The Missing Ones (Hester Thursby Mystery, #2)

⇒RELEASE DAY REVIEW! “…you’ll learn that parents have all sorts of evil thoughts. Sometimes saying them out loud is the only way to survive.” -The Missing Ones ⇐

**Many thanks to NetGalley, Kensington Books, and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Author: Edwin Hill

(4.30 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Thriller

Format: Kindle

Publication Date: August 27, 2019, by Kensington Books

Pages: 304 (Kindle version)

#TheMissingOnes #MissingOnes


The world was a scary, frightening place, where terrible, terrible things happened. Anywhere. And everywhere.

Having a child is one of the scariest things a person can do. But what’s even more frightening is raising that child. Oh, you think I’m exaggerating? A parent is responsible for making sure that another little person survives every single day. And considering what this world is like these days, that is a terrifying assignment!

In Edwin Hill’s followup to Little Comfort, our heroine, Hester Thursby’s fears about becoming an insta-parent have crippled her daily life and forced all her phobias to the surface. She’s not completely to blame, she did survive a rather harrowing experience, but how long can she go on living with all of her lies? Let’s check out the blurb for The Missing Ones

Hester Thursby has given up using her research skills to trace people who don’t want to be found. A traumatic case a few months ago unearthed a string of violent crimes, and left Hester riddled with self-doubt and guilt. Caring for a four-year-old is responsibility enough in a world filled with terrors Hester never could have imagined before. Finisterre Island, off the coast of Maine, is ruggedly beautiful and remote—the kind of place tourists love to visit, though rarely for long. But not everyone who comes to the island is welcome. A dilapidated Victorian house has become home to a group of squatters and junkies, and strangers have a habit of bringing trouble with them. A young boy disappeared during the summer, and though he was found safely, the incident stirred suspicion among locals. Now another child is missing. Summoned to the island by a cryptic text, Hester discovers a community cleaning up from a devastating storm—and uncovers a murder. Soon Hester begins to connect the crime and the missing children. And as she untangles the secrets at the center of the small community, she finds grudges and loyalties that run deep, poised to converge with a force that will once again shake her convictions about the very nature of right and wrong.


Children didn’t disappear, not in this world. Neither did problems.

Let’s start off by saying that Hester Thursby is definitely an unconventional leading lady. She’s diminutive, extremely phobic, and mostly unwilling to participate in any kind of social activities that take place outside of her own four walls. However, there is that innate part of Hester that overcomes all that when it comes to duty and family. And it is that part that drags her out to Finisterre Island, Maine – which literally means The End of the Earth – at the call of a loved one. Plus, she’s pretty adept at asking all the right questions.

OK, can I be honest here? Hester annoys me more than a little bit in this book. Let’s just say that her phobias are understandably irrational, but they force her to make decisions that place her in extreme danger – which seems to be the exact opposite of where she is fighting vehemently to be! But, yes, this is where the thrills come in, so I digress.

My favorite parts of this book by far are actually the parts that didn’t include Hester. Shocker!!! Hill introduces us to a little island full of big personalities and two handfuls of potential suspects for some missing children cases that hit really close to home. The Missing Ones features the bad guys that you see coming from a mile away, the ones you suspect, and the ones that sneak up on you from behind – the Villain Trifecta!

So it’s safe to say that Hester is clearly not my most favorite MC of all time; however, as long as Edwin Hill continues to surround her with an intriguing supporting cast and a superbly layered mysterious plot, I’ll keep reading. *The next Hester Thursby mystery is expected in 2020.


Buy The Missing Ones today here:


Edwin Hill

After attending Wesleyan University and graduating with a B.A. in American Studies, he headed west to San Francisco for the dotcom boom. Later, he returned to Boston, earned an MFA from Emerson College, and switched gears to work in educational publishing. He served as the vice president and editorial director for Bedford/St. Martin’s, a division of Macmillan Learning for many years before turning to writing full time. –EdwinHill.com


Where’d You Go, Bernadette

“People like you must create. If you don’t create, Bernadette, you will become a menace to society.” –Where’d You Go, Bernadette


Author: Maria Semple

(3.90 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Contemporary / Humor / Mystery

Format: Paperback

Publication Date: August 14, 2012, Back Bay Books

Pages: 326 (Paperback)

#WheredYouGoBernadette


Just because it’s complicated, just because you think you can’t ever know everything about another person, it doesn’t mean you can’t try.

