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The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
Series: Joe Talbert #1
Published by Seventh Street Books on October 14, 2014
Genres/Lists: Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 303
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)


Life is hard, but it’s harder for some. Take Joe Talbert, for example. He’s a college student from a poor and toxic home environment who works harder than most to get an education and build a better life for himself. But no matter how hard he tries to win his race against the past, it keeps catching up with him.

Carl Iverson also had a hard life, but of a different nature. Carl spent most of his adult life in prison for the murder of a teenage girl 30 years earlier. Battling cancer and released on medical leave, Carl’s hope for the future is dimmed, for his future is short.

But if I didn’t live my life as if I was already in heaven, and I died and found only nothingness, well…I would have wasted my life. I would have wasted my one chance in all of history to be alive.

These unlikely characters cross paths when Joe is assigned a school project that requires interviewing someone more, shall we say, senior to him in The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens. Heading to the nearest nursing home, Hillview Manor, to find someone to interview, Joe ends up meeting Carl and writing his. But the more Joe (and his new friend Lila) gets to know Carl, the more he begins to question everything he knows about his past and, even, the story Carl is telling about himself. What happens next is an action-packed story that culminates in a surprising ending.

The Life We Bury is a good, quick read – the story, characters, and action make it easy to enjoy. It’s not perfect (there were a few unbelievable outcomes and an awkward love scene that reminded me why most romance writers are women) but it’s worth picking up.

It may not have been on purpose, but the blending of mystery and philosophy in #TheLifeWeBury by @aeskens works.
Click To Tweet

What makes it stand out are the questions it raises about guilt, life, and the impact of the past on the present. It touches upon the themes, such as overcoming a difficult past, responsibility over protecting those who can’t protect themselves, and how to disentangle the past to create a freer future, but it was the questions surrounding guilt that were the most intriguing to me and kept me pondering.

What exactly is guilt, anyway? Is it something the government imposes on us or is it self-imposed? Does the imposition of guilt require a person to accept that guilt, or can one accept guilt without it being imposed on them by others? What is the role of guilt in the life we choose, and how does it impact our future choices? Is it better to run from guilt or to accept it and use it to create change?

The Life We Bury is a solid book because it does two things: it grabs the reader and plants them firmly into the world of Joe and Carl; and it raises moral and philosophical questions about life that reach far beyond the book.

Recommended for: Mystery fans who want some philosophical pondering with their reading.

The post The Role of Guilt Plays a Major Role in ‘The Life We Bury’ appeared first on The Book Wheel.

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Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller
Also by this author: Our Endless Numbered Days, Swimming Lessons
Published by Tin House on October 9, 2018
Genres/Lists: #30Authors, Fiction
Pages: 320
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)


Shy and socially awkward, Frances was not one who made friends easily. For most of her life, she avoided social situations that would highlight her awkwardness and instead withdrew into her immediate surroundings. But when a job documenting the architecture of a rundown mansion came along, she took it. Remote and secluded, the mansion offered the exact type of living Frances was accustomed to and was seeking.

Who wouldn’t want to rewrite their past, if it means it will change their future?

Life, however, had other plans. Instead of reveling in solitude on a country estate, she found herself the upstairs neighbor to a boisterous and thrill-seeking couple who were on an adventure of their own. Cara and Peter were the exact opposite of Frances: outgoing, friendly, socially adept, and impossible to ignore. Alone in the house together, their worlds began to blend together, not least of which because of a peephole in Frances’ bathroom that allowed her to see her neighbors in an unguarded fashion.

Bitter Orange is a slow burn of a read – a subtle mystery that ignites a tumultuous friendship amongst a trio of lost souls who are each seeking absolution. Because though they find themselves in the same place and time, they each have a story to tell about who they were and who they want to be. This collision of past and future is what drives the story forward.

Bitter Orange by @clairefuller2 is another slow-burn of a read that you will want to escape into.
Click To Tweet

As with her previous novels, Fuller has a way of slowly unraveling a story of complicated characters in a lyrical manner that softly ebbs and flows. I neither loved nor loathed them, yet I was drawn to them and immensely interested in their pasts (perhaps even more so than I was about their futures, in this case). It is also incredibly descriptive, and I could easily visualize the mansion and its estate, adding an element of richness to an already good story. And though it took a bit longer than expected to get into it, it was worth the wait and ended with a bang.

Recommended for: Readers looking for a subtle read with complicated characters and a setting that be seen.

