Book Review: You by Caroline Kepnes

Book: You by Caroline Kepnes – published by Simon & Schuster, hardcover edition, 422 pages.

Synopsis: When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

Let’s judge a book by it’s cover: I think the look they’re going for with this cover is “blood soaked obsessive love letter”, which I get and I dig. I like that the cover is kind of ambiguous as it helped me go into this book blind and I had no idea what to expect. This is the kind of book where that element of mystery really works.

My thoughts: This book was outstanding, and I would probably rate it as my favourite book of the year (so far). I had very little expectations going into this book which I think helped me to love it so much, so I’ll try not to hype it too much in this review. I loved this book for a few reasons, the number one reason being the main character Joe. He is extremely unique and fascinating, and I hated him but loved him at the same time. I don’t think I’ve ever read a character like Joe, I loved every second I had inside his twisted mind. The book is written from Joe’s perspective, and the stream of consciousness style is definitely not for everyone but I enjoyed it and I found the whole thing flowed really easily for me. I could not put this book down, and spent a long afternoon reading the majority of it. I was excited to see the sequel ‘Hidden Bodies’ is on it’s way, and will be out early next year. I cant wait.

Rating: 10/10

Would be a good read for: Anyone looking for a supremely dark and twisted thriller, and those who are not afraid to side with the bad guy…

Book Review: A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

Book: A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams – published by Berkley, paperback edition, 432 pages.

Synopsis: Memorial Day, 1938. Lily Dane has returned to Seaview, Rhode Island, where her family has summered for generations. It’s an escape not only from New York’s social scene but from a heartbreak that still haunts her. Here, among the seaside community that has embraced her since childhood, she finds comfort in the familiar rituals of summer.

But this summer is different. Budgie and Nick Greenwald—Lily’s former best friend and former fiancé—have arrived, too, and Seaview’s elite are abuzz. Under Budgie’s glamorous influence, Lily is seduced into a complicated web of renewed friendship and dangerous longing.

As a cataclysmic hurricane churns north through the Atlantic, and uneasy secrets slowly reveal themselves, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional storm that will change their worlds forever…

Let’s judge a book by it’s cover: I really love this cover, it reminds me of a really old Sweet Valley High book that I read when I was younger and remember staring at because I thought it looked so lovely. I am obsessed with the styling of the ladies on this cover. Stunning.

My thoughts: I adored this book. The setting, the cast of characters, the love story, the drama. I found the romance that played out across the arc of the story to be completely believable, and there were a few twists and turns along the way that kept things exciting. It was the perfect book to curl up on the couch with on a particularly lazy day of my holidays. I actually ended up reading this whole book in one day, which says quite a lot as it’s over 400 pages long.

Rating: 8/10

Would be a good read for: Those looking for a captivating holiday read, something set at the beach with a healthy dose of romance and some drama on the side.

Book Review: A Time To Run by J.M. Peace

Book: A Time To Run by J.M. Peace – published by Pan Macmillan Australia, paperback edition, 240 pages.

Synopsis: The hunt is on.

A GRUESOME GAME. A madman is kidnapping women to hunt them for sport.

A FRANTIC SEARCH. Detective Janine Postlewaite leads the investigation into the disappearance of Samantha Willis, determined not to let another innocent die on her watch.

A SHOCKING TWIST. The killer’s newest prey isn’t like the others. Sammi is a cop. And she refuses to be his victim.

A RUN FOR YOUR LIFE. A stunning, tautly written thriller from police officer turned writer, J.M. Peace.

Let’s judge a book by it’s cover: This cover ties in with the story perfectly. An innocent glance at this cover makes you think of a young woman going for a peaceful run in the bush, but once you know the true intent behind the run it becomes extremely sinister.

My thoughts: I didn’t realise this book was set in Australia until I picked it up which was a pleasant surprise for me, and it was surprisingly refreshing to read a book that used Australian language. Although having said that, the book being set in Australia made the creepy factor all too real at times. I love a good police procedural, and what I liked about this was the healthy balance between Samantha and Janice’s parallel stories as they both played out. I also love a strong female protagonist and as you can imagine with both main characters being police officers, this book did not disappoint. J.M. Peace is an ex-police officer, which I helped put a unique spin on the story, and the details of the police work felt very true to life. I powered through this book pretty quickly, it was definitely thrilling and even brought a tear to my eye a few times.