Trust is not an easy thing for an adult. For kids, it’s much, much easier, and that makes me nostalgic for the days when the most I had to worry about was beating my cousin to the mixing bowl after my aunt made a cake. If only “adulting” was that easy.

Bernadette Fox knows exactly what I’m talking about. The social pressures, the parental pressures, the marital pressures, ugh! The pressure of it all! I don’t blame her for developing a few cracks in her foundation. I think we all have a few more than we care to admit to anyone else. But this book is about Bernadette’s cracks, so let’s read the blurb…

When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces–which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. Where’d You Go, Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are and the power of a daughter’s love for her mother.


For the past twenty years I’ve been in training for overwintering at the South Pole! I knew I was up to something.

OK, solid confession coming up… I have had this book on my shelves and on my TBR for years a long time now. And although I have had the best intentions toward this book and its very talented author, it only jumped to the top of the list because the movie just recently hit theaters. Hey, every book selection has to have a trigger, right?

Anyway, I finally shuffled through my paperbacks bookshelf and fished this little gem out from behind China Rich Girlfriend, Night Circus, Ready Player One, and A Man Called Ove – all of which are waiting patiently for me to crack their covers as well. But whether it was perfect timing for the movie debut, or just perfect timing in my life, Bernadette gave me everything I needed and a lot of what I never expected.

I wished I’d never made the connection about Dad being a gigantic girl, because once you realize something like that, it’s hard to go back.

When authors try to write humor into a novel, it doesn’t always hit the mark. Sometimes it’s a little stiff, sometimes it’s a little forced (that’s what she said! Sorry, couldn’t help it). But the way that Maria Semple writes Bernadette, she’s hilarious even when she’s not trying to be. Especially when she’s not trying to be! Her writing is smart and not fussy. I’m normally a relatively slow reader, but I found myself racing through these pages as if the story would get away from me if I stopped reading.

And while Bernadette is the focus, everyone around her is so fleshed out and defined, it’s like you really know these people. Audrey is that one intense PTA member. Bee is your daughter’s friend who dresses weird but has an IQ of 10 gillion. And Elgin is that man that you always wonder about when you pass him on your daily commute – what does he do? where does he go? why is he talking to himself? When all of these personalities come together in this epistolary novel, let’s just say that it’s no mystery that Bernadette wants to escape!

And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on YOU to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.

So, yes, I have plans to make it to the theater to see the movie, although I can’t imagine it could be any better than the one that played in my head as I read this novel – no offense, Ms. Blanchett. After that, maybe there’ll be a trigger for Siddhartha or The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye. <Sigh> My poor, poor TBR…


Click to see the movie trailer for Where’d You Go, Bernadette


Maria Semple

Maria Keogh Semple is an American novelist and screenwriter. She is the author of This One Is Mine, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, and Today Will Be Different. Her television credits include Beverly Hills, 90210, Mad About You, Saturday Night Live, Arrested Development, Suddenly Susan, and Ellen. – MariaSemple.com


Restoration Heights

⇒He was the last person to see her alive and he has to find out what happened to her, but why doesn’t anyone else seem to care? ⇐

**Many thanks to NetGalley, Hanover Squre Press, and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Author: Wil Medearis

(3.44 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Thriller

Format: Kindle Version

Published January 22, 2019, by Harlequin Enterprises / Hanover Square Press

Pages: 336 (Hardcover)

#RestorationHeights


Because Restoration Heights had a bottomless appetite… [it] craved, finally, a murder, if not hers then yours, anyone, a body to consecrate the ground.


