Excerpt: The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton

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About the Book:

In Karen Hamilton’s shocking thriller, THE LAST WIFE, Marie Langham is distraught when her childhood friend, Nina, is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Before Nina passes away, she asks Marie to look out for her familyher son, daughter, and husband, Stuart. Marie would do anything for Nina, so of course, she agrees.

Following Nina’s death, Marie gradually finds herself drawn into her friend’s lifeher family, her large house in the countryside. But when Camilla, a mutual friend from their old art-college days, suddenly reappears, Marie begins to suspect that she has a hidden agenda. Continue reading “Excerpt: The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton”

Excerpt: The Diary of a Late Bloomer by L.M.L. Gil

The Diary of a Late Bloomer; A quirky coming of age novel
L.M.L Gil
Publication date: June 29th 2020
Genres: Coming of Age, New Adult, Romance, Sports

Every wallflower blooms at their own perfect time, but some like quirky Lo, take longer than others.

Lo is a sheltered 20-year-old who loves baking, manga/anime, and octopi. When she spots her college swim team’s tryout flyer sporting her favorite sea creature, an octopus she knows it’s a sign that she must join the Flying Octopi. The only things standing her way are her social awkward nature and the fact that she just learned to swim.

Continue reading “Excerpt: The Diary of a Late Bloomer by L.M.L. Gil”

Review: The Finders by Jeffrey B. Burton

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

What happens when the hunter becomes the hunted?

Jeffrey B. Burton’s The Finders marks the beginning of a fast-paced new mystery series featuring a heroic golden retriever cadaver dog named Vira and her handler, Mason Reid.

Mason “Mace” Reid lives on the outskirts of Chicago and specializes in human remains detection. He trains dogs to hunt for the dead. Reid’s coming off a taxing year—mourning the death of a beloved springer spaniel as well as the dissolution of his marriage. He adopts a rescue dog with a mysterious past—a golden retriever named Vira. And when Reid begins training Vira as a cadaver dog, he comes to realize just how special the newest addition to his family truly is. Continue reading “Review: The Finders by Jeffrey B. Burton”

Excerpt: No One Saw by Beverly Long

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About the Book:

Detective team A.L. McKittridge and Rena Morgan are back on their beat after solving the brutal Baywood serial killings, but crime doesn’t rest for long in their small Wisconsin town. In book two of Beverly Long’s electrifying A.L. McKittridge series, a child seemingly vanishes from a day care into thin air and A.L. and Rena must race to bring her home before time runs out. Continue reading “Excerpt: No One Saw by Beverly Long”

Excerpt: That Summer in Maine by Brianna Wolfson

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About the Book:

A novel about mothers and daughters, about taking chances, about exploding secrets and testing the boundaries of family

Years ago, during a certain summer in Maine, two young women, unaware of each other, met a charismatic man at a craft fair and each had a brief affair with him. For Jane it was a chance to bury her recent pain in raw passion and redirect her life. For Susie it was a fling that gave her troubled marriage a way forward.

Now, sixteen years later, the family lives these women have made are suddenly upended when their teenage girls meet as strangers on social media. They concoct a plan to spend the summer in Maine with the man who is their biological father. Their determination puts them on a collision course with their mothers, who must finally meet and acknowledge their shared past and join forces as they risk losing their only daughters to a man they barely know. Continue reading “Excerpt: That Summer in Maine by Brianna Wolfson”

Excerpt: She’s Faking It by Kristin Rockaway

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About the Book:

You can’t put a filter on reality.

Bree Bozeman isn’t exactly pursuing the life of her dreams. Then again, she isn’t too sure what those dreams are. After dropping out of college, she’s living a pretty chill life in the surf community of Pacific Beach, San Diego…if “chill” means delivering food as a GrubGetter, and if it means “uneventful”.

But when Bree starts a new Instagram account — @breebythesea — one of her posts gets a signal boost from none other than wildly popular self-help guru Demi DiPalma, Continue reading “Excerpt: She’s Faking It by Kristin Rockaway”

Review: The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 5 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife.

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal. Continue reading “Review: The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles”

Excerpt: The Black Swans of Paris by Karen Robards

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About the Book:

For fans of The Alice Network and The Lost Girls of Paris comes a thrilling standalone by New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards about a celebrated singer in WWII occupied France who joins the Resistance to save her estranged family from being killed in a German prison.

