AFTER THE LAST PAGE
By Jacqueline Malloy
Never had anyone to talk to about your latest read when you close the book? After the Last Page is a show for the reader that loves to discuss what they've read. Each week, Jackie reads a book of varying genres and discusses the book at length for listeners that might be reading along. With a brutally honest review and an in-depth analysis for each read on her TBR list, Jackie will walk you through what books are worth the hype and which ones aren't.
Moonlight and The Pearler's Daughter by Lizzie Pook--Book Review
Eliza Brightwell's family is from London, but when word on the street is that Australia is the place to be, the entire family moves in the hopes of making a fortune from the pearl trade. Taking place in the Industrial Era, Moonlight and The Pearler's Daughter follows Eliza as she steps foot in a new place--a place that just might make or break her family. As the story progresses, we're taken 10 years forward, when Eliza goes to meet her father's pearling boat at the dock. Except, as the crew starts to disembark, it becomes clear that her father isn't on the boat and no one knows what happened to him. Determined to find her father, with nothing more than an inkling that he's still alive, Eliza sets sail on a new adventure. With the help of her friend Min, and her new male friend, Axel, Eliza searches for the truth of what really happened to her father. Moonlight and the Pearler's Daughter is a story of adventure, romance, corruption, and secrets.
August 07, 2022
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides—Book Review
The Maidens takes place at St. Christopher’s in Cambridge where a dark murder has just taken place. Main character, and protagonist, Mariana is a group-therapist in London. When she gets a call from her niece, Zoe, that her friend, Tara, is missing and the police are all over it, Mariana is quick to jump to the rescue. She’s going to bring Zoe home, where she’ll be safe. Except, Zoe doesn’t want to come home and Mariana doesn’t want to leave Zoe in the middle of a crime scene. Not knowing what to do next, Mariana decides to stay at her alma-mater until things quiet down. Yet, things don’t exactly quiet down when another murder is on the horizon
July 30, 2022
SURPRISE EPISODE!! Wish You Were Here By Jodi Picoult—Book Review
TW: TALK OF DEMENTIA AND COVID PANDEMIC. Wish You Were Here takes place at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Diana O’Toole has her life all planned out—and she’s perfectly on track. At 29, she’s soon going to be promoted to Art Specialist at Sotheby’s in NYC and she can’t be more excited. Soon, she’ll be working her dream job, which is just another step in her plan. The next step? Going to the Galapagos Islands with her perfect NYC surgeon boyfriend, Finn, where he’ll propose on a beautiful beach.
July 27, 2022
It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey—Book Review
Inspired by the television show, Schitt's Creek, Tessa Bailey's It Happened One Summer is the story of Piper Bellinger, party girl from LA. Piper's the next Paris Hilton, gracing the covers of all the popular tabloids--and Instagram, of course. That is, until her 3-week-old relationship ends, and she spirals by throwing the biggest party of the year without permission from the venue. When the party lands Piper in jail, her stepfather decides enough is enough--he's sending her to Westport, Washington, where Piper and her sister, Hannah, will learn some responsibility by staying in their deceased father's dive bar (or what's left of it, anyway).
July 25, 2022
The Power by Naomi Alderman—Book Review
TW: The content of this review includes mentions of rape, religion, and politics. Four characters in a changing world, The Power follows the stories of Allie, Roxy, Tunde, and Margot. Allie’s a foster kid with a difficult set of foster parents. Roxy comes from a mafia-based family that is surrounded in danger. Tunde is a Nigerian boy with a penchant for YouTube videos. Margot is a local mayor and aspiring politician. What do they all have in common? They were all there when it started. The Power is the story of a changing world—one where women have great physical power, and men don’t. When girls begin to be born with an electrical pulse that can bring a grown man flat to the ground, a patriarchal society shifts. The story follows the four characters as they experience the power for themselves, in different areas of the world—from the United States, to Lagos, to a brand new country. In this unique dystopian sci-fi novel, a small twist of nature changes the world’s entire future.
