Category Archives: St. Martin’s Press

Frightful Friday: Code Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry (Audiobook)

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.

This week’s featured title is the audiobook production of Code Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry:

  • Listening Length: 16 hours and 3 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio (March 25, 2014)
  • Source: Personal copy

*Note: This is a review of the sixth book in a series. Please proceed with caution if you have not read/listened to the previous books in this series*

 

Joe Ledger and the other members of the Echo Unit of the Department of Military Science (DMS) have had their share of interesting experiences. From battling the zombie plague to designer viruses, they’ve seen it all. Any remnants of these weapons have been stored in a remote and isolated location known as the Locker. Until now…

After other units of the DMS are decimated in attacks, the DMS is spread thin. Weapons they thought destroyed or locked up are appearing in public locations. Their new nemesis, Mother Night, has managed to break into the DMS’ impenetrable super computer system, Mindreader, gaining access to knowledge that shouldn’t be made available to the public. Even worse, she broadcasts a video of a rescue mission in which a team went in to put an end to a plague of zombies. The same plague the DMS thought they conquered and destroyed. Before doing so,  she dubbed over the sound to make it appear as though the individuals being shot upon are citizens begging for their lives.

This isn’t the first time the DMS has been under fire. The timing, however, couldn’t be worse. The must put an end to Mother Night and her league of rogue “soldiers” before she can unleash something more dark and devastating than before. In doing so, they realize that the individual responsible for their actions isn’t a stranger to the DMS. Her identity shatters the tough exterior of the DMS. Rather than weakening them, however, it makes them stronger, more dedicated and determined to put a stop to Mother Night.

Told in a series of flashbacks to the time Joe Ledger originally joined DMS, Maberry takes readers (or in my case, listeners) on a path through the history of the DMS and Ledger’s existing unit.

Maberry’s Joe Ledger series is one I rush to listen to as soon as it is released. Not only are they truly outstanding novels filled to the brim with action and less than natural enemies, but they contain truly outstanding characters that have grown tremendously since the culmination of the series. Joe Ledger, on the surface, is a mean, brusque, no-nonsense kind of guy.  Yet in the past several novels, Maberry has slowly unveiled a softer, more vulnerable side of Joe.  To me, this has created a more dynamic, more genuine character in Joe Ledger.

Fans of Maberry’s writing will appreciate the return of characters from the past (as well as one from another series). I’ve been a fan of this series from the beginning and have to say, without a doubt, this is the best one yet.

As with the other titles in this series, I listened to the audiobook production of this title. I don’t see myself ever “reading” them.  That’s not to say that the writing doesn’t stand on its own, it genuinely does. Yet Ray Porter’s narration has captivated me. To me, he is the voice of Joe Ledger and the other cast of characters. He completes the package for me, his narration capturing the essence of Joe and the rest of the cast of characters.  I won’t say I wouldn’t enjoy reading the titles, it would just feel different, not complete. If you are new to this series, I highly recommend going with the audio.  Some of the best out there!

I know this goes without saying, but this, and other Ledger novels, come highly, highly recommended.

Other titles in the Joe Ledger series (in order):

Patient Zero
The Dragon Factory
The King of Plagues
Assassin’s Code
Extinction Machine

 

Review: Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie

  • Hardcover: 400 pgs
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (July 9, 2013)
  • ISBN: 9781250033895
  • Source: Publisher

Geniver Loxley’s world ended when her daughter died at birth eight years ago. Formerly a successful writer, her career has now evolved into a teaching career.  She and her husband, Art, have tried to conceive with medical assistance for years to no avail. Their marriage is in a rut, the stress at their inability to conceive taking all semblance of romance out of their relationship. Despite Geniver’s reluctance to continue the treatments Art continues to pressure her to continue, almost obsessed with conceiving another child.

