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The High Season

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No matter what the world throws her way, at least Ruthie Beamish has the house. Lovingly renovated, located by the sea in a quiet village two ferry rides from the glitzier Hamptons, the house is Ruthie’s nest egg–the retirement account shared with her ex-husband, Mike, and the college fund for their teenage daughter, Jem. The catch? To afford the house, Ruthie must let it go during the best part of the year.

It’s Memorial Day weekend and Ruthie has packed up their belongings for what Jem calls “the summer bummer” the family’s annual exodus to make way for renters. This year, the Hamptons set has arrived. Adeline Clay is elegant, connected, and accompanied by a “gorgeous satellite” stepson.

The widow of a blue-chip artist, in a world defined by luxury and ease, Adeline demonstrates an uncanny ability to help herself to Ruthie’s life. Is Adeline just being her fabulous self, or is she out to take what she wants?

When an eccentric billionaire, his wayward daughter, a coterie of social climbers, and Ruthie’s old flame are thrown into the mix, the entire town finds itself on the verge of tumultuous change. But as Ruthie loses her grasp on her job, her home, and her family, she discovers a new talent for pushing back. By the end of one unhinged, unforgettable summer, nothing will be the same–least of all Ruthie.

In a novel packed with indelible characters, crackling wit, and upstairs/downstairs drama, Judy Blundell emerges as a voice for all seasons–a wry and original storyteller who knows how the most disruptive events in our lives can twist endings into new beginnings.

The High Season by Judy Blundell

Publication Date: May 22, 2018 by Random House

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My Thoughts:

When I received an email with the opportunity to request a copy of The High Season for a lunch book club discussion at Penguin Random House’s Spring Open House, I saw it as the opportunity to continue my quest to read novels outside of my comfort zone. After taking a half day at work yesterday in an attempt to give myself some much-needed rest time, I sat down on the couch with the intention of reading for an hour or two. I ended up reading almost the entire novel that afternoon/evening because I became so wrapped up in Blundell’s characters and their personal narratives!

The High Season contains all the elements that made me love Big Little Lies – memorable characters, genuine drama, and a whirlwind of feelings. While it took me a few chapters to get fully absorbed (not the novel’s fault – I was worried the book would be a little “fluffy” for my taste), I found myself especially connected to Ruthie, Jem, and Doe and couldn’t stop reading until I knew how everything would end up for them.

I can see why Blundell has been so successful as an author of YA – everything about her characters felt so genuine and despite the novel having quite a few characters and storylines to keep track of, it was easy to feel attached to everyone and recognize that they all were more complicated than at first glance.  While the book is in some ways easy to categorize into a “beach” read because of the setting (hello, Hamptons), The High Season is a rich, complicated novel that I can only wish would get enough attention to be turned into its own mini-series (I’m looking at you, Reese Witherspoon).

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February Wrap-Up!

Phew! February has been a hell of a month and unfortunately, that means I neglected posting about all of the amazing books I was able to read over the last few weeks. Since I finally had some time tonight to sit down after work and relax, I thought it only fitting that I end the month with one major wrap-up post for all of my February reading.

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When Myriam, a mother and brilliant French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work, she and her husband are forced to look for a caretaker for their two young children. They are thrilled to find Louise: the perfect nanny right from the start. Louise sings to the children, cleans the family’s beautiful apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late whenever asked, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on each other, jealousy, resentment, and frustrations mount, shattering the idyllic tableau.

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani

Publication Date: January 9, 2018 by Penguin Books

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My Thoughts:

For such a slim book, Slimani’s novel is a very heavy, intense read. The book explores issues of race, gender, and socio-economic status all in a way that blends perfectly together and makes it hard to label Louise a monster despite her monstrous act.

The reader is aware heading into the story that Louise has murdered Myriam and Paul’s two young children and so the novel focuses more on the characters and their intertwined relationships rather than trying to determine the “why” of the act.