July 16, 2022
The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert—Book Review
Sabrina Monroe prefers her life in the city, far from her family and the family secret. Yet, when she loses her journalism job and has a credit card bill that’s reaching closer and closer to its limit, she has no choice but to return to the Wisconsin Dells. For Sabrina, returning home means more than just her family—it means returning to the place where she was continually bullied throughout her childhood, and the place of her family’s secret: The Monroe family women can see ghosts.
July 09, 2022
The Lifestyle by Taylor Hahn—Book Review
TW: TALK OF INFIDELITY AND MIXED PARTNERSHIPS
July 02, 2022
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus--Book Review
TW: THIS REVIEW MENTIONS SEXUAL ASSAULT, RAPE, AND GENDER INEQUALITIES Reviewed by The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, Lessons in Chemistry is certainly a book that has gained speed quickly. Set in California in the 1960s, Lessons in Chemistry is the story of Elizabeth Zott. Zott is a female scientist on an all-male research team in a time where women were more often housewives than chemists. Zott is working on an important project when she meets Calvin Evans, an infamous scientist also working for the same research company. While the two seem like an unlikely pair, their time together is much more than romantic chemistry—that is, until Evans suffers from a tragic accident. Left alone with a dog and an unborn child, Elizabeth has to learn to handle motherhood as an unwed mother. Struggling with inequality, the difficulties of her field, and her role to her child, Zott finds herself reluctantly leaving the research facility and starting a cooking show with a fellow parent. Her unusual approach to cooking proves revolutionary and gains her a large following. Yet, as her following grows, so does the implication that women don’t just belong in the kitchen. Compared to Where’d You Go, Bernadette and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Lessons in Chemistry is described as witty, laugh-out-loud funny, and must-read debut.
June 25, 2022
Agatha of Little Neon By Claire Luchette--Book review
Agatha of Little Neon is the story of four nuns living and working together. Told by Agatha, their story follows how the sisters met, their daily routines, and their connection and devotion to Mother Roberta. Yet, when the Parish goes broke and the daycare the sisters oversee becomes empty, the sisters are forced into a new mission. Both scared and excited at the possibility of something new, the four sisters leave Mother Roberta and travel to Rhode Island, where they are tested with a new responsibility: taking care of the charges in a halfway house. Knowing nothing about recovering addicts, the sisters jump into their duties with enthusiasm. That is, everyone except Agatha. Agatha is given the job of teaching math at the local school, where she is on her own in the first time in years. Struggling to find her identity without her sisters, Agatha has to learn what it’s like to be independent again. Agatha of Little Neon is a story of sisterhood, friendship, and devotion. With unexpected friends and stories readers won’t soon forget, this novel is an excellent example of finding our truest selves in unlikely places.
June 18, 2022
Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin--Book Review
Ayesha Shamsi is in her mid-twenties, un-married, and lives with her family. Though her community would have expected her married by her age, Ayesha is more worried about her career. She’s an aspiring poet, but works a modest teaching job to pay back her uncle, who funded her education. She’s often reminded by her family that she’s running out of time to meet someone, unlike her gorgeous younger cousin, Hafsa, who is rejecting her hundredth marriage proposal. Ayesha and her cousin are nothing alike. Hafsa’s family hopes Ayesha’s maturity will rub off on Hafsa a bit, so they ask Ayesha to help keep an eye on her. Yet, when Hafsa doesn’t show up for a planning meeting at the mosque, Ayesha finds herself covering for her cousin and in turn, meeting a handsome stranger with some curious eccentricities. When a surprise engagement is announced between the ever-elusive Hafsa and Ayesha’s love interest, Ayesha has to try to be the mature, nurturing cousin she’s always been, even though all she wants is to steal Hafsa’s new fiancé for herself.
