Tag Archives: fiction books

A Spark of Light Book Review

For years I’ve judged Jodi Picoult’s books by their covers. Often showcasing minimal photography covered with large type that’s mainly indicative of chic lit, I walked right past her shelf of novels, not realizing the true beauty I was missing.

My recent appreciation for Picoult was not out of the blue…it came to me on a little cloud in the form of my sister, who has read not one, not two, but near 15 of Picoult’s novels. She gave me a long list of Jodi books to read that I’m STILL plowing through!

The first Picoult book I read was Small Great Things, a gripping novel about the large racial issues that still plague our country. It was a captivating story that I was not expecting, as was My Sister’s Keeper, the second Picoult book I added to my repertoire. When my sister told me that Picoult would be coming to Milwaukee to promote her new book and do a talk, we knew we had to go!

I didn’t know anything about A Spark of Light before going to Picoult’s talk. While I wasn’t surprised that Picoult decided to cover a hot-button issue in her most recent novel (abortion), I was pleasantly surprised with her candor. A genuine advocate not for woman, Picoult spoke with great respect about the women she interviewed who had recently had abortions, doctors she shadowed performing abortions, and the thousands of men and women who stood outside the clinics day after day trying to convince desperate women to change their minds.

This book does not take sides, nor does it show one side in a better light than another. As Picoult says herself, there are times people can be on both sides of the argument, and that’s okay. If anything, that means that more and more people are open to understanding that abortion is and never will be a political issue…but will always be a human rights issue.

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The Center shines brightly in the little Mississippi town that houses it. A clinic that offers women help with birth control, pregnancy screenings, sensitive cancer diagnoses and yes, abortions, the Center is a refuge for women all over the south, including the 10 or so people that have arrived there for various reasons this warm fall day.

However, in the early morning hours, a distraught gunman bursts through the door, opening fire and killing several patients, doctors and nurses instantly. The rest, including those severely injured, are held hostage.

After Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator, gets to the scene, he begins communication with the gunman inside. However McElroy’s job is made increasingly more difficult when he comes to learn that his sister and 15-year-old daughter, Wren, are among those still inside the clinic.

Working back in time from the end of the hostage situation to the morning hours before the shooter stepped foot into the center, A Spark of Light slowly brings to life a cast of unforgettable characters, including a pregnant nurse who puts her fears aside to help others, a doctor who does his work honorably in spite of his own beliefs, a pro-life protester, a young woman who has just had an abortion, as well as a disturbed killer who will stop at nothing to seek his revenge.

Fearless and thought-provoking, A Spark of Light tackles a complicated issue with decency and respect. It’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong, but more so about understanding. What does it mean to be a good parent? How do we balance the rights of a pregnant woman with the rights of the life inside her?

At one point in the talk, Picoult asked the audience to raise their hand if they knew anyone who had an abortion in their lifetime…more than half of the audience raised their hands, including my sister and me. Many of us know – or are – women that have suffered through this. Most women don’t get pregnant hoping to have an abortion…for several women, this is a last resort, whether it’s for their own health or the life inside of them. This is not an issue that should divide a country, it’s an issue that should be talked about, understood and respected. If A Spark of Light does anything, it serves as its namesake, striking a match on a conversation, no matter how big or small, that might help at least one person better understand a woman’s right to make her own decisions.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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I Let You Go Book Review

In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world turned upside down.

In the wake of a horrible accident, the only hope Jenna has of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows and start anew. She drives to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but her memories and fears continue to haunt her. The flashbacks of that night remain ever present, no matter how far she takes herself off the grid.

Ever so slowly, Jenna begins a new life in this quaint coastal town; however, her memories are far from the only thing chasing her…

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I Let You Go is a delicious thriller with more than one epic twist. One part murder mystery and one part romantic flirtation, this book will grab you from the first chapter and won’t let you go until the final words are uttered.

Told from the perspective of Jenna herself, as well as the lead detective on the murder case, I Let You Go brings to life a bittersweet story that will certainly tug at your heartstrings. It offers characters that are surprisingly flawed, real, and dare I say – relatable. It’s unlike most other thrillers in that way, which made me appreciate I Let You Go all the more.