The Perfect Nanny gets right into the head of the characters and there was something so disquieting about this type of narration. I essentially felt on edge the entire time I was reading – not so much because I was waiting for something to happen, but more so because I could sense from the interactions between the adults and the thoughts each individual was focusing on that something wasn’t quite right and I just could never really put my finger on what that was.

There is no simple way to tie up a story like this that the reader knows eventually ends with a tragic event, but there was something poetic in the way Slimani leaves the reader to process his/her own feelings as to what would lead to Louise to murder her two young charges. I would recommend this psychological thriller to anyone who likes novels that leave them with more questions than answers!

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We all say there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to return briefly to this world, inhabit adult bodies and wreak ultimate revenge on the monsters who had killed them, stolen their lives?

Such is the unfathomable mystery confronting ex-NYPD detective Willow Wylde, fresh out of rehab and finally able to find a job running a Cold Case squad in suburban Detroit. When the two rookie cops assigned to him take an obsessive interest in a decades old disappearance of a brother and sister, Willow begins to suspect something out of the ordinary is afoot. And when he uncovers a series of church basement AA-type meetings made up of the slain innocents, a new way of looking at life, death, murder and missed opportunities is revealed to him.

A Guide for Murdered Children by Sarah Sparrow

Publication Date: March 20, 2018 by Blue Rider Press

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My Thoughts:

First, I want to express my gratitude to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this novel prior to its publication date in March! I was so excited to win a copy through a Goodreads giveaway after reading the synopsis since the combination of crime thriller and dark fantasy/supernatural sounded like such a unique premise! However, much like with The Book of Joan, I enjoyed this concept much more than the actual execution.

A Guide for Murdered Children is a hefty book dominated by dialogue (both between characters and internal). The first half of the book is slow to start and focuses predominantly on providing character background rather than following a decipherable plot line. Part of the disconnect for me personally came with my dislike for one of the main characters, detective Willow Wylde. His character felt like a caricature of a “bad cop” stereotype and I never really became invested in his story.

Events in the novel began to snowball about halfway through and the change in pace was a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, I had a hard time following the dialogue, especially when characters were not only interacting with each other, but hosts and children were swapping within one body throughout much of the story.  It was extremely difficult to always understand who was really speaking.

I felt a Red Queen vibe with this book. I enjoyed Victoria Aveyard’s first novel in the trilogy, but the second felt more like a film script than a novel and reading about her background (and the book’s intention) solidified those thoughts. Sarah Sparrow is a pseudonym for an established author, but despite my online sleuthing, I was only able to determine that Sparrow lives in Los Angeles. Perhaps this book is a film in the making? Because of the originality of the idea, I could see it being an interesting movie adaptation – perhaps this would be one of those rare times where I enjoy the on-screen version more than the book itself.

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“I have been acquainted with the smell of death.” So begins Clytemnestra’s tale of her own life in ancient Mycenae, the legendary Greek city from which her husband King Agamemnon left when he set sail with his army for Troy. Clytemnestra rules Mycenae now, along with her new lover Aegisthus, and together they plot the bloody murder of Agamemnon on the day of his return after nine years at war.

Judged, despised, cursed by gods she has long since lost faith in, Clytemnestra reveals the tragic saga that led to these bloody actions: how her husband deceived her eldest daughter Iphigeneia with a promise of marriage to Achilles, only to sacrifice her because that is what he was told would make the winds blow in his favor and take him to Troy; how she seduced and collaborated with the prisoner Aegisthus, who shared her bed in the dark and could kill; how Agamemnon came back with a lover himself; and how Clytemnestra finally achieved her vengeance for his stunning betrayal—his quest for victory, greater than his love for his child.

House of Names by Colm Toibin

Publication Date: May 9, 2017 by Scribner

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My Thoughts:

I’ve made a promise to myself to focus as much as possible on female authors this year, but I made two exceptions for male authors this month (John Boyne being the second). One reason being that I have a soft spot for Irish authors, but also because Scribner graciously sent me a copy of this and The Heart’s Invisible Furies months ago and I felt it was time to sit down and dig in!