June 11, 2022
Review: Book Lovers by Emily Henry
It’s August, which is the slow season for cutthroat literary agent Nora Stephens. She spends every day around books, from reading her client’s work to cutting them enormous deals. Yet, when her younger sister, Libby, begs her to take a month off in a town she thought her biggest client had made up, she follows her sister into what she hopes will be the literary meet-cute of her dreams. When Nora and Libby get to Sunshine Falls, it’s not exactly what they expected. With oddly named restaurants and small town characters, Nora thought it would be a little….more. Yet, she’s determined to have the Hallmark movie meet cute she deserves, so the two sisters make a vacation to-do list pact to achieve their goals, including #6—go on two dates with local men. The only problem? Instead of run-ins with a cute country doctor or picnics in a meadow, she keeps running into her long-time work nemesis Charlie Lastra, a book editor from back in the city. While Nora’s not the typically heroine, and Charlie’s not the ideal hero, the two are thrown together again and again proving that maybe a meet-cute isn’t what Nora needs after all.
June 04, 2022
Review: Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
TW: Talk of Sterilization of Minors Inspired by true events, Take My Hand is the story of Civil Townsend, a young woman working for a family planning clinic in Montgomery, Alabama in the 1970s. Shortly after receiving her nursing degree, Civil goes to work for a local clinic, which specializes in reaching the impoverished women in the community. Civil comes from a middle-class background and she is often shocked by the conditions of her home visits. She has big plans to make a difference, but when Civil is given the case of 11- and 13-year-old India and Erica, she is shocked to learn that she is required to inject them with a birth control drug that has not been regulated by the FDA. Stuck between her ethics as a nurse and keeping her hard-to-find job at the clinic, Civil begins a journey to help the Williams sisters on a journey to receive better welfare and government help. Hoping to better their lives, Civil is shocked when one day she arrives at the family’s apartment to find the unthinkable has happened to the girls—they have been sterilized without their consent.
June 03, 2022
Review: If The Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy
A recent graduate from a prestigious fashion school, Cindy is ready to start her career as a shoe designer. The only problem? She’s out of design ideas and she has no job in sight. Not sure where to go with her new degree, Cindy moves back in with her famous stepmother, Erica Tremaine, a reality dating show exec. Her stepmother gives her the very fashion-free job of nannying her younger siblings for the summer (or until she can find a job). That is, until Erica and her protégé realize they are two candidates short for the latest season of the show. As a plus size woman, Cindy never expected to be on a show like Before Midnight, where pretty skinny girls compete for a suitor’s attention until one of them wins a ring and some big bucks. But, the opportunity to compete could help Cindy find a designer job, and if she wins, she would have enough cash to start her own line. Though Cindy could use the bump in publicity, she will be the first ever plus-size contestant on the show and that can come with some very real challenges. Best-selling author Julie Murphy’s reimagining of a beloved fairy tale is an enchanting story of self-love and of believing in the happy ending each and every one of us deserves.
May 28, 2022
Review: Darling Girl
In this dark retelling of Peter Pan, Liz Michalski crafts the story of Holly Darling, granddaughter of the famous Wendy Darling. Holly is a scientist and runs a successful skin care company in the US. Hailing from the UK, Holly has left much of her past behind other than her accent and her son, Jack, of course. Jack has health issues that Holly has hidden from everyone, including her own son, and the secret remedy keeping him alive? Blood donations from her daughter, Eden. No one knows about Eden. After all, she’s been in a coma for a decade and why cause more gossip for the tabloids? Holly is certain that no one knows Eden’s alive. In fact, she’s taken great care to hide her at the family estate under the 24-hour care of specialty nurses. But, when Eden mysteriously disappears from her bed, Holly’s life begins to fall apart and the past she’s taken so much care to avoid begins to unfold right in front of her and Jack—who knows nothing about his family’s tragic history. Desperate to find Eden, keep her son alive, and continue to hold the secret of her family, Holly sets on a journey to finding the only man who could have caused this mess—the infamous Peter Pan. The only problem? Peter is nothing like the stories portray him. He’s dark and dangerous. Darling Girl brings all the magic of the classic Peter Pan story to the present, while also exploring the dark underpinnings of fairy tales, grief, aging, sacrifice, motherhood, and just how far we will go to protect those we love.
