Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve read a ton of books by May Kubica. Ever since I read The Good Girl, I have always taken the time to seek out her newest book and give it a go. While I have yet to find one I like as much as her debut, I think that she has really created a name for herself in the thriller genre. With that being said, Every Last Lie is her latest foray in the genre and it is being released in just a couple of weeks. So here is my review of the ARC:

When Clara Solberg finds out that her husband and their 4-year-old daughter were in a car crash, time stops. She is devastated to discover that while her daughter is unharmed, her husband has died in the accident. Clara is shrouded in mystery and everyone agrees that this is just a terrible tragic accident … until Maisie starts having nightmares that make Clara question what really happened in that car. Struggling with her grief and life as a single mother, and obsessed with discovering the truth behind Nick’s death, Clara is plunged into a world of lies. Who would have wanted Nick dead and why? Clare won’t stop until she finds out – but the truth may be more than she can handle.

From the very first page, the author had me in the palm of her hands. With vivid descriptions of Clare’s first moments dealing with the news of her husband’s passing, I was reeling from the emotions that were portrayed. The effect just grew stronger as Clare’s grief became more pronounced. Even though Clare was not as strong as I would have liked, I really liked her character; she was one of the most realistic characters I have ever met (in terms of her response to tragedy). The story is told from dual perspectives, with chapters alternating from Nick’s voice to Clare’s voice. It made for a very interesting story, and I kept trying to piece all of it together. This book really does make you think about all of the lies that can crop up between two people who love each other and the way in which they can alter the relationship! Every minute of the story was fantastic … until I reached the end. The ending just took me aback. After all of the buildup, after all of the paranoia and suspicions… it ended on such a bland note. I had been eagerly waiting for that satisfaction of the final reveal but it just … flopped on me. I had become so engrossed in the story and I had had such high expectations reaching the end, but the finale was just so lackluster that it made the whole story not worth reading. If you are a big fan of Mary Kubica, I would still recommend you read this novel because maybe you might enjoy it more than I did. I will be giving this book a 3.5/5 stars; in spite of its shabby conclusion, this novel was well-written and had skillfully portrayed characters that made it an enjoyable read (for the most part).

Happy reading ~

Hell’s Gate by Laurent Gaudé

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I always enjoy reading foreign novels. By this, I am referring to novels that are not in the English language. It’s interesting to see how the author’s culture and background influence the writing style and approach to the story they are creating. My only wish would be to be able to read the work in its original format, rather than as a translation. With this novel, I was interested to see how the author would take the concept of death and make it unique.

When Matteo’s son gets killed by gangsters in a crossfire as he makes his way to school, life seems to end for Matteo and his wife. Consumed by grief and despair, Matteo’s wife, Guiliana, asks him to either bring back their son or take revenge on the man who killed him. But when the moment for vengeance occurs, Matteo finds himself unable to commit the final deed. This disappointment becomes too much to bear and Guiliana leaves. It is during this time that Matteo makes the acquaintance of a mysterious priest who claims to know the way to the underworld and is willing to take him there. But the journey to the land of the dead is a dangerous one and may be more than Matteo bargained for.

This was an intriguing concept of vengeance, death, and grief. The author did such an amazing job portraying the complexity of grief and death, so much so that you can feel and understand the pain and suffering felt by Matteo and Guiliana. You can understand the decisions they make, the various stages of grief that they go through, and the ways in which they struggle to hold onto their lives even as life loses all meaning for them. It was powerful in that way, even though the reader never feels a true connection to any character. I would be hard-pressed to believe that any reader would be able to form a strong bond with the characters in this book, especially based on the storytelling style employed here. Usually, I consider this a negative, but in the case of this novel, it worked. It made the descent into the Underworld the focal point, and added a level of intrigue that may not have been possible if the reader was more focused on the character than the plot. This novel is guaranteed to take you on a unique journey that is thought-provoking and will stay with you long after you finish reading.

Happy reading ~

The Mercy of the Tide by Keith Rosson

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Riptide, Oregon in 1983 consists of a place where crime is usually chalked up to underage drinking down at Wolf Point. But soon, strange things begin to happen: mutilated animals begin to appear and a human skeleton is unearthed in a local park. As Sheriff Dave Dobbs and officer Nick Hayslip put away their own sorrows to solve this mystery, they find themselves drawn to Sam Finster and his sister Trina, through a shared tragedy. As they try to put the pieces together, they must also learn to face their grief and find their way in this idyllic coastal town.

