REVIEW: SIX WEEKS TO LIVE, BY CATHERINE MCKENZIE

A gripping psychological suspense novel about a woman diagnosed with cancer who sets out to discover if someone poisoned her before her time is up, from the bestselling author of the “addictive and fast-paced” (Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author) thriller You Can’t Catch Me.

Jennifer Barnes never expected the shocking news she received at a routine doctor’s appointment: she has a terminal brain tumor—and only six weeks left to live.

While stunned by the diagnosis, the forty-eight-year-old mother decides to spend what little time she has left with her family—her adult triplets and twin grandsons—close by her side. But when she realizes she was possibly poisoned a year earlier, she’s determined to discover who might have tried to get rid of her before she’s gone for good.

Separated from her husband and with a contentious divorce in progress, Jennifer focuses her suspicions on her soon-to-be ex. Meanwhile, her daughters are each processing the news differently. Calm medical student Emily is there for whatever Jennifer needs. Moody scientist Aline, who keeps her mother at arm’s length, nonetheless agrees to help with the investigation. Even imprudent Miranda, who has recently had to move back home, is being unusually solicitous.

But with her daughters doubting her campaign against their father, Jennifer can’t help but wonder if the poisoning is all in her head—or if there’s someone else who wanted her dead.

 

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From the very first page of Six Weeks to Live, I was hooked. I have loved every book by this author, and this one did not disappoint.

The book is full of family drama with characters you love to hate, including our first-person narrator Jennifer. Is she guilty, too? Or are others in her family circle to blame?

In the beginning, we all want to point our fingers at the horrible ex-husband Jake, but as more is revealed about each daughter, we can’t stop peeling back the layers to find the truth.

By the very last page, we have our answers, but I was still stunned by what we had learned. But then again, sometimes the least likely person becomes the villain.

A brilliant read that earned 5 stars.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “SIX WEEKS TO LIVE”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists! What a great way to spend a Friday.

Today’s feature is a book I am reading and loving:  Six Weeks to Live, by Catherine McKenzie.

 

***

Book Beginning: 

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, Jennifer, but you have a primary glioblastoma in your brain.  That’s—“

“Brain cancer,” I whisper, the words a rasp in my throat.

***

Friday 56:

I spend most of the week after my diagnosis in mourning.

I mourn for the loss of my own life, and everything I’ll be missing from now until when I should have died.  Forty years from now, or longer if my grandmother’s any guide.

***

Synopsis:

Jennifer Barnes never expected the shocking news she received at a routine doctor’s appointment: she has a terminal brain tumor—and only six weeks left to live.

While stunned by the diagnosis, the forty-eight-year-old mother decides to spend what little time she has left with her family—her adult triplets and twin grandsons—close by her side. But when she realizes she was possibly poisoned a year earlier, she’s determined to discover who might have tried to get rid of her before she’s gone for good.

Separated from her husband and with a contentious divorce in progress, Jennifer focuses her suspicions on her soon-to-be ex. Meanwhile, her daughters are each processing the news differently. Calm medical student Emily is there for whatever Jennifer needs. Moody scientist Aline, who keeps her mother at arm’s length, nonetheless agrees to help with the investigation. Even imprudent Miranda, who has recently had to move back home, is being unusually solicitous.

But with her daughters doubting her campaign against their father, Jennifer can’t help but wonder if the poisoning is all in her head—or if there’s someone else who wanted her dead.

***

Would you keep reading?  I can’t put it down!

***

REVIEW: THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY, BY MATT HAIG

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting blockbuster novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

 

 

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When I first added The Midnight Library to my shelves, I was excited about the possibilities. It sounded like a deep and intriguing exploration of life and its possibilities.

And for a while, I did enjoy these explorations, wondering what would happen next.

But it didn’t take long for me to want to rush through the pages and set the book aside. As I kept plugging away, I found my mind drifting, which is usually a bad sign for the success of a story.

