Things in Jars by Jess Kidd

Things in Jars: A Novel by [Kidd, Jess]

4 Stars

Publisher: Atria Books

Date of publication: February 4th, 2020

Genre: General Fiction

Where you can find Things in Jars: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book synopsis:

In the dark underbelly of Victorian London, a formidable female sleuth is pulled into the macabre world of fanatical anatomists and crooked surgeons while investigating the kidnapping of an extraordinary child in this gothic mystery—perfect for fans of The Essex Serpent and The Book of Speculation.

Bridie Devine—female detective extraordinaire—is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors trading curiosities in this age of discovery.

Winding her way through the labyrinthine, sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing a past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where spectacle is king and nothing is quite what it seems.

Blending darkness and light, history and folklore, Things in Jars is a spellbinding Gothic mystery that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhumane times.


First Line:

As pale as a grave grub she’s an eyeful.

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd

My Review:

When I read the blurb for Things in Jars, I knew that I needed to read the book. A mystery set in Victorian England that had a paranormal/fantasy bent to it. Another thing going for this book is that I had read Himself by the author and loved it. So, yes, I was excited to read the book. I am glad that I did because Things in Jars were fantastic!!

Things in Jars had a great storyline. Bridie Devine is a female detective who takes on a case that she thinks will be easy. A 6-year-old girl has been kidnapped, and her father is frantic to get her back. But, as Bridie starts to investigate this story, she notices that things aren’t adding up. Then Bridie’s past collides with her present in a way that could derail her investigation. What is so special about that girl? Why are so many people after her? And what will happen when Bridie is forced to face her past?

The plotline for Things in Jars was lightning fast. That surprised me because when a book goes from past to present, there is always some lag. But not in this case. The author was able to keep up the pace of the plotline and seamlessly go from past to present. There are also no dropped characters or storylines. It made reading this book absolutely a joy!!

I am not a massive fan of when books got back and forth in time. But in this case, the author made it work. As Bridie investigated Christabel’s kidnapping, the author showed what it was like for Bridie growing up. It wasn’t pretty. There were parts of her childhood that made me want to hug her. The time spent in the Eames household, and what Gideon put her through was awful. But, it showed where she got her medical skills and how it shaped her into the woman she was in the present day.

The storyline with Christabel’s kidnapping was interesting. I liked it because I had to figure out if Christabel being a freak of nature was true or not. For a time, I did think that Christabel was an innocent child. But, then there was a crucial scene that involved snails and feet that changed my mind.

I liked that the author took the Irish myth of the Merrow and ran with it. I wasn’t familiar with that myth and spent some time reading about it after I finished the book. I loved it!!

I also loved how the author tied Bridie’s past and present together. There were a couple of people from her past that showed up, not including Ruby Doyle. I was surprised at how they were tied in.

I loved the paranormal angle of the book. I did feel that Ruby’s storyline was dragged on, and I did think, for a time, that his connection to Bridie was forgotten. But, it wasn’t, and the reveal was heartbreaking. I’ll admit, I cried.

The end of Things in Jars was nothing short of amazing. The author did a fantastic job of wrapping everything up. My heart broke a few times when reading the ending. I was wondering if there was going to be another book, but I don’t think so. If I’m wrong, that’s great. But the vibe I got was no.


I would give Things in Jars an Adult rating. There is no sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Things in Jars. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

We Are All Good People Here by Susan Rebecca White

We Are All Good People Here: A Novel by [White, Susan Rebecca]

4 Stars

Publisher: Atria Books

Date of Publication: August 6th, 2019

Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction

Where you can find We Are All Good People Here: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

From the author of A Place at the Table and A Soft Place to Land, an “intense, complex, and wholly immersive” (Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author) multigenerational novel that explores the complex relationship between two very different women and the secrets they bequeath to their daughters.

Eve Whalen, privileged child of an old-money Atlanta family, meets Daniella Gold in the fall of 1962, on their first day at Belmont College. Paired as roommates, the two become fast friends. Daniella, raised in Georgetown by a Jewish father and a Methodist mother, has always felt caught between two worlds. But at Belmont, her bond with Eve allows her to finally experience a sense of belonging. That is, until the girls’ expanding awareness of the South’s systematic injustice forces them to question everything they thought they knew about the world and their places in it.

Eve veers toward radicalism—a choice pragmatic Daniella cannot fathom. After a tragedy, Eve returns to Daniella for help in beginning anew, hoping to shed her past. But the past isn’t so easily buried, as Daniella and Eve discover when their daughters are endangered by secrets meant to stay hidden.

Spanning more than thirty years of American history, from the twilight of Kennedy’s Camelot to the beginning of Bill Clinton’s presidency, We Are All Good People Here is “a captivating…meaningful, resonant story” (Emily Giffin, author of All We Ever Wanted) about two flawed but well-meaning women clinging to a lifelong friendship that is tested by the rushing waters of history and their own good intentions.


