The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

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My Review:

Amber Patterson has had a disappointing life and so she sets her eyes on a handsome, rich married man, Jackson Parrish, with her goal being to make him hers, in The Last Mrs. Parrish.  She befriends his lovely wife, Daphne, and weasels her way into the family, developing relationships with his inner circle, even his young children.  Amber’s sisterly connection with Daphne deepens as they have what seems to be unbreakable ties as they bond over similar experiences of loss, and their friendship appears to be genuine and strong.  But Amber is conniving and she works her way into Mr. Parrish’s office, ultimately getting a job as his assistant, and manipulating him into being interested in her and thinking his wife is becoming a bore.  Continually scheming to get what she wants, this psychological thriller draws you in.  And then there is a twist…We learn about Daphne Parrish’s past, her relationship with her husband, Jackson, and the truth behind her seemingly beautiful life and perfect marriage.  Secrets are revealed fast and furious; The Last Mrs. Parrish is not a book to put down…it is a one day read…maddening and tragic, addictive, thrilling and entertaining….a great escape!

As Seen of Goodreads:

A mesmerizing debut psychological thriller full of delicious twists about a coolly manipulative woman who worms her way into the lives of a wealthy “golden couple” from Connecticut to achieve the privileged life she wants.

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne and her husband, Jackson—the beautiful philanthropist and the confident real estate mogul—are a golden couple straight out of a fairytale, blessed with two lovely young daughters.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrish family, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

 

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About the Author:

Liv Constantine is the pen name of USA Today and WSJ bestselling authors and sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine. Separated by three states, they spend hours plotting via skype and burning up each other’s emails. They attribute their ability to concoct dark story lines to the hours they spent listening to tales handed down by their Greek grandmother. THE LAST MRS. PARRISH is their debut thriller. Visit them at www.livconstantine.com

Rights for THE LAST MRS. PARRISH have been sold in 19 other territories, including Spain, Brazil, Portugal, Poland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Korea, the UK, China, and Russia.

 

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First Survivor by Mark Unger

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My Review:

The Unger’s endured every parent’s worst nightmare when their young son, age three, was diagnosed with cancer and given a 0% chance of survival. But the world of medicine is ever changing and with dedicated patient advocates like parents Mark and Mary Ellen, combined with the best doctors in this country willing to try something new, Louis Unger is cancer free and will be turning 20 this year. Heartwarming and heartbreaking, Mark Unger skillfully tells the story of his family; the love and support they have for each other pours off the pages as he navigates the specifics of the deadly cancer his son endured, and ultimately celebrates Lou’s victory as the First Survivor. I highly recommend this inspiring true story and recommend it to anyone who is faced with, or knows someone with a medical challenge.

 

As Seen on Goodreads:

This is a real life thriller about a family’s battle to save their son from a “zero chance of survival” diagnosis. With the world’s best doctors and the advocacy of his parents, Louis Unger would fight the battle for his young life. His grit and incredible attitude led to a breakthrough that would change how cancer is treated today. This is not a medical journal or a how-to guide. It is a true page-turner that gives you a front row seat to a miraculous story of courage, inspiration and determination.

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About the Author:

Mark Unger was born and raised in Solingen, Germany, where his mother and father started a manufacturing business.  In 1978 the family moved to Weston, CT.  He graduated from Weston High School in 1984 and then attended Babson College in Wellesley, MA.  After working in the shipping industry for three years he joined his family business in 1992 and married the love of his life, Mary Ellen Delaney in 1994.

Harry, their first son, was born in 1996 followed by Louis in 1998.  The family was confronted wit Louis’s diagnosis of neuroblastoma, a rare and deadly childhood cancer, on Thanksgiving Day 2001, when he was three years old.  The battle to save Louis’s life and the incredible medical breakthrough that saved their son created a burning desire for Mark to document his unique story.

Today, Mark and his family live in Bethany, CT.  He is a Director and Owner of his family business, Unger Global, and active in a number of charities.  Mark enjoys traveling with his wife to explore new places, playing golf, fishing and riding snowmobiles.