May 24, 2022
Review: Remarkably Bright Creatures
Tova Sullivan has been living alone since her husband died. She takes comfort in her routine, from meeting up with her group of friends, the Knit-Wits, to working night shift cleaning the Sowell Bay aquarium. Keeping busy has always helped her cope with her emotions, and after mysteriously losing her 18-year-old son, and then her husband, coping is all Tova is left with. Cameron Cassmore has lost his way—or, I suppose, he would have if he had ever found it in the first place. Abandoned by his mother at a young age and never knowing his father, Cameron has never been a family man. That is, until his Aunt Jeanne gives him a box of his mother’s things and he finds a mysterious ring that leads him right to Sowell Bay and hopefully, an inheritance that will make his lonely childhood worth the pain. Brought together by Sowell Bay Aquarium’s Giant Pacific Octopus, Remarkably Bright Creatures is the story of both Tova and Cameron and the important lessons they have yet to learn. Ever the detective, Marcellus the octopus is determined to unearth the truth to both characters before it’s too late. Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.
May 21, 2022
Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
TW: THIS REVIEW FEATURES DISCUSSION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ASSAULT Lily has spent her life trying to leave the small town she grew up in. Coming from a broken family that has somehow stuck together more years than they should have, she wishes to leave everything behind and start over. Graduating college and moving to Boston sounds like just the way to do that. When Lily has a meet-cute with a drop-dead-gorgeous neurosurgeon resident on the roof-top of a building, she’s ready for a one-night-stand and that’s it—after all, the last thing she needs is to end up like her mother. But, for some reason, she can’t get the man she meets off her mind. When a hookup moves into something more, Lily is reminded of her first love and links to the past that she’s long tried to forget, but can’t seem to escape. When Lily’s first love comes back into the picture, it threatens her current relationship and the life she’s created away from where she grew up. With themes of love, loss, family, and domestic disputes, It Ends With Us is a heavy story that readers won’t forget any time soon.
May 14, 2022
Review: When Stars Rain Down by Angela Jackson-Brown
TW: TALK OF RACE, RACIAL INEQUITIES Angela Jackson-Brown’s second novel, When Stars Rain Down, is the story of 18-year-old Opal Pruitt living in Parsons, Georgia in 1936. Opal knows that the world is more separated than it should be, and in 1936 skin color has more to do with it than anyone would like. Though slavery has long been abolished, African Americans are still doing laborious work for whites and the town of Parsons is as segregated as it comes. Opal has lived a quiet life, tucked away in “Colored Town” with her Granny Birdie. She hopes to live up to her grandmother’s expectations and that means working hard and keeping her head down. But, when the Ku Klux Klan unexpectedly descends on Opal’s neighborhood, the entire community is shaken. The entire town finds it hard to ignore the complicated racial inequities Parsons is home to, with Opal at the center of the story.
May 07, 2022
Review: Dark Horses by Susan Mihalic
TW: THIS REVIEW FEATURES MENTION OF S/A AND VIOLENCE Roan Montgomery has spent her entire life surrounded by horses. A 15-year old equestrian prodigy from a long line of Olympic equestrians, Roan has to live up to a certain level of expectation. After all, it’s her job to carry on the family legacy and the future of Rosemont Farms. Coached by her father, Olympic champion Monty Montgomery, Roan has the ability to make her mark—should she follow his rules. Governed by strict obedience, Roan has no choice but to see the multiple sides of her father she will never escape. Though her relationship with her father is strained, and inappropriate, she has no choice but to follow his rules or she risks losing the legacy and her beloved animals. Compartmentalizing the difficult aspects of her life and her father-daughter relationship, Roan takes on the path to Olympic Gold. Roan is forced to separate her school life, her childhood, and her sport in order to succeed. Ruthlessly focusing on her ambitions as a rider, Roan is certain that she can keep going if she just holds on a little longer—until she meets Will Howard, a boy from school who teaches her to question just how much of her childhood is truly normal.
