Prepublication Reviews and Expertly Selected Title Lists

Archive for the tag “Psychological fiction”

The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor

The Daylight MarriageMissing spouses are a common theme in many novels and have resulted in some of our biggest literary sensations, such as Gone Girl and Where’d you go, Bernadette. Heidi Pitlor’s spin on the subject is a highly comparable psychological thriller that is no less riveting.

To the outside world, Hannah and Lovell Hall seem to have the perfect marriage. But after 20 years their love for each other is slowly fading and it all comes to a screeching halt one night after a terrible fight. The next morning Hannah turns up missing and in the blink of an eye Lovell’s world is turned upside down.

During Hannah’s absence we are taken inside the Hall’s marriage. Told from both points of view, we learn how each spouse felt about their relationship and their attempts to make sense of how and when things started to fall apart. Polar opposites who were initially attracted to each other sadly realize that when the rose-colored glasses come off, a rapid unraveling of a promising future soon follows.

Filled with moments of quiet desperate and contemplation, combined with the everyday experiences we all face, this novel will slowly draw you in and keep you turning its pages until the very end.

– Susan

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Lacy Eye by Jessica Treadway

Lacy EyeHanna and Joe are an average married couple with two daughters. They’ve always known that their youngest daughter, Dawn, was different, but were never overly concerned about her other than by the bullying she received from her peers due to a lazy eye and seeming to be mentally “off”.

When Dawn brings home her new boyfriend, Rud, both Hanna and Joe can’t help but wonder about his intentions with their daughter.  When they are burglarized, while Dawn’s boyfriend is the only one home, Joe accuses Rud of stealing from them and Dawn and Rud take off.

Later that night, Joe and Hanna are brutally attacked and Joe is killed while Hanna is left for dead. Miraculously, Hanna survives, but she doesn’t remember anything that happened that night. Rud is convicted of the attack and sent to prison while Dawn is never charged with any crime and has an alibi for the night of the attack.

Three years later, Dawn lives across the country and only speaks to her mother by phone. Rud wins an appeal to have a new trial without some of the damaging testimony that helped put him away. When Hanna hears the news, she is determined to try anything to bring back her memory from that night so she can testify against him.

When Dawn suddenly decides she needs to come home to be with her mom Hanna is thrilled and hopes to rebuild their relationship. Things don’t go the way that Hanna imagined and she may have to face some very hard truths about her family.

This book did not end as I expected, but it was very well written and fast paced and I couldn’t put it down. I’ll be watching for more novels by this author.

– Tina

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The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13BThis book centers on a boy named Adam Spencer Ross. Within the first three pages we learn he is almost 15-years-old, has OCD and has fallen madly in love with a girl he’s just seen for the first time. We also learn that he would like to be taller and older and normal which is hard enough for anyone at that age. Room 13B is where a group of fellow teens meet as part of the Young Adult OCD Support Group. The girl that just entered Adam’s world is named Robyn and she is all he can think about – for the most part. His parents are divorced. Adam’s dad is remarried and stays at work as much as possible so he doesn’t have to deal with things. His young step brother is annoying but completely devoted and adoring of Adam. Adam’s mother has some troubling challenges of her own that only compound his difficulties in life. She’s begun to receive some threatening letters but it’s not clear who the sender is.

This book does a superb job of giving the reader some insight into the challenges and struggles of OCD while mixing in romance, suspense and real life dilemmas we all have faced.

– Mark

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Crazy Love You by Lisa Unger

Crazy Love YouIan and Priss have been friends since they were children growing up in The Hollows in upstate New York. Priss was Ian’s best friend when he really needed one. Now, Ian is an adult and has moved to New York City and has become a successful graphic novelist. Due to a traumatic childhood, he is also dealing with some addiction and anger issues.

Priss still comes around but usually when she does she brings trouble. Ian is growing tired of partying all the time with Priss and wants to get his life together. When Ian meets Megan, he falls for her instantly. He convinces her to start dating him and before long they are planning their wedding. Things begin going quickly downhill for Ian after he meets Megan.

Priss doesn’t like change and is worried that she’ll lose Ian.  Fearful of losing Megan, Ian tries to cut Priss out of his life. This leads to many terrible things happening in Ian’s life. Ian is at the point where he thinks he may be losing his mind. Is Priss responsible for all the bad things or is it all in Ian’s head?

I devoured this psychological thriller just as fast as Unger’s last one, In the Blood. She has quickly become one of my favorite authors.

– Tina

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All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright PlacesTheodore Finch is a teenager who is fascinated by death. On a daily basis he contemplates ways to die and what it might be like. However, every day something keeps him from actually following through. Something keeps him going just one more day.

Violet Markey is a teenager with a bright future and dreams of leaving her small town for something bigger and better. However, Violet also has demons that she fights in the wake of her sister’s untimely death in a car accident.

When Finch and Violet meet one day in an unlikely spot, their worlds change. Violet was fighting her demons one day and found herself on the ledge of the school’s bell tower – six stories above the ground – contemplating ending the pain. While there she meets Finch who is doing his normal routine of also contemplating the end. At this point it becomes unclear who saves whom but needless to say a friendship blossoms at a most unlikely time. When they decide to team up to work on a class project together they start to realize how deep their feelings run. Soon Finch feels that he can only be himself with Violet and Violet feels that she can finally release some of her demons when she is with Finch.

Soon, though, life happens and as Violet’s world begins to grow, Finch’s world starts to shrink.

