Stacking the Shelves (1/13/2018)

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Stacking the Shelves is a meme co-hosted by Tynga at Tynga’s Reviews and Marlene at Reading Reality, where you share the books you’ve added to your shelves in the past week. You can include books you buy, books you borrow, review books, gifts, and ebooks.

This week I added four books to my TBR:

 

The Abandoned cover

The Abandoned by Sharon Thompson

ebook

Expected publication: January 25th, 2018 by Bloodhound Books

Source: Netgalley

Do you love crime thrillers full of suspense? Then you’ll love Sharon Thompson’s unmissable debut.

Peggy Bowden has not had an easy life. As a teenager, her mother was committed to an asylum and then a local priest forced her into an abusive marriage. But when her husband dies in an accident Peggy sees an opportunity to start again and trains as a midwife.

In 1950s Dublin it is not easy for a woman to make a living and Peggy sees a chance to start a business and soon a lucrative maternity home is up and running.

But when Peggy realizes that the lack of birth control is an issue for women, she uses their plight as a way to make more money. Very soon Peggy is on the wrong side of the law.

What makes a woman decide to walk down a dark path? Can Peggy ever get back on the straight and narrow? Or will she have to pay for her crimes?

Set against the backdrop of Ireland in the 1950’s The Abandoned tells the story of one woman’s fight for survival and her journey into the underbelly of a dangerous criminal world.

The Abandoned is a debut novel not to be missed, it will appeal to fans of authors like Cara Hunter, Joy Ellis and Helen Fields

The Wife cover

The Wife by Alafair Burke

ebook, 352 pages

Expected publication: January 23rd, 2018 by Harper

Source: Edelweiss

When Angela met Jason Powell while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, she assumed their romance would be a short-lived fling, like so many relationships between locals and summer visitors. To her surprise, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. For Angela, the marriage turned out to be a chance to reboot her life. She and her son were finally able to move out of her mother’s home to Manhattan, where no one knew about her tragic past.

Six years later, thanks to a bestselling book and a growing media career, Jason has become a cultural lightning rod, placing Angela near the spotlight she worked so carefully to avoid. When a college intern makes an accusation against Jason, and another woman, Kerry Lynch, comes forward with an even more troubling allegation, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, and Angela believes him. But when Kerry disappears, Angela is forced to take a closer look at the man she married. And when she is asked to defend Jason in court, she realizes that her loyalty to her husband could unearth old secrets.

This much-anticipated follow-up to Burke’s Edgar-nominated The Ex asks how far a wife will go to protect the man she loves: Will she stand by his side, even if he drags her down with him?

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Goodbye, Sweet Girl by Kelly Sundberg

ebook, 272 pages

Expected publication: June 5th, 2018 by Harper

Source: Edelweiss

In this brave and beautiful memoir, written with the raw honesty and devastating openness of The Glass Castle and The Liar’s Club, a woman chronicles how her marriage devolved from a love story into a shocking tale of abuse—examining the tenderness and violence entwined in the relationship, why she endured years of physical and emotional pain, and how she eventually broke free.

“You made me hit you in the face,” he said mournfully. “Now everyone is going to know.” “I know,” I said. “I’m sorry.”

Kelly Sundberg’s husband, Caleb, was a funny, warm, supportive man and a wonderful father to their little boy Reed. He was also vengeful and violent. But Sundberg did not know that when she fell in love, and for years told herself he would get better. It took a decade for her to ultimately accept that the partnership she desired could not work with such a broken man. In her remarkable book, she offers an intimate record of the joys and terrors that accompanied her long, difficult awakening, and presents a haunting, heartbreaking glimpse into why women remain too long in dangerous relationships.

To understand herself and her violent marriage, Sundberg looks to her childhood in Salmon, a small, isolated mountain community known as the most redneck town in Idaho. Like her marriage, Salmon is a place of deep contradictions, where Mormon ranchers and hippie back-to-landers live side-by-side; a place of magical beauty riven by secret brutality; a place that takes pride in its individualism and rugged self-sufficiency, yet is beholden to church and communal standards at all costs.

Mesmerizing and poetic, Goodbye, Sweet Girl is a harrowing, cautionary, and ultimately redemptive tale that brilliantly illuminates one woman’s transformation as she gradually rejects the painful reality of her violent life at the hands of the man who is supposed to cherish her, begins to accept responsibility for herself, and learns to believe that she deserves better.

