Book Review: All The Truth by Laura Brodie

Author: Laura Brodie

Publisher: Berkley Trade

ISBN: 978-0-425-24763-1

Publish Date: July 3, 2012

Pages:  287 Trade Paperback

Type: Fiction


When she was five years old, on a warm summer night in rural Virginia, Maggie Green’s life was ripped apart.   Three of her mother’s college students showed up on their property.  They had been drinking and beneath the surface, her mother sensed menace lurking.  Words were exchanged and a life-changing altercation ensued.

Ten years later Maggie is in high school, still plagued by nightmares of that night, which ended in a bloody and violent death.  Further adding to her angst is a new challenge: geometry.  She’s struggling in math and the teacher makes Maggie extremely uncomfortable, never making eye contact and passing her cryptic notes.  What Maggie discovers about her teacher and what her teacher discovers about her will mesmerize readers of Laura Brodie’s novel of punishment, penance, and remorse.

Excerpt from Berkley Trade


This haunting book grasps the reader from the very beginning.  Every mother’s nightmare unexpectantly occurs while Emma’s  daughter is asleep upstairs as this college professor is confronted by three drunk students at her front door late at night.  A 5-year old Maggie, after witnessing her mother’s violent behavior in an act of self-protection, crawls out of her bedroom window and hides in the forest which surrounds their secluded home.

Several years later, Maggie is in high school and still seeing a psychiatrist for the childhood trauma.  She still experiences nightmares and can’t seem to open up to her counselor.  She is a loner who entrusts very few people around her.  She discovers one day that she recognizes her Geometry teacher as one of the college students who was at the house on that fateful night.   The entire story begins to unfold when Maggie lets her teacher know that she remembers who she is.

What kept the pages turning is the way that the story revealed itself in such an unconventional way.  Nothing about this story was predictable!  Reading the story from the viewpoints of both Emma and Maggie, you can feel the hurt and regret of both characters.  The aftermath of just the events of one evening changed lives forever.  What was done could not be undone.  Finding redemption and forgiveness is all that one could hope for after such a horrific and tragic event.


This book found its way into my mind and heart.   This drama kept my attention at nights and during stolen moments which I was able to find some quiet time.  The characters were expertly developed and the reveal of the story was mesmerizing.  My only regret is that it took me much longer to finish this book than I would have liked to (and, that’s not due to the book, but rather my schedule of late).  I would recommend this book to avid readers for a change in pace as this is a different breed of dramatic fiction.   To learn more about this book and author, visit…

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Back Again… With a Passion to Journal and Review

In August of 2008, I was unemployed and down on my luck. Through a twist of fate and the hand of God, I met Lisa through our children’s girl scout trip. While our kids played at her house, we talked about her book blog and she got me started on a great adventure. That evening, I started this blog and began to write about books, television, movies, and just random stories about myself and my twin daughters.  At that time, I was heartbroken and had not only lost my job, but lost the love of my life. In all honesty, I still haven’t gotten over that relationship and, to this date, I’ve only dated sporadically since then. He’s gone and married now.

I found that my blog gave me a great creative outlook to learn all about the technical side of blogging including web design and layout. I also read and read. In one year I read 150 books! My mind was racing with creativity. I eventually found employment and my blogging started to lessen. Being full time employed along with raising twin daughters (being a single mother nonetheless) left me little time to read and write.


In 2010, I got a much improved career role. This job took me to working until 8-9pm on many, if not most, nights. During my 4 years of working there, I was just simply too wiped out to keep up my blog. But, I kept the site active for those who were looking for a book review of a certain book that I may have written. I’ve had over 2 million hits on the website since 2008 and that is something, I imagine, that I should be proud of.