The post ‘Bitter Orange’: A Delicious Slow-Burn of a Read appeared first on The Book Wheel.

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Published by Celadon Books on February 5, 2019
Genres/Lists: Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 325
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)


Have you ever finished a book and wished you could start over to see what it is that you missed? That’s how The Silent Patient, a debut psychological thriller by Alex Michaelides, was for me. Gripping and fast-paced, I flew through the chapters and when I got to the end, I realized I was completely and utterly unprepared. I feel like I need to reread it straightaway so that I can try to pick up on everything I surely missed.That, of course, would defeat the purpose of being blown away by the force of this debut novel but the temptation is very real.

There’s so much pain everywhere, and we just close our eyes to it. The truth is we’re all scared.

The Silent Patient is two stories woven into one. First, it’s about a woman named Alicia who shoots and kills her husband and never speaks again. Known for her artwork and beloved by all who knew her, her friends and the public at large try to make sense of why she would commit such a horrific act. But soon her 15 minutes of fame recedes and she’s relegated to a facility equipped to handle violent criminals and is largely forgotten.

Forgotten until Theo comes along, that is. Because the story is also about Theo, a psychotherapist who was captivated by Alicia’s silence and intent on helping her speak her truth and share her side of the story. Once assigned to her case, he explores creative (if not dubious) ways to connect with a woman who has no intention of connecting with anyone. But he persists by digging into her past and tries fervently to piece together the woman that was a famed and beloved artist with a woman who kills in cold blood.

The buzz is true: #TheSilentPatient by @AlexMichaelides ‏is a thrilling debut that is nearly impossible to put down.
Click To Tweet

But delving into the psychological depths of such a person can be risky, and the reader is taken on a journey into Theo’s own mind and past. It turns out, it’s easy to cast judgment on or dismiss a mind we do not know or understand, but it’s perhaps even easier to rationalize a mind we do know and understand. For as Theo tries to pull a story out of Alicia, he runs the risk of writing his own.

The Silent Patient is a quick read – fast-paced and impossible to put down. The characters range from bold to meek to unreadable, but each plays a careful and strategic role in a thrilling story that will leave the reader unable to walk away. After all, even the silent one speaks volumes and at the end of the day, sometimes it’s what you don’t say that says the most.

Recommended for: Readers looking for a psychological thriller that is gripping but not terrifying.

The post Silence Speaks Louder Than Words in Heart-Thumping ‘The Silent Patient’ appeared first on The Book Wheel.

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How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 15, 2018
Genres/Lists: Fiction
Pages: 320
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)


Margaret Jacobson’s life was nearly perfect. In her late 20’s, she was set to start her dream job and enter into the next phase of her relationship with a man she adored. But despite her years of hard work and doing everything she was supposed to, it took only a few chaotic minutes to throw it all into disarray.

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center tells the story of Margaret’s rise and fall after a tragic accident leaves her questioning everything she thought she knew: her friends, her family, and most of all, herself. As she scrambles to pick through the wreckage that is her former life, she struggles to rebuild the confidence and vibrancy that she once embodied.

My past hadn’t even had time to fade: It had been severed from me.

There’s a saying that it is in tragedy that we find out what we’re really made of – what we can and can’t handle. Usually, it’s meant to infer that we are stronger than we think, and that with the right attitude and enough grit, we can overcome anything. But Margaret isn’t so sure and fluctuates between an optimistic worldview where all returns to normal and the heartbreaking realization that there are some things you just can’t come back from.

Complicating matters are the very people she depends on – her mother who refuses to accept the facts, her estranged sister and her inconvenient timing for seeking forgiveness, and her dream man, who, despite his best efforts, is woefully inadequate in dealing with what happened to Margaret. Anyone who has experienced tragedy knows firsthand that people respond in different ways, but Margaret is stuck on her hospital bed bearing witness to it all.

And so, Margaret is left, more or less, on her own, finding solace in the most unexpected places and relying on strangers for their brutal honesty. Sometimes, though, it is when we lose something that we find something – the question is whether what Margaret is seeking is possible, or if she even knows what it is she is seeking.

How to Walk Away by @katherinecenter begs the questions: How much is too much to bear?
Click To Tweet

How To Walk Away is fast paced and written in a conversational tone that the reader can breeze through in just a few sittings (in my case, it was two), making it the perfect weekend read. It’s as if the reader is inside Margaret’s head, bearing witness to her every thought and action for better or for worse. Center does an excellent job of putting the reader in her shoes, and although I cannot imagine being in her situation, I could empathize with her. In other words, she is completely relatable even though she’s in an impossible situation.