I have visited New York as a tourist: wide-eyed, with a camera, trying to see everything, eat everything, and learn everything that a born-and-raised southerner should know about the Big Apple (including that it’s really lame to still call it the Big Apple). Although I left NY generally unimpressed and wondering what all the hype is about – we have great Italian restaurants in Atlanta too! – I do respect the energy of that city and of the people determined to survive there.

Main character, Reddick’s, mysterious run-in with a female stranger and how distinctly that one night changes his life and perception is one of those “New York minutes” that will drag you – willingly – into the depths of a city and lifestyle the travel agent wouldn’t dare include on the brochure.

Here’s the blurb (courtesy of Goodreads): Reddick, a young, white artist, lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a historically black Broooklyn neighborhood besieged by gentrification. He makes rent as an art handler hanging expensive works for Manhattan’s one percent, and spends his free time playing basketball at the local Y rather than putting energy into his stagnating career. He is also the last person to see Hannah before she disappears. When Hannah’s fiance, scion to an old-money Upper East Side family, refuses to call the police, Reddick sets out to learn for himself what happened to her. The search gives him a sense of purpose pulling him through a dramatic cross section of the city he never knew existed. The truth of Hannah’s fate is buried at the heart of a many-layered mystery that, in its unraveling, shakes Reddick’s convictions and lays bare the complicated machinations of money and power that connect the magisterial town houses of the Upper Eat Side to the unassuming brownstones of Bed-Stuy.


The truth exists, but your ability to perceive it depends upon the assumptions you begin with.

I am being totally honest when I say that this book surprised me. Frankly, I didn’t expect it to be good. That was just my first impression, “Ugh, another book about a missing girl in New York. Blah blah, blah.” Thank you for proving me wrong, Wil Medearis!

Instead of the same-old same-old, I was treated to an evenly-paced mystery that stealthily wraps commentary about gentrification, racial bias, and inexcusable economic gaps around a thrilling plot that is not a bit cookie-cutter.

The story is headlined by a likable, imperfect, and complex protagonist whose ping-ponging grit and naivete equally made me cheer and cringe throughout. And this, dear “other authors”, is how you make a character who, in general, has absolutely nothing in common with me personally, relatable in a more personal way. Take notes.

…if I didn’t think this was important that a life was at stake, I wouldn’t be here right now.

I also noticed that Wil Medearis can really write! OK, see this as a blatant generalization, but often male authors’ prose lacks poetry! There is no true rhythm to it – no ebb and flow. They state facts and describe action, but there’s often no scenery, no scene-setting, and no reference to the “emotions” of the space around the characters’ actions.

Not so with Mr. Medearis. And who would actually expect poetry in a novel based in Bed-Stuy? But check out this short excerpt – this is exactly how an artist would view his city:

He put his coat on and left. The afternoon was already darkening, the day spent before he could use it. The sky and the hardened snow were an identical humming lavender, the townhouse windows seeped orange like cracks in the shell of winter.

Just that one sentence makes my little reader’s heart all kinds of happy!

There was meaning in the contours, the outlines a unity of shape and intent, facts that could be shimmied into being by proximity, by the tug of two-dimensional gravity. If he could just get the shapes right he could find her.

Thank you, Wil Medearis, for writing this book, for making it a captivating read, for not being preachy while you taught me about gentrification, and for naming your main character Reddick (enough Jacks and Maxs and Duncans, thank you). And for giving me a story that I can both rate and recommend highly to all of my reader friends and family.


