Newest review: The Day She Came Back by Amanda Prowse

By Ekta R. Garg

July 29, 2020

Genre: Women’s fiction

Release date: July 7, 2020

Rated: Binge it! / 5 stars

A teenager is left without any family after her last living relative dies. She’s shocked, then, when the mother she thought had died of a drug overdose comes back, healthy and very much alive. The teen must decide if she can forgive her mother for disappearing and figure out how to move on. Acclaimed women’s fiction author Amanda Prowse is back with another winning novel about grief and restarting relationships in The Day She Came Back.

At 18 years old, Victoria Cutter has everything in the world she needs. She has her best friend, Daksha, and her grandmother, Prim. Daksha and Victoria go back so far they don’t remember life without one another, and Prim has been Victoria’s mother figure her entire life. When Victoria’s mother died from a heroin overdose, Prim was right there to take care of Victoria. Since her grandfather’s death almost a decade earlier, Victoria and Prim comprise their small family and the two dote on one another.

Now Victoria is getting ready for the next big step in life: leaving home. She and Daksha have a long trip planned. Before Daksha goes off to university and Victoria becomes an “adult” and figures out what she wants to do with her life, the two will travel the world on the funds they’ve saved. They’re going to live life to the fullest as long as the money lasts.

Then Victoria comes home one day and finds that Prim has passed away in her sleep. No warning; no health issues. Just that morning she and Prim were teasing one another, talking about the most mundane parts of their day. Suddenly Victoria is all alone in Rosebank, the home she shared with Prim in the London suburb of Surrey.

Daksha and her parents rush to comfort Victoria, helping her with funeral arrangements and making sure she eats and sleeps. Victoria appreciates the support—and the copious cups of tea—but she feels horribly alone and scared. Before Prim died, she was nervous but excited about being an adult. Now the thought just terrifies her. How is she supposed to manage such a large house all by herself? How is she supposed to manage life all by herself?

On the day of Prim’s funeral, a woman shows up to the house who Victoria doesn’t know. She’s rattled, thinking the woman is just one of those people morbidly fascinated by funerals. Then the woman reveals her identity: she’s Sarah, Victoria’s long-lost mother.

Victoria has a million questions, not the least of why Sarah insists on calling her “Victory” instead of her proper name. She also feels a deep sense of betrayal when she finds out that Prim knew all along that Sarah wasn’t dead. Others come forward to confirm the fact, and Victoria feels more alone than ever. It’s like Prim has died twice.

Sarah has come to make amends, even though she’s grieving Prim, and Victoria discovers that everyone has a story to tell. Victoria just can’t figure out how to put all the pieces together into a cohesive narrative for herself. As she works through her own grief, Victoria will have to decide whether she can forgive both Sarah and Prim for keeping this secret.

Author Amanda Prowse returns with a wonderful novel that smacks of reality and the process of learning how to let go of a dear family member. Prowse compounds Victoria’s grief by complicating it: not only does she want her wonderful grandmother back with an aching desperation, she’s also furious with her. Bringing Sarah back into her life also reiterates that Victoria grows up at an accelerated pace.

Prowse doesn’t shy away from the tough conversations about and around grief, and that’s where the book shines. Victoria misses her grandmother with a ferocity that jumps off the pages. She wants to understand why Sarah left her, yet she also wants to maintain the right to be angry at her—both emotions are real and painful.

Although the book centers on Victoria’s grief, it also doesn’t forget that she’s an older teen. The plot allows Victoria to make some stupid mistakes that might seem like “life experience” in and of themselves. Within the larger narrative of her losing Prim, her mistakes just reinforce Victoria’s heartache. Prowse handles it all beautifully.

Readers wanting a great book about relationships and second chances will definitely want to read this. It’s an excellent addition to any shelf. I recommend readers Binge The Day She Came Back.

Second review for today: The Catch by TM Logan

By Ekta R. Garg

July 22, 2020

Genre: Psychological thriller

Release date: April 30, 2020

Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars

A father can’t ignore the warning signals when his daughter announces her engagement. Everyone else seems to love the new man in her life, but he can’t shake the feeling that something is terribly wrong. What starts as an instinct becomes an obsession for a father who loves his daughter more than life itself. Author TM Logan is back with another winner in his book, The Catch.

Ed Collier is reeling from the news: his 23-year-old daughter, Abbie, is marrying her boyfriend of just seven months. While Claire, Ed’s wife, is bubbling with happiness, Ed is wary. Ryan is almost a decade older than Abbie, and most of the relationship has been long distance. As much as Ed loves Abbie, he doesn’t understand why there’s this need to jump into a marriage.

And Abbie and Ryan are ready to jump. Their intention to get married in six weeks reeks of suspicion. Abbie says they’re rushing because she wants to make sure her grandmother can attend. Ed’s mother-in-law has received a terminal diagnosis, and Abbie is close to her Nana Joyce. Apparently Ryan suggested it would be better to have the wedding sooner rather than later, and Claire and Joyce are both touched by the gesture.

Ed, though, gets the strong impression that Ryan isn’t being honest. He’s saying all the right words and behaving in all the right ways, but Ed’s first meeting with Ryan is enough to tell him that this man doesn’t truly love Abbie. Not in the way she deserves, and not in the way any man should love a woman.

