The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon

Jennifer McMahon, author of The Invited, has once again created a ghoulish, eerie story about two families whose lives, although generations apart, come together and intertwine to tell a tale of what people will do to save the ones they love while knowing there may be terrible consequences.

In the present, Jax is a social worker who helps children. As a child, she herself wishes there was someone who could have saved her from the turmoil of her family. She has a sister, Lexie, whose mental illness basically ruled their lives as children. Lexie now lives alone in their late grandmother’s Vermont house, just one reason for Jaxs’ resentment of her sister because the house was left to Lexie, not both of them. As of late they have not been close, but when Lexie starts calling Jax and leaving manic messages, Jax thinks its just Lexie off her meds.

But unfortunately, Jax learns much too late that was not the case. Lexie is found dead, drowned in the swimming pool on the property. Now Jax must face the guilt of not having heeded the signs that Lexie was in terrible trouble. She must now go back to the house for Lexie’s memorial and to get Lexie’s personal belongings in order, a task she does not want as the memories of their lives together there were filled with chaos and even at times sinister.

After she settles back into the house, she discovers Lexie had actually been quite obsessed with the history of the property, especially the pool. Through the years there had been a series of drownings in the pool, including her grandmother’s young sister. Suddenly Jax begins to think she sees and hears her sister. She believes Lexie is trying to tell her something, but she cannot understand what. Is she too going crazy?

In 1929 Ethel Monroe, married to Doctor Will Monroe has been trying to get pregnant for over a year, but with no success. Ethel hears of a hotel in Vermont where there are natural springs which have been known to help people who are damaged in some way, heal. She hears stories of people who cannot walk, entering the springs and miraculously walking out on their own accord. She decides to vacation there with her husband, not telling him the real reason she wants to go. She wants to try and wish for a baby in the springs.

Amazingly she gets pregnant! But the baby, who is a girl, is born very ill and they are told will not live the year. Ethel believes the only way to cure her child is by taking her to what is left of the springs as there was a terrible fire and the hotel was burned to the ground. But the scientist in Will does not believe in this type of hocus pocus. Ethel cannot watch their child die. She decides to try on her own to get the water from the springs. But will this work?

And as the two plots collide what emerges are family secrets, startling revelations, ghostly visions and a completely unexpected ending which answers all the questions. The Drowning Kind is an exceptionally haunting read in more ways than one!

Thank you #NetGalley #Gallery/ScoutPress #JenniferMcMahon #TheDrowningKind for the advanced copy.

Open Book by Jessica Simpson

In Simpson’s candidly brutal honest book she details her life-long struggles from being sexually abused as a young child, to becoming addicted to alcohol and drugs. She spares no embarrassment as to how her love life became an addiction as well, one which kept her coming back for more and more verbal and psychological abuse. But, she also describes the moment she realized she needed help and was able to come out of the despair as a new perfectly imperfect person and be ok with that.

But throughout the book while giving us these glimpses into her life, she also tells very funny stories, her misuse of words, the sticking her foot in her mouth and oops moments. As deep as her dark moments may get, there are many lighthearted stories which make you smile intertwined.

She begins the book at the end, telling the reader she has come out the other side of her addictions and despair, then proceeds to explain from the beginning how it all began. First being sexually abused by a family friend at such a young age she did not even know there was a name for it, to the most pivotal moment in her teens when her cousin Sarah, a mentor to her and someone she aspired to be just like, was killed in an auto accident. With her death Simpson devoted (and still does) her life to honoring Sarah’s memory.

She also writes of her love of God and how her strength is always drawn through him. The daughter of a preacher, she has kept her deep faith no matter what choices she has made. And has never blamed Him for any of her bad choices. If anything she credits Him for those choices as it made her who she is today.

By keeping journals from a young age she was able to go back and look at what she had been thinking and why she made the decisions in her life at the time. In one journal entry she writes of meeting Nick Lachey and thinking he was going to be the man she married, even though their age difference years and would unfortunately be one of the reasons for their break-up.

She gives us a candid glimpse into her not so healthy relationship with musician John Mayer, who seemed to play with her head time and time again and added to her low self esteem, something which would come into play over and over when people would comment on her weight or her looks or her choices.

But this “dumb blonde” was not really very dumb. About ten years ago she created a clothing line which has branched out into a billion dollar brand. With the help of her mother and close group of friends whom she trusts, and therapy, she has been able to pick up the pieces of her life, figure out ways to change those negative feelings and be more present in the life of family and friends, but especially in her own life.

Although she knows she is not perfect and never will be and will always be a work in progress (as we all are), she does give sage advice as to how to not make the mistakes she has and that if you do need help, seek it.

Open Book was a sad yet funny yet uplifting story about an innocent girl’s journey from a young age who was able to grow-up into a strong woman, wife and mother with a little help from her friends, family and therapy.