This week we’re looking at a breakneck psychological thriller that also serves as a clarion call on an issue many are speaking of quite a bit over the last decade. This week we’re looking at Lies We Tell Ourselves by Steena Holmes.
Trying to force myself out of the writing funk I’ve been in for several months now when it comes to these posts, I want to add at least a little bit to the Goodreads review below.
First, I love that Holmes frequently includes a reference to one of her friends’ books – usually released in the same year – in her books. This one is no different there, and the book in question (which you’ll have to read this book to find out) is in fact one that was also a Featured New Release on this very blog earlier this year.
Second, at least on the ARC copy I read Holmes includes a note at the end about a particular Easter Egg… which I completely missed. I remember getting the sense that it was a very random encounter – usually a good clue of an Easter Egg – but in my defense, I’ve read over 200 books since reading Holmes’ two releases last fall. (The Perfect Secret and The Patient, both of which included this same character, apparently.) Indeed, I actually thought that a more major character was the joining fabric potentially of all three books – and I would love to see future books including that particular character. Let me know which character you think I’m referencing here, I don’t want to give it away in this post. 🙂
Finally, this book really does go in depth with nearly all facets of sex trafficking, and while most of the worst of it is “off screen”, there is enough discussion in enough detail of enough facets that this book could in fact be very difficult to read if this issue has impacted you. But honestly, I think that in that case, you need to read this book arguably more than the rest of us. If only so you can write your own review and tell us just how close Holmes gets here. From the outside looking in, it seems that she captured the emotions and struggles quite well indeed, but this is something that I have no direct knowledge of and thus can’t know. So please, even if you think this book will be difficult for you, read it and write a review on Goodreads and Bookbub and let the rest of us know just how close – or, perhaps, far off – Holmes really was.
As always, the Goodreads review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of The Week: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Steena Holmes”
Typical, Yet Not. This was a solid genre piece with a few nice wrinkles. If you like romance novels generally, you’re going to like this one. If you don’t, you may still actually like this one specifically because of the wrinkles. Without going into spoiler territory, the drama here just seems far more realistic than some others of the genre. You’ve got the mother with a secret. The haunted rock star. The rambunctious and inquisitve 12 yr old. But you’ve also got a second romance in this particular tale – a feature so rare as to be seemingly unique in all of my reading. Normally you get a secondary character blatantly introduced to continue the series in the next book. Here, this secondary character gets their own full story-within-the-story. This story-within-the-story serves to fill out the town and its wide cast even more fully, even as the main story does a good job in and of itself with this. Ultimately this *is* a romance novel and hits pretty well everything one expects – including on-screen (though not erotica-level explicit) sex. So if you are a reader that can’t handle such a scene (and there are less than a handful of them here, basically enough to fulfill the genre requirement and little else) or you can’t handle the occasional “curse” word (again, not prevalent, yet present), you may want to skip this due to your own hangups. For the rest of us, this was an excellent read. Very much recommended.
This review of Second Chance Lane by Nicola Marsh was originally written on October 2, 2020.
Standing Outside The Fire. Ok, so possibly *too* on point or perhaps even a little cliché with the title of the review there, since Talley explicitly brings that song in late in the book with one character explaining to another that this is exactly what has been happening. But I *love* that song, it is easily one of my all-time favorites. 🙂
Anyway, on the book itself: Very fun, but also very deep. The two main characters – Olivia and Chase – are dealing with similar events in their worlds, neither of them realizing at first just how similar they are even if their perspectives on the events in question are very different. Along the way, many, many hijinx are had, including one very scared and borderline feral kitty cat. It is hard to note a particular trigger warning that is relevant enough to probably mention (even though I am not a fan of the practice generally, it is that significant here – though off screen, discussed by the characters as past events). So I’ll note that it ties into #MeToo and leave it at that. Truly a very balanced book about taking control of your own life and being open to possibilities that don’t seem obvious at first, and a very fun read. Very much recommended.
This review of Adulting by Liz Talley was originally written on October 2, 2020.
This week we look at an amazing tale of loss and recovery by yet another new to me Lake Union author. This week, we look at Only Ever Her by Marybeth Whalen.
The book does an excellent job of showcasing rural small town life in the South. A bit interestingly, it is actually based in the same general region as last week’s Featured New Release of the Week, The Last At-Bat of Shoeless Joe by Granville Wyche Burgess, and the dichotomies here are interesting. While last week’s book showcases the South in the final years of Jim Crow, this tale features a more current take on the same area – the South Carolina Upstate near Greenville. The town and tale are fictional, but in this reader’s experience growing up in and around such areas, accurate to the types of things you’ll see there.
And the singular biggest thing featured here is the multilayered and multi-generational secrets, responsibilities, and aspirations. Annie is just looking to leave town and set her own course, after spending a lifetime being known for a tragedy that happened when she was just three years old and having grown up bearing the responsibility of helping her hometown cope with its darkest night. Faye is Annie’s aunt who came in to save Annie – yet harbors secrets of her own. Clary is Faye’s daughter and Annie’s aunt, but just one year older than Annie and thus the two have grown up like sisters – to their enjoyment and chagrin. Clary has secrets that Annie stumbled into and wants Clary to reveal. Kenny is the outsider weirdo that Annie defended in high school, and the two share secrets from both his girlfriend – and the fiancee she is about to marry. Laurel is the high school queen bee who has come back to her hometown in disgrace after giving a lofty graduation speech about her goals of exploring the world.
Narratively, the story is told from each of the perspectives of the characters described above, sometimes shifting to another character in the same scene with a chapter break, but with such grace that one could easily imagine a solid cinematographer having a field day with the visual transition. But the secrets don’t end with just these characters. The Sheriff harbors secrets. The fiancee and best friend harbor secrets. The former elite socialite grandmother harbors secrets. The pastor harbors secrets. Indeed, it seems that the only character in the book that doesn’t harbor secrets is the girlfriend, and she doesn’t even get named until near the end of the tale!
Overall an excellent work and I’m looking forward to more from this author. Very much recommended.
And as always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release of the Week: Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen”