Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Reluctant Midwife by Patricia Harman

I love companion novels. I'm one of those readers who loves to have a story continue, but not necessarily follow the main character. Typically, unless the book is part of a series, the main character has had her story told and the ending is there for a reason, but there are always secondary characters I'm interested in and would love to see expanded upon. 

Sometime last year, my book club read The Midwife of Hope River and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but was left wanting to know more about Becky. I apparently just needed some patience. The Reluctant Midwife follows Becky as she returns to Hope River during the Great Depression, accompanying Dr. Blum to help care for the poor. 

The characters are well-formed and detailed, as in Harman's previous novel, and I enjoyed this one very much. I really loved all the bits of American history woven into the story and it was obvious the author did an immense amount of research before creating this story. It was believable and felt like it could have been out of the pages of a diary of a midwife in the early 1930's. 

Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction or Call the Midwife.

You can find Patricia Harman on Twitter, Facebook, and at her website. You can find the rest of the TLC Book Tour here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash

Alys has a pretty typical high school life. Boyfriend, best friend, good grades, etc. She's a talented musician with a hopeful future and not much to truly worry about. Then her older brother walks into their high school and kills fifteen people and then himself. Her friends, her classmates, her teachers are dead. Her brother is gone.

Alys must deal with the aftermath of her brother's decision, all while grieving the loss of her sibling. She is shunned by people she thought loved her, her parents can't stop arguing, and she can't help but feel she should have known something was going to happen and have been able to prevent such a horrible tragedy.

This is a dark, gritty, novel filled with hard stuff. So close to reality for too many people. The writing is beautiful and haunting and I felt an instant connection to Alys. She was just a girl who went to school one day and her sibling made a horrific decision, forever changing her entire life.  Her brokenness after the shooting was expected, but the way Banash put it on the page felt real and honest.

I finished this a week ago, but I can't stop thinking about it. The perspective was unique and the emotion was just pure and raw. A hard read, but a good one.

Thank you to Penguin for the review copy.