And now for something totally different!
After hearing so much hype about books like Gone Girl, Sharp Objects, etc., this is the first thing I have actually read by Gillian Flynn. I wasn’t disappointed! Granted, I wasn’t completely fulfilled either because it was only a story and, in my opinion, definitely could have been fleshed out more and gone on longer. Oh well.
About the story itself: we read The Grownup through the eyes of an unnamed narrator who is crass and blunt (just a warning). She has grown up playing the innocent girl on the streets needing money. Now she is the young woman in she shop, moving between the back room giving hand jobs and the front room “seeing auras.” She is hired by a woman in a possessed house with a dangerous stepson. That is about all I can say without stepping over the edge and spoiling the story. Read for yourself to find out more.
I have to admit that I only picked it up because it was a recommendation from the hosts of the *Cramathon.* I really don’t read many stories or novellas but so far this makes two for me this year (with Marissa Meyers’ Fairest having been the first) and I have enjoyed them both so far. Clearly I should be more open to this category. It would definitely help me out in my reading goal for the year! How do you feel about stories, novellas, or other quick reads? I’m open to recommendations!
Book Soundtrack: Villains by Queens of the Stone Age
I feel as though I haven’t fully formed an opinion on The Girl Before yet. Its definitely one of those mystery/thrillers that keeps you uneasy and reeling even after the book is finished. Its not to the most extreme that I’ve read, though, but its definitely still on my mind. I think that’s something that makes a book a good read. If it sticks with you, and if you keep thinking about if when you’re through, its a good one.
Here’s another thing I liked: the combination of opposing timelines and POV’s. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work in the beginning. Typically I am wary of this writing style but it really worked. Learning about Jane in the present, who is struggling with the loss of her stillborn daughter, and Emma in the past, who just broke up with her long time boyfriend. Both women sign a lease to the same ultra-modern, high-tech house with over 200 rules for tenants. The home was designed and is owned by the obsessive-compulsive Edward. Boyfriend/ex-boyfriend Simon is active in both timelines as well, and with all of these characters, of course we have to determine who tells truths and who weaves deceit.
There were many twists and turns in the book, but I really wouldn’t call it highly suspenseful. While I liked the characters and wanted to know what happened, it didn’t seem to move all that quickly. This is the perfect book for a movie, I have to say, and I can’t wait to see what they do with it since the rights have already been bought!
Book soundtrack: “Say You Love Me” by Jessie Ware
For several months now, I’ve been seeking a good YA mystery/thriller. As I read more of them, it just seems that contemporary YA authors just fall into cliches and I dislike them and drive me farther and farther away. Not this one, though. My hope has been renewed! Thank you, Karen McManus! And this is a debut novel! Bravo!!
All righty, so as indicated by the above, that alone is a recommendation from me. One of Us Is Lying basically begins with murder in detention (dun dun DUN!!). The four survivors alternate narration as they navigate the media storm of their classmate’s death. The ‘victim’ was the school gossip mill via his own app, but also–as we find out–very interested in online chats about other school shootings and acts of violence. We learn about the four survivors’ secrets as they become closer to each other and how they ultimately unravel the truth and the lies behind what the bigger plan really was for detention that day.
Here is my brief opinion of the cliches I mentioned earlier that I usually see in YA horror and/or thriller and/or mystery: way too much high school drama i.e. the he said/she said heartbreak gossip OMG LOL ETC. BS. I can’t handle all of that. Or at least too much of that. I understand that I am reading the YA genre so I expect some of it. Fine. <u>One of Us Is Lying</u> has some, but does it with grace and gets the heck past it. There are way bigger issues to worry about. Like a MURDER. Lawyers to be hired. Press and media. Parents. Still trying to keep life in line and get into college. This was realistic to me. Yes, there were still petty high schoolers being jerks, but these kids (“the murder club,” they were taunted by the other kids in school) just banded together and got through it together and the story moved on. I loved that about this book. THANK YOU!!! Miracle!
Other big perks: I guessed at the killer, but I didn’t KNOW. Plus, I was too engrossed with the characters to really care about the story line. Sorry but, I hardly even cared about the story line. I cared about the characters’ lives and what would happen to them, LOL. There were maybe a couple draggy parts (not much though) and I marked it down to 4 rather than 5. The book wasn’t perfect. However, the end redeemed it. I loved the ending. We get our happy ending. Loved that. I can’t deny it….I absolutely LOVED it because (without spoiling anything)….yeah….dude is my GUY!!!! That’s my trope right there! ❤
So if you have not yet, check this book out. +19 weeks at the top of the NYT bestseller list and a 4.06 rating on Goodreads…this book is killin’ it (no pun intended).