The Perfect Mother cover

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

ebook, 336 pages

Expected publication: May 1st, 2018 by Harper

Source: Edelweiss

SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE

With the masterful pacing of Before the Fall, the charged domestic drama of Big Little Lies, and the audacious structure of The Girl on the Train comes a thrilling novel centered around a group of women whose lives become indelibly connected when one of their newborns goes missing.

They call themselves the May Mothers—a collection of new moms who gave birth in the same month. Twice a week, with strollers in tow, they get together in Prospect Park, seeking refuge from the isolation of new motherhood; sharing the fears, joys, and anxieties of their new child-centered lives.

When the group’s members agree to meet for drinks at a hip local bar, they have in mind a casual evening of fun, a brief break from their daily routine. But on this sultry Fourth of July night during the hottest summer in Brooklyn’s history, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is abducted from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but the May Mothers insisted that everything would be fine. Now Midas is missing, the police are asking disturbing questions, and Winnie’s very private life has become fodder for a ravenous media.

Though none of the other members in the group are close to the reserved Winnie, three of them will go to increasingly risky lengths to help her find her son. And as the police bungle the investigation and the media begin to scrutinize the mothers in the days that follow, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.

Unfolding over the course of thirteen fraught days and culminating in an exquisite and unexpected twist, The Perfect Mother is the perfect book for our times—a complex, nuanced, and addictively readable story that exposes the truth of modern mothers’ lives as it explores the power of an ideal that is based on a lie.

What do you think about the books I added this week? Have you read them? Last, but certainly not least… what books did you add to your shelves this week?

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The Mothers’ Group by Fiona Higgins #Review @AllenAndUnwin

The Mothers' Group cover

Have you ever had a book that you put off reading for months, and then—once you finally started reading it—wanted to kick yourself for neglecting such a remarkable book? That’s how I’ve been feeling since I opened this book on my tablet the other day. I only meant to peek and see how it started, but I was drawn into the story so quickly, I had to keep reading.

The Mothers’ Group tells the story of six Australian women who meet at a support group for new mothers:

  • Ginie, the prominent lawyer married to a writer/photographer  who—as the primary provider—must leave her daughter’s care to a nanny.
  • Made (pronounced ma-day), the Balinese emigrant adjusting to being a wife and new mother in a place much different from her homeland.
  • Suzie, the single mother struggling to care for her baby on her own.
  • Miranda, the woman who seems to have the perfect life, and the only mother in the group who also has both a baby and a toddler (her stepchild) to care for.
  • Pippa, the perpetually exhausted, strangely withdrawn woman who shares little of her life.
  • Cara, the friendly woman whose kindness has a knack for putting everyone at ease.

Unlikely to have met under ordinary circumstances, in time the women form a strong bond of friendship as they navigate the joys and frustrations of new motherhood, supporting one another in ways their husbands and other friends can’t. But a day comes that puts their friendship to the test and they learn just how strong—or fragile—it truly is.

I really, really  enjoyed this book. The story is told through the perspective of each woman, with the story broken up into six parts. In them, we see not only what is happening in the present, but also the past of each of them—learning about the events in their lives that led them to becoming pregnant and participating in the mothers’ group. Having the story told in this way gives the reader insight into each of the characters. We discover things that they haven’t shared with the other women, which often explains why they say—or do—certain things when they gather together. There are a few shocking discoveries along the way that definitely shook up my perceptions of these women and their families. That made the book infinitely more interesting to me, because it enriched them all in ways that added to the story.

If I had to choose a favorite character, it would be Made. There was an air of innocence and vulnerability about her that especially drew me to her character. She had to deal with being a new mom just like the others, but she had other difficulties, as well. She was living far away from her family, in a strange (to her) new country. She had to improve her English, which meant she often had difficulty expressing her thoughts and feelings because she didn’t have the (English) words for it. Despite that air of innocence, Made had a great deal of wisdom, and a way of looking at things that proved helpful to her friends in many ways.

Higgins has created a vivid portrait of what new motherhood looks like, and didn’t shy away from making it as realistic as possible. Adjusting your life to include a baby isn’t easy, and it’s refreshing to read a book that confronts that reality, rather than showing the idealized fantasy many women expect while pregnant.

This book is simply beautiful, and I definitely recommend giving it a try!

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Allen & Unwin via Netgalley.

