#BookReview: The Woman I Was Before by Kerry Fisher

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes… Yes, I’m blatantly stealing from RENT, because this book – featuring (roughly) a year in the life of three women who randomly move in to the same block on the same weekend – brought out those vibes for me. It also harkens to fellow Amazon publishing colleague Emily Bleeker’s 2020 book What It Seems in that this is another look at how “reality” according to social media… rarely turns out to be actual reality. (Ha! Another RENT reference :D) Another strong look at the various damages secrets can wreak, though its portrayal of childless people was at times a bit extreme. Ultimately a well written story of several interweaving lives, and very much recommended.

This review of The Woman I Was Before by Kerry Fisher was originally written on October 9, 2020.

Featured New Release of the Week: What It Seems by Emily Bleeker

This week we look at an experimental tale from an author I’ve been a fan of since her debut a few years ago now. This week, we’re looking at What It Seems by Emily Bleeker.

This was a writing technique new to Bleeker’s published efforts – a tale told in first person. And after reading the book, I can see why this particular tale almost *had* to be told in single narrator first person. This style really gets you into the head of our narrator, and that is absolutely crucial to the story being as good as it is.

Without going into spoiler territory, let’s just say that this book is reminiscent of one I read decades ago yet updated to include modern discussions, particularly of the YouTube phenomenon. Indeed, the YouTube issue becomes central to driving the story after an introduction grounding us in just how abused our narrator has been, and everything she has had to do to cope as best she could with that abuse.

Truly a spectacular work, Bleeker yet again sets in motion a drama with mind bending secrets and explosive reveals. Very much recommended.

As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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#BookReview: When I’m Gone by Emily Bleeker

Wow! WRECKAGE- Bleeker’s first book- was more powerful, but that is the only book I can really compare this to – this book is *that* good. And it may even be as good as/ better than WRECKAGE – which is about the highest praise I can possibly give. Certainly in this genre, *possibly* in books in general. At first, you’re in it to see how Luke and family cope – you’re introduced to them on the first pages as they enter their garage after Luke’s wife’s (and the kids’ mother’s) funeral. While hints are dropped to the mysteries to come early, you really don’t get to the mystery aspect of this until around halfway in – then it starts building on itself, as Luke and family are finally healing enough for Luke to start asking questions and being more observant. From then on… watch out!

This review of When I’m Gone by Emily Bleeker was originally published on March 28, 2016.

A Month of Reading: August 2018: Robinsonfest and ARCs

The highlight of this month – and easily in the running for highlight of the year – was finally meeting Jeremy Robinson in real life at Robinsonfest 2018 after having known him online for a decade. I flew into Boston for the first time in my life, for a weekend of firsts as far as locations, some modes of transport, and even some activities. I mean, how often in your life do you get to cosplay as yourself AND “cause the Apocalypse” while doing so? (Which is what is happening in the pic – here, I’ve just “planted corn”. When I did that in the book Jeremy wrote that I appear in, I wind up accidentally causing the Apocalypse.) I covered all of it in a post here both before and after the event, along with a couple of YouTube videos.

The end of August also marked a new review strategy for me – YouTube Book Reviews. The first was for The Waiting Room by Emily Bleeker, and I’ve since shot videos for Sleepyhead by Henry Nicholls and The Perfect Catch by Maggie Dallen.

Overall, I read just 9 books in August 2018, per Goodreads. But this was all unknown territory for me as far as overall annual count goes, as I busted my previous record there at the end of July and now I stand at 90 books on the year, with four more ARCs already on deck. Of the 9 books on the month, only three were from the same series – Lisa Clark O’Neill’s Sweetwater Trilogy. Only four of the books were from the 2018TBR project – the first three (the aforementioned trilogy) and the last one, The Postman by David Brin. The remaining five were review copies (four of them ARCs), with only one of those being from an author I’m not connected to at all on Facebook.

The 9 books accounted for over 3100 pages of (Kindle) text at an average length of 347 1/3 pages per book.

As I mentioned above, I only read one series on the month, so best series of the month goes to the Sweetwater Trilogy by Lisa Clark O’Neill.

Most interesting book of the month goes to Sleepyhead by Henry Nicholls, which was a fascinating look at the neuroscience of sleep and sleep disorders.

There wasn’t much humor in the list again this month, just a couple that could really be considered humorous at all, and I’ll give the edge on those two to Christine Nolfi‘s The Comfort of Secrets, mostly because her Sweet Lake Sirens are frakkin hilarious old broads.

Best book of the month? Emily Bleeker‘s The Waiting Room, for reasons that can only be discovered by reading the book – it would be a spoiler to discuss them openly.

Below the break, the entire list, in date completed order – with links to my Goodreads reviews of each.
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Featured New Release of the Week: The Waiting Room by Emily Bleeker

This week, we look at Emily Bleeker’s The Waiting Room. I’ve known Emily for a few years now, first getting curious about her when I saw her debut book WRECKAGE all over the place. Since then, we’ve become Facebook friends and brought each other into a few groups that we were each in.

In The Waiting Room, we encounter three characters – Veronica Shelton – our primary protagonist-, another woman, and a man. All three will come to intersect in this explosive examination of womens’ mental health and in particular the damage losing a child can wreak on the female psyche. Veronica is dealing with the death of her husband months earlier, just weeks after she gave birth to their daughter. And she has post partum depression so severe that she can’t even touch her daughter, so her mother has moved in to help take care of the baby. This part of the book is perhaps the darkest, most difficult section – but also a very real examination of this issue, at least as real as this man can imagine it would be. And it is this grounding that gives this tale its early gravitas, much like the titular wreck in Bleeker’s debut novel Wreckage just a couple of years ago.

But as we have come to expect with any Bleeker book – this being her fourth -, things are not always as they seem, and that begins becoming apparent about halfway into the book, when Veronica discovers that not only has someone been in her house taking pictures of her baby, but now her baby is missing – and her mother refuses to help her find her baby. This is about the point that the book summary stops, so I’ll reveal nothing further about the story other than to note that the story gains is true heft and power in the back half of the book. The front half, dealing with post partum depression, is deep in itself, but the front part of the book is more the edge of a continental shelf in the ocean, and the back half is the abyssal plain – far deeper and at times even more fascinating.

One particular line stood out in the book, and out of context it gives away nothing, so I’ll share it here because I like it so much: “Sometimes you run away from the flames, and other times you stay and help put out the fire.” In the end, that line effectively comes to summarize the entire book without really giving anything away about the back half.

Yet again, Bleeker has hit another home run, an absolute 5 star read no matter your scale. Very highly recommended, and I’m genuinely glad I was among the first to preorder.

And as always, the Goodreads/ Amazon:
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