Official Review: Life in a Box by JoDee Neathery

Please use this sub-forum to discuss any fiction books or series that do not fit into one of the other categories. If the fiction book fits into one the other categories, please use that category instead.
Forum rules
Authors and publishers are not able to post replies in the review topics.
Post Reply
User avatar
sarahmarlowe
Member of the Month
Posts: 946
Joined: 02 Jun 2018, 18:57
2019 Reading Goal: 70
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 80
2018 Reading Goal: 70
Favorite Book: One Second After
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 162
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-sarahmarlowe.html
Latest Review: Cooper Peru by Mister E.
Reading Device: B00KC6I06S

Official Review: Life in a Box by JoDee Neathery

Post by sarahmarlowe » 01 Dec 2018, 09:57

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Life in a Box" by JoDee Neathery.]
Book Cover
3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review


Life in a Box, by JoDee Neathery, is a family saga covering nearly a hundred years. Readers follow three generations through triumph and tragedy.

The novel begins with Andee Camp, an adult daughter who has been given a box of family tokens and journals after the death of her mother and uncle. As Andee examines the box and learns more about her mother and her family, the reader is made privy to their story through flashbacks. At the outset, the reader meets Andee’s mother, Victoria Jeanne. V.J., as she is called, leaves Andee a letter encouraging her to examine the family’s history and turn it into a novel. With the loving words and encouragement of her mother, Andee accepts the challenge to do just that.

In the first section of Life in a Box, the author also introduces V.J.’s twin brother, Ben. The reader follows the twins in the weeks prior to their deaths, the cause of which becomes a matter of debate. This section of the story is followed by three books of Andee’s novel. The first is the history of her mother’s side of the family. The second is about her father’s side, and the last explains how the families became intertwined. In the end, the reader is brought back to Andee and her modern-day family for the pulling together of the story.

I enjoyed the beginning of the book. I was intrigued by the characters and enjoyed their interactions. Neathery’s beautiful prose creates detailed images like this description of a winter's day on the beach, “Light of day stonewashed into twilight….” I also liked the character-drawing the author did by adding details like health issues, past rifts, and personal entanglements. And, the back-and-forth between twins V.J. and Ben is fast and fun. That made those characters come alive to me.

I didn’t like the other sections, or books, as much. The characters were well-drawn, but I didn’t want to be taken away from the initial story while investigating their parents and grandparents. I understand many of the plot points rely on family history, but I think that by concentrating on so many characters, the author left some dangling threads. I wanted to know more about Andee’s melanoma, V.J. and Will’s separation, and Scott’s family.

I give Life in a Box 3 out of 4 stars. I debated on giving only 2 stars because of the holes in the plot that need to be patched. To me, the beginning is the most impressive part of the book. I read through the middle in order to get to the end, and I found it disappointing. Without giving any spoilers, one mystery turns into two, and then neither of them seem to be solved with any satisfaction. I would almost brand one answer a deus ex machina. However, the plot is stronger than that of a 2-star book, and I would recommend it.

The novel also needs some editing help, as I found many grammatical lapses. Most of these mistakes had to do with the misuse of commas and apostrophes. Editing issues are another reason I could not give the book 4 stars.

Life in a Box has very little profanity, minimal violence, and only implied sexual situations. I admire that the author allowed her story to stand on its own without adding unnecessary particulars.

If you are looking for an adventure story or action-driven novel, I don’t think this one would be for you. However, this book would appeal to people who enjoy character-driven stories and generational histories. I appreciate appendices like glossaries and charts to aid the unraveling of stories, and Neathery includes a family tree that is a great help in keeping siblings straight. If you like interesting, detailed characters, you may want to try Life in a Box. I would certainly read another book by this author because I like her writing style.

******
Life in a Box
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon

Like sarahmarlowe's review? Post a comment saying so!
sarahmarlowe
You can spend your time however you want, but you can spend it only once. :eusa-think:

User avatar
Book Lover 35
Posts: 582
Joined: 10 Oct 2018, 18:16
2019 Reading Goal: 20
2018 Reading Goal: 25
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 52
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 24
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-book-lover-35.html
Latest Review: VieVie La Fontaine by Linda Heavner Gerald

Post by Book Lover 35 » 03 Dec 2018, 00:23

This sounds like a charming story. I love the summary. Thanks for the review!
:tiphat:

User avatar
T_stone
Posts: 951
Joined: 17 Sep 2018, 22:08
2019 Reading Goal: 70
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 22
2018 Reading Goal: 20
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 35
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 97
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-t-stone.html
Latest Review: A View from the Inside: on the Frontline of Afroamerican liberation by Reginald Brown
Reading Device: 1400697484

Post by T_stone » 03 Dec 2018, 02:17

I like a book with very good characterization, and "Life in a Box" seems like one. It also has a good plot even though there are some holes in the plot. Thanks for the detailed summary.
Feeling upset sometimes may be unavoidable, but acting distressed is always optional.