He shares his concerns with Claire, but she believes Ed is being overcautious. A family tragedy from years earlier plus a bad breakup for Abbie with an old boyfriend has made Ed suspicious of everyone. Ryan, Claire pleads, is a great guy. He volunteers in the community and has a solid corporate job. He takes care of Abbie and is clearly interested in becoming a member of the family. Why can’t Ed see any of that?

Ed makes an attempt to like Ryan and get to know him, but his inner radar keeps warning him to take action. He begins to follow Ryan and hires an investigator to look into him. Bit by bit, Ed begins to collect information that alarms him. He doesn’t know where to turn with what he knows, however, and so he continues to build on the cache of facts. His obsession drives him to a breaking point both professionally and personally, but he doesn’t care. No one is going to hurt Abbie ever again.

Author TM Logan’s thriller twists the screws of suspense so tight readers won’t be able to stop turning pages. Logan uses a deft touch to encourage readers to question Ed’s methods, even as they root him on for looking out for his daughter. Is Ed just overly cautious because of the events of the past, or does he really have just cause to worry about Ryan? The novel teeters from one opinion to another in tantalizing fashion.

Ed’s search for information on Ryan creates realistic problems for him at home and work. Logan displays with ease how Ed begins to turn all of his time and attention to his quest for the truth to the detriment of everything else in his life. Like any parent wanting to protect their child, Ed will stop at nothing.

If the book could be faulted absolutely anywhere, it’s in the need for more details on Ryan. The novel switches points of view, so readers will hear from Ryan eventually. Many of Ryan’s actions are explained by the unfolding of the plot and Ryan himself, but the book needed to delve deeper into what makes Ryan tick as a person. The psychology of Ryan, in this psychological thriller, needed closer examination.

Regardless, readers looking for a fast-paced book that will keep them guessing all the way to the end will enjoy this one. I recommend anyone who enjoys thrillers should Bookmark The Catch by TM Logan.

Latest review: The Vacation by TM Logan

July 22, 2020

Genre: Thriller

Release date: July 21, 2020

Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars

When a woman goes on vacation with her three best friends and their families, she makes a startling discovery that threatens her marriage. As she tries to figure out the details of the secret, she fights to stay calm. Soon, however, she realizes she’s not the only one with problems or secrets. Author T.M. Logan is back with another thriller in the fun and surprising novel The Vacation.

Kate Connelly can’t believe it, but she’s finally on vacation with her three best friends, Izzy, Rowan, and Jennifer. The four went to university and lived together; at one time, they made it a point to travel together every year too, just the four of them. No husbands, no children, no jobs to worry about.

But in the year Rowan got pregnant with her daughter, Odette, the trip didn’t make sense. That break caused a five-year gap, which the friends have finally gotten to breach. So that no one felt left out, they’ve decided to bring their families along too. It’s not a girls’ weekend away, but at least they get to see each other.

Rowan finds them a picturesque home in the tiny French village of Autignac, and the four families arrive ready to enjoy the countryside for a full week. Hours within arriving, though, Kate makes a horrible discovery. A woman has been texting her husband, Sean, and it sounds like they’re having an affair. Worse: the woman says she wants to sort things out with Sean during the week in France.

As a crime data analyst, Kate’s trained to examine facts and right now the facts are telling her that one of her best friends has been sleeping with the man she thought was the love of her life. But who could it be? Throughout the week, Kate recounts reasons why each of the women might hold a grudge against her. She’s hurt all of them, albeit indirectly, in some way or the other. Would Izzy, Rowan, or Jennifer stoop to this level?

In the meantime, Kate’s noticed that something isn’t right with her daughter, Lucy. True, she’s a teenager, and teens are notoriously glued to their technology. But now that they’re not in the rat race of their normal lives, Kate realizes that Lucy’s been acting in strange ways for a while now. Something isn’t making sense.

She tries to ignore her misgivings, but it burns her blood that Sean would cheat on her. Also, the vacation isn’t turning out to be as ideal as anyone hoped. Jennifer’s style of helicopter parenting gets dialed up to a loud pitch. Rowan seems more inclined to let her young daughter, Odette, get away with everything and everything, even as her husband, Russ, complains that she isn’t parenting Odette. Izzy seems the most content with her life as a single person, but then she confides in Kate that she isn’t exactly available anymore. Could that mean that Izzy is guilty of betrayal?

All Kate knows is that this vacation was supposed to help her reset with her friends, and instead it’s turning into one mini disaster after another. Never mind that it’s easier to focus on the mini disasters so she can ignore the one looming over her: the end of her marriage.

Author T.M. Logan keeps the story moving at a good pace. He gives Kate the opportunity to take the lead in solving her own problems. After careful deliberation, she confronts Sean about the purported affair. When she receives vague answers, she doesn’t give up.

Logan uses all of the classic genre devices to great effect, and thriller lovers will grin with glee by the end. In particular, a funeral scene will begin with readers believing one possible conclusion to the story but will lead them into another direction altogether. While it comes towards the end of the book, it’s worth waiting for.

At times the point of view shifts to one or the other characters, but this is Kate’s story from start to finish. Despite staying in her head for most of the book, Logan conveys all the necessary elements of the plot with ease. He’ll have readers guessing all the way to the satisfying conclusion that proves justice appears with many faces.

Anyone wanting a fast read that will keep them turning pages definitely needs to read this book. I recommend readers Bookmark The Vacation.

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