Some found this book fascinating. I did not. Sometimes we have to explore a book for a while to enjoy it. That did not happen for me in this one. 3 stars.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE PHOTOGRAPHER”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists! What a great way to spend a Friday.

Today’s feature is one of my new books:  The Photographer, by Mary Dixie Carter.

 

***

Book Beginning: 

I caught a glimpse of Amelia Straub through the front entry glass.  Then the door swung open, and I stepped inside.

“Delta, darling!”  Her large brown eyes landed on me with commitment.  “I’m so grateful you made it here in this—she gestured dramatically in the direction of the storm outside—“this tempest.”

***

Friday 56:

As I was waiting for my car, Amelia’s name came up on my phone.  I felt a rush of exhilaration until I read the entire text.  She explained that they were leaving town for two weeks.

***

Synopsis:

WHEN PERFECT IMAGES

As a photographer, Delta Dawn observes the seemingly perfect lives of New York City’s elite: snapping photos of their children’s birthday parties, transforming images of stiff hugs and tearstained faces into visions of pure joy, and creating moments these parents long for.

ARE MADE OF BEAUTIFUL LIES

But when Delta is hired for Natalie Straub’s eleventh birthday, she finds herself wishing she wasn’t behind the lens but a part of the scene—in the Straub family’s gorgeous home and elegant life.

THE TRUTH WILL BE EXPOSED

That’s when Delta puts her plan in place, by babysitting for Natalie; befriending her mother, Amelia; finding chances to listen to her father, Fritz. Soon she’s bathing in the master bathtub, drinking their expensive wine, and eyeing the beautifully finished garden apartment in their townhouse. It seems she can never get close enough, until she discovers that photos aren’t all she can manipulate.

***

Would you keep reading?  I know that I am intrigued.

***

REVIEW: BEFORE SHE DISAPPEARED, BY LISA GARDNER

Frankie Elkin is an average middle-aged woman, a recovering alcoholic with more regrets than belongings. But she spends her life doing what no one else will–searching for missing people the world has stopped looking for. When the police have given up, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never paid attention, Frankie starts looking.

A new case brings her to Mattapan, a Boston neighborhood with a rough reputation. She is searching for Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teenager who vanished from her high school months earlier.

Resistance from the Boston PD and the victim’s wary family tells Frankie she’s on her own—and she soon learns she’s asking questions someone doesn’t want answered. But Frankie will stop at nothing to discover the truth, even if it means the next person to go missing could be her.

 

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Frankie Elkin brings a down-to-earth vibe to Before She Disappeared. As the first person narrator, she invites us into her world and her thoughts, and I felt right at home with her.

I enjoyed following her along as she searched for the missing teenager, and attended some AA meetings with her, too.

As she stood up against the official detectives, bringing her unique insights to the search, I applauded her efforts and her abilities. She gave us a peek into the world of the family members and the missing individuals, adding something extra even as she revealed more about herself.

I enjoyed her journey as she pieced together the clues that might lead to the missing girl, and then still another one, and the pursuit kept me intrigued throughout.

The book was long and winding, but I couldn’t stop turning the pages. 4.5 stars.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “HOME FIRES”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists! What a great way to spend a Friday.

Today’s feature is a book I have had for a while:  Home Fires, by Fiona Lowe.

***

Book Beginning: 

The scent of the rainforest—leaf mulch, mud and a spritz of eucalyptus—prickled Claire’s nostrils.  A fine mist settled over her, the chill sneaking around the tops of her woolen socks and skating along her bones.  Beside her, Matt pulled his hat down low before crossing his arms and shoving his hands under his armpits.

***

Friday 56:

“I’m glad we’re on the same page.  Listen, Josh, I’ve got a bit of a favor.  There’s a job needs doing on Monday.”

***

Synopsis:

When a deadly wildfire tears through Myrtle, nestled along Australia’s breathtaking Great Ocean Road, the town’s buildings — and the lives of its residents — are left as smoldering ash. Eighteen months later, Myrtle stands restored, shiny and new. But is the outside polish just a veneer?