House of Names instantly appealed to me because I have a real fondness for Greek mythology. It has been awhile since I’ve read any though and so Toibin’s unique take on Clytemnestra’s story was extremely refreshing.

While the storyline itself is all to Toibin’s credit, he chose to maintain its original setting rather than modernizing it and I’m very glad for that. Despite being about Greek mythology, this is a fast-paced and easy to absorb story – don’t let a lack of prior mythology experience scare you away!

The novel is broken up into several chapters told by the point of view by Clytemnestra, her daughter Electra, and her son Orestes. I felt connected to all three and it was easy to get pulled into each of their narratives – my only disappointment is that I wish I could have read more of Clytemnestra’s point of view, but the story ultimately transitions into Orestes’ story about midway through the novel.

I personally felt like Toibin’s retelling of Clytemnestra’s story was a great example of how toxic masculinity can have such a far-reaching effect on individuals. I recognize that this is my own modern interpretation of their family tragedy, but I will admit that there was something satisfying in Clytemnestra’s bloody revenge on her husband. I also felt my heart aching for Orestes at many points in the story and all these complicated feelings about complicated characters made the book that much more enjoyable!

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Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.

At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Publication Date: August 22, 2017 by Scribner

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My Thoughts:

Sometimes a book comes along that is every bit as good as all the hype that surrounds its release – Boyne’s novel is absolutely one of those gems. I was reluctant to start it due to its hefty weight and small font, but this actually turned out to be one of my quickest reads for February!

The story spans Cyril Avery’s entire life – it is a novel that at times is downright hilarious, but a few chapters further on can quickly bring you to tears. In short – the book is a total masterpiece.

It’s difficult to share my reading experience without cheapening the book’s contents. By the end, it felt very reminiscent of Yanagihara’s A Little Life because it is such an epic portrayal of the narrator’s life – both love and loss – in the most personal and touching way possible. From start to finish, I felt deeply invested in Cyril’s life as well as those of the other characters. I am also thrilled that this book dove deeply into LGBTQ issues as I am always looking to expand this area of my reading list and The Heart’s Invisible Furies gives an intimate view of what it meant to be gay in the 1960s-1980s, particularly in Ireland.

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Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Publication Date: February 6, 2018 by Algonquin Books

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My Thoughts:

This book is equally impressive for Jones’ master storytelling as well as for the commentary it provides on American society and our viciously warped and racist justice system.

Perhaps it’s because I work in public education in a large, urban school district, but I have always made a point to stay aware of current politics related to the justice system. While I’ve read plenty of non-fiction on related topics, An American Marriage is the first fictional book I’ve read recently that has made issues of race, American culture, etc. such a truly personal experience.

An American Marriage consists of chapters that transition back and forth between husband and wife, Roy and Celestial (with a few later chapters told by their friend Andre’s point of view). About midway through, the novel briefly transitions to an epistolary style as the couple writes letter to each other while Roy is incarcerated for a crime he has not committed. I really loved the structure of the novel since it allowed for a deeper view of Celestial and Roy’s characters and personal experiences. Jones also presents a hauntingly sad reality for the many people in this country directly impacted by racial inequality through the ways in which Roy’s incarceration not only changes Roy and Celestial, but both of their families as well.

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The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Twenty-six-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.

There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

Publication Date: November 14, 2017 by Harper

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My Thoughts:

This novel was a hit and miss for me. Louise Erdrich’s writing style is gorgeous, but I went into this book with certain expectations that it just ultimately did not meet. Future Home of the Living God centered more on Cedar’s experience as a young, pregnant woman and her journal narration to her unborn son than on the dystopian world she found herself living in.

