Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Good as Gone Book Review

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

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Thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night, witnessed only by her younger sister. Her family was shattered, but managed to stick together, hoping against hope that Julie is still alive. And then one night: the doorbell rings. A young woman who appears to be Julie is finally, miraculously, home safe. The family is ecstatic—but Anna, Julie’s mother, has whispers of doubts.  She hates to face them. She cannot avoid them. When she is contacted by a former detective turned private eye, she begins a torturous search for the truth about the woman she desperately hopes is her daughter.

Review by Brittany:

As mentioned in a previous review, I subscribe to Book of the Month, and this was one of the selections that they offered. I've been loving mystery/thrillers lately, so I picked this book because the blurb was very intriguing.

Gah. This book hooked me from page one and became a one-day-read. The story opens up with Jane telling the story of Julie's abduction as she remembers it. Then it jumps forward to the day Jane returns home, giving the reader a glimpse into what life is like for the Whitakers now, eight years later. It is clear that relationships have become strained and that nothing is the same as it was.

One way this writer kept me in suspense was to make me doubt if Julie was genuine. Is it really her? Or is this someone posing to be Jule for some reason? Is it about money? The story switches from the present to Julie's life in the past, working backwards to the time of Julie's abduction to reveal if this person is actually Julie or not. Either way, this girl's story is painful and traumatic, and I found myself often thinking, "I don't care if she's Julie; she needs to be safe." It's interesting to me that this writer wanted the reader to doubt if Julie was genuine, but then roped us into not caring. It made for good reading, and I honestly couldn't decide throughout if this person was really Julie or someone else.

At the end of the story, the truth comes out about this person and what happened to lead her to their door. And some of the unanswered questions about Julie's abduction also come to light, leaving all of the characters with the feeling that they really had no idea what was going on in their own home.

I loved this book. I was hooked from the start, wondering about the new Julie and piecing together her life. This was a very well-written, suspenseful novel.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Winter People Book Review

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon


West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter.
Now, in the present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that has weighty consequences when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished. In her search for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked into the historical mystery, she discovers that she's not the only person looking for someone they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

Review by Brittany:

I picked up this book after seeing it recommended on Facebook by a book blogger who had nothing but glowing things to say. From there, I read the blurb and decided that this book would be one worth trying out.

Wow. I had no idea quite how much I was going to enjoy this one. The book opens up with a note from the editor of Sara's published diary, and from there the book splits between the past and the present. I enjoyed reading from the perspective of Sara and husband Martin, and getting bits and pieces of their story as I learned about Ruthie and Katharine, two women who seem to have nothing in common until the climax of the story. I think having different perspectives coming together to reveal the mysteries of both the past and the present was extremely well done in this novel.

I also loved the paranormal aspect to this story. The winter people are also called sleepers, and they are essentially zombies. People can use black magic in order to revive a loved one who has passed, although it is temporary and the people don't come back to you the way they left you. The book chronicles Sara's experiences with wanting to bring back her 8-year-old daughter, Gertie, and what happens in the aftermath of her attempt to do so. That ties in to Ruthie's search for her mother and what's happening in the present.

What struck me the most about this novel - and what I think will stay with me - is the complete sadness of the tragedies in the book. There was so much sadness and so many terrible things that happened to the characters in the book, particularly the ones from history, that spiraled to create this huge mess they are all now in. Sara's experiences with losing her family members as she grew up and then losing her daughter at such a young age left me aching for all that she'd been through. Who could blame her for wishing for one chance to see her daughter again? The way the author spun the story to start with one terrible event - not revealed until the end of the book - and had it all unravel from there, creating havoc as it went along, was a beautiful storytelling technique and kept me hooked throughout.

I absolutely loved this book. It kept me turning pages and eagerly reading whenever I could, a sure sign of a good book. I definitely recommend.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Things We Wish Were True Book Review

The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

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In an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.

During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?

Review by Brittany:

I one-clicked this book on Amazon because of the blurb. I like the Desperate Housewives sort of idea, where neighbors know each other on the surface but have no idea what's actually going on behind closed doors. I think that is truer than we often want to admit in the world around us, and suspense novels like these usually take it up a notch.

While this book kept me turning pages, it was less about the suspense and more about the characters and relationships that were being built. Zell, an older woman whose children have long since moved out, was one of my favorites. She is they type of woman who goes out of her way to help other people, which can sometimes put you in a position to know too much about what's going on in other people's lives.

My favorite tangled relationship in the novel was between Jencey and Bryte. Two woman who were best friends once upon a time now can barely move beyond the surface to address the things that happened in the past. Jencey was being stalked and up and left home, never returning after leaving for college. What got left behind was Bryte, her best friend, and Everett, her high school sweetheart. In the wake of Jencey leaving, Bryte picked up the pieces for Everett, and now they're married. This makes for a complicated rekindling, and the author made these moments just as awkward as you'd think they'd be. In the tangle of this relationship is Everett, a man who loves his wife yet can't help but think about the what-ifs when Jencey comes back into town. I felt like this triangle was pretty true to life, people struggling to come to terms with the past and to deal with the repercussions it has on the present.

Of course, secrets slowly get revealed - who was Jencey's stalker? What is Bryte keeping from Everett? What does Zell know about her neighbor's wife leaving? - and this adds to the suspense. The author did a great job of keeping some realism to things that people were hiding while maintaining the heightened suspense of figuring it all out.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It wasn't quite as heart-poundingly suspenseful as I was anticipating, but the character and relationship development added an unexpected layer of enjoyment. I definitely recommend this one!

Notable quotes:

Did life add or take away from who we are at sixteen?

This is who they were. This was the choice they'd all made.

...she could sympathize with his reticence to be somewhere people were having a good time. It took a lot out of you: celebrating when you wanted to do anything but.

The day, she concluded, hadn't been bad or good. It had been a day like any other, another bead in a very long string.

Her inexplicable unease about Jencey was either women's intuition or complete paranoia. Or residual from their past, creeping in, never fully vanquished no matter how much they all moved on.

She wanted to tell her that this reality wasn't the only one there was, forever. That nothing stayed the same.