One day, a stranger shows up at her doorstep and delivers the most unfathomable news: Geniver’s daughter Beth did not die, but was taken away and is still alive out there somewhere. Unable to accept this information as false, Geniver begins a lengthy investigation into that fateful day eight years ago, despite warnings from Art and her close friends, all of whom assume she’s spiraling into a pit of mental illness and depression.  She must delve deep into the past, unveiling a host of dark secrets kept hidden from her. Soon, she doesn’t know who she can trust and must rely on the most unlikely of advocates to assist her in her trek to find her child.

With slow, yet steady pacing, McKenzie has crafted a chilling psychological thriller. Anyone who is a parent can sympathize with the loss Geniver must be experiencing. Quickly, however, the reader begins to question her reliability and sanity.  The journey the reader takes to learn to trust Geniver as a character parallels Geniver’s own journey to discover who she can trust.

The “big revelation” is one that I do not believe anyone could have predicted. Completely shocking and slightly disturbing, this climax served as quite the intense leap in the pacing of this novel. The usual cliches are unavoidable with this novel, for it is truly an intense, heart-pounding, thrill ride of a read. Highly recommended.

Sophie McKenzie, award-winning, bestselling author of numerous children’s and teen novels, discusses her motivations and inspirations behind writing her first psychological thriller for adult readers.

Review: And Then I Found You by Patti Callahan Henry

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (April 9, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0312610769
  • Source: Publisher

Kate Vaughan has a successful life: a caring family, a wonderfully devoted boyfriend and a thriving boutique. Yet when she imagines her life before her, she can’t help but remiss to the life she had before with her first love, Jack. Jack was the man she thought she would spend her life with yet in her indecisive youth, Jack moved on and married another woman.

In order to pursue her future with Rowan, her boyfriend, Kate feels she must visit Jack once more. The two share a secret that changed their lives, a secret only shared by their two families. A secret that she must share with Rowan if they are to have a happy life together. She knows that her life will never be happy if she does not confront her past, and the love she shared with Jack.  Once she transports herself back to her past, and her relationship with Jack, feelings she thought banished once again appear. The secret they shared becomes real, preventing them from continuing on with their separate lives without dealing with the life they brought into this world together.

Inspired by a true story, And Then I Found You touches on a number of issues, including young love, pregnancy, and adoption. Since it was based on fact, this element adds a dimension of believability to the story, creating a bond with the author almost instantaneously. The characters she creates in Kate and Jack are truly genuine, well-rounded and incredibly flawed.

While I wholeheartedly enjoyed reading the story of Kate and Jack’s relationship, and of the child they chose to put up for adoption, I couldn’t dismiss the irritation I felt with Kate’s character. An indecisive youth is something I can deal with, but Kate continues with this characteristic well into her adulthood. She loves Rowan and looks forward to spending her life with him, yet she can’t abandon or admit to the love she still has for Jack.  There were several instances in this novel in which I found myself yelling at Katie for her behavior and the way she treated both Jack and Rowan. She seemed genuinely shocked at Rowan’s behavior at times when his response to her actions was wholeheartedly valid.

Additionally, I did feel that the ending was pretty predictable but I feel that it did suit the overall tone of the novel. Going in, the reader understands that Kate will get whatever she desires, whether that be Jack or Rowan.

A character I truly adored was Luna/Emily, Jack and Kate’s daughter. Her adoption was never kept a secret and her family willingly permitted her to research her birth parents. Additionally, I feel that the emotions displayed by her adoptive mother were incredibly genuine and valid, given the circumstances.

Also, I could see why Kate felt such strong feelings for Jack. He was a wonderful man, devoted to her for most of his life. It was only when Kate could not commit and settle down that he moved on to pursue his own happiness. To me, Jack is the knight in shining armor that we all dream to find (and some of us are lucky to have caught.)

All in all, despite my issues with Kate’s character, I did enjoy this truly heartwarming and moving read. I definitely see it being discussed in book clubs or with close friends. Recommended.

I read this title as part of my involvement with the SheReads blog network. Interested in discussing this title? Be sure to tune in later this month for the official discussion.

