Review: Bonfire by @Krystenritter @CrownPublishing

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It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small-town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands. But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’s biggest scandal from more than a decade ago, involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good. Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as she tries desperately to find out what really happened to Kaycee, troubling memories begin to resurface and she begins to doubt her own observations. And when she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game”—it will threaten reputations, and lives, in the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her. With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote rural town of just five claustrophobic square miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of what happens when your past and present collide.

I remember requesting this book before knowing it was written by an actress. There was something about the blurb that caught my eye, probably the fact that the synopsis reminded me a bit of Erin Brockovich (which I love) and also because it’s about a woman going back to her hometown (you know I can’t resist those).

I want to say that I’m not a fan of Krysten Ritter. It’s not that I don’t like her, I simply haven’t seen her shows, so I don’t really have an opinion about her acting skills. Her writing skills, on the other hand, are good. I really liked the way Krysten managed to hook me from the moment I read the prologue. Talk about a gripping opening!

The idea for this book was great and I’m always a fan of this kind of stories where you’re rooting for the underdog who’s trying to beat a big corporation. I can’t help it. This was no different and it also included a disturbing storyline featuring high school students that made it all more interesting and complex.

Abby Williams is an interesting character, but at the same time, I felt like I’ve read many similar books where the poor, shy girl returns home having become a successful lawyer/writer/whatever and everyone else in her town is still the same. I don’t think she was memorable enough, although her relationship with her father was perhaps my favorite part.

Ultimately, my issue with this book was simply that I don’t think I will remember it forever. The conclusion was a bit predictable in terms of who was guilty and who wasn’t, although I definitely liked the bittersweet ending.

Netgalley, Crown Publishing, 2017

 

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Review: Since We Fell by @dennis_lehane

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Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths. By turns heart- breaking, suspenseful, romantic, and sophisticated, Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his very best.

It’s no secret that Dennis Lehane is one of my favorite authors. His detective books and his gangster series are amazing, as well as some of his standalone novels like Mystic River or Shutter Island.

My dear friend Renee sent me his latest book (thank you so much ❤!), a psychological thriller called Since We Fell, and although I had a lot of scheduled reads, I decided to start it and it took me only two days to read it. Actually, I read 80% of it in a sitting but I had to go to bed and, believe me, I didn’t want to. I finished it the next evening and I seriously wanted more.

Most reviews I’ve read claim that the first part of the book isn’t as good as the second section. I must say I really loved both: I think Lehane’s writing was simply wonderful when he told us Rachel’s story and I was so immersed in her life that I didn’t care there wasn’t much action during the first 50% of the book. However, the last part of the novel suddenly turned into a cinematic thriller filled with suspense and action and I really enjoyed it too. Was it believable? Not really. But it was lots of fun. Oh, and I can’t forget about the prologue. Probably one of the best I’ve come across lately.

I think part of the reason why I loved this book so much was that I actually cared for Rachel. She was a good person and I wanted her to be happy. I’m not sure what I would’ve done if I were her, that’s for sure. And I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I was rooting for her and Brian to end up together. I was interested in Rachel’s family troubles (her search for her father) and later, I  wanted her to investigate what was going on. I don’t think I can tell you anything about the plot because I want you to find out for yourselves.

And, as I said, Dennis Lehane’s writing is  gorgeous. He has a way with words and he had me completely hooked from the very first page. I never lost interest when this could’ve easily happened had it been another writer. I’m not going to lie, maybe I would’ve wanted more of a surprise when the revelations came, but I still think this is one of the most enjoyable novels I’ve read lately.

Little Brown, 2017

 

#ThrowbackThursday Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

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Renee @It’sBookTalk began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of our old favorites as well as sharing books that we’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. I’ve wanted to join this meme for a long time and I thought it would be a great idea because it forces me to read books from the TBR and not only new releases. And, of course, I can also include some old favorites!

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Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer. Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer amongst a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again…

Murder on the Orient Express was the first book I read by Agatha Christie. I was probably 11 or 12 years old and excited about  reading “adult” books. I absolutely loved it and I still think about it sometimes. I haven’t read it since then but I’ve watched two film versions (not yet the recent one) and I’ve discussed its plot many times. It’s that good.

I think it’s a story that I will forever remember, and it’s not even my favorite by Agatha Christie, but it’s undoubtedly a classic. It’s memorable and surprising and well, I love Poirot (although I also hate him sometimes). The setting it’s perfect and the ending is one of those you will surely remember all your life.

I think this is a book that everyone should read.

