Break out the pumpkin spice and Hocus Pocus, kids, because it’s almost OCTOBER! This massive list of spooky books will definitely get you in the mood for Fall.Read More
Publication Date: September 4th, 2018
Publisher: William Morrow
Why I Read This: Sarah Pinborough’s last book, Behind Her Eyes, was wildly entertaining with an ending I never saw coming. I was all too happy to pick up her next. Thank you to TLC Book Tours for the free copy and for having me on the book tour!
Page Count: 352
Synopsis: From Amazon- Lisa is living a lie and everyone is about to find out.
Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job and her best friend Marilyn.
But when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him, too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. Maybe it's time to let her terrifying secret past go.
But when her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see, Lisa's world explodes.
As she finds everything she has built threatened, and not knowing who she can trust, it's up to Lisa to face her past in order to save what she holds dear.
But someone has been pulling all their strings. And that someone is determined that both Lisa and Ava must suffer.
Because long ago Lisa broke a promise. And some promises aren't meant to be broken.
Opening Sentence: "Bitch”.
My Thoughts: The book starts en media res- someone is pissed. It seems like a woman has left her man and took their baby with her. At first, I was dreading reading another story about a brutal husband antagonizing his wife until she breaks- but happily, this story turned into so much more.
Lisa and Ava have a unique relationship. They’re on their own and Lisa is slowly learning to let go of some of the control she has over Ava’s life- after all, she’s 16 and has to figure out some things on her own. Ava is interested in the “normal’ 16 year old things- boys, sports, and her friends. She loves her mom but her over protectiveness is starting to wear thin.
Their story is told from three viewpoints- Ava, the daughter, Lisa, the mother, and Marilyn, Lisa’s best (and only) friend. It’s clear that Lisa has gone through some trauma and we find out that she’s got some quirks besides being overprotective- she consistently thinks about a young boy that is no longer in her life, has few friends, and keeps to herself. Still, her work life is a success and she’s slowly starting to branch out- even going so far as to agreeing to a date with a successful client.
Part 1 was a slow burn, but the action ramps up by Part 2. We find out that Ava has been covertly Facebook messing an older man. Soon, they’ll meet. That is, until Ava rescues a young boy from drowning, and the photo in the paper changes their lives forever.
By Part Two, we are thrown into Lisa’s truth. It’s a story that unravels everything she’s been working so hard to build. The author plays with time and goes back to Lisa’s childhood, and we find out who she was growing up and about the events that led to her restrained present.
I loved this book. The three characters were so realistic and I found myself rooting for them, flaws and all. It’s a story about redemption and motherhood, the choices we make and those that are thrust upon us. I loved the strong women and feminist undertone. There are a couple of twists in this story, but they were the best kind. There were bread crumbs trickled throughout the story, so that when the twists were revealed they weren’t so out of left field so as to be unbelievable (don’t worry- no Behind Her Eyes ending with this one).
If you like British thrillers or enjoyed the author’s last book but could have done without the supernatural element, then I highly recommend this. It’s landed itself on my “best of the year” top ten list and I can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next.
Read Alike: I Let You Go
Quote: “‘Ah.’ His eyes are full of quiet interrogation. Marriage, divorce, Ava’s dad, other boyfriends- all the information men are interested in. Things that boil down a woman’s relevance in relation to other men, rather than anything in and of themselves.”
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Many thanks to What To Read Next podcast for having me on as a guest today! I recommend The Hunger as a book you should all read.
Publication Date: 3/6/18
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Page Count: 384
Synopsis: From Goodreads-
After having travelled west for weeks, the party of pioneers comes to a crossroads. It is time for their leader, George Donner, to make a choice. They face two diverging paths which lead to the same destination. One is well-documented – the other untested, but rumored to be shorter.
Donner’s decision will shape the lives of everyone travelling with him. The searing heat of the desert gives way to biting winds and a bitter cold that freezes the cattle where they stand. Driven to the brink of madness, the ill-fated group struggles to survive and minor disagreements turn into violent confrontations. Then the children begin to disappear. As the survivors turn against each other, a few begin to realize that the threat they face reaches beyond the fury of the natural elements, to something more primal and far more deadly.
Based on the true story of the Donner Party, The Hunger is an eerie, shiver-inducing exploration of human nature, pushed to its breaking point.
Opening Sentence: "Everyone agreed it had been a bad winter- one of the worst in recollection."