First Line:

Daniella’s father steered the Dodge Pioneer up the serpentine drive of Belmont College, home to more than five hundred girls renowned for their Beauty and Brains, or at least that wsa what the boosterish tour guide who had shown Daniella around the previous spring had claimed.

We Are All Good People Here by Susan Rebecca White

We Are All Good People Here was an interesting read. I usually don’t like books that follow characters over the decades. Often, I find myself getting confused with what is going on and losing track of the plotline. Not in this book. We Are All Good People Here was an interesting, character-driven book that had me engrossed the entire time.

What I liked the most about this book was how the characters changed with each decade. Each decade showed a different side to Eve and Daniella. I enjoyed seeing the different sides of Eve and Daniella. I liked seeing how they related to each other in those periods of their lives. I loved seeing how their friendship evolved during the 30+ years the book covers. It made for a fantastic read.

I liked how the author had Eve and Daniella be on opposite ends of the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War protests. It was interesting to read about Daniella’s time in Mississippi. I was interested in how Eve was immersed in a radical group. It fascinated me.

We Are All Good People Here covers so much that this review would be forever if I wrote about them all. Racism and discrimination were two of the main things discussed. Also discussed where same-sex couples, date rape, drug use, and radicalism. All these issues combined into one book made for a great read.

What I didn’t like was how Eve changed. It didn’t sit right with me. She was immersed in the culture of the underground radicals. So, for her to marry a lawyer and become a “perfect” wife was a hard pill to swallow.

I wasn’t a fan of Eve and Daniella’s kids taking over the book. But, I understood why the author did that. She wanted to introduce the issues that my generation had to deal with growing up.

The end of We Are All Good People Here was almost anticlimactic. I figured that Eve would end up doing what she did. Daniella, I didn’t expect her life to take the course that it did. It was an excellent ending to a great story. The talk that Daniella and Sarah had at the end of the book touched me.


I would give We Are All Good People Here an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread We Are All Good People Here. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Mrs. Everything: A Novel by [Weiner, Jennifer]

4 Stars

Publisher: Atria Books

Date of publication: June 11th, 2019

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Where you can find Mrs. Everything: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookBub

Book synopsis:

From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes, comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?


My Review

Her cell phone rang as they were on their way out of the movies

I wasn’t too sure if I was going to like Mrs. Everything. I have had bad luck with novels that follow families over the years. I either lose interest halfway through the book or the book goes off the rails. I am happy to say that I did not lose interest in Mrs. Everything. The book also didn’t go off the rails.

The plotlines for Mrs. Everything were terrific. They were well written. I loved that the author chose to have certain events as the background to Jo and Bethie’s lives. That added enough realism to the book.

Out of the two storylines, Jo’s touched me the most. She grew up with a mother who didn’t understand her. Jo was a lesbian who was forced to marry to keep up appearances. She gave up her dreams to help Bethie. But she wasn’t perfect. That is what I liked the most about her character. She wasn’t perfect, and she owned it.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Bethie but I did feel bad for her. What happened to her as a young teenager was awful, and should have never happened. Her rebellion was a direct result of that. I didn’t like her holier than thou attitude when she was visiting Jo. It left a bad taste in my mouth. She did redeem herself in the latter half of the book. She more than redeemed herself in my eyes.

I liked how the author chose to address Jo’s sexuality. Instead of making everything sunshine and unicorns, she decided to portray everything Jo went through realistically. I loved it.

I did not like Lila, but I understood her. She was suffering from her parents’ divorce, moving, and her mother coming out. She acted out. She was unlikable. Again, I loved it.

The end of Mrs. Everything had me in tears. I was a blubbering mess. And the epilogue. Oh, my poor heart. But, I wouldn’t have had the book any other way.


I would give Mrs. Everything an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I an on the fence if I would reread Mrs. Everything I am on the fence if I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Holding by Graham Norton

Holding

Title: Holding

Author: Graham Norton

Publisher: Atria Books

Date of publication: August 1st, 2017

Genre: General Fiction

Number of pages: 272

POV: 3rd person

Where you can find Holding: Barnes and Noble | Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Graham Norton’s masterful début is an intelligently crafted story of love, secrets, and loss.

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama, and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of­ two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic, and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former­ love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

Trigger Warning: Child Death, Alcoholism, Cheating

Continue reading “Holding by Graham Norton”

Himself by Jess Kidd

Himself

Title: Himself

Author: Jess Kidd

Publisher: Atria Books

Date of publication: March 14th, 2017

Genre: General Fiction, Mystery, Crime, Fantasy

POV: 3rd person

Number of pages: 368

Series: No

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

When Mahony returns to Mulderrig, a speck of a place on Ireland’s west coast, he brings only a photograph of his long-lost mother and a determination to do battle with the village’s lies.

His arrival causes cheeks to flush and arms to fold in disapproval. No one in the village – living or dead – will tell what happened to the teenage mother who abandoned him as a baby, despite Mahony’s certainty that more than one of them has answers.