Perhaps it was because of the book’s narrative style, but I felt a bit claustrophobic reading about Cedar’s experiences predominantly through her journal writing. It felt so closed off from everything that was going on around her and while I understand that ultimately this story is about Cedar’s journey through pregnancy in a new and dangerous world, I just never felt very connected to her.

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Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Publication Date: January 2, 2018 by William Morrow

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My Thoughts:

I was instantly drawn in by the synopsis for The Woman in the Window (and very happy that the author used the word “woman” instead of “girl”). However, I will admit that when I discovered that the author was male, I didn’t feel compelled to pick the book up right away. There seems to be a slew of white, male authors writing crime fiction with female narrators and hiding behind gender-neutral pseudonyms and my first reaction was to assume that A.J. Finn/Daniel Mallory fit into this category.

I decided to do some online digging to find out more about the handsome, male author behind a book that had film rights attached to it before the book was even available to the public and I found myself pleasantly surprised and in a position to check my own assumptions and stereotypes. The link is above (click on the link for the author’s name) for those interested to have more background on Finn prior to reading his debut novel.

The Woman in the Window is unputdownable – I found I couldn’t tear myself away and ultimately finished it in about two days (I was lucky it was the weekend and didn’t have to sacrifice too much sleep to do this). Finn’s background as a book editor and his personal experiences clearly made him aware of what readers are looking for in their psychological thrillers and oh man, he seriously delivers.

There were aspects of the plot that I figured out before they were fully revealed, but this in no way took away from my reading enjoyment. This book is so well-paced, well-written, and such fun to read that I could easily overlook this one aspect of the plot development.

I say this without sarcasm – I am truly looking forward to seeing the film adaptation of Finn’s debut novel and only hope it is as much fun to watch as it was to read!

The Chalk Man

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In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown and thinks he’s put his past behind him, but then he gets a letter in the mail containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank–until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

Publication Date: January 9, 2018 by Crown Publishing

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My Thoughts:

One of my goals for 2018 is to focus more on reading books by female authors. I find that crime/psychological fiction is often dominated by male authors and since it is the genre I find myself most drawn to, I hope to be more conscientious about the thrillers I choose to read this year. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to get my hands on a copy of C.J. Tudor’s The Chalk Man this month!

This is such a fun read! I essentially read this book in one sitting because I was hooked in immediately. The Chalk Man has all the best elements of a crime fiction novel – an unreliable narrator, well-developed characters, and a murder that intertwines multiple characters and story lines. I particularly loved the format – chapters switch back and forth between the present in 2016 and the summer of the crime in 1986. There was a lot to dig through with the plot and I appreciated the subtle hints and nuances that the author leaves as the novel progresses.

The Chalk Man is also not so straightforward in plot either – I particularly loved the twists that Tudor included at the end of the novel since it made me question everything I had previously learned through the narrator’s point of view. Very similar to Catherine Burns’ The Visitors , Tudor’s novel is a fast-paced, psychological thriller with layers of plot twists and untrustworthy characters.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

 

Red Clocks

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In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.

Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own, while also writing a biography of Eivør, a little-known 19th-century female polar explorer. Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro’s best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the gifted, forest-dwelling homeopath, or “mender,” who brings all their fates together when she’s arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Publication Date: January 16, 2018 by Little, Brown and Company

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My Thoughts:

I’ve seen a lot of reviews that compare Zumas’ novel to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and while both are feminist dystopian novels that deal heavily with reproductive rights/issues, I think it’s important to recognize Red Clocks as its own unique story to avoid certain expectations going into the storyline.

It took me some time to adjust to the formatting of the novel – chapters rotate among four major characters (The Mender, The Daughter, The Wife, and The Biographer) with each chapter broken up by a section of the biographer’s current work on a novel about a female polar explorer. At first, I was worried that I wouldn’t feel connected to the characters just based on the writing style and lack of names, but the reader slowly learns the identities of all four characters as the story progresses. I also finally realized after a few chapters the brilliance of titling each woman by a category rather than a name, as it provided further commentary on how women are often identified by their traditional roles instead of their individual identities. I’m not sure if that was what Zumas meant by this stylistic choice, but I found it to be a clever way to highlight the struggles women go through with societal pressures to fit certain molds (i.e. wife, mother, etc.).

