Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris:  Book Review

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris: Book Review

Bring Me Back by B.S. Paris is a good psychological suspense novel. This is the first book I have read by this author. After seeing the book displayed in the new books section at Barnes and Noble, I ordered it from the library. It looked interesting. I enjoy suspense novels once in a while so I wanted to read it.

Set up and Introduction

The story takes place in London. Twelve years earlier a woman, Layla Gray, had gone missing in France. Finn was Layla’s boyfriend at the time of her disappearance and he is telling us the story. Finn says that he lied to the police from the beginning. He knows that Layla is not dead.

“I had no idea what to do. I knew I’d have to report you missing but that I’d have to have a story, otherwise they’d see my history and if you didn’t turn up, I’d be arrested for your murder. ” (p. 92)

Bring Me Back keeps going back to the beginning of their relationship and then coming to the present. One chapter says “before” and the next “after”, and it keeps going like that. In the “before” chapters, Finn is retelling the story to Layla. He often says, “Do you remember? ” However, it is a monologue because Layla never responds. It’s like when you talk to someone in a coma. You are talking but don’t expect a response. It is unusual the way it is written.

In the middle of the book, the chapters change. Finn is still telling his side of the story, but Layla is telling her side as well in every other chapter. She tells what is happening presently and what she is thinking. It goes back and forth now between Finn and Layla telling the story.

Bring Me Back Synopsis

An announcement goes out in the newspaper that Finn and Layla’s sister, Ellen, are getting married. Soon after the announcement, Russian dolls start showing up at Finn and Ellen’s house. Finn is trying to find out who is leaving the dolls. This specific Russian doll is significant to both Finn and Ellen. Finn figures it is someone who does not want them to get married.

When the announcement in the newspaper about the upcoming marriage of Finn and Ellen, Layla was furious that he was going to marry her sister. She then devised a plan to let Finn know that she was still alive. Layla started leaving Russian dolls where Finn will find them.

The summary on the inside flap of the book implies that the book is about finding out if Layla is alive. Although very early in the book Finn knows that she is alive. The question is what does she want? He is not certain it is Layla, but someone is trying to provoke him and maybe pretending to be Layla.

Finn begins receiving emails from this mysterious person. The sender is trying to give clues as to who they are, but it takes Finn a while to figure it out.

My Analysis

Bring Me Back was an enjoyable book to read. I couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to know what Finn was going to do. Was he going to stay with Ellen or go back with Layla? Also, how crazy was Layla? Would she do something to hurt Ellen? The book is an easy read. I finished it within three days.

This is a detective story but it does not include the police or detectives. It is about Finn trying to figure everything out on his own. It is suspenseful. I thought that since the book talked about a murder in the beginning that it would be the regular detective story where the police are trying to find the murderer. It is not at all like that. It is all about what Finn is thinking and what he is trying to figure out who is behind the Russian dolls.

Characters

Finn is not a likable character. I don’t like him too much because he lies and keeps things from his girlfriends. He has lots of money hidden from Ellen. However, he wants to be with these women because they are totally honest. He is allowed to lie and keep secrets, but his partners cannot do anything wrong. Ellen would never go through his stuff. He hides money from both Layla and Ellen. A lot of money.

He loses his temper quite often. If someone gets him really upset he punches them until they are almost dead, even women. This is a continuous pattern with him throughout his life.

“My temper led me into two more scrapes, one of which led to me being charged with assault after I beat up a colleague who called me Paddy one time too many. After that, I managed to more or less stay out of trouble, until the night I attacked Harry.” (p. 81)

I didn’t hate Finn throughout the story, but I did not feel sorry for him either. The ending of Bring Me Back was good. It has some things to ponder. If Finn did not have a temper, he could have had a happy life with Layla.

Another great psychological suspense novel I recommend is Room by Emma Donoghue. Here is my review of the book. I loved this book, and a movie came out based on this Room.

After The Flood by Kassandra Montag

After The Flood by Kassandra Montag

I enjoyed this post-apocalyptic book by Kassandra Montag. It kept my interest throughout the book. After The Flood is a longer book so my focus wasn’t about wanting to know how the book ends. I enjoyed the characters’ adventures. I wasn’t waiting to find out the mystery or figuring out if the main character was going to get what she wanted. Although that was in the story, I didn’t care too much about that. I just wanted to know about their relationships and the dangerous obstacles that they will face and how they were going to survive.

