Wednesday, November 22, 2017

What's Next Wednesday (81)

  •  To play along share a book you've been looking forward to reading, whether it's new or has been on your reading list for a while.

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I'm looking forward to...

If You Only Knew by Cynthia Clark. I've been a little slow on my reading list lately, but I did just add this one to the review list. This book promises suspense in the form of a secret that one woman needs to keep from everyone in her life - including her husband and children. But she was wrong in assuming she was the only one who knew what she has done. Can't wait to get to this one! 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Teaser Tuesday (291)


Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme that wants you to add books to your TBR, or just share what you are currently reading. It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.


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Career of Evil
(p.150)
    - Robert Galbraith 

He knew this was almost certainly a fool's errand, but if -- if -- they had been followed by the man who had sent the leg, he was clearly a reckless bastard who might not have been scared away from Robin's vicinity by Strike's ungainly pursuit. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Room by the Lake

34818163When Caitlin moved from London to New York, she thought she had left her problems behind: her alcoholic father, her dead mother, the pressure to succeed. But now, down to her last dollar in a foreign city, she is desperately lonely.

Then she meets Jake. Handsome, smart, slightly damaged Jake. He lives off-grid, in a lakeside commune whose members practice regular exercise and frequent group therapy. Before long, Caitlin has settled into her idyllic new home.

It looks like she has found the fresh start she longed for. But, as the commune tightens its grip on her freedom and her sanity, Caitlin realizes too late that she might become lost forever...

*May Contain Spoilers*

Emma Dibdin writes of how wonderful living off the grid can be... except when it comes with manipulation, a forced regimen, and unlicensed therapy. The Room by the Lake is a thrilling novel that takes a girl who is running away from her troubles and gives her peace, but the price is high. 

Almost a year after Caitlin loses her mother, and her father resumes his alcoholic tendencies, she decides on a whim to leave London. Ending up in New York with very limited money and no friends, Caitlin struggles to move forward. It's during this time of feeling lost that Caitlin actually becomes lost in a lakeside commune in upstate New York. After meeting Jake, a seemingly nice yet slightly damaged young man, he takes her to the commune. 

Caitlin is an intelligent young woman who has just graduated from Oxford. I think readers will mainly connect with her based on her emotional states and internal feelings because most of the book is focused on this in one way or the other. Whether Caitlin is examining her own feelings or being evaluated by Don, the therapy leader in the commune, readers get a very detailed look into Caitlin's psyche. However, that also includes the confusion and uncertainty that comes with Caitlin being manipulated by those around her. So at times, the reader will definitely question Caitlin's sanity. This aligns with Caitlin questioning her own sanity as the environment really starts to shift away from peaceful and toward the edges of frightening. 

The novel follows both Caitlin's entry into and exit from the commune. Though the building of suspense is a little slow, the climactic scene is worth the agony of waiting. The evolution of the story includes Caitlin wanting to leave the commune immediately and shifts to her slowly accepting the restrictions and rules that the commune shares with her (or forces upon her). At first, this new routine and the expunging of social chaos is freeing. But when Caitlin begins losing time, struggling to remember key details and finds another commune member dead -- the peaceful feeling disappears instantly. She begins to realize something is drastically wrong but can't stay conscious long enough to figure it out. During these chapters, I think readers will be unable to put the book down. I know these sections were the only parts that kept me reading at a frantic pace. The only big thing that bothered me, and though it's explained it still bothers me now, is that Caitlin trusted everyone so easily. If I was suddenly forced into a strange camping situation with rules and restrictions that I immediately felt uncomfortable with, I don't think I would have stayed for more than one night. But manipulation is a strong force so I can't really blame Caitlin for falling into this facade of peace, acceptance, and the illusion of bettering one's self. With a mixed stream of consciousness writing style and the unreliability of the narrator, I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy psychological thrillers. 

Rating: 3/5 Cups

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Teaser Tuesday (290)


Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme that wants you to add books to your TBR, or just share what you are currently reading. It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.