My Thoughts: As is common for most elementary students from the 1990s, I was obsessed with the Oregon Train computer game. (Apple IIe version, thank you.) I learned that leaving too late would get you caught in the snow, that dysentery was a life sentence, and that it was better to buy bullets and hunt your own food than it was to buy food at the fort. What I didn't learn about were the real families that were on these trails. So when I heard that The Hunger was a fictionalized account of what happened to the ill fated Donner party with a supernatural twist, I was sold.
The protagonists of this book are all members of the Donner party- a real life group of poineers who traveled from the Midwest to California searching for a new life. They ran into mishap after mishap and eventually got stranded by snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains and had to resort to cannibalism of their dead. (Tough stuff).
I thought this book was so well done. I am drawn to books with strong character and setting, and this fit the bill. Be aware that this is a slow burn, but I found the stories and characters to be so compelling it wasn't an issue for me. There is omniscient narration and we get to look inside their varying motivation- Tamsen, George Donner's wife, struggles between being a misunderstood outsider and being the strong female figure her family needs. Charles Stanton is a single man looking for a new start in California. Edwin Bryant is an author who wanted to write a book about the journey. Katsu intersperses flashbacks into the narrative and it was crazy to see the juxtaposition of the travelers' former lives with their lives today. (One of the men is writing to his friend at Harvard! Cambridge feels like a lifetime away). I knew, in broad strokes, how this story ends. Yet I still found myself hoping that there would be a different outcome for my favorite characters, which to me, is the mark of a great storyteller.
This book was also well researched. There is a supernatural element that slowly comes out, but even that has its roots in reality. I also appreciated that the author touched on Native American/ pioneer relations, a real issue of the time.
This book is raw and dark. I listened to it on audio and appreciated the narration. It reminds me of a Stephen King book (and he himself tweeted about this and called it "deeply, deeply disturbing and hard to put down). It's spooky and gripping- would make for an excellent Fall read.
Is it wrong to believe that books have seasons? I suppose not, as there's definitely such a thing as a summer read. But today being the first official day of fall got me thinking about fall books. Not Halloween/spooky books (I totally have a post planned for those) but atmospheric books that give me the cozy, sweater weather/getting cooler/curling up with a books feels. Since today is the start of Fall, I thought I'd be the basic of all basics and give you four books for you to enjoy with your Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Lizzie Borden is an American legend, best known for allegedly murdering her father and stepmother with an axe. In real life, the case remains unsolved. See What I Have Done is a fictionalized story about Lizzie Borden and offers an account of what really happened. The book creepy as can be and filled with metaphors that will make you gag and feel as stuck to Lizzie as her sister Emma. My enjoyment of this book was completely elevated when I found out the author was inspired to write the book because Lizzie visited her in her dreams and demanded the story be told. For 10 years straight. The author has a unique way of story telling, but once I got used to her frenetic writing style I loved it.
The Secret History | Donna Tartt
The start of fall means back to school and there's no book that puts me back into college life more than The Secret History. Four friends at a New England university find themselves under the spell of each other and their charismatic morally corrupt professor. They’re indelibly intertwined, as most college friends are, but when the group is faced with a murder things begin to unravel. There are drugs, recklessness, death, and unreliable narrators, and it couldn't be more disturbing and absorbing.
I had to include at least a little fantasy. Diana Bishop comes from a long line of witches, but thats only a part of her story. She's also a PhD who discovers a lost book that holds the secret to immortality. The book opens up a parallel universe and Diana quickly finds herself in the midst of an interspecies war. She also happens to fall in love with a 1500 year old vampire, Matthew. I loved the blend of historical events and magical realism. This is a debut novel (!) and book one in the All Souls Trilogy. The entire All Souls series is a must read.
And of course, nothing says fall quite like Stephen King. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon isn't King's typical horror novel, but its atmosphere and tension makes it a perfect addition to the list. It’s set in the New England woods in the fall. Tricia is just a kid on a hike in Maine with her family. She becomes annoyed with their continued arguing and forges ahead without them. Problem is... She gets lost. Very lost. And all she has is her dying Walkman and Red Sox game over the radio to keep her company. That, and whatever terrifying creatures are in the shadows... This is a quick read at just over 250 pages- and it's a great way to get into Stephen King if you've been wanting to do so but think you might be too afraid.
What are your favorite books to read in the fall?
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