It was kind of boring at the beginning. I was about one-fifth of the way into the book, and I had no idea where the story was going. It did not seem like there was a plot, except for finding Row. Ok, hurry up and save Row, and that is it, end of the story. I then read the summary of the book to read what else is supposed to happen to see if I even wanted to continue reading the book. It said that Myra will board a ship and then lots of adventures will happen. I continued on and the book became more interesting. It is a long book where there are more details. I’m used to reading shorter books where events happen more quickly.

After The Flood Synopsis

A little more than a century into the future, a catastrophic flood covers most of the earth. Only mountainous regions are dry. Some survivors live in the water on boats and ships while others live on the land.

Myra has a 7-year-old daughter, Pearl. They live on the water. Seven years prior, right before the second flood came and destroyed their house in Nebraska, Myra’s husband took their oldest daughter, Row, and left. Myra was pregnant with Pearl at the time.

There was a 100-year flood and a six-year flood. The 100-year flood happened when Myra’s father was young. So not too many people remember what life was like before the waters destroyed the land.

However, with the six-year flood, people had time to prepare. A whole year Myra’s family were building a boat and storing food, clothing, and medical supplies.

“We had lost internet and electricity for good the month before and we watched the horizon daily, fearing the water would arrive before Grandfather finished the boat. “ (page 44)

Myra’s grandfather taught her how to fish, which helped her tremendously while surviving in this new post-apocalyptic world. After the flood, she used her fishing skills to catch fish to eat and to sell. She bartered fish to obtain other food and clothing. It was a dangerous world to live in.

“When I began to fish, Grandfather scolded me for fishing without intention, throwing lines in before I observed the water. Thinking that as long as hooks were in the water the fish would bite.

Watch the water. You must submit to it. Don’t fight it, Grandfather would say as the boat rocked gently under a hot noonday sun. “ Page 358.

My Analysis

The plot is if they could rescue Myra’s daughter, Row. She could have died or already sent to the breeding ship. Jacob, Myra’s husband, was most likely dead. But Myra never could figure out why he would leave and take Row with him. It had haunted her all these years.

I didn’t care much about the storyline in After The Flood. The characters’ relationships were more interesting to me and their day to day life. It was very entertaining. Usually, when I get to the end of reading a book, I look to see how many pages I have left to read. I didn’t do that at all for this book because I didn’t want it to end.

I enjoy post-apocalyptic novels and movies. However, the story is written in such a way that even if you don’t like post-apocalyptic books, you may still enjoy reading this book. It is adventurous with some romance in it too.

Tell Me by Lisa Jackson Book Review

Tell Me by Lisa Jackson Book Review

SUMMARY

The main character is Nikki Gillette. She is investigating an old case where a mother, Blondell O’Henry, supposedly killed her oldest daughter and injured her two other children. Most people in their small town believed that she injured herself to look like she was a victim. They wanted her to be put in jail and throw away the key. It has been twenty years since she was convicted and sent to jail. Now her son, who is 28 years old now, recants his story and says that his mother did not shoot him or his sister. In court when he was eight years old he had testified that his mother shot his sister.

Nikki was excited to investigate this case because she was also looking for a criminal case that she was emotionally connected to write a book. She had written two books prior to this and needed one more to fulfill her contract with her publishing company. Nikki had known Amity when she was younger. They both went to the same high school. The mystery throughout the book is that the night Amity died, she called Nikki and asked her to meet her because she had something very important to tell her. Nikki said she would but never made it because her parents were fighting and she couldn’t sneak out of the house.

“She’d never really told the truth about the night Amity had been killed at the cabin in the woods – never admitted that Amity had asked her to come – and she’d buried that guilt deep. But maybe now she’d have her chance. Maybe now she could make right a very deeply felt and festering wrong. (Page 33)”

ANALYSIS

Since Nikki is the main character, we heard mostly from what she was doing and feeling.  Sometimes Lisa Jackson wrote scenes where we got to see what Reed was doing with his side of the investigation.  I wanted to hear from both Reed and Nikki.  They are both working on the same case and will be husband and wife soon. 

