Monthly Archives: December 2008

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

When Truly Plaice’s mother was pregnant, the town of Aberdeen joined together in betting how recordbreakingly huge the baby boy would ultimately be. The girl who proved to be Truly paid the price of her enormity; her father blamed her for her mother’s death in childbirth, and was totally ill equipped to raise either this giant child or her polar opposite sister Serena Jane, the epitome of femine perfection. When he, too, relinquished his increasingly tenuous grip on life, Truly and Serena Jane are separated–Serena Jane to live a life of privilege as the future May Queen and Truly to live on the outskirts of town on the farm of the town sadsack, the subject of constant abuse and humiliation at the hands of her peers.

Serena Jane’s beauty proves to be her greatest blessing and her biggest curse, for it makes her the obsession of classmate Bob Bob Morgan, the youngest in a line of Robert Morgans who have been doctors in Aberdeen for generations. Though they have long been the pillars of the community, the earliest Robert Morgan married the town witch, Tabitha Dyerson, and the location of her fabled shadow book–containing mysterious secrets for healing and darker powers–has been the subject of town gossip ever since. Bob Bob Morgan, one of Truly’s biggest tormentors, does the unthinkable to claim the prize of Serena Jane, and changes the destiny of all Aberdeen from there on.

When Serena Jane flees town and a loveless marriage to Bob Bob, it is Truly who must become the woman of a house that she did not choose and mother to her eight-year-old nephew Bobbie. Truly’s brother-in-law is relentless and brutal; he criticizes her physique and the limitations of her health as a result, and degrades her more than any one human could bear. It is only when Truly finds her calling–the ability to heal illness with herbs and naturopathic techniques–hidden within the folds of Robert Morgan’s family quilt, that she begins to regain control over her life and herself. Unearthed family secrets, however, will lead to the kind of betrayal that eventually break the Morgan family apart forever, but Truly’s reckoning with her own demons allows for both an uprooting of Aberdeen County, and the possibility of love in unexpected places.

After reading the back of this book, I really wasn’t sure what to expect when reading it. This book centers around Truly Plaice. When Truly’s mother is pregnant, the whole town places bets as to how big the boy is going to be, and the guesses are high due to the enormous size of her belly. When Dr. Robert Morgan examines her, he notices a lump in her breast, a lump she keeps secret, even though it will kill her. When her water breaks and contractions start, Dr. Robert Morgan tries to help her through the delivery to the best of his ability, but the size of the baby proves to be too much. When he asks her what name she has chosen the last word she utters is Truly. Thus is the beginning of Truly’s existence.

Truly is destined to be miserable. Her sister Serena Jane is beautiful by anyone’s standards, and not only is Truly homely, she is enormous besides. Her father blames her and the doctor for the untimely death of his wife (even though she would have passed from cancer shortly after her birth) and refuses to seek medical attention for his daughter, even though it is obvious there is something wrong with her.

After the death of their father, the girls are separated. Serena Jane, who is treated as a princess by most of the town, but especially by Amanda Pickerston, is welcomed with open arms into their home. But there is no way they are going to take in something as homely and huge as Truly. Instead, truly is sent to the Dyerson farm, a home of outcasts where she is bound to fit in.

The girls continue to meet weekly, but grow apart even more…not that they were ever really close. They both fall into a pattern with their new families. And Truly continues to grow.

She does have a friend in Amelia, the daughter of the Dyerson’s, who becomes like a sister to her. She also catches the eye of Marcus, even if he is the smallest boy in the class, he is full of knowledge and love for Truly, something that get exploited by Bob Bob Morgan, the son of Doctor Morgan, and a boy destined to be the next town Doctor, a tradition that goes all the way back to his great-great-great-grandfather, and his wife Tabitha, who it was rumored was a witch. Bob Bob also has his eyes on Serena, and one night he finally gets her where he wants her, a union that prompts a swift marriage due to her unexpected pregnancy.

Serena and Bob Bob move away and Truly doesn’t hear from them for quite some time, with only the occasional letter and picture of her nephew Bobbie. So, when they move back to town she is hopeful that things will change. They don’t. That is until Bob Bob (who is now called Robert) comes to tell her that her sister has left and wants her to help him raise Bobbie.

