Fiction, literary fiction, Mystery

Book Review: Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

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“Every time she fell out of love with him, he saw it happen and waited it out. He never stopped loving her, even those times when he felt deeply hurt and betrayed by her, even in that bad year when they talked about separating, he’d just gone along with it, waiting for her to come back to him, thanking God and his dad up above each time she did.”

The Delaneys are a tennis fixture in their community. They ran a successful tennis academy for years. The parents, Stan and Joy, have such great chemistry and still beat all their friends in tennis even though they’re retired. After selling their academy, they’re bored and miserable. They’re not the type of couple to have fun doing nothing or to have fun traveling so they’re still trying to discover what getting old means for them.

Their adult children – Logan, Amy, Brooke and Troy, are also trying to figure out what life after tennis looks like for them as well, as they never quite made it to being professional. They’re all deeply affected in one way or another by their lives as tennis young stars and are trying to process their feelings towards the sport and having their parents as coaches.

“That was the secret of a happy marriage: step away from the rage.”

One night, a stranger who introduces herself as Savannah, comes knocking on their door completely bruised up and bleeding claiming her boyfriend hit her. Joy and Stan let her in and let her stay with them believing she is escaping a domestic violence situation to the complete dismay of their children.

Later, when Joy disappears out of the blue, and Savannah is nowhere to be found, the police question the only other person left in the house – Stan. His kids are divided on if he did it or not. Every single detail in their past is being called into question and reexamined in the light of their mother’s disappearance. Moriarty takes us through the history of this family, alternating between flashbacks and the present as we try to figure out what happened to Joy.

“Once you’ve hit a ball there’s no point watching to see where it’s going. You can’t change its flight path now. You have to think about your next move. Not what you should have done. What you do now.”

My first foray into Moriarty was What Alice Forgot – a book I absolutely loved and adored. Since then though, all her other insanely popular books have missed the mark for me, especially the last two. I wasn’t going to read anymore Moriarty because I was tired of chasing the high I got from What Alice Forgot and never finding it. But, I decided to pick this one up because the person who recommended it said they didn’t like her two previous books either. I think she was right. This book is funny, and even though it’s suspenseful it never feels heavy or overdone. It’s just plain good.

“There was nothing worse than having to feel sorry for people who had wronged you. You don’t want lottery wins for your enemies, but you don’t want tragedies for them either. Then they got the upper hand”

If you’re not a fan of alternating timelines then this book is not for you as Moriarty alternates the chapters between flashbacks and the present. I really enjoy stories about dysfunctional families where there’s no abuse or intent to do actual harm exists. I think sometimes just being a family filled with very different personalities and interpretations of your childhood, leads to dysfunction. It’s a fascinating premise to look back at your life and all the little events that shaped it, with a new eye because now you’re looking for if your father could have murdered your mother. Suddenly every single action or mistake they’ve ever made is suddenly seen in a sinister light.

Moriarty’s straightforward writing style serves this book well. The way she makes these astute observations about the Delaneys while peeling back the layers of their relationships to each other and injecting the right dose of humor is impeccable and sometimes makes you forget that you’re actually reading a murder suspense book.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I don’t know if I rated this highly because I was surprised that I was enjoying a Moriarty book after swearing off reading her, but I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

Have you read this one? Let us know in the comments!

Leggy

Book Related Topics, Fiction, literary fiction, short story

Book Review: Evidence Of The Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I have mentioned on more than one occasion how Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favorite authors. I am up to date on her new titles but I am slowly making my way through all of her work and this does not exclude short stories which is what this is.

“Alone in love, really. With a man who claims he never loved me”

In 1976, Carrie Allsop writes a letter to a man she does not know, to let him know that their spouses are having an affair with each other. The man in question is David Mayer. She asks him for any information he might discover while not expecting a response from him. But she does. He writes back and so starts correspondence between the two as neither of them leave their respective spouses and go through the experience of being cheated on and wonder how they got here.

“I guess I find it pretty easy to look like nothing is happening when everything has changed.”

I do not like short stories because I feel like they leave me unsatisfied but TJR did it again and was able to feed me a short story that felt like a full blown novel. I should mention that the entire story is in letter format. Meaning, every single chapter is someone writing someone else a letter. Don’t let this deter you because TJR found a way to make you forget that what you are reading are letters. The story moves right along and you are able to get a sense of each character especially as things evolve.

