Sunset Beach my Mary Kay Andrews

I think I have read just about everything Mary Kay Andrews has written.  She is one of those authors that is like cleaning the palate of your mind – her books tend to be lighter, yet interesting and characters that I totally want to hang out with.  ~Sheila

Drue Campbell is trying to keep it all together.  She is working a dead end job, has no relationship with her father, no siblings and she just buried her mother.  Her absentee father Brice, a personal injury Attorney, just showed up on the scene offering her a job with his firm extending the olive branch to reconnecting.

Oh – hells no.

Yet, as luck (or lack thereof) would have it, Drue is let go from her job and finding that she had inherited her Grandparents Beach home in Sunset Beach, near her fathers firm – she decides to bite the bullet.  How bad could it be?  Upon accepting the job offer, she meets the Office Manager – who is her frenemy from 8th grade… AND just happens to now be her dad’s wife.

WAIT.  WHAT?

Add in some quirky co-workers, a potential love interest, a case of wrongful death that may or may not have involved her father, a missing woman….  we have ourselves a pretty good story.

 

Ok what can I add to that?  I loved the book.  I enjoyed this one on audio while mowing the lawn, planting and weeding and even while cooking dinner.  The characters are a delight and our protagonist is someone I definitely want to hang out with at one of those local bars mentioned in the book.
Definitely a perfect read for this time of year, it left me wanting to know what is next from Mary Kay Andrews AND have I missed any of her other books.
Recommended?  You betcha.  Grab a margarita and settle in.

 

A Rip In Heaven by Jeanine Cummins

The things I don’t know about this world often astound and shock me… what the human mind can handle when it comes to tragedy and what we sometimes cannot unsee does as well.  ~ Sheila

A Rip In Heaven is the true story of Tom Cummins and his two cousins Julie and Robin Kerry and what happened to them one evening while hanging out late in April 1991 on the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in St Louis Missouri.  It is a story of true terror, unthinkable murder and what a mess media can make of things.

 

It’s hard to talk about this book without giving too much away.  I find in this case it is better for the events to unfold to each reader as they turn the pages, much as I did… having hope, having shock, having sorrow…  it is indeed a personal journey.

What I can say is that I found this book at the recent Friends of the Library Book Sale.  True crime, has always piqued my interest – I hate saying that, but it is true.  I am astounded not only by the actions of those who commit such crimes, but also the incredible spirit of those who become – survivors of such acts of the unthinkable… the families of victims, the friends – and even when the victim themselves survive.  A Rip In Heaven is about all of that.  Not only about what happened, but what happened in the following years to a broken family, and to those involved.

I read this book mostly in one sitting – unable to put it down and wanting to know what happened.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

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A book about four siblings knowing the day they will die and what they do with that knowledge….  it really opens up the question, would you want to know?

~Sheila

 

It is the late 1960’s and four children (from 7 – 13) find themselves before a Traveling Physic who claims to be able to tell them the day they will die.  She does, privately with each one and go on their way believing and not believing…

The Immortalists then breaks into 4 parts and follows each sibling throughout their life to that day.  What choices they make, and where it all ends.  Do they live recklessly – or with abandon – or fully… as we, those who do not know, all should never knowing when that day or this day – will be your last.

What does the sibling do that has the least amount of time?  What about the one with the most?

 

I finished this book late yesterday afternoon.  I was listening to it on audio while channeling Marie Kondo and tackling my closet.  And to be honest, I am still tossing around in my head what I think of it.

I think I am struggling because it was not what I thought it was going to be.  I expected a more magical element to the book.  One portion of the book was also way more sexually detailed then for my taste in books and while that chapter is extremely powerful, admittedly I had a few moments where I considered giving up on the book.

Now – that I have completed the book and understand what the author was doing… I feel that overall the book is brilliantly written.  The diving of the chapters is a perfect telling for this style of read.

This book was up for vote by my book club on three separate occasions and won for our current read that we will be discussing tomorrow evening.  I am super curious where they landed on this one and I feel it is going to bring out good discussion.  I am looking forward to the big questions regarding dealing with grief, and the supernatural – and of course… if we could know when our last day would be…

would we want to know? 

 

NPR Review of The Immortalists

 

Blank Etsy Profile

Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

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In my teens… I loved me some Stephen King… he was my go to for dark stories.  In my twenties, I discovered Dean Koontz (a little less wild than King) and read everything the man wrote… and then I found Harlan –  who has a a way of mixing great mystery with witty humor…  there’s a little something he adds to the genre that makes my heart leap when a new book is coming by him.