There are times when you choose a novel and regardless of how hard you try, it just doesn’t work for you. This was one of those times. I really thought that this story had an intriguing plot but I wasn’t able to get into the story and this will have to remain on my DNF list. From what I’ve heard from other reviewers, this novel is more about self-discovery and loss than it is about any actual mystery, so if you are looking for something along those lines, definitely give this novel a shot. If you do decide to read this novel, I would love to hear about your experience with it; just leave me a comment about what you thought and whether you enjoyed your time with it!

Happy reading ~

Orange: The Complete Collection Vol 1-5 by Tanako Ichigo

When I was 12 years old, manga was all the rage. I grew up in a neighbourhood where there were many East Asian children, so I was heavily influenced by their culture and what was popular with them. At first, reading manga was just a way to fit in but very quickly, I found myself enjoying the story and the artwork. It has been a long time since I’ve read a manga book, but my boyfriend (who loves reading manga) recommended this to me, and guaranteed that I would love it. So I found it online and read it in one sitting.

On the day that Naho begins 11th grade, she receives a letter that is apparently from herself … but from 10 years in the future. At first, she dismisses it. There’s no such thing as time travel! But as the letter’s predictions come true, down to the minutest detail, Naho realizes that this letter could very well be the real deal. Her future self tells Naho that a transfer student will be joining her class, a boy named Kakeru. The letter begs Naho to watch him, stating that she is the only person that can save him from a terrible fate. Who is this mystery boy and how is Naho connected to him? Better yet, can she save him from his destiny?

This graphic novel may be YA fiction because of the setting and the characters, but the feelings it evokes are strong enough for any adult! If you aren’t familiar with Japanese culture, then parts of this novel may seem a little odd or cringe-y in the beginning. But trust me, it is worth sticking through. This story is one of friendship, loss, love, and resilience. The story deals with suicide, guilt, and the difficulty in moving on from a traumatic event. I am not ashamed to admit that I was sobbing like a baby throughout the novel. Naho is a timid character, and sometimes her timidity can be exasperating. But she changes throughout the novel, realizing that she needs to become more bold and assertive in order to be there for the people she loves. Every character in this story has depth and they are just so …. loveable and amazing! I’m still not in the right frame of mind to coherently write down my thoughts, but the main point I’m saying here is that this manga has a depth to it that I have rarely seen in others in this genre, or even in regular fiction. It has its funny moments, and its cheesy moments, and it’s cute to see teen love bloom. But it shows how strong the bonds of friendship can be, and how difficult it can be to be a teenager. Maybe the story hit me as hard as it did because my teenage years were also difficult (not as difficult as in this story, though) but it is still well-written, well developed, and aesthetically beautiful. If you have never tried manga, then start with this one because it is absolutely fantastic!

Happy reading ~

My Girl by Jack Jordan

I received this book as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I received this novel from NetGalley, I had forgotten what the premise of the story was. It had been a long time since I had requested and received it. So, I went on Goodreads to get a sense of the synopsis and also see what the consensus was for this novel. Intrigued by the amount of positive reviews as well as the plot, I jumped right in, eager to get a glimpse of this psychological thriller. Here is my review:

Paige Dawson is an alcoholic and drug abuser who can’t seem to find a reason to live ever since her daughter was murdered and her husband committed suicide. Barely managing to get through the day, she discovers a handgun hidden in her husband’s study. Why did he need a gun? Was it perhaps in connection to their daughter’s death? Desperate for the truth, Paige begins to investigate further. But she has no idea who she is up against and the extent they will go to make her lose complete control.

I usually receive very good novels from NetGalley. But this was not one of them. The story had no flow and it absolutely made no sense. I despised Paige’s character. Although I could understand that she was in grief, the extent to which it was manifested and the lengths she would go to in order to stay in her condition were quite ridiculous. The story itself seemed to jump all over the place. I constantly felt like there were a few chapters or key points missing. While I could see how the first half could lead to something interesting given enough time, the second half completely threw me off. It made absolutely no sense. I have no clue how the author came up with the random storyline but it really did not work; it seemed as if the author decided to pursue that path just to try and make the story seem shocking. It definitely shocked but I wouldn’t say it was in a good way. There were a lot of unanswered questions at the end, and overall I was extremely disappointed with this novel. If you are looking for a new thriller, even a fluff one, maybe skip this one.