Rob White

User avatar
kandscreeley
Special Discussion Leader
Posts: 8922
Joined: 31 Dec 2016, 20:31
2019 Reading Goal: 95
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 67
Currently Reading: Sunshine at the Academy
Bookshelf Size: 298
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kandscreeley.html
Latest Review: Kate Strike by Saramah Hossain

Post by kandscreeley » 03 Dec 2018, 09:00

I appreciate that this book is fairly clean. However, I enjoy a bit more action in my stories. Family dramas aren't necessarily my go to genre. Still, with some work, I think this could probably be nice for those that enjoy that kind of thing.
Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable.
-Louisa May Alcott

User avatar
sarahmarlowe
Member of the Month
Posts: 946
Joined: 02 Jun 2018, 18:57
2019 Reading Goal: 70
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 80
2018 Reading Goal: 70
Favorite Book: One Second After
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 162
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-sarahmarlowe.html
Latest Review: Cooper Peru by Mister E.
Reading Device: B00KC6I06S

Post by sarahmarlowe » 08 Dec 2018, 12:16

Book Lover 35 wrote: ↑
03 Dec 2018, 00:23
This sounds like a charming story. I love the summary. Thanks for the review!
"Charming" is a very good description of it! Thanks for stopping by!
sarahmarlowe
You can spend your time however you want, but you can spend it only once. :eusa-think:

User avatar
sarahmarlowe
Member of the Month
Posts: 946
Joined: 02 Jun 2018, 18:57
2019 Reading Goal: 70
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 80
2018 Reading Goal: 70
Favorite Book: One Second After
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 162
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-sarahmarlowe.html
Latest Review: Cooper Peru by Mister E.
Reading Device: B00KC6I06S

Post by sarahmarlowe » 08 Dec 2018, 12:19

T_stone wrote: ↑
03 Dec 2018, 02:17
I like a book with very good characterization, and "Life in a Box" seems like one. It also has a good plot even though there are some holes in the plot. Thanks for the detailed summary.
Yes! The characters are very rounded. I enjoyed learning more about them as the book went on. Thanks for stopping by!
sarahmarlowe
You can spend your time however you want, but you can spend it only once. :eusa-think:

User avatar
sarahmarlowe
Member of the Month
Posts: 946
Joined: 02 Jun 2018, 18:57
2019 Reading Goal: 70
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 80
2018 Reading Goal: 70
Favorite Book: One Second After
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 162
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-sarahmarlowe.html
Latest Review: Cooper Peru by Mister E.
Reading Device: B00KC6I06S

Post by sarahmarlowe » 08 Dec 2018, 12:25

kandscreeley wrote: ↑
03 Dec 2018, 09:00
I appreciate that this book is fairly clean. However, I enjoy a bit more action in my stories. Family dramas aren't necessarily my go to genre. Still, with some work, I think this could probably be nice for those that enjoy that kind of thing.
Very true! I would love to know more about these characters, but it is certainly not a thriller:)

Thanks for stopping by!
sarahmarlowe
You can spend your time however you want, but you can spend it only once. :eusa-think:

User avatar
Ferdinand_otieno
Posts: 1734
Joined: 03 Jun 2017, 12:54
2019 Reading Goal: 300
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 76
2018 Reading Goal: 250
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 140
2017 Reading Goal: 200
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 94
Favorite Author: Victor Rose
Currently Reading: Amethyst of Destiny
Bookshelf Size: 830
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-ferdinand-otieno.html
Latest Review: Peoushi: An American Legend by Michael F. McWilliams
fav_author_id: 78026

Post by Ferdinand_otieno » 13 Aug 2019, 07:50

This seems like a charming story with excellent characterization, and I am very much looking forward to reading it despite the listed plot holes. Awesome review that sold me on this book.