In Occupied France, the Resistance trembles on the brink of destruction. Its operatives, its secrets, its plans, all will be revealed. One of its leaders, wealthy aristocrat Baron Paul de Rocheford, has been killed in a raid and the surviving members of his cell, including his wife the elegant Baronness Lillian de Rocheford, have been arrested and transported to Germany for interrogation and, inevitably, execution.

Captain Max Ryan, British SOE, is given the job of penetrating the impregnable German prison where the Baroness and the remnants of the cell are being held and tortured. If they can’t be rescued he must kill them before they can give up their secrets. Continue reading “Excerpt: The Black Swans of Paris by Karen Robards”

Review: The Falling Woman by Richard Farrell

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 3 – 3.5 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

A SUSPENSEFUL AND PROFOUND STORY ABOUT THE SOLE SURVIVOR OF A PLANE CRASH AND THE YOUNG AGENT ASSIGNED TO FIND HER 

Tragedy strikes during a cross-country flight when sudden turbulence causes the jet to come apart in midair. The odds of anyone surviving are nearly impossible. Charlie Radford, a young National Transportation Safety Board investigator, is part of the team sent to determine what caused the crash. When he hears a rumor of a survivor, he assumes it is a hoax. As word of this “miracle” reaches the media and Congress, Radford is forced to track down “the falling woman,” said to have been found in a barn still strapped to her seat.

The woman at the center of the mystery, Erin Geraghty, was facing a losing battle with cancer when she embarked on her flight. With diminishing hope of a full recovery, she had considered herself essentially dead to her loved ones. Now, after the plane crash, she is intent on remaining dead to the world and to her family, to live out her final days in peace. And then Agent Radford arrives at her doorstep. Can he convince her to come forward, and does he have any right to?

A riveting novel that ultimately asks compelling questions about the value of privacy, our responsibilities to our loved ones, and our right to control our own narrative, Richard Farrell’s debut is perfectly framed to become a favorite for book clubs and for all readers who relish a profound, page-turning story with heart.

Bookbub | Goodreads

 

My Thoughts:

Erin Geraghty is a woman falling in more ways than one. In Richard Farrell’s debut novel, The Falling Woman, Erin had a successful career, children she loved, and a husband she tolerated until she fell ill with pancreatic cancer and then literally fell from the sky.

If Erin is the true main character of the book—the pilot, if you will, then Charlie Radford is the co-pilot. Charlie is a NTSB investigator who has been tasked with determining if the rumor of a survivor of an aviation disaster is true, and if so, where is she. Erin and Charlie share the role of narrator. Readers are given a great deal of their backstories, and their once parallel stories eventually converge.

As Charlie hunts for the survivor, readers learn of his passion for flying, his troubled childhood and fear of being a parent, and his subsequent avoidance of his wife. He loves her, but he doesn’t think he wants children. Meanwhile, Erin catches a lift to a cabin hideaway from a former lover. If her adultery isn’t bad enough, Erin decides to put her family out of their misery and disappear. She’s only got weeks/months to live, and if she resurfaces after the crash, not only will her family have to endure her slow decline to death, but she will be hounded by officials and journalists. She will have to peace, no privacy, and no ability to live as she wants for the little time she has left.

Whether you can accept Erin’s reasoning or not, The Falling Woman is a thought-provoking novel that ponders the idea of an individual’s right to privacy and their responsibility to loved ones versus their personal desires. I truly appreciated how Erin influenced Charlie, not just in terms of his professional responsibilities, but also regarding his personal passions and his marital relationship. From the shocking and surreal first chapter to the end, The Falling Woman is an intriguing read.

 

Gravity and Grace–A Personal Essay from author Richard Farrell

I was ten years old when I fell in love with flying. I remember the day, the hour, the very airplane—an AV-8A Harrier. Stuck in a fifth-grade science classroom, perpetually bored and staring out windows, I was not expecting a jet to zoom low and fast over the autumnal tree line. The year was 1979, and the first-ever Worcester air show had begun. For the next four days, this extravaganza of flight would transform the skies above my hometown. The heavens filled with more aircraft than a boy could imag- ine: vintage biplanes, World War II bombers, massive gray cargo jets, tank- ers, helicopters, and fighter planes with mythical names like Skyhawk and Corsair, Phantom and Super Saber.

