Friday, October 21, 2016

Harmony; Carolyn Parkhurst

Harmony; Carolyn Parkhurst
Pamela Dorman Books - 2016

Harmony is a story of marriage, parenting and the guilt felt when things don't turn out as planned.

The story begins with the Hammond family: Alexandra (mom), Josh (dad) and daughters Iris, age 11, and Tilly, age 13.  The family leaves their home in Washington, DC behind to live in an off the grid community called, Camp Harmony in New Hampshire.  The camp's leader, Scott Bean, is a self-proclaimed, cultish parenting expert who professes to help families who are struggling.

Tilly Hammond falls somewhere within the autism spectrum with no specific diagnosis.  She has been expelled from several schools for inappropriate behavior. She's prone to meltdowns, licks floors and has frequent vulgar and violent outbursts.  For the Hammonds, Camp Harmony seems to be their last result for keeping their family together.  But just who is Scott Bean and to what lengths will he go to change the behaviors of Tilly and other challenging children who have come to the camp?

The story told from the POV's of Iris and Alexandra where we learn about family life before Camp Harmony and life at Camp Harmony.  Peppered throughout are excepts to show how Tilly reacts to various situations.  Younger sister Iris is a wonderful narrator and Alexandra truly believes that Scott Bean may just be their last chance as others have suggested institutionalizing Tilly.

The author does a great job capturing the desperation of the parents. I did read that the author has an autistic son and her knowledge of the challenges shows.  There is a sense on tension throughout, especially when Scott Bean becomes a bit unpredictable.  The novel wasn't perfect and the epilogue seemed unrealistic and at times forced but, it was still an enjoyable read overall.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Book That Matters Most; Ann Hood

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph or two, from a book I'm reading or will be reading soon. 
W.W. Norton Company - 2016




"Ava saw it as soon as she turned the corner.  She stopped, squinting as if that would change what she was looking at.  It was a week before Christmas on Weybosset Street in downtown Providence.  The Christmas lights already shone, even at five o'clock, because the day was so dark and gray.  The air had that festive holiday feeling that came from people bustling about with oversized shopping bags, cold air, tired decorations, a guy selling Christmas trees on the corner.

But Ava felt anything but festive."

Based on this intro, would you read more or pass on this book?

Feel free to join in by posting your own First Chapter First Paragraph Intro and linking below.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Leave Me; Gayle Forman

Leave Me; Gayle Forman
Algonquin - 2016

Maribeth Klein is a 40-something wife, mother to 4 year-old twins and career woman who tries to be all to all people. Her health suffers until one day she realizes she's had a heart attack and requires surgery.

When she finds recovering from surgery and taking care of her own needs extremely difficult with her family still depending on her, she decides to flee. Without any prior discussions she leaves her husband and kids to fend for themselves. She leaves NYC for Pittsburg while she heals and tries to find out about herself and her earliest roots -- she was adopted. WHAT?

This novel was a very quick read with nice short chapters and, while I think many overextended moms dream about escaping, few actually do so without some discussion at least.  I just couldn't understand Maribeth, instead of feeling grateful for making it though surgery she becomes resentful and bitchy. She never talks about her feelings and needs with her mother or spouse and just takes off.  I guess somewhat in MB's defense, her husband Jason, seemed a bit aloof and neither made any effort to communicate and understand the others needs. I think the author missed the mark by never developing her characters in a way that would make them more real and sympathetic.  In addition, the ending resolved itself way too easily to me.

3/5 stars

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Heavens May Fall; Allen Eskens

The Heavens May Fall; Allen Eskens
Seventh Street Books - 2016

Detective Max Rupert (Guise of Another) is back and is as good as ever in this part mystery, part crime and part legal thriller. 

Max is still struggling with the hit and run death of his wife Jenni and, on the one year anniversary of her death, he's been assigned to a murder case. The victim is Jennavieve Pruitt, and her attorney husband Ben seems to be the prime suspect, although there are others who might want her dead as well.

Meanwhile,  attorney Boady Sanden,  Rupert’s longtime friend, has been hired by Ben Pruitt to defend him in the murder trial. Boady is dealing with his own demons after an innocent man he represented was sent to prison.  After that incident Boady gave up practicing law and took a job teaching it instead but, Ben convinces him to take his case.  Max and Boady now find themselves with very different opinions about the guilt versus innocence of Ben Pruitt.

This story is told from both Max and Boady’s opposing POVs and, the story divided into sections : The Death, The Defense and The Trial.  The story is well written, with characters who come across as very human and compelling. The mystery itself kept me wondering and, who doesn't loved a surprise ending?

Allen Eskens is one author who has never disappointed, readers who love mystery and crime novels should give this one a try. I also enjoyed, The Life We Bury and The Guise of Another by this author. BTW -  It's not necessary to read these books in a particular order.

5/5 stars
(review copy)