Read the story behind this novel.
Find Patti on Twitter (@pcalhenry) and on Facebook.

Review: Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (February 12, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1250014522
  • Source: Publisher
Isabelle McAllister is a feisty eighty-nine year old woman. Over the years, she’s formed quite a friendship with her hairdresser, Dorrie Curtis, a single-black woman in her thirties. She’s followed Dorrie around as she’s moved from one salon to another, finally opening up her own. Yet what Isabelle asks of her has nothing to do with her hair…but her past. Isabelle asks Dorrie to put her life on hold and driver her from her home in Arlington, TX to a funeral in Cincinnati the very next day.

Dorrie is more than happy to fulfill Isabelle’s request. The two woman, separated by age and race, have known each other for years. Dorrie realizes it must mean a lot to Isabelle to attend this funeral and she’s honored to be asked. After making arrangements for her children and tying lose ends at home, the two women embark on the journey.

Although Isabelle has been Dorrie’s client for years and have shared in casual conversation, neither woman really knows a great deal about the other. As the miles pass, Isabelle opens up to Dorrie about her guarded past.  As a teen growing up in 1930s Kentucky, she fell in love with Robert Prewitt, the son of her family’s black housekeeper, in a town in which blacks weren’t allowed after dark. Isabelle reveals to Dorrie a young life riddled with pain and loss, further proving the importance of this journey. In turn, Dorrie learns a great deal about herself on this journey, that love is possible if you just open your heart to it.

Due to my own marriage, when I began the journey with this book, I knew it would hit home with me. While we never had to face many of the challenges Isabelle and Robert faced, there were definitely some obstacles we had to overcome. His life was never in danger but we had to deal with looks and glares when we went out in the public. Seventy years certainly seems like a long time, but not when you are forced to endure racism that has endured for centuries. Thankfully, however, our boys were born years later, in a time in which the color of one’s skin didn’t determine their fate or value in life.  Now that they are older, we remind them how lucky we are to be a family, that not too long ago the love we share would be forbidden…illegal.

I love that Kibler uses her own grandmother’s story as an inspiration for this novel. She truly captures the very essence of an inter-racial relationship…then and now. Additionally, the transformation that both Isabelle and Dorrie take on their journey is incredibly endearing and heartwarming. Two young women with vastly different lives brought together seemingly by fate for I do not believe Isabelle could have taken this journey with anyone but Dorrie. The relationship they share, while unlikely, is wholly believable and sincere, the gifts they give one another are invaluable.

Calling Me Home is an incredibly memorable and heartwarming novel, rich with subject matters meant to be discussed. It’s a novel that I dare you NOT to fall in love with, for I grew such a strong attachment to this book that I read it not once, but twice. Isabelle and Robert’s relationship really hit home with me, characters that were forced to deal a fate no one should ever have to face in the name of love. I cannot wait to discuss this book with my own book club once it comes out in paperback. Until then, I fondly anticipate my reunion with Isabelle and Dorrie…and Robert. Highly, highly recommended.

Calling Me Home is the February book club selection for the She Reads book club. Check out what other members of the blog network thought of this book and join in on the discussion!

Mini-Review & Giveaway: Political Suicide by Michael Palmer

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; First Edition edition (December 11, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0312587554
  • Source: Publisher

Dr. Lou Welcome works at Physicians Wellness, an organization that works with and counsels doctors with psychological problems and addictions. He is contacted by the renowned Dr. Gary McHugh, a long-time friend of Lou’s, a man recovering from alcoholism. He woke up from an alcohol-induced blackout, his car totaled, after visiting a patient of his. That patient was Elias Colston, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, was found shot to death in his garage hours later. McHugh is certain he will be arrested for the crime but has no recollection of committing the crime. Admittedly, Lou has his doubts from the beginning, especially when all signs point to his friend as the killer. Yet as he begins to dig a little deeper, aided by McHugh’s attorney, Sarah Cooper, Lou becomes immersed in a deadly case of conspiracy with high-level military officials at the forefront. The frightening aspect of this case isn’t that Lou and Sarah’s lives are at risk, but the country’s national security as a whole.