I’ve never read Center before, but a quick Google search shows that she has authored many books and is quite popular. If this book is indication, then I can see why. How to Walk Away is, for lack of a better phrase, hard to walk away from and Margaret will stay with me for a long time.

Recommended for: Readers seeking a light approach to a heavy topic.

The post ‘How to Walk Away’ a Touching Tale of Tragedy appeared first on The Book Wheel.

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The End of Loneliness by Benedict Wells
Published by Sceptre on March 8, 2018
Genres/Lists: Diverse, Fiction, Translated
Pages: 240
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)


When Jules was in elementary school, he lost both his parents and was shipped off to boarding school, along with his two older siblings. Awash in grief and disbelief, he folded into himself, casting off his previous self in an effort to simply survive the new life fate had thrown at him. For his siblings, coping manifested in different ways – his sister’s cool detachment and penchant for recklessness and his brother’s obsessive need for order and success. Unsurprisingly, they were each searching for a way to end their loneliness and in doing so, drifted apart.

A difficult childhood is like an invisible enemy, I thought. You never know when it will strike.

The End of Loneliness by Benedict Wells is an apt title for a book that is premised upon lonely characters. There are some who are never physically or emotionally alone, yet who feel alone. There are those who find friendship as a result of their loneliness. Then there are those, like Jules, who use their loneliness as a crutch, a way to blame it for the trajectory of their lives, even if they don’t quite know how to name it.

Introspective and contemplative, Jules was steeped in the past and never quite able to shake the feeling he had when he was left to fend for himself at boarding school. Even at a young age, he spent more time thinking about how the past impacted his present than how the present could impact his future. This didn’t bode well for interpersonal relationships, but in Alva, he found someone who understood. They met at boarding school, and because Alva was fighting her own sense of loss, they found a way to face the world together.

The End of Loneliness reminds us that whether lonely or alone, looking into the past can blind us to our futures.
Click To Tweet

But life happens and after high school they went their separate ways following a disagreement. Jules had a difficult time living a life without Alva by his side, but several years later, fate put them in each other’s path again. What follows is a tender story that, as is characteristic of Jules, looks back on how past actions affect the present day.

The only way we can overcome the loneliness within us is together.

The End of Loneliness is not a cheerful book, but it’s one that all of us can relate to. After all, part of living life means feeling alone. Although Jules suffered an immense loss at a young age, there is a turning point in each of our lives that we can point to and say, “that’s where it all changed.” Indeed, there’s only one of each of us and how we experience and see and go through the world is unique to only ourselves. We all have regrets and can look back on people we wish we were still in contact with, and we can all get stuck wishing the past were different and be paralyzed at the thought of moving forward.

The questions left for Jules to answer are, once he realizes what he is doing, will he change course and focus on the future? Will finding old friends who saw his potential propel him into the future or push him even further into himself and his past? These are all questions raised in this book and though it’s a darker read, it left me fulfilled.

Recommended for: Readers looking for melancholic book to escape into without being overly depressed.

The post The End of Loneliness and How the Past Blinds Us to the Future appeared first on The Book Wheel.

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The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
Series: Joe Talbert #1
Published by Seventh Street Books on October 14, 2014
Genres/Lists: Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 303
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)


Life is hard, but it’s harder for some. Take Joe Talbert, for example. He’s a college student from a poor and toxic home environment who works harder than most to get an education and build a better life for himself. But no matter how hard he tries to win his race against the past, it keeps catching up with him.

Carl Iverson also had a hard life, but of a different nature. Carl spent most of his adult life in prison for the murder of a teenage girl 30 years earlier. Battling cancer and released on medical leave, Carl’s hope for the future is dimmed, for his future is short.

But if I didn’t live my life as if I was already in heaven, and I died and found only nothingness, well…I would have wasted my life. I would have wasted my one chance in all of history to be alive.

These unlikely characters cross paths when Joe is assigned a school project that requires interviewing someone more, shall we say, senior to him in The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens. Heading to the nearest nursing home, Hillview Manor, to find someone to interview, Joe ends up meeting Carl and writing his. But the more Joe (and his new friend Lila) gets to know Carl, the more he begins to question everything he knows about his past and, even, the story Carl is telling about himself. What happens next is an action-packed story that culminates in a surprising ending.

