Monday’s Minutes

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Monday’s Minutes is my weekly post where I share what I’m reading and what I’m reading next.

WHAT I’M READING

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I finally got to see the movie yesterday! It was good. There were obviously some differences between the book and the movie, but for the most part it was a pretty faithful adaption. I wanted to re-read the book before seeing the movie, but I only got about 3/4 way through, so I’m still finishing it up.

WHAT I’M READING NEXT

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1)

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard. I started this a little while ago and couldn’t get into it. I still have it another week from the library so I think I’m going to try it again.

What are you reading?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels.

One Plus One

1. One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

Landline

2. Landline by Rainbow Rowell.

Cop Town

3. Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

The Scorpio Races

4. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Fever

5. The Fever by Megan Abbott

All the Truth That's in Me

6. All the Truth that’s in Me by Julie Berry

The Last Letter from Your Lover

7. The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)

8. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Defending Jacob

9. Defending Jacob by William Landay

Gone Girl

10. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

What are some of your favorite character driven novels?

Top Ten Tuesday: Covers I Wish I Could Redesign

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish is: Covers I Wish I could Redesign. This has no bearing on the actual story – some of these are books I actually really love, but the covers are just bad.

 Elemental (Elemental, #0.5)1. Elemental by Brigid Kemmerer. He kind of looks like creepy EuroTrash.

Runner

2. Runner by Patrick Lee. It’s such a clichéd cover. And it doesn’t really fit with the book.

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)  The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)

3 & 4. The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves and by Maggie Stiefvater. I really enjoyed these books, but the covers are horrible.

Gone Girl

5. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It’s such a simple cover for such a dynamic book.

6-10 belong to my 2 least favorite types of covers: Extreme Close-ups and Couples Coupling

  Requiem (Delirium, #3)  Before I Fall  Blood Promise (Vampire Academy, #4)  Frigid (Frigid, #1)  Opal (Lux, #3)

6. Requiem by Lauren Oliver

7. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (does she NOT have a book cover that isn’t an extreme close-up?)

8. Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

9. Frigid by J. Lynn

10. Opal by Jennifer Armentrout

Booking Through Thursday: Tragedy or Comedy?

Question (Hosted by Booking Through Thursday): All other things being equal (good writing, enthralling story, etc), which would you rather read—something serious, angsty, and tragic? Or something light, fluffy, and fun? Or a blend of both? (Since, really, isn’t that how real life works?)

I think it really depends on my mood and what I’ve recently been reading. For instance, when I tried reading the Confessions of a Shopaholic series, there was only so many in a row I could handle before I needed something of substance. Conversely, after reading something heavy, like Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, I need something light to lift my spirits back up.

Confessions of a Shopaholic (Shopaholic, #1)Dark Places

Obviously a mix of both is always good. But realistically that doesn’t really happen. Something truly angsty and tragic is never going to be “fluffy.” The most you can usually hope for is a little dark humor. And anything light and fun is never going to go to far into the tragic.

Overall, I think I usually prefer the light and fun that contains a little drama, but generally ends happy – like Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.  That’s not to say I don’t enjoy reading the tragic, as well. Some really wonderfully written books that have characters that stuck with me long after reading have been really horribly depressing books  Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, Defending Jacob by William Landay, for example.

What do you prefer?

Never Let Me Go  Defending Jacob Attachments

Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay – 4 stars (out of 5)

Never Look Away: A Thriller

Never Look Away centers on David Harwood, reporter at small town newspaper, husband, and father. He’s working on a story of corruption about the town council members accepting bribes from Elmont Sebastian, the owner of Star Spangled Corrections, a private prison that’s looking to build in town.  David is also dealing with the sudden, inexplicable depression of his wife, Jan, who has been taking off from work and hinting at having suicidal thoughts.

Things seem to be getting better with Jan when she orders tickets for the family to go to the local amusement park. Things quickly take a turn for the worse when Ethan is abducted shortly after their arrival, causing David and Jan to separate to try and find him. David finds him after a quick, frantic search, but can’t reach Jan on her cell phone to tell her. He returns to their planned rendezvous point and she never shows up. Park security and the police are soon part of the search for Jan Harwood.

As the search goes on, the park finds no record of Jan Harwood having ever entered the park. And no one but David has noticed her depression. The search for Jan begins to turn into a suspected murder investigation, with David as the sole suspect. Knowing he’s innocent, David starts an investigation of his own, which leads him to question everything he’s ever known – or though he’s known – about his wife.

Thoughts: (Beware of possible spoilers)

-This book reminded me a lot of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Read it. Love it. You’re Welcome.), but less psychotic.  So I wasn’t entirely surprised when Jan went missing and David was taking the fall for it. What made it so interesting was seeing how it all played out, all the work that Jan put into it to make sure all roads led to David.

-David Harwood is a smart, likable character. He loves his parents, who live nearby and often help out with Ethan, he loves his wife and is genuinely concerned about her depression, urging her to seek professional help, and he loves his son. He’s a good reporter and doesn’t sell out when he’s given the opportunity. But, he did drive me crazy at times. For a smart guy, he seemed to keep shooting himself in the foot when it came to the investigation. Everything he did made him look more guilty and even though he recognized he shouldn’t say or do certain things, he did them anyways.

-Though it kept the story moving, there were almost too many side plots. The private prison and Elmont Sebastian’s desire to intimidate David into revealing his source for the corruption story, *SPOILER ALERT* the parents of the real Jan Richler, who David’s Jan pushed in front of a moving car as a child, Jan’s trip with her old partner Dwayne to cash in on their diamonds they stole from a man several years earlier, and that man’s plan of revenge to get back at them for cutting off his hand. *END OF SPOILER* Barclay did a good job of connecting all of these sub plots to the main story, but I would’ve liked more time spent with David and less time with everybody else.

Never Look Away is the first book of Linwood Barclay that I’ve read, but his other books are definitely going on my To Read list. He writes smart, empathetic characters and the story was well paced and contained enough twists to keep me guessing, without ever going overboard or into the completely unbelievable. I give this book 4 stars and would suggest it to lovers of crime/mystery/suspense/thrillers.