A quick read that will keep readers engaged from start to end, I Let You Go is a moving story of a woman who tried to run away from what she knew only to end up finding what she needed.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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16 Creepy AF Paranormal Books

A few weeks ago, I shared a collection of 18 Creepy AF True Crime Books…and today, here’s the other half of that awesome collection – 16 Creepy AF Paranormal Books…just in time for Halloween!

From ghosts to goblins, UFO’s to yettis, this collection of paranormal books dares to explain the unexplainable. Including ghost anthologies, as well as fiction and non-fiction books in the paranormal realm, this book collection is a great one to add to your list this fall!

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16 Creepy AF Paranormal Books

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The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed & Lorraine WarrenThe Demonologist reveals the grave religious process behind supernatural events and how it can happen to you.

This House is Haunted: The Investigation of the Enfield Poltergeist: In 1977, normal life ended for the Harper family. It began with a bang on the walls of their council house in Enfield. Then furniture started moving of its own accord…

Fringeology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable…and Couldn’t: Steve Volk investigates what happens in the brains of people undergoing religious experiences, learns how to control his own dreams, and goes hunting for specters in his family’s old haunted house.

On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears: Stephen Asma’s On Monsters is a wide-ranging cultural and conceptual history of monsters–how they have evolved over time, what functions they have served for us, and what shapes they are likely to take in the future.

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Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena: Stacy Horn explores science’s remarkable first attempts to prove—or disprove—the existence of the paranormal.

American Monsters: A History of Monster Lore, Legends and Sightings in AmericaBigfoot, the chupacabra, and thunderbirds aren’t just figments of our overactive imaginations—according to thousands of eyewitnesses, they exist, in every corner of the United States. This book examines a hidden menagerie of America’s homegrown beasts.

Cops’ True Stories of the Paranormal: Ghosts, UFOS and Other StoriesBest selling author of over 50 books, retired cop Loren W. Christensen asked men and women in uniform—police officers, sheriff deputies, SWAT, command, correction officers, and MPs—to convey their experiences with the paranormal.

Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories: Who better to investigate the literary spirit world than that supreme connoisseur of the unexpected, Roald Dahl?

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Ghost Stories of an AntiquaryRenowned for their wit, erudition and suspense, these stories are each masterfully constructed and represent a high achievement in the ghost genre.

Bag of BonesAs Mike is drawn into a lover’s struggle, he is drawn into the mystery of the site of ghostly visitations and escalating terrors. What are the forces that have been unleashed here—and what do they want of Mike Noonan?

Dark Matter: Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark…

This House is Haunted: Eliza realizes that if she and a group of children are to survive a houses’ violent attentions, she must first uncover the hall’s long-buried secrets and confront the demons of its past…

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Her Fearful Symmetry: Audrey Niffenegger weaves a captivating story in Her Fearful Symmetry about love and identity, about secrets and sisterhood, and about the tenacity of life–even after death.

Eight Ghosts: Eight authors were given after hours freedom at their chosen English heritage site. Immersed in the history, atmosphere and rumors of hauntings, they channeled their darker imaginings into a series of extraordinary new ghost stories.

Anya’s Ghost: Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century.

The Man in the Picture: The Man in the Picture is a haunting tale of loss, love, and the very basest fear of our beings.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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10 Happy, Simple Quotes by Roald Dahl

Yesterday we celebrated Roald Dahl’s 102nd birthday and today I just wanted to share with you some of his words of wisdom. These happy, simple quotes are great to keep in mind, no matter what your age!

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10 Happy, Simple Quotes by Roald Dahl

unlikely placesThe greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.

BOOKSHELF
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,

Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.

life is good
If you are good, life is good.

magic
Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

NOT ALONESo Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.

 

doubt
You should never, never doubt something that no one is sure of.

grasshopper
‘My dear young fellow,’ the Old Green Grasshopper said gently, ‘there are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t started wondering about yet.’

twinklyIt’s impossible to make your eyes twinkle if you aren’t feeling twinkly yourself.

POWER TO CHANGESomewhere, inside all of us, is the power to change the world.

music makers
We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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The Good Girl Book Review

Mia Dennett is just like every other girl…she goes to work, she buys groceries, she hangs out at the bar with her friends. But what Mia doesn’t know is that someone is following her…someone who knows her route to work, the name of her on-again, off-again boyfriend, the color of her eyes…and he’s about to change Mia’s life forever.

