Tuesday, July 28, 2015

In the Deepest of Waters Book Review

In the Deepest of Waters by Ryan Mullaney

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Down to her last dollar, former Miami Beach lifeguard Libby Pritchard needs to make something happen, or find herself living on the streets. She doesn't want a fortune. Just enough to make a fresh start. It doesn't seem fair that she can't make ends meet within the law, yet people like her ex-boyfriend Josh are dealing drugs and prospering.

Pushed to the breaking point, Libby must make a choice: continue on her current path and hope everything works out...or take what she feels should belong to her. A chance meeting with an Iraq war vet sends her on an inescapable downward spiral when a plot to rob her ex-boyfriend doesn't go according to plan.

Review by Brittany:

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is the second book I've read by Mullaney, the first being Calm Before the Storm. (Click here for that review.)

I enjoyed this one a lot more. This one was more focused on Libby and her point of view of things that were happening. The Iraq vet, Mark, also gets a bit of the story, but most of the focus was on Libby. The book opens with her getting attacked by a shark, the incident that changes her life for the worse. Most of the story takes place two years later, after Libby has had numerous surgeries and is struggling to make ends meet, living in a the motel where she meets Mark.

I felt incredibly sorry for Libby. Here's a woman who wanted only to be a lifeguard and was permanently injured from doing her job. At twenty-six, she works two crappy jobs and has a limp and scars to constantly remind her of what happened to her. Her lovely ex-boyfriend left her while she was in the hospital after the attack, and seeing him one night with lots of money pushes Libby a little over the edge.

Mark was also a character that I felt a bit sorry for. He had his own demons he was battling, the full picture of which the reader doesn't get until the very end. His desire to help Libby comes from a sense of needing redemption for a simple mistake that still haunts him.

Without giving away any spoilers, all I can really say is that this book is a great example of getting an idea that goes way wrong. Libby's plan to rob her ex isn't exactly a great idea, but the ways in which it goes wrong forever alters every character's future.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The pace was perfect, Libby and Mark made for some interesting, real characters, and the ending made me happy, in a weird way. There was some violence, but it wasn't anything too graphic and fit with the theme of the book. I definitely recommend reading this one!

Notable quotes:

Libby tried telling herself that she wasn't afraid of what was happening to her, what she was capable of doing if pushed far enough.

Good times and bad times had been shared, as with any relationship. Nothing in life is ever totally pure or wholly foul.

How could she think she knew someone so well, yet not know them at all?

That wasn't what bothered her. It was her own forgetfulness, that human moment where she realized just how much she sucked at life. A simple task such as remembering a calendar date had got the better of her.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

You Book Review

You by Caroline Kepnes


When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she'll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight - the perfect place for a "chance" meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck's life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck's perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way - even if it means murder.

Review by Brittany:

So this book is crazy. Terrifying, uncomfortable, totally insane. And I loved it.

The way this book is written is amazing. It's in second person and reads like Joe is talking to Beck the whole time, telling her all the events that are happening. The writing was done so well and the point of view was so unique that I was drawn in immediately and impressed by it.

I will say, though, that there were times this book left me feeling like I might be kind of crazy. When Joe was going on dates with Beck, he was charming and amusing and kind of adorable. I found myself thinking, "He'd be great if he wasn't so crazy." Which made me feel kind of crazy, but how could I sort of have a crush on a stalker? I think this illustrates the skill that Kepnes has, though, to make a character who is so scary also a bit redeemable at times.

The characters in this book were interesting to me because I didn't think a single one was that great. Joe obviously had some psychological problems to deal with, and Beck was kind of awful, too. She strung guys along and used her sexuality to feel good about herself. She kept secrets from her friends and from the men in her life. She cared more about what her friends thought about her than what she thought, and used their opinions to determine her relationships. She also seemed to me to thrive off drama in her life. She just wasn't a quality character, which I think made the story more interesting.

As a warning, please note that this book does get violent and sexually graphic, something to be aware of if that might bother you.

Overall, I thought this book was excellent. It strikes me as the kind of book that a person will either love or hate, with no feelings in between. If the blurb does not sound intriguing, please don't get this one. But if you feel like taking a bit of a reading risk, if nothing else, the way this one is written makes it an interesting read.

Notable quotes:

Work in a bookstore and learn that most people in this world feel guilty about being who they are.

I remember my dad saying nothing and I remember his silence more vividly than I remember the things he said.

No matter what I do or how hard I try I will always wind up like this, trapped by a guy who has more, knows more.

