who would do this in a heartbeat. I don't allow myself to pass sentence. It was quite interesting to see the different points of view of these two women characters and how they handled this situation. Their families were both supportive and judgmental -- but isn't that like real life?? My only complaint about the book was the overly sentimental happy ending for everyone -- but hey, isn't that what we all wish for? At times very sad, but with a touch of humor, Amulya Malladi gets it -- life is really complicated! The inner thoughts of women are complex!

Thank you to the author and to the publishers for this e-book ARC to review. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

3.0 out of 5 stars - Science fiction dealing with quantum physics and multidimensional reality -- not time travel per se.

How would your life be different if you had made other choices at the times when the main path diverged? If you gave up the possibility of a brilliant career for love but had second thoughts? or vice versa? Jason is about to find out...

Though I found most of the science of this unbelievable, it was an interesting premise that provided a couple of hours of entertainment. I am not a physicist certainly, but the concept of several different realities existing simultaneously along with multiples of the same person -- well, it was a bit much for my reality test. What Jason does for love is the subtext of this novel. I wouldn't call it a thriller nor a suspense tale, but it had lots of action as Jason tries to get back "home" to his wife and son. The concepts and philosophical ideas presented in this story would provide lots of fodder for book club discussions.

Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for the e-book ARC to review

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Anything for Her by Jack Jordan

3.0 out of 5 stars -- What lengths would a mother go through to protect her daughter? What would a man do to make her suffer because of it?

This is a revenge story with what I consider a perfect cast of fairly despicable and unlikable characters. The reader knows at the outset about "that night" changing everything but is not told exactly what mother and daughter did, but it was pretty easy to guess quite quickly. They cover up a crime and try to go on with their lives but keeping the secret ruins their family. When Louise's husband reveals his affair with her sister, Louise leaves their family home and seeks to lick her wounds in the Cotswalds at their other house. She leaves her son at home with his father. Someone else has followed Louise and he proceeds to torment her by leaving dead birds for her to find. Brooke follows her mother to the house but when ordered back to home in London, she vanishes from the train station. Police get involved. Climax. And then a long "letter" at the end explaining every detail in case the reader didn't get it.

Louise is histrionic and overwrought all the time -- I got totally sick of her. None of the others fared much better in my care, concern, or empathy. Everyone is crying, sobbing, shedding tears, too much emotion. I never felt any tension build or felt any menace. Was sort of hoping for exactly the outcome of the story. Well. That was at least a real ending and everyone ended up where they should have, except perhaps for poor Dominic.

Thank you to NetGalley and JJP for the e-book ARC to review. I'll probably read this author's follow up novel to see how it has improved over this debut.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Into the Light by Aleatha Romig

3.5 out of 5 stars - First in a duology (The Light #1) Interesting premise and well-executed mystery that involves a religious cult and an investigative reporter. Told in alternating chapters and different points of view from the world of The Light (a cult led by Father Gabriel) and from the city of Detroit by Stella Montgomery, the reporter on the trail of her missing friend.

The Light is scary and a place where a woman is subjected to a man's rule. Sara awakes in the hospital, blind, and without memories. Her husband, Jacob, is right by her side. She requires discipline and has trouble with obedience. Jacob is there to help.

Stella's best friend vanished into thin air and there are no leads on her disappearance. While working on another story, Stella discovers that there are other women who have gone missing in Detroit and finds a pattern that leads her into some dangerous areas of the city.

Back and forth between The Light (in Alaska) and Detroit. I liked the way this narrative evolves and the reader is not sure what is really going to happen. Jacob explains his ties to The Light and his position. Sara tries to reintegrate after being released from the hospital. Stella searches for answers. Her police detective boyfriend is worried for her safety...

I broke my cardinal rule. I do not read books that end on cliffhanger unless I have the next book at my side ready to read as soon as I finish. I did not know this would end in this fashion and I am pretty unhappy about it. forewarned should you think about picking this one up now. Wait for #2 AWAY FROM THE DARK to be released first. Unless you like being left dangling with a very unanticipated twist. I am sure I would have rated this higher had I been able to read both at the same time.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for the e-book ARC to review.