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The Good Girl was hailed as a book that fans of Gone Girl would love. A page-turning thriller with a twist ending…a story full of complex characters that you can’t trust…It’s a missing person story (like Gone Girl) with a somewhat untrustworthy family (like Gone Girl) and a heroine who seems a little off-kilter (like Gone Girl). Are we noticing a theme?

Now I loved Gone Girl. I thought it was intense and riveting and I loved every twist and turn along the way…so, needless to say, I really wanted to like The Good Girl. It had all the parts to make it a great story…but arranged in an order that made it seem a little too familiar.

Told from the perspectives of Mia’s mom, the detective investigating her case, and Mia’s own captor, The Good Girl – while slightly formulaic – is an entertaining read. There are good twists and turns, though for a lover of mystery fiction, they’re easy to spot a mile away. I actually found myself more engrossed in the romantic plotlines that become the focus of the second half of the book…and found the shocking (not really) ending appropriately emotional, bittersweet, and honestly kind of heart-breaking.

As a fan of Gone Girl, did I LOVE this book? No, not really. But I did enjoy it. It delivered a twisting story that would make a great beach read, but it wasn’t unique enough to haunt me like that blasted bitch, Amy Dunne.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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The Night Circus Book Review

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It’s simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black and white striped canvas tents create a winding path towards the center, peppered along the way with food stands, side acts and drink carts.

The heartbeat of the circus is an exquisite clock, winding and turning with intricate detail, counting down the seconds until the circus closes at sunrise…for this circus, Le Cirque des Reves, is only open at night.

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For attendees of Le Cirque des Reves, the circus is a whimsical dream. Acrobats fly through the air, kittens dance and do tricks, a room filled with jars unleashes scents from all over the world, and illusionists make themselves disappear in the blink of an eye. The cold night air is filled with the scents of cinnamon rolls and caramel popcorn and a true sense of magic uplifts and heightens the senses.

And much like any circus, nothing is what it seems at Le Cirque des Reves. Behind the scenes there’s a fierce competition underway, a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been training since childhood to compete in a “game” that’s been going on for years preceding them.

Under the watchful eye of two mercurial instructors, these young performers are about to embark on a challenge that will only leave one of them standing…and the circus is but the stage for this epic battle of imagination and will.

But despite their game, despite rules and despite themselves, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love…a deep, magical love that slows down time, warms a cold room, makes the lights flicker, and causes these young competitors to decide between breathing life into their future or each other.

Written in rich, seductive prose that is beautiful in every sense of the word, The Night Circus is a feast for all the senses. It has the whimsy of Alice in Wonderland, the colors and characters of Big Fish, and the magic of Harry Potter. I was immersed in this book from start to end and was honestly sad when I had to leave Le Cirque des Reves behind (and even sadder that I couldn’t actually be there in person!).

Much like the circus itself, this book came to me without warning. I knew nothing about it going in, only that it had a Tim Burton-esque cover that instantly had me excited. While some parts were a little slower than others…and some characters surprisingly fell kind of flat, I loved The Night Circus and was instantly on IMDb wondering when the movie was coming out because, honestly…Tim Burton would do this book justice.

I love stories that transport me to another world…that make it so easy to close my eyes and imagine myself somewhere else. For me, The Night Circus was one of those stories. I felt the cold air on my skin, tasted the sweet cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate. I looked up and saw the striped tents, and somewhere in the distance, the soft ticking of the clock kept reminding me how little time I had in this world. Filled with dream-like beauty and wonder, The Night Circus is for anyone who believes in magic, imagination, and most importantly, love.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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10 Awesome Detective Novels

A little more than 170 years ago, Edgar Allen Poe’s story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, first appeared in Graham’s Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine. The story described the analytical power used by one Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin to solve a slew of murders in Paris. Thus, the first detective story was born.

The Murders in the Rue Morgue also inspired the creation of perhaps one of the greatest literary detectives of all time, Sherlock Holmes. He first hit bookshelves 46 years after Poe’s story and set into motion one of the most read literary genres ever.

Often filled with chilling and complex stories, clever and witty humor and strong characters that seem to come to life before your eyes, detective novels are a great go-to solution for a summer beach read, a vacation read, or just a quick and exciting story to help pass the time.

If you’re looking for a great detective novel, here are 10 awesome ones to get you started!

10 Awesome Detective Novels

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The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson

The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon

And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami

In the Woods, Tana French

Booked to Die, John Dunning

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, P.D. James

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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