The Life We Bury is a good, quick read – the story, characters, and action make it easy to enjoy. It’s not perfect (there were a few unbelievable outcomes and an awkward love scene that reminded me why most romance writers are women) but it’s worth picking up.

It may not have been on purpose, but the blending of mystery and philosophy in #TheLifeWeBury by @aeskens works.
Click To Tweet

What makes it stand out are the questions it raises about guilt, life, and the impact of the past on the present. It touches upon the themes, such as overcoming a difficult past, responsibility over protecting those who can’t protect themselves, and how to disentangle the past to create a freer future, but it was the questions surrounding guilt that were the most intriguing to me and kept me pondering.

What exactly is guilt, anyway? Is it something the government imposes on us or is it self-imposed? Does the imposition of guilt require a person to accept that guilt, or can one accept guilt without it being imposed on them by others? What is the role of guilt in the life we choose, and how does it impact our future choices? Is it better to run from guilt or to accept it and use it to create change?

The Life We Bury is a solid book because it does two things: it grabs the reader and plants them firmly into the world of Joe and Carl; and it raises moral and philosophical questions about life that reach far beyond the book.

Recommended for: Mystery fans who want some philosophical pondering with their reading.

The post The Role of Guilt Plays a Major Role in ‘The Life We Bury’ appeared first on The Book Wheel.

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Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller
Also by this author: Our Endless Numbered Days, Swimming Lessons
Published by Tin House on October 9, 2018
Genres/Lists: #30Authors, Fiction
Pages: 320
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)


Shy and socially awkward, Frances was not one who made friends easily. For most of her life, she avoided social situations that would highlight her awkwardness and instead withdrew into her immediate surroundings. But when a job documenting the architecture of a rundown mansion came along, she took it. Remote and secluded, the mansion offered the exact type of living Frances was accustomed to and was seeking.

Who wouldn’t want to rewrite their past, if it means it will change their future?

Life, however, had other plans. Instead of reveling in solitude on a country estate, she found herself the upstairs neighbor to a boisterous and thrill-seeking couple who were on an adventure of their own. Cara and Peter were the exact opposite of Frances: outgoing, friendly, socially adept, and impossible to ignore. Alone in the house together, their worlds began to blend together, not least of which because of a peephole in Frances’ bathroom that allowed her to see her neighbors in an unguarded fashion.

Bitter Orange is a slow burn of a read – a subtle mystery that ignites a tumultuous friendship amongst a trio of lost souls who are each seeking absolution. Because though they find themselves in the same place and time, they each have a story to tell about who they were and who they want to be. This collision of past and future is what drives the story forward.

Bitter Orange by @clairefuller2 is another slow-burn of a read that you will want to escape into.
Click To Tweet

As with her previous novels, Fuller has a way of slowly unraveling a story of complicated characters in a lyrical manner that softly ebbs and flows. I neither loved nor loathed them, yet I was drawn to them and immensely interested in their pasts (perhaps even more so than I was about their futures, in this case). It is also incredibly descriptive, and I could easily visualize the mansion and its estate, adding an element of richness to an already good story. And though it took a bit longer than expected to get into it, it was worth the wait and ended with a bang.

Recommended for: Readers looking for a subtle read with complicated characters and a setting that be seen.

The post ‘Bitter Orange’: A Delicious Slow-Burn of a Read appeared first on The Book Wheel.

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The Book Wheel is coming up on its 7th birthday this summer and a lot has changed since I started this site nearly 7 years ago. Together, we have finished a master’s degree, moved across the country, started #30Authors, gotten married, and run for (and won!) public office. In that same timeframe, the Internet has also changed, as have the ways we consume our news and favorite content. So, I want to share with you the many ways you can follow along with the latest reviews here at The Book Wheel. Whether you prefer to get content in your email, feedreader, or on social media, there is an easy way to keep up, including:

Direct Social Media Blogging Sites

The post 10 Ways to Follow The Book Wheel appeared first on The Book Wheel.

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Published by Celadon Books on February 5, 2019
Genres/Lists: Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 325
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)


Have you ever finished a book and wished you could start over to see what it is that you missed? That’s how The Silent Patient, a debut psychological thriller by Alex Michaelides, was for me. Gripping and fast-paced, I flew through the chapters and when I got to the end, I realized I was completely and utterly unprepared. I feel like I need to reread it straightaway so that I can try to pick up on everything I surely missed.That, of course, would defeat the purpose of being blown away by the force of this debut novel but the temptation is very real.