Preview this book here: Restoration Heights (courtesy of Google Books)

Wil Medearis

Wil Medearis holds an MFA in painting from the University of Pennsylvania. His artwork has been featured in galleries in Richmond, Philadelphia and Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He has worked as an adjunct professor, tended bar at a country club, refinished furniture for an antiques dealer and hung art inside the homes of some of the wealthiest art collectors in Manhattan. Restoration Heights is his first novel. –Bio from Google Books


Little Comfort

⇒ Hester Thursby is small in stature but big on moxie! She’s multitasking life and staying one step ahead of an unknown predator in this well-paced thriller! ⇐

**Many thanks to NetGalley, Kensington Books, and the author for the opportunity to read and review a free ARC of this book.

by Edwin Hill

SmellRating4

(4.16 stars – Goodreads rating)

Publish Date: August 28, 2018, by Kensington Books

Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Thriller

Format: Kindle Edition

Pages: 304 pages

#Little Comfort  #NetGalley

Little Comfort (Hester Thursby Mystery, #1)… and as much as Hester fought for independence, nothing frightened her more than the thought of being abandoned.

Hester Thursby may be small in stature, but she’s big on moxie! When she’s not working at Harvard’s Widener library, she’s a people-finder and she’s working a case for Lila who is searching for her long-lost brother. But how easy can it be to find a missing person (or a person in hiding) with not only a long-eared basset hound in tow, but also her new charge – three-year-old Kate, the little girl who was practically abandoned by her mother. Eventually, this case becomes more than expected when Hester makes a new acquaintance who suddenly becomes her biggest fan.

He’ll uncover your dreams, your demons, and your very core. And he’ll use all of it to get whatever he wants.

The story is well paced, had a great setup for both a mystery and a thriller, and great character development for the most part. There were a few stereotypical assumptions that grated, but Hill called them out himself. My only lasting gripe is that Hester’s character didn’t seem consistent throughout. She came off as a bit wishy-washy, behaving in ways contrary to the confident, dauntless personality we are initially introduced to.

Little Comfort is the first in a series with a second Hester Thursby mystery expected in 2019. After this mystery with its unconventional, feisty protagonist and its unexpectedly twisted reveal, I’d be down to read more about Hester’s adventures.

Buy Little Comfort here on August 28th!: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound


About the Author

EDWIN HILL

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Edwin was born in Duxbury, Massachusetts, and spent most of his childhood obsessing over The Famous Five, Agatha Christie, and somehow finding a way into C.S. Lewis’s wardrobe. His parents were fond of taking his sister and him on month-long family camping trips across the U.S. and Canada, and one of his best memories is of finishing a copy of The Seven Dials Mystery while the rest of the family visited Mount Rushmore. Growing up when VHS tapes were new meant that watching AlienJawsThe Shining, or Halloween whenever he wanted seemed luxurious, and still does today. Like Hester Thursby, he watched these movies – and others like them – a lot.

After attending Wesleyan University and graduating with a B.A. in American Studies, he headed west to San Francisco for the original dotcom boom. Later, he returned to Boston, earned an MFA from Emerson College, and switched gears to work in educational publishing, where he currently serves as the vice president and editorial director for Bedford/St. Martin’s, a division of Macmillan Learning.

(Bio taken from Edwin-Hill.com)



 

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Bring Me Back

by B.A. Paris
Rating: 
(3.91 stars – Goodreads rating)

To Be Published June 19, 2018, by St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Thriller

Format: Kindle Edition

Page Count: 384

bring me backI knew she would never have wandered off, not at night, not when it was pitch-black because, as I said, she hated the dark.

Finn doesn’t know what happened to Layla, his girlfriend, that fateful night during their vacation to France. But he knows more than he told the police. Layla disappeared without a trace and Finn narrowly avoided being charged with foul play.

Twelve years later, Finn has done his best to move on – finding new love with, of all people, Layla’s sister Ellen. They’re engaged to be married and looking forward to a new chapter in life. Then a Russian nesting doll shows up in their front yard, Finn gets an email from a stranger, and everything begins to spiral out of control.

I wasn’t going to be able to come out of the darkness and into the light. I was going to have to spend the rest of my life in subterfuge, hiding my true self away from the world.

I recommend this book to lovers of mystery, suspense, and psychological thrillers – especially those that appreciate a twisty ending. Suspense lovers will appreciate it as every character comes under Finn’s suspicion as he attempts to keep his carefully constructed life intact.

