Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fractured Book Review

Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

Click here for the Amazon product page.
Click here for the Barnes and Noble product page.
Click here for the Books-a-Million product page.


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

Click here for the Amazon product page.
Click here for the Barnes and Noble product page.
Click here for the Books-a-Million product page.


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

Click here for the Amazon product page.
Click here for the Barnes and Noble product page.
Click here for the Books-a-Million product page.


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

Click here for the Amazon product page.
Click here for the Barnes and Noble product page.
Click here for the Books-a-Million product page.


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.