Book Review: Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire

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My Rating: 2 Stars

Title: Every Heart A Doorway

Author: Seanan McGuire

Pub Date: April 5th, 2016

Publisher: Tor.com

Pages: 176

For People Who Like: Quick Reads, Magical Realism, Fairytale Retellings

Bri’s Thoughts

I heard such great things about this novel from many people, which is one of the reasons that I picked it up. That and the fact that the storyline seemed to be right up my alley. However…. I just really didn’t like it. Before I go into the reasons that this book didn’t do it for me, I would like you to understand that you should take my review with a grain of salt if you think this story might be something you would enjoy. Because there has been so much praise surrounding this one, I feel like I may be a bit of an outlier when I say that I didn’t like it.

I went into this thinking that it would be a retelling of some sort, but it didn’t really feel that way for me. It felt like a world that didn’t have the depth that I was looking for. This could have been because it was so short (176 pages). In fact, the only reason that I ended up reading to the end was because it was so short. The briefness of it didn’t allow me to connect to any of the characters or to feel involved in the mystery that was going on.

I realize that this is a novella and that maybe novellas just aren’t my thing, but it really surprised me that the characters felt as shallow as they were considering all of the reviews that I was reading on it. I couldn’t understand any of their personalities and they all seemed so disconnected from the events that were going on. Sometimes it felt like they lacked some necessary emotions.

Nonetheless, even though this book wasn’t for me, I can appreciate it’s creativity and encourage anyone who might be wanting to read it to form their own opinions.

Synopsis

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

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Book Review: Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

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My Rating: 3 Stars

Title: Not That I Could Tell

Author: Jessica Strawser

Pub Date: March 27th, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 320

For People Who Like: Domestic Thrillers, Small/Midwestern Towns, Female Friendships

Bri’s Thoughts

I’d like to start off by saying that I think this is a very good book for people who either love domestic thrillers in general or are just reading one for the first time. However, for me, this one just didn’t remain very memorable because I have already read stories that I like better such as The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy or Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable read that had some interesting characters. It dealt with female friendships well and each character developed as they handled their own unique problems.

The writing style was nice and I found myself picking the story up fairly often, however, it was definitely not full of surprising twists and turns. In fact, the ending was quite obvious from the middle of the book onward.

I would recommend this book to someone looking for a domestic thriller that isn’t too wild.

Synopsis

When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.

By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.

Book Review: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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My Rating: 3 Stars

Title: We Should All Be Feminists

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Pub Date: July 29th, 2014

Publisher: Vintage

Pages: 52

For People Who Like: Quick Reads, TED Talks, Feminist Books

Bri’s Thoughts

I wish I had read this book when I was in middle school and didn’t even know what the word feminism meant because it sums it up very well in only 52 pages of large lettering. In fact, I would recommend sticking this into the pocket of someone who still doesn’t understand the concept because the stories she shares can be easily recognized by most people in their everyday lives.

I have to admit that when I ordered this from the library, I expected it to be much bigger than it was. And because I had already watched her Ted TAlk, I thought it might elaborate even more on what she talked about. However, it was more of a good, summarization of the talk in print form.

If you are thinking about reading this I would recommend reading it AND watching her Ted Talk, which I have linked below. I read Americanah by Chimamanda before this and have a lot of respect for her writing ability. If you haven’t read anything by her, you should! Her writing really is amazing and her ability to convey her message clearly is above and beyond.

Synopsis

What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-viewed TEDx talk of the same name—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun.

With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike.

Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a bestselling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

Book Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

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My Rating: 5 Stars

Title: Sharp Objects

Author: Gillian Flynn

Pub Date: 2006

Publisher: Broadway Paperbacks

Pages: 254

For People Who Like: Psychological Thrillers, Shocking Endings, Dark/Southern Atmospheres

Bri’s Thoughts

I picked this book up when I was a few episodes into the new HBO mini-series of this book starring Amy Adams. Since I was addicted to the show and wanted to know the ending very badly, I read this in a matter of two days to find out what happens (two days is short for me). And in true Gillian Flynn fashion, the ending did not disappoint! In fact, it was so creative, I would have never guessed it even with more clues.

The haunting, Southern atmosphere of this story was so well done. And the creepiness was brought up to another level by the complex characters. This novel is very female character driven. It reminded me of how well Gillian Flynn did the female characters in Gone Girl (I’m new to her as an author, but I’m guessing this is her trademark). Camille, the complex main character drove the story very well, while Amma and Adora (her mom and sister) made it even better due to the dynamics between the three of them. Their relationships are just so odd that they’ll leave you confused even after you think you’ve finally figured it out.

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This is my first Gillian Flynn novel and I was very impressed by how much I enjoyed her writing style and creative plot twists. I liked this one so much that I am currently reading another one of her novels, Dark Places. I’ve already seen the movie, Gone Girl, so I don’t see myself reading the book (I have this thing with endings where if I know the ending already then I’m not interested), but it was a great storyline.