Palmer is renowned for his intense medical thrillers. Each of his novels touch on matters of a political nature. In the case of Political Suicide it involves an elite group of the military that shed an entirely new meaning on the term”whatever it takes.” Chock-full of moral dilemmas and dynamic intensity, Political Suicide continues to prove that Palmer is one of the best thriller writers out there.Combining medical technology, military science and politics into one intense novel, fans new and old will be truly pleased with this power-packed novel. Highly recommended.

I am pleased to offer one copy of Political Suicide for giveaway. To enter, please fill out the form below. Open to US residents only. The winner will be contacted via email on Monday, December 24th.

A discussion with Michael Palmer about the book:

A sample clip from the audio book:

Review: Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (August 21, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 125000621
  • Source: Publisher

Budo is the best friend of eight year old Max Delaney. A loyal friend, Budo is by Max’s side whenever he needs him. What sets Budo apart from a child’s typical friend is that he is imaginary, visible only to Max and other imaginary friends.

“…we are a different kind of real. It’s a kind of real that adults don’t understand, so they just assume we’re imaginary.”

Max, too, is different. He doesn’t like to be touched, even by his loving parents. Normal social situations are awkward for Max, causing him to “get stuck,” Budo the only individual that can calm him.  Some doctors say he as Aspergers, others say he’s “on the spectrum.” None of this matters to Budo, for Max is quite literally his sole purpose for existing. Budo protects Max from the school bully, comforts him when he gets “stuck,” scopes out the bathroom before Max enters.

While Max still attends a public school, due to his challenges he seeks assistance from a special learning center housed in his school. Budo joins him every day for his special sessions with Mrs. Patterson, the teacher who works with Max on a daily basis.  It’s Mrs. Patterson’s job to help Max, yet she takes this to a whole new level, abducting Max from the school. She doesn’t agree with how Max’s parents have been raising him and feels she is the only person qualified to care for him. It is up to Budo, and a host of other imaginary friends, to save Max and return him to the safety of his home.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is told from the viewpoint of Budo, a truly remarkable imaginary friend. At over five years of age, Budo is ancient in the world of imaginary friends. Others like him comment on how realistic, how human he looks. Despite being a  product of Max’s imagination, Budo is quite informed and intelligent. Since he is invisible to all adults he has the ability to see how they behave and interact, learning from their actions, picking up on the slightest differences and changes.  Though, always on the back of his mind is the point in time which Max will no longer need him and he will cease to exist.  He’s witnessed this happening to other imaginary friends; they start to fade and ultimately disappear. Unsure of what happens once an imaginary friend is no longer needed, Budo is terrified of his fate.

All of this is forgotten when Max, his person, is abducted.  He must overcome the challenges that come with being an invisible and imaginary friend to find and help rescue Max, despite the end results. He must prioritize the happiness of Max above his own wants and desires.

Reading the premise, one might think this is a silly, whimsical sort of novel. It is far, far more than that. Full of emotion and depth, this novel captured my heart instantly. There are quite a few bits of silliness (including an entire chapter revolving around poop) but the periods of overwhelming love and friendship are in the majority. Additionally, there are several suspense filled chapters, all in all forming a incredibly well-crafted novel. This novel, at just over 300 pages, tackles a number of incredibly “big” topics above that of Asperger’s, including the power of imagination, love, trust, friendship and more. Also paramount is the topic of letting go; not only does Budo have to learn to “let go” of Max when the time comes but Max’s parents, especially his father, have to “let go” and allow themselves to accept the uniqueness of their son.

Bottom line: Dicks has created a truly unique and rewarding novel in Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend. I have formed a bond with Budo and with Max, a seemingly unrealistic relationship considering they are fictional characters. Don’t scoff…but read the book and you’ll understand. This book is destined to top my favorites of 2012 list. My attempt to express my love for this novel in words can never truly capture just how much I adored this novel. Highly, highly recommended.

