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MAD HONEY by Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan

Olivia fled her abusive marriage to return to her hometown and take over the family beekeeping business when her son Asher was six. Now, impossibly, her baby is six feet tall and in his last year of high school, a kind, good-looking, popular ice hockey star with a tiny sprite of a new girlfriend.

Lily also knows what it feels like to start over – when she and her mother relocated to New Hampshire it was all about a fresh start. She and Asher couldn’t help falling for each other, and Lily feels happy for the first time. But can she trust him completely?

Then Olivia gets a phone call – Lily is dead, and Asher is arrested on a charge of murder. As the case against him unfolds, she realises he has hidden more than he’s shared with her. And Olivia knows firsthand that the secrets we keep reflect the past we want to leave behind ­­- and that we rarely know the people we love well as we think we do.


Title : Mad Honey
Author : Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan
Format : Physical
Page Count : 454
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : November 15, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

Headlines:
Do you know your nearest and dearest?
Nature or nurture
Bees, honey, sad with a little sweet

First, there are a bunch of content warnings for this book that may make this a tricky read for some folks, please check those out online.

Mad Honey had a lot to tell the reader, sometimes in a blast of shockwaves and other times it teased out an issue with great poignancy and focus. This was a tough read but utterly engaging, it was educational without being preachy and it made you question up from down, black through to a rainbow of grey.

At the heart of this story were three characters, Olivia (mother), Asher (son) and Lily (girlfriend). This story took a journey of various stages of past and present through the eyes of these three characters. I liked each of these three with differing warmth and an ebb and flow of trust and distrust for some. This was a tragically sad read but hopeful too.

The tension in this read was pretty high, things unravelled quite early, so the whole read had you on the edge of what…w h a t…WHAT! Various reveals came, most I guessed but they were no less impactful for the suggestions that were laid through the story. I couldn’t guess the ending however.

These authors have written a read that impacts and teaches while whisking you on a most satisfying and thrilling read.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to educate everyone about your right to exist in the world.

Thank you to Hodder Books and Tandem Collective for the review copy.

4.5 stars, rounded up.

OUT OF THE BLUE by P. Dangelico

A small-town romance about letting go of the past and learning to live in the moment.

Blue Baldwin takes no horse crap from anybody. Well, actually, that’s not entirely true. She does take horse crap. Piles of it. The real kind that is––not the metaphorical one. It kind of goes with the job description when you run a large animal rescue. What she does not take, however, is crap from an entitled movie star who needs to reform his rotten image.

Unfortunately, the farm she manages is in trouble and if she doesn’t raise the cash to save it she’ll be homeless along with the precious animals who depend on her. So she’ll grin and bear the King of Hollywood Screw Ups, and the assistant, and the overprotective brother he brings along. I mean, she takes care of large animals for a living. Isn’t that basically the same thing?


Title : Out of the Blue
Author : P. Dangelico
Format : eARC
Page Count : 291
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Self Published
Release Date : October 26, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Animals were the stars
Misunderstandings
Fun vibes

If you’re the kind of reader like me that is enchanted by animals in the background of a book, then Out of the Blue delivers with an endearing set of rescued animals. The main character, Blue is a bit of a rescue case herself but she’s dedicated her life to this sanctuary, off the beaten track. Side entrance, a community service Hollywood star and his entourage. Now this plot wasn’t as obvious as it seemed at first glance.

I really liked Blue but I feel like I didn’t really get to know her as well as I’d hoped. Shane and Blue were a good potential pairing but they didn’t connect outside of the chemistry for me; I wanted a bit more.

Out of the Blue was a perfectly pleasant read and a bit of escapism but it didn’t grip me or give me the feels. It’s a story that starts with some meat and depth to the story but I felt that the depth I saw initally, petered away. I knew these characters on the surface but I didn’t really know them, nor did I connect with them.

All this said, this is the kind of book that I crave for low concentration and it was easy to read and turn the pages.

Thank you to netgalley for the early review copy.

THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS by Jodi Picoult

Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband, but a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.

Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, her beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, where she helps ease the transition between life and death for patients in hospice.

But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a job she once studied for, but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.

After the crash landing, the airline ensures the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation wherever they want to go. The obvious option for Dawn is to continue down the path she is on and go home to her family. The other is to return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways–the first known map of the afterlife.

As the story unfolds, Dawn’s two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried beside them. Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly asked: What does a life well-lived look like? When we leave this earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices…or do our choices make us? And who would you be, if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?


Title : The Book of Two Ways
Author : Jodi Picoult
Format : eARC
Page Count : 416
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date : October 20, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ 


Micky’s 2 – 2.5 star review

This was a very frustrating read for me. I intially liked the story and the concept but over the first half, I became disillusioned with the plot and the over academic approach to the Egyptology storyline. As the title indicates, The Book of Two Ways narrates two diverging stories or possibilities for Dawn.

Dawn was a death doula and having some insight into this role through my professional life, I can say that this aspect of the story was well researched. However, I prefer not to be immersed in death and dying in fiction because it consumes a lot of my day job, so that may explain my dislike in part. I didn’t love the storyline of Win because of the reasons I’ve just explained.

I did enjoy parts of the Egypt timeline/storyline but I think readers will either love or hate this because again, it is written is significant academic depth which isn’t really what you expect of women’s fiction. What I did like was Dawn as a character, a women who’d lost her way and identity. I didn’t always like her choices but I did champion her and Wyatt.

I tend to either love or dislike Jodi Picoult’s books and unfortunately this one was the latter. I’m really interested to hear other people’s thoughts on this though.