“Lately, it feels like my whole life has a similar feeling to when you check the clock on a Saturday and realize it’s already half past four.”

A tiny thing that I usually enjoy about TJR books is how she drops characters from her other books, usually in passing not as central characters, and this was no different.

If you are wondering where you can find this book, it is an Amazon Original story which is part of the Kindle Unlimited Series and is free to all Amazon Prime members. I have recommended these stories in the past and it usually comes off like an ad (it isn’t, I promise!) but I highly recommend them as they come in audible and kindle versions. They have a wide variety that includes some of your favorite authors. It’s also a good way to jumpstart your reading if you are in a slump.

Back to this book! I highly recommend. It’s only 100 pages and about an hour on audio and it will be worth the read/listen. Let me know if you give it a chance.

Taynement

Fiction, literary fiction, romance

Book Review: Beautiful World, Where Are You? by Sally Rooney

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“And we hate people for making mistakes so much more than we love them for doing good that the easiest way to live is to do nothing, say nothing, and love no one.”

This book revolves around Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon – four people who are trying to make sense of their lives as adults. Alice is an author who meets Felix online and goes on a date with him. Eileen goes through a tough break up and goes back to flirting with her childhood friend, Simon. They’re four individuals trying to make sense of their love lives and their mental health.

While reading this book. I tweeted that Sally Rooney’s style of writing is basically “angst erotica”. I know Rooney has stans who think she can do no wrong but she has basically written the same book three times over, just with different characters. Rooney has a formula that works for her – she brings broken people who have bad mental health together to find love and have really great but slightly disturbing sex. Are these well written books? Yes. Are they the same books? Also yes.

Sometimes I feel like Rooney wants to write a purely romance novel but thinks her writing is too elevated for the genre. She forgoes so many things as she chases down romantic dynamics between characters that are not that interesting. She discards whole character development in pursuit of romantic love. Eileen had a very fraught and complicated relationship with her mother and sister which was never explored. Rooney doesn’t bother giving her characters any backstory to give them depth and make us invested in their story. Everything was barely scratched and kept surface and promptly moved on to the next.

Felix is an awful, self absorbed, emotionally abusive man who is normalized in this book and made to seem as a good match for Alice. He watches porn that shows women being degraded, is cruel to Alice for no reason and he propositions Simon while in a “situationship” with Alice, even though Simon had made it clear that he’s heterosexual.

And oh, 80% of this book is epistolary. Alice and Eileen keep up with each other’s lives via email correspondence. They write each other these ridiculous letters where they muse about everything from 18th century empires to the price of fame. Alice is an author in this book and I get a feeling that a lot of the things Rooney writes via Alice is pretty biographical. Just like Rooney, Alice has written two books with one about to be adapted for TV and she goes on and on about fame and writers wanting to be private. It got so boring reading these long, self indulgence, pseudo-deep musings.

If you’re planning to read this book because of Normal People, you’ll be disappointed because it’s more like her first book Conversation With Friends (the long pretentious conversations) than Normal People but with the angst of Normal People.

There are so many beautiful sentences and quotables that I would have put in this review but decided against it. This book is filled with so many beautiful sentences, Rooney has never been short of that but beautiful sentences does not a good book make. I found this book to be Rooney sounding off about her personal beliefs and thoughts through pretentious, navel gazing white characters that pretend to be deep. There is nothing about this book that is believable – not the characters, not the plot (which btw practically doesn’t exist), not the long email diatribes. How many millenials are emailing each other constantly about literature and philosophy and the fall of empires and the bronze age? Who are these people?!

I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads. I’m sure I’m going to be in the minority with this review since this book is well over 4 stars on Goodreads and Bookstagram is raving about it. I do not recommend this book. I did not enjoy it. I think it is perfectly okay to write about sex, friendships and relationships but if Rooney is constantly going to write the same book over and over again with practically similar characters with similar backgrounds, then this is where I step back from her. And of course, this book has no quotation marks.