And yet, Jencey understood, there were the things she wished were true, and there was what was actually true.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Secret Place Book Review

The Secret Place by Tana French

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In this "dizzyingly addictive"* novel, Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to join Dublin’s Murder Squad when sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey arrives in his office with a photo of a popular boy whose body was found at a girls’ boarding school a year earlier. The photo had been posted at “The Secret Place,” the school’s anonymous gossip board, and the caption says “I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.” Stephen joins with Detective Antoinette Conway to reopen the case—beneath the watchful eye of Holly’s father, fellow detective Frank Mackey. With the clues leading back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends, to their rival clique, and to the tangle of relationships that bound them all to the murdered boy, the private underworld of teenage girls turns out to be more mysterious and more dangerous than the detectives imagined.

Review by Brittany:

I am a long-standing fan of French's Dublin Murder Squad series, and this installment didn't disappoint.

The entire book takes place over one day, adding snippets of the girls' lives leading up to the day that Chris Harper died, with Moran and Conway working to piece together a murder that happened a year ago. When new evidence comes in, they head out to Kilda's, the boarding school where Chris Harper's body was found a year before. At the time, minimal progress was made, and the crime was left unsolved. Now, Conway and Moran are working together, interrogating the same group of girls who were interrogated before. They slowly start to realize that, a year ago, these girls were keeping some secrets very close to the chest.

I love the way that French wrote these teenage girls. They are all around 16 years old, a tough age where it's all cat-fights and sticking close to your best friends. French encapsulates this feeling exactly, setting all the girls up to fight with their "enemies" and constantly use the murder investigation as a way to give them grief. What better way to get back at someone you don't like than to throw some suspicion over them for murder?

I enjoyed watching the partnership between Moran and Conway build throughout the daylong investigation. They give each other little jabs every now and then but are also able to bounce ideas off of one another to try to get to the bottom of what exactly is happening in the school. When Mackey shows up and tries to shake them up, it's a no go - these two are well teamed up.

The climax of the novel is well done. I felt surprised enough by the ending to appreciate it, but no so surprised that it felt outside the realm of possibility. There's a certain gritty, dark feeling to all of French's novels that really appeals to me, and this one had that same feeling that I crave whenever I pick up one of hers. I loved this book and think it makes a great addition to the series.

Notable quotes:

"This fucking place. Trips you up every time you turn around. Whatever you do, turns out it was the wrong call."

Fair play to teenage girls; I'd never have been able for it.

She was right; course she was. You don't get a second first time.

Be scared you're fat, be scared your boobs are too big and be scared they're too small. Be scared to walk on your own, specially anywhere quiet enough that you can hear yourself think. Be scared of wearing the wrong stuff, saying the wrong thing, having a stupid laugh, being uncool. Be scared of guys not fancying you; be scared of guys, they're animals, rabid, can't stop themselves. Be scared of girls, they're all vicious, they'll cut you down before you can cut them. Be scared of strangers. Be scared you won't do well enough in your exams, be scared of getting in trouble. Be scared terrified petrified that everything you are is every kind of wrong.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fractured Book Review

Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

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Julie Prentice and her family move across the country to the idyllic Mount Adams district of Cincinnati, hoping to evade the stalker who’s been terrorizing them ever since the publication of her bestselling novel, The Murder Game. Since Julie doesn’t know anyone in her new town, when she meets her neighbor John Dunbar, their instant connection brings measured hope for a new beginning. But she never imagines that a simple, benign conversation with him could set her life spinning so far off course.

After a series of misunderstandings, Julie and her family become the target of increasingly unsettling harassment. Has Julie’s stalker found her, or are her neighbors out to get her, too? As tension in the neighborhood rises, new friends turn into enemies, and the results are deadly.

Review by Brittany:

I requested this book off of Netgalley because I loved the cover and the blurb. I'm still on my suspense novel kick, so this one sounded like it would fit the bill.

I loved the way the story bounced from present time to months past. This really added to the mystery part of the novel. The present day parts are told from John's perspective, and the reader becomes aware that there is some kind of court case that he and his family are involved in. As the story develops, it's revealed that there was an accident in which someone was killed, but we don't know who the victim was.

In the parts that relay the past, the reader becomes embroiled in the drama of living in Mount Adams and the ways in which small misunderstandings can build up to ruin someone's life. Julie and John become easy friends, running together each day as they both work from home. This, of course, causes some trouble among the neighborhood - a man and a woman can't just be platonic friends. As the relationship develops, it becomes clear that they do struggle to maintain a certain level of platonic friendship.

Couple the nosiness of Julie's neighbors with her own paranoia at what had happened to cause her to move, and the buildup of this story leaves you flipping pages and dying to figure out what happened. The end of the book is definitely a surprise, and it left me feeling satisfied with the climax but so sad for everyone involved. This book was well-paced and a fantastic suspense, with believable characters who I could sympathize with.

Notable quotes:

Everyone's life has its complications. Sometimes you get to choose them, and sometimes they're thrust upon you.

We all wear masks. The challenge is keeping them in place.

It's just that sometimes you can't shake a dream. It clings to you like film.

I felt better having him next to me, which felt like something I needed to remind myself.

"Everyone has their stuff. Things they'll do that you find annoying or don't understand. But if you love someone, or think you might, then you decide what's the most important thing. Them in your life, or not."

Memory isn't a provable thing. We see what we want, hear what pleases us, and remember what grieves us. That is the human condition.

Just because I felt something didn't mean the person who had caused the feeling had done anything wrong.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Fangirl Book Review

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life--and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to.
Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Review by Brittany:

So I'm a little late to the Rainbow Rowell sensation, just now picking up Fangirl. And I loved this book.

First of all, the pieces of the Simon Snow series that Rowell tucked into Cath's story were fantastic. I enjoyed jumping into that piece of fiction which reading my own piece of fiction, if that makes any sense.

Secondly, the themes of anxiety and depression were spun in such a way that the book was able to stay light. While the reader recognizes that Cath struggles with anxiety, largely due to her mother leaving her at a young age, Cath's character is written in such a way that she is able to joke and function, keeping the book from getting bogged down with what could be dark themes. Her twin sister Wren is also clearly a bit of a mess, partaking in underage drinking constantly and even ending up in the hospital. It takes a lot of work for both girls to trust those around them and to overcome the pieces of life that have pulled them down.