He’ll think he’s luring me, but it will be me doing the luring.

Bring Me Back was an enjoyable read that I sped through in one sitting. It captures the attention and leads you by the nose to an unexpected (though not entirely plausible) ending.

**Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and the author for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of this book.


About the Author

B. A. ParisTwitter

Goodreads

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B.A. PARIS grew up in England but has spent most of her adult life in France. She has worked both in finance and as a teacher and has five daughters. Behind Closed Doors is her first novel.

 

(Bio courtesy of Macmillan)


 

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Bad Man

by Dathan Auerbach
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

(3.94 stars – Goodreads rating)

To Be Published August 7, 2018, by Doubleday

Genre: Fiction / Horror (ish) / Mystery / Suspense

Format: Kindle

Page Count: 320 pgs (Kindle version)

badmanThey’d seen flyers for Eric here and there over the years… they never really looked. No one ever does.

When I think about what makes a good horror story, one of the most important components is the atmosphere. Auerbach sets us up in a small Floridian town and then strips us of all sense of security and comfort. He surrounds his characters with grief, poverty, and suspicion, and therefore creates a perfect setting for this creepy tale that weaves real-life horror with a little something extra.

Eric has been missing for five years and no one has any answers as to what could have happened to him. His big brother, Ben, was the last one to see him and seems to be the only one committed to still searching for him. When Ben takes a job at the same store where Eric went missing, strange things begin to occur that convince him that someone does know what happened to Eric and they’re trying to reach out to him. But is it to help him or to stop him from asking questions?

The Bad Man will leave you guessing. The unreliable narrator, the creepy store setting, and Ben’s shady coworkers and friends all manage to introduce more questions as you read than they answer. I found the book to be quite engrossing; however, the ending was wholly unsatisfying in that there were several strings left hanging that made even the epilogue seem incomplete.

I would recommend this book to lovers of horror and mystery that don’t mind a story that leaves you with lots of questions at the end. This one isn’t tied up with a neat little bow. And if you don’t mind filling in the blanks for yourself, this is definitely the book for you.

**Many thanks to NetGalley, Doubleday Books, and the author for providing this ARC for me to read a review.**


About the Author

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Goodreads

Dathan Auerbach was born in the southern United States and has lived there for most of his life. He is the author of Penpal.

(Biography taken from Bad Man)


 

The Missing Hours

by Emma Kavanagh
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

(3.74 stars – Goodreads rating)

To Be Re-Published February 27, 2018, by Kensington Books

Genre: Fiction / Crime Fiction / Mystery

Format: EBook

Page Count: 320

#themissinghours #netgalley

missing hoursWe rarely know the people around us, only what they show us of themselves.

When Dr. Selena Cole mysteriously vanishes from a playground leaving her daughters stranded, DC Leah Mackay takes the case but struggles to find any clues to help solve it. Twenty hours later, Selena is found alive but has no memory of where she was or how she got back home.

…whatever filled in those missing hours, at the end of them is a mother kissing her cildren. And so everything is well. Right?

That same day, Leah’s brother, DS Finley Hale, is assigned the murder case of an associate who has been dumped unceremoniously on a mountain lane. Finn, too, finds any clues hard to come by.

What follows is a procedural whodunit with ping-ponging points of view between the brother and sister detectives who learn that more than one of the suspects in each case have crisscrossing ties to each other.

What at first appears to be just a creepy missing-persons case ends up dragging us into the shadowy world of kidnapping for ransom with each character becoming a suspect in crimes that are as much of a mystery as the perpetrators.

There are always cases that speak to you, pulling themselves out of the pile and grabbing hold of your consciousness.

Kavanagh does a great job of revealing the truth in bite-sized morsels as we read along – totally caught up in the secrets of each person we meet. However, at times it was hard to follow the characters’ awkward trains of thought as they shifted from past to present and back again in the same unbroken paragraph.

