Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Night Child by Anna Quinn

I have seen a lot of advanced praise for this book so when I was granted a copy of it via Netgalley I was incredibly excited to dive in.  I have always been a big fan of the dark and twisty psychological thrillers this, however, fell a little flat for me. 

The good: This made a great vacation read and I was able to go through the whole novel in a day and a half poolside.  The premise was good and made you think about the way that your past may be intentionally burying itself in our subconscious to protect and insulate us from emotional trauma.

The not so great: It may be a function of the copy I received but I found myself confused at times about what characters were in each scene. More delineation between especially the male characters would have helped this tremendously.  

Trigger warning for abuse and mental illness.

Based on other feedback that I read, there are a lot of people who really enjoyed this story.  Please don't let my lukewarm response prevent you from picking up this novel. 

Thank you to Anna Quinn, Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor

I think I wanted to like this book more than I actually did due to the fact that I had heard so many intriguing things about it.  This is a solid first go from CJ Tudor and it was a fun, light read for me but not so much of a thriller like the pre-release reviews would have us believe.

The good.  Tudor did a good job with the back and forth timeline of the novel.  It is hard to get that right but, with a few exceptions of where the linearity got a little muddy, she did well transporting us from 1986 to 2016 and back again.  The world building was lovely and believable especially the fair (some imagery that I won't forget there), and the woods.

The not so good. The characters reminded me of other novels and movies almost exactly.  Not to draw to fine a line, but I pictured the characters of Fat Gav and Nicky as Dustin and Max from Stranger Things.  There seemed to be quite a few loose ends that were left unexplained and, in the end, I saw the identity of the real murderer coming from the halfway point.

All in all, if you are a fan of murder mystery novels, please pick up this debut offering from CJ Tudor.  I have a feeling this summer is going to be a great time for this book and I wish her so much luck.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher and author for allowing me an advanced look at this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sara Pekkanen

OK - I will be honest, I liked this book a lot more than I expected to.  I found the title on NetGalley and requested it because a friend of mine had received an ARC of this as well and I thought that it would be fun for the both of us to read it together.  I love psychological novels but have been burned by the promises of dark and twisty books in the past, (I'm thinking about you Girl on the Train) so I approached this book with a light-hearted open mind.

The Good: They caught me off guard with the switchbacks in the plot.  This jaded reader is not easy to fool but I found myself flipping back a few pages at the end of the first section saying "Wait...What?" and re-reading to make sure that what I thought I read was really how things went down.  So bravo on that front!

I wanted to hate the characters and write them off as your typical, spoiled, rich, New York Housewives that I normally loathe in books - but I ended up really enjoying the development that happened as the novel progressed and you found out more and more layers of each player.

The Notes: Near the end, the actions of the main character stretched where I was willing to go with them.  It's so hard to write this without spoilers but - as calculating as she was throughout the entire novel - I found it hard to believe that the big denouement was as haphazard and left to chance as it ended up being.

The book is credited to two authors and, looking back on the reading experience, I could see those separate voices poking through even where they weren't supposed to.  I'll be interested to see if the writing duo persists and how they continue to smooth out their process over time.

Overall, I am very glad that I was granted a copy of this book by St Martin's Press and Netgalley.  It will make a great summer read and one to reach for if you need a fun and light read that gives you a nice surprise in the middle.  Overall Rating: 3.5 stars.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

First of all, Attica Locke is a wonderful writer. She painted a very clear image of the world of Lark, Texas that I felt like I had driven through it before.

 I was so excited to get a galley copy of this book from NetGalley (thank you so much Mulholland Books) after seeing all of the hype on Book Riot.  Maybe this just isn't my genre but I didn't get as sucked into the story as I wanted to.  I read a lot of reviews that talked about the impressive ending, but I had an inkling of what was coming before it was revealed. 

I would still recommend fans of Cop-centered mysteries to pick up a copy of Bluebird Bluebird.  It just wasn't the type of book that was specifically for me.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

I have gone hot and cold with Lisa Genova's books in the past.  Every Note Played, however, hits a nice sweet spot between the story and the disease that has been missing for me during some of the other books I have read by this author.  My heart broke a little bit reading about the classically trained pianist who was struggling with his ALS diagnosis and the slow atrophy that occurs as a part of this awful disease.  Anyone who has suffered from this disease and the choices you must make as a result knows about the devastation that it causes.  Genova's choice to make the sufferer fully dependent on the use and mastery of his muscles to fulfill his passion and his career was especially poignant.

The loss of a star only comes from the sudden turn that happened between Karina and Richard.  The turn in their relationship seemed sudden and extreme and wholly unrealistic.  Fortunately, this flaw didn't detract from the remainder of the story and even my stoic heart got emotional in the ending scenes.

Thank you to Ms. Genova, Gallery/Scout Press and Netgalley for allowing me to access this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

This book is a hard one to review because there are so many depths of dimension for this book.

The good: It started off really intriguing, I was hooked by the exile of Catherine Goggin to Dublin and the very specific types of persecution that was going on in Ireland at the time. The first section was a "stay up in bed under the covers read"  I want to be Catherine Goggin when I grow up!
 I found Cyril Avery's unique relationship with his adoptive parents hilarious and heartbreaking especially since I was raised by adoptive parents as well.  His obvious adoration for his best friend Julian and the eventual realizations that he has about them throughout his formative years was very deep and realistic. Then we get to the last section where he has his footing under him, and has grown into himself, both of which were beautiful and mature and lovely.

The not so good: The whole thing went off the rails for just a a little bit in the middle when describing all of the different sexual encounters that Cyril explored throughout his adolescence and early adulthood as he came to terms with his homosexuality.  I understood what the author was trying to do by telling the stories, but there were a few times that I found myself drifting off course because of the sometimes graphic scenes.

Also there is a little red bow tied to the end of the book.  It was a little too neat for my tastes especially with as messy as the plots and interactions.
Overall, this book was lovely and complicated and I highly recommend it, especially to my friends with a love of historical fiction.

Thank you to John Boyne, Hogarth Press and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo

Where to even start with this book.  It made me cry, happy tears and sad tears all in one book.

It broke my heart to watch two people with the best of intentions suffer so much, as someone with children myself as well as depression, I found myself hugging my boys a little tighter after thinking about what Yejide went through over and over again.

The love that Akin had for her was so pure even though his intentions and execution were so terrible.  Even through everything that they went through, you could still see his love.  I was so pleased with the ending.

I need all of my friends to read this novel so we can talk about its nuances.

Thank you to Doubleday Publishing for providing me a copy of this book for review and Ayobami Adebayo for writing such a lovely book.