For four women in particular, the fire fractured their lives and their relationships. Julie thinks tourism could bring some financial stability to their town and soon prods Claire, Bec and Sophie into joining her community group.

But the scars of trauma run deep and as secrets emerge and each woman faces the damage the wildfire wrought, a shocking truth will emerge that will shake the town to its newly rebuilt foundations…

***

Would you keep reading?

***

REVIEW: FAMILY REUNION, BY NANCY THAYER

 

Eleanor Sunderland loves living on Nantucket, in a gorgeous cliffside home that has been in her family for decades. Yet this year she can’t help but feel a bit isolated, even as the island begins to come alive with summer tourists and travelers. Her best friend has skipped town on a last-minute cruise, leaving Eleanor feeling lonely and nostalgic about her family’s weekend trips to the island, made less frequently in the years since her husband’s passing. Now, her money-driven children contact her mostly to complain and to beg her to sell her beloved home for a steep payout. Hoping to kick the season off on a good note, Eleanor decides her seventieth birthday may be the perfect occasion for a much-needed reunion.

 

Fresh off the heels of her college graduation, Eleanor’s dear granddaughter, Ari, has just ended an engagement that felt less like true love and more like a chore. She longs for a change of scenery and to venture far from her parents’ snobbish expectations. Taking advantage of her newfound freedom, she heads to Nantucket to clear her head before graduate school, moving in with her grandmother and taking a job at the local beach camp. As she watches Eleanor begin to form a bond with an old acquaintance, Ari herself becomes completely smitten with a friend’s charming older brother. But just as grandmother and granddaughter fall into a carefree routine, a few shocking discoveries throw them off course, and their ideas of the future seem suddenly uncertain.

Eleanor and Ari make exciting connections, old and new, over the course of an unpredictable, life-changing few months, and learn to lean on each other through every new challenge they face in life and love, in this tale filled with Nancy Thayer’s signature Nantucket magic.

 
 
 
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From the very first page of Family Reunion, I was caught up in the family moments, especially those surrounding Eleanor, the matriarch, and her granddaughter Ari.

Alicia, Eleanor’s daughter, was not a favorite of mine. Selfish and narcissistic, her purpose seemed to be bringing her mother and her daughter down. And placing her mother in an assisted living facility.

Her selfish desire to sell Eleanor’s house on Nantucket for a payoff she and other family members could divide between them, made me cringe. I was reminded of how families sometimes make decisions for the elder family members, despite what those characters want.

But Eleanor, with the help of her granddaughter, stands up to her adult children. What will they decide to do?  I rooted for both Eleanor and Ari throughout. There were some unexpected surprises along the way, so I kept reading and loving this story. 5 stars.

 
***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “YOU WILL REMEMBER ME”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists! What a great way to spend a Friday.

Today’s feature is You Will Remember Me, by Hannah Mary McKinnon…

***

Book Beginning:  (The Man from the Beach)

Cold. Cold was the first word that came to mind.  The first thing I noticed when I woke up.  Not a slight, uncomfortable chill to give me the shivers, but a cramp-inducing, iced-to-the-bone kind of frozen.

***

Friday 56:

(Maya)

I couldn’t believe Ash was here, or that the girl from the gas station had actually called.  I’d found him.  I’d finally found him.  Ash was home.

***

 Synopsis:

Forget the truth.
Remember the lies.

He wakes up on a deserted beach in Maryland with a gash on his head and wearing only swim trunks. He can’t remember who he is. Everything—his identity, his life, his loved ones—has been replaced by a dizzying fog of uncertainty. But returning to his Maine hometown in search of the truth uncovers more questions than answers.

Lily Reid thinks she knows her boyfriend, Jack. Until he goes missing one night, and her frantic search reveals that he’s been lying to her since they met, desperate to escape a dark past he’d purposely left behind.

