Funny Friday

Celebrate the end of the work week with a little book humor.

Blessed are the children of the bookworm for they shall inherit the books.

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Review: Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

In this chilling and disquieting debut thriller perfect for fans of Caroline Kepnes’s Hidden Bodies and Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter series, a family man with a habit of digging up the past catches the attention of a serial killer who wants anything but his secrets uncovered.

For years, unbeknownst to his wife and teenage daughter, Martin Reese has been illegally buying police files on serial killers and obsessively studying them, using them as guides to find the missing bodies of victims. He doesn’t take any souvenirs, just photos that he stores in an old laptop, and then he turns in the results anonymously. Martin sees his work as a public service, a righting of wrongs.

Detective Sandra Whittal sees the situation differently. On a meteoric rise in police ranks due to her case‑closing efficiency, Whittal is suspicious of the mysterious source she calls the Finder, especially since he keeps leading the police right to the bodies. Even if he isn’t the one leaving bodies behind, how can she be sure he won’t start soon?

On his latest dig, Martin searches for the first kill of Jason Shurn, the early 1990s murderer who may have been responsible for the disappearance of his wife’s sister. But when he arrives at the site, he finds more than just bones. There’s a freshly killed body—a young and missing Seattle woman—lying among remains that were left there decades ago. Someone else knew where Jason Shurn left the corpses of his victims…and that someone isn’t happy that Martin has been going around digging up his work. And when a crooked cop with a tenuous tie to Martin vanishes, Whittal begins to zero in on the Finder.

Hunted by a real killer and by Whittal, Martin realizes that in order to escape, he may have to go deeper into the killer’s dark world than he ever thought…

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Find You in the Dark will be available June 19, 2018.

Comparisons to Dexter and to Joe made me pretty excited to read Find You in the Dark, but as with such other comparisons, I was left a little disappointed.

I had a really hard time getting into this book. While I did find Martin to be an interesting character, every time the POV shifted away from him I was kind of bored. I thought the pacing was really slow. I was expecting a good twist or two, but didn’t really find anything surprising. I didn’t find it suspenseful until the final chapters and by then it was kind of too little, too late.

As I mentioned above, I found Martin to be an interesting character (though not as compelling as the characters alluded to in the synopsis). I also liked one of the cops, Chris. I kind of hated all the other characters, though. Martin’s wife was super unlikable and I completely detested Sandra, the detective. She was abrasive and treated everyone around her horribly and I just cringed every time we got her POV.

Overall, I found Find You in the Dark underwhelming. I’m adding a half star to my original rating because I did enjoy the main character and the ending of the book picked up a lot. But, for the most part, I found the supporting characters very unlikable and the story itself was just kind of dull to me.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

Review: Providence by Caroline Kepnes

Synopsis from Good Reads:

A propulsive new thriller about the obsessive nature of love when an intensifying relationship between best friends is disrupted by a kidnapping.

Growing up as best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe are the only ones who truly understand each other, though they can never find the words to tell one another the depth of their feelings. When Jon is finally ready to confess his feelings, he’s suddenly kidnapped by his substitute teacher who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity.

Mourning the disappearance of Jon and facing the reality he may never return, Chloe tries to navigate the rites of entering young adulthood and “fit in” with the popular crowd, but thoughts of Jon are never far away.

When Jon finally escapes, he discovers he now has an uncontrollable power that endangers anyone he has intense feelings for. He runs away to protect Chloe and find the answers to his new identity–but he’s soon being tracked by a detective who is fascinated by a series of vigilante killings that appear connected.

Whisking us on a journey through New England and crashing these characters’ lives together in the most unexpected ways, Kepnes explores the complex relationship between love and identity, unrequited passion and obsession, self-preservation and self-destruction, and how the lines are often blurred between the two.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Providence will be available June 19, 2018. 

Providence included some of the addictive writing I’ve come to associate with Caroline Kepnes, but it was not enough to make this book really stand out for me.

Unlike Kepnes’ You series, I thought this book was missing that one compelling character that would make up for any issues I had with the plot. Providence is told from three different POVs – Jon, Chloe, and Eggs – and unfortunately I never really connected with any of them. Pretty much every review I’ve read has praised Eggs as the best character, but I just never really cared that much about him. I thought Chloe was incredibly unlikable. I did like and really feel for Jon, but even with all he’s gone through, he still felt like a pretty one-dimensional character.