This is the beginning of a fascinating relationship, and a story full of love and incredible deceit. I found the story to be excellent, and truly loved the way the author described the characters. I went through a full range of emotions while reading this, and although it had a happy ending, it was really bittersweet when you realize everything that led to it. Highly recommended!

Tiffany Baker lives in Tiburon, California with her husband and three children. This is her first novel.

Thanks so much to Miriam Parker, of The Hachette Book Group for sending me this ARC to review!

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This One Is Mine by Maria Semple

this-one-is-mine1

 

Violet Parry is living the quintessential life of luxury in the Hollywood Hills with David, her rock-and-roll manager husband, and her darling toddler, Dot. She has the perfect life–except that she’s deeply unhappy. David expects the world of Violet but gives little of himself in return. When she meets Teddy, a roguish small-time bass player, Violet comes alive, and soon she’s risking everything for the chance to find herself again. Also in the picture are David’s hilariously high-strung sister, Sally, on the prowl for a successful husband, and Jeremy, the ESPN sportscaster savant who falls into her trap. For all their recklessness, Violet and Sally will discover that David and Jeremy have a few surprises of their own. THIS ONE IS MINE is a compassionate and wickedly funny satire about our need for more–and the often disastrous choices we make in the name of happiness.

After reading the back of this book I was intrigued.  And I am happy to say I was not disappointed.

Violet Parry seems to have it all.  She has an extremely successful husband, a beautiful little baby, and a huge home with people waiting on her left and right.  But, even though she has all of this there is one very important thing that is missing – the connection between her and her husband David.

David has always put his career as a music producer first, and although it didn’t seem to really bother her in the beginning, it has really started to wear on her.  He expects so much from her but has no idea what any of her wants and needs are.  She starts to wonder if there isn’t more to life, and that’s when she meets Teddy Reyes, a man she feels a strong attraction to, whether he is right for her or not.  So, she begins an affair.

The characters in this book are all a little “off”, yet I felt as if I could relate to each of them in some way.  The story will have you running through all the emotions – joy, anger, disbelief, sadness.  I wasn’t able to put this book down, and could really relate to it, as unusual as that may sound (you’ll have to read it).

Maria Semple has written for television shows including Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen. She has escaped from Los Angeles and lives with her family on an island off Seattle. This is her first novel.

Thanks so much to Miriam Parker of Hachette Book Group for sending this ARC to me for review!

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Wicked Game by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush

About the book:

 ONE BY ONE, THEY’LL DIE…Twenty years ago, wild child Jessie Brentwood vanished from St. Elizabeth’s high school. Most in Jessie’s tight circle of friends believed she simply ran away. Few suspected that Jessie was hiding a shocking secret—one that brought her into the crosshairs of a vicious killer…

UNTIL THERE’S NO ONE LEFT…Two decades pass before a body is unearthed on school grounds and Jessie’s old friends reunite to talk. Most are sure that the body is Jessie’s, that the mystery of what happened to her has finally been solved. But soon, Jessie’s friends each begin to die in horrible, freak accidents that defy explanation…

BUT HER…Becca Sutcliff has been haunted for years by unsettling visions of Jessie, certain her friend met with a grisly end. Now the latest deaths have her rattled. Becca can sense that an evil force is shadowing her too, waiting for just the right moment to strike. She feels like she’s going crazy. Is it all a coincidence—or has Jessie’s killer finally returned to finish what was started all those years ago?

My Review:

20 years have passed since the disappearance of Jezebel “Jessie” Brentwood, but the case is back in the news after bones are discovered at St. Elizabeth’s school. Detective Sam NcNally is hoping that he will finally get the break he deserves, and prove to all of the skeptics that she was murdered all those years ago.

Becca Sutcliff is shocked when she receives a phone call from her ex-boyfriend and true love Hudson Walker. The group of friends that hung out with each other at the time of Jessie’s disappearance is meeting to compare stories. The common belief is that the remains will be identified as Jessie, but they want to make sure that their stories haven’t changed. There seems to be a dark cloud hovering among the members of the group, and when tragedy starts to strike, Becca feels it’s only a matter of time before she’s next.

This paranormal romantic suspense thriller was well thought out and it was impossible for me to tell that it was written by two sisters. I have a feeling I know where the added romance came in, as this isn’t common in most of Lisa’s books. I felt it added nicely to the storyline, and made it appealing to a more diverse crowd.

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