Maya Scott has been trying to find her estranged stepbrother, Asher, since he disappeared without a trace. Having him back, missing memory and all, feels like a miracle. But with a mutual history full of devastating secrets, how far will Maya go to ensure she alone takes them to the grave?

***

Would you keep reading?

***

REVIEW: EVERY LAST FEAR, BY ALEX FINLAY

“They found the bodies on a Tuesday.” So begins this twisty and breathtaking novel that traces the fate of the Pine family, a thriller that will both leave you on the edge of your seat and move you to tears.

After a late night of partying, NYU student Matt Pine returns to his dorm room to devastating news: nearly his entire family—his mom, his dad, his little brother and sister—have been found dead from an apparent gas leak while vacationing in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI and State Department seem far less certain—and they won’t tell Matt why.

The tragedy makes headlines everywhere because this isn’t the first time the Pine family has been thrust into the media spotlight. Matt’s older brother, Danny—currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his teenage girlfriend Charlotte—was the subject of a viral true crime documentary suggesting that Danny was wrongfully convicted. Though the country has rallied behind Danny, Matt holds a secret about his brother that he’s never told anyone: the night Charlotte was killed Matt saw something that makes him believe his brother is guilty of the crime.

When Matt returns to his small hometown to bury his parents and siblings, he’s faced with a hostile community that was villainized by the documentary, a frenzied media, and memories he’d hoped to leave behind forever. Now, as the deaths in Mexico appear increasingly suspicious and connected to Danny’s case, Matt must unearth the truth behind the crime that sent his brother to prison—putting his own life in peril—and forcing him to confront his every last fear.

Told through multiple points-of-view and alternating between past and present, Alex Finlay’s Every Last Fear is not only a page-turning thriller, it’s also a poignant story about a family managing heartbreak and tragedy, and living through a fame they never wanted.

 

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As we follow the characters in Every Last Fear, we are swept up into the past and thrust forward into the current situation involving the Pine family.

I enjoyed some of the characters more than others, but I didn’t really like how the story lagged at times, making me wonder what was really going on.

A story that earned 3.5 stars from me.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE BREAK-UP BOOK CLUB”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists! What a great way to spend a Friday.

Today’s feature is a new book from a favorite author:  The Break-Up Book Club, by Wendy Wax.

***

Book Beginning:  (Judith)

Favorite book:  The Red Tent—yes, still!

I read somewhere that the very first “book club” (female discussion group) took place in 1634 on a ship sailing to the Massachusetts Bay Colony when a “religious renegade” named Anne invited a group of women—no doubt exhausted from the voyage and in dire need of a break from their husbands and children—to talk about (and apparently critique) the sermons given at weekly services. (Which was nowhere near as relaxing as, say, a conversation about Bridget Jones’s Diary or Where the Crawdads Sing.).

***

Friday 56: (Sara)

Having Mitch home for the whole week of Christmas reminds me just how much I’ve missed him and our life before Dorothy’s surgery and his new position in Birmingham. I’ve spent the last several months telling myself I’m fine on my own.  But the truth is, life is so much better and brighter when he’s here.

***

Synopsis: On paper, Jazmine, Judith, Erin and Sara have little in common – they’re very different people leading very different lives. And yet at book club meetings in an historic carriage house turned bookstore, they bond over a shared love of reading (and more than a little wine) as well as the growing realization that their lives are not turning out like they expected.

Former tennis star Jazmine is a top sports agent balancing a career and single motherhood. Judith is an empty nester questioning her marriage and the supporting role she chose. Erin’s high school sweetheart and fiancé develops a bad case of cold feet, and Sara’s husband takes a job out of town saddling Sara with a difficult mother-in-law who believes her son could have done better – not exactly the roommate most women dream of.

With the help of books, laughter, and the joy of ever evolving friendships, Jazmine, Judith, Erin and Sara find the courage to navigate new and surprising chapters of their lives as they seek their own versions of happily-ever-after.

***

Would you keep reading?  I never miss a book by this author.

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