The theme of the story is supposed to evolve around love and obsession and I just never really bought it. I don’t really think Jon and Chloe loved each other. I think they’re both emotionally stunted from what happened when they were young teenagers and they just never really grew up. They had a crush on each other, which was then intensified by the whole “want what you can’t have” thing. And I hate to keep making comparisons to You, but the obsession angle fell a little short for me, too.

I feel like The Dunwich Horror should have been required reading prior to starting this. It and Lovecraft’s life and other works were referenced often and while there was some explanation, I still feel like I missed something by not being familiar with it. I also did not really feel inspired to go check out his work after reading this. It kind of seemed like there was some lesson or big emotional impact I was supposed to experience by the end of the book, but I never did.

Overall, Providence had some moments of addictive writing, but just wasn’t the book for me. I didn’t really like any of the characters and I thought the story was just kind of depressing. I also thought there were some inconsistencies in how Jon’s power works and I didn’t really appreciate the lack of resolution at the end of the book. Though I did enjoy parts of it, I’m still left wondering what exactly the point of it all was.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

Review: The Paris Wedding by Charlotte Nash

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Synopsis from GoodReads:

Ten years ago, Rachael West chose not to move to Sydney with high-school sweetheart Matthew. Instead she stayed on the family wheat farm, caring for her seriously ill mother and letting go of her dreams. Now, Matthew is marrying someone else. And Rachael is invited to the wedding, a lavish affair in Paris, courtesy of the flamboyant family of Matthew’s fiancée – a once-in-a-lifetime celebration at someone else’s expense in Europe’s most romantic city.

She is utterly unprepared for what the week brings. Friendships will be upended, secrets will be revealed – and on the eve of the wedding, Rachael is faced with an impossible dilemma: should she give up on the promise of love, or destroy another woman’s life for a chance at happiness?

If you enjoy reading Rachael Treasure and Rachael Johns, you’ll fall in love with this deliciously poignant story about family and friends, and love lost and found.

I received a copy of this title via the publisher. It does not impact my review.

The Paris Wedding will be available June 12, 2018. 

The Paris Wedding was the perfect weekend read. Full of family, love, and self-discovery, I never wanted to put this one down.

Rachael once had plans to go away to school with her boyfriend, Matthew, but when her mother was diagnosed with a rare form of MS, she decided to stay and take care of her. Now that her mother has passed away and she’s feeling adrift, she finds herself longing for Matthew and the future they were supposed to have. Then she receives the invitation to his wedding. The invitation includes a full week of events in Paris, all expenses paid, for her and a guest. She and her best friend, Sammy, decide to go so she can finally have the closure with Matthew she needs to finally move on. However, Matthew doesn’t seem entirely happy with how his life has turned out or about getting married and Rachel begins to wonder if there’s hope for that missed future after all.

To muddy the waters even further, Rachel begins to spend much of her time in Paris with photojournalist Antonio, who is photographing the week’s events as a favor to the bride. There is a slight love triangle, which I don’t usually appreciate, but I didn’t find myself minding it here. It wasn’t actually a huge part of the plot or the main source of drama. That said, I was totally team Antonio. Though he’s very opinionated and can come off a little pretentious and judgmental, he challenged Rachael in a way I think she needed. He was definitely one of my favorite characters in the book.

I really enjoyed the Paris setting, too. While I would be perfectly happy to never leave my apartment, this book definitely had me wanting to go to Paris. I enjoyed the description of not just the scenery, but how the city made Rachael feel. I liked that she learned a lot about herself while she was there, both good and bad. I also liked that she wasn’t transformed by that week alone. It was really just the start of her journey, not the whole story.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Paris Wedding. I liked the characters, the setting, the family dynamics, and the message of self-discovery. There is some cheating in this book, which always brings a book down for me, but it wasn’t really romanticized or the central part of the story. That and a few things being a little too predictable were the only real complaints I have about this book. This is my first book by Charlotte Nash and I know I’m looking forward to reading more from her.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

A thrilling, sexy coming-of-age story exploring toxic love, ruthless ambition, and shocking betrayal, Tell Me Lies is about that one person who still haunts you—the other one. The wrong one. The one you couldn’t let go of. The one you’ll never forget.

Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college, and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother, whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer—new friends, wild parties, stimulating classes. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco. Charming. Attractive. Complicated. Devastating.

Confident and cocksure, Stephen sees something in Lucy that no one else has, and she’s quickly seduced by this vision of herself, and the sense of possibility that his attention brings her. Meanwhile, Stephen is determined to forget an incident buried in his past that, if exposed, could ruin him, and his single-minded drive for success extends to winning, and keeping, Lucy’s heart.