Hour after hour, I’d whiplash my neck staring into the clouds, listening for the bassy whir of turbo props at breakfast, the thunder of afterburners at dinner. The sun scorched my face; my eyes ached from strain. With the roar of each engine, I’d burst from my house as if it were on fire to gaze at the next airplane. How did people continue with their routines? There were no pilots in my life. The neighbors were teachers and nurses, shop foremen and letter carriers. My father, an avowed white-knuckler, occasionally traveled for busi- ness but hated flying; I’d never seen my mother board an airplane. Until that air show, the world of aviation was as foreign to me as a Moroccan bazaar. And yet, for one glorious fall weekend, the skies above me became dramati- cally alive. My soul was utterly hijacked—a conversion every bit as profound as a prophet’s, an annunciation so fundamental that my life changed forever. I devoted the next ten years to becoming a pilot.

I wrote The Falling Woman, in part, to channel this love of flying that once burned in me. That same passion informs the character of Charlie

Radford, a boy who grew up much like I did. Our adult lives suffered simi- lar fates as well. Like Radford, I became a pilot but my flying career was cut short by a medical condition, and like Radford, at twenty-three, I was told that I could no longer be a professional pilot. It took a decade for me to recover from that loss; Radford’s recovery is, I think, well underway by the time the novel ends.

After my flying career, for a brief time I too worked in an aviation-related job in Washington, DC, though not as an accident investigator. I came to see how the mythology and heroic imagination that I had once associated with flying quickly fizzled behind mounds of paperwork, bureaucracy, and regulations. The real tragedy was how completely the adult world sacrificed passion for the sake of mundane work. I wanted to keep Radford’s joy alive, to sustain his idealism, to help him rediscover his wings.

At some point early in the writing, the chaos of trying to complete the novel began to overwhelm me. A hundred thousand words, three years of work, and I still didn’t know what I was trying to say. I began to see that the work of an NTSB accident investigator and the work of a novelist share more than a few common traits. Fear, uncertainty, the balance of order and chaos, the puzzle-piecing construction of meaning—these are the central ingredients for the storyteller, as well as the accident investigator.

But then there is the falling.

I didn’t set out to write a novel about an impossible story of survival. I wanted to write a quiet book, but on page one I blow up an airplane and send a passenger hurtling through the roof of a Kansas barn. Spoiler alert: she survives. Such a thing has really happened, at least five times from my research. There’s no easy explanation for how. In World War II, three fli- ers fell (without parachutes) from exploding airplanes and survived. In the 1970s, a Serbian flight attendant, Vesna Vulović, was sucked out of an air- liner, fell from six miles up, and lived. And then there is the story of Juliane Koepcke, a German teenager who fell out of a disintegrating plane from 10,000 feet, landed in a rainforest canopy, and crawled out of the jungle ten days later.

What fascinated me about these miraculous stories was how little the survivors talked about their incredible luck. Koepcke did eventually write a memoir, but she spent less than a page on her actual freefall. It was as if these miraculous falls could not be addressed, as if the stories were too unbelievable to be told.

And yet, as I wrote various drafts of this novel, solving the mystery of Erin’s freefall became less important to me. I was drawn to aspects of her character not because of her freefall, but because she’d spent two decades yoked to a traditional life—a restless wife, a working mother, a privileged suburbanite who voted and tended to her gardens. What does her everyday life mean outside the shadow of this miracle? Spared against all odds, does she have an obligation to live her life differently? Do any of us? Contemplating these questions eventually helped me solve the mystery of the novel itself.

The French writer Simone Weil once wrote: “Utter permanence and extreme fragility give an equal sense of eternity.” The Falling Woman wres- tles with extreme manifestations of this paradoxical truth. Barely over a hun- dred years old, powered flight is the very embodiment of one of humankind’s deepest yearnings. But we take the awe for granted, forget how miraculous the everyday world truly is. In the end, though, no matter how high or fast we fly, we are ultimately falling—falling toward each other, toward despair and hope, toward love and loss, and, with a little luck, falling toward a deeper understanding of ourselves.

From the algonquin reader • volume 9 • issue 1

 

 

 

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