Review: Artemis by Andy Weir @EburyPublishing #OutsideComfortZone

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Jazz Bashara is a criminal. Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent. Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of Jazz’s problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself – and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even more unlikely than the first

No, I haven’t read The Martian. I know. I KNOW. Still, I watched the movie and enjoyed it. It wasn’t my favorite movie ever, but I liked the fresh perspective. And it was fun. As soon as I read Artemis’s synopsis, I knew I wanted to give it a try. After all, I’m kind of enjoying this reading #outsidecomfortzone thing.

Turns out, this was exactly what I needed. After a bad week, I wanted a book that made me forget about everything else, and I started reading Artemis and ended up finishing it on that very same day. Overall, I had some minor issues, but I had such a great time reading it that I don’t care that much about those the rest.

I absolutely loved Artemis‘ narrator: Jazz. She was a great character and she made me laugh several times. Regarding the criticism, I do think it’s obvious Jazz was written by a man; it’s just that everything about her makes her look like the “perfect” woman for a modern heterosexual guy. Regardless of that, I think she was fierce and brave and I loved how she didn’t care about what others thought of her (and speaking of that, how come she has a “reputation” but doesn’t sleep with anyone at all?). She was a fascinating main character and one I wouldn’t mind reading more about.

The plot-adventure was crazy and unbelievable but it was really entertaining to read and  I was smiling most of the time. That’s a great thing since I’ve already mentioned I don’t usually read this kind of stories. So yeah, if you’re looking for a novel that is witty, fun and full of action, this is definitely it.

On the other hand, I have to say I was definitely not interested in the physics and technical details and so I skipped some of those parts. I didn’t need such a detailed explanation, I’m afraid. I just wanted action and fun and this book had already plenty of that. If you loved The Martian and you want a book that offers a similar experience, don’t miss Artemis.

ARC, Ebury Publishing, 2017

 

Mini Reviews #9 Heaven’s Crooked Finger & Lie To Me

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Happy Saturday! Today I’ll talk about my most recent reads.

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Earl Marcus thought he had left the mountains of Georgia behind forever, and with them, the painful memories of a childhood spent under the fundamental rule of his father RJ’s church–a church built on fear, penance, and the twisting, writhing mass of snakes. But then an ominous photo of RJ is delivered to Earl’s home. The photograph is dated long after his father’s burial, and there’s no doubt that the man in the picture is very much alive. As Earl returns to Church of the Holy Flame searching for the truth, faithful followers insist that his father has risen to a holy place high in the mountains. Nobody will talk about the teenage girls who go missing, only to return with strange tattoo-like marks on their skin. Rumors swirl about an old well that sits atop one of the mountains, a place of unimaginable power and secrets. Earl doesn’t know what to believe, but he has long been haunted by his father, forever lurking in the shadows of his life. Desperate to leave his sinful Holy Flame childhood in the past, Earl digs up deeply buried secrets to discover the truth before time runs out and he’s the one put underground in Heaven’s Crooked Finger.

This was a novel that really caught my attention because of the creepy/amazing cover and, of course, the intriguing blurb. I usually love this kind of southern-gothic-horror novels about families and dark secrets. I was sure I was going to enjoy it. And I certainly did, but unfortunately, not as much as I had hoped.

Don’t get me wrong, this was an ok book. The mystery was appealing enough, it was easy to read and it didn’t drag. There were some twists and turns and the setting was undoubtedly a great one. However, I never felt that “spark”, I never really connected with the characters or the story, I felt mostly uninterested when it should’ve been the opposite. In the end, I guess this happens sometimes. Some books win you over and others don’t.

Heaven’s Crooked Finger was a good gothic mystery and an interesting beginning for what it seems it’ll be a series featuring Earl Marcus. Don’t hesitate and give it a chance if the blurb catches your eye. You might love it (I know some have!).

Netgalley, Crooked Lane Books, 2017

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Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. The couple seems made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her. Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

Lie To Me is a gripping and easy-to-read domestic thriller that is perfect for fans of Gone Girl and toxic marriage books. Is it entertaining? Definitely! Did I love it? I’m afraid not.

It seems like I’m in the minority once again. I enjoyed the first half of Lie To Me, although I kept thinking I had read too many similar books in the past. However, I expected something much more unique and special based on some reviews I had read. I think this is merely a case of not being the right reader for this book, at least not at this moment. The first part of the book was fun and I was definitely curious. What was going on? Should I believe Ethan? Or was he lying? Who’s the mysterious narrator? Unfortunately, it all fell flat for me when I began reading the second half. I found the ending part too unbelievable even for my taste. I never bought the villain’s motives and I thought the whole final act was over the top, it never clicked for me. Plus, the last chapter made things even worse.

Gone Girl is one of my favorite books and I think it’s also because the genre wasn’t so popular back then. I loved the psychology of it all, the way Gillian Flynn made each twist believable because of every character’s personality. I’m sad to say I never felt this with Lie To Me.

Netgalley, MIRA Books, 2017