I also liked that Reagan, Cath's roommate, is such a great character without being a super nice character. She's rough around the edges and doesn't say all the right things all the time, but she clearly cares for Cath and quickly became a favorite of mine. I wonder about her issues and why she's so rough and tumble.

There is also a really great family dynamic written into the book, allowing Cath the chance to decide if she wants a belated relationship with her mother or if she's better off not pursuing that avenue. The reader also gets invited back home, where Cath's father is still clearly struggling with his wife leaving a decade before. His heart was broken and he never quite recovered, which then had a huge effect on Cath.

Overall, this book had some great themes to explore, well-written characters, and fantastic relationships. I loved reading this book and would definitely recommend.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Two Days Gone Book Review

Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis

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What could cause a man, when all the stars of fortune are shining upon him, to suddenly snap and destroy everything he has built? This is the question that haunts Sergeant Ryan DeMarco after the wife and children of beloved college professor and bestselling author Thomas Huston are found slaughtered in their home. Huston himself has disappeared and so is immediately cast as the prime suspect.

DeMarco knows-or thinks he knows-that Huston couldn't have been capable of murdering his family. But if Huston is innocent, why is he on the run? And does the half-finished manuscript he left behind contain clues to the mystery of his family's killer?

A masterful new novel by acclaimed author Randall Silvis, Two Days Gone is a taut, suspenseful story that will break your heart as much as it will haunt your dreams.

Review by Brittany:

I requested this book off of NetGalley because the blurb sounded interesting, and it fit in with my current suspense/thriller kick for reading. 

I did not anticipate loving this book as much as I did. DeMarco is a bit rough around the edges, dealing with his own issues and his own struggles, but he is such a great character. He's sharp, picking up on the subtle signs that are there for the reader but that I never noticed. He has good intuition and an understanding of the human psyche that makes him good at his job, and as a character, none of this is outside the realm of believability.

The book flip-flops between DeMarco's search for answers, and Huston's travels as a fugitive. The parts that are written from Huston's point of view are so intense and so shocking, illustrating how disconnected Huston has become after the tragedy of losing his family - and possibly being the cause of it. As a character, Huston is a best-selling author, and the reader learns about him through DeMarco's questioning of people Huston knows. In the passages where Huston is on run, he often draws the connection between himself and a character in the novel, separating himself from the reality of what has happened and basically writing his own story. It's an interesting way to show what's going on in Huston's head, and I loved reading those passages.

The end of the book has one twist after another. It's both what I was expecting and a surprise. Nothing is quite what it seems, and even the most unseemly of characters are given a bit of redemption in the book.

I really enjoyed this book. It kept me turning pages all the way through, and I found myself easily sucked into the story. This one definitely fulfilled my current obsession with suspense novels, and I recommend it to anyone who's interested in the genre.

Notable quotes:

...writing a story is like driving at night through a fog. The thing to do is to just keep moving.

Then he dried himself off and wiped the fog off the mirror, and just like that, the routine took hold as always, the mechanics of living, step one, step two, step three, and the wind-up man was moving again.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Woman in Cabin 10 Book Review

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

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In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

Review by Brittany:

I recently joined Book of the Month and this was one of the options. I have been on a bit of a mystery/thriller kick, so this sounded suspenseful enough to fulfill my reading need.

My favorite thing about this book is how unreliable the narrator seems. Lo is, from the very beginning of the book, kind of a mess. She's drunkenly burgled, which causes her issues with sleeping and ultimately puts her on edge. She drinks often throughout the book, and it is also revealed that she is on anti-depressants. She is not the most believable of characters, so when she claims that a woman has been murdered on the cruise ship, the other passengers are hard-pressed to believe her.

Her one possible ally is Ben, an ex of hers who is on the ship as well, but she gets so tangled up in trying to find "whodunnit" that she can't even trust him anymore. Everyone seems shady and deceitful, and this just adds to the unreliability of Lo.

The story line itself gets a bit crazy by the end. Lo often thinks that it's too crazy to be believable, and as a reader I had a similar feeling. It's far-fetched, but just enough so that it kept me turning pages and eager to find out what was going to happen next. Honestly, is there anything scarier than being trapped at sea with a killer?

This one is definitely worth picking up for those who are fans of suspenseful thrillers. Lo's slow unraveling of the mystery (and a bit of her sanity) kept me hooked and reading all day, until I had devoured the very last page.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hidden Bodies Book Review

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

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In the compulsively readable follow-up to her widely acclaimed debut novel, You, Caroline Kepnes weaves a tale that Booklist calls “the love child of Holden Caulfield and Patrick Bateman.”

Hidden Bodies marks the return of a voice that Stephen King described as original and hypnotic, and through the divisive and charmingly sociopathic character of Joe Goldberg, Kepnes satirizes and dissects our culture, blending suspense with scathing wit.

Joe Goldberg is no stranger to hiding bodies. In the past ten years, this thirty-something has buried four of them, collateral damage in his quest for love. Now he’s heading west to Los Angeles, the city of second chances, determined to put his past behind him.

In Hollywood, Joe blends in effortlessly with the other young upstarts. He eats guac, works in a bookstore, and flirts with a journalist neighbor. But while others seem fixated on their own reflections, Joe can’t stop looking over his shoulder. The problem with hidden bodies is that they don’t always stay that way. They re-emerge, like dark thoughts, multiplying and threatening to destroy what Joe wants most: truelove. And when he finds it in a darkened room in Soho House, he’s more desperate than ever to keep his secrets buried. He doesn’t want to hurt his new girlfriend—he wants to be with her forever. But if she ever finds out what he’s done, he may not have a choice...

Review by Brittany:

So I loved You, the weirdness and all. In fact, it was one of my favorite reads of 2015, so picking up this one was an obvious choice for me.

How can I possibly love Joe Goldberg so much when I know he's a freaking psycho?! There's something about him that I find so shamefully appealing. And now he's in  LA, making fun of the people with aspirations while becoming one of them.