Rating: 7/10

Would be a good read for: Fans of a good police procedural, and those who enjoy a book driven by strong female characters.

Book Review: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Book: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness – published by Walker Books Ltd, paperback, 352 pages.

Synopsis: Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully asks what if you weren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions…

Let’s judge a book by it’s cover: I think this is a really awesome book cover, it’s intriguing and it really ties in with the story within the book. I find sometimes ‘paranormal’ YA book covers can lean towards the cheesy, but one this is really unique and cool (much like the book itself). I love the colours, and the fonts… just everything about it really.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book, it was a lot of fun and it dealt with a lot of serious issues in a realistic way. I felt it had a truly unique spin on the old ‘paranormal events happening in a small town’ story, and I loved the range and diversity shown within the group of main characters. I enjoyed the glimpses we were shown of the ‘paranormal’ parallel story at the beginning of each chapter, and had a giggle at a few of the indie names that were used for the kids that were off involved in the paranormal elements and not the core story of the book.

Rating: 6/10

Would be a good read for: Fans of paranormal YA in general, and also those who are after a book with a bit of a twist on the tried and true formula.

Book Review: Pleasure Island by Anna-Lou Weatherley

Book: Pleasure Island by Anna-Lou Weatherley – published by Bookouture, netgalley kindle edition, 392 pages.

Synopsis: Secrets. Scandal. Betrayal.

In Paradise, pleasure comes at a dangerously high price…

Three couples each receive an exclusive invitation to the fantasy holiday destination of a lifetime… The host: Martin McKenzie, global billionaire and media mogul. Charismatic, powerful and always gets what he wants. The location: A breathtakingly beautiful undiscovered island, nestled in the Aegean Sea. Private, secluded and not quite as it seems. The details: Seven days of pure hedonism, five-star luxury tailored to every desire, also includes… secrets, lies, and infidelity.

As the guests begin to enjoy everything the luxury island has to offer, cracks begin to surface between the three couples. But that is not all. Someone is watching them. When they discover the truth – it will be explosive in more ways than they can ever imagine.

Let’s judge a book by it’s cover: To be honest, I was drawn to this book because of the cover. So it has that going for it. I think it’s pretty much a perfect cover for a fun little beach read – colourful, sexy, and features a setting that I think any of us would love to be whisked away to.

My thoughts: This is not the kind of book I reach for usually, so it was a bit of a mystery for me as to what it would be like. I actually ended up loving this book, I thought it was so much fun. There is a whole cast of colourful characters (most of whom I loved to hate), an amazing tropical setting (which had me wishing I was reading this poolside in Bali), and an intriguing storyline that hooked me in from the start. It was funny, dramatic, sexy, thrilling, and at times a little bit romantic.

Rating: 7/10

Would be a good read for: Someone looking for a poolside read that they won’t want to put down long enough to go into the water. Also, the book contains some graphic sex scenes – so obviously people who are old enough to be reading about that sort of frisky business.

Book Review: The Girl With A Clock For A Heart by Peter Swanson

Book: The Girl With A Clock For A Heart by Peter Swanson – published by William Morrow & Company, hardcover edition, 292 pages.

Synopsis: George Foss never thought he’d see her again, but on a late-August night in Boston, there she is, in his local bar, Jack’s Tavern. When George first met her, she was an eighteen-year-old college freshman from Sweetgum, Florida.

She and George became inseparable in their first fall semester, so George was devastated when he got the news that she had committed suicide over Christmas break. But, as he stood in the living room of the girl’s grieving parents, he realized the girl in the photo on their mantelpiece – the one who had committed suicide – was not his girlfriend.

Later, he discovered the true identity of the girl he had loved – and of the things she may have done to escape her past. Now, twenty years later, she’s back, and she’s telling George that he’s the only one who can help her…

Let’s judge a book by it’s cover: This cover really has nothing to do with the story at all, at least not in any way that I can discern. I can’t look at it for too long because the more I look at that woman’s neck, the more mine hurts.

