The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

My favorite stories are the ones that take terrible events or crimes and look at it from a different perspective. It makes one think and connect more to the various players both in the forefront and in the background of the incident. I like these kinds of novels because they make my realize my own prejudices and they force me to open my eyes to the bigger picture. That’s the main reason I was attracted to this novel.

George Woodbury is a much-loved teacher, husband, and father. So it comes as a shock when he is arrested for sexual impropriety at the very school he teaches at. His wife, Joan, is forced into a difficult situation, as the community she loves turns against her. Their daughter, Sadie, who was once a popular over-achiever is now reduced to a social pariah. Their son, Andrew, comes into town to help his father’s defense, but finds painful memories from his teen years are still holding him back. As the family tries to keep themselves together during this difficult time, the question at the back of all of their minds is: did he do it?

While this novel wasn’t perfect, I must say that I really enjoyed it. The story switches into different perspectives throughout the novel with the exception of George, which I found really intriguing. The novel did quite a good job in portraying the difficulties that the family of the accused faces before and after a terrible scandal. The author really showed how people can go from being friends to enemies in the blink of an eye, and how hard it can be for a family to support someone that they love, even while facing the possibility that their loved one is guilty of committing an atrocious crime. In the beginning, I was more interested in finding out whether George was guilty or not but as the story progressed, I found myself empathizing with the members of his family – especially Joan. I think that while Andrew and Sadie were hard to empathize with, Joan was depicted quite nicely as the pillar of support. Her character kept me intrigued and it was with her that I felt the most connected. I wish the author had spent more time developing Sadie and Andrew, since they mostly came off as selfish and sometimes a little stupid. The story does skip around in terms of the time frame but it was necessary; it kept the pace brisk and kept me interested. While the author may not have gotten every legal aspect correct, she did shed light on the struggles that the victims themselves face during a court trial. Being painted as a liar or as someone who has done something to deserve it…. these are terrible accusations especially when the victims are pressing charges regarding a sexual encounter but these accusations really do occur in the real world; the media and even some locals can go against the victims, causing justice to not be served. It was something that the author really honed in on and I’m glad she did because I never really considered this issue before. The ending made me really sad. It highlighted the tragedy that occurs in the justice system and showed how no one really wins. Overall, this novel has a high-impact plot that will make you see things from various different perspectives. I think that the plot and the important issues that are raised by the author are strong enough to overpower the negatives, so this is a novel that I would definitely recommend!

Happy reading ~

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It Takes One by Kate Kessler

This novel was given to me as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m back to my usual genre of mysteries and thrillers. As usual, I found one with an irresistible premise and just had to give it a shot. Here is my review:

Audrey Harte is a criminal psychologist who is finally returning home after 7 years. After having escaped all of the rumors that have haunted her family, Audrey is not looking forward to coming back. The last thing she needs is further whispers about how she and her best friend Maggie killed Maggie’s abusive father. Her very first night back ends with her having a fight with a drunk Maggie. The next day, Maggie turns up dead. And Audrey is now the main suspect for the murder. In order to clear her name, Maggie has to find out who the murderer is. All she can do is hope she solves the case – before the murderer sets their sight on her first.

I really did not enjoy this novel. For some reason, I wasn’t able to get into the story and I didn’t like the style of writing employed by the author. Audrey’s character just complained over and over again and her interactions with other people seemed just too unrealistic. It seemed as if everywhere one looks, there is some character having some kind of issue that they just don’t seem to be able to deal with. It got to be too much for me, and I definitely began to lose interest. As much as I wanted to find out who the real killer was, I just could not continue to push through this novel, so unfortunately, I’m going to have to add this book to the DNR pile. I know that others have read this novel and have given it a fantastic review so maybe it’s just me.

If you have read this novel, please let me know what you think! Is it worth giving another shot? If it is, why? I’d love to know!

Happy reading ~

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman

So this is the sequel to Prisoner of Night and Fog and marks the conclusion of this historical fiction tale. I had previously thought that it was a trilogy but I’m much happier with this arrangement; if it had been a trilogy, it may have dragged on for too long and not been as enjoyable. Hopefully I can write this review without too many spoilers!

Gretchen and Daniel have made it out of Germany and are safe in England. Although haunted by her past, Gretchen finally feels free to think of her future. Until news reaches her of the death of Daniel’s brother. When Daniel decides to return to  Germany, Gretchen is worried for his safety. And rightly so. Gretchen soon discovers that Daniel’s identity has been found out and he is now being falsely accused of murder. She must now journey back to the country where she lost everything to face the man that destroyed her life in order to save the one she loves.

This novel was a nice conclusion to the story. It was a bit too sentimental at times; I understand that the main characters were in love but there really was no need for them to CONSTANTLY be declaring it to each other. It wasn’t as good as the first novel but it was definitely enjoyable. I loved that it was based on true historical events and showed who Hitler was before he came into full power. If you liked the first novel, definitely finish the story off! If you’re looking for a new historical fiction to read, give this author a shot!

Happy reading ~