May 01, 2022
Review: Part Of Your World by Abby Jimenez
Alexis Montgomery is next in line to her family’s throne—the medical throne that is. Coming from 125 years of Montgomerys, Alexis is the first to take up Emergency Medicine, but not surgery. With the pressure of her narcissistic father, her emotionally abusive ex-partner (and surgeon), and her enabling mother and friends, Alexis feels she has no way out of the life she was meant to inherit—until she hits a racoon on the side of the road in a small town. Daniel Grant is an heir in his own right. Wakan has been run by the Grants for as long as anyone can remember, and a Grant has always been the town mayor. Daniel’s never questioned his lineage until he rescues a red-headed beauty from the side of the road. Struggling to make ends meet, Daniel’s not sure how he can keep Alexis, a woman with 10 times his income and 10 years older than him—yet, he knows, he can’t live without her. Together, Daniel and Alexis are unstoppable. But, the two cease to exist outside of Wakan town limits. Can the magic of Wakan keep them together? Or will Alexis and Daniel be destined to follow the path that has already been laid out for them since birth---separately? Visit the blog to comment and discuss this novel at afterthelastpage.com
April 25, 2022
Review: The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
No one would ever believe a small-town woman could be a murderer in 1977, let alone a serial killer. And then, there’s Beth Greer. Shaken by two seemingly random murders, the town of Claire Lake, Oregon needs someone to blame. Who would bring such terrible violence into a safe, small town like Claire Lake? That’s why Beth Greer is the perfect suspect. She’s pretty, rich, a bit unconventional, and young. At just twenty-three, she’s the perfect scapegoat and the town is sure she had to do it. After all, she was seen fleeing one of the crime scenes. But when Beth is acquitted, it seems the murders will go unsolved, and the town will have no one will to blame. Shea Collins is a waiting room receptionist by day and a true-crime blogger by night. A lifetime Claire Lake resident and an escaped child abductee herself, The Lady Killer murders are one of her favorite unsolved cases. When Beth Greer walks into Shea’s waiting room, she almost doesn’t recognize her at first—until she does. Excited by the possibility of meeting a real-life crime celebrity, Shea follows Greer out of the office and asks her for an exclusive interview. To her surprise, Greer says yes. Meeting regularly at Beth’s mansion at the edge of town, Shea and Beth begin an unlikely companionship as they begin to unravel the most popular crime case the town of Claire Lake has ever seen. Shea realizes the house has uncannily stayed the same since the 1970s and she’s sure there is a reason why. As the two explore their different stories and go back in time to visit the Lady Killer murders, Shea learns the truth about the unchanging mansion, the danger lurking in the dark, and the real reason nothing has changed since 1977.
April 20, 2022
Book Review: The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez
It’s been two years since Sloan Monroe lost her fiancé, but she knows grief doesn’t have a time limit. Struggling with her emotions, Sloan seems to have given up all things important in her life, including her painting. But, on her way to visit her fiancé’s grave, something strange happens. A dog runs out in front of her car, barks at her, and then jumps straight through her sunroof. Unsure what to do, Sloan takes him home to find his owner. After weeks of unanswered calls to the number on his tag, Sloan decides the dog is now hers. With Tucker by her side, she starts feeling more like herself than she has in years—until Tucker’s owner actually calls back. He’s on tour in Australia and he wants Tucker back. Connected by their shared love of Tucker, Sloan and Jason talk on the phone regularly until he gets back. Neither can deny that there’s a connection beyond the way they met. But, what will they think of each other when they finally meet in person? And can Sloan survive another relationship (or heartbreak) after losing her fiancé?
April 15, 2022
Book Review: Circe by Madeline Miller
In the reimagining of characters from The Odyssey, Madeline Miller brings to life Circe, a goddess born to the Titan god of the sun, Helios. From the minute of her birth, Circe is a disappointment to her father. She is the most unattractive of his children, powerless, and disobedient. He finds her to have qualities of the mortal world and claims that she will amount to nothing. As Circe grows in her father’s kingdom, on the island of Colchis, she comes to realize that she is completely forgotten. No one pays attention to her or what she does, so long as she doesn’t offend anyone. Circe quickly learns to turn to the world of mortals for companionship, where there are no rules or intimidation tactics. As Circe is thrown into relationships with mortals, she learns she does have powers after all—the power of witchcraft, where she can transform men into gods or swine. Join me as I discuss my thoughts on this novel. I'll also read a short synopsis and leave a discussion for next time. To check out more, visit my blog at afterthelastpage.com
April 15, 2022