However, as any novel reader will tell you (especially connoisseurs of mysteries and thrillers), if your pulse starts to quicken as the action begins to climax, then you’ve got to give the author kudos for that. And mine did (Hint: Great “chase” scene!).

I enjoyed this book and did not find it predictable or overly familiar. Kavanagh’s placement of the Cole Group’s case files helped with that. The individual kidnapping cases kept us wondering about their relevance and about a possible next victim. The ending felt a bit unsatisfyingly abrupt – even after the surprising resolution, but it did not take away from my overall appreciation of this well-written crime fiction novel.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Get it here: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Half Price Books


About the Author

Emma KavanaghGoodreads

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Emma K. & Kensington Books

Emma Kavanagh is the acclaimed UK bestselling author of Falling and Hidden. Born and raised in South Wales, she is a former police and military psychologist. After completing her PhD, Emma began her own consultancy business, providing training to police and military across the UK and Europe. She taught police officers and NATO personnel about the psychology of critical incidents, terrorism, body recovery and hostage negotiation. She has run around muddy fields taking part in tactical exercises, has designed live fire training events, has been a VIP under bodyguard protection and has fired more than her fair share of weapons. She is married with two small sons and considers herself incredibly privileged to get to make up stories for a living.

(Bio from Kensington Publishing Corp.)

 

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The Child Finder

by Rene Denfeld
Rating: 
(4.04 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published September 5th, 2017 by Harper

Genre: Fiction – Mystery/Thriller

Format: Hardcover

Page Count: 274


TCF
Have you ever been lost? ❞ ❝Oh yes, she answered… Once upon a time, before I can remember.

Naomi is an investigator who has found over 30 missing and/or abducted children and she is working on locating two more. At the same time, she is also piecing together the missing parts of her own mysterious discovery in the frozen woods of Oregon.

What I Liked: 
– The underlying mystery. This was a deceptively simple story, but the “creep” factor was boosted up to triple digits. The atmosphere of the book is about as potentially terrifying as the antagonist ultimately turns out to be.
– Naomi. The main character wasn’t anything cookie-cutter, run-of-the-mill, or typical. At times, you wonder if you can even trust her. But you want to stick in there with her. You want to see her succeed – not just in her job – but in her life. Plus, you get the sense that the answers to her personal mystery are locked up inside her and you want to stay around to witness when it all unfolds.
– The supporting characters. Denfeld does a great job of placing a full cast of eccentric people around our main character, and she makes us care about all of them. Q: How is that possible in a book that is less than 300 pages? A: Skilled writing.

This is something I know: no matter how far you have run, no matter how long you have been lost, it is never too late to be found.

What I Didn’t Like 
– I didn’t like the uncomfortable feeling that I felt as “Snow Girl” told her story. No spoilers, it’s just that portions were very hard to read even though much of it was left to the imagination. And, apparently, my imagination went to some very dark places. I was sickened, angry, and distraught. BUT that’s exactly how I was supposed to feel. So, yeah, I didn’t like that feeling; however, it was necessary and Denfeld did an amazing job at conveying the disturbing mood present during those parts of the book.

What I Wanted More Of: 
– I wasn’t ready for the story to end. I, like one of the characters in the book, wanted to know what happens to everyone after the mystery is solved. I want that story too. Could this possibly become the first book in a series for Denfeld? Well… she’s very enigmatic about her writing plans so we may not know that until a release date is announced. Denfeld does have a new book scheduled for release on or around October 15, 2018 called The Strawberry Palace, but that one is categorized as a romance, so it’s probably not the sequel I’m hoping for. However, I sure would love to spend more time with Naomi and her friends.

**Triggers for sensitive readers include allusions to sexual abuse and violence against children. However, Denfeld is very sensitive to these subjects and doesn’t exploit them just for the sake of a good story.

In the years since, she had discovered the sacrament of life did not demand memory. Like a leaf that drank from the morning dew, you didn’t question the morning sunrise or the sweet taste on your mouth. You just drank.


Get it here: Amazon ; Kindle ; Barnes and Noble