What I liked about this one was that Joe becomes more human in this book. He begins to want things and to care about people, something that didn't seem to happen in the first book. He figures out that he actually enjoys writing screenplays and maybe this could be his thing. He falls in love with Love, a woman he meets while trying to chase down Amy to kill her, and begins to want a future with her. He notices how her brother tears her down constantly and starts dreaming about making her life better, even if that means getting rid of her brother. Joe's still Joe, twisted and willing to murder if that makes life easier, but he's developing a little bit of humanity this time around.

It was the other characters in this book that made it less of a favorite than the first one. Forty, Love's brother, was so annoying and obnoxious. I reached a point where all I could think about was how he was thirty-five and still a childish mess. I needed him to get his stuff together, and that just didn't happen. Love was similar in that she was always forgiving Forty's behavior. Like everything he did was fine because they were twins and you have to love your family.

I did like this book, but I think You was better. Joe just didn't have the same spark in this one, and I liked the characters from the first book better. However, if you're a fan of Joe Goldberg, then you should still pick this one up.

Notable quotes:

This is what all the love songs are about, the moment when you find your own way forward with someone and there is no turning back. 

I wonder when the wondering will stop. I hate this part of the split, when that girl just lives in your head.

Sometimes, what you do for one night destroys your future.

It's an ugly thing, the inside of a family, the disappointments, the disgust...

I don't know any perfect couples, true partners who share the load equally.

...most of the time in life, I'm starting to realize, love is not the problem.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Decision Book Review

The Decision by Penny Vincenzi

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A love affair between self-made property tycoon Matt Shaw and dazzling fashion editor Eliza Clark, spanning sixties London, the extravagance of Milan and the glamour of New York.

A marriage that's both passionate and difficult, as Matt and Eliza's lives become irrevocably divided and entwined with others: charming advertising man Jeremy Northcott; flamboyant Italian fashion icon Mariella Crespi; Matt's sister Scarlett, who has her own complicated love affairs. And then there's Louise, Matt's tough and sassy business partner, as successful as he is and fighting for her future.

A child, Emmie, adored, precocious, and ultimately the victim of her parents' doomed marriage, she both holds them together and drives them apart.

The decision, which is agonizing and desperate, and taken in the divorce courts - where truths will be told, secrets revealed and reputations shattered. And at the heart of it all lies the fate of a little girl.

Review by Brittany:

I am a die-hard fan of Vincenzi's novels, and this one was no exception. Her characters are always so well fleshed out, even the minor characters, that they feel more like real people than so many other characters in other novels. Vincenzi also fleshes out her plot lines well, leaving no detail out and covering even the most tedious parts of a story.

This book had all of the qualities that I so love about Vincenzi. One thing that did stick out to me in this one is that Matt, the "hero" of the story, is not quite as likeable as other characters in the novel. He has moments when he is so surprisingly generous and sweet, but often he is buried under the chip on his shoulder from being brought up poor, which never leaves him. Even as he becomes successful and makes oodles of money, he still holds onto his grudges about having to be self-made. He was often grumpy and unbending, constantly giving Eliza a hard time throughout their marriage for wanting to maintain some of her own identity, even after becoming a mother. I found him hard to like.

Emmie was written to be a spoiled, manipulative child who knew what strings to tug to get her way every time. Towards the end of the book, when the divorce and custody case is being worked out, I was almost surprised at how much both Eliza and Matt wanted to have Emmie live solely with them. As a character, Emmie wasn't written to seem particularly wonderful, and there aren't many times in the book when either of her parents seemed overly taken with her, with the exception of the end. Matt often expressed his feelings that it was Eliza's job to take care of Emmie, leaving me with the feeling that he was disinterested in being an active father.

Despite the inconsistencies I felt there were in each parent's relationship with Emmie, and my general dislike of Matt as a character, I still loved the book. Vincenzi used this book to focus on marriages, the ways in which they work and the slow ways in which they can crumble. While Eliza and Matt are the focus of the book, other relationships are explored. Scarlett, Matt's sister, has an inability to meet single men and often gets entangled with married ones instead. Mariella, Eliza's good friend, is married to a man who is twice her age and exceptionally rich, causing questions as to why she married him in the first place.

All of these relationships are well-explored, making this another big hit with me. I love Vincenzi's delicious writing and the ways in which she can make me think about relationships.

Notable quotes:

In short, being with him was complete and absolute pleasure; she felt cared for, amused, interested, satisfied in every way.

Love invaded you, and even when it had become the enemy it was not to be easily overpowered.

Money, she saw in that moment of ferocious clarity, wasn't just the means whereby you acquired what you wanted or even needed; money was power, and lack of your own supply, even under the most benign and domestic of circumstances, was a genuine and rather ugly impotence.

"It's hard to describe, it's a kind of fear, I suppose. Of being judged and found wanting. A feeling you're safer just with yourself."

Marriages do not suddenly drop dead; they expire slowly, from a thousand cutting words, a million misunderstandings, from an unwillingness to apologise to a willingness to take revenge. There is a dawning, slow at first then gathering pace, that things are not as they were and moreover not as they should be, that responses are not what is hoped for, that disappointment is more frequent than delight, that resentment is more persistent than forgiveness, all remarked upon and brooded over and then stored angrily away. Desire dies, affection withers, trust becomes a memory.

By this time tomorrow she would know. Whether she would still be a mother, a proper mother, the sort that did the ordinary things, got her child up every morning and tucked her up in bed every night, took her to school and picked her up again, knew when she'd had a tummy ache or a bad dream, got cross with her, argued with her, decided when the get her hair cut, or that she needed new shoes, tolder her off for skimping on her homework or her ballet practice, insisted she made her bed and tidied her room and wrote thank-you letters and cleaned out the hamster's cage...Or the other sort, the once-a-week sort, the provider of a perfect room and whatever-you-fancy food, who waited impatiently outside school, aware of the mild curiosity of the other mothers, the purveyor of treats and outings, and ultra-generosity to friends, surprised by a new dress, a fringe, a fad, always with time to give, over-indulgent, never cross, never critical, desperate to know about a school concert, a friend's party, plans for a holiday, watchful for new loyalties, jealous of new traditions... 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Tea Planter's Wife Book Review

The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies

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Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper steps off a steamer in Ceylon full of optimism, eager to join her new husband. But the man who greets her at the tea plantation is not the same one she fell in love with in London. Distant and brooding, Laurence spends long days wrapped up in his work, leaving his young bride to explore the plantation alone. It's a place filled with clues to the past - locked doors, a yellowed wedding dress in a dusty trunk, an overgrown grave hidden in the grounds, far too small for an adult... Gwen soon falls pregnant and her husband is overjoyed, but she has little time to celebrate. In the delivery room the new mother is faced with a terrible choice, one she knows no one in her upper class set will understand - least of all Laurence. Forced to bury a secret at the heart of her marriage, Gwen is more isolated than ever. When the time comes, how will her husband ever understand what she has done?