‘I want you to learn a lesson from this. Don’t repeat your mistakes. Like I tell my daughters: be the cow they have to buy.’

‘Sorry?’

‘Don’t be the free milk.’

What made Red Clocks so terrifying is how closely it resembled our political climate. It doesn’t seem far-fetched to imagine a country where Roe vs. Wade has been overturned and a fetus is considered a human being. The interactions between men and women often reminded me of things I’ve heard or even had said to me and the frustration, anger, and sadness all four women experience for various reasons rang true for me – either because I have felt it myself, or because there’s a woman in my life who has gone through it themselves.

Accused witches in the seventeenth century were dunked in rivers or ponds. The innocent drowned. The guilty floated, surviving to be tortured or killed some other way.

This isn’t 1693! the biographer wants to yell.

She shakes her head.

Don’t just shake your head.

While she hid out in Newville, they closed the clinics and defined Planned Parenthood and amended the Constitution. She wanted on her computer screen.

Don’t just sit there watching.

Red Clocks is such a frightening and poignant read because it hits so close to home. There is something in this novel that any woman could relate to and it’s a reminder of how easily one’s rights may be taken away when you become too complacent or comfortable – to think it could never happen here when it so easily can at any moment. While it would be easy to assume this is a depressing novel, I actually felt empowered once I was finished. This is a book that every woman (particularly in America) should read as it’s a reminder of what we are capable of even in the darkest of times if we refuse to settle for what men tell us to accept for ourselves.

I Love You Too Much

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Thirteen-year-old Paul is a lovable but unloved boy on the vulnerable cusp of manhood. Paul lives in Paris, in a world of privilege where beauty dominates, adults are intent on their own satisfaction, and everything looks perfect. There’s nowhere to get dirty, or so it appears.

His mother is glamorous and powerful, distracted by a younger lover and her own fear of aging. His wealthy father is desperately seeking to assuage his endless discontent. Paul lives between the two apartments of his broken family, looked after by a Filipino babysitter who hasn’t seen her own children in years. When Paul meets Scarlett, a beguiling classmate, he uncovers the cruel gulf between the world as it is and how he imagined it to be. It’s only a matter of time before Paul witnesses a shocking event and inherits a burden he’s far too young to shoulder.

A dazzling coming-of-age story, I Love You Too Much is a devastating literary debut born from the saying, Je t’aime trop: a distinctly French expression of excessive love. In a world of abundance, a Paris where parents don’t always mean what they say, Paul must look beyond his glamorous home to find a love that’s real.

I Love You Too Much by Alicia Drake

Publication Date: January 23, 2018 by Little, Brown and Company

Goodreads


My Thoughts:

I went into this book without any real expectations – I was unfamiliar with the author and had not previously heard of the book prior to Little Brown graciously offering to send me a free ARC. This was my first official read of 2018 and was an easy five star rating!

Paul is such a sweet, naive, lovable character and it was often painful and felt voyeuristic to witness many of the interactions he has with family members and classmates. While I didn’t find his parents likable, Paul’s point of view shows two adults that are just so unhappy with their own lives that they don’t have the time to even think about their son’s happiness. Paul is at the pre-adolescent age where he has yet to recognize his parents as individual’s with flaws and rather views much of their behavior as his own fault – something that makes his story so much sadder.

Drake’s writing is really what made me fall in love with this book – she paints a picture of a Paris I’ve only visited once and yet I felt like I was there with Paul throughout the book.  While I loved the complicated characters and was most affected by Paul’s experiences, there is something about the setting that really adds to the overall atmosphere of the novel.

