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Monday, May 30, 2016

Emilie Richards' When We Were Sisters

I've read many Emilie Richards books over the years, but this one quickly became a favorite. It's not an overly fast-paced novel, but it's so emotionally gripping and woven intricately. I felt like I was part of When We Were Sisters.

Robin's childhood was lousy. Her teen mother left her with her grandmother, and her grandmother seemed intent on making Robin pay emotionally for daring to be born. As a result, Robin chose to be mute rather than say anything that would only add fuel to the fire. When Robin's grandmother died, Robin entered the foster care system. That's where she met and became "sisters" with Cecilia.

Many years later, Cecilia is a popular musician. Robin gave up her career to raise a family. Robin's not in the happiest of places. She adores her kids, but her workaholic husband seems far happier working long hours than spending time with any of them. When Robin is in a car accident that kills her friend and neighbor and leaves Robin with serious injuries, she thinks it might be what it takes to turn her husband around, only nothing changes. He is late to their neighbor's funeral. He still misses dinner and time with their kids. Meanwhile, Cecilia breezes in and makes Robin the offer of a lifetime.

Cecilia's been approached to star in a documentary about growing up in the foster care system. She is eager to do the project, no matter how painful returning to her past will be, but she can get Robin a job in photojournalism again. Robin's just as eager to jumpstart her old career. For Robin it's a chance to see if her husband can become the man she fell in love with. For Cecilia, this project is going to bring her dark past to light and hopefully allow her to move on from secrets that have haunted her for decades.

There are touches of romance in Emilie Richards' latest novel. You have Robin and Kris's struggling marriage and Cecilia's struggles as she begins to fall for her long-time manager. This adds a little lightness to the sometimes dark subject matter of the failures of the foster care system.

Much of When We Were Sisters is told from varying points of view. It focuses a lot on Robin and Cecilia, but the addition of Kris's insight completes the picture. It's an emotionally charged look at work, marriage, and life in general, and I loved it.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Girl I Used To Be - Young Adult Mystery

Her mother was stabbed to death in front of her. For 14 years, Olivia and police believe her father was responsible and that he fled after leaving his three-year-old daughter at Walmart. Now, some of his remains have been found, and police and Olivia are seeking the truth.

Olivia heads to the town she left long ago. She's spent just about a decade in foster homes and went through a failed adoption before becoming emancipated. The adoption changed her name legally, but she took an additional step and changed her hair color to hide her true identity. Now that it's clear there's a killer out there, Olivia may be next to be silenced forever.

The Girl I Used to Be is a teen mystery, which may explain some of the questions I had. I couldn't understand how finding a small portion of Olivia's father's remains was immediate proof there was another killer and not a murder-suicide. That was just one thing that niggled at me, but I am coming into the story from an adult perspective. I was also shocked at how quickly a teenager working in a grocery store was able to rent an entire house. I just went through a situation where my son, a new college graduate with a full-time job with a biomedical firm, was unable to rent a house unless I cosigned the six-month lease. I really, really doubt that Olivia would have been able to rent this house so easily.

All niggles aside, the book is fast-paced and holds your attention. I got frustrated that I couldn't seem to fit in more than 20 minutes here and there to read it. Every inch of me wanted to sit down and read it from cover to cover in one shot. It's that gripping!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Fallout: An Intimate Look at the Aftershocks of a Separation

I'll admit, it's tough categorizing The Fallout by Tamar Cohen. It's a touch romance, a little bit suspenseful, but downright chilling as the pieces start to fall together. This is a May 31st release from Harlequin/MIRA.

Josh and Hannah find themselves in an incredibly difficult situation when their best friends Dan and Sasha break up. Dan's found someone else, someone much younger, and desperately wants Josh and Hannah to keep it hidden from his wife. Hannah is Sasha's best friend. They've raised their daughters together. It's a betrayal to keep it hidden, so it is made clear that they refuse to take sides while the couple figures things out.

It's only a matter of time before Josh and Hannah are struggling with the fallout from Dan and Sasha's separation. From voracious lawyers to Sasha's claims that Dan is trying to kill her, the reality is grim. Josh and Hannah are struggling to keep their own relationship intact when their friends are battling for their full attention.

I never expected to love this book. I couldn't stand Sasha, hated Dan, and eventually wondered what on earth Josh and Hannah were doing. By the final page, I felt like I'd been on a fictional roller coaster ride and found myself thinking over scenes for hours. The Fallout is clever, has twists I never saw coming, and definitely is unlike much I've read in the past!