Tag Archives: Novel

Book Review: The Second Home – Page Turning Beach Read

The Second Home

By Christina Clancy

Wellfleet on the shore of Cape Cod houses the heart and second home of the Gordon family. It also is the place of the explosive event that rips the family apart. Based upon lies, pain and heartache, it seems as though the rift is insurmountable. Eventually the grown children, Poppy, Ann and Michael must confront the past in order to see the possibilities of the future.

Ann is the oldest, most logical and on the path she has walked since she was a child. She is a good student with lots of friends and activities to keep her busy and happy. Poppy lives in Ann’s shadow, but she adores her. Things begin to unravel for her during her teens as she finds a new group of friends that are into drugs and the carefree lives of the surf scene. Michael came to the family when he was in high school. He is a close friend of Ann’s, and when his mother dies, Ann’s family adopts him. Bright and ambitious, it is just the leg up he needs to go to college. Until that fated day in Wellfleet when his world began to crumble.

Brilliantly written in first person, alternating between Ann, Poppy and Michael, the reader is pulled into the thoughts and actions of the characters. Misunderstandings and lack of communication between the main characters creates tension and conflict but they must come together after tragedy hits the family.

I love this fast-paced novel. The plot is intricate, yet easy to read. The characters are fully developed and interesting. The setting in Wellfleet makes me long to visit the shore.

It is hard to believe that The Second Home is Christina Clancy’s debut novel. The richness of the text and the depth of the story will have readers clamoring for more. Hopefully she will favor us with another novel in the near future.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Rising Place – Emotionally Charged Debut Novel

The Rising Place

By David Armstrong

David, a young lawyer in Hamilton, Mississippi met Emily Hodge when she was 75. He did not know much about Miss Emily, but wondered why someone born and bred in Hamilton was not surrounded by family and friends from the long life she led when her days become numbered. She shared a picture of her late teenage years with David and he was startled to see she was beautiful and full of life.

After her funeral, he gathered up the picture and some letters he found in the drawer next to her bed. Therein lies the history and heartache of Miss Emily. Never married, she fell in love with a man that was one quarter African American. Harry is a pilot and took her flying in his plane. They were intimate just once, right before he left for the war. As fate would have it, she was pregnant. So began the ostracizing of Miss Emily. The 1940’s in Mississippi were intolerant of mixed marriages and no compassion was given to unwed mothers.

Heartbroken and lonely, she began writing Harry about her love for him, the progress of her pregnancy and the racial tensions in Hamilton. Headstrong and defiant, Miss Emily refused to stop seeing her best friend Wilma who is an African American. This is just not done in Mississippi in the 1940s.

The Rising Place is an interesting, emotionally charged glimpse at life in the 1940s south. While it is a work of fiction, there are many parallels to the events that actually occurred during that timeframe. The war, racial tension and the societal rules for women are clearly outlined, yet challenged by Miss Emily no matter the high cost of spending most of her adult life alone.

This fast and fascinating book is David Armstrong’s debut novel. Previously made into a film, The Rising Place is available on DVD. As always, I suggest reading the book first – it is always better, even if the film is fabulous. He has previously published collections of his short works and screenplays.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from publicist Maryglenn McCombs in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Past Tense – New Jack Reacher Novel

Past Tense

By Lee Child

Lee Child’s fan favorite character, Jack Reacher, is back. He is in a tiny town in Maine looking for his roots. The home of his family may have the charm of small town America, but tiny towns like this can be clannish and Reacher is an outsider. But never one to back down from a challenge, he quietly researches his family. That is up until circumstances radically change in the blink of an eye putting a target on his back.

One of the many skills he has is hearing something wrong in his environment that will wake him out of a dead sleep. The domino effect of him investigating the noises he heard and coming to the rescue of a woman in trouble becomes his problem faster than a heartbeat. This act of kindness, done in only a way Reacher could, lands him on the wrong side of the law in a town he needs to stay in to help find his family. He understands it is a longshot, but never one to shy away from a challenge, he is determined to finish what he came to accomplish.

Meanwhile, a young couple from Canada is traveling through the area with a car that should be in the junkyard instead of on the road. When it gives them too much trouble to continue on, they are forced to stop for the night. Lucky for them it is by a small motel. But their luck soon turns bad as they find out the car will take more time to be fixed than they thought. Basically trapped in the small secluded motel, they become more and more uncomfortable. Soon it is clear something is desperately wrong with their situation. The owners appear to be keeping the couple isolated from others which makes them afraid of what might happen next.

Soon Reacher and the couple will meet. But when someone else brings weapons to the party, everyone knows bullets will fly and men will die.

I am a fan girl of Lee Child without apologies. His characters, quite notably Jack Reacher, are full of life and energy. They pop off the page with life. The perfect plotting will leave you guessing right up to the end. You will find yourself reading late into the night to see what happens next.  Spoiler alert – Reacher survives the book. But of course all Reacher fans know that going in. Much like James Bond, he lives to die another day and we all expect him to.

Because Child is one of my favorite authors, I have read many of his books. My favorite is always the one I have just finished.  Each time I read one of his books, I am reminded how he can pull me into the story with his eloquent turns of phrase that never intrude on the story he is telling. If you have only seen Jack Reacher on the big screen, invite him further into your life by reading one – or all of Child’s books. You will enjoy the depth of the character and story so much more. In my opinion, the book is always better than the movie.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Wrong Road Home – Amazing Story Based on True Events

the wrong road homeThe Wrong Road Home

By Ian A. O’Connor

275 pages

The Wrong Road Home is based on a real person and a true event, but it is a novel. Dr. Desmond Donahue practiced medicine in his native Ireland and in the United States for 20 years without a valid license. As a matter of record, he didn’t graduate from medical school or even high school. He did receive a GED certificate for passing the high school equivalency test from the Chicago public school system. Through an amazingly odd series of events, he worked with top doctors and surgeons before his deception was exposed.

His journey began as a poor boy in Ireland. Often hungry, his family members worked together to barely make ends meet. This shaped the man he was to become, vowing to never be poor again. He set his dreams high and moved where he could find work, always sending some home for the family he left behind.

Donahue either had the best luck or the worst luck as odd opportunities opened up for him at the right time to further his medical knowledge. Friendships were forged that paved the way for the biggest mistake in his life. He falsely obtained the degree he wanted and began practicing medicine. His patients and colleagues had no clue that he was living a lie.

Never getting close enough to anyone, the Doctor kept his secret hidden. He was comfortable and happy, it seemed as though he might live out his life without being exposed as an impostor. But the slightest wind can topple a house of cards, and such a wind blew into Dr. Desmond’s life without warning.

The Wrong Road Home is O’Connor’s fifth book. He has written three novels and two non-fiction books. This makes him the perfect author to write a book of fiction based upon a true story. The descriptions of people and places are colorful and create the perfect settings in all the different countries Dr. Desmond travels and lives in.

Dr. Donahue was so likable I didn’t care what he did by the end of the book. Some doctors I’ve been to with licenses seem to know less than he did. Kudos to O’Conner for making Donahue a well-rounded, compassionate character. Be sure to read the author’s afterword when you finish this highly engaging novel. Per the author, all the names have been changed to protect the innocent and not so innocent.

I highly recommend this book. It was fascinating and entertaining. Because it is based on a true story and a real person it has a depth that some novels lack. Personally, I cannot wait to read Ian A. O’Connor’s other books both fiction and non-fiction.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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