~Sheila

 

New jersey Detective Napoleon Dumas (yes… Dumas… not a typo) is still haunted by the freak accident that took the life of his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana when they were all still in High School.  Both were found dead on the railroad tracks, the whole episode put in the books as teen partying.  That same night, Nap’s girlfriend Maura broke up with him and was never seen again… as years go on, it seems that other close friends of Leo’s are also dying in mysterious ways.  Is someone trying to keep something quiet?

15 years later… none of this still makes sense.

When Maura’s fingerprints show up in a rental car of a suspected murdered, Nap feels he may finally have a lead to answers.  His search becomes an obsession as he feels he is on the verge of knowing what really happened that night to his brother, Diane and what are these ripple effects that still seem to be happening….

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Harlan Coben and I at the book expo in New York, 2011

 

I do love Coben’s mind.  Don’t Let Go, is a perfect title for this book and true to form… Harlan does not let me down with a protagonist with a last name of Dumas.

Classic Coben.

Don’t get me wrong –  Coben’s humor does not get in the way of a good mystery, in fact other than Dumas’s unfortunate name (which admittedly he was teased for throughout school) the book lends itself to a dark mystery of covered up events.  I found myself having a hard time putting the book down as I wanted to know what was going to happen.  The ending was a solid “Whoa!”  And that’s a good thing.

Readers who enjoy a good solid mystery that does not go too far or gory will enjoy Coben’s books.

 

5Sheila DeChantal enjoys reviewing books here, and also writes on other subjects (as well as books) at IguessIamdoingthis.com

The Retreat by Mark Edwards

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Sometimes you need just a good solid mystery to wrap your mind around….

~Sheila

 

Julia’s world fell apart when two years previously she lost bother her husband and daughter Lily in the same day.  Her daughters body never surfaced and Julia, trying to move on but not sure how, remains in the same home which she has now opened up as an Author’s Retreat Center.

Lucas, an author who writes Horror, has come to the retreat escaping his own demons.  When he hears about Lily’s disappearance, he becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened.

Surrounded by a town that believes deeply in old superstitions, quirky characters and deep secrets – what is about to come to the surface is not at all what anyone expects.

 

I dove into the retreat looking for a good mystery to release my mind from the non fiction I had been reading of late.  A book about an Authors Retreat and a solid disappearance was just the ticket.  I enjoyed the mix of Author attendees at the retreat and the mystery of Lily had just the right amount of spooky flavor to not be over the top.  I thoroughly enjoyed this read – surprised in the end.

 

This was my first time reading author Mark Edwards, and it will not be my last.

 

5Sheila DeChantal writes book reviews at Book Journey as well as writes on other subjects including Life, Grief, Food and more at I Guess I Am Doing This.

Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977 – 2002 by David Sedaris

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A long time ago I discovered David Sedaris.  I have enjoyed him on audio while working on things and laughing out loud.  It is a good combination and it was fun to return to him and catch up.

~Sheila

 

I can not recall when I first found Sedaris.  I am sure it is in my archives here but I am being lazy drinking coffee and putting off what I should be doing so… meh.

I pulled this book out a list of audio I recently downloaded so I could listen while I painted the kitchen.  Sedaris proved to be as funny as ever and while painting I enjoyed some real laugh out loud moments.  Theft By Finding is snippets that he has taken from his diaries, of funny thoughts, happenings, and a solid reflection of the way he looks at the world.

Sedaris fans may find this book at times to not be as solidly funny as his other books, sometimes you only get a sample of where he is going, and at other times the story may be more about family and life events.  Still – I enjoyed it.

 

 

5Sheila DeChantal also writes at I Guess I am Doing This where she talks on other things besides books such as Life Happenings, Food, Adventures and Grief.

 

Artemis by Andy Weir

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The Martian was my first dabble into the mind of Andy Weir and I loved my stay.  Artemis is one of those titles that sat in my mind way too long before I finally pulled it to the top of my list.  
What took me so long?

~Sheila

 

Jazz Bashara lives on the only inhabited are of the moon, Artemis.  She is snarky and resourceful, doing small smuggling jobs to keep her in barely enough coin to cover a place to stay and a little food to eat.  You do what you need to do to get by.

When a chance to do a large job with a big payout falls into her lap – Jazz can not resist the possibility of having a big pay day.  With a little help from her friends she dives in with a few miscalculated bumbles and an error that reveals a much larger plot that appears to threaten all who live on Artemis.

 

In a word… Jazz is a hot mess.  She is mouthy, quick witted, always in trouble and I adored her.  I listened to Artemis on audio and hearing those first few snarly words brought me right back to The Martian.

I was giddy with happiness.

Absolutely treat yourself to a a ticket to Artemis. If you enjoy Andy Weir’s style – this book will not disappoint.

 

5Check out my writing on other topics such as Food, Adventures, Life and Grief at I Guess I Am Doing This.