Leggy

african author, african stories, Book Related Topics, Fiction, LGBT, literary fiction, Nigerian Author

Book Review: Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

Life is an ambivalent lover. One moment, you are everything and life wants to consume entirely. The next moment, you are an insignificant speck of nothing. Meaningless.

Kambirinachi is an ogbanje. She is a spirit that keeps getting born as a human, but she never lives long enough and always dies and returns to the spirit world. Then she makes the decision to live and lives in fear of a retaliation from the gods for not returning. She lives a full life and experiences love, loss and gets married. She has twin girls – Taiye and Kehinde. The three of them become estranged when Kehinde suffers a traumatic experience and the three end up in different countries. Kambirinachi remains in Nigeria, Taiye moves to the UK and Kehinde is in Canada.

A long time has passed and the three reunite in Lagos as Taiye has moved back and Kehinde is visiting with her husband. The three have to come together and relearn each other and the book tells us their life stories from each of their perspectives and how each, in their own way, dealt with the fallout from what happened to Kehinde.

I finally gave a book 5 stars y’all.

It’s so hard to believe that this is a debut effort because it was so beautifully written. It had all the elements of things I enjoy in a book – complex/flawed characters, family sagas that span generations and beautiful writing that draws you in. Over the years when the sisters were estranged, Taiye wrote letters to Kehinde that she never sent. Taiye’s ex sends the letters without her knowledge and Kehinde reads them when she is in Lagos. Ekwuyasi’s choice to narrate their stories and go back in time, through these letters was such a fantastic choice. We go through the past and the present so seamlessly.

“Our relationship has always struggled against our twinness.”

The friction between the twins were the focal point but Taiye read like the main character. And boy was she a fully fleshed out character. Queerness is still not embraced in the Nigerian culture and I enjoyed how Ekwusayi didn’t make it an issue or a big deal. It was just Taiye’s sexuality, nothing to make a big deal about. Taiye was hella flawed but I am so glad that it had nothing to do with her being gay. Oh and even as flawed as she was, Taiye was the character that you were rooting for.

Taiye loves food and cooking and wants to be a chef and this was made clear throughout the book. Ekwuyasi gave us recipes for every thing Taiye cooked. When I say we were given recipes, I don’t mean in the typical way of listing ingredients and steps. We were given those but I don’t know the magic Ekwuyasi performed but it was written so beautifully and woven into the story. She made it clear thatcooking was a love language of Taiye’s.

The one gripe I had is there seem to be an influx of Nigerian writers who are writing about ogbanjes. As a Nigerian, I am familiar with it and I know it is part of the culture but it now seems like a lazy trope that is being infused for a western audience that isn’t as familiar with it. I often wondered why the author chose to make Kambiri’s issue her ogbanje-ness vs. what seemed like a mental illness or depression.

I honestly could go on and on forever as I remember various parts of the book. Even though it details the unpacking of a trauma. It still goes through a lovely friendship, a loving marriage, a loving yet toxic relationship. I don’t think it matters what the topic was, the best thing about this book was the writing, you’d be willing to go on the journey. I highly recommend this book, if you couldn’t already tell!

Taynement

Fiction, literary fiction

2 For 1 Review: The Henna Artist & The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi

ANovelPage reviews… – and in other news

THE HENNA ARTIST – Book 1

“There were three kinds of karma: the accumulated karma from all our past lives; the karma we created in this life; and the karma we stored to ripen in our future lives.”

It’s the 50’s in Jaipur, India, 17 year old Lakshmi has just escaped an abusive marriage and become a henna artist amongst many things. To make up for the shame she put on her family for leaving her marriage, Lakshmi is determined to have a better life. She is building a house to have her parents come live with her and be comfortable. Lakshmi’s clientele are the the wealthy, upper class and they sometimes confide in her. Playing the long game, Lakshmi keeps their secret as well as hers knowing that it would ruin everything she has built.

Everything comes crashing down when her ex-husband tracks her down and brings with him a surprise – Lakshmi has a younger sister named Radha. Lakshmi reorganizes her life to include her sister, who comes with a bunch of trouble and threatens to upend everything Lakshmi has worked for.

