breaking it down

22 Jul

what I liked about the much anticipated new novel by B.A Paris (BEHIND CLOSED DOORS) was the double entendre title, THE BREAKDOWN. the book starts off with a slow roll  on a rainy night down a deserted winding road where as the reader, you can feel your clammy hands grip the steering wheel as the rain pelts at the window, as the wipers screech achingly across the windshield. the car passes a broken down vehicle and whoa, wait, is that a person inside the car?  will you stop? will you call the police for help?

turn the page and main protagonist, Cass is home with her handsome and understanding husband and they cook a lot of curry, tend to the garden and Cass slowly descends into madness. is she having a breakdown? she can’t remember ordering the deliveries that arrive at her door, oops did she tell people to come for a BBQ today? where did she park the car? 

the cop out pill popping storyline ensues and Cass sinks further into her sofa. 

the plot is thought out, however ordinary it may turn out to be. the writing is good, the parcel is tied in a bow, with all the pieces explained, but there isn’t really a wow factor, and the seasoned reader can see where this road is going from a mile away.

you

11 Jun

I devoured these two books by Caroline Kepnes, YOU and HIDDEN BODIES, both of these stories take you inside the thinking of fictional serial killer, Joe Goldberg, written from the serial killer’s point of view. Joe is a serial killer with emotion, however, and what makes the book(s) a skilled read, is the brilliant commentary about current culture.

Joe basically kills everyone who hurts him in some way, or gets in his way, but as mentioned above, each book peels the rind off the world we live in, from social media to the internet, to the middle class and the upper class, to societal norms and family secrets – what is you, and what is hidden.

you should definitely take these books with you on your summer vacation!

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snowball effect

12 Mar

hunker down with these two books!

both of these books are mysteries and have a common denominator, what I want to call the snowball effect of the decisions made by the mother character in each of these stories.

THE ICE TWINS by SK Tremayne is intense with atmosphere and an icy cold desolate background. one twin is dead or which twin died exactly, but as I mentioned above, this story is really about the slow fall of the choices made by the mother that is the catalyst for this story.

THE PERFECT GIRL by Gilly Macmillan is a page turner and you’re not sure where the  plot will take you next, haunting the reader similar to the style found in  Jessica Knoll’s heartbreaker, THE LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE.  we follow Macmillan’s piano playing protagonist through her shame and guilt, but it is ultimately her mother’s choices that has got her here.

in both books it is subtle, but you don’t have to look too hard to see this common link and the snowball effect that will take you through each story, full of suspense, yet at the same time filled with a certain sorrow.

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January mix

22 Jan

ALL THE UGLY AND WONDERFUL THINGS by Bryn Greenwood and THE RIVER AT NIGHT by Erica Ferencik are two very different books, but yet both have the same theme running through them – survival.

I read Greenwood’s novel because of all the hoopla surrounding it and its unconventional love story. this book is award worthy because of its heartbreaking genius. you will root for young Wavy, and cry with her. I found it more about the primal instinct to love and be loved and how Wavy learned to survive in her lonely world. it is uncomfortable reading in some places, but it is a brave and noteworthy book.

Erica Ferencik takes us on a white water rafting trip to remember. I thought the book was going to be a mystery and it sort of fell into a tepid pool of bath water for me at the end. the characters are a bit underdeveloped and the scary characters are not the ones you think at all, and when they  appear they’re almost laughable. I found myself rewriting this book (ha!) in my head while reading it, wishing the author had taken us down a different rapid waterfall. Ferencik does bring us right there on the river on the raft with some vivid descriptions, so overall it is a good read and well written.

file under:

cry me a river

two for one special

3 Dec

it has been a while! my two favorite reads of 2016 are HEAT & LIGHT by Jennifer Haigh and SWEETBITTER by Stephanie Danler.

Danler’s debut takes us into the world of a New York restaurant and the characters are as a original as any menu selection. the low key reception of SWEETBITTER is similar to another debut, last year’s AMONG THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS by Julia Pierpont. both novels capture nuances well beyond the experience of the young writers, but neither book was recognized for it.

Haigh’s books do not typically receive a large response as well, which is always a mystery to me (but I do love mysteries). her books are carefully researched and the characters fully dimensional. HEAT & LIGHT takes us into the world of fracking, small towns and big corporations. if you are unfamiliar with Haigh’s novels, I recommend MRS. KIMBLE, where the subject is marriage or marriages, but it never turns soapy, and is a perfectly constructed, genius debut!

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sea ware

12 Aug

Ruth Ware’s second novel takes place in the choppy Norwegian seas, aboard the maiden voyage of a luxury yacht,  and readers must uncover the whereabouts of THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10. we meet the passengers, wealthy Londoners, the yacht owners, and lucky travel writers at a dinner on its first night and then, lo and behold, with main protagonist, Lo Blacklock, the plot takes a deep dive into Hitchcock territory.

I liked the writing because it was definitely different from Ware’s first novel, IN A DARK, DARK WOOD when a bachelorette party goes awry like a murderous board game of CLUE.

both books are good stand alone mysteries.

in this book, I  could have done without the strange and continuous depictions of exhaustion and sleep and nausea and vomit. I am not sure I understood this plot device. the action opening the novel did not seem to connect in any way to the overall story, but did add an element of suspense I suppose. I think there were a few missing pieces thrown overboard as the story unraveled!

overall though it is a must read for a snowy afternoon, a rainy day, a morning commute. I really cannot give too much away because of the Hitchcockian themes.

learn more about Ruth Ware here

book bag it!

a novel

8 Aug

I’m trying to decide if Richard Russo’s comment on the cover of THIS MUST BE THE PLACE by Maggie O’Farrell influenced my opinion of the book overall. perhaps, INVISIBLE INFLUENCE by Jonah Berger holds the answer to this question, but that is for another blog post.

Russo says that THIS MUST BE THE PLACE should be O’Farrell’s “breakout book”, but it is not, it is NOT THE PLACE.

Maggie has written six previous novels, all of which I devoured one after the other, foot tapping in wait for the next one.  find them here: maggie’s books

her  so called “breakout book” was either THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX or THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE.

THIS MUST BE THE PLACE is a sprawling book, its title intriguing and spans over many years, from New York, to London to Ireland and back again, and involves a disappearing British actress, a philandering director, an unreliable American man, random children. the writing, of course,  is top notch. you will have to look high and low to find a writer to match the intelligence of Maggie O’Farrell, who will surely be remembered as a writer of her generation.

the book goes on too long, the American character is one dimensional. you can kind of predict the ending, and I thought the last chapter in all its simple eloquence and sensitivity should have been the opening chapter.

ok, but we’ll give her a break. seven books and counting, right?

read all the other titles before this one – this must be the place to start!

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