If you’ve never read any of her books and are interested in starting (or loved her other books), I would definitely recommend reading Sharp Objects and then binge-watching the TV show!

Synopsis

Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

Book Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

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My Rating: 5 Stars

Title: The Dry

Author: Jane Harper

Pub Date: May 31st, 2016

Publisher: Macmillan Australia

Pages: 352

For People Who Like: Small Town Thrillers, Australia, Old Childhood Friendships

Bri’s Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book! It was a great, page-turning mystery with a creative ending. I found this one at a book sale and didn’t know that much going into it, but from the very beginning, I knew that I was going to like it. If you enjoy the storyline of a detective coming back to their small hometown to solve a case that brings up old childhood secrets of a teenage girl’s death, then this book is for you.

One of the best things about this book was the atmosphere. It is set in a small town in Australia that is going through a drought and the setting acts as a catalyst for the plot. While reading this, you can feel the heat and the frustrations and fears that it causes the townspeople.

I also loved the characters in this book and how you never really felt like you knew everything about them. The writing would frequently switch to flashbacks of the four main characters’ friendships as teenagers and it would leave you trying to figure out just where their dynamics may have gone wrong.

I loved this book and I loved Jane Harper’s writing, so I can’t wait to pick up her next Aaron Falk novel called Force of Nature. I’m pretty sure it is a new mystery with the same detective, which makes me really excited to start reading once I get it off hold from the library!

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Synopsis

A small town hides big secrets in this atmospheric, page-turning debut mystery by an award-winning new author.

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.

 

Book Review: The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

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My Rating: 4 Stars

Title: The Perfect Mother

Author: Aimee Molloy

Pub Date: May 1st, 2018

Publisher: Harper

Pages: 317

For People Who Like: Domestic Thrillers, Popcorn Reading, Multiple Viewpoints

Bri’s Thoughts

I listened to this as an audiobook on a long drive to visit family in Missouri and I would definitely recommend listening to it. I’m sure reading it in physical form would be just as interesting as well, but the person narrating the audiobook did such a great job. This book follows many different perspectives of the May Mothers and each mother has a significantly different accent that the narrator did really well.

I would describe this book as popcorn reading because it was so addictive and fun to listen to. I honestly didn’t want to stop listening because it felt like I was watching a really good movie or tv show.

Learning about each of the May mothers lives more and more as the story went on was very interesting. I felt like the characters were each quite unique and developed/grew with their new experiences.

Unfortunately for me, I was a little disappointed with the ending (part of the reason I didn’t give it 5 stars), but that does not mean it wasn’t dramatic and exciting.

I would highly recommend this to someone looking for an addictive, domestic thriller to read before summer is over!

Synopsis

An addictive psychological thriller about a group of women whose lives become unexpectedly connected when one of their newborns goes missing.

They call themselves the May Mothers—a collection of new moms who gave birth in the same month. Twice a week, with strollers in tow, they get together in Prospect Park, seeking refuge from the isolation of new motherhood; sharing the fears, joys, and anxieties of their new child-centered lives.

When the group’s members agree to meet for drinks at a hip local bar, they have in mind a casual evening of fun, a brief break from their daily routine. But on this sultry Fourth of July night during the hottest summer in Brooklyn’s history, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is abducted from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but the May Mothers insisted that everything would be fine. Now Midas is missing, the police are asking disturbing questions, and Winnie’s very private life has become fodder for a ravenous media.

Though none of the other members in the group are close to the reserved Winnie, three of them will go to increasingly risky lengths to help her find her son. And as the police bungle the investigation and the media begin to scrutinize the mothers in the days that follow, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.

 

 

Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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My Rating: 5 Stars

Title: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Author: Gail Honeyman

Pub Date: May 9th, 2017

Publisher: Viking- Pamela Dorman Books

Pages: 327

For People Who Like: Contemporary, Tear Jerker, Laugh Out Loud/Cringy Moments

Bri’s Thoughts

Man, this one had all of the feels. If you have already read this book then you probably already know which part I am referring to, but there were some events that happened right before the ending of this book that had me sitting in bed crying. It was that sad.

However, don’t let that little description of emotions turn you away from reading this. Overall, it was a very heartwarming story that had me hooked. At the beginning of the book, Eleanor is the exact type of character that I thought I would hate, but by the end of the story and with all of the information, I really felt for her. This story definitely goes to show that you can’t judge a person right off the bat.

The two words that I would use to describe this book are laugh out loud funny and a tear jerker. It doesn’t seem like these two things could fit into a story together and yet this book does it beautifully.

The character development throughout the story is amazing and I loved Eleanor and Raymond’s dynamics. The two of them throughout the book are just so funny and sweet. They are both such lovable antiheroes.

If you are at all thinking about reading this, I would definitely recommend! It will most likely stick with you as it has with me.

Synopsis

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.