I have long been a fan of Catherine McKenzie. From her very first book she captivated my interest and has held it since with three more books including her newest entitled Hidden which releases tomorrow. Hidden takes us into the lives of husbands, wives, maybe mistresses, and all the things that make up the lives we live each day. It is a very real and honest novel that is raw and emotional and is a change from her previous novels that always seemed to have a funny side to them. Hidden shows just what an extremely talented writer Catherine McKenzie is.
Hidden introduces us to three narrators: Claire, Jeff, and Tish. Each chapter alternates between them giving us an insight into who they were and are now. Claire and Jeff are married with a son and Tish is married with a daughter. Jeff and Tish work for the same company although in different locations and have developed a strong friendship. After Jeff’s death certain things come to light that cause Claire to wonder if Jeff and Tish had been having an affair. Her sister tells her to leave it alone as what can it matter now that he’s gone but Claire can’t do that. She can’t go forward with her life until she finds out for sure what had been going on. Had Jeff cheated on her? It’s not like he and Claire didn’t have a complicated past. And more importantly why does this woman Tish seems just as broken as she Claire is over the death of Jeff?
Hidden addresses a very complex circle of relationships, both past and present, and how they make us the people we become and also how these past experiences shape our future relationships with each other and others. The characters are all very well developed but as usual with me I gravitated towards the female characters but mostly with Claire. Her emotional response to losing her husband was just so raw that you couldn’t help being drawn to her. Despite feeling as though her whole world had ended she knew she had to pull herself up and move forward for her son and for herself. I could feel her pain and uncertainty when she became suspicious of Jeff’s relationship to Tish and also of her need for the truth even if it was even more devastating to her already fragile heart.
Hidden is one of those novels that would make a fantastic book for your book club. There is even a Reading Guide that can help you and your book club have a great discussion. There are a multitude of topics to discuss in this novel from marriage, children, identity, jobs, and infidelity. I can guarantee that there will not be a shortage of things to discuss and debate and I imagine that this is one of those novels that will evoke a strong response from those chatting on the issues brought forth.
As always Catherine has impressed me with yet another fantastic novel that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. She has a way of getting to the heart of people and their emotions and portraying that in a story that literally enthralls you from the very first page!
Source: Review copy provided by Harper Collins. No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.
Impossible Odds is written by Jessica Buchanan, Erik Landemalm, and Anthony Flacco. I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Anthony Flacco, Candace Thaxton, and George Newbern. This is the memoir of Jessica Buchanan that tells of her kidnapping by an organized band of Somali land pirates and held for ransom. She was held for three months before she was rescued by the Navy SEALS.
In 2006 Jessica’s only dream was to teach African children and that’s her intention when she arrives in Nairobi, Kenya. Later in 2009 she meets Erik Landemalm who worked to provide aid to those in Africa, they marry and then move to Somalia to start their lives together and hopefully have a family. Neither could have imagined how much their lives would change in just a few short years.
On October 25, 2011 Jessica along with her colleague Poul were kidnapped at gunpoint by the Somali pirates. For an agonizing three months Jessica lived in conditions we can’t imagine and was kept on a starvation diet. It wasn’t long before her health began deteriorating at a rapid rate. Every day of those three months Jessiva lived in terror of being raped or dying, either from sickness or at the hands of the Somali pirates. With negotiations for ransom not going well the Somali’s were becoming increasingly antagonized.
After ninety-three days and Jessica’s health becoming a matter of life or death President Obama ordered Navy SEAL Team Six to attempt a rescues and on January 25, 2012 they did just that. They came in under compete darkness, attacked the camp, killed the pirates, and air lifted both Jessica and Poul out.
Impossible Odds is an incredible memoir to listen to. While I would have been horrified reading about it I felt it even more listening to it and the narrators did the story justice by telling it so well. The story alternates between Jessica’s story and then Erik’s struggles and I’m amazed at them both for sharing this story and I hope in some way it was a healing experience for them both. For myself I can’t ever imagine living through something like that and I have the utmost respect for Jessica and her strength for having gone through this ordeal and come out on the other side against Impossible Odds.
I recommend this audiobook or paper book for those who prefer if you like memoirs. I found it to be a book I didn’t want to quit listening to and even though I knew the outcome I was still held enthralled throughout. It gives a person hope in miracles and new beginnings!
Source: Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster. No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.