A few times when Nikki was interviewing Blondell O’Henry in jail to get her side of the story the author told us what Blondell was thinking.  It made it more interesting and trying to figure out what she is hiding.  Why wouldn’t she want to tell her side and maybe get herself out of jail?  I enjoyed the suspense with finding out what really happened that night Amity O’Henry was murdered. The suspense kept me interested in continuing to read the story until the very end. There were lots of twists. A little romance between Nikki and Reed was a good addition to the story.

Another great crime novel I did a book review was Melancholy Baby by Robert B Parker.

 

One Child by Torey Hayden Book Review

One Child by Torey Hayden Book Review

ONE CHILD by TOREY HAYDEN

I started reading One Child: The True Story of a Tormented Six-Year-Old and the Brilliant Teacher Who Reached Out over 20 years ago.  Working downtown Pittsburgh and taking the bus gave me time every day to read.  When I was about halfway through this book, however, my purse with the book in it was stolen at work.  After all these years I often thought about the book, wondering what happened to that little girl.  A week ago I found this book at the library and decided to read it again and finally find out how the story ended.

ONE CHILD SYNOPSIS

Sheila is a victim of child abuse. She lived in a migrant camp with her father after her mother abandoned her.  When Sheila was four-years-old, her mother left her on the side of a highway and fled to California with her younger son. Child abuse was apparent when Sheila was found and taken to the hospital.  She had multiple healed fractures and scars.  Custody then went to the father who was recently released from prison.

The newspaper reported that a six-year-old girl tied up and then burned a three-year-old neighborhood boy in woods near their houses.  The little boy was in critical condition.  The girl, Sheila, was taken into custody after the incident and then sent back home until an opening became available in the children’s unit at the state hospital.  She was causing trouble for a month at home, so authorities decided to enroll her in a classroom for severely disturbed children until she could be admitted to the state hospital.  The classroom teacher was Torey Hayden who described her experience with dealing with Sheila in One Child: The True Story of a Tormented Six-Year-Old and the Brilliant Teacher Who Reached Out.

Her father was very poor living in a migrant camp with no heat, plumbing, or electricity. Consequently, Sheila came to school every day with the same clothes on and without taking a bath.  She stank with body odor and urine.  After a while, Torey cleaned Sheila up a little before the other children arrived at school.  During this time, Torey had time to talk with Sheila alone to find out more about her situation.  It was their special time.  Sheila loved it and started opening up to her teacher.  Their relationship develops throughout the story.

SOME THINGS WE WILL NEVER KNOW

I enjoyed the honesty in the book.  There are many things in this life that we will never know.  Torey tells us this in the book.  Sheila refused to do assignments that involved writing or drawing on paper.  When someone would give her paper, she would crumble it up and throw it, over and over again.  Sheila demonstrated how intelligent she was by doing verbal math or playing with blocks.  So it wasn’t because she didn’t know how.

I never learned whatever it was that motivated Sheila toward her paper phobia.  Later interactions with her over it and later comments that she made reaffirmed my belief that it was related to a fear of failure.  But I never really knew, nor did I feel a pressing need to know, only because so few human behaviors can be reduced to such simple cause-effect terms (p. 157)

Another mystery is why Sheila tied the little boy to a tree and burned him.  She never talked about it.  The book is told from Torey’s perspective, so we never really know or understand what Sheila is thinking.

Yet not once was the abuse incident brought up.  Not with the kids. Not with me or the other adults.  Never.  I did not suggest the topic either.  Although I seldom avoided issues, this one I felt instinctively I should leave alone, for no other reason than what my gut told me.  So we never discussed it.  I never found out what had been going through Sheila’s mind that cold November evening.

 

MY REVIEW

One Child: The True Story of a Tormented Six-Year-Old and the Brilliant Teacher Who Reached Out is a true story of child abuse which is heart-wrenching.  Torey saved Sheila’s life.  If Sheila would have been admitted to the State Hospital, she would most likely have been drugged and remained a mental patient the rest of her life.  I loved this book.  Although it is hard for me to hear about child abuse, I like happy endings.

Another great book, similar to this one, is Damaged and Bastard Out of Carolina.  They both are about child abuse and very good reads.