Thanks to the lovely people over at Macmillan audio, sample the audio book of this truly phenomenal novel.

 

Side note: I received a galley for review, which has a different cover than the one pictured above. I won’t get started on my preference, but when my oldest son saw it, he was inspired to draw his own picture of his “imaginary friend.” I couldn’t resist sharing it…

 

Review: The Survivor by Gregg Hurwitz

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; First Edition edition (August 21, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0312625510
  • Source: Publisher

Nate Overbay is outside the eleventh story of a bank, standing on the ledge, preparing to end his life. Suffering from PTSD, separated from his wife and slowly dying from ALS, he has nothing to live for. He’s already ruined the perfect family he once had, returning from war a shell of the man he used to be. He thinks long and hard about how he’s going to end his life; he doesn’t want to cause any more inconvenience to those he loves. He has it planned perfectly; if he steps from his current position, he will land in a dumpster eleven stories below, hopefully containing any mess caused by his fall.

Just as he’s about to take that final step, he hears shouting and gunshots from the windows behind him. A crew of robbers has entered the bank, shooting employees and customers. Considering he was going to end his life anyway, Nate feels he has nothing to lose. Climbing back inside the bank, he grabs a gun that one of the robbers left sitting on a file cabinet and takes out five of the six robbers. The sixth escapes, but not before threatening Nate, stating he will pay for what he has done.

Nate winds up being the hero that saves the day, an honor he wish he didn’t have. Still feeling a tremendous amount of guilt for the death of several of his friends while serving in the war, he doesn’t give up on the plan to end his life. Unfortunately, now that he is famous and his face is flashed on television screens all over the area, Nate realizes his family is at risk from the Ukrainian mobster who threatened his life. His life, and the life of his family, will be preserved if Nate is able to follow through on the plan the robbers intended on completing that day, to obtain the contents of a security deposit box.  Upon doing so, however, Nate discovers that turning over the information obtained will put more people at risk, a step he will not take.

I must say, Hurwitz writes some pretty outstanding thrillers in the past, The Survivor continuing this trend. It’s impossible to write about this book without using all sorts of cliches, like extremely addictive and captivating, heart-pounding, a real page-turner. That said, all of these statements are true! Hurwitz connects with his readers through his incredibly well-developed characters, making it impossible not to love every thing this man has ever written. While a great deal of the action and the overall storyline is quickly revealed, Hurwitz is able to skillfully contain and preserve the flow of the action throughout the entire book. Not once was there a point in which the storyline dragged or got dull. The only consequence? I couldn’t put the book down, reading it until the wee hours of the night.

What makes this unique from many thrillers is how heartfelt and emotional it is. Nate is suffering from a terminal illness, has lost his family and is ready to put an end to his life. Throughout his battles with the Ukrainian mob, he is able to reconcile and repair his relationship with his family. Hurwitz captures this, and the healing that Nate is finally able to experience, so beautifully and realistically, but not detracting from the action and intensity of the story.

In case you haven’t surmised it yet, I absolutely loved this book. You know who else loves this book? Lee Child. Yep…THE Lee Child. Check out this clip of Lee reading an excerpt of this book:

I know, right!?  So, if you can’t trust my recommendations, trust the great Lee Child. C’mon…what are you waiting for!?

Review: Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (July 17, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1250007070
  • Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)

Maxon and Sunny met as children (or, as Maxon would state, at seven years, four months, and eighteen-days old).  Two very unique individuals, outcasts even, bonded because of their differences. They were devoted to one another, found happiness in each other’s presence.

