Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Shake Down The Stars by Renee Swindle

5 Star

When you’re in trouble, and sinking fast, who do you call?

Piper Nelson is stuck. She can’t quite stay away from the husband she divorced. She isn’t always attentive to the high school students she teaches. And even she admits that she’s been drinking too much and seeking out unsuitable men. Piper’s mother, married to a celebrity evangelist, and her sister, immersed in plans to wed a professional football player and star in a reality TV show, are both too self-absorbed to sympathize with Piper’s angst. They tell her to get a grip. But how can Piper ever really recover from the blow she suffered five years ago, when a car accident took the life of her young daughter?

When Piper’s ex-husband announces his new girlfriend is pregnant, Piper is forced to take stock. Realizing that it’s time for a change is one step, but actually making it happen is quite another. And despite what she thinks, Piper can’t do it alone Lucky for her, a couple of crazy, funny new friends are ready to step in when she needs them most…and show her how to live and laugh again.

Lydia - 5 Star

Shake Down the Stars was a much heavier read than I anticipated, but I LOVED this novel because I love an emotional read. Piper is a real character. She’s flawed. Scratch that, she’s more than flawed; she has serious issues, including swigging scotch straight from the bottle and drowning herself not only in alcohol but one night stands. Her struggle to overcome her demons, particularly the grief and guilt she feels after daughter’s death, makes for an absorbing, intense, and heartfelt read.

The characterization in this book is marvelous, and I empathized with Piper, loathed her family, and had a love-hate relationship with her ex-husband. I rooted for Piper throughout this book. She’s stuck, and you can’t help but want her to sort herself out. There are some grim moments as Piper hits rock bottom, including a cringe-worthy encounter – no spoilers, but we’re talking slap your hand over your mouth, gasp out loud and groan that you can’t believe she did that kind of scene. I loved what it said about Piper and that it was so surprising. It’s a fabulous character-defining scene and shoved the story along.

I loved that the love interest was so unusual, and I never knew if anything would materialize. It is possible that I loathed Piper’s family more than I have any other character’s family in a novel. I hated them. Really. I kept waiting for the realization of how they were impacting her and Piper to realize how she was impacting them, and I must say that I enjoyed how things wrapped up. Yes, that was cryptic. Again, no spoilers! 

Not only were the characters perfectly portrayed, but this story moves along at a quick clip. I never found my attention wandering like I do with other novels I’m much less interested in or am forcing myself to read. I was fully invested in both Piper and her story. I also enjoyed star-gazing escape and appreciated both learning something about the stars and that it was just the right balance and not an overabundance of information.

Even with the depth and emotion of this story, Shake Down the Stars isn’t all doom and gloom. Hope resonates within the pages, and I kept reading well past my bedtime to find out what would happen next. This fabulous novel made my Favourite Reads of 2013 (so far), and I will definitely be looking out for more from Swindle!

Thank you to NAL Trade for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

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