User avatar
Brendan Donaghy
Posts: 529
Joined: 18 Jan 2019, 13:14
2019 Reading Goal: 20
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 105
Currently Reading: Small Great Things
Bookshelf Size: 27
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-brendan-donaghy.html
Latest Review: Mezzanine by Susan Kay Anderson

Post by Brendan Donaghy » 13 Aug 2019, 07:52

This book sounds a bit patchy, so I'll probably give it a miss. Thanks for a great review!

User avatar
tarafarah7
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 973
Joined: 29 Jul 2016, 22:22
2019 Reading Goal: 12
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 8
2018 Reading Goal: 50
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 12
2017 Reading Goal: 10
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 230
Favorite Author: Mitch Albom
Favorite Book: <a href="http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelve ... ">tuesdays with Morrie</a>
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 744
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-tarafarah7.html
Latest Review: Toni the Superhero by R.D. Base
Reading Device: B00IKPYKWG
fav_author_id: 2544

Post by tarafarah7 » 13 Aug 2019, 07:55

Today's BOTD sounds like a beautiful multi-generational story with well-developed charaters driving the plot. You mentioned this book being broken up into 3 parts...perhaps, it would have been better if the author turned those 3 parts into 3 separate books. I read another saga, similar to this one, and that's what she did. It was wonderful! I downloaded my copy, and I'm looking forward to reading it. Thank you so much for your review - I enjoyed it! :-)

User avatar
gali
Site Admin
Posts: 39622
Joined: 22 Oct 2013, 07:12
2019 Reading Goal: 100
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 66
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 100
2017 Reading Goal: 100
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 100
Favorite Author: Agatha Christie
Currently Reading: The Cat Who Blew the Whistle
Bookshelf Size: 1945
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-gali.html
Reading Device: B00I15SB16
fav_author_id: 2484

Post by gali » 13 Aug 2019, 07:59

A family saga that combines mystery, memoir, and history and follows three generations sounds enticing. A pity the other sections aren't as good as the first one. Too bad about the holes in the plot, lack of action, and the weak ending. Hopefully, those editing errors you mentioned were fixed by now. I don't think it is for me, but I am glad you enjoyed the book despite its flaws. Thank you for the review!
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

User avatar
MsTri
Posts: 1499
Joined: 02 Jul 2017, 12:56
2019 Reading Goal: 12
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 216
2018 Reading Goal: 12
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 391
2017 Reading Goal: 0
Favorite Book: <a href="http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelve ... 15362">The Prodigal Son</a>
Currently Reading: A Game of Thrones
Bookshelf Size: 535
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-mstri.html
Latest Review: VD Anthology by Tara Basi,Brian Kelly,Robert Hennebry,Cheryl Baden-Powell,Sophia Haddad, Georgina Hutchinson, J.D. H
Reading Device: B00L89V1AA

Post by MsTri » 13 Aug 2019, 08:05

Thanks for the review, but I really don't care for "character-driven stories and generational histories", and Andee and her family's saga will not be the exception.

User avatar
Stephanie Elizabeth
Posts: 1016
Joined: 18 Jul 2018, 15:41
2019 Reading Goal: 40
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 92
Currently Reading: Cynthia and Dan
Bookshelf Size: 48
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-stephanie-elizabeth.html
Latest Review: Sex, Chicken and Coco Butter by Mac Styles

Post by Stephanie Elizabeth » 13 Aug 2019, 08:10

It's too bad that the novel didn't maintain an even flow. I like the premise of the story as it sounds like a character-driven book which involves a secret box and letters/journals chronicling the lives of the main character's family. Thanks for the great review!

User avatar
Hester3
Posts: 66
Joined: 30 May 2019, 10:55
2019 Reading Goal: 12
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 483
Currently Reading: Conflict on the Yangtze
Bookshelf Size: 64
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-hester3.html
Latest Review: The Fox by M. N. J. Butler

Post by Hester3 » 13 Aug 2019, 08:10

The idea behind the book sounds interesting, but it sounds as if the book itself is disappointing. I agree that it might have been better if the book was divided into three books. Thanks for the review.

User avatar
Masque3323
Posts: 8
Joined: 25 Jul 2019, 14:35
Bookshelf Size: 0
Reading Device: B00I15SB16

Post by Masque3323 » 13 Aug 2019, 08:16

It's difficult to get through books with so many characters that you (& often the author) can't keep track of. Too many characters too many times lead to shallow characters because they're not fleshed out enough. It sounds like an interesting premise, for sure, but I feel like it's been overdone in the last few years. Thank you for your honest review!

Post Reply

Return to “Other Fiction Forum”