Book soundtrack: “Bad to the Bone” by ZZ top
Ok, so this book was recommended to me by a friend and when I picked it up I just thought “eh, this will be okay” but I am actually surprised by how much I enjoyed it! Jennifer Lynn Barnes has actually written several books (“26 distinct works, according to Goodreads”) and I have seen them in stores quite frequently but just have never picked them up. The covers and titles don’t really catch my eye, but I wish I would have sooner because the quality of writing is real! It is definitely good YA thriller/mystery writing and I have been missing out! So now onto the book.
The Fixer (see, not too appealing of a title…what are we talking about? A plumber? Carpenter?) is about sixteen year-old Tess who is uprooted from life with her grandfather on a farm to the center of political life in Washington DC with her older sister Ivy. Not only has Tess not seen Ivy in years, Ivy also has a top secret job in DC as a “fixer,” someone who fixes problems for top politicians and officials, such as the President and First Lady. After walking into an incident in a school bathroom where a girl is crying over shared photos, Tess confronts the offending party and soon finds herself being called the school’s “fixer.”
I thought that Jennifer Lynn Barnes did a fantastic job with the overall writing of the book. The plot and the scandals were done so well. Tess got repetitive in her processes sometimes and just a little naggy at her friends, but really the characters were pretty great as well. I was also really surprised at how unpredictable the book was. I thought that, especially for a YA novel, things would be easy to figure out and would resolve quickly, but no. Plus–biggest shocker of all–there is no love story. So there are not pages and pages of mindless flirting and snogging. Its all investigating and sleuthing. Impressive.
The only reason that I gave it 4 stars in stead of 5 is because the book is definitely meant to go on into the second book. Its not a cliffhanger, per se, but it leaves off in a spot where you want to know what will happen next in the character’s lives! And that’s one thing that the author is great at as well is getting you invested in the actual familial lives, backgrounds, and relationships of the characters. You’re pretty invested by the end and you just have to read on into book 2! There is no book 3 and I don’t know if there will be or not in the future, but so far everything has been a hailstorm of action and intrigue so I can’t wait to see where the next book takes us!
Listening to: “Not Afraid Anymore” by Halsey
I have been wanting to E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars book for a while, and finally I did because I am going to an author signing with E. Lockhart tomorrow evening! I am so glad I finally came up with an excuse to finally pick it up and read it because its actually REALLY GOOD!! Well, I thought so at least.
I started out listening to the audiobook and wasn’t digging it. There are several parts throughout the book where Lockart exaggerates her writing and its hard to tell that its an exaggeration until the story really moves on. As an example, in the second chapter, Cady’s father is walking out on her and her mother and Cady tells the story as “Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened up wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed….” The scene goes on for a couple more sentences. I’m reading this like ‘what?! How did you survive?!’ Well, that’s only what it felt like. Duh. There are a few more scenes that are similar to this where she describes painful scenes in violent ways, but really they aren’t happening. She just feels like they are. It really makes you reality check yourself and the book and by the time you get to the end it sort of all clicks but as you’re reading it you’re just thinking ‘wait, what?!?!?!’ (yes, all of that punctuation is necessary).
So what else happens in this book? Well “the liars” are four cousins, basically, who visit the family island each summer. I really can’t say very much more without giving away very much. The book actually is much more of a mystery/thriller than I thought that it would be. It involves a lot more beach and summer island sun than I realized as well, plus summer love, and its pretty short–I finished it in just 2 days or so–so I would recommend it if you’re looking for an edge-of-your-seat summer read. Like I said, the book really kicked my book and was not what I expected and I really liked that so if you’re up for something a little off the beaten path, give this a go. I think you’ll enjoy it. Happy reading!
Listening to: “Sunset Lover” by Petit Biscuit
I have unfortunate news. I wasn’t a huge fan of this book. It was good, but not mindblowing. Here are my thoughts:
Let me start by stating that the Goodreads description of this book claims that “Readers of Kate Atkinson will delight in this suspenseful debut novel about a woman haunted by nightmares and her grandmother’s role in a doomed love triangle almost seventy years before.” I’m a fan of Kate Atkinson and in my opinion, this is why she doesn’t write suspenseful novels. Pick one genre or another and commit. There was just SO MUCH DESCRIPTIVE WRITING going on that I often found myself confused or bored or indifferent. Especially in the first half of the book. BUT THEN…..
Everything picked up in the second half and everything was magnificent. I was ready to call it quits and apologize to NetGalley and the publisher and then all of a sudden WHOA! Now we’re getting started here! The characters were fascinating. There were twists and turns I did NOT see coming. And the writing remains strong all the way until the end. So ultimately, if you have the patience to wade through at least 120-150 pages of reading before a plot really thickens, then this book will really satisfy you and you will not regret picking this up. However, if you are someone who needs a beginning to end page-turner (i.e. Dan Brown or the likes?)…..move on.
Listening to: “Witness” by Katy Perry