The book started out slow but once you get past the introductions, it quickly found its way and we begin to live in Lakshmi’s world. Joshi does a good job of portraying Lakshmi’s resilience and determination. Lakshmi quite simply does what needs to be done to survive. I was not a fan of her sister and found her quite unlikable but I had to keep reminding myself that she was just 13.

I enjoyed learning a lot about India and its history. I also appreciated how much research Joshi had to have put into this. One of Lakshmi’s many jobs including providing medical care with herbal and natural medicines. Joshi was very detailed in the many cures mentioned in the book and I was fascinated. I did this on audio and the narrator was FANTASTIC. Her voice was so soothing. Finding out the inspiration for this book was the author trying to reimagine what her mother’s life would have been like if she hadn’t been forced into an arranged marriage was a nice tid-bit to know. I highly recommend this book.

THE SECRET KEEPER OF JAIPUR – Book 2

He says you must be able to discern the intensity of a customer’s desire by looking into their eyes. That will tell you what to show, what to hold back, and how much the customer is willing to part with.”

The second book in this series continues 12 years later, Lakshmi is now married to one of the characters in Book 1 (I won’t spoil it for you), Radha is now living in France with her husband and two kids and Lakshmi’s protégé, Malik is now 20 years old and grown. Lakshmi and Malik now live in Shimla and she sends him back to Jaipur to learn the real estate trade and to keep him out of trouble on the streets. Before Malik leaves, he falls in love with Nimmie, a young tribal widow with two kids who is illiterate. Lakshmi isn’t exactly pleased about this and the two have some friction as they subconsciously compete for Malik’s time.

The book follows two stories. One in Shimla, when Nimmie discovers illegal gold being trafficked through the sheep in the mountains and in Jaipur when the newly constructed Royal Theater where Malik is doing his apprenticeship, collapses. We watch the two navigate their way out of trouble with the help of Lakshmi, of course.

While I enjoyed this sequel, I still preferred The Henna Artist. I think this is understandable as Book 2 wouldn’t have the same effect as being introduced to new characters. At the same time, it was nice revisiting characters that we have met and know. Joshi does a good job of writing this book in a way where it could be read as a stand alone and you’d still know what was going on. There was a brief summary and the only difference is Book 1 gives a lot of context.

Even though I found her unlikeable in Book 1, I was surprised to find that I was a tad disappointed that Radha was barely mentioned but I suspect that she will be in the final book of this trilogy. I know I swore off trilogies but I will be rounding this one out and looking forward to it. Not surprisingly, this has been optioned in Hollywood and will be starring Frieda Pinto.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Fantasy, Fiction, literary fiction, scifi, Uncategorized

Book Review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

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“I penetrated the outer cell membrane with a nanosyringe.”
“You poked it with a stick?”
“No!” I said. “Well. Yes. But it was a scientific poke with a very scientific stick.”

The Martian was one of my favorite books the year it was released. It was the only science fiction book that had ever made me cry until this one. Ryland Grace wakes up from a coma and realizes that he’s in a spaceship but he doesn’t know why or how he got on one. He’s in what looks like a hospital room with two other people who are dead. He doesn’t even remember his own name and doesn’t know what he does for a living. As his memories fuzzily return, he pieces together what he’s doing on a spaceship.

The sun is dying because an organism (astrophage) is feasting on its energy. On one hand, the scientific community is excited at the discovery of an actual live organism in space but on the other hand, if astrophage keeps up its activities, earth is going to go back into another ice age which will result in the immediate death of 50% of the population plus multiple wars for the earth’s remaining resources. Alone on this ship that has been built with the resources of every country on earth, by the best minds the earth has to offer and staffed with volunteers that know that they’re going on a suicide journey to save earth, Grace has to figure out why this organism is affecting the earth’s star but not affecting Venus’.

Project Hail Mary is ridiculously imaginative and funny with amazing emotional payoff that you wouldn’t expect to get from a science fiction book. I think the best thing about Weir’s writing is because he’s an actual scientist and was for years before he ever wrote The Martian, his science writing always sounds plausible. I’m not an astronaut and yes, a lot of things in this book obviously hasn’t been invented but I think he creates enough of a situation where this would be the ideal ecosystem for the ramping up of science inventions and discoveries. If humans were to actually make this journey, it’d have to be pretty close. Also, you don’t have to pay attention to the actual science. As long as you get the gist of the stakes, you can relax and enjoy your reading experience. All you need to know is the world would be doomed if Grace doesn’t figure out how to get rid of the organism and spare the world another ice age.

