Sunday, January 14, 2018

REVIEW: Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Title: Bonfire
Author: Krysten Ritter
Genre: Adult - Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Hutchinson (PRH Imprint)
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Acquired: Print copy sent by publisher
Goodreads: ADD

Should you ever go back?

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town's most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?

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Ah, the good ol' actor turned author bit. I'd like to say I have more books of it's kind to compare it to, but Bonfire was my first foray into this type of work, so all I have left are genres. This narrative is being sold as a psychological thriller and while it definitely delivered the thriller portion, it failed somewhat in the brain toying department. 

You've read it before: small town, looming "big-deal" corporations, secrets wrapped in smiles, and the return of someone who "made it out". Abagail Williams thought she had washed her hands of hometown Barrens, but her job brings her right back into the center of its irregularly beating heart. Her target of investigation: Optimal Plastics, the towns seemingly top provider of wealth, happiness, and, if Abagail can prove it, a series of health issues plaguing Barrens residents. But this wasn't just a storyline to sate the minds of environmental buffs, no, it was a catalyst you see, for much darker scandals and truths untold. We follow our main lead down an unexpectedly disturbing rabbit hole and come back up wondering when Krysten Ritter will start working on her next novel.


Reading this was like finding out your car is actually a transformer, but it was just biding its time before it unveiled its MASSIVE upgrade. Like many others, I know Krysten Ritter, the actor, not Krysten Ritter, the seemingly seasoned thriller author. Needless to say, I was consistently surprised with every chapter I read. I know she writes for TV, so this wasn't a far cry, but STILL, novels can be a whole separate beast, and readers, an entirely different breed of humans to please. But pleased I was, with the fast pace of the narrative, and the cliff-hangers at every chapter end. There was enough intrigue to ensure that this book was read in two days, and JUST enough character development to make it believable. 

Here's hoping that Bonfire still finds its way to prime time television  *fingers crossed*.


Read if you liked:  
The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld 
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
The Girl Before by Rena Olsen

Key themes: 
corruption, scandal, betrayal, corporate greed, friendship




Challenges: 

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credit: goodreads.com (author page)

KRYSTEN RITTER is well known for her starring roles in the award winning Netflix original series, Marvel's Jessica Jones, and cult favorite, Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, as well as her pivotal role on AMC’s Breaking Bad. Krysten’s work on film includes Big Eyes, Listen Up Philip, Life Happens, Confessions of a Shopaholic and She’s Out of My League. She is the founder of Silent Machine, a production company which aims to highlight complex female protagonists. Ritter and her dog Mikey split their time between New York and Los Angeles.

CONTACT LINKS 
Goodreads Page

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A huge thank-you to Penguin Books for providing a hardcopy of this book for review

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

REVIEW: Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Title: Young Jane Young
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: August 22, 2017
Acquired: Print ARC sent by publisher
Goodreads: ADD

From the bestselling author of the beloved The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry comes another perfect fable for our times--a story about women, choices, and recovering from past mistakes.

Young Jane Young's heroine is Aviva Grossman, an ambitious Congressional intern in Florida who makes the life-changing mistake of having an affair with her boss‑‑who is beloved, admired, successful, and very married‑‑and blogging about it. When the affair comes to light, the Congressman doesn’t take the fall, but Aviva does, and her life is over before it hardly begins. She becomes a late‑night talk show punchline; she is slut‑shamed, labeled as fat and ugly, and considered a blight on politics in general.

How does one go on after this? In Aviva’s case, she sees no way out but to change her name and move to a remote town in Maine. She tries to start over as a wedding planner, to be smarter about her life, and to raise her daughter to be strong and confident. But when, at the urging of others, she decides to run for public office herself, that long‑ago mistake trails her via the Internet like a scarlet A. For in our age, Google guarantees that the past is never, ever, truly past, that everything you’ve done will live on for everyone to know about for all eternity. And it’s only a matter of time until Aviva/Jane’s daughter, Ruby, finds out who her mother was, and is, and must decide whether she can still respect her.

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I think it's important to note that I was quite young and ignorant to politics when the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal exploded, so reading Young Jane Young didn't feel as reminiscent to me as it did to many others. What it felt like, was a beloved author creating magic, yet AGAIN. What it felt like was the exploration of a topic that should never cease to be discussed: what it's like to be a woman in a world where we're handed rulebooks before our first breaths.

