THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d like to link back to me that’d be great as I really try my best to include everyone who’s participating week by week at the bottom of my post so all my readers can enjoy all the awesome Throwback picks!

My Pick This week is….

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Published Oct 2016 By Riverhead

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance–and the subsequent cover-up–will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.

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This is one of the best blurbs I’ve read, it really highlights the book well without giving away the story. I finished this a couple weeks ago and I was blown away by the exquitsite writing of Brit Bennett. How is this a debut?? This was one of those books that I had seen around but resisted reading…why?…I have no idea. I need to do a post someday on all the books I’ve resisted reading that I end up loving!

The story begins with The Mothers narrating as all knowing voices from a time in the future. We meet Nadia who’s finishing up high school and living with her father in a small seaside community in California. I was immediately taken with the setting as well as Nadia’s character. Her heartbreak over her mother’s suicide pierced the pages and made me empathize with how painful that must’ve been. She had been close with her mom and she would never have answers as to why. Her sorrow leads her to make some impulsive decisions with consequences that will follow her for years to come.

The narrative flows beautifully through the years which I loved. I enjoyed seeing where Nadia’s ambition led her and whether she would achieve peace with herself, her father, the church and her community. We’re also privy to Luke and Aubrey’s life through the years and I really liked both of them, flaws and all. The story, however, belonged to Nadia and I was hoping against hope she was able to be happy in the end. Was she? Well, you’ll have to read to find out! If you’re in the mood for wonderful literary fiction with a roads not taken theme, I highly recommend giving this debut a try. As for me, I’ll be waiting impatiently for Brit Bennett’s next novel.

HAPPY READING! 

 

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Cathy at Between the Lines

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Nicki atThe Secret Library Site

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Sam at Clues and Reviews

Bill at Especially Books

Ann Marie at Lit Wit Wine Dine

 

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THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I want to read that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d just link back to me I’d so appreciate it.

My PICK this week is:

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Published 2011 by Arcade Publishing 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

Narrator of Favorite Sons Hutch Van Buren is fifteen years old, playing sports and searching for arrowheads in a small industrial town in Ohio with his three closest friends when an altercation between the comrades and a troubled seventeen- year-old, leads to an accidental death. Together, Hutch and his friends become ensnared in a web of secrets and moral dilemmas. Each boy shoulders the burden of truth in his own way as each attempts to leave the past behind.

Thirty-three years later, in 2004, Van Buren is the prosecuting attorney in Summit County, Ohio, and a candidate for state attorney general when he learns that he and his boyhood friends weren’t the only ones keeping a secret about the death.  Van Buren must decide between his political career and the duty of the office he has sworn to uphold. 

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I have to say I’m on a roll lately with these older reads that I’m managing to squeeze in between new release reads. Favorite Sons is another fantastic read by Robin Yocum, an author I hadn’t heard of a year ago, yet I now consider an auto buy!  Over the last few months I’ve read (and loved) A Brilliant Death ( review here) and A Welcome Murder (review here) and Favorite Sons, although published before both of those, was just as good. This story again takes place in a small, southeast Ohio river town and Yocum really nails the setting because I literally felt like I was there watching the events unfold. I’m an Ohioan so I really love the fact that he sets his books in my home state.

The story begins in 1974 when four teenage boys who’ve been friends since they were young kids find themselves involved in a death and make a spur of the moment decision that will alter the course of all their lives. Yocum has created the ultimate moral dilemma  and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out what consequences would befall the boys. Because you just know there’s going to be consequences at some point in time, right? Especially since someone else, an “innocent” someone, ends up paying the price for the death. How all this plays out as well as how each boy’s life changes is the basis for the rest of the story which about the halfway mark moves to present day 2004 and we get to see how each boy’s life has faired after that fateful summer day and that one split second decision.