Review by Brittany:

I requested this book off of NetGalley because the blurb intrigued me, and, yes, because I thought the cover was pretty.

I really enjoyed reading about Ceylon and learning about the tea business and the life of the laborers and servants along with Gwen. It is a totally different world to the one we live in, and to the one Gwen lived in before marrying Laurence. Her attempts to adapt to his world are heroic, especially considering the barriers that his sister, Verity, constantly puts up for Gwen.

Laurence was an interesting character to me. Half the time he seemed invested in Gwen, but there was the other half when he seemed to not care much either way. His focus was clearly on his business, and his shady relationship with Christina left me feeling sorry for Gwen often throughout the story. Christina was blatant about her feelings about Laurence, and Laurence often let Christina act outrageously, which made me angry on Gwen's behalf.

When Gwen gives birth to twins, one of whom is dark-skinned, she is forced to evaluate her options. She frantically thinks back to what might have happened to cause one baby to be born white and one to look Sinhalese, and she panics about what this might mean for her relationship to Laurence. The choice she makes that night completely alters the person she becomes, taking some of her relationships with her.

Overall, I thought this book was good. The imagery of Ceylon was well-written, along with the challenges that Gwen faces in trying to become the mistress of Laurence's house. There were times when the story dragged and times when I wanted to shake Gwen for some of her choices, but I think this goes a long way toward proving how good of a writer this author is.

Notable quotes:

She knew it wasn't fair, but couldn't help feeling stung.

She felt poised at the point when life shakes itself up, and you have no idea where you'll be standing when it settles in a new pattern, or whether you will be standing at all.

She understood home wasn't a place. It was her daily relationship with everything she touched, saw, and heard.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Eyre Affair Book Review

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

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Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Bronte's novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter a novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide. 

Review by Brittany:

I had heard good things about Jasper Fforde and was told that, especially as a reader, I would enjoy these books.

Jumping into this first one was a little strange as I had to get used to the different parts of the world. The different characters, the different special ops teams, and the goings on were a bit of an adjustment to other books that I've read.

I absolutely loved the idea of characters from books coming out and people getting to go in. As a reader, there have been so many times when I've wished I could do just that, and there was a certain appeal to reading about that happening in this book. I was also really intrigued by the major crime being that Hades was trying to alter literature by kidnapping the main characters. It's an interesting idea and one that would probably be just as detrimental as this book made it seem like it would be.

I also loved how Fforde included details about Thursday's personal life. The reader gets to meet her family members and develops and understanding of what is going on with her and Landen, the man she was once engaged to. Even though the basis of the book is about Thursday's job, I was so pleased to get to know her on a more personal level.

This book is written in such a way that it's almost wink-and-nod with it's sometimes subtle and sometimes unsubtle humor. With character names like Jack Schitt, it's hard to take this book too seriously. Once I got past the initial adjustment period, I couldn't put this one down. I loved this book and I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series!

Noteable quotes:

I found myself wondering what it would be like to have children and then wondering what it would be like never to know.

If only life were that simple; if one could jump to the good parts and flick through the bad...

"Life for you is short; far too short to allow small jealousies to infringe on the happiness which can be yours only for the briefest of times."

"Human emotions, well...they're just a fathomless collection of greys and I don't do so well on the midtones." 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Wild Rose Book Review

The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

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It is London, 1914. World War I looms on the horizon, women are fighting for the right to vote, and explorers are pushing the limits of endurance in the most forbidding corners of the earth. Into this volatile time, Jennifer Donnelly places her vivid and memorable characters, continuing the story of the Finnegan family. With fabulous period detail, myriad twists and turns, and thrilling cliff-hangers, The Wild Rose is the highly satisfying conclusion to an unforgettable trilogy that being with The Tea Rose and continued with The Winter Rose - and an utterly captivating read in its own right.

Review by Brittany:

This novel is the third in the Tea Rose trilogy, the other two of which I thoroughly enjoyed. These period novels throw in a bit of extra drama and shock, which keeps me turning pages waiting to find out what happens.

In this book, the focus is shifted onto Seamie Finnegan moreso than the other Finnegans. Seamie is in his early thirties now and a renowned explorer, but he feels as if it might be time for him to think about settling down. After what happened with Willa in the previous novel, his heart is still broken, and he doesn't know if he'll ever be able to find someone who feels worth pursuing again. Enter Jennie Wilcott, teacher daughter of a pastor who is immediately intrigued by Seamie.

While this is going on with Seamie, there is also the character Max von Brandt. He is one that was hard for me to put my finger on. I switched between thinking he was a bad guy and thinking he was a guy just doing what he had to do in such complicated, tumultuous times. I guess that's a pretty good indication of what a charmer he plays in the novels - he's so good that even the reader can't decide how to feel about him. By the end of the book, I still wasn't sure exactly what to think about him.

Willa Alden is back in this one, and I just feel so sorry for that girl. She had a tumultuous time in the last novel, and in this one she's back at the hands of bad karma. She has become a photographer and mapmaker, finding new pathways for others to climb the mountains she dreams of climbing but can't. When WWI breaks out, she uses her photography skills to help Britain uncover hidden camps of their enemies. This puts her in the hands of tortuous Turks and leaves her struggling to survive.

