Cheri Reviews Before the Fall by Noah Hawley


While poking around on NetGalley some months ago, I saw Before the Fall and thought it sounded interesting. The fact that the author wrote on the TV show Fargo helped in my decision to request the book since some friends have said good things about it. By the time I got around to reading it, I had forgotten everything the blurb said except there was a plane crash and a man saved a little boy. I also listened to the audio book instead of reading the ebook. One of the benefits of being terribly delinquent in NetGalley reading is that the audio books are sometimes available at my public library.

The blurb on Amazon is pretty long but here it is if you’re interested:

On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.

Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.

I just read the blurb again and I have to say there really wasn’t any pulse-quickening suspense and I didn’t think the relationship between Scott and the boy was fragile or at the heart of the novel. Scott was certainly at the heart of the novel but after the crash, he didn’t have that much contact with the kid. What was at the heart of the novel, for me, was the way the right-wing, Fox News-like anchor (think Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh had a love child) twisted the facts of the story, and the law, to advance his own agenda. Sensationalism and ego were all that mattered to him and maybe it was just a bit too close to reality for me. I spent a lot of time grinding my teeth or talking out loud during his sections.

Along with finding out about what had been going on with the passengers and crew before the crash and what Scott and a few others were up to after the crash, there was also the mystery of what happened to cause the plane to drop out of the sky. There was really no point in the book prior to the reveal that I had it completely right. So not only were the characters well done, the mystery was well done, too. And while some words and phrases were used a bit too often for my liking and some scenes seemed to drag or made me wonder why they were included at all, in general, the writing and language were enjoyable. The moving back and forth between before the crash and after worked very well. I was never irritated, that I can remember, when a time or POV shift happened and I liked the author’s choice of omniscient POV. I’d definitely read another book by the author. All things considered, I’m a satisfied reader!

You can download a sample or purchase Before the Fall by clicking here.

Cheri Reviews Suffer the Children by Craig DiLouie


I picked this book up from NetGalley a LONG time ago and then I forgot about it. Recently, I found the audio book at the library and figured it was the universe’s way of telling me to check this one off my lengthy “to be reviewed” list.

Suffer the Children is a horror story that focuses on a few families in a what seems to be a smallish town. It starts out right before all of the prepubescent children of the world die. It moved over the globe in shifts but all of the children in this town dropped at the same time. And then they came back a few days later. That’s when the story really begins.

I thought the book was a lot of fun to read. It’s mostly told from the POVs of various adults – parents or medical professionals – and, a few times, from kids. The kids’ POVs I found a bit problematic simply because many times there were words and phrases or other things put forward that didn’t fit for a kid to say or notice or know and it broke that illusion for me. The adult POVs, though, I loved. They showed some great evolution in thought and justification.

There were some things that either weren’t explained very well – like why some industries were expected to not be present anymore because the kids died or why there was a shortage of food and supplies in the grocery store – and others were tough to swallow and went beyond my ability to suspend disbelief.

Ultimately, I had a great time reading this book. It was a lot of fun. It was sort of like a good, cheesy, horror movie. There was some humor, a lot of blood, some engaging characters, controversy, and evil kids. I definitely recommend it for fans of the horror genre who are looking for a lighter read.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy. The audio book narrator did a good job of bringing it to life so I can definitely recommend the audio version if you prefer reading that way, like I do.

You can download a sample or purchase Suffer the Children by clicking here.

Cheri Reviews In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Goodreads Review)

I’m happy I finally read this book. The way Capote uses imagined dialogue and scenes involving the killers made very unsympathetic people/characters somewhat sympathetic. Once I felt that at least one of the men, Perry, was a kind soul who couldn’t possibly be the one who pulled the trigger, Capote hit me with what actually took place. The whole murder scenario was a punch to the gut after taking his time building the characters into real human beings, the victims and the murderers.

It’s a story that will stick with me for a good long time.

Cheri Reviews The Vegetarian by Han Kang (Goodreads Review)


I just… I have no idea what to say about this book. Everyone and everything is just so… I want to say messed up but that doesn’t come close to enough. There were so many different things going on with the interconnected characters that I wasn’t sure who was more screwed up or mentally ill or abusive or misogynistic.

I have to say that I did enjoy (although I’m not sure that’s the right word for it) how the sisters’ characters were unfolded. I honestly never had any idea where this book was going from one chapter to the next. There haven’t been many books that have made me have visceral reactions the way parts of this book did. So there’s that. Noticing the various cultural differences was interesting too. It’s definitely not a book that can be understood as much while applying American mores.

Would I recommend it? Not a blanket recommendation, that’s for sure. But if you like reading very dark books about dysfunctional families and mental illness, it could be right up your alley. I’m not sorry that I read it but it was a difficult read nearly all the way through.

Cheri Reviews The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Goodreads Review)


I found this book mostly fascinating and terrifying. With our current political and religious culture this could be a possible future.

I loved the prose and Claire Danes was perfect as narrator. I would absolutely read it again. Maybe with my eyes next time.

I did have to take a short break because it was so heavy emotionally. That’s not to say there’s much in the way of emotional writing because the narrator, Offred, is not emotive in her telling. She’s sharing her story in a direct way. Well, direct in that she’s giving facts and reasons behind her decisions. There are a few places where she gives her more personal feelings but she tries to keep it to a minimum. I think this forced me to experience my own emotions rather than feed off of hers.

I’m glad I finally read it.

Cheri Reviews Far from Home by Loreli Brown (Goodreads Review)


I’m really torn on the rating of this one. I think it’s better than just three stars and it’s the characters and the inclusion of and handling of anorexia bumped it to a pretty solid 3.5 for me. I debated on whether I should round up or down – since Goodreads seems determined to never allow for .5 stars – and while there were a few things that really pulled me out of the story on numerous occasions, the strength of my emotional connection with the characters pushed me to round up.

I thought that Rachel felt like a genuine and complex character and, even though the book is told in first person POV, I was comfortable with my level of understanding of Pari, too. For me, the most compelling part of the book was the way Rachel’s anorexia was handled. I don’t know anyone – at least I don’t think I do – who has suffered with the illness but I feel like I’ve gained some insight into the condition and a bit of what it must be like. I thought the author did a great job of keeping it in the forefront but never in any sort of preachy way that may have felt forced or contrived.

So what were these things that pulled me out of the story and prevented me from giving it a solid 4 stars or more? Well, the first person POV used with present tense was the first thing. It didn’t mess me up all the time and I mostly got used to it but everyone once in a while – YANK! – right out. But probably the biggest thing was some of the word choices. There were times when phrases or passages seemed like they had the wrong words mixed in. One example was something along the lines of Rachel noticing that Pari was tired and the phrase “she could tell by the weariness of her cheeks” was used. Or words really close to that – I don’t have the book open in front of me but it was the weariness of her cheeks. That pulled me out of the story so badly that I had to text a friend to make sure it wasn’t just me because I don’t know how cheeks can look weary. There were a few places where I felt like the author was trying to make a passage feel more poetic but the actual words didn’t do it for me and I spent more time wondering what words would have made it flow better or make more sense than I did being immersed in the scene. Things like that.

I was typing up the last sentence of this little review when I remembered that I wish so hard that there had been another chapter or three between the last chapter and the epilogue. How wonderful would it have been to experience what they went through to get to that epilogue? I’m not the sort of person who needs everything all wrapped up with a bow but damn, what a bunch of important things to not address. At least that’s how I feel about it.

So after reading all this you may be wondering why I still rounded up… It’s the story, the characters, and how I felt while reading it. Also I didn’t see any typos so that’s a bonus.