34818163

The Room by the Lake
(Kindle 51%)
    - Emma Dibdin

"I do feel more stable here. The structure, the activity, but then I worry I'm just distracting myself from whatever's going on in my head. Maybe I'm just a time bomb." 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Short Story Sunday - Language of Thorns #6


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When Water Sang Fire

This story is the longest in Bardugo's collection, The Language of Thorns, and therefore provides the deepest character connections and the most intricate, magical detail. "When Water Sang Fire" is the story of a mermaid, Ulla, and her dearest (if only) friend, Signy. As mermaids, or merpeople, these special creatures have the power to sing magic into being. When they are young, Ulla and Signy learn that together they are the strongest singers in their colony. They can sing almost any magic into being.

The trouble with this story comes when Ulla and Signy are chosen by one of the princes, Roffe, to accompany him onto land for three months. During those three months, all of the princes are tasked with trying to win the kingdom by bringing the current king a gift from the mortal world. Roffe knows that his best chance at winning the title is with the help of Ulla and Signy. Though Ulla knows this, Signy's feelings for Roffe cloud her judgment. When Ulla realizes that bringing the current king fire would undoubtedly let Roffe win, she tries to find the right spell for it, but the cost is greater than what she thinks possible. Roffe does not agree and forces her to do it.

This short story seems like it may be Bardugo's prequel to "The Little Mermaid" stories, but in it, we learn about Ursula. This idea is mentioned in the author's note at the end of the book and the sadness and terror of this specific story are more than enough to drive someone good to become someone evil. "When Water Sang Fire" covers themes of love, friendship, ambition, and sacrifice. The main theme of love and friendship is borne between Ulla and Signy but is threatened by Signy's feelings for Roffe. The theme of ambition is shown to be a dangerous one as Roffe is willing to hurt others for his own gain. And the overwhelming feeling of sacrifice echoes hollowly after Ulla gives everything for Roffe and Signy but receives nothing in return. Though this is the longest and most in-depth story of the collection, I don't think it's my favorite, but I do think it'll be the one that haunts me. Its message is powerful and melancholy as it cries out that trust is not always deserved and is often morphed by betrayal.

Other Stories:

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What's Next, Wednesday (80)

  •  To play along share a book you've been looking forward to reading, whether it's new or has been on your reading list for a while.

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I'm looking forward to... 

The Thursday Night Club and Other stories... by Steven Manchester. I've already read and reviewed the story "The Thursday Night Club" but this book includes two other stories that I'm excited about reading. Manchester's work always gives me a 'feel-good' constitution after reading it and sometimes that just exactly what a person needs, especially during the stressful holiday season, which will be here any minute now. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Flats (A Liz Boyle Mystery #1)

35966212Detective Liz Boyle knows there is no crime more heinous than the murder of a child. When she and her partner, Tom Goran, are called to a new scene in an area of Cleveland known as The Flats, they find that a killer has taken that to new levels.

As the investigation takes them deeper into the city’s seedy underbelly, the case hits frighteningly close to home when someone Liz loves is added to the list of possible suspects. While fighting her personal demons, she must also pick her way around the department bureaucracy to avoid being pulled from the case.

Liz and Tom will need to solve the most mind-bending mystery of their careers, one in which their personal and professional allegiances—and maybe their sanity—will be tested. But Liz vows to bring the killer to justice at any cost.

*May Contain Spoilers*

Kate Birdsall introduces Detective Elizabeth Boyle in this spine-chilling murder mystery that takes the life of a young boy. When the young boy's body is found, Detective Boyle is slowly taken back to when her police career had just begun. And the case will become more and more personal as the clues stack up. 

