Where Are You Now? (2008) by Mary Higgins Clark is an enthralling read which holds your interest throughout.
The plot follows 26-year-old law graduate Carolyn MacKenzie whose older brother Mack went missing ten years previously. However, each year she and her mother receive a message on Mother’s Day from Mack. In the decade since Mack has mysteriously disappeared, seemingly out of nowhere, Carolyn’s and Mack’s father has passed away in the 9/11 attacks. Following a possible sighting of her brother and a note left by Mack warning Carolyn to stay away, Carolyn is on a mission to find out what really happened once and for all and to try to put some closure on the torment and pain she has felt since he has been gone. Her mission brings her into much danger from those who don’t want her poking her nose into the past and finding out secrets related to Mack’s disappearance and for their own reasons separate from it. While Carolyn begins her investigations, a young woman Leesey Andrews goes missing and it soon becomes apparent that the two cases are connected in one way or another.
I really like Carolyn as a character. I think her passion and strength drives a lot of this book forward and you find yourself rooting for her to complete her mission and find some peace. The plot is incredibly engrossing and flows with a gorgeously interesting ease from page to page. The cast of suspects is wide and we learn so much about each of them as well as the family and those missing. My only downside to this book is that I could partly work out from the page I met one of those involved that they were involved. Not meaning to give too much away but there is one than one person involved. I got one part of it and I felt it was very obvious. That was a shame because otherwise this book is splendid but sadly the killer cannot be obvious and one part of this reveal was from very early on. However that aside, I found this a very enjoyable read. I loved the main character which really made the book very character-driven in a way which I absolutely love. I couldn’t stop turning the pages and hearing more about these characters’ lives and what they were hiding.
A really entertaining page-turner filled with love of family and great descriptions and plot.
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The Testament (1999) by John Grisham is another outstanding read by the author.
The story follows a well-used plot of a rich man Troy Phelan dying and the legal wrangles and drama that follow with his will when family members and employees don’t get what they feel they are due. But it is Grisham’s richly fleshed out writing which really makes this plot fresh, new and very interesting. The book which is a long enough read becomes a real page turner which each chapter as we get to know all the players involved in the game of greed for money. Grisham also brings many topics and issues into the plot, weaving them very seamlessly in, like mental health, suicide, alcoholism, viruses and religion. This book becomes more than a book about a rich man’s will and becomes a book about life and the realities of it. We see the greed of the family and employees but also the greed of the lawyers and psychiatrists as the book unfolds. Everyone seems out to gain something by any means.
The book then shows the other side of this when Nate O’Riley is sent to Brazil to find Rachel Lane or Rachel Porter as she is now known. Rachel is a missionary who is Troy’s illegitimate daughter and he has left his eleven billion dollars solely to her. But when Nate meets Rachel, he soon realizes that she is content in her way of life in Brazil where she is a missionary and doctor and lives a quiet life of prayer. She doesn’t wish to have the money or change her way of life. She has an impact on Nate in more ways than one and a romantic emotion simmers between them but never goes any further. But she helps him find a peace through religion that he hasn’t found in his life so far and it stays with him.
I very much enjoyed the book. I just love how Grisham gets to the heart of why each character is the way they are, writes so crisply and to the point and always delves into issues with his writing. The part about the cow was heartbreaking though and has ensured that I remember Vaca is Portuguese for cow! The ending is also heartbreaking but very touching too.
All round a great read.
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I don’t have to be your definition of perfect
and that is so liberating.
I don’t have to shut my mouth for your comfort
and that’s something I didn’t see before.
I don’t have to be a bigger person
because I already don’t think I am.
I decided not to be your version of mature and sophisticated
because you said that is what it was,
I got tired of being gaslighted
even though I didn’t realise that was what it was.
I began to come alive,
away from the doubts and I won’t let that go.
I am a human,
maybe you should remember that.
I have chosen to be happy
and I ain’t going back.
Rising Tide: Dark Innocence (The Maura DeLuca Trilogy Book 1) (2014) By Claudette Melanson is a really compelling character-driven book.