Between Mulderrig’s sly priest, its pitiless nurse and the caustic elderly actress throwing herself into her final village play, this beautiful and darkly comic début novel creates an unforgettable world of mystery, bloody violence, and buried secrets.

My review:

Told in 3rd person, Himself is a book about a young man trying to find out what happened to his mother in a small village in Ireland. With supernatural, mystery and crime-woven into the book, Himself is a book that will suck you in and not let you out until you finish it.

I was truly surprised at how much I liked this book. I couldn’t get enough of it and found myself reading it while waiting for my kid’s bus while cooking supper, eating supper and at night in bed. It was literally book crack for me. I couldn’t get enough of Mahony’s story and of all the other secondary plotlines going on.

I really liked Mahony and definitely felt for him while he was searching for answers for what happened to Orla and who his father was. He had so much opposition but also had so much help, if that makes sense.

The mystery of who killed Orla was a true mystery to the end. The author did a great job of hiding his identity. It was only when the dog was killed and then showed up by the killer’s side was I clued in. Well, that and the other two murders in the village.

I loved the supernatural elements of the book. The ghosts, the storm, the pagan stream in the priest’s house (which was ironic and funny to me), just added more depth to the book. I like that the ghosts were not who they were in real life and they kept their secrets as well as they did when they were alive.

What I really liked about this book was that not all the storylines were resolved in a way that was satisfactory or not at all. One storyline, I do think I figured out who it was ( read the book if you want to know what I am talking about….haha).

How many stars will I give Himself: 5

Why: A great book that had so many layers to it, it resembled an onion in my mind. Once I peeled one layer back, another one appeared. The characters were multi-dimensional (hence the layers) and the storylines were not all happily resolved.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Older teen (16+)

Why: Violence

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

Every Dead Thing (Charlie Parker: Book 1) by John Connolly

Every Dead Thing: A Charlie Parker Thriller by [Connolly, John]

Title: Every Dead Thing

Author: John Connolly

Publisher: Atria Books (original publisher: Pocket Books)

Date of publication: June 16th, 2015 (original date of publication: 1999)

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Number of pages: 467

POV: 1st person

Series: Charlie Parker

Every Dead Thing – Book 1

Dark Hollow – Book 2

The Killing Kind – Book 3

The White Road – Book 4

The Black Angel – Book 5

The Unquiet – Book 6

The Reapers – Book 7

The Lovers – Book 8

The Whisperers – Book 9

The Burning Soul – Book 10

The Wrath of Angels – Book 11

The Wolf in Winter – Book 12

A Song of Shadows – Book 13

A Time of Torment – Book 14

A Game of Ghosts – Book 15 (expected publication date April 6th, 2017)

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Book synopsis (taken from Goodreads):

Hailed internationally as a page-turner in a league with the fiction of Thomas Harris, this lyrical and terrifying bestseller is the stunning achievement of an “extravagantly gifted” (Kirkus Reviews) new novelist. John Connolly superbly taps into the tortured mind and gritty world of former NYPD detective Charlie “Bird” Parker, tormented by the brutal, unsolved murders of his wife and young daughter. Driven by visions of the dead, Parker tracks a serial killer from New York City to the American South, and finds his buried instincts — for love, survival, and, ultimately, for killing — awakening as he confronts a monster beyond imagining…

My review:

This book spooked the pants off me and I don’t normally get spooked by books. From the beginning, when Charlie’s wife and daughter were murdered by the end…..I got chills. Put it this way, I couldn’t read this book at night because of how creepy it was. The one time I did, all I dreamed about was human beings being cut open and flayed. So yeah, I read this book during the day.

I felt awful for Charlie. I mean, I can’t imagine coming home to my family murdered. I don’t even think I could cope. Actually, I know I couldn’t cope. So I was a little surprised when it looked like he had moved on. New job, new house. Then everything came to a head when he takes a job to find the missing girlfriend of the son of influential women and clues show up about his wife and daughter.

My favorite characters had to have been Angel and Louis. A thug and an assassin in a relationship, yes please!!! Louis I liked because of his fashion style and the fact that nothing seemed to phase him. Also, I think I would want him as a backup when things when south. Angel was very cute (but also very dangerous) and you could tell that he genuinely loved Louis.

The action in this book was insane. It went from zero to bloodshed within a chapter. Which is OK with me. Sometimes I need that!!!

I liked that the author really didn’t play up the paranormal part of the book until the end. And even then, it was understated. Creepy but understated. With everything else that was going on in the book, I liked that.

I will say that the author did have me going about who The Traveling Man was until the end of the book. I did have a suspicion as to who it was but with everything that was going on in the book, I kinda said “Nah”. Well, color me surprised when it ended up being who I originally thought it was.

The end of the book was very good. All of the storylines were tied up, for the most part, and I could see where the author left an opening for the next book. Which I am going to have to read because I got hooked on this series!!

How many stars will I give Every Dead Thing: 4

Why: A very intense mystery will keep me guessing and I refused to read at night. The violence and bloodshed might be a little much for some people but I didn’t care.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Adult

Why: Sexual situations, violence, and language

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**