This is a compelling coming-of-age story filled with mystery, drama, and complicated moral/ethical questions that beg the reader to think about ‘what would I do’ in that situation. I think it would be a perfect pick for book clubs as there’s so much to discuss and I have a feeling opinions would vary greatly in terms of the moral questions.  If you like well-plotted mysteries with a small town, coming-of-age backdrop and you haven’t yet read Robin Yocum, I hope I’ve encouraged you to pick up one of his books, I think you’ll be happy you did!

HAPPY READING!

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere 

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Stephanie at Stephanie’s Novel Fiction

Abby at Crime By the Book

Cathy at Between the Lines

Delphine at Delphines Publications

 

REVIEW: THE TWELVE LIVES OF SAMUEL HAWLEY By Hannah Tinti

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From Goodreads

After years spent living on the run, Samuel Hawley moves with his teenage daughter, Loo, to Olympus, Massachusetts. There, in his late wife’s hometown, Hawley finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at school and grows curious about her mother’s mysterious death. Haunting them both are twelve scars Hawley carries on his body, from twelve bullets in his criminal past; a past that eventually spills over into his daughter’s present, until together they must face a reckoning yet to come. This father-daughter epic weaves back and forth through time and across America, from Alaska to the Adirondacks.

Both a coming-of-age novel and a literary thriller, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley explores what it means to be a hero, and the cost we pay to protect the people we love most.

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I’ve always been drawn to coming-of-age stories. The problem has been finding ones that appeal to me in terms of not just the character who’s coming-of-age, but also the setting, time period, and minor characters all needing to “click” for me as well. The Last Child by John Hart has always been my go to coming-of-age favorite and recently I’ve added A Brilliant Death by Robin Yocum to that very short list. Now, I’ll be adding The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley ….my list is growing!!

Twelve Lives is, at its core, a novel filled with suspense but, fear not, there’s also a mystery for all of us die hard mystery lovers. To start, we meet Samuel, father to Loo and husband of Lily who died many years earlier. Her death had been ruled accidental but as I got further into the story, I began to wonder whether that was true. There are many reasons this question entered my mind, the biggest being Samuel’s past. Through chapters alternating between past and present we get to know Samuel, starting around age 20 when he chooses to start down a path of criminality which leads to his first “bullet,”  that is, the first of TWELVE times he’s shot. The chapters follow his life through places like Wyoming, Alaska, The Midwest, and the desert, to the coast of Massachusetts where he and Loo eventually decide to stay and make a home.

These “bullet” chapters alternate with present day ones in which we get to know Loo, Hawley, Mabel (Lily’s mom) and many more of the unique characters living in the coastal fishing community. I’m going to be honest, some of the “bullet” chapters became a little monotonous and I found myself rushing to get through them to return back to the present which were my favorite parts of the book. I LOVED reading about Loo and being privy to all of her firsts…1st time shooting guns, 1st love, 1st time driving (illegally of course)…as well as her relationship with Hawley who seemed to hold her at arm’s length just a little too much as his fierce desire to protect her from his past was always at the forefront of his mind- it really occupied his thoughts and drove everything he did. I could really understand this because in his (criminal) past he left behind dead bodies, bridges burned, and many enemies made…he knew that one day it would all catch up with him. That’s what I meant by suspense and the author built it brilliantly!

The more I write, the more I’m thinking this is actually a harder book to review than I initially thought because there’s SO much I could talk about but in the interest of keeping this fairly short, I’ll just point out a few final reasons I really loved this book:

  • Pace – The author has crafted such a well-paced novel that I quickly became immersed in the story from beginning to end
  • Multidimensional, Flawed Characters – I’m not exactly sure how she created such vivid, nuanced characters, possibly it was her use of exquisitely fine tuned language, but the people in this story were REAL and alive to me
  • Themes – I loved how she examined the fluidity of time…wishing it could be turned back in Hawley’s case but also exploring how he and Loo both discover it actually marches on no matter how much they wished to change or stop it
  • Maine Setting – Loved it!! Small town coastal fishing community…I could picture it perfectly

If you like small town coming-of-age literary novels filled with mystery and suspense, I think you’ll really enjoy this read!

