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The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston

Monday, August 6, 2018
Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees' retirement accounts, Owen's father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout.

Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he can barely remember despise him for his father's crimes. It's bad enough dealing with muttered insults and glares, but when Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac--and the cryptic note his father sent him at his boarding school days before disappearing.

Owen's only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets--and in some ways seems to know Owen better than he knows himself. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he's claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past--and write a better future.

Goodreads Summary


I can't imagine what it would be like to find out that my parents' lives were a lie. It's made worse for the main character, Owen, who lives in a small town with many whispers.  His mom and he have to deal with his father's web of lies and a completely new lifestyle. The author captures the palpable tension and undercurrent of wariness perfectly. Owen is a well-written character who will instantly capture the readers' sympathies. I wish I knew an Owen in real life. He reminded me of the prototypical gentleman. His love for his mother and even for his father (despite his betrayal) was endearing. I liked his commitment to candor and dedication to family/friends. The other characters in the novel were intriguing, but I didn't find any as memorable as Owen. There haven't been many books in young adult fiction that focused on a young man's relationship with his mother and portrayed it so healthfully. 

I like a good mystery and the author was very good at creating one. The novel's title truly fit the plot of the book. Although it may sound trite and like the character Dr. House from a sitcom, everybody lies. I liked the cadence of the writing style and the quick pace of the plot. The author is very descriptive with the setting and characters to the point where I could picture many scenes from the book. I think the ending will stick with me for a while.

4 Stars


This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Left: A Love Story by Mary Hogan

Friday, August 3, 2018

In this beautifully crafted novel from the author of the critically-acclaimed Two Sisters, comes the story of a woman who retreats into a fantasy world on New York City’s Upper West Side as she slowly loses her once whip-smart husband to dementia—perfect for fans of Still Alice.

When life falls apart, a little fantasy goes a long way… 

It started as a dream vacation in Spain, with Fay and Paul Agarra enjoying all the delights of a European holiday. A respected New York City judge, Paul has always been the man Fay can rely on, no matter what. When he inexplicably disappears from a Barcelona street corner, Fay knows something is terribly wrong. Once reunited, Paul shrugs off the episode as a simple misunderstanding—but Fay suspects her almost perfect life has taken a dark and sudden turn.

Soon there are more signs that Paul is beginning to change. Bouts of forgetfulness lead to mistakes in the courtroom. Simple tasks cause unexplainable outbursts of anger. Fay’s worst suspicions are realized when she learns her husband—her rock, her love, her everything—is succumbing to the ravages of dementia. 

As her husband transforms before her very eyes, Fay copes with her fears by retreating into a fantasy life filled with promise instead of pain. In Fay’s invented world, she imagines herself living a glamorous life free from heartache, with a handsome neighbor she barely knows rescuing her from a future she can’t accept. 

Poignant and beautifully crafted, Left is an unforgettable tale about life’s aching uncertainties—and a woman who discovers that somewhere between hope and reality, an unexpected future will find its way forward.

Goodreads Summary

As someone who often works with men and women afflicted with neurological disorders I found this book particularly interesting. The author executed the progress and horrible demands of dementia well. I could tell that she had done her research or, possibly, experienced this disorder with someone within her own life. The book was well-written and filled with emotion. It isn't easy to lose a loved one and stand by helplessly while he/she leaves behind a shell of his/her former self. With diseases like dementia, is it particularly hard as often there isn't too much initial physical decay. 

Fay's life changes drastically over the course of this book. It causes her to increase her commitment, think over her life with her husband, and realize the importance of living in the "now." Fay's family and friends try to assist her, but ultimately cause interference more than anything. It is hard to truly grasp how difficult it is to be a caregiver until one is put in that position. This is not usually a quick decline. With an increasing elderly population there are more and more cases of dementia/Alzheimer's/etc... This novel would be a good book to read if one is currently going through (or expects to potentially experience) this crisis. 

4 Stars





This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

The Forest Queen (Mechanica 0.5) by Betsy Cornwell

When sixteen-year-old Sylvie’s brother takes over management of their family’s vast estates, Sylvie feels powerless to stop his abuse of the local commoners. Her dearest friend asks her to run away to the woods with him, and soon a host of other villagers join them. Together, they form their own community and fight to right the wrongs perpetrated by the king and his noblemen.



Goodreads Summary

This was a nice retelling of Robin Hood featuring Sylvie as "Robin." I liked the twist on the popular tale and the insertion of a strong female character. Sylvie rebels against her brother's cruel decisions and forceful nature. The book consisted of roughly four main characters who all had unique personalities and quirky natures. I personally only preferred Sylvie and Bird. I wished I could have connected better with John and Little Jane. Sometimes, I even confused the characters' names/roles in the story since there seemed to be such an influx of them towards the middle of the story. 

I liked the plot; I did think it could have been infused with a little more action and drama. Sylvie was a bit of a waffler instead of being purposeful. I liked how Sylvie's character was dynamic and developed over the course of the novel. She became more compassionate and self-aware instead of the "wealthy daughter" she previously was. Her brother was made into a true villain; I was a little surprised by how far the author went to make the reader hate his character. There were some tougher subjects touched upon in this book and I kind of wanted more material and more of an explanation to some of them. Overall, I enjoyed this book and consider it a light rainy day read.

 3 1/2 Stars





This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2018 LIVE TO READ