My thoughts: I was really excited to pick this book up, after being such a huge fan of The Kind Worth Killing. Sadly, this was a bit of a letdown in comparison. It turned out to be one of “those” books that I have to force myself to finish, which is never a good thing. I think what was lacking for me was a connection to the characters, I couldn’t see what the big deal was about “the girl”, which meant every decision George made regarding her seemed incredibly stupid in my eyes. I’ve always struggled with books where I don’t like any of the characters (this is something most people can get past), and because I felt pretty much nothing, it was difficult to push on.

Rating: 4/10

Would be a good read for: Fans of psychological thrillers, and probably people who are going into it without any expectations based on their thoughts of ‘The Kind Worth Killing‘. I honestly think that was the start of this books downfall for me.

Book Review: Say Her Name by James Dawson

Book: Say Her Name by James Dawson – published by Hot Key Books, kindle edition, 240 pages.

Synopsis: Drip…drip…drip… In five days, she will come…

Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of Bloody Mary: say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear… But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?

Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror – five days – but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before…

Let’s judge a book by it’s cover: I think this is a truly awesome cover, that suits the vibe of the story perfectly. It’s perfectly creepy, and I think it would also make for a great movie poster. Cover art done well.

My thoughts: I have to say I find it amazing that although they’re facing imminent death, the teenagers in this book can still get caught up in a new romance and general teen horniness. But to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. This was a really fun read, and the author did a great job of working the old Bloody Mary tale into a modern day setting.

Rating: 5/10

Would be a good read for: Fans of the fun and less gory ‘horror’ genre, or someone looking for a fun “spooky” read in the lead up to Halloween.

Book Review: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight

Book: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight – published by Simon & Schuster, paperback edition, 380 pages.

Synopsis: Single mother and lawyer Kate Baron is in the meeting of her career when she is interrupted by a telephone call. Her daughter Amelia has just been suspended from her exclusive prep school. When Kate eventually arrives at Grace Hall an hour later, she is greeted by the news that no mother ever wants to hear.

A grieving Kate can’t accept that her daughter would kill herself. But she soon discovers she didn’t know Amelia quite as well as she thought. Who are the friends she kept, what are the secrets she hid?

And so begins an investigation which takes her deep into Amelia’s private world – and into the mind of a troubled young girl. Then Kate receives an anonymous text: AMELIA DIDN’T JUMP.

Is someone toying with her or has she been right all along? To find the truth about her daughter, Kate must now face a darker reality than she could ever have imagined.

Let’s judge a book by it’s cover: I think the cover suits the story and the theme of the book quite well. It was intriguing enough to drive me to pick it up, if that says anything.

My thoughts: I found this book really interesting. On the one hand, I really enjoyed the mystery element of the story, and all of the twists and turns along the way. On the other hand, having a general idea of the ending as I made my way through the book did make for quite a depressing read. This is not a fun or happy book, but I think it is an important book that deals (realistically) with a lot of current issues, and does it well.

Characters: I think teenage girls would be some of the hardest characters to write, but Kimberley McCreight did a really good job of balancing all the different elements of girls of that age.

Quote: “Kate should run. She felt sure of it. She needed to go somewhere far away where no one could tell her anything. But instead, she was sinking, sliding down to the cold, hard sidewalk. There she sat, balled up against her knees, mouth pressed hard against them as if she were bracing herself for a crash landing. Run, she told herself, run. But it was too late.”

Rating: 8/10

Would be a good read for: Someone who is strong enough to resist turning to the final page to figure out what happens at the end.

Book Review: My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

Book: My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh – published by Viking, paperback edition, 320 pages.

Synopsis: Welcome to Woodland Hills, Louisiana: a place of lush, sweltering summers, neighbourhood cookouts in every backyard and vats of chilled beer under the crepe myrtles.

A terrible crime is just about to take place…

One day Lindy Simpson cycles home from school and straight into a trap: someone is lying in wait for her, a wire strung between lampposts blocking the path. She is raped just yards from her front door. No one sees a thing and the perpetrator is not caught. Her fourteen year old neighbour has cherished a crush on Lindy, the ultimate girl next door, since they were kids. After her assault he becomes determined to solve the crime, investigating each suspect in the neighbourhood. But before this long, hot summer is out, it will become clear that the friendly community of Woodland Hills has much to hide.

Behind every white picket fence in suburbia lies a tangled web of darkness. In his zeal to solve the mystery, the teenage detective stumbles across a sinister world he doesn’t recognise, drawing ever closer to a terrifying denouement. My Sunshine Away is an extraordinary debut novel from a unique new literary voice. Childhood in small-town America is filled with dreamy, technicolour days of innocence, but beneath the homely comforts and familiarity, this world is rotten to its very core.