And when a girl likes talking about you more than talking to you, well, in my experience, that's the end.

I have nothing left to crave and dream about anymore.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Forgotten Garden Book Review

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

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A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book - a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, "Nell" sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her back to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell's death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled.

Review by Brittany:

After having read other works by this author, I was looking forward to reading this one. Morton has become a regular read of mine after how much I've loved her other books.

That being said, this one was a bit of a disappointment for me. I didn't enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed other books by her; I didn't invest as much. Nell searching for her origins was interesting, and I definitely wanted to know what happened, but throughout the story I occasionally found myself ready to get there. I think part of the reason I didn't invest in this one as much was because there were more major time hops than in Morton's other works that I've read. In this one, the story jumps around between four different time periods, making it a bit difficult to keep up with. I understand that there were pieces of the mystery in each time period that the author needed to provide, and she did it quite well. The time changes just didn't work for me in this book.

That being said, Morton did use one of her storytelling techniques that I love by making a book central to the novel. In The Distant Hours, a children's book played a large role. This is seen again in this novel with the collection of fairy tales by Eliza Makepeace that play such a huge role in Nell and Cassandra both chasing down Nell's family. The author also shared some of the fairy tales that were inside the collection, a beautiful and neat addition to the story.

Overall, I do think this book is worth reading because Morton writes so beautifully. While it wasn't my favorite by her, it is still a wonderful book that I'll be adding to my Morton collection on my bookshelf.

Notable quotes:

But sometimes, when no one was looking, she liked to do forbidden things.

Happy as larks they'd been, back when the future still stretched, unmarked, before them.

So much in life came down to timing.

It seemed she was a real person after all, a solid human being, moving in and out of the orbits of others. No matter that she so often felt herself to be living half a life, to be a half-light.

There was no accounting for memory, which things stuck and which didn't.

All was not as it has been. And that knowledge made Rose's heart thump - strongly now - with unexpected, unexplained, unadulterated joy.

The particular type of quiet which presages a firming of heart, a clearing of view. Like someone nursing a secret, keeping it close for a time before unleashing it to do its worst.

"You make a life out of what you have, not what you're missing."

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Bat Book Review

The Bat by Jo Nesbo

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Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad is dispatched to Sydney to observe a murder case. Harry is free to offer assistance, but he has firm instructions to stay out of trouble. The victim is a twenty-three-year-old Norwegian woman, a minor celebrity back home. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Harry befriends one of the lead detectives, and one of the witnesses, as he is drawn deeper into the case. Together, they discover that this is only the latest in a string of unsolved murders, and the pattern points toward a psychopath working his way across the country. As they circle closer and closer to the killer, Harry begins to fear that no one is safe, least of all those investigating the case.

Review by Brittany:

This is a book that satisfies that craving of mine for mysteries that take place anywhere else. I'm often drawn to books that are based in other countries, and this one is a mystery that fits the bill.

Harry is a character that is both wonderful and awful. There's a point in the story a little past the halfway point where Harry turns into almost a despicable character, not what you'd expect of the inspector main character. I love that the author gave Harry this depth and made him into both a character the reader loves and one the reader loves to hate. I also fell in love with Birgitta, the love interest of Harry in this novel. I didn't want to love her (often the love interest in the first novel of a series is not the character to get attached to), but Birgitta and Harry had such a good banter with one another that I couldn't help myself. I also loved Otto, a flamboyantly homosexual clown with a circus troupe. Basically all of Nesbo's characters in this book were wonderful. That being said, I also appreciated Nesbo's willingness to introduce the reader to a character they might appreciate and then kill them off. Not many authors take that risk, but Nesbo did.

I also liked that I couldn't solve the crime. There's some satisfaction from being able to guess the ending, but finding out the ending and being surprised is more fun. In the case of this book, I didn't catch enough clues to guess who it might be; instead, I feel like if I read the book again I would pick up on the subtle hints that would tell me "whodunnit". To me, that is a large part of what adds value to this book.

I'm curious to see how Nesbo continues the series and what adventures Harry ends up on next. I plan to read this one again and also continue with the series as well.

Notable quotes:

"Human nature is a vast impenetrable forest which no one can know in its entirety. Not even a mother knows her child's deepest secrets."

"Everything you do leaves traces, doesn't it. The life you've lived is written all over you, for those who can read."

"Once something has been experienced, it's too late, you can't get back the feeling of experiencing the same thing for the first time."