Even if you do not enjoy science fiction, I still implore you to pick up this book. It is so much more than imaginative science. It’s about hope, friendship, humanity and realising how much we’re capable of when we give ourselves a chance to be great. Grace learns so much about himself on this suicide mission to save earth even though he isn’t scheduled to live more than a couple months after he sends back information to earth on how to save 7 billion people. Weir makes an unexpected and unbelievable contact when he thinks he’s well and truly alone but i’m determined to keep this review spoiler free. We also grapple with the ethics of suicide missions, while Grace’s memories keep coming back in spurts throughout the book, we’re confronted with a looming question of how he actually came to be a member of this team – was it really his choice and is he really a brave volunteer?

Weir’s enthusiasm for science is very infectious and you’re going to get sucked into caring about what happens to these amazing characters. Please ignore the science fiction tag and give this book a chance. The author has created an amazing world in less than 500 pages which had me sobbing at the end. I gave this one 5 stars on Goodreads.

Have you read this one? Did you love it as much as I did?

Leggy

Book Related Topics, Fiction, literary fiction

Book Review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“Our family histories are simply stories. They are myths we create about the people who came before us, in order to make sense of ourselves.”

Spanning multiple decades, Malibu Rising tells the story of the Riva family. The Riva family consists of the legendary singer, Mick Riva, their mom, June Riva and their 4 children – Nina, Jay, Hud and Kit. The story begins in 1983 on the day of the annual Riva end of summer party. This is the party that has no rules. No invites, no structure just word of mouth and people show up and let out all their inhibitions and have a good time. Every famous and non-famous person wants to be there.

By now, the Riva children are not in contact with their father anymore, their mother is dead and they are all famous in their own rights. They are all coming to the party with their own secrets. Nina’s famous tennis player husband has just publicly left her, Jay and Hud have secrets that they need to share with each other and Kit has her own private realization that she is trying to confirm. The book fills us in on all the backstory of each member of the Riva family while building up to the explosive end of the party.

“Alcoholism is a disease with many faces, and some of them look beautiful.”

I have written before, that Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favorite authors. I do think it’s really hard to miss with a TJR novel because the woman knows how to not only tell a story but create a world that feels so real. It’s very easy to read a TJR novel and forget that it is not a true story. Another thing about TJR is that she is so versatile that no two books of hers are quite exactly the same and she is not put in a corner when it comes to her writing style.

I was not disappointed by this book. I kept wanting to see what would happen and finished the book in three days, which is unusual for me. As mentioned earlier, this book spanned multiple decades and inevitably had to jump back and forth through the present (day of the party) and the past. In the present, it was heavy on the anticipation of what was to come and the culmination of the party and the secrets held by the Rivas. And in the past, TJR tells us in chronological order, how the Riva family came to be. Starting from how Mick and June met, his rise to fame, the struggles encountered and decisions made along the way.

“Maybe our parents’ lives are imprinted within us, maybe the only fate there is is the temptation of reliving their mistakes. Maybe, try as we might, we will never be able to outrun the blood that runs through our veins. Or. Or maybe we are free the moment we are born. Maybe everything we’ve even done is by our own hands.”

I marveled how this book was a balance of an easy fun read but was also a book that had you questioning the age old Nature vs. Nurture question as the Riva children despite good intentions find themselves making the same mistakes made by their parents and have them wondering if they were inevitably destined to make these mistakes because people tend to mimic what they grew up around or because it is their DNA? I also enjoyed the close relationship all the siblings had with each other.

While one of the things I liked was the crescendo approach that TJR built I’d be remiss not to mention that I thought the final culmination was kind of a let down and I thought it was all over the place. I don’t always need endings to be wrapped up in a bow but unless there is a plan for a sequel to this, I found it quite haphazard and it felt like loose threads galore. It all felt like the ending of a movie where the viewer could interpret their own ending. There was so much happening without enough context. Also, adding stories of brand new characters we had no attachment to previously seemed like frivolous fillers.