This one has a huge adoption conspiracy, threats of spies from Germany, and tumultuous kidnappings and reader longings for the "right ones" to get together. Basically, it's a little like a soap opera, but I absolutely love it. I think Donnelly is an amazing writer and gives enough drama to keep me turning pages, which also leaving me feeling like I'm a part of the history. I definitely recommend!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Damaged Book Review

Damaged by Lisa Scottoline

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Ten-year-old Patrick O'Brien is a natural target at school. Shy, dyslexic, and small for his age, he tries to hide his first-grade reading level from everyone: from his classmates, from the grandfather who cares for him, and from the teachers who are supposed to help him. But the real trouble begins when Patrick is accused of attacking a school aide. The aide promptly quits and sues the boy, his family, and the school district. Patrick's grandfather turns to the law firm of Rosato and DiNunzio for help and Mary DiNunzio is on the case. Soon Mary becomes Patrick's true champion and his only hope for security and justice. But there is more to the story than meets the eye and Patrick might be more troubled than he seems. With twists at every turn and secrets about the family coming to light, Mary DiNunzio might have found the case that can make her a true protector, or break her heart.

Review by Brittany:

I requested this book off of NetGalley because I'm a long-standing fan of Scottoline. I love the humorous way in which she writes all of her lawyer ladies, and I love the way she writes about the cases so that I feel like I know what's going on. 

This book deals with both the education system and family court for a boy who ends up orphaned in the book. As someone just starting a career in K-12 education, reading about Patrick's experiences in being undereducated because of his dyslexia and being bullied and even abused by his school aide was tough. Now I know kids who are similar to Patrick, and I could empathize with both Patrick and the school because of the struggles that come from having a classroom full of learners at different levels. His family situation was something else with which I was able to emphasize, making this book a page-turner for me.

I also love reading about Mary's family, including her extended family, The Tonys. While Mary's parents might not feature in the book much, Scottoline writes them in such a way that they always play a huge role. And who doesn't love parents who just want to feed their kids and totally support them?

Typical of Scottoline was the big twist at the end of the book, around the 80% mark on Kindle. That's when Mary starts piecing together the parts of the case that don't make much sense, and that's when the big conspiracy is discovered. Scottline always adds a bit of drama to her books, and this is where I found it in this one.

While this is going on, Mary is also preparing for her wedding in just under two weeks. Her emotional investment in Patrick's case puts a strain on her relationship, leaving the reader wondering what might happen to her and Anthony. Will they sort it out or call it quits?

I love Scottline and all of her books. She has a knack for writing page-turners with strong female characters who save the day. I loved this one and you might too!

Notable quote:

It struck her suddenly that the pull of being needed was just as strong as the pull of needing. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Maybe Someday Book Review

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

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At twenty-two years old, Sydney is enjoying a great life: she's in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her best friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers that Hunter is cheating on her - and she's forced to decide what her next move should be.

Soon, Sydney finds herself captivated by her mysterious and attractive neighbor, Ridge. She can't take her eyes off him or stop listening to the passionate way he plays his guitar every evening out on his balcony. And there's something about Sydney that Ridge can't ignore, either. They soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one.

Review by Brittany:

I have read previous novels by Hoover, and this one sounded like it would fit the bill the same as her other New Adult novels had. Because I enjoyed those so much, I one-clicked this one on Amazon.

This book is pretty quintessential for Hoover. They meet, they fall for each other. One's in a relationship so they feel tortured by their feelings, and in the end it works out.

If that's what you're looking for, this is a good read. When I bought this one, I was reading a lot of books of this type that fit this mold, so it seemed like an obvious purchase. Now that I've been reading a lot of other types of books, this one actually left me feeling a bit annoyed.

Why do all of these books have to end up with this working out perfectly? Ridge and Maggie just decide that they aren't suited to each other anymore, so Ridge and Sydney can be together. It ties up perfectly, very much not like real life. Nothing is messy, no one gets hurt, and it all works out like the reader wants it to. I've become the type of reader who much rather have a messy, soap opera type story than one that cleans up so nicely.

Overall, this book is good for what it is. You know exactly what you're going to get, so from that standpoint, it serves it's purpose. For me, it was just a little too neat.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Lost Kin Book Review


Lost Kin by Steve Anderson


Occupied Munich, 1946: Irina, a Cossack refugee, confesses to murdering a GI, but American captain Harry Kaspar doesn't buy it. As Harry scours the devastated city for the truth, it leads him to his long-lost German brother, Max, who returned to Hitler's Germany before the war.

Max has a questionable past, and he needs Harry for the cause that could redeem him - rescuing Irina's stranded clan of Cossacks who have been disowned by the Allies and are now being hunted by Soviet death squads - the cold-blooded upshot of a callous postwar policy.

As a harsh winter brews, the Soviets close in and the Cold War looms, Harry and Max desperately plan for a risky last-ditch rescue on a remote stretch of the German-Czech border. A mysterious visitor from Max's darkest days shadows them. Everyone is a suspect, including Harry's lover, Sabine, and Munich detective Hartmut Dietz - both of whom have pledged to help. But before the Kaspar brothers can save the innocent victims of peace, grave secrets and the deep contempt sown during the war threaten to damn them all.

Review by Brittany:

I requested this book on NetGalley because it appealed to the part of me that has been completely invested in WWII fiction. I have grown to love that time period and pretty much any book that deals with it.

It turns out that this book is actually part of a series, which I can happily say I didn't know. I love when books are part of a series but don't necessarily rely on the previous books to make sense. I can recognize that my reading experience might have been enhanced by reading the other books in the series, but I don't feel like I missed out on anything or fell behind in any part of the current story. It is primarily with Harry and Max's relationship that the extra reading would have been helpful.

There were parts of this story that moved a little slowly for me. In times when there was slower action, the story took on more dialogue, and I got a little lost in the terminology and the technicalities of the time period. I'm by no means an expert, so that did make some of the reading challenging for me.

I also wouldn't have called Harry and Sabine lovers. Reading that in the blurb seems to indicate a passionate affair of some sort, but to me it felt more like a quickly developed, one-time thing. I didn't buy into the relationship much at all, which was a bit of a letdown for me since I love the romance part of most books.

By the end of the book, I couldn't tell if things ended happily or not. The main goal for both Harry and Max was to rescue the Cossacks, but in the end that was tricky to do and only some of the people could be saved. While I guess that means there was some happy here, it definitely isn't a book that leaves the reader feeling as if everything is complete.