There’s so much pain everywhere, and we just close our eyes to it. The truth is we’re all scared.

The Silent Patient is two stories woven into one. First, it’s about a woman named Alicia who shoots and kills her husband and never speaks again. Known for her artwork and beloved by all who knew her, her friends and the public at large try to make sense of why she would commit such a horrific act. But soon her 15 minutes of fame recedes and she’s relegated to a facility equipped to handle violent criminals and is largely forgotten.

Forgotten until Theo comes along, that is. Because the story is also about Theo, a psychotherapist who was captivated by Alicia’s silence and intent on helping her speak her truth and share her side of the story. Once assigned to her case, he explores creative (if not dubious) ways to connect with a woman who has no intention of connecting with anyone. But he persists by digging into her past and tries fervently to piece together the woman that was a famed and beloved artist with a woman who kills in cold blood. 

The buzz is true: #TheSilentPatient by @AlexMichaelides ‏is a thrilling debut that is nearly impossible to put down.
Click To Tweet

But delving into the psychological depths of such a person can be risky, and the reader is taken on a journey into Theo’s own mind and past. It turns out, it’s easy to cast judgment on or dismiss a mind we do not know or understand, but it’s perhaps even easier to rationalize a mind we do know and understand. For as Theo tries to pull a story out of Alicia, he runs the risk of writing his own.

The Silent Patient is a quick read – fast-paced and impossible to put down. The characters range from bold to meek to unreadable, but each plays a careful and strategic role in a thrilling story that will leave the reader unable to walk away. After all, even the silent one speaks volumes and at the end of the day, sometimes it’s what you don’t say that says the most.

Recommended for: Readers looking for a psychological thriller that is gripping but not terrifying. 

The post Silence Speaks Louder Than Words in Heart-Thumping ‘The Silent Patient’ appeared first on The Book Wheel.

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How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 15, 2018
Genres/Lists: Fiction
Pages: 320
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)


Margaret Jacobson’s life was nearly perfect. In her late 20’s, she was set to start her dream job and enter into the next phase of her relationship with a man she adored. But despite her years of hard work and doing everything she was supposed to, it took only a few chaotic minutes to throw it all into disarray.

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center tells the story of Margaret’s rise and fall after a tragic accident leaves her questioning everything she thought she knew: her friends, her family, and most of all, herself. As she scrambles to pick through the wreckage that is her former life, she struggles to rebuild the confidence and vibrancy that she once embodied.

My past hadn’t even had time to fade: It had been severed from me.

There’s a saying that it is in tragedy that we find out what we’re really made of – what we can and can’t handle. Usually, it’s meant to infer that we are stronger than we think, and that with the right attitude and enough grit, we can overcome anything. But Margaret isn’t so sure and fluctuates between an optimistic worldview where all returns to normal and the heartbreaking realization that there are some things you just can’t come back from.

Complicating matters are the very people she depends on – her mother who refuses to accept the facts, her estranged sister and her inconvenient timing for seeking forgiveness, and her dream man, who, despite his best efforts, is woefully inadequate in dealing with what happened to Margaret. Anyone who has experienced tragedy knows firsthand that people respond in different ways, but Margaret is stuck on her hospital bed bearing witness to it all.

And so, Margaret is left, more or less, on her own, finding solace in the most unexpected places and relying on strangers for their brutal honesty. Sometimes, though, it is when we lose something that we find something – the question is whether what Margaret is seeking is possible, or if she even knows what it is she is seeking.

How to Walk Away by @katherinecenter begs the questions: How much is too much to bear?
Click To Tweet

How To Walk Away is fast paced and written in a conversational tone that the reader can breeze through in just a few sittings (in my case, it was two), making it the perfect weekend read. It’s as if the reader is inside Margaret’s head, bearing witness to her every thought and action for better or for worse. Center does an excellent job of putting the reader in her shoes, and although I cannot imagine being in her situation, I could empathize with her. In other words, she is completely relatable even though she’s in an impossible situation.

I’ve never read Center before, but a quick Google search shows that she has authored many books and is quite popular. If this book is indication, then I can see why. How to Walk Away is, for lack of a better phrase, hard to walk away from and Margaret will stay with me for a long time.

Recommended for: Readers seeking a light approach to a heavy topic.

The post ‘How to Walk Away’ a Touching Tale of Tragedy appeared first on The Book Wheel.

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