Happy reading ~

The Guineveres by Sarah Domet

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I generally do not read realistic fiction. In my teens, this was my go-to genre. But somewhere in university, I reverted back to my life of science fiction and fantasy. However, there had been a lot of hype surrounding this novel so I knew I couldn’t just let it slip by. This novel was released early this month, so hopefully you will get a better sense of whether you want to give it a shot or not after my review!

The Guineveres are united by their name; they all share the same one and were all sent to The Sisters of the Supreme Adoration through different paths. Together, they become each other’s friends, condidants, and family. Gwen loves to act and dreams of becoming a model; Ginny is an artiste through and through; Win  is the tough one, who acts as the peacemaker; and Vere is the true believer, holding onto her faith constantly. While each girl is unique, it is only when they are together that they become powerful and confident. But as time goes on, the Guineveres become tired of waiting for their lives to change. They want to leave the convent and they want to do it NOW. When four comatose soldiers from the War arrive at the convent, the girls realize that they may just have gotten their ticket to get out. But will the world be everything they had hoped for?

This novel definitely evokes deep feelings in the reader. As I was reading, I felt myself drawn to each of the Guineveres in turn, especially when their backstories were revealed. This book was something I could both relate to and also feel completely alienated by. I could relate to the feelings of wanting to grow up, and feeling confused about my place in the world. But the deeper emotions of the girls was something that I could never empathize with because it was on such a different level; I don’t think I have ever experienced that level of sadness or pain. Throughout the story, you find out in snippets about the future of each girl except for the narrator – that is left until the very end. That was one of my favorite things about this novel; you thought you knew how it would end, because of these snippets, but when you actually got to the end of the story, you would still feel surprised because it wasn’t what you had actually imagined. Overall, this story made me sad. It is a poignant, beautiful story – but it is a sad one, and it evokes a deep sadness, one that stays with you for a while after you finish the last page. Looking for a good realistic/historical fiction? Check this one out. It will definitely keep you in its grip from the first page to the last.

Happy reading ~

 

Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben

A new Harlan Coben novel? How could I resist?! Ever since I read The Stranger by this author, I have been a huge fan and have leaped at a chance to read anything by him. This time was no different. I grabbed a copy as soon as I could and devoured it in one day. Here is what I thought…

Former special-ops pilot Maya is at the funeral of her husband, Joe. Not only does she have to deal with the fact that he was murdered, she is also responsible for their two-year-old daughter. At the suggestion of a friend, Maya puts a nanny cam in the home so that she can have some piece of mind about the security of her daughter. But then she sees an unimaginable image on the camera: her husband Joe playing with their daughter, two weeks after the funeral. Is it really him or is it just a figment of her imagination? To find out what’s really going on, Maya will need to confront deep secrets in her past and that of her husband to face the truth about who he is – and who she is, too.

In comparison to other books by Harlan Coben, this one fell a little short of the mark. The storyline and intrigue were interesting but the reveal of it all was just a bit unremarkable; it seemed ridiculously simple for all of the hype and suspense that led up to it. I also found the character of Maya to be extremely unrealistic. She may have been in the war and may be suffering from PTSD but that doesn’t mean she needed to be devoid of a personality. At the end of the novel, I was left wondering what was the point of it all. Unfortunately, this novel just missed the mark on way too many levels and I’m going to have to give it a pass. I will continue to read more by this author and I encourage you all to do the same… but maybe skip this one?

Happy reading ~

The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer

I saw this novel and read its premise and immediately, I classified it as a thriller. I didn’t look at any online reviews or any other information regarding this novel when I started. And now that I have completed this novel, all I can say is that it is definitely not just a thriller. It is so much more.

Carmel Wakeford is a very special 8-year-old. She has a vivid imagination and gets lost in her own world a tad bit more than normal. She also has a way of knowing just what to say or do to make one feel better. Her mother, Beth, loves her fiercely and is very overprotective of her. One day, at a local children’s festival, Carmel gets lost in the crowd and is separated from her mother, Beth. She is approached by a man who claims to be her grandfather and he tells her that her mother is in the hospital. Carmel is taken by him to live with his family. As days become weeks, and then turn into months, Carmel realizes that her “grandfather” believes she has a very special gift. While Beth frantically tries to find her daughter, Carmel goes through a journey that will shape her life and make her question who she is – and who she can become.