All proceeds from this book will go to the Carrot Seed Foundation where they will be used to find neuroblastoma clinical trials and support the children and families who are stricken by this disease.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

 

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My Review:

Four children from a Jewish family on the lower east side of Manhattan visit a psychic in the summer of 1969 and are told the date they will die.  Does this information, this prediction, change the way they choose to live?  That question is left unanswered in The Immortalists, as we follow each of the siblings’ lives.   Author Chloe Benjamin provides us with a mesmerizing story of these rich characters, and their choices about how to live.  Simon, the youngest brother, moves to California to live his truth and gets caught up in the reckless ’80s sexual revolution.  His journey out west begins with his sister Klara, who is irresponsible in many ways and chooses to become a magician.  Daniel, the oldest brother is conflicted at work; he is a doctor in the army and must give clearance to young men, less fortunate than he. to serve in the military.  And Vanya is involved in anti-aging research, as she reduces caloric intake of primates to extend their lives.  We witness the strengthening and deterioration of relationships and we hope things will turn out ok, but do they?  Throughout the book I couldn’t help but question if the characters’ choices were made because of the knowledge they received regarding their death.

Another question to think about is:  quality or quantity…do you want to live a long time or live well during the time you have?  Would you want to know the date of your own death?

Some of what Chloe Benjamin writes about is based on her own knowledge and experiences; she grew up in California in the 80s, with a gay parent, a Jewish parent, and immigrant grandparents.  She was a ballet dancer and her mother was an actor…all of which influenced the setting and characters.  She also did massive research to learn about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military, primate research, magicians and magic.  The narrative was rich with information and I really enjoyed the format, each section written about a different character.

The Immortalists, for me, was a lesson about embracing life and trying not to worry about the unknown.  It is a balance, like science and religion, to navigate our lives by making choices based on what we know to be true and what we believe is true.  I highly recommend this book!

As seen on Goodreads:

If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

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About the Author:

Chloe Benjamin is the author of THE IMMORTALISTS, a New York Times Bestseller, #1 Indie Next Pick for January 2018, Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, #1 Library Reads pick, and Amazon Best Book of the Month.

Her first novel, THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS (Atria, 2014), received the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award and was longlisted for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize.

Her novels have been translated into over twenty-three languages. A graduate of Vassar College and the M.F.A. in fiction at the University of Wisconsin, Chloe lives with her husband in Madison, WI.

Origin by Dan Brown

 

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My Review:

Perfectly written for the big screen, Dan Brown definitely knows how to keep a plot moving! He feeds the reader information, just enough to peek your interest, and to create mysteries and questions.  In each chapter he adds more fuel to the fire and slowly reveals clues to bring you closer to the reveal.   Origin, this thought provoking, action packed mystery left me breathless at the end of every chapter.  Brown takes us to Spain on what feels like a wild goose chase as we follow his beloved character Langdon from Bilbao to Barcelona.  His futurist friend, Edmond, had made a huge discovery that would answer the defining questions; Where did we come from, and where are we going…, impacting religion and science in a history making way.  But during the big announcement, in front of millions of people all around the world, something went wrong.  With the answer to these burning questions of humanity and the unknown discovery lying in the balance, Langdon is in a race against time to find out what happened to his friend and what the revelation was.

Although, for me the earth shattering discovery that effects all of mankind was the least impressive part of this novel, Dan Brown does bring to light the question about how we were created, the possibility that we came from God vs. Science.  He also indicates the idea that religion holds us back, and that technology has the power to take over man, or even to merge with humanity to become a new species.  Because we can’t go back in time we may never really know where we came from, but we can see where we are going short term and with cell phones, computers, Alexa and robocalls, it is clear that technology has a big part in our future. I highly recommend this one.

As Seen on Goodreads:

Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.

As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.

Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself… and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery… and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.

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About the Author:

Dan Brown is the author of numerous #1 bestselling novels, including The Da Vinci Code, which has become one of the best selling novels of all time as well as the subject of intellectual debate among readers and scholars. Brown’s novels are published in 52 languages around the world with 200 million copies in print.

In 2005, Brown was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME Magazine, whose editors credited him with “keeping the publishing industry afloat; renewed interest in Leonardo da Vinci and early Christian history; spiking tourism to Paris and Rome; a growing membership in secret societies; the ire of Cardinals in Rome; eight books denying the claims of the novel and seven guides to read along with it; a flood of historical thrillers; and a major motion picture franchise.”

The son of a mathematics teacher and a church organist, Brown was raised on a prep school campus where he developed a fascination with the paradoxical interplay between science and religion. These themes eventually formed the backdrop for his books. He is a graduate of Amherst College and Phillips Exeter Academy, where he later returned to teach English before focusing his attention full time to writing.

Brown is currently at work on a new book as well as the Columbia Pictures film version of his most recent novel.