Told in the narrative style I favour the most, multiple perspectives, Young Jane Young becomes whole through the eyes of four women: Rachel (Jane's mother), the congressman's wife, Ruby (Jane's daughter), and Aviva (a young Jane). It begins as a broken thing though, as we learn of scandals, and consequences of impulsive decisions, and the people who are affected in the worst ways by it all. 


Young Aviva Grossman has fallen in the kind of love that only loves you back in hushed voices and away from public eyes. She's begun a sordid love affair with a local Congressman, and numerous attempts on her mother's part cannot persuade her to still her heart--or her sexual rendezvous with this very married man. After the inevitable crash and burn, Aviva relocates out of shame and in the hopes of beginning anew. With a new baby to consider (and feed, and clothe and generally ensure the safety of), Aviva/Jane trades in her political robes for a much more low-key set and starts her own wedding planning business in Maine. She soon decides that her initial calling was the right one, and runs for Mayor of her town. It's around this time that Jane's daughter, Ruby, stumbles upon a much-regretted copy of the blog Aviva/Jane kept while schmoozing with the Congressman, and now Jane has to re-live nightmares and win back the respect of her only child.

Young Jane Young was such a far cry from the whimsical setting of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, and a million kudos to Ms. Zevin for that. Not many authors can separate genres in a way that stays true to their talent, yet differs greatly from their surrounding works. The voices in this novel begged to be heard, and there wasn't a single one I didn't want to hear. It was the perfect blend of scandal, family bonds, and comedic relief. And for the love of all that is perfect, there is a CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE section that I cannot even begin to describe the genius of. Long-time readers of this author will find themselves at home here, and because of Young Jane Young's brilliant relevancy, I think many new readers of hers will pick it up as well.


Read if you liked:  Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple (my review here), Sophia Kinsella, Marian Keyes, Women's Fiction
Key themes: family values, scandal, betrayal, self-discovery



Challenges: 


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credit: goodreadsi.com

Gabrielle Zevin is a New York Times bestselling author whose books have been translated into more than thirty languages. Her eighth novel, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, spent more than four months on the New York Times Bestseller list, reached #1 on the National Indie Bestseller list, and has been a bestseller all around the world. She has also written books for children and young adults, including the award-winning Elsewhere.


CONTACT LINKS


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A huge thank-you to Algonquin Books for providing a print ARC of this book for review.

Monday, September 4, 2017

REVIEW: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Title: Words in Deep Blue
Author: Cath Crowley
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Acquired: Print copy sent by publisher
Goodreads: ADD

Love lives between the lines.

Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction and the escape. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. She can’t see her future.

Henry’s future isn’t looking too promising, either. His girlfriend dumped him. The bookstore is slipping away. And his family is breaking apart.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

REVIEW: The Leaf Reader by Emily Arsenault

Title: The Leaf Reader
Author: Emily Arsenault
Genre: YA Mystery
Publisher: Soho Teen
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Acquired: E-arc acquired via Edelweiss
Goodreads: ADD

Maybe, occasionally, some of the pictures I saw in teacups were not for the tea drinkers. Maybe some of them were for me.

Marnie Wells knows that she creeps people out. It’s not really her fault; her brother is always in trouble, and her grandmother, who’s been their guardian since Mom took off is…eccentric. So no one even bats an eye when Marnie finds an old book about reading tea leaves and starts telling fortunes. The ceremony and symbols are weirdly soothing, but she knows—and hopes everyone else does too—that none of it’s real.

Then basketball star Matt Cotrell asks for a reading. He’s been getting emails from someone claiming to be his best friend, Andrea Quinley, who disappeared and is presumed dead. And while they’d always denied they were romantically involved, a cloud of suspicion now hangs over Matt. But Marnie sees a kindred spirit: someone who, like her, is damaged by association.

Suddenly the readings seem real. And, despite the fact that they’re telling Marnie things about Matt that make him seem increasingly dangerous, she can’t shake her initial attraction to him. In fact, it’s getting stronger. And that could turn out to be deadly.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

REVIEW: The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Title: The Child Finder
Author: Rene Denfeld
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Acquired: E-arc acquired via Edelweiss
Goodreads: ADD

Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?