Overall, I found this book a bit difficult to read. It seems fairly historically accurate, with just enough fiction thrown in, but that makes it a bit dry at times. If this time period appeals to you, it's definitely worth picking up one of Anderson's novels.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Secret Keeper Book Review

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

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During a picnic at her family's farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson witnesses a shocking crime, a crime that challenges everything she knows about her adored mother, Dorothy. Now, fifty years later, Laurel and her sisters are meeting at the farm to celebrate Dorothy's ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this is her last chance to discover the truth about that long-ago day, Laurel searches for answers that can only be found in Dorothy's past. Clue by clue, she traces a secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds thrown together in war-torn London - Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy - whose lives are forever after entwined.

Review by Brittany:

As a long-time fan of Morton's, I tend to pick her books up without much thought or without worrying about the blurb.

I found this one to be extra interesting because Morton created the character of Dorothy to be somewhat unlikeable. As the story progressed, I found myself often feeling disgusted with Dorothy and the way that she was. She seemed to me to be childish, often pretending to be someone else and constantly obsessed with seeming greater and richer than she was. Once Laurel starts piecing together the past, some of Dorothy's actions are explained away and much more understandable, although that didn't make me like her more.

In fact, I struggled to find very many redeeming characters in this novel at all. I either didn't like them or was indifferent. Jimmy was probably the only character who I enjoyed reading about, and at the end of the novel he proves himself to be quite a good, honorable man.

Alternating between Laurel in the present, trying to discover her mother's secrets, and Dolly's past, when the events take place, was an interesting way to write the book. I think it worked rather well for this story because, once the ending was revealed, it really pieced together the entire rest of the book, which is what a reader hopes will happen.

This one was a bit slow at parts for me, but overall I did enjoy it. Morton wrapped up the story well and created a nice well of secrets within the family, illustrating how war can change anyone.

Notable quotes:

Children could be self-centered like that, especially the happy ones.

Laurel knew quite a bit about keeping secrets. She also knew that was where the real people were found, hiding behind their black spots.

It struck Laurel now that even then she'd been too self-absorbed to wonder or ask what her mother was actually like at seventeen, what it was she'd longed for, and what mistakes she'd made that she was so anxious her daughter should not repeat.

In a family of daughters it was a happy thing not to be the worst.

...she'd felt infinitesimally small and alone and at the whim of the next wind that might blow.

Jimmy smiled and swallowed the lump that was always in his throat these days, of love balled together with a sadness he couldn't articulate...

He had the vague sense he was veering off course, saying too much, not saying the right things, but he couldn't seem to stop.

It struck Vivien that it was far easier just to say what people wanted to hear. What difference did it make anyway?

Jimmy admitted to taking a certain pleasure in upsetting her, in showing her things didn't always go her way.

At her lowest moments, Dolly had even started to wonder that he might not love her in quite the same way, that he might not think she was exceptional anymore.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I've Got Sand in All the Wrong Places Book Review

I've Got Sand in All the Wrong Places by Lisa Scottline & Francesca Serritella

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Lisa and Francesca are back with another collection of warm and witty stories that will strike a chord with every woman. This six book series is among the best reviewed humor books published today and has been compared to the late greats, Erma Bombeck and Nora Ephron. Delia Ephron said of the fifth book in the series, Have a Nice Guilt Trip, "Lisa and Francesca, mother and daughter, bring you the laughter of their lives once again and better than ever. You will identify with these tales of guilt and fall in love with them and fierce (grand) Mother Mary." This seventh volume will not disappoint as it hits the humorous and poignant note that fans have come to expect from the beloved mother-daughter duo. 

Review by Brittany:

This book is much different than anything else I usually read, but I'm so glad that I requested in on NetGalley! Lisa Scottoline is an author I completely adore when it comes to her fiction, but this is my first experience with her non-fiction. Francesca is her daughter, which adds a neat touch to the book.

I laughed out loud many times while reading this book. Lisa and Francesca have a way of looking at the world that is so honest and also so funny. Even when they're discussing a situation that is less than funny, like Francesca getting mugged, they can still find the funny and the lightness in the situation.

I also was so amazed at just how real these women are. When it comes to authors or other "famous" people, you can't help but think that they don't experience life the same way as you. That they don't have the same feelings about things or the same responses to situations. And I'm younger than both of them (sorry!), so there's some life experience because of age that I haven't had and some because of location - living in a semi-small town in central Texas is not the same as living in Philly or Manhattan I bet. But I could still relate to a lot of what they wrote about, which quickly made this book one of my favorites.

I also now have the desire to read every single one of Lisa Scottline's fiction books, even the ones I've read before. When you learn about an author as a person, it draws you in. At least, that's my experience.

Overall, this is worth picking up. It's humorous and light-hearted, just a really fantastic read. I definitely recommend.

Notable quotes:

We forget that the difference in perspective is simply a difference, and not all differences are wrong. 

Sometimes the only silver lining you get is to get through it.

It takes practice. All risk does, and all change. The more changes you make, the easier it is to change.

My closest girlfriends don't tell me the truth. They flatter me and build me up, and I like that about them.

A child is a beloved responsibility. But a responsibility just the same.

I also cried the last time, when it was the end before the end - that wretched, miserable time when you both know a relationship is on its last legs.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Unexpected Consequences of Love Book Review

The Unexpected Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell

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Sophie Wells is a successful photographer with a focus on putting the past firmly behind her. When Josh Strachan returns to the seaside town of Cornwall from the States to run his family's hotel, he can't understand why the fun, sexy girl has zero interest in letting him - or any man for that matter - into her life. He also can't understand how he's been duped into employing Sophie's impulsive friend Tula, whose crush on him is decidedly unrequited. Both girls remain mum about the reasons behind Sophie's indifference to love. But that doesn't mean Josh is going to quit trying. 

Review by Brittany:

My love for Jill Mansell knows no bounds, so this book was an easy choice for me to pick up. I always know that there will be humorous relationship situations and a happy ending in Mansell's books, and I love being able to pick one up and know what I'm getting.

In this book, my favorite couple actually wasn't the main couple. While Sophie and Josh developed their relationship throughout the book, I was more invested in Tula and Riley. Tula has trouble men - she always seems to pick the ones who have no ambition, no drive, and are basically no-hopers. When she meets Riley, she notices (of course) that he's absolutely gorgeous, but she knows that he's a surfer with no other job and no ambition to get one.

