Book Review: The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell

Book Review: The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell

Thank you to Atria books for sending me a free copy of The Truth of Melody Brown in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

When she was nine years old, Melody Browne’s house burned down, taking every toy, every photograph, every item of clothing and old Christmas card with it. But not only did the fire destroy all her possessions, it took with it all her memories – Melody Browne can remember nothing before her ninth birthday. Now in her early thirties, Melody lives in a council flat in the middle of London with her seventeen-year-old son. She hasn’t seen her parents since she left home at fifteen, but Melody doesn’t mind, she’s better off on her own. She’s made a good life for herself and her son and she likes it that way. Until one night something extraordinary happens. Whilst attending a hypnotist show with her first date in years she faints – and when she comes round she starts to remember. At first her memories mean nothing to her but then slowly, day by day, she begins to piece together the real story of her childhood. Her journey takes her to the seaside town of Broadstairs, to oddly familiar houses in London backstreets and to meetings with strangers who love her like their own. But with every mystery she solves another one materialises, with every question she answers another appears. And Melody begins to wonder if she’ll ever know the truth about her past…

My Review:

This book was an absolute delight! Although Jewell is now known for her clever psychological thrillers, The Truth About Melody Browne isn’t one. This book is actually 12 years old and published in America for the first time in January, and many of Jewell’s older titles are more in the genre of women’s fiction. But don’t let that dissuade you: even though The Truth About Melody Browne isn’t a thriller, I couldn’t put this one down!

Melody felt so real to me and was such a loveable character! I can’t remember rooting for a fictional character as much as I did with Melody Browne! Her story was so compelling but also equal parts sad and inspiring. This novel is a story about family, both the family you are born with and the family you choose. It’s about love, friendship and finding yourself amidst the craziness of life. It’s about finding out where you belong and recognizing a good thing when you see it.

A full cast of eclectic characters added the magical touch to this book that I just could not put it down. I would recommend this to people that don’t have the strongest family ties, or those that didn’t have conventional childhoods. But I also recommend it to any reader with a hear beating in their chest. An absolutely wonderful story, I give this book five stars!

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

IMG_1795The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter is a raw, intense and honest thriller that will stay with you for a long time. I feel like this book was part crime thriller, part examination of family ties.  Charlotte and Samantha Quinn suffer through a horrific family tragedy when their home is attacked by two men out to seek vengeance from their criminal defense lawyer father. Their mother ends up dead and the family is never the same again.  Fast forward 28 years, and a terrible crime in town has Charlotte drawing up unwanted memories from her own fateful night.  As a witness to this new crime, Charlotte is reminded of things she would rather not think about and as the story progresses, the Quinn family learns more about themselves and each other as they begin to revisit what happened to them all those years ago.

I had to spend a few days thinking over this novel before writing a review because it was so much to wrap my head around. I enjoyed the fast paced sections of the book that were more thriller-esque, but I equally enjoyed all of the characters and seeing how they were dealing with their shattered family.  I thought all of the characters were engaging but most of all: realistic.  There are some very raw and gritty scenes (that may be triggers for anyone with history of abuse) that create a very emotional  background.  This was one of those books that I was thinking about while I was at work, grocery shopping, doing life things etc.  I couldn’t wait to get back into it.  I rate it 4 out of 5 stars and will definitely be reading more Karin Slaughter in the future!

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

IMG_0817Goodbye Days is a YA novel that could be loved by young, medium, and old adults alike! It deals with the tough concepts of grief and loss. Carver sends a text message asking his three best friends to come pick him up from work. He never hears back from them: the car they were in crashes on the highway and all three boys die on impact. They find the driver’s phone with a half-compossed response message to Carver. So not only has Carver lost his best friends, but he has terrible guilt over the possibility that his text message caused their deaths. To make matters worse, the DA starts an investigation on the crash to find possible involuntary manslaughter charges they can bring against Carver. Loss, guilt, and fear cause Carver to start having panic attacks, which leads him into therapy.

To help himself and the loved ones of his friends, Carver embarks on a series of ‘goodbye days’ in which one by one, he and the families spend a day doing things that the friends liked doing. Each family spends their goodbye day differently. Each family also has varying degrees of accepting who their child was. Some parents wanted to hear what Carver had to add to the memory of their child, while others were not as open.

The story itself is very good, the plot moves along quickly and there were definitely times where I had to put the book in my lap to contemplate what Carver was going through. Of course, the dialouge is very enjoyable because its so real, like other YA books, but the writing overall is just amazing. Jeff Zentner crafted a YA novel with an intense subject matter, but beautifully balanced the light and the dark. Throughout the whole book, there are amazing life insights that had me nodding my head at their accuracy. I really love this writer any highly recommend this book to anyone with feelings! Loved it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 stars!

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

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The Marsh King’s Daughter follows Helena, who was born into captivity but didn’t know it at the time. Helena’s father kidnapped a 14 year old girl and held her against her will in his cabin located in the remote parts of Upper Peninsula Michigan. During this time, Helena is born, and as she grows up her father teaches her all the ways of his native people and the land. She learns to fish, track, hunt and sustain life without electricity or running water. When their cabin is finally discovered, Helena and her mother are rescued and The Marsh King goes to prison.

Years later, now that Helena is married and has children of her own,  her father has escaped from prison. She knows she is the only person who can find him in the marshland.  The book alternates between Helena’s childhood and her as an adult searching for her missing father.

I rate The Marsh King’s Daughter ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 stars, even though it was not quite what I expected. Let me explain: I thought this would be a suspenseful race to escape her father, but it was more an account of Helena’s life in the marsh. I didn’t feel like there was much suspense, even at the ending, but it didn’t take away from the quality of the writing. The stories of Helena growing up were so beautiful and I thought the description of their life was very accurate to what it would be if this were a true story: you might expect Helena to hate her father, but she didn’t. You might expect her mother to fight or try to escape, but she knew what horrible things would happen to her if she tried.  To hear how the adult Helena struggled with love and contempt of her father was thought provoking, and my favorite parts were reading about life in the wilderness. So no, this was not the suspenseful thriller I thought it would be, but I still loved it for the story of love and struggle.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

IMG_0238The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is such a unique, beautiful book that I had to think about it all day before writing this review. I definitely give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 stars, I know this book is going to stay with me for a while!

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First, I must comment on the gorgeous book cover: the jack has twelve “bullet hole” cutouts, representing the main character’s twelve lives. The hardcover itself, under the dust jacket, is a star map which is another very relevant theme from the book. I loved how much thought and creativity went into creating the outer book art that perfectly matched the story.

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Now to get to the story itself: Hawley and his young daughter Loo move around constantly, under mysterious circumstances. They finally settle down in Loo’s deceased mother’s home town. The chapters alternate between the present and Hawley’s not so honest past, with each of Hawley’s chapters telling the story of how he earned a new bullet hole in his body, miraculously avoiding death with each one. As more is revealed about Hawley’s secrets, Loo starts to question their life more and more, until Hawley’s past finally catches up with him, and Loo, in the present.

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I just don’t really have anything bad to say about this book.  I was entertained from start to finish and I greatly enjoyed reading about the father daughter relationship.  Hawley went from being a law breaking man to a father who would do anything to protect his daughter.  So many parents can agree on how quickly priorities change once a child  has been brought into the world,  no matter the situation. Hawley and Loo’s love and loyalty for each other was endearing and beautiful.  The stories of Hawley’s bullet wounds also added a little bit of excitement to the book!  Over all a highly recommended novel about love, family, and  how our choices in life shape us.