Now it’s 2014 and I find myself without a job again. In many ways, I believe that the professional parting of ways was unfair and that I performed my position with great accuracy. In other ways, I think that my mental wellbeing was beginning to suffer and it was a blessing in disguise. You see, that position did nothing but add to my anxiety.  I feel ashamed to admit it.  Truthfully, It’s been on my mind that I need to secure a good position and make my way out of worrying about our financial stability and keeping our home.  I have a wonderful job prospect at this time and I am very hopeful that I would join this family-oriented firm.  (Fingers crossed).

I have read half of a book. And, I imagine, that it will take me quite a while longer to finish it and do a book blog review. In the meantime, for anybody who I made friends with on this blogging network and kept me on their reader, I wanted to reach out and say “thank you.” I may not be able to blog about books or entertainment for a while, but I need to use this blog to out pour my emotions and journal my thoughts.

Of late, I’ve had a tough time talking to God.   I know that he is there, but it’s hard to feel him and hear him. I know that he has a plan for me and one day I will look back and be happy for all that he has provided for me.

I feel very alone right now. The twins are difficult teenagers that are very difficult to manage. They are so emotional and argumentative.   For those of you who are experiencing the same thing (or havre i the past) you know how hard it is just to stay atop of them and make sure that they stay in line.

I’m going to use this platform to journal until the right novel comes along.  I hope that you are there with me and stay tuned.  (BTW… more soccer tomorrow!  Cheers to the forever Soccer Mom!)…

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Today.. Teenagers & Soccer (and, a nap)


Two of them.  Deanna and Nicole.

Today was Senior Portrait Day.  Of course, they must look their best.  Nicole waited until she had her braces removed before she would even schedule the photos.  So, off they went for glitz and glamour… for family photos and their infamous Senior Yearbook pics.

Nicole’s photo shoot time interfered with the start time of their soccer game, so she had to show up late to the game.  Deanna had to work and missed the game altogether.  But, I wasn’t about to miss it and I went alone and waited for Nicole.  I still love soccer as much as I did when I played as a girl.  My twins are in the U-19 Division, which is the highest division in AYSO.  I still have so much pride in their team and in their individual performances.


Today, I nick-named Nicole “Brutus.”  She literally took two girls off the field on the opposing team.  It wasn’t intentional, she was playing the ball, but nonetheless my little tank won in each showdown.

The team ended up tying today 1-1.  Better than a loss any day!

After the game we went to the most delicious “healthy” Mexican Food restaurant in town.  It’s very new, so luckily it wasn’t too crowded and the service was impeccable.  Literally, the best authentic tacos of my life, outside of the ones that I have eaten in Mexico.  We brought some tacos home for Deanna (she loves food and God forbid we ever eat without her).  She loved them nearly as much as I did.

I considered the tacos a bit of treat today.  I’ve been working on my weight.  I’ve been eating fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and healthy grains.  The weight is coming off slowly but surely and I find that the more healthy food that I eat, the more hungry I am.  (I’m sure there is a good reason for this.. but, I’ll have to consult with Dr. Oz)

Joan and Melissa: Mother Knows Best

It’s been very hot in Southern California.  Today we got a bit of a break from the heat today.  It’s been running in the 90’s, but we were down to the low 80’s today.  It’s such a relief because I do not have air conditioning in my home.  Apparently, when they were building these houses (back in the early 1970’s), the builders believed that we were so close to the beach that the ocean breeze would keep us cool.  I have no idea what they were thinking.  We’ve had fans running 24/7 for over a week now.  Sure doesn’t help when I am pre-menopausal.  What is that about anyway?  It’s like my body is on fire for no apparent reason.  I can be in a cool movie theater and feel like I am in the Sahara.  There must be a cure for this.  If you have any tips, let me know.

With a full tummy of tacos and a fan blowing on me, I took a great afternoon nap.  It was like Garfield had taken over my body.