The story follows young vampire Maura as she goes on her journey to discovering this facet of herself. Along the way, the teenager has the usual teenage experiences such as bullying, trying to belong and finding love while trying to find herself. Maura is an incredibly likeable character who is easy to relate to from times gone by. She is very much not one-dimensional and we really get to know about her character and her life throughout the story including her highs and her lows. She is definitely not the ‘typical’ teenager and that has nothing to do with her being a vampire. She is very much a more nerdy, geeky and introspective teenager who loves books, learning and music and yet she has her more wilder, adventurous side too. Yeah, I could remember that I was a bit like that too, still am actually only older. She is very believable and easy to root for. She just seems like a real person, not a stereotype.
She finds herself worrying for her mother in the book. Her mother is struggling since her father left in very mysterious circumstances which adds a glorious mystery element to the story alongside the romance, drama, sci-fi, fantasy and the occasional bit of comedy thrown in for good measure. There is a kind of vibe where both Maura and her mother take on the ‘parent’ role at different moments in the book and it’s truly lovely because you know they will always be there for each other and are super close.
The book deals with many important issues such as bullying and finding yourself. Maura faces some struggles in terms of bullying from some nasty teenagers who get a kick out of being cruel. Add into all this she is finding out who she is, is worried about her health and is like most teenagers mostly making a mountain out of a molehill. Although to be fair, a lot of her issues are anything but typical so she’s entitled to worry a bit. Among all of this, she meets Ron and falls head over heels in love with him and vice versa. Their romance has a very insta-love feel which I didn’t mind at all but might not be for everyone. But they are very sweet together and the author conveys very well how much they care about each other. I also really like the friendships they share with their friends and it’s nice to see those relationships grow as well.
This is an amazing book, so well-written, really enthralling. My only flaw with it and it’s a small thing but I did find it strange when Ron ran back to the computer when his Mum, who has cancer, was after collapsing to inform Maura of what had happened. Sure he left it on and went to his Mum which saved the scene a bit and I got that the writer was trying to show how much he cared for Maura in the scene but I just can’t see that happening.
That aside, I loved the book. The author is so unbelievably talented and delves into so much in this book and gets it all across very well. I also loved a lot of the references because a lot of them were from my youth and early adulthood. It doesn’t specifically say what years the book took place in but I recognized most of the music references and scenes, etc … so I found that cool and didn’t feel thick!
Fantastic cover art too by Rachel Montreuil.
It’s a fantastic read and I recommend you should give it a chance.
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Wolf Pack Dancers: Prose and Poems (2020) by Charles Frankhauser is a wonderful short read.
Set in New York, the book has an interesting plot line where three people who are homeless take care of a wolf pup and decide to dance with a wolf in order to save wild wolves from becoming extinct. The author has a very original style of writing and puts the story together in a way you don’t always see which works very well here.
The book raises much awareness of animal extinction and the welfare of wild animals especially wolves so that was great to see. It has a great message wrapped up in an entertaining read and journey with these characters.
It’s quite short so it can read in one or two sittings. Mine was personally two sittings and I found the book really enjoyable, fun and interesting. It’s something a bit different which I appreciated.
Great short read.
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Making Trouble (Battle Ground #0) (2019) by Rachel Churcher is a wonderful introduction to the author’s Battle Ground series.
The book follows protagonist Topher MacKenzie who is facing many huge issues at just fifteen years old. His Mum is now living in Australia and he is living with his father in the UK following his parents’ split and his girlfriend is been forced to leave the UK after a racist, xenophobic attack where there was prejudice about her being Muslim too. Caught in a world where people he loves tend to have to leave for one reason or another, Topher is feeling a lack of security and a mounting fear about the future. Add into this his wonderful moral compass for trying to make things right and fair and you have a character with a lot on his plate especially for someone so young. But he is strong but he also shows his vulnerability and these two things mixed together make him a very relateable character who is easy to like.
The cast of characters in this story are great. Alongside Topher, his parents and his girlfriend we have his auntie Charlie, her boyfriend and a host of characters who are involved with Charlie and her boyfriend in trying to make things equal and fair even if it is not always by the right means. The author really strikes the right tone however in showing how they are pushed into these methods by an increasing unjust system and prejudiced attitudes.