In She Rises by Kate Worsley we meet Louise Fletcher in the year 1740 living on an Essex farm as a dairymaid. When she is offered a job as a lady’s maid to a wealthy captain’s daughter in the naval port of Harwich she jumps at the chance to get away. Louise is captivated by her new mistress Rebecca. Rebecca is so different from anyone Louise has ever known in her life including herself. At first Rebecca is horrified at the thought of having a dairy maid as her lady’s maid but slowly Louise wins her over especially after she cares for Rebecca when she contracts small pox. As time goes on their relationship deepens and the two find, in each other, something they’ve never found in anyone else. But time and circumstance have a way of changing things and the two are torn from each other.
Then we have Louise’s brother Luke who, at fifteen, has been forced into the Majesty’s Navy while he had been drinking at a local tavern. He is beaten and when he comes to he finds himself on the Essex and at sea. Luke knows right off he doesn’t belong there. He isn’t made to be a seaman but he also doesn’t want to be beaten again. He’s smart enough to know that he has to mind his own business, ingratiate himself with the right people, and most of all follow orders. The only thing that matters to Luke is getting back to the girl he left behind. However Luke stands out from the other men though and soon enough this puts him in a very precarious position in which he ultimately makes a decision that can change his life.
At this point I will say that there is a twist in the story that did surprise me and one I didn’t see coming at all. Overall I enjoyed this novel. I found the beginning slow going although interesting enough to keep going and I’m glad I did because the second half of the book picks up a great deal and I didn’t want to put it down until I knew what was happening. I was much more drawn to Louise’s story than Luke’s and would have liked the focus on only Louise but having finished the book I can see now why that would have been impossible. The story of Louise and Luke are entwined in such a way that one can’t be told without the other. She Rises is a novel that takes you from the harshness of the sea to an engrossing love story. As a note for some though there are some scenes of sexual content that some readers may find disturbing.
GIVEAWAY DETAILS (US/Canada)
I have one copy of She Rises by Kate Worsley to share with my readers. To enter…
- For 1 entry leave a comment entering the giveaway.
- Tweet, share on Facebook, or blog for 2 extra entries.
This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents (no PO boxes) and I will draw for the winner on June 22/13. Good luck!
Source: Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours and the Publisher. No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.
Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin is an audiobook that completely blew me away. This is an amazing novel that deals with some serious issues and does it in such a way as to totally immerse the reader in the characters emotions and lives. The audiobook production of this book is narrated by the author Abigail Tarttelin as well as a host of others: Christian Coulson, James Langton, Keith Nobbs, Kate Reading, and Anita Sabherwal. I’m pretty sure I would have loved this book in print as well but these narrators did such a great job of really bringing these characters and this story to life for me.
Max is a golden boy. He has everything going for him. He’s good looking, smart, has lots of friends, loves sports, and the girls flock around him. His family is prominent in the neighborhood with his mother being a criminal lawyer and his father running for Parliament. Even Maxs’ little brother Daniel adores him. Yet this family has something hanging over them. A huge secret that they’ve been keeping for years and that is that Max is intersex.
Max has never really had a problem with being the way he is. He has lived life as a boy and is happy that way. Now as he’s getting older though he’s thinking more and more about how things are going to change for him because either way he’s not like a normal boy. How will he be able to have a relationship? Will anyone want him as he is? And just how does he go about ever sharing this with anyone? And then his life is literally turned upside down when a close family friend abuses his trust.
Max is suddenly forced to really examine his life and identity. Just who is Max really? And who does Max want to be? What happens to Max totally upends this family and leaves them questioning every decision they ever made.
I know I keep saying this but this is truly a phenomenal novel. It’s written by 25 year old Abigail Tarttelin and I’m amazed that this is her debut novel. The depth of emotion and quality of both writing and story show a maturity usually found in more seasoned writers. Golden Boy would make such a good book club pick as well. The wealth of topics to discuss is never ending: the issue of intersex children, marriage, family, and the decisions we make and the consequences that follow. I would have loved to have someone to discuss this book with while listening to it.
Golden Boy is an excellent audio. I fell into this book completely and loved Max dearly. My heart went out to him and his struggles and this book really makes you wonder just how you would handle something like this. What decisions would you make for your child? Ultimately it’s a question of identity and the need to have one and for Max that was a little harder than for most of us.
Excellent audiobook and very highly recommended by yours truly! I loved it!
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher. No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.