Tonight, I am going to get some reading in.  First, I want to finish my People Magazine with the tribute to Joan Rivers.  I know many didn’t care for her humor, but when I watched her show “Joan and Melissa: Mother Knows Best,” I simply fell in love with the mother and grandmother that she was.  If nothing else, she loved her family fiercely and faithfully.  I feel so bad for her daughter, Melissa.  She must be grieving so much.  I just don’t understand how this just happened from an endoscopy.  In fact, I had one earlier this year and it was a very quick procedure without full anesthesia… rather a short sedation instead.  It seems to me that some further investigation is warranted.


Before I hit the hay, I am going to try to read some more of “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.”  It was written by a fellow blogger, Jenny Lawson.  She is so relatable.

Have a great Sunday, every one.  I’m hoping to hear about the second job interview on Monday.  I’m off for Seattle on Tuesday for a college campus tour with Nicole.  I’m hoping for an awesome week!  Will keep you posted on the job interview and how awesome my trip to Seattle is going to be!…

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The Movie Was Finally Produced! This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

I reviewed This is Where I Leave You when it was released in 2009.  I was elated to see that the book was made into a movie (as I suggested that it should be in my book review).  I went to the movie over the weekend and it was nearly as good as the book.  I was pleased to find that the movie really held true to the book.  The humor was sarcastic, and yet, heartwarming.  The cast included:

Jason Bateman
Tina Fey
Adam Driver
Rose Byrne
Corey Stoll
Kathryn Hahn
Connie Britton
Timothy Olyphant
Dax Shepard
Jane Fonda

I was so impressed with the movie that I would give it 5 stars.  Certainly, some of the performances should be considered for Academy Awards as the acting was really great.  I especially loved Tina Fey’s role, Wendy his sister.  Congrats to Mr. Tropper!

For those of you who did not have the opportunity to read my original book review, I have posted it below.

Book Review: This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

leave-iAuthor:  Jonathan Tropper

Publisher:  Dutton/Penguin

ISBN #:  978-0-525-35127-8

Type:  Fiction:General

Pages:   339 Hardback

Publish:  August 6, 2009



The Story

“The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family-including Judd’s mother, brothers, and sister-have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judd’s radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public.

Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch’s dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family.

As the week quickly spins out of control, longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed, and old passions reawakened.  For Judd, it’s a weeklong attempt to make sense of the mess his life has become while trying in vain not to get sucked into the regressive battles of his madly dysfunctional family. All of which would be hard enough without the bomb Jen dropped the day Judd’s father died: She’s pregnant.”

(Synopsis from the front cover of This Is Where I Leave You)

The Review

jonathan tropperThe back cover of this hardback reflects praise including, “outrageous,” “smart,” “winning,” “utterly magnificent,” “genius,” “darkly comic,” “wickedly observant,” “brutally honest,” “pageturning,” and “engaging.”  What my review will say is, “Yes, all of the above.”  Not  a one of those praise words do I disagree with!  I DEVOURED THIS BOOK!  There is such honesty in which this book is written, that it entranced me.  The characters embraced me into their world of heartbreak and redemption.  This was a book that I couldn’t wait to crack back open and discover the next turn of events in the lives of the Foxman Family.

Rarely do I read a story that so accurately reflects both the humor and sorrow lying in the hearts of an American family.  Like other families, the Foxmans have hidden hurts and resentments that divide the siblings to their own separate walks of life.  The mother’s struggle to bring her family together to reconnect, leads to the opening of old wounds as well as avenues of forgiveness.  Tropper delivers both a family’s history and present-day experience in one well-timed, original story that made me feel like the fly on the wall… observing it all.  And, there’s not a piece of it that I wanted to miss.

I have read more than my fair share of books about broken marriages and family heartbreaks from a heroine’s point of view.  The protagonist in this story is Judd Foxman.  He led me to understand how a man may experience the real heartaches of life and what made him “tick.”  And, how I rooted for Judd as he navigated his way through a cheating wife, the loss of his career, the death of his father, and the survival of his dysfunctional, yet endearing, family in a 7-day shiva mourning period.  By the time that I was 3/4 of the way through the book, I knew that I would come to miss reading about the Foxman Family and had hoped for a movie version of this fantastic book.  Good news… it was optioned by Warner Brothers, so that is a possibility.