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Author: Fiona Higgins

Title: The Mothers’ Group

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Published: May 1st, 2017 by Allen & Unwin

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the Book

The Mothers’ Group tells the story of six very different women who agree to regularly meet soon after the birth of their babies. Set during the first crucial year of their babies’ lives, the story tracks the women’s individual journeys—and the group’s collective one—as they navigate birth and motherhood as well as their shifting romantic relationships Each woman strives in her own way to become the mother she wants to be, and finds herself becoming increasingly reliant on the friendship and support of the members of the group. Until one day an unthinkably shocking event changes everything. This is an unflinching and compelling portrait of the modern family in all its complexity and intensity: love, sex, and marriage, and all the joys and tensions of raising children in an increasingly complicated world. Moving, provocative, tender, and utterly gripping, The Mothers’ Group will draw you in and never let you go.

About the Author

Fiona Higgins
Fiona Higgins

Fiona is the author of three novels – Fearless (2016) Wife on the Run, (2014), The Mothers’ Group (2012) – and a memoir, Love in the Age of Drought (2009).

She is published by Allen & Unwin and Pan Macmillan in Australia, with translations of her work sold into the Netherlands, France, Germany and Spain.

She has qualifications in the humanities and social sciences and, a long time ago while studying, once worked as an Indonesian translator, a masseuse and a spruiker of fruitcakes (not all at once).

A lover of travel, Fiona recently spent three years in Indonesia with her husband and three children.

She now lives in Sydney, but has itchy feet.

My Favorite Reads of 2017

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2017 will go down as a memorable year for me; I’ve read so many fantastic books this year! That’s why I’ve put off writing this post until now. With all the great books I’ve had the privilege of reading these last twelve months, how could I ever select a few as favorites?

It wasn’t easy, but I managed to put together a list of books deserving to be spotlighted as the best of my 2017 reads. In no particular order, here is my list of this year’s favorite books.

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Killers of the Flower Moon is a fascinating—and heartbreaking—book about the murders of numerous wealthy Osage tribal members in Oklahoma. Recommended for lovers of true crime and (20th century) Native American history.

The Wife Between Us cover

The Wife Between Us is an outstanding read full of surprises. Recommended for lovers of psychological thrillers.

The Power cover

The Power is an electrifying story of a world where women use their newly developed power to take over the world. Recommended for lovers of dystopia.

The Breakdown cover

The Breakdown is a phenomenal read, fast-paced and clever to the core. Recommended for lovers of psychological thrillers.

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Good Me, Bad Me is a chilling read about a girl whose mother is a serial killer. Recommended for lovers of psychological thrillers.

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No Apparent Distress is an engrossing memoir of the author’s days as a medical student working in a free clinic catering to the medical needs of the poor. Recommended for readers interested in the subjects of U.S. health care and poverty.

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He Said She Said is an amazing read guaranteed to take your breath away. Recommended for lovers of psychological thrillers.

House of Spines front

House of Spines is a creepy, Gothic-esque novel that seriously delivers the chills and thrills. Recommended for lovers of psychological thrillers.

The Surrogate cover

The Surrogate yanks you into the story and never lets go until you reach its shocking conclusion. Recommended for lovers of psychological thrillers.

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Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession transports you to 15th century Tudor England and tells the story of the ill-fated Anne Boleyn’s life and death. Recommended for lovers of historical fiction.

The Scribe of Sienna

The Scribe of Sienna is a beautifully written tale of a modern-day woman who finds herself transported back in time to medieval 14th century Siena… where the dreaded Plague is soon to strike.  Recommended for lovers of historical fiction and time travel—a perfect read for fans of Outlander!

Honorable Mentions

Phantom Limb cover

Phantom Limb is a story of a woman who fights her way back to sanity after the loss of her beloved twin sister. Full of clever twists and shocking surprises, this is a must read for lovers of psychological thrillers.

The Woman in the Window cover

The Woman in the Window is a suspenseful read that will have you on the edge of your seat. Recommended for lovers of psychological thrillers.

Little Gray Dress cover

Little Gray Dress is a delightful book that will have you laughing out loud and cringing in sympathy as you read about Emi’s mishaps. Recommended for lovers of chick lit.

The Road to Bittersweet cover

The Road to Bittersweet is the poignant story of the hardships faced by the Stamper family after a devastating flood destroys their home and leaves them on the brink of starvation. Recommended for lovers of historical Southern fiction.

Here’s hoping that 2018 will yield as many fabulous books as 2017 did!