It wasn’t enough to stop my enjoyment of the book because the journey truly was a fun enough ride for me to forgive the destination. For those who have read another of TJR’s books, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (recommended read), you may recognize that Mick Riva was one of her seven husbands and that was a fun crossover to read. I gave this book 4 stars and would recommend this for your summer reading list.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction

Book Review: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Nine Perfect Strangers - By Liane Moriarty (paperback) : Target

“I don’t get the obsession with strangers, her first husband, Sol, once said to her, and Frances had struggled to explain that strangers were by definition interesting. It was their strangeness. The not-knowing. Once you knew everything there was to know about someone, you were generally ready to divorce them.”

One day, 9 people come together at a health resort and spa named Tranquillum House. Tranquillum promises that whatever the reason for being there, they are able to transform your life in 10 days. The resort comes with unconventional methods such as no speaking, strict diets and lots of meditation, but they believe in the methods so much and let the guests know that it will require a lot of work on their end.

The guests consist of a fading romance author, a couple at their wits end, a family trying to get over a tragic loss, a stay at home obsessed with her weight, a former football player and a divorce lawyer. Also in the story is the head of Tranquillum House, Masha. We get to see her back story and learn what led her from high powered exec to slightly obsessive life coach.

“Sometimes your life changes so slowly and imperceptibly that you don’t notice it at all until one day you wake up and think, ‘How did I get here?’ But other times, life changes in an instant with a lightning stroke of good or bad luck with glorious or tragic consequences.”

I would not call myself a Lianne Moriarty fan. I liked her first book enough and the more I read of her, I found out that she had a format – group of people, some mystery that she builds up through the entire book and then just building around the whodunnit and then a weak let down but here I am, reading yet another title.

I am here because Moriarty (with the help of Nicole Kidman) has convinced America that she is a great author through the TV show adaptations. Big Little Lies was a phenomenon and my motivation for reading this is the upcoming Hulu adaptation of this (FOMO is real guys!). As much as I am not a fan, it was a case of right timing because it was just what I needed at the time.

“Relax and enjoy the journey. The stream will carry you this way and that, but will carry you forward to where you need to go.”

I think Moriarty did a good job of providing a back story to all characters. 9 characters seems like a lot, well 11 when you add Masha and Yao, her protege but I did not feel overwhelmed but I was able to follow easily. Frances, the romance novelist seemed to be the central character as we heard from her voice the most and Moriarty did a good job of making her real. She was the perfect mix of human – flawed and annoying and her thoughts sounded like the average human’s thoughts that they just never said out loud.

Moriarty did a good job of infusing life’s different complexities and issues that we encounter in different ways and at different stages in life, through these characters. She explores topics like death, self loathing, losing one’s self, family relationships.

“Don’t let your heart be a casualty of your head.”

The book was going swimmingly well and then somewhere along the way, it took a turn and became ridiculous. I don’t know if Moriarty just had nothing else to give but where she managed to make Frances human, she missed the mark with Masha. At the point where we delve into Masha’s life which she had been feeding us in bits and pieces, it just didn’t make any sense. Coming back to what was transpiring in the present time, it was so off the rails that I could not believe what was happening. I am willing to accept that this could have been on purpose to be in tandem with Masha’s spiraling but that might be a reach.

The end notwithstanding, if you are looking for a fluffy read where you enjoy the journey and not the destination, I actually would still recommend it. It served as a nice distraction and definitely scored high points in intrigue and keeping you interested in what was coming next,

Taynement

Fiction, literary fiction, Mystery, thriller

Book Review: Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane

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“People thought silence meant the absence of noise, and sometimes it did, but other times it screamed so loudly she had to fight not to cover her ears.”

In the middle of an investigation for a missing girl, Lila’s husband, Aaron vanishes. The police are desperate to start looking for him even before 24 hours passes. The town is in an uproar. Aaron is a beloved school teacher who has never missed school. Everyone knows he doesn’t need the money because of a payout he received when his mum died. He is teaching because he loves kids and loves the job.

No one is more worried about Aaron’s whereabouts than Lila because, the last time she saw him, he was dead. Killed by her. And now, the body she set up perfectly to be found and ruled as a suicide, has vanished.