5/5 Stars

 thanks to Random House via Netgalley for my copy, I’m happy to provide an honest review 

Tinti eCard 3

REVIEW: A BRILLIANT DEATH By Robin Yocum

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From Goodreads

Published April 2017 by Seventh Street Books

Amanda Baron died in a boating accident on the Ohio River in 1953. Or, did she? While it was generally accepted that she had died when a coal barge rammed the pleasure boat she was sharing with her lover, her body was never found.

Travis Baron was an infant when his mother disappeared. After the accident and the subsequent publicity, Travis’s father scoured the house of all evidence that Amanda Baron had ever lived, and her name was never to be uttered around him. Now in high school, Travis yearns to know more about his mother. With the help of his best friend, Mitch Malone, Travis begins a search for the truth about the mother he never knew.

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 Every once in awhile a book comes onto my radar and for whatever reason disappears only to resurface months later at which time I read it in record time, ignoring the family and all household happenings, and then promptly kick myself for waiting so long and almost missing out on an unforgettable read. Everyone…this is one of those books!!  I saw it last spring at Barnes & Noble, loved that cover and title immediately, read the back and thought oh that sounds good, but put it down and continued browsing??! It’s even set in a small Ohio town very much like the one I grew up in…what a big mistake I made putting that book down. Fast forward almost a year and with the posting of my recent Q & A with my friend and fellow reviewer Joe Hartlaub which you can read here in case you missed it, the book was back on my radar as Joe (who’s raved about it all year) had it as one of his top reads of 2016. THEN I find out it’s up for an Edgar Award next month for Best Paperback original and that was it, I knew I had to read it now!!

The novel begins in 1971 with a Brilliant, Ohio newspaper article announcing the presumed death of recent high school graduate Travis Baron who’s body had yet to be found after his car plunged off a cliff into the Ohio River following a high speed chase with police.  Travis’s best friend, Mitch Malone, narrates the story beginning with Travis’s funeral but then quickly takes us back in time to the 1960s when their friendship began. Life for both boys was very different, with Mitch growing up with two loving parents and Travis growing up with a tyrannical, abusive father and no mother as she had been missing since Travis was a newborn…Amanda Baron was last seen on the Ohio River jumping naked off their pleasure boat with an unidentified man (lover?) seconds before it was crushed to bits by a barge …their bodies were never found. Travis grew up wondering about his mother but his father, Big Frank, refused to answer any questions about her.  It wasn’t until he was a young teenager that Travis decided he was going to get answers on his own, well he and Mitch that is as they were a team, and Operation Amanda was born.

I really don’t want to say any more about the plot but trust me when I say I was mesmerized by this intricately plotted small town mystery. The author’s writing so captured what I remember about growing up in a small Ohio town during a time when their weren’t cell phones or internet and kids were left much more to their own devices. The setting and characterization was so convincing that I felt I was there alongside Mitch and Travis as they pieced together the buried secrets surrounding Amanda’s disappearance. I did have one minor issue or critique centering on the boys and that was that every once in awhile they spoke in such a mature manner and with words that you wouldn’t think a 15 or 16 year old boy would use (congenial, sire) that it caused me to pause and kind of scratch my head. As I said, minor.

What I hope you take with you from this review is that this is one of the most captivating coming-of-age mysteries I’ve read in recent years! For me, it’s very reminiscent of the writing style and tone of John Hart’s The Last Child which if you’ve read my blog these last few months you know is one of my favorite books ever. Nearing the end of A Brilliant Death, I was convinced I knew how it all went down, I felt a little smug actually. Then came the last 35 pages…I had it all wrong. After drying my eyes (I was NOT prepared to cry) I realized I would need a different adjective to describe this book so as not to look like I’m stealing the title word brilliant …I’ll go with superb! 

5/5 Stars

**Be sure to stop back in April when I’ll be reviewing Robin Yocum’s new novel A Welcome Murder which releases April 4th from Seventh Street Books**