Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Review: Missing PIeces - Heather Gudenkauf

Title: Missing Pieces
Author: Heather  Gudenkauf (Author Website) (Facebook)
Genre: Literature/Fiction
Publisher:  MIRA (February 2, 2016)
Length:  288 pages


Sarah Quinlan's husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.

Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia's accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack's past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  (from Author’s website)

Heather was born in Wagner, South Dakota, the youngest of six children. At one month of age, her family returned to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota where her father was employed as a guidance counselor and her mother as a school nurse. At the age of three, her family moved to Iowa, where she grew up. Having been born with a profound unilateral hearing impairment (there were many evenings when Heather and her father made a trip to the bus barn to look around the school bus for her hearing aids that she often conveniently would forget on the seat beside her), Heather tended to use books as a retreat, would climb into the toy box that her father’s students from Rosebud made for the family with a pillow, blanket, and flashlight, close the lid, and escape the world around her. Heather became a voracious reader and the seed of becoming a writer was planted.

Heather Gudenkauf graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages and continues to work in education as a Title I Reading Coordinator.

Heather lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Maxine.

MY REVIEW:   Sarah Quilan was an investigative reporter before her marriage and having her daughters.  She and her husband, Jack head to Penny Gate, Iowa after Jack's Aunt Julia fall down the steps.   Jack and his sister Amy were raised by their Aunt Julie and Uncle Hal after the death of their mother.  Jack hasn't been entirely honest with his wife about the circumstances of his parents' death, but that will all start unraveling once they are in Penny Gate.
The relationship between Sarah and Jack is strained due Jack's dishonestly.   Sarah puts her investigative skills to work to look into the death of Jack's mother as well as the death of Jack's Aunt Julie.  The characters are well developed and you get a good feel for them.  I was surprised though at how quickly Sarah began to question or distrust her husband. After that many years of marriage I would hope my trust of my spouse could not waiver so quickly.

I loved the quaintness of the small town described in the Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf.  Because, of course someone would help you out and have you back because they used to babysit your husband, Jack.  

Dean and Celia, Jack's cousin and his wife are an interesting couple.   Throughout the book, you wonder about Dean and the relationship between him and Celia.  This is put to rest quickly in the conclusion of Missing Pieces.    

MY RATING: 4/5 - I was quickly sucked into Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf, which is fraught with tension and suspense.  Heather  Gudenkauf is one of my favorite authors, so I knew I wouldn't be disappointed.   I love her descriptions of small town life.   Growing up in South Dakota myself, I can tell you she is right on with life in a small town. 

Gudenkauf never disappoints. Missing Pieces is a murder mystery/thriller, which had me guessing throughout.  When the final reveal came, that person wasn't even on my suspect list.  I read Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf within 2 days.  The missing pieces are revealed at a nice pace that keeps you guessing and engaged in the story.  Well done once again, Heather Gudenkauf. 

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf is available in book stores on February 2nd.

Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf was also reviewed by Second Run Reviews, Jenn's Bookshelves, and Debbish dotcom 

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf was received from reviewer program and MIRA in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Review: One More Day by Kelly Simmons (Blog Tour)

Title: One More Day
Author: Kelly  Simmons (Author Website) (Facebook)
Genre: Literature/Fiction
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Landmark (February 2, 2016)
Length:  320 pages

Don't look away

No one wants to be the mother whose child disappears. It's unthinkable, the stuff of nightmares. But when she turns her back to pay a parking meter, Carrie Morgan becomes that mother. Ben is gone, and more than a year later, it's clear that he is never coming back.

Until he does...for just twenty-four hours, before once again vanishing from his crib without a trace. Rumors start to circulate through Carrie's small town. Whispers that she's seeing things. That her alibi doesn't quite add up.

Her husband and friends start to think she's crazy. The police start to think she's guilty. As the investigation heats up, Carrie must decide what to share, and why. Because the crime is about to be solved... and her secret revealed.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  (from Author’s website)
Kelly Simmons is a former journalist and creative advertising director who started writing fiction over fifteen years ago, while studying creative writing and screenwriting at Temple University and University of Pennsylvania. In addition to her critically acclaimed novels {STANDING STILL, THE BIRD HOUSE and ONE MORE DAY} she is developing a TV series and has been writing a memoir for what seems like her entire life.

MY REVIEW:   When reading the description of One more Day by Kelly Simmons,  I was drawn to the book.  I don't know why I am drawn to child abduction stories as they are my worst nightmare and could not imagine living through such an experience regarding my sons.  Haven't we all wished for just One More Day with a loved one? Carrie and John  Morgan were granted that wish, just one more day with their child who had been abducted 15 months earlier.  After the one day, their son Ben is missing again.  The reader then embarks on a suspenseful, fast paced journey to discover what happened to Ben?

I love books that you think are going one way and you find yourself heading in a different direction.    The story is more about the characters and psychology of grief and how people each handle it differently.   I found the character's emotions well portrayed and strong.  I understood Carrie's past, it's effect on the present, her pain and confusion.

One More Day by Kelly Simmons is psychological suspense about parenthood, family, relationships, loyalty, faith, and hidden secrets with a paranormal twist. While other reviewers disliked the twist, I enjoy a book that takes me on a different journey than I was expecting. 

MY RATING: 4/5 - One More Day by Kelly Simmons is a fast paced story about my worst nightmare,  a lost child.  This is a story you need to come to with an open mind.  I read One More Day in nearly one sitting.  Even though I questioned some elements of the story, I just had to find out what happens.  I will admit, that at one point in the story I got actual goosebumps.  That has never happened to me when reading a book.

I don't want to give too much of the storyline away, but there is a twist which left me wondering was this paranormal or a psychological reaction to grief, guilt and stress.   One More Day is definitely worth the experience and read.  Make sure you set some time aside to read One More Day as once you start, it is hard to put down.  Yes, my house and family were neglect until I could finish.  

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

One More Day by Kelly Simmons is available in book stores in paperback as of February 2nd, or you can enter the book giveaway below from the publisher for a chance to win a copy of One More Day by Kelly Simmons.


One More Day by Kelly Simmons was also reviewed by Ashley LaMar,  The Three R's Blog, and Brilliant Bookshelf.  

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – One More Day by Kelly Simmons was received from reviewer program and Sourcebooks in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Coming Soon to a Bookshelf Near You: February 2016

We are enjoying a snow day here in White Bear Lake.   What better time to share some books that have caught my eye.   These books will be available in February.  Maybe even get on the waitlist at the library for these upcoming titles.

As a book blogger, I am able to request, read and provide feedback on upcoming titles.   I love being able to do this, but some months my ambitions are larger than what time allows.  I still have a full time job which interferes regularly with my reading/blogging schedule.  So I decided to share with you some upcoming releases that have caught my eye.    I would hate for you to miss an upcoming title due to my lack of time!!

Here are some books which will be available in bookstores in February 2016, that caught my eye!

I have read Missing Pieces and One More Day and will be posting reviews soon.  I recommend them both.   One More Day actually gave me chills at one point, that has never happened to me when reading a book.



Happy Reading!

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