 

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA by Dorothy Allison

My mom introduced me to Bastard Out of Carolina: A Novel.  She had seen the movie on Lifetime and loved it so much that she told me about it and I then bought the book.  I saw some parts of the film a long time ago.  From what I remember the girl is beaten and raped continuously by her dad and her mother watches and doesn’t do anything about it.  She believes her husband when he tells her that the girl made him mad and that it is the girl’s fault and she needed punishment.  The book, however, is different than the movie. This abuse does happen in the story, but it also includes so many other family dynamics.   Subsequently, I kept waiting for the bad stuff to come, but it never did.  Well, at least not as consistently as the abuse was in the movie.

SYNOPSIS

Bone tells her life story in Bastard Out of Carolina: A Novel.  Her birth name is Ruth Anne but has been called Bone all of her life by her family.  The book starts with her birth.  Since Bone’s family did not name her father on her birth certificate, she was labeled a bastard in the state of South Carolina. This girl’s story starts from her birth and goes until she is almost thirteen years old.  She has a hard life growing up poor, but it is also a normal life for everyone that grew up around her and same kind of life that her aunts and uncle had too.

Bone had a younger sister and now has a step dad, which she calls Daddy Glen.  Bone’s mom, Anney, and Daddy Glen both worked but still didn’t make much money.  Growing up as ‘white trash’ in South Carolina was not easy.  Her family often moved because they were so poor that they could not afford the rent.  The family often had things repossessed from their homes.  All of her extended family was poor too.

FAMILY LOVE

One thing the family had was lots of love.  Bone would often spend time at her aunt’s houses for weeks at a time.  Her aunts and uncles loved to tell stories.  The family was always reminiscing about things like when the guys came to repossess everything from their house for nonpayment.   One story that the whole town repeated often was when her aunt threw everything out the window, including her underwear, and told them just to take it all.

Bastard Out of Carolina: A Novel exhibits many emotions. There is lots of love in the family, along with poverty, heartaches, and abuse.

Aunt Raylene chose never to get married nor have any children.  However, she wasn’t lonely at all and enjoyed her life.

“Well, for not birthing any, it sure feels like I’ve raised a crowd.  Seems like I’ve had somebody’s kids under my feet for years now.  An’t nobody in this family ever been selfish with their children.  Why, I’ve got up many a morning to find a porch full of young’uns somebody’s dropped off in the night.” (p. 189)

DADDY GLEN IS AN ABUSIVE STEP DAD

The only place Bone didn’t get love was from Daddy Glen.  He started beating her and touching her inappropriately. Anney knew what he was doing to her daughter.  But she took her husband’s side and told Bone to don’t make him mad.

“Mama thought that keeping me out of the house and away from Daddy Glen was the answer, that being patient, loving him, and making him feel strong and important would fix everything in time.  But nothing changed and nothing was really fixed, everything was only delayed.  Every time his daddy spoke harshly to him, every time he couldn’t pay the bills, every time Mama was too tired to flatter or tease him out of his moods, Daddy Glen’s eyes would turn to me, and my blood would turn to ice.” (p. 233)

Everyone is just trying to get through life the best they can.  Bone is always feeling angry.  She didn’t like being poor and moving all the time.  Also, Bone felt that she was a bad person and ugly, that is why Daddy Glen beat her.

MY REVIEW

I enjoyed the escape to this little girls life in Bastard Out of Carolina: A Novel.  Feelings I got from reading the book during that time period were sadness, happiness, love, and adventure.  This story is real life for some people.

If the book did just focus on the rape and beatings Daddy Glen did to Bone, I would have been angry the whole way through the book, as I was during the movie.  I would have had hatred towards the dad and angry with the mother for not saving her daughter.

I loved how the author took the readers to the 1950s and let us experience what life was like growing up poor during that time in the south.  My mother grew up in the 1950s, and as I was reading, I imagined what it was like for my mom growing up.  I wished I could have asked her about her childhood, compared to what was in the book.  Sadly, she died two years ago, so there is no more asking her questions.  The story gave me a glimpse of what it was like growing up poor in the 1950s as my mom did.

Another blog I wrote about child abuse was a book review of Damaged: The Heartbreaking True Story of a Forgotten Child.  I highly recommend this book.

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