Although the ending of this saga was perfect, one can always hope for a sequel to know what became of Judd’s life (can you see me with fingers crossed?).

So, what could I add to the adjectives on the back cover?







“A Best of 2009!”


The Rating

10By now, you have the general idea that I LOVED the book.  What I wanted to make sure that I shared for my “PG” or “PG-13″ readers is that this book is written for adults and does contain adult (sexual) content and mature language.  For me, this only enhanced the truth of the story and didn’t bother me at all.  However, for those who prefer to avoid that, please keep this in mind.  If none of that stuff bothers you, I highly recommend it!

This book will most definitely be on A Novel Menagerie’s Best of 2009 List and I can’t wait to share this book with my best friends.  If you don’t win a copy, grab yourself a copy and enjoy it on your summer break!

My rating, genre:Fiction-General, is a 10 out of 10!…

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Book Review: The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

Author:  Nicholas Sparks

Publisher:  Grand Central/Hachette

ISBN #:  978-0-446-54765-9

Type:  Fiction

Pages:  292 Hardback

Publish Date:  October 11, 2011



The Story

In the small town of Oriental, North Carolina, people tell lies, capture secrets and hold revenge in their hearts.  Like other small towns, some of its citizens move away and start lives anew.  They move away to escape their secrets and avoid the hurts that once held them captive.  Yet, despite their relocations, their roots are tied to their hometown and the love that bounds them there.  Amanda and Dawson are two such people.  Both moved away from Oriental to start their lives over again.  However, neither of them chose the life that they had dreamed of in high school, when they were completely and solely in love with one another.

Amanda Collier came from a wealthy family whose sights were set on her going to college and marrying well.  Dawson Cole was born into a less fortunate family.   Despite her family’s unwillingness to accept or approve of their relationship, Amanda fell deeply in love with her once-in-a-lifetime soul mate.  He was an outcast from a renegade, criminal-minded family with a bad reputation which proceeded them.  He left his home and moved in with Tuck, a local auto-mechanic.  He kept his meager room and board by working, the majority of the proceeds of which were stolen by his menacing, threatening family.   Luckily Tuck understood and allowed Dawson to stay with him.  It was there that Amanda would come and visit Dawson.  Tuck was the constant, supportive friend who was seemingly always there for Dawson and, later, for Amanda.

Years after life had separated their great love due to instance of tragedy, Amanda and Dawson were brought back together via Tuck’s passing.   As they meet up at his home to sort out his belongings and attend his funeral, they were faced with messages from  Tuck.  He knew and loved them both.  As such, he had letters filled with words of wisdom and love for each of them as they rediscover the long-lost love they had for one another.  Although they are able to face this great love and open their hearts to one another, their fates would take their worlds in directions they could never imagine.

The Review

The Best of Me is one of the best novels to come from Nicholas Sparks.  What amazed me the most about this read was the way in which Sparks painted such a vivid, vital cast of characters, all of which the reader wants to learn the fate of.  Like most small towns, everybody is related to another in some manner and this story provided that same feel… that everything and everybody in the story were connected.   In following the fates of these characters, Sparks surprises the reader with not always providing the anticipated results as the pages turned.  Rather, what the reader anticipated didn’t always materialize in the expected way.

The twists & turns, the underlying love story, the uniquely imaginable characters, and the well synchronized story telling cumulate into a heartfelt and memorable novel.

9The Rating

On Sher’s “Out of Ten Scale,” I am giving The Best of Me a rating of 9 out of 10.  It has all of the components that a good novel needs… love, family, tragedy,  spirituality and betrayal.  A seasoned writer, Nicholas Sparks provides it all!

Disclosure to new readers: I’m a HUGE Nicholas Sparks fan!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE Nicholas Sparks.  I have read all of his books, own all of his books and the movies based off of them!

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