The twist at the end of this book is outstanding. I did not see it coming at all and the writer really managed to throw everyone off the scent there so a great bit of a mystery element there which I very much appreciated.
There is great emotion placed between a great plot here. You get super engrossed in a story which is talking about serious issues and very much invested in the characters.
A brilliant read and a great introduction to the series and the characters.
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We are living through some really strange times right now. Every day it feels like the gloom is getting worse and worse as we worry what will come next with the Coronavirus. Currently here in the Republic of Ireland, we have taken many precautions as we all try to get through this. The schools and other educational institutions have closed, many work places have closed and pubs have closed. All social gatherings have been cancelled including all St. Patrick’s Day parades. Most of us are all mostly saying indoors apart from going out to get some groceries and back in again. The shops have many empty shelves which show the physical impact of this pandemic. I think our government have handled this very hard and frightening situation very well. Everyone is just doing the best they can in a very bad and unpredictable situation.
My mum, my sister and I live in a small house and we are distancing ourselves into what we call zones. My mum is older and she has many health issues and my sister has recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure. While I could probably fight off the Coronavirus easier than either of them because I am in quite good health, I fear passing it on to them as their immune systems, especially my mum’s, might not be able to fight it off as easily. It is utterly scary and right now we are all just checking the symptoms trying to figure out how we are feeling and thankfully so far none of us have the symptoms. The thing I miss the most is hugging my mum and sister or giving them a kiss on the cheek but we’re doing all we can do to protect each other.
Most people are taking this issue seriously and thank god for that because we are all in this together like our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said in his speech. You will always get a few people who will go against the advice with no valid reason behind doing so but I am thankful that the vast majority who can do so is heeding the advice. Obviously there is many people who are in situations where they must go to work and have no other option. It looks like some funding will be put in place for people so that they can keep themselves and those they love and other people safe from the virus without taking chances they are forced to take so it is wonderful to hear that those measures are going to come in. Our healthcare workers have been amazing as have many healthcare workers all over the world. Each day many of these people are putting themselves at risk to help others which is so brave even if they don’t think so themselves and we all appreciate you all and everything you all do so much.
There is so many in scary situations in the world. You think of homeless people, stray animals, people in prison and people who are going through mental health issues. We have a choice to stay inside and create zones which many don’t have that choice and right now not having that choice is scary. It is scary enough with the choice. I just hope people are been looked out for in their situations. I am also very passionate about mental health and there is a lot of people going through issues with no one to talk to about their issues right now and I hope they can just keep themselves as well as they can. This situation is also not great for peoples’ mental health either. I just hope everyone is keeping well.
I wasn’t really sure how to go about writing this blog post because how do you write about something which is scaring the shit out of yourself and practically everyone else. I don’t want to unintentionally add to that fear and yet I want to somehow express my thoughts because writing always helps me do that. I wanted to offer some encouragement even though I don’t know what the hell to do myself apart from take all the necessary precautions like washing my hands, not touching my face (which is so difficult), isolate myself into my zone, keep myself informed and practice social distancing and that’s all we can do. So, in the end I just said to myself that I can only say what is happening in my life and what I’m feeling.
Though we are all scared, confused, unsure we must have hope through this time of fear and uncertainty. If we can, we need to get our heads away from what is happening and do something we enjoy, catch up on work we need to catch up on and relax as best we can. I can only send you all so many positive vibes at this time and hope that this situation rectifies itself and that this virus becomes part of history sooner rather than later even though that looks like it is going to be a while till that happens. Sending you all much love and thoughts, to you and yours and keep your loved ones and yourself safe. Look after yourselves and those you love everyone.
If there is any positive message to take from this whole pandemic it is that life is the most important thing and must be protected at all costs ahead of everything else like profit and the like.
Rest in peace to all those who have died from this virus. I send my condolences to all their loved ones. My thoughts are also with those suffering with the virus and their loved ones.