Liz Boyle is a troubled woman who mentally suffers from shooting a criminal while on duty. This coupled with her last break-up seems to define her. This gives the impression that Liz has trouble letting go and trouble moving on from tragedy. Or perhaps, sadness in general. She isn't the type of person to share the whole story and she doesn't follow the rules very well. However, she has a trustworthy gut that helps her close cases. Readers will connect with Liz both sympathetically and empathetically as the reader gets more information about Liz than anyone else in the story. I think readers will also enjoy, and respect, how hard Liz is trying to be a more complete person or a more stable person, for lack of better terms. She recognizes the problems that she does struggle with and is focused on overcoming them. Though Liz is a little unpredictable, untrusting, and has a bad-girl vibe, she's a good person who is loyal and truly wants to help people. Although this does make the cases she works affect her more than others. 

The case that this first installment revolves around includes a young boy's kidnapping and the subsequent discovery of his body in an alley, missing a hand. Liz and her partner Tom are assigned to the case and it turns out that the mother of the son was one of Liz's professors in college. Here begins the connection to Liz's past and the path that she will take to save not only herself but also someone very close to her. As the novel progresses, more clues are uncovered and the person responsible hits Liz pretty close to home. I admit that I did not have it figured out before the murderer was revealed nor was it too far-fetched that I didn't believe it. The book itself was moderately intriguing though at times I felt like it moved a little slow. I liked Liz's character but I didn't feel myself getting too invested. It wasn't a book that I couldn't put down but it was interesting to read when I wanted to pick it up. 

Rating: 2.5/5 Cups

Teaser Tuesday (289)


Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme that wants you to add books to your TBR, or just share what you are currently reading. It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.


34818163

The Room by the Lake
(Kindle 9%)
    - Emma Dibdin

My friend Sophie told me this, once, trying to persuade me to think less. 'It's not about thinking of nothing,' she explained, hands resting cool on mine. 'It's just focusing on something external, so you can sort of quiet down the noise.' 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Short Story Sunday - Language of Thorns #5


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The Soldier Prince


Droessen is a clocksmith who creates little wonders for his customers. But he wanted more than to be just a tradesman; he wanted to be rich and have a wife. He sets his eyes on a young girl named Clara, who he believes he can make love him as she grows into a young lady. He gives Clara a nutcracker as a gift and it has a strange hold over her as it can speak to her and take her to amazing and unbelievable places.

Though the Nutcracker lives in her dreams and takes her to magical places, showing her fantastical things, it makes her life seem dreary in comparison. With the help of other toys Droessen has made, the Nutcracker learns of a way that he could become real. He begins to want and though Clara refuses his desires, her brother Frederik helps him.

The siblings name him Josef and as he becomes real, he struggles to keep his focus on his new wish: to go outside. When the desire for something is subdued, he begins to turn back into a toy. This new development upsets Droessen as he was using the Nutcracker to learn about Clara, as a spy. When the Nutcracker meets Droessen, the clocksmith uses words to force him back into his toy state. The Nutcracker battles his own mind to remain real and then battles Droessen. With determination and will, everything the Nutcracker says becomes true and he gets to live.

I think this story is one of the most fantastical in the collection. It speaks to themes of growing up, dreaming, escaping the hold that other people have on you, and getting lost in fantasy. It also includes the idea of forcing someone to love you and how that doesn't work, demonstrated by Clara falling in love with the toys, but not with Droessen. Though none of the characters seemed to really learn anything from this, I guess you could say that they all got what they deserved. Especially Droessen. The evil that he (seemingly) used to create his toys eventually returned in the form of karmic retribution. This wasn't my favorite story so far, but I really enjoyed the magical aspect of it and the intricate descriptions that Bardugo used. The details she includes add a little more spark to all of the aspects of the story.

Next story: When Water Sang Fire

Other Stories:

Review of the entire collection will come after next week's Short Story Sunday. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What's Next, Wednesday (79)

  •  To play along share a book you've been looking forward to reading, whether it's new or has been on your reading list for a while.

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I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith, the third book in the Cormoran Strike series. I loved the first two books and I really need to make a bookstore run to pick this one up. This time, Robin, Cormoran's assistant, gets a disturbing package that sends them through a list of four suspects.
It seems like a lot of mysteries have been on my reading list lately... which I'm fine with.