Twenty years later they are now married. Maxon is a genius, literally, sent by NASA to the moon to program robots for a new colony. Sunny, now an expert in the role of housewife, stays home with their autistic four-year-old son, Bubber. Pregnant with their second child, Sunny feels pulled in all directions.  Doctors want to continue to medicate Bubber to help control his condition, but Maxon sees in his son aspects of himself, qualities he feels shouldn’t be diminished. As if this all isn’t enough for Sunny to deal with, her mother is dying, slowly and painfully, from cancer. Her life is spiraling out of control, her marriage is on the rocks. Oh, and Sunny has a unique condition of her own to live with: baldness. Completely devoid of hair all her life, Sunny has relied on a wig to appear “normal.” Yet as her life spirals out of control, it is her baldness that allows her to step outside her comfort zone and to be the Sunny she was meant to be, not one governed by what is perceived as socially acceptable.

Netzer has created a family of completely unique characters, individuals destined to be adored by readers. They aren’t your typical family, an aspect about this novel I adored. They have everyday issues and problems to face: Bubber’s autism, Sunny’s baldness, Maxon’s…..well, just Maxon all together. Issues that are often sugar coated or lightened in fiction are portrayed in living color. Told in alternating points of view, Shine Shine Shine allows readers to view life from each of the main characters perspectives, giving us an unadulterated glimpse of what is like for each of the characters.

But what makes this a truly tremendous novel is the growth Sunny undergoes, and in his own way, Maxon as well. The overlying message of this novel is to accept one’s own faults instead of ignoring them, to relish in our uniqueness. Attempting to maintain a level of normalcy in many cases, to ignore the things that separate us from others, is detrimental and devastating.

Words cannot describe the brilliance of this novel. You’ll just have to trust me on this one; Shine Shine Shine is pure genius, a truly rewarding and heart-felt read. Highly, highly recommended.

Review: Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (March 13, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0312591829
  • Source: Publisher

Andi waited all of her life to find the perfect man, finally finding him at age thirty-seven. Ethan is a wonderful man: hardworking, loving, dedicated. He’s a divorced father of two girls. While Andi wanted a family of her own, joining a ready-made family wasn’t a part of the plan. Yet it was hard not to fall in love with this package, this family.  The girls, Emily and Sophie, haven’t has the best life growing up. Their mother, an alcoholic, barely acknowledges their existence during their visits. Her kitchen is bare and she spends most of the time drinking wine, believing it is up to the girls to fend for themselves. For this reason, Andi at first overlooks the attitude Ethan’s oldest daughter, Emily, gives her from the beginning.

Starving for love and attention from her father, Emily despises Andi. Like many teenagers, she craves independence yet doesn’t want to relinquish the love and attention from her father. From beginning of Ethan’s relationship with Andi, there has been tension between his new love and his oldest daughter.

The tension grows and continues over the years. When Emily hits the rebellious teen years, Andi attempts to reign Emily in, disciplining her for her misbehavior. Ethan, on the other hand, deep down wants to do the same thing yet ultimately relinquishes to Emily.  This causes a great deal of strain on his relationship with Andi. This isn’t something Andi signed up for and, already stressed by her infertility, she struggles with balancing her wants and desires with that of the rest of the family.

When Emily’s careless behavior brings upon a situation that will forever change her life, and the lives of the rest of her family, Andi’s resolve is truly tested. Can she give up the life she’s dreamed of since childhood and continue to have this tumultuous relationship with Emily? Ultimately, it’s fate perhaps that makes this decision for her. She doesn’t what she wanted during the means she planned, but perhaps that’s the way it was meant to be. There’s a saying that states it’s not the destination but the path to that destination. This truly comes into play with this family.

