Stephanie’s #Review: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Stephanie’s #Review: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Title: Firefly Lane
Author: Kristin Hannah
Series: n/a
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date: February 5th 2008
Pages: 479
ISBN: 9780312364083
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon

From the New York Times bestselling author of On Mystic Lake comes a powerful novel of love, loss, and the magic of friendship… In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable. So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives. From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to be loved unconditionally. In the glittering, big-hair era of the eighties, she looks to men to fill the void in her soul. But in the buttoned-down nineties, it is television news that captivates her. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success… and loneliness. Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and mother will change her… how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend… For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship—jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart… and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test. Firefly Lane is for anyone who ever drank Boone’s Farm apple wine while listening to Abba or Fleetwood Mac. More than a coming-of-age novel, it’s the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices. It’s about promises and secrets and betrayals. And ultimately, about the one person who really, truly knows you—and knows what has the power to hurt you… and heal you. Firefly Lane is a story you’ll never forget… one you’ll want to pass on to your best friend

Rating: 4 My Review:

I am simply astounded by the depth and glittering passion with which Kristin Hannah writes. This novel follows the lives of two young girls who each grow up to be strong women—strong, in their own individual ways. The friendship between Tully and Kate is the kind you can only find if you’re very lucky, or if you’re a character in a novel, so reading about their ups and downs was both exhilarating, and a comforting escape. Heavy on characters, Firefly Lane excellently demonstrates a realistic and oftentimes painful growing-up process—in two different ways. The settings are perfectly written as well; I love how it captures the youth, freedom, and exhilaration of 70s- and 80s-era America, as well as the terrifying excitement brought onto the world—and the media—at the turn of the 21st century. The style is definitely Firefly Lane‘s biggest strength. Hannah’s mastery of the written word, and her obvious talent of conveying every emotion on the spectrum, shine through with every sentence she pens. The story itself isn’t completely thrilling. For the most part, reading this book was like reading the biographies of your two best friends, rather than an actual novel with a centralized plot, which is why I’m not giving this one a full five stars. However, this doesn’t mean there’s no action or nothing powerful through the course of the book; Firefly Lane is in every which way compelling, emotionally resonant, and substantial. This is the kind of book you won’t forget—won’t want to forget—because it possesses magical anecdotes on friendship, family, love, and life. Keep tissues nearby and be prepared to grow immensely attached to the vibrant, unforgettable characters, because you’re in for a real treat!

Are Not My People Worthy? by Wendell E. Mettey

Are Not My People WorthyTitle: Are Not My People Worthy? The Story of Matthew 25: Ministries
Author: Wendell E. Mettey
Publisher: Providence House Publishers
Date: July 28th 2004
Pages: 128
ISBN: 9781577363217
Source: publisher
Purchase: Are Not My People Worthy? The Story of Matthew 25: Ministries

A child’s eyes haunt Wendell Mettey, founder of Matthew 25: Ministries. Mettey spoke with the child’s father as he waited hours for treatment for his critically-burned infant. “Take our picture so all can see the conditions in our country,” the Nicaraguan father said. Mettey has never forgotten the child, father, or the needs he saw. Mettey has dedicated the years since to improving life in Nicaragua and other war-torn or impoverished areas around the world. Are Not My People Worthy? tells how a minister from Cincinnati found himself called to alleviate pain and suffering in the U.S. and in nations thousands of miles away. Are Not My People Worthy? also reveals how the voice of God encouraged Mettey to think bigger, dream extravagantly, and accomplish unheard-of humanitarian feats with the help of many volunteers, generous corporations, brave government officials, the U.S. Air Force, and other caring people and organizations.

My Thoughts:

Let me start of by saying that I am one that normally shy’s away from any book based in religion. I have passed up many books that look promising due to the amount of religion in the book. However when I received Are Not My People Worthy? i started reading and soon found myself immersed in the story of how Matthew 25: Ministries started from a single trip and visions.
I loved reading about how Mettey grew along with M25M, even through all the struggles and moving that had to be done. I read the book in a little over an hour and not once did the religion in the book cause me to walk away. My favorite part of the book was at the end…”As long as God gives me strength I will do all I can to change sad little eyes into happy little eyes.”

My Rating:
5 star rating

They Never Die Quietly by D.M. Annechino~Review

Title: They Never Die Quietly
Author: D.M. Annechino
Series: Sami Rizzo (#1)
Publisher: AmazonEncore
Date: February 16th 2010
Pages: 279
ISBN: 9780982555033
Source: Print ARC from publisher
Purchase: They Never Die Quietly

They Never Die Quietly tells the story of homicide Detective Sami Rizzo, who is assigned to head a task force investigating serial killings in San Diego.

Simon, the highly intelligent, cunning, and deceptively charming villain, redefines the depths of human evil. He believes God has given him absolute authority to purify his unholy victims through a ritual that ends in a grisly crucifixion. Driven by warped religious beliefs and guided by his dead mother, very much alive in his subconscious, Simon abducts “chosen ones” and holds them captive in a Room of Redemption. There, the victims helplessly await their crucifixion.

