Thursday, March 31, 2016

Nowhere Girl

This past weekend I camped out on my couch for a marathon reading session of Susan Stecker’s new novel, Nowhere Girl. One sitting; it was that good. In the novel, years after her sixteen-year old twin sister, Savannah, was found strangled to death in a derelict house on the edge of town, Cady, now a bestselling thriller writer begins to uncover what really happened after new evidence seems to indicate that Savannah’s death wasn’t a random attack but that whoever killed her sister loved her.

This book was a true page-turner suspense novel. It wasn’t an edge of your seat type of book with tons of action and/or life and death situations, but it was well-written and kept you engaged with wonderfully relatable and believable characters, including a likable protagonist. The author did a wonderful job of throwing in enough red herrings, casting aspersions on multiple characters throughout the book so that like Cady, I was paranoid and suspicious of everyone. An equally interesting aspect of the book was the author’s portrayal of the at times mysterious and unbreakable bond between twins.

Nowhere Girl was a thoroughly enjoyable read; maybe not great, but really, really good and worthy of making it to your To Be Read pile. Definitely an author to keep on my radar for future reading material.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Why Not Me?

I recently enjoyed Mindy Kaling’s funny, charming and downright great new book, Why Not Me? The book is a collection of essays on a variety of topics; from glamour, to writing, to relationships. While I’ve loved Kaling since her 'The Office' days, it wasn’t until this book that she reached celebrity BFF status.

Mindy’s wit, humor and bubbly personality practically jump off the page and will without a doubt make you a Kaling fan and fellow BFF wannabe by the time you reach its last page. Her countless pearls of wisdom had me either laughing out loud, nodding my head in agreement or doing a combination of the two. Here’s one little nugget of truth: “Though I am a generally happy person who feels comfortable in my skin, I do beat myself up because I am influenced by a societal pressure to be thin. All the time. I feel it the same way anybody who picks up a magazine and sees Keira Knightley’s elegantly bony shoulder blades poking out of a backless dress does. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen my shoulder blades once. Honestly, I’m dubious that any part of my body could be so sharp and firm as to be described as a “blade.” … But my secret is: even though I wish I could be thin, and that I could have the ease of lifestyle that I associate with being thin, I don’t wish for it with all of my heart. Because my heart is reserved for way more important things.”

One of my very favorite parts of this small book though was a fictional chapter consisting of emails between her alternate self, which would be of all things a Latin teacher at a fancy prep school, and a gruff fellow teacher. Blame the hopeless romantic in me, but I could totally see this evolving love connection playing out in my mind’s eye and found myself rooting for a HEA (happily ever after) ending. Darn, it was so good that I’d pay good money to have it fleshed out into a full length sappy romance novel.

If you haven’t already read it, well what are you waiting for? Laughter is the best medicine, except for treating diarrhea, so pick up a copy and enjoy some laughs.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Passenger

Lisa Lutz’s The Passenger kicks it into high gear from page one. "In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it..." That’s Tanya Dubois’ story upon finding her husband’s dead body at the bottom of the stairs and she’s sticking to it.

From the publisher: "Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time."

I loved this psychological thriller! It was enthralling and addicting, and once started I could not put it down; as impossible as eating just one potato chip. Hooked from the onset, I just wanted to know what would happen next and how our protagonist would navigate her escape and her next identity (Tanya/Amelia/Debra/Sonia/Jo/ Nora). Each chapter shined a new light for the reader on the chain of events in the past which brought Tanya to where she is today, helped us better understand whether she was closer to victim or villain (or somewhere in between), and which, as inevitable as the sun rising in the east, would have to bring her full circle to where it all began in order for the tale to reach its thrilling conclusion.

The Passenger was a riveting and smart read with a killer (in the good sense) protagonist and secondary characters as captivating and intriguing. Highly recommend it!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

She's Not There

I enjoyed a great new novel this weekend, She’s Not There by Joy Fielding; a psychological suspense tale about a woman whose life takes a shocking turn when a young girl contacts her claiming to be her youngest daughter, who was kidnapped in Mexico 15 years earlier.

Fielding’s tale seems ripped straight from the headlines, and bears a striking similarity to the Madeleine McCann abduction years ago from a Portuguese resort, where the parents left the children sleeping alone while they went out to dinner; exactly what the protagonist do in this story. Fielding does a great job in depicting the heartbreak and guilt of the parent’s loss, the stigma that comes with being seen as potential suspects in their beloved child’s disappearance, the stress and burden placed on both the marriage and other children left behind, who are left to feel like they always fall short in comparison to this perfect child loved and lost.

As much as the tale has a whodunit factor to it, it’s really more of a family drama that movingly highlights how one tragic event can tear a family asunder. She’s Not There was a gripping and emotional read.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Quality of Silence

This weekend I finished reading Rosamund Lupton’s latest novel, The Quality of Silence.

From the publisher: "The Quality of Silence is the story of Yasmin, a beautiful astrophysicist, and her precocious deaf daughter, Ruby, who arrive in a remote part of Alaska to be told that Ruby's father, Matt, has been the victim of a catastrophic accident. Unable to accept his death as truth, Yasmin and Ruby set out into the hostile winter of the Alaskan tundra in search of answers. But as a storm closes in, Yasmin realizes that a very human danger may be keeping pace with them. And with no one else on the road to help, they must keep moving, alone and terrified, through an endless Alaskan night."

I’m torn as to my feelings on the book. I loved the descriptions of the Alaskan tundra and the bitter realities of this beautiful yet harsh land (24-hour darkness and -55° temps), the environmental topics highlighted and made part of the conversation, as well as the character of Ruby and her inherent innocence and bravery. In fact, one of the best parts of the book is Lupton’s incredibly moving depiction of Ruby’s deafness, her sense of isolation, and some of the ingenious ways in which she’s been able to cope in the hearing world; like how she correlates sounds to words and/or feelings (“Noise– Looks like flashing signs, neon-bright”).

Sadly, I found myself left cold (no pun intended) by Yasmin; both in her relationship with Ruby (at least at the start of the book) and the recklessness of her actions. She’s described as a brilliant woman, an astrophysicist no less, but turn after turn she endangers her daughter’s life, belying her intelligence; and in turn forcing readers to suspend their disbelief in order to truly embrace the chilling tale. Overall, I’d say The Quality of Silence was a good read, whose potential greatness was diminished by its slightly slow pace and the protagonist’s unrealistic actions, though still worthy of making your To Be Read pile.