Pretty Little Wife is a domestic thriller and like most domestic thrillers you know exactly what you’re getting. This book wasn’t ground breaking or different. You’re not getting anything new but it was still a fun read. It was a fast read with every new information seeming even more outrageous than the last. Kane takes us through the days leading up to the disappearance. Going through Aaron’s belongings, Lila comes across a cell phone with videos that show her husband in a very compromising position. This is when the illusion of her marriage shatters. All the excuses she had made for her husband’s demands and behaviours over the years now seemed stupid.

This book started off really strong. We’re told upfront that Lila is guilty of murder or at the very least attempted murder since now that the body has disappeared she’s unsure if she was actually successful in her attempt. The first 100 pages flew by, and then half way it veered into very unrealistic territory. I wish the author had taken the time to craft a smarter thriller and not just tried to fit every horrible crime she can think of into one person’s portfolio. It felt like Kane was trying to create the most outrageous and gross villain she could think of.

Overall, there really isn’t much to say about this one without spoiling it. Even though I thought it was just an okay book, I still enjoyed reading it. It’s a very fast paced book and I finished it in one sitting. It was also super predictable, as I figured out who the real villain was very early on in the book. I recommend this one if you’re looking for something quick to get through pretty quickly and I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads.

Have you read this one? If you have let me know what you think in the comments!

Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction, romance, Young Adult

Book Review: Breathtaking by Courtney Turcotte Bond

“We all have a story – our reason to breathe. We don’t get to choose how it begins, the people who enter, or the pain that comes along the way.”

The book starts with 8 year old Cara and Adam. They’re next door neighbors and best friends. Cara’s life on the outside looks like she has it all. Her family seems like a perfect one but behind closed doors it’s a different story as her dad is an alcoholic and her mother deals with their problems by obsessively cleaning every corner of house. Adam being her next door neighbor is a blessing because talking to him through their bedroom windows and her writings, are the things that are able to keep her sane.

Fast forward to Adam and Cara being 16 years old, they are in high school now and things have changed a bit, as Adam is now a popular football player and Cara devotes her time to writing in Journalism club. Their friendship has taken on a different dynamic especially as they date other people. As they work to get their friendship back on track to what it used to be, a catastrophic event happens that changes everything for both of them.

You all know, I mostly go into books blind so I had no idea what the book was about when we were offered a free copy by the author. I am so glad I read this book because I thoroughly enjoyed it. The book handles a number of difficult issues but the book is never heavy and I think that was my favorite thing about the book, how digestible it was. I am one who enjoys books that are true to life with all of its ups and downs and I felt like the book depicted this very well.

It’s told from the perspective of Cara and I really felt like I was there with her in every step of her journey. The book was written so well because I felt every sadness and triumph that Cara felt. The characters felt real to me. Due to the chaos in Cara’s home, she spent a lot of time in Adam’s home and I really appreciated how Adam’s parents provided a safe space for her and always made her feel welcome. This might seem like a little detail but as mentioned earlier, is one of the things I was referring to as real life experiences. It was its own reminder that sometimes, family isn’t always blood.

One last thing that I really liked was the relationship between Cara and Reid. Bond did a great job of building the friendship first and it was refreshing reading about a relationship that was not over sexualized (not that there is anything wrong with that!) but I think the choice of keeping it chaste was in line with the vibe of the book.

The one thing that I didn’t care for, which isn’t really a knock and more of a personal taste, was how much poetry was included in the book. As mentioned, Cara is a writer so a lot of her writing is incorporated into the book. I have never been a poetry person, it’s just never been my thing so I am ashamed to say that for the most part, I skipped through the places where there is poetry. There were a number of twists and I’d say only two were unpredictable for me. The rest you could kind of see coming. I thought one of the twists was a tad convenient but I was okay with it because it helped wrap the story up.

In case you couldn’t tell by now, I would totally recommend this book. As if the story alone wasn’t good enough, reading the author’s notes and finding out that the characters were based on real life characters made me like it even more. Bond found a way to make a book with heavy topics seem effortless and also inspiring. The pacing and the writing was enjoyable and I found myself looking forward to seeing how the story played out, which is all I ask for in a book. Support indie writers and go buy this book, it would be worth your time.

Taynement