Another Piece of My Heart
examines relationships, both marital and family, at their very core. The journeys that each of the main characters take are tumultuous, not easy, but ultimately life-changing in the end. The characters were each well ironed out, yet I didn’t feel I made a very deep connection with any of them.  While I sympathized for what Andi was going through there were several times in which her actions irritated me. Granted, the life she chose didn’t pan out the way she thought it would, but life is full of sacrifices. Thankfully, by the end of the book, she redeemed herself and I was better able to appreciate her character. Ethan, on the other hand, infuriated me to know end. I just wanted to shake him, to wake him up from the fog he was living in. To me, it took far too long for him to stick up to his daughter. Speaking of Emily, egads was she a girl riddled with issues. Again, the overall outcome was favorable and perhaps she had to make these mistakes, but her ride to success was a bumpy one. Unlike Andi’s character, it took me much longer to appreciate Emily, to find any sense of appreciation or understanding of her character.

While there were quite a few cliches throughout the novel and I often find myself puzzled as to why the author decided upon a particular outcome, the message the book portrays is a valuable one. Quoting Emily:

Life may not have turned out the way any of us expected…but today it feels like it is all supposed to be, it all happened for a reason, even though we couldn’t see it at the time.

Another Piece of My Heart , despite the few issues I had, is full of topics and themes that would generate a great deal of discussion, thereby making it the perfect book group choice. Recommended.

Don’t have a book club of your own? Not to worry, for the SheKnows Book Club will be discussing this book tonight, April 26th, 5 to 6 p.m. PST/8 to 9 p.m. EST. The chat will take place on Jane Green’s Facebook page.

Can’t join the chat but have questions for the author? Post them here and I’ll ask them on your behalf!

Review: Save Me by Lisa Scottoline

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; First Edition edition (April 12, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 031238078X
  • Source: Publisher

Rose McKenna volunteers to be a lunchroom volunteer when she learns her eight-year-old daughter Melly has been bullied by another little girl.  Melly was born with a red birthmark that covers a large portion of her face. Amanda is a classmate of hers who relentlessly makes fun of Melly’s birthmark and her obsession with Harry Potter.

Right in front of her eyes, Rose witnesses a bullying incident, sending Melly to the bathroom in tears. Lunchtime is ending, children are filing outside for recess. Rose holds Amanda behind to talk to her about the incident. Before she has the chance, however, an explosion rocks the cafeteria, knocking Rose unconscious. When she awakens, the cafeteria is on fire, filling with smoke. She must decide which child she should save first: Amanda or her own daughter.  She chooses to quickly usher Amanda outside before tending to her own daughter. Believing that both girls have been rescued, her soul is broken when she learns that Amanda ran back inside the school.  When found, she’s severely injured, in a coma, on the brink of death.

Almost immediately, the other parents and townspeople blame Rose for Amanda’s injuries. They call her selfish, putting the life of her own daughter before the other children. Amanda’s parents intend to file both civil and criminal complaints against Rose.  Her marriage put to the test, the future and stability of her family put at risk, Rose begins to start her own investigation. It soon becomes obvious that the explosion at the school was no accident. Rose risks everything to discover the individual(s) behind this brutal incident, and eventually, a history of criminal activity.

I was intrigued by the story immediately upon discovering it was based on a bullying incident. My own middle-school son was the victim of bullying so from page one, I had an emotional investment in this book.  The first half of the book thrilled me, I couldn’t get enough of it. Rose was plagued with a decision no parent wants to make: in an emergency, do you put the safety of your child’s life before that of another?

That said, I began to loose interest near the second part of the book. So many other side stories, characters, etc. were rolled in, almost making the second half feel like another book.  Rose, a character intent on devoting all of her spare time with her children, especially after the accident. She decides to drop of her two children with an elderly couple that are friends of the family. At first for a few hours, then for a few days. Totally out of character for Rose, it almost seems as though the author was grasping for a way to go all Nancy Drew without the burden of her children.  Additionally, she nearly forgets about her husband, step-father of Melly. They are supposed to be in a loving relationship but she keeps secrets from him, makes rash decisions that impact that family without his input, and more.

With all of this considered, I would recommend this book for the first portion of the book, with the warning that the second part is a little far-fetched.

Following are some other takes on this book:

Julie from Booking Mama
Teresa’s Reading Corner
Jen from Devourer of Books
Kathy from Bermuda Onion