Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Forgetting Time

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

Reincarnation  The religious or philosophical belief that a person's spirit, after biological death, can begin life again in a new body.

 Certainly a topic that generates lively, animated discussion for believers and non-believers alike. Whatever your opinion, this debut novel by author Sharon Guskin guarantees the reader a wealth of information to make even the non-believer ponder the "what ifs"  of  the afterlife.

Janie enjoys a blissful, relaxing vacation on the island of Trinidad. When you're thirty-nine and alone, it's easy to fall for complimentary words and admiring glances from a stranger you'll never see again. It's when you return home to Brooklyn, facing an unexpected pregnancy, that your life suddenly changes in unimaginable ways.  This is where Janie's story begins....

 As a single mother, Janie has come to expect the frantic calls from Noah's preschool. Her four-year-old son is nothing short of a disaster waiting to happen, as far as his teachers are concerned. His constant talk about guns and Harry Potter is puzzling, but his assertions that he was held under water until he blacked out, cast suspicion on what happens at home. Janie admits that Noah has a water phobia, but doesn't reveal her child's piercing cries in the night,or his insistence on going "home" to see his "other mother". When a renowned psychiatrist suggests powerful medication to treat mental illness, Janie turns to Dr. Jerome Anderson, an "explorer" in the field of reincarnation. His studies describe young children with the ability to discuss past experiences in excruciating detail. Dr. Anderson seizes the opportunity to write one last believable American case study for his final book. He himself is slowly slipping away as a result of aphasia, a condition that will eventually take away his ability to communicate. This is his last chance to prove to skeptics that there is merit in what he has uncovered. He doesn't realize that a small, blond-haired, precocious boy will play a big part in his own redemption.

Janie, Noah, and Dr. Anderson warily set out to discover what Noah's outbursts and recollections mean. The ensuing journey takes the three to the home of a woman suffering from an irreparable loss. As the pieces begin to fall into place, astonishing revelations about the past come to the surface. Together, they find that what may seem to give them peace of mind, comes at a very high cost.

Emotional, overwhelmingly thought-provoking, and intense, this novel is a perfect choice for book clubs due to the controversial and intriguing subject matter, The story is pure fiction, but peppered throughout the story are real-life documented cases of reincarnation written by Dr. Jim Tucker from The University of Virginia School of Medicine.

You, the reader, can interpret this research in your own way. "What if you had chances upon chances to love the people you loved, to fix what you screwed up, to get it right" This novel will most definitely be a source of enthusiastic dialogue about that very possibility.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Missing Pieces

Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

In the small Iowa farm town called Penny Gate, "people either die or go crazy".

Jack and Sarah Quinlan leave their home in Montana to travel to Jack's hometown of Penny Gate, a place he left many years ago, hoping never to return.  But when his Uncle Hal calls to relay the news of Aunt Julia's life-threatening, nasty fall, Jack feels obliged to be near the woman who raised him after tragic events robbed him of his birth parents.

With great trepidation, he returns to his boyhood home where, as a fifteen-year-old boy, he found the bludgeoned body of his mother at the foot of the basement stairs.  His wild and reckless behavior and reported frequent arguments with his parents, made him a prime suspect in the murder. That is, until Jack's father, John, disappeared after his wife's demise. Everyone surmised it must have been John who committed the crime. Even though he was exonerated, Jack still carries the scars and innuendos associated with the dark days of his childhood. Now he's come home again, and finds that beneath the cornflower blue skies of this small town, lie dangerous, hidden secrets..

Police begin to question if Julia's unfortunate mishap was really an accident after all. Circumstantial evidence seems to implicate Amy, Jacks's sister. She's a disheveled, pill-popping drinker who insists that she's innocent. And what about cousin Dean and his wife, Celia?  How much does Jack really know about the relatives he hasn't seen in years?

Ultimately, the one person determined to unveil the truth is Sarah, Jack's wife. Twenty years of lies cause her to question the man she calls her husband. Puzzling emails, dusty boxes of discarded audio tapes, and a close encounter on a gloomy, deserted highway, are clues that bring her that much closer to exposing a cunning killer.

Gudenkauf's latest short, simple,suspense novel manages to keep the reader turning the pages even though it's fairly easy to unravel the mystery as the plot thickens. Tension builds with her descriptive passages of vast cornfields, endless dirt roads leading to nowhere, and spooky, whispering winds in the night, The characters are real, the writing is easy to follow, and most of all, it's a juicy read that asks the question..... how well do you really know your spouse?  

Saturday, February 6, 2016

My American Duchess

My American Duchess by Eloisa James

American heiress Merry Pelford has finally found the man of her dreams in Regency England after two failed attempts at the altar. His name is Lord Cedric Allardyce. Charming and incredibly handsome, she counts her blessings that a man of his stature has come her way. There's just one problem...she's in love with his twin brother, the Duke of Trent.

Just moments after accepting Cedric's marriage proposal, Merry encounters a mysterious stranger that she immediately feels drawn to; the inexplicable attraction can't be denied. How ironic that this stranger she just met is Trent, the brother of the man she promised to marry. It is apparent that the twins do not get along, and soon Trent begins to make Merry keenly aware of his brother's love of liquor and reckless, extravagant ways. She dismisses his warnings as simply a case of wanting a woman he cannot have. That is, until her engagement is sealed, and she begins to see that Trent's forewarning of impending trouble is valid indeed. Cedric wants to mold Merry into the perfect wife. He begins to find fault in his betrothed's unconventional, embarrassing ways. And the aristocracy is not blind to the outspoken Merry, either.Trent, however, accepts her playful, unabashed enthusiasm for life wholeheartedly, quirks and all. When a social blunder shames a hostess, Trent's response to the situation has surprising results. But can their attraction be enough to ensure happiness?

 Merry wants to follow her heart but another broken engagement will certainly mean ruin for this Boston socialite. Passion with the forbidden versus a marriage to the perceived perfect match....quite a quandary for this lovely heiress.

What a perfect book selection in the month of February from an author who excels at writing historical romantic fiction.The characters come to life in a make-believe world that readers will welcome during the dreary days of winter. Some may find it just a little too sweet and far-fetched, but if you are a hopeless romantic, it may be just what you need. With wit, royal grandeur, and memorable characters, this novel perfectly embodies the intricacies (and frustrations) of love.