Detective Rizzo urgently yearns to solve the case and gain the respect of her male colleagues, but her obsession to apprehend the killer on her own clouds her thinking. When Simon outsmarts Rizzo and captures her, determined to make her his next victim, she must employ all her resources—both physical and intellectual—to outwit the villain at his own game.

My Thoughts:

With plenty of gore and the inside perspective of a serial killer’s mind, this crime thriller is all of disturbing, shockingly gruesome, and edgy; I was quite pleased. Sami Rizzo of the major offense squad in homicide has worked herself to the bone to get where she is today. As a single-parent of a cherished two-year-old and the dependent of her mother’s daycare services, she’s got a lot to work for, and even more expectations to live up to. She’s damn good at her job, and she’s never questioned it, until one case—surrounding a monster brutally crucifying mothers in front of their young children, although the children are returned unharmed and unable to remember anything—begins involving her emotionally. She knows she can’t get personally involved with crime cases, but she can’t help it. These victims could be her, these innocent children, her own daughter. It isn’t until her clever, sly, and charming suitor, Simon, reveals himself to her fully, that she realizes this nightmare could actually become reality.

Don’t worry, that wasn’t a spoiler. The identity of the murderer is meant to be known from the beginning, although Sami doesn’t know it until the end. This sense of dramatic irony propels readers to keep reading in order to find out what Simon will do next… and what Sami will do, or won’t do, to stop him.

They Never Die Quietly is definitely not for the faint of heart—even the title and cover show how grisly the villainy is. Simon is a wicked, incredibly well-developed serial killer. I got chills reading from his third-person perspective, just because of how wrongful, but so realistic—so normal—he sounds.

The book itself was a quick read, but the story has me ailing: it’s way too idealized. I feel like Sami was led straight to Simon with no false leads, no red herrings, no real barriers along the way. This would never happen in a real crime investigation. The storyline cuts to the chase way too quickly. For example: Sami notices a cross pendant around Simon’s neck; he must be the religious fanatic in the news. Sami sees his car; that’s the car the serial killer allegedly drives. Simon’s sensitive about rape; he must have been abused or must like abusing. I kept thinking, “How the heck is she so precise??” Either she’s a telepath or Annechino skimped on the mystery factor big time. There essentially is no room for speculation; it’s like Sami already has all the answers—no suspense in that department. I know this may have been a ploy to express Sami’s paranoia (and maybe even her intrinsic shrewdness), but for me it made the plot foreseen and unreasonably clean.

Sami’s mother and partner in crime, Al, are likable secondary characters. Her daughter, Angelina, is adorable, but highly uncharacteristic, speaking and behaving like a five-year-old, when she’s only two. There was also a starry romance weaved into the book. While I appreciate how Sami’s personal life was highlighted, it unnecessary and unwelcome. Why, oh WHY do suspense/thriller protagonists feel the need to have love interests?? Sami is independent and perfect on her own! However, I was amused by the occasional witty banter that came from the flirting, so I guess I won’t complain too much.

Aside from Annechino’s affinity for terrible clichés, the writing style is lively, descriptive, and connected. It’s easy to follow the mystery, and questions are answered as they arise.

Now, let’s talk the ending. After such a twisted, disturbing story set, I expected some brilliant solution to the problem, an unthinkable act of courage from Sami and her crew to outwit the monster that’s holding her captive. Nope. It’s disappointing as hell and, frankly, just crap. The loose ends are, again, tied way too cleanly, and Sami also just happens to gain fruitfully once she’s rescued. Hello? Is this a fairytale? I must say I was annoyed by the ending, and it’s the main reason this book wasn’t rated higher.

As a whole, though, the imaginative premise, the thrilling plot, and the realistic characters make this one pretty enjoyable. I’ll never forget its plot, that’s for sure.

My Rating:

Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner~Review

Touch & Go by Lisa GardnerTitle: Touch & Go
Author: Lisa Gardner
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Date: February 5th 2013
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9780525953074
Source: Net Galley
Purchase:Touch & Go


This is my family: Vanished without a trace…

Justin and Libby Denbe have the kind of life that looks good in the pages of a glossy magazine. A beautiful fifteen-year old daughter, Ashlyn. A gorgeous brownstone on a tree-lined street in Boston’s elite Back Bay neighborhood. A great marriage, admired by friends and family. A perfect life.

This is what I know: Pain has a flavor…

When investigator Tessa Leoni arrives at the crime scene in the Denbes’ home, she finds scuff marks on the floor and Taser confetti in the foyer. The family appears to have been abducted, with only a pile of their most personal possessions remaining behind. No witnesses, no ransom demands, no motive. Just an entire family, vanished without a trace.

This is what I fear: The worst is yet to come…

Tessa knows better than anyone that even the most perfect façades can hide the darkest secrets. Now she must race against the clock to uncover the Denbes’ innermost dealings, a complex tangle of friendships and betrayal, big business and small sacrifices. Who would want to kidnap such a perfect little family? And how far would such a person be willing to go?

This is the truth: Love, safety, family…it is all touch and go.

