Book Review: Wildland

Wildland with Stubborn BottleWildland by Rebecca Hodge

For fans of Jodi Picoult and Anita Shreve comes an exhilarating debut novel of one woman’s courage in the face of catastrophe.

She’ll do anything to save them.
But what will she do to save herself?

When Kat Jamison retreats to the Blue Ridge Mountains, she’s counting on peace and solitude to help her make a difficult decision. Her breast cancer has returned, but after the death of her husband, her will to fight is dampened. Now she has a choice to make: face yet another round of chemotherapy or surrender gracefully.

Self-reflection quickly proves impossible as her getaway is complicated by a pair of abandoned dogs and two friendly children staying nearby, Lily and Nirav. In no time at all, Kat’s quiet seclusion is invaded by the happy confusion of children and pets.

But when lightning ignites a deadly wildfire, Kat’s cabin is cut off from the rest of the camp, separating Lily and Nirav from their parents. Left with no choice, Kat, the children, and the dogs must flee on foot through the drought-stricken forest, away from the ravenous flames. As a frantic rescue mission is launched below the fire line, Kat drives the party deeper into the mountains, determined to save four innocent lives. But when the moment comes to save her own, Kat will have to decide just how hard she’s willing to fight to survive–and what’s worth living for.

A heart-pounding novel of bravery, sacrifice, and self-discovery, Wildland will keep you on the edge of your seat to the very last page.

Review:
I absolutely loved this book. It had me feeling all of the emotions and, yes, I was even reaching for the tissues.
The beginning is on the slow side, but wait a couple of chapters — I couldn’t put it down.
Kat is a wonderful character, a woman diagnosed with breast cancer who goes to the mountains to think about what to do. She meets 2 different dads with their kids. While the kids have a sleepover, a forest fire starts and Kat must get the kids and the 2 dogs in her care to safety. The peril, her decisions, her will to keep everyone safe, the time crunch, and the trust they all must place in each other make for a compelling read.
Having lived close to forest fires, I found the book harrowing and could feel myself there. Hodge wrote the emotion in the book amazingly well. I also loved that Kat was smart and made well thought out decisions. The book explored survival in a dramatic way!
The supporting characters, the dads, kids, and dogs, were also really well portrayed and each added something necessary to the book.
I highly recommend this book. In fact, I own a book box subscription called Callisto Crate and included this book for February and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
If you are interested in this author, I was able to do a Facebook Live interview with her, which you can find by clicking here. I found it fascinating how she wrote this book.
Thanks to Netgalley and Crooked Lane for the review copy.
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Book Review: The Wives

The WivesThe Wives by Tarryn Fisher

New York Times bestselling author Tarryn Fisher delivers a pulse-pounding, fast-paced suspense novel that will leave you breathless. A thriller you won’t be able to put down!

Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.

But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married.

What follows is one of the most twisted, shocking thrillers you’ll ever read.

Review:

I heard so much about this book and the amazing twists that I was eager to read it.

The writing was good and fast paced, though, even after a few days of letting it settle, I’m not sure if I liked this book or not.

It was difficult to read about a woman who had given her life over so completely to a man — she had agreed to a polygamous marriage but existed only for the 2 days a week her husband stayed at her place. Because of the situation, she has isolated herself from friends and family, and does everything she can to keep her husband’s attentions.

It is hard to take this.

And, if it weren’t for the author interview at the end of the book explaining how this book is about exploring the patriarchy that women are spoonfed, I think I would have a very different view of it. Looking at The Wives from this point of view redeems it.

There are some interesting twists and it is fascinating to see how a woman can rationalize this situation, especially when it is not what she wants.

 

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Book Review: No Exit

No Exit pictureNo Exit by Taylor Adams

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside, are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

Review:
I loved the premise of this book. Darby sees a girl trapped in the back of a van during a snowstorm. There are 4 other people trapped with her in a rest stop. She doesn’t know who to trust or what she should do. Will she put herself in danger to save this girl?
There are some typical tropes, such as a timeline, a dying cell phone, isolation, etc. Still, there are some great twists that keep Darby, and the reader, on our toes.
Darby was an interesting character. She’s got her guilt and her flaws — she’s trying to rush home to mend fences with her ill mother. She says herself how selfish she is. I enjoyed the way she talked to herself and decided what she would do. I also liked how smart and creative she was (though she did have moments of being not so smart too).
The counting down timeline and the tension made for a great read and had me racing through this book. If you are looking for a fun thriller, this is a good one.
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Book Review: All That’s Bright and Gone

All That's Bright and GoneAll That’s Bright and Gone: A Novel by Eliza Nellums

Fans of Jodi Picoult and Fredrik Backman will fall for this tenderhearted debut mystery following a young girl on a quest to save her family.

I know my brother is dead. But sometimes Mama gets confused.

Six-year-old Aoife knows better than to talk to people no one else can see, like her best friend Teddy who her mother says is invisible. He’s not, but Mama says it’s rude anyways. So when Mama starts talking to Aoife’s older brother Theo, Aoife is surprised. And when she stops the car in the middle of an intersection, crying and screaming, Aoife gets a bad feeling–because even if they don’t talk about it, everyone knows Theo died a long time ago. He was murdered.

Eventually, Aoife is taken home by her Uncle Donny who says he’ll stay with her until Mama comes home from the hospital, but Aoife doesn’t buy it. The only way to bring Mama home is to find out what really happened to Theo. Even with Teddy by her side, there’s a lot about the grown-up world that Aoife doesn’t understand, but if Aoife doesn’t help her family, who will?

Between Aoife’s vivid imagination and her steadfast goal, All That’s Bright and Gone illuminates the unshakable bond between mothers and daughters in an increasingly unstable world.

Review:
This was an interesting book. Told from 6 year old Aoife’s point of view, we learn about her mother’s mental illness, the struggles of her family, and the loss of her brother. Aoife isn’t exactly an unreliable narrator, but definitely one with limited understanding, which makes the story all that more interesting.
Because the story is told from a child’s point of view, the narrative is honest, innocent, and can often make interesting leaps. Aoife knows that her brother is dead, does not question her mother’s strange behaviour, and has an imaginary friend.
Nellums does a great job of getting into the head of a six year old. The writing feels authentic and not at all condescending. I found myself drawn into this girl’s world, trying to solve the mystery with her. As an adult reader we can see how Aoife is interpreting or misinterpreting some of the adult behaviour and this definetly adds to the tension and suspense of the book. We, like Aoife, just want to find out what really happened to her brother.
Thank you to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the review copy.
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