The reason I say that this is not a thriller is because this story deals with the raw emotions experienced by every individual that is exposed to this tragic event. Told in alternating voices of Beth and Carmel, the story takes  the reader through the pain and hope that a mother lives with when her child is abducted as well as the confusion and helplessness a child feels when she has nowhere else to go. It is an emotional rollercoaster and it will affect you, because it certainly affected me. The strength of this novel is not just in the plot and the nail-biting question of “will Carmel be found?”; the strength of this novel comes from the depth of the characters and their struggle throughout their journey. I love this novel and I can’t stop thinking about it because it has just resonated so deeply with me. Anyone looking for a novel that explores the emotions behind a thriller, read this one.

Happy reading ~

Paradise City by Elizabeth Day

I can’t recall the last novel I read that was just realistic fiction. I read so many science fiction and fantasy and thrillers these days that all of the titles and plots that come to mind are from these three genres. This novel was my attempt to even the score (even though I’m pretty sure I will always be partial to fantasy and thrillers)! Anyways, let me jump right into my review!

Howard Pink is a successful businessman, someone who came from nothing and became something. But along the way, tragedy has hit him in the form of the disappearance of his nineteen-year-old daughter 15 years ago.

Beatrice Kizza is an immigrant from Uganda, who had to flee persecution because of her love for another woman. She now works as a maid in a hotel, and had the lucky – or perhaps, unlucky, opportunity to meet Howard Pink.

Esme Read is a reporter that is desperate to make it big and she sees the chance to do so through the famous Howard Pink. Just one interview could make or break her… but she doesn’t know which yet.

Carol Hetherington is a widow who is doing her best to live her life normally, until the most abnormal and unexpected thing happens to her.

How are they all connected? In Paradise City, you are about to find out!

The one thing I hate about waiting for a while to write a review about a book is that my impression of the novel changes. When I first read this novel, I was blown away. I thought it was fantastic and unique and I only had good things to say about it. In hindsight, I still maintain that it was a good novel. But it wasn’t spectacular. At first, the weaving of the different characters and stories is interesting. But when you reread the story or reflect on them again, they don’t seem all that great. It’s still done very nicely, and you can definitely see how one’s life can affect so many others’ without ever realizing it… but it’s not some crazy interaction that blows your mind away. All in all, it’s a good realistic fiction and the author does a good job in creating unique personalities for the 4 main characters and intertwining their lives.

Don’t agree? Let me know why! Agree? Still let me know why! I’m always eager to hear from fellow readers and bloggers so please don’t hesitate to send me a comment!

Happy reading ~

 

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

“Never judge a book by its cover” – its a saying that I have long upheld. Regardless of the outer surface, I will read a book based on how interesting the content is. With this novel, however, I found myself gravitating towards it because of its beautiful, ethereal cover. It was just lying on a shelf at my local library and it looked so serene and picturesque that I knew I had to get my hands on it. It didn’t matter about the story itself – the image on the front cover pulled me right in. It’s taken me a while to read this novel but I finally finished it… so here is my review:

In a world where there is more sea than land, North lives on a circus boat that travels to scattered islands to perform for “landlockers”. Her performance involves dancing with her beloved bear, with whom she has a special connection. And although the other crew members are like family to her, North has a secret that could break every bond between her and the circus.

Callanish is a gracekeeper who lives alone in her house on an island in the middle of the ocean. Here, she tends the graves of those who die at sea, as penance for a mistake she made in her past.

When a storm creates a chance encounter between North and Callanish, they forge a bond that changes their worlds completely. They are drawn to each other and finally feel like they belong. But the tides have a mind of their own, and no one can be certain of what the sea wants.

This novel took me a long time to read … but that was because I was savoring every detail. The story is lyrical in its measured way of unraveling the intricacies of each character. The lovely thing about this novel is that you have no idea which character’s viewpoint you will get until you reach the next chapter. And you have no idea what that character will say. This novel is heart-breaking on so many levels, as each character grapples with their desire for love, happiness, and security of the self. There was not a single passage that I skimmed; every detail was so mesmerizing, and so completely brought about the illusion of this alternate world. I can honestly go on and on gushing about this novel… but I’d rather you experience it for yourself. And when you pick up this novel, which I truly hope you will, make sure you savor and enjoy the journey it takes you on!

Happy reading ~