My Thoughts:

This is normally not a book that I would pick up to read. But something in the summary caught my attention and I had to start reading.

I felt a little lost through most of the book, with the back story of Tessa, the independent investigator on the case of the kidnapped family and the who and why of the kidnapping. I felt that the story dragged on quite a bit, but after reading the entire book, I got why so many details were added.
Justin, Libby and Ashlyn Denbe are kidnapped with a bang during the first chapter of the book. We are then taken on a wild ride as we follow the kidnapping in Libby’s eyes. After being tasered, drugged, and finally forced to live three deep in a prison cell, the family starts to break down. Things come to light that you really wouldn’t have expected.
We also have Tessa Leoni’s POV along with Wyatt, Sheriff in New Hampshire, pov. Seeing things from the pov of the police and investigators was a nice change of pace, though the constant switching of the povs was a little much for me; since I couldn’t always tell who’s pov I was reading.

The kidnappers request a ransom, and once that is paid you would think that the story is over; everyone goes on their merry way and things are good…. Well in this case you would be wrong! There are even more twists and turns.

This makes for one completely thrilling read, and while it took me a bit to really get into it, once I did I couldn’t stop reading!

My Rating:
5 star rating

Last to Die (Rizzoli & Isles #10) by Tess Gerritsen~Review

Last To Die
Title: Last to Die
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Series: Rizzoli & Isles #10
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Date: August 28th 2012
Pages: 352
ISBN: 9780345515636
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Last to Die: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel

Rizzoli & Isles • Hit series on TNT

“Suspense doesn’t get smarter than this. Not just recommended but mandatory.”—Lee Child

For the second time in his short life, Teddy Clock has survived a massacre. Two years ago, he barely escaped when his entire family was slaughtered. Now, at fourteen, in a hideous echo of the past, Teddy is the lone survivor of his foster family’s mass murder. Orphaned once more, the traumatized teenager has nowhere to turn—until the Boston PD puts detective Jane Rizzoli on the case. Determined to protect this young man, Jane discovers that what seemed like a coincidence is instead just one horrifying part of a relentless killer’s merciless mission.

Jane spirits Teddy to the exclusive Evensong boarding school, a sanctuary where young victims of violent crime learn the secrets and skills of survival in a dangerous world. But even behind locked gates, and surrounded by acres of sheltering Maine wilderness, Jane fears that Evensong’s mysterious benefactors aren’t the only ones watching. When strange blood-splattered dolls are found dangling from a tree, Jane knows that her instincts are dead on. And when she meets Will Yablonski and Claire Ward, students whose tragic pasts bear a shocking resemblance to Teddy’s, it becomes chillingly clear that a circling predator has more than one victim in mind.

Joining forces with her trusted partner, medical examiner Maura Isles, Jane is determined to keep these orphans safe from harm. But an unspeakable secret dooms the children’s fate—unless Jane and Maura can finally put an end to an obsessed killer’s twisted quest.

My Thoughts:

The plot is great, the characters are easily identifiable, the subject matter was a little difficult for me to read.

Last to Die is the story of three children who are connected in a very unique way: their parents had been killed some time ago, and recently their foster parents have met the same fate. This is the story of Claire, a girl of thirteen, whom took a bullet to the head and survived; of Teddy, who’s kind of weird; and of Will, who likes doing nothing more than looking at the night sky and searching to find a new comet.

These three children were hit by tragedy twice and somehow they survived, but it seems whoever is responsible for the murders will never rest until he kills them too.

In this story we have a blood-thirsty avenger, secret societies, brilliant kids, tortured psyches, secrets and lies and plenty of action, which keeps the reader’s interest alive from beginning to end, and it’s exactly then that it poses a question that more often than not arises into the readers minds too: Who is going to protect us from the so called protectors?

As the suspense builds, Gerritsen provides much needed comic relief. Boston PD homicide detective Jane Rizzoli’s mother, Angela, is involved in an unlikely love triangle. Her fiance, Vince, and her soon-to-be ex-husband, Frank, are at each other’s throats, and Jane would like to strangle both of them. However, she is too preoccupied with the slaughter of Bernard and Cecilia Ackerman, who were in the process of adopting Teddy Clock when they were gunned down along with their three daughters. Maura and Jane eventually discover that there is a connection between Evensong and the massacres; the two women put their heads together to get to the bottom of this gigantic mess.

The author effectively captures the emotional pain of teenagers whose peers shun and tease them; the strain of trying to recover from harrowing experiences that leave a person emotionally scarred; and the terrible consequences of unfettered greed and the desire for revenge. The author is a skilled storyteller who keeps us engrossed and entertained. In addition, Maura and Jane are bright and engaged professionals who handle crises with aplomb. The pair get plenty of practice when they are forced to deal with a vicious and remorseless killer with a hidden agenda. “Last to Die” has strong dialog and exciting action sequences, but the plot unravels a bit during the over-the-top conclusion. In spite of its less than scintillating finale, “Last to Die” will keep readers engrossed while they try to figure out who done it and why.

My Rating:

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