This book is heart-wrenching. It’s a story of how love can grow between the most unlikely souls and how life has a way of bringing them together when both are literally standing on the edge.

– Glenda

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Crooked River by Valerie Geary

Crooked RiverWhen Sam and Ollie’s mother dies, they are sent to live in a teepee in a meadow with their father, Bear.

Shortly after arriving they discover a murdered woman floating in the river. They decide not to tell the authorities for fear that the police will suspect their father.  Bear begins to display some suspicious behavior and has lied about his whereabouts the night the woman was killed. Even though Bear is arrested for the murder, Sam knows he is innocent.

Meanwhile, her sister, Ollie, is still traumatized from their mother’s death and has not spoken for 5 weeks. Nobody knows that she sees ghosts and that they are haunting her. These spirits are telling her that she and Sam are in danger because the real killer is still out there and getting closer and closer.

This is Valerie Geary’s first novel and I am looking forward to her future books.

– Tina

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Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Leaving TimeI’m a big fan of Jodi Picoult so when the advanced reader’s edition of her new title showed up I was quick to grab it.  I don’t know how she does it but her books always seem to have a surprise twist that leaves me thinking about the characters and what happened long after I’m done reading.  This title is no exception but it’s also unlike any of her other work.

The story centers on 13-year-old Jenna Metcalf, who is a bit obsessed with finding her mother Alice.  Alice disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident when Jenna was only 3-years-old.  Jenna refuses to believe that her mother would abandon her.  She searches relentlessly for any trace of her online and studies her mother’s old journals.

Jenna decides to go on a quest to find her mother, with the aid of a psychic named Serenity Jones, and a private detective named Virgil Stanhope.  They are quite the interesting trio and it keeps you on the edge of your seat as they try to piece together the past and find out what happened the day that Jenna’s mother disappeared.

For me, I think the most intriguing part of this book was reading about Jenna’s mother, Alice, who is a scientist that studied elephant behavior, mainly grief.  You learn so many facts about the fascinating animals.

Jodi Picoult does not disappoint with this title.  It’s a thought-provoking and moving story that I couldn’t put down.

– Janell

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The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

The Silent SisterRiley MacPherson’s beloved father has just died and she is devastated. Her mother died when she was younger, her older sister committed suicide when Riley was two, and all she has left is her emotionally damaged brother who barely wants anything to do with her. Riley is lonely and longs to have a family again.

As she begins going through her father’s estate, she discovers a curious postcard that leads her to a PO Box that is supposedly her father’s, although it’s not his name on the box. As she digs deeper into her family’s past she starts to wonder about her sister’s suicide.

The more people she speaks to about her father’s life, the more she discovers how little she really knows. When she finds evidence that her sister may actually be alive she is more determined than ever to piece what’s left of her family back together.

In the end, she must decide if the consequences of her actions are worth destroying the lives of the people she loves the most.

This is the second novel by Diane Chamberlain that I have read and she has become one of my favorite authors.

– Tina

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Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer

download (1)Four years ago, Mara, a successful lawyer and devoted wife and mother, was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. She made a promise to herself that when she started displaying symptoms that meant the disease was progressing she would take her own life to spare her family the pain of watching her degenerate and having to take care of her.

Four years later, Mara has been forced to retire from her job and she can no longer drive due to her disease. She has decided on the date when she will take her life and it’s now five days away.

Scott, an online friend she met on a forum, has been fostering a young boy for the past year while his drug addicted mother is in jail. He has bonded and become extremely close to the boy, but now he only has five days left to say goodbye before the boy is returned to his mother.  He has never meet Mara, but they often chat at night about their lives. He does not know that Mara has a fatal disease.

In the 5 days leading up to her planned death Mara goes through a million different emotions and changes her mind over and over again about her plan. Will she decide to wait and see how much longer she can last before becoming totally dependent on others and thus have more time with her family? Or, will she go through with her plan?

I will admit that this book made me cry more than once. I can’t imagine going through this type of pain especially when you have young children. Make sure you have lots of tissues nearby when you read this one.

How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

9780062335975_p0_v3_s260x420In the spirit of Caitlin Moran’s brash, unabashed, painfully honest heroine Johanna Morrigan, I’m going to come right out and say that I loved this book. It’s funny, profane, and a stunningly accurate portrait of what it was like to be a teen in 1990. Anyone who ever grew up will instantly recognize the embarrassment, shame, humor, and hope that Johanna endures in a household of 7 people with no privacy, and her struggles to become her true self.

It all begins when Johanna decides that the thing to be is a writer. She tirelessly pursues her goal, embarrassing herself mortally when she appears on live television to recite one of her poems. She winds up doing a very prolonged Scooby Doo impression for lack of anything better to say and is the laughingstock of the town. Why not, she thinks, lose that old persona and assume the invincible mantle of Dolly Wilde, Sex Goddess? One small problem: she’s never even kissed a boy. She tries out as a reviewer for a music magazine in London as Dolly, wows the boys there, and begins an odyssey of saying “yes” to everything at the tender age of sixteen. She soon learns that moderation may be boring, but sometimes it’s the right thing.

Told in a very energetic, upbeat first-person style, the story is infectious and candid and hard to put down. Will Johanna/Dolly find her true place? Is she on the right path? One thing is for sure: she will figure out that making mistakes is often the best way to learn a lesson well.

Because of VERY frank sexual situations, extensive alcohol use and adult language, I would consider this a title for adults, although teens will certainly relate to the story.

– Stacey

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