This is definitely a book I would recommend to someone who loves coming-of-age stories and is okay with books that don’t necessarily have happy or neatly resolved endings. I am forever grateful that Little Brown offered to send me my copy! Alicia Drake is definitely an author who will stay on my radar for future releases.

The Visitors

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Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother, John in a decaying Georgian townhouse on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to shut out the shocking secret that John keeps in the cellar.

Until, suddenly, John has a heart attack and Marion is forced to go down to the cellar herself and face the gruesome truth that her brother has kept hidden.

As questions are asked and secrets unravel, maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side.

The Visitors by Catherine Burns

Publication Date: September 26, 2017 by Gallery/Scout Press

Goodreads


My Thoughts:

Oh my god, what is there to say about this book other than I absolutely loved it?!

The Visitors is a psychological thriller with an unreliable narrator who is (semi) equal parts sympathetic and not. This is less of a traditional “horror” story and more of a character study which just happens to be more up my alley.

The entire novel is told from the point of view of Marion, a 50-something woman who has never lived anywhere other than her family home. At the time the reader is introduced to her, both of her parents have passed away and she is living with her older brother. Marion has never had a romantic relationship and only failed attempts at friendship throughout her life. It’s difficult to determine if she’s intellectually disabled or just so damaged from her disturbing childhood that she’s come to embody the type of person her mother always told her she was.

Early on, it becomes clear to the reader that Marion is aware of what her brother John is doing in the cellar and her complacency makes it difficult to feel entirely sympathetic for her. Yet, there were still times where my heart broke for the younger Marion and it’s easy at times to understand why Marion never stands up to her brother. In the glimpses we get of her upbringing, John is painted as a sociopath early on without ever being directly implicated in some of the awful things that occur.

The chapters switch back and forth between the present and Marion’s memories of her childhood which slowly begins to put together the pieces for the reader to understand who Marion and John are as adults. Traumatic experiences are told only from Marion’s point of view so it often is left to the reader to make inferences – something that becomes questionable by the end of the novel and left me having doubts about my earlier assumptions about Marion’s character.

For all his faults, John loved her and she loved him. Without him there would be no one. He was there on birthdays and at Christmas. He might only buy her something cheap or forget to buy her a present at all, but at least he was there. Someone to get angry with for not doing the right thing was better than no one at all.

Despite how horrific her brother is, Marion is so frightened of being alone that she often justifies his behavior. It was easy to identify Marion as a victim for much of the book, but yet it was still uncomfortable to know she could have done something to stop him. As the novel progresses, Marion’s innocence becomes questionable as well and a lot of questions are left unanswered by the end of the book – a style that isn’t for all readers, but I happen to love!

The Visitors is a slow-burning story that leaves a lot up to the reader to determine since everything is told solely from Marion’s point of view. I would recommend this book to readers who prefer psychological thrillers that make you think rather than those that are more plot-driven.

The Massacre of Mankind

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It has been 14 years since the Martians invaded England. The world has moved on, always watching the skies but content that we know how to defeat the Martian menace. Machinery looted from the abandoned capsules and war-machines has led to technological leaps forward. The Martians are vulnerable to earth germs. The Army is prepared.

So when the signs of launches on Mars are seen, there seems little reason to worry. Unless you listen to one man, Walter Jenkins, the narrator of Wells’ book. He is sure that the Martians have learned, adapted, understood their defeat.

He is right.

Thrust into the chaos of a new invasion, a journalist – sister-in-law to Walter Jenkins – must survive, escape and report on the war.

The Massacre of Mankind has begun.

The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter

Publication Date: August 22, 2017 by Crown Publishing

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My Thoughts:

The Massacre of Mankind is not a “bad” novel – I just wasn’t the right audience for it. It’s intended for those who want an authentic continuation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds in both writing style and plot. The story picks up where Wells’ left off and while I appreciated the female narrative, this read more like a war novel than sci-fi fiction and I started to feel as if I was drowning in the heavily detailed prose.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.