Alternating between Lucy’s and Stephen’s voices, Tell Me Lies follows their connection through college and post-college life in New York City. Deep down, Lucy knows she has to acknowledge the truth about Stephen. But before she can free herself from this addicting entanglement, she must confront and heal her relationship with her mother—or risk losing herself in a delusion about what it truly means to love.

With the psychological insight and biting wit of Luckiest Girl Alive, and the yearning ambitions and desires of Sweetbitter, this keenly intelligent and staggeringly resonant novel chronicles the exhilaration and dilemmas of young adulthood, and the difficulty of letting go, even when you know you should.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Tell Me Lies will be available June 12, 2018.

Tell Me Lies is an addicting tale of a toxic relationship and the dysfunctional people involved in it.

I really liked that the story was told in alternating 1st person POV. It helped keep a good pace throughout the story and I really feel like I got to know both Lucy and Stephen. They were both awful people (though Lucy was more troubled than truly awful), but I found myself unable to put the book down because I wanted to see what happened with them next. There was one plotline that I didn’t really feel fit with the rest of the story, though. It’s something that affected both Lucy and Stephen’s youth that Lucy figures out at the end of the book kind of randomly and then nothing happens with. I thought it could have just been something from Stephen’s past without having to relate to Lucy at all and would have been a little cleaner.

Stephen was a straight up sociopath. He was manipulative and uncaring about anything but his own wants and needs. He had a total lack of empathy for others. I think what I appreciated most about this story is that he wasn’t some serial killer or something. It felt like a very real, eye-opening picture of what an average person with an antisocial personality disorder is like and how they can so casually hurt and betray the people who care about them without a bit of guilt.

Though I was invested in Lucy’s story, she was hard for me to like. I couldn’t really relate to her. Though she did witness something kind of traumatizing as a young teenager and then never discussed it with anyone for a long time, I didn’t feel like it really justified her behavior. From the outside is was also very easy to see how toxic her relationship with Stephen was and how easy it seemed to me to just remove herself from the situation, so I felt frustrated with her, even though I know things are never that simple when it’s actually happening to you.

Overall, I found Tell Me Lies to be very addictive. The dual 1st person POVs were very well done and Stephen’s portrayal as a sociopath felt realistic and informative. I think this would definitely be a good book to read if you or someone you know has been in a toxic relationship. I look forward to reading more from Lovering in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Set in a dangerous near future world, The Book of M tells the captivating story of a group of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary catastrophe who risk everything to save the ones they love. It is a sweeping debut that illuminates the power that memories have not only on the heart, but on the world itself.

One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories.

Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max’s shadow disappears too.

Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless.

As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. It does not impact my review. 

The Book of M will be available June 5, 2018. 

The Book of M is certainly an ambitious debut. Covering multiple characters, countries, and time in painstaking detail, it explores a new dystopian world where the loss of memories results in dangerous magic.

While I did like the book, I wanted to like it more than I actually did. The pace is pretty slow as the world building is established and it took me awhile to really get into the story. The writing was very detailed and I personally would have appreciated a little less. I thought it made the book much longer than it needed to be. However, it was pretty character-driven and I did feel like I got to know the main characters pretty well.

The story is told in the POV of Ory, Max, Naz, and The One Who Gathers. Ory and Max are married and when Max loses her shadow she decides to leave Ory so she won’t accidentally hurt him. She comes across a group of other Shadowless heading to New Orleans and joins them. Ory is desperate to find her and along the way comes across a group of other Shadowed, including Naz, a former Olympic hopeful in archery who now helps lead the soldiers of her group. Both groups are trying to find out if the rumors they’ve heard about New Orleans are true. The One Who Gathers was once just a man with retrograde amnesia who became connected with the first man to lose his shadow and his memories, but has become something incredibly different. I did think all the POVs were well done. I liked all of the characters, but I never really fell in love with any of them, which made it kind of difficult to really care about what happened to them.

Overall, I enjoyed The Book of M, but I didn’t love it. I liked the characters and how they all became connected. However, I thought the plot was a little drawn out and felt the emotional impact I was supposed to experience missed the mark a bit. While this dystopian tale may not be for me, I think there will be a lot of people that will really like it. I recommend it if you enjoy character-driven novels with a touch of magical realism. I do look forward to seeing what Peng Shepherd writes next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars