Book Review: The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson | rainerlife.com

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The Almost Sisters
by Joshilyn Jackson

Synopsis: A dysfunctional Southern family learns secrets about one another.

The main character is Leia Birch Briggs, a 38 year-old white woman from a traditional Southern family. She works as a comic book artist. She’s done the artwork for other’s graphic novels, but she also wrote a popular graphic novel. One that did well enough that she’s under contract to write the origin story for her character. I liked that the main character was a nerd. She loved graphic novels, Wonder Woman, and other nerdy type things.

At the beginning of the novel, Leia finds out she’s pregnant… From a one night stand. At a comic convention. With a guy dressed as Batman. Also, Batman was a black guy. So, not something she’s excited to tell her family. Also, she doesn’t remember the guy’s name or how to contact him.

Shortly after discovering she’s pregnant, Leia is summoned to Alabama to help her grandmother Birchie. With the help of her best friend Wattie, Birchie has been hiding her illness and dementia. However, while at a social event, Birchie acts very unlike herself and her secret is out. After Leia arrives in Birchville, Alabama, she finds out Birchie wasn’t only hiding her illness, but also other, darker secrets.

While dealing with all of this, Leia is also trying to help her stepsister Rachel. Rachel’s marriage is in trouble and Leia wants to help, but usually Rachel’s the one fixing everyone else’s problems. Rachel and her daughter Lavender end up in Birchville with Leia, Birchie, and Wattie.

This novel is humorous, yet deals with difficult topics. I loved the writing. It was an enjoyable read and stayed up late to finish this novel. I haven’t read anything by Joshilyn Jackson before, but now I want to pick up some other books by her.

Book Review: Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy | rainerlife.com

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Do Not Become Alarmed
by Maile Meloy

Synopsis: A cruise excursion goes terribly wrong. Three mothers, each with a daughter and a son, take their kids on an excursion from their cruise ship. While the mothers are distracted, the kids go missing.

The story is told from different points of view, some of the kids and some of the adults. I enjoyed seeing what was going on with both sides of the search for the missing kids.

I was constantly annoyed by several of the characters. Both the adults and kids made some poor decisions, and then kept making them. There was some weak character development and the story was a bit messy at times. That said, I stayed up late to finish the book because I wanted to see how it would all end. In the end, I thought it was an exciting thriller. Also, I never want to take my eyes off my child for a second, ever.

Book Review: Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin | rainerlife.com

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Young Jane Young
by Gabrielle Zevin

Jane Young was once Aviva Grossman. Aviva was in her early twenties when she was an intern for a Florida Congressman. She had an affair with him, and it adversely affected her future. While the Congressman was forgiven and his career and marriage survived, Aviva was unable to find work and had to move away and change her name.

This story is divided into five sections and is told from different points of view. The first section is from Rachel’s, Aviva’s mother, point of view and includes some history of the scandal. The second section is from Jane’s point of view and covers what is currently happening in her life. The third section is from Ruby’s, Jane’s daughter, point of view and covers current events. The fourth chapter is from Embeth’s, the Congressman’s wife, point of view about current events. The final section is from Aviva/Jane’s point of view and covers the scandal to current events.

I liked the different viewpoints in this novel. While Aviva obviously made a poor decision as a young woman, the scandal did not only affect her life, but those of other’s too. Her parents, primarily her mother, had to deal with the consequences of Aviva’s affair. The Congressman’s wife, Embeth, had to deal with public scrutiny of her marriage and her decision to stay with her husband. These women all made mistakes, but they were also strong in their own ways.

I enjoyed the writing and it was an easy reading novel. This was a quick read, but it dealt with some important topics, mainly the differences that men and women face when such scandals arise.

Book Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins | rainerlife.com

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Into the Water
by Paula Hawkins

A single mother is found dead at a local spot known as the Drowning Pool. It is unclear if she slipped or jumped to her death, either way, her death is investigated.

The deceased woman is Nel Abbott, and her death brings out more questions about a teenager who had recently died at the Drowning Pool. The teen, Katie Whittaker, had committed suicide a month earlier at the Drowning Pool. Her death shocked the community because it seemed so unexpected. The novel centers around the story of these two women, but told from the other characters viewpoints.

There are a lot of characters in Into the Water. Each chapter has a point of view for a character, mostly a main character but sometimes a minor character. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. This novel seemed a bit confusing with the hopping around of viewpoints.

The main characters are Jules Abbott (Nel’s sister) and Lena Abbott (Nel’s daughter). Minor characters are Louise Whittaker (Katie’s mother), Josh Whittaker (Katie’s brother), Nickie Sage (the town psychic), Mark Henderson (a teacher), Erin Morgan (a police officer), Sean Townsend (a detective), Helen Townsend (Sean’s wife), and Patrick Townsend (Sean’s father). Also, sometimes stories are told about other women who died in the Drowning Pool. Like I mentioned, a lot of characters, which means a lot is going on in the story.

I like Paula Hawkins writing, and I wanted to see where the story was going. I did think a bit too much was happening, and it was kind of predictable. I don’t mind predictable though, so I’m okay with that.

This story is pretty dark, which I liked. Truly, none of the characters are good people. It works for this book, but there is not a lot of character development on anyone in the story. The women were okay, some stronger and some weaker. I didn’t like that every male character was weak. I enjoy stories about strong women, but I also like to see strong men depicted in the story too. The only male character that was a decent person was Josh, and he’s a boy, not a grown man. I guess that was sort of the appeal of the book, nobody was perfect and they all had their secrets.

Book Review: The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn | rainerlife.com

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Two time travelers, Rachel and Liam, travel to 1815 London to steal an unpublished manuscript written by Jane Austen. Their mission is planned to last one year and involves them befriending the Austen family.

Not long after arriving in 1815, they make contact with Henry Austen, who they hope will like them enough that they will be able to gain access to the rest of the Austen family. Liam is posing as a doctor and Rachel as his sister. In reality, Rachel is the doctor. Rachel’s role is to flirt with Henry and get him to fall for her. She’s also supposed to use her medical expertise to help with Henry’s upcoming illness and help diagnose what Jane’s health problems were. Liam’s role is to gain access since he’s supposed to be a doctor, plus he is the more charming and charismatic of the two.

Their mission is complicated by two main things: the difficulty involved with not altering anything in the past and Rachel and Liam’s growing attraction to one another.

Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors, and I enjoy reading novels that have a different take on her life or her novels. The Jane Austen Project was creative, and I liked the combination of time travel and historical fiction. While I enjoyed the idea of the book, there were a few things that I didn’t like. For one, I liked Liam and his role, but I never cared for Rachel, or understood why she would have been chosen for the mission. Also, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. It seemed too abrupt, and while I liked some parts of the ending, I didn’t like other parts.