Let’s judge a book by it’s cover: If I had seen this book sitting on the shelf, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up unless I read the synopsis. So let that be a lesson to us all.

My thoughts: At first this book was giving off a bit of a Virgin Suicides vibe to me, but then it came into it’s own and all of the unconscious comparisons fell to the wayside. This was a brilliant book, I read the bulk of it over the course of a weekend and stayed up way past my bedtime powering through the final hundred pages because I just could not put it down. This is the first book since The Book Thief that had me in tears by the time I turned the last page.

Characters: One thing that stood out for me was how the author really made Baton Rouge feel like an additional (and imporatant) character in the story. I think the quote below is testament to that.

Quote: “And so the soul of this place lives in the parties that grow here, not just Mardi Gras, no, but rather the kind that start with a simple phone call to a neighbor, a friend. And after the heat is discussed and your troubles shared you say man it’d be nice to see you, your kids, your smile. And from this grows a spread several tables long, covered in newspaper, with long rows of crawfish spill steaming from aluminum pots, a bright splash of red in the blanketing green of your yard. it is food so big it must be stirred with a paddle. You gather around this. You worship it. There is nothing strange about that. Only the unfortunate don’t see it this way.”

Rating: 9/10

Would be a good read for: Someone looking for a book to read while sitting under the air conditioner on a hot summer’s day. Also absolutely everyone else because this book is a new favourite of mine, and I’ll be recommending it to people for the rest of the year. Get used to it.

Book Review: Survive The Night by Danielle Vega

Book: Survive The Night by Danielle Vega – published by Razorbill, Kindle Edition, 274 pages.

Synopsis: Julie lies dead and disemboweled in a dank, black subway tunnel, red-eyed rats nibbling at her fingers. Her friends think she’s just off with some guy, no one could hear her getting torn apart over the sound of pulsing music.

In a tunnel nearby, Casey regrets coming to Survive the Night, the all-night underground rave in the New York City subway. Her best friend Shana talked her into it, even though Casey just got out of rehab. Alone and lost in the dark, creepy tunnels, Casey doesn’t think Survive the Night could get any worse…

…until she comes across Julie’s body, and the party turns deadly.

Desperate for help, Casey and her friends find themselves running through the putrid subway system, searching for a way out. But every manhole is sealed shut, and every noise echoes eerily in the dark, reminding them they’re not alone.

They’re being hunted.

Trapped underground with someone, or something, out to get them, Casey can’t help but listen to her friend’s terrified refrain: “We’re all gonna die down here…” in this bone-chilling sophmore novel by the acclaimed author of The Merciless.

Let’s judge a book by its cover: I bought my copy of this book on kindle, so I didn’t get to spend much time ogling the cover art. Which is a huge shame, because look at how beautiful it is. Heart eyes.

My thoughts: This book had a lot of potential, and I was actually picturing this making a pretty decent horror movie. Sadly, about halfway through it was like the author had had one too many glasses of red wine and decided to throw caution (and reality) to the wind. I wasn’t a big fan of the dangerous ideas being thrown around in this book. Like, it’s fine if your best friend pressures you to do drugs (even if you’re fresh out of rehab) and makes fun of you for wearing your seatbelt when you’re speeding down the highway. No. There were many other examples of extremely poor ideas being thrown around, but I don’t want to spoil the book for those who are still interested in reading it. I’m old enough to not be swayed by the ideas in this book, but then I am not the target demographic.

Characters: My favourite character in the book was Woody, mostly because in my mind I was picturing Miles Teller playing him in the film rendition of the book. And Miles Teller is a babe.

Quote: “He’s rolled his sleeves up, so I can see his muscles tense as he plays, and his t-shirt sticks to the small of his back, revealing a narrow line of skin above the waistband of his jeans. My cheeks burn.” Fun fact about me: Muscly man arms are my jam. I have never related to a protaganist more than at this moment.

Rating: 3/10

Would be a good read for: Honestly, if you don’t go into reading this book taking it too seriously I think it would be a fun Halloween read. It would also be good for people like me who are about 100 books behind in their 2015 book reading challenge, because it’s such a fast paced and easy read.