REVIEW: PAPER GHOSTS, BY JULIA HEABERLIN

 

An obsessive young woman has been waiting half her life—since she was twelve years old—for this moment. She has planned. Researched. Trained. Imagined every scenario. Now she is almost certain the man who kidnapped and murdered her sister sits in the passenger seat beside her.

Carl Louis Feldman is a documentary photographer who may or may not have dementia—and may or may not be a serial killer. The young woman claims to be his long-lost daughter. He doesn’t believe her. He claims no memory of murdering girls across Texas, in a string of places where he shot eerie pictures. She doesn’t believe him.

Determined to find the truth, she lures him out of a halfway house and proposes a dangerous idea: a ten-day road trip, just the two of them, to examine cold cases linked to his haunting photographs.

 

My Thoughts: From the beginning of Paper Ghosts, I thought of Grace’s plan as a journey that would surely end badly.

Carl’s behavior, the way he talked, the sense that something was very creepy and off about him…these aspects of him hovered overhead all the way through this story.

I was fascinated by Grace’s bold plan and how she was constantly changing her identity and her look, trying to fly beneath the radar. If anyone had known about her plan, other than those who helped her create her various personas, they would certainly have advised against it.

Grace thought she was in control, but it didn’t take long to see how Carl manipulated and controlled so many things, specifically the “conditions” he kept laying down for her. As if his cooperation was something she could earn with the lists of things he wanted from her.

Could Grace find the answers she was seeking? Would she manage to stay safe and alive until the road trip had ended? And what if everything turned out in unexpected ways that she didn’t see coming? A fascinating study that lagged for me sometimes, but heightened to an intensity near the end that kept me turning pages. 4.5 stars.***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: ONE PLUS ONE, BY JOJO MOYES

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Ed Nicholls finds himself in quite a pickle. He was just trying to break it off with an annoying and somewhat clingy girlfriend when he spouted off about a new software launch in his company. He certainly had no idea that he would live to regret it.

To say that Ed is clueless at times would be an understatement.

Meanwhile, Jess Thomas, a single mother with a daughter and a stepson to raise, is struggling and trying to make it against all the odds stacked against them. On the plus side, her daughter Tanzie is a maths genius; but the downside: she could benefit from a private school. Jess doesn’t have the money, since she cleans rental units at a resort, and works at a nearby pub in the evenings. A Maths Olympiad looks like a possible answer, as the prize money could turn things around. But they have no way to get there–it’s in Aberdeen, Scotland, and they are in England–so as a last resort, she decides to drive the old Rolls Royce that has not been driven in ages.

Meeting up with Ed was a side effect of her two jobs, but when he stops on the highway to help out when the police have pulled her over, neither of them could have imagined what would happen next. He is, after all, a stranger.

The road trip could not have been more uncomfortable, but along the way, something changes. And suddenly each of them has something to offer the other, and what might seem like a most unlikely pairing seems almost possible. But then something happens that tears them apart.

Will they manage to sort out their problems on their own? Can they mend the differences between them?

I thoroughly enjoyed One Plus One: A Novel, a story that reminded me of real people trying to connect with one another, despite their flaws and their mistakes. The characters were wonderful, especially Tanzie and Nicky, and the dialogue between them all on their amazing road trip made me smile, even the parts that revealed their quirky aspects, and most definitely when their flaws were most apparent. The story was also one with important themes of morality, bullying, societal differences, and all the messy details of family life. A definite 5 star read; another wonderful book from this author.

SERENDIPITOUS FRIDAY: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 — JUNE 8

Welcome to some serendipitous fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we 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!

I’ve grabbed a book from my stack for next week, and I can’t wait to read it!  The Long Way Home, by Karen McQuestion, is the story of four women in search of something more….

Blurb:  For Wisconsinites Marnie, Laverne and Rita, life isn’t working out so well. Each is biding time, waiting for something better, something to transport them out of what their lives have recently become. And then there’s Jazzy: bubbly, positive, and happy even though she hears voices of the departed. Brought together by a chance meeting, the women decide to join Marnie on a road trip from Wisconsin to Las Vegas where she intends to reunite with Troy, the boy she raised as her own—and who she’s been separated from since her boyfriend’s death. Little do they know that as the road trip unfolds, so will their lives—in directions they never anticipated. Humorous, heartwarming, and bittersweet, the journey has something special in store for each woman.

***

Beginning:  She arrived late.

They were nearly finished when the young woman rushed into the classroom, flustered and apologetic.  When the door flew open and Marnie first spotted her, she assumed the girl had entered the wrong room.  For one, she was so much younger than the rest of the group—in her early twenties, judging by her looks.

***

56:  She had difficulty sleeping since encountering Matt in the grocery store.  His words kept running through her mind.  Troy was alone.  He was unhappy.  He missed her.

***

I love stories about road trips, and this one sounds really good to me.

What are the rest of you spotlighting today?  I can’t wait to find out more….