The best part of the book for me was the scene where Riley and Tula are going to a wedding together. Tula's friend is getting married and she desperately does not want to show up to the wedding alone, so Riley agrees to step on. On the way, in typical Mansell style, there are many humorous obstacles that prevent the evening from going quite the way Tula thinks it's going to. Riley also proves himself to be more than just a pretty face, and I found myself falling a little in love with him.

This book is pretty standard for Mansell. If you're looking for a fun, light-hearted read that ends happily, then this is the one for you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Ink and Bone Book Review

Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger

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Twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery is rarely alone. Visited by people whom others can't see and haunted by prophetic dreams, she has never been able to control or understand the things that happen to her. When Finley's abilities start to become too strong for her to handle - and even the roar of her motorcycle or another dazzling tattoo can't drown out the voices - she turns to the only person she knows who can help her: her grandmother Eloise Montgomery, a renowned psychic living in The Hollows, New York.

Merri Gleason is a woman at the end of her tether after a ten-month-long search for her missing daughter, Abbey. With almost every hope exhausted, she resorts to hiring Jones Cooper, a detective who sometimes works with psychic Eloise Montgomery. Merri's not a believer, but she's just desperate enough to go down that road, praying she's not too late. Time, she knows, is running out.

As a harsh white winter moves into The Hollows, Finley and Eloise are drawn into the investigation, which proves to have much more at stake than even the fate of a missing girl. As Finley digs deeper into the town and its endless layers, she is forced to examine the past, even as she tries to look into the future. Only one thing is clear: The Hollows gets what it wants, no matter what.

Review by Brittany:

I requested this book on NetGalley largely because I have not read anything by Lisa Unger, despite her being a bestselling author.

I'm not typically a fan of psychic-type novels, possibly because I'm a bit of a skeptic, but mostly because the story line just typically feels a little too "magical" for my liking. This one still has tones of that - Finley having visions and hearing things - but there was enough solidity to it to keep me interested. While Finley is working with Jones to find Abbey, the reader is also given glimpses into the world of an abducted girl. She is referred to as "New Penny", and it's through these parts of the story that the reader learns why multiple girls have been abducted through one family.

I love the character of Jones in this novel. It's interesting that he is one of my favorites because he actually doesn't get much page time in the novel. I think one thing that appeals to me about his is the fact that he's very much unsure about the psychic abilities of Finley and Eloise, but he takes what they say into consideration and can give these things a head nod, despite his desire for more logic. He also struck as the most interested in justice and the most respectful of the role that every person plays in a missing persons investigation - not just the psychics, but the police who get a bad rap for not handling investigations well. I think he was a great, solid role for this book, especially considering how many parts of this novel were paranormal in nature.

The suspense in this novel is pretty top notch. I definitely felt intrigued by the story and wanted to keep reading to see if Abbey could be found. The end of the novel has a bit of a twist to it that came as a surprise, and also left me interested in how this twist would help develop characters. Based on this novel, I would definitely read more by Unger.

Overall, I quite liked this book. The plot was interesting, and there was quite a bit of character development throughout, with not only the main characters, but also the supporting characters. If paranormal suspense is in your wheelhouse, I'd definitely recommend picking this one up.

Notable quotes:

More than anything else, resentment was the death of love. It killed slowly.

But language was a precision instrument. Used imprecisely it could level all kinds of damage.

"We almost never feel ready for any of life's passages. And yet we often must move through them all the same."

The smart phone dad - always taking pictures and posting beautiful filtered shots on Facebook and Instagram for others to admire, forgetting almost entirely to look with his own eyes.

She didn't want to forget, to move on. You didn't have to do those things to let go.

People didn't even know how cruel kindness could be, how much it hurt.

But, silently, like so many other things, it gnawed at the cord that tethered them, fraying it so that when it was pulled tight in stress it nearly snapped.

Daily, she forgave his flaws, just as she knew he forgave hers.

But in another place and time, it wouldn't have mattered. The consequences were not appropriate to his actions.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Silkworm Book Review

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

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When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives - meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before.

Review by Brittany:

This is the second book in the Cormoran Strike series, and I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery novel.

I love how enjoyable I find these novels when there is limited action throughout. Galbraith has made it a point to utilize dialogue more than violence or full-throttle action in order to move the plot along, and while I would think this method wouldn't work for me, it actually keeps me glued to the page. Strike is able to interrogate suspects and think through each piece through dialogue in the novel, keeping the reader in the loop with each individual piece of evidence that he acquires. The only time the reader does not get full reign on Strike's thoughts is at the climax of the novel, when Strike has put together what happened and who the killer is, and the setup is needed to reveal it to the reader.

As in the previous novel, Robin serves as Strike's secretary/partner, and she is a wonderful addition tot he novel. I love how Galbraith takes the time to explore Robin's relationship with her fiance, Matthew, and how it affects her employment with Strike. Galbraith took the time to develop this relationship more in this book, which I appreciated since I'm a fan of Robin. I also think there were some of the same subtle hints to burgeoning feelings between Strike and Robin in this novel as there were in the first, which is interesting and has left me wondering what is to become of them.

As for Galbraith's writing, I have to point out that one of the things I love most are some of the silly details that get thrown in with the more serious subject matter that the plot of the book relies on. The farting leather couch in Strike's office never failed to make me smile each time it was mentioned, and Strike's constant awareness of the cost of things in his time of debt felt close to home to me. Galbraith knows how to slide in little pieces of amusement without taking away from the seriousness of the book.

That being said, this one was definitely gruesome. Both the description of Quine's murder and the detailed descriptions of excerpts of his book occasionally made me shudder because of the grotesqueness of them, but because I'm a little bit morbid, I also appreciated it.  This was also a good tool for Robin's character development as she got to experience some of the more morbid sides of Strike's work.

Overall, this was a great second addition to the series. I loved the first book and I loved this one. I already have the third on TBR and imagine that I will continue to read the series.

Notable quotes:

Women, in his experience, often expected you to understand that it was a measure of how much they loved you that they tried their damnedest to change you.

But he knew no other way; it was part of a short but inflexible personal code of ethics that he carried with him all his adult life...

It was as though her eyes were being stripped of a comfortable soft focus.