Monthly Archives: March 2018

The Good Girl

Mary Kubica has been popular for quite some time, and so I’ve been anxious to try her out as a thriller writer, and I’m so glad I finally did.

In The Good Girl, Mia Dennett, daughter of the well-known Judge Dennett, leaves a bar with a stranger and ends up kidnapped and in the run with her abductor. As the police start an investigation, it comes to light that the prestigious family has secrets, and chaotic emotions swirl beneath the surface.

A mixture of chapters from before the rescue, day of the rescue, and the weeks after–from various points of view–The Good Girl will catch you off guard, unless you pay attention to the small details, and even then, things aren’t quite what they seem.

Without giving too much away, The Good Girl leaves you with lots of questions about what was real and what was a performance. And you’ll have to decide those for yourself. But Kubica creates compelling characters with depth, a mixture of good and bad in each one to remind you that they’re human too, and shows that people can be capable of surprising actions, if they find the right motivation.

If you’re looking for a thriller that will keep you guessing just like it’s detectives, The Good Girl is for you. You won’t be disappointed.

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Our Kind of Cruelty

I picked up an early copy of Araminta Hall’s book, Our Kind of Cruelty, because it’s a thriller, and I thought it would be interesting, and it was.

The story turns the tables a little and focuses on an unstable and damaged man. Mike Hayes was raised by an alcoholic mother until put into the British foster system at 10 years old. With the help of a permanent family, Mike has grown up, gotten high marks in college, and secured a well-paying bakers job. He’s on his way to the top. But his ex-girlfriend, Verity, says’s she wants out. After a falling out, she’s engaged to be married, but Mike believes it’s all an elaborate scheme, part of a game they used to play, leading others in for their own pleasure.

Written in first person, the story reads like a journal at first, and finally like a letter, once they reach he courtroom. And it makes you wonder who is telling the truth, and who is being led on.

Overall, it was an interesting story, with complex, twisted characters. But I don’t think I would use the word thriller to describe the book. The story progressed exactly as expected. The only reason to read to the end was to see if Mike was right or not. I kept hoping there would be something really mind boggling at the end, but I came out disappointed.

That’s not to say it was a bad book, just not truly what I want in a thriller. It was more like looking into the mind of a sick man, interesting, but not astounding.

When it comes out in May, I’ll still recommend it to people who liked The Girl on the Train, The Woman in Cabin 10, and Gone Girl, and doubtless many of them will really enjoy it. But it won’t be a book I carry around and hand to everyone.

The Killing Forest

I’ve been excited to get back to Danish author Sara Blaedel and her detective character Louise Rick, and The Killing Forest was just as good as I expected.

Picking up right where The Forgotten Girls left off, Louise is coming back to work after a brief leave of absence following the conclusion of her last case. Her new case, a teenage boy who is missing in the forest, once again takes her out to her old stomping grounds from childhood. As Louise digs into the case and starts finding hints about why the boy doesn’t want to come home, she realizes the case may have connections to her own past, and may blow some things wide open.

But Louise is up against the small town’s own semblance of mafia, rooted in old Viking religion, and it becomes clear that no one is safe, and these people will do anything to protect themselves.

Blaedel is an expert at weaving various narrative threads together and creating a fast-paced, twisting story that all makes sense in the end. And in Louise Rick’s case, she weaves her personal life together with professional career, forcing her character to find and draw lines between vendetta and justice.

It’s easy to see why Denmark has named her their “Queen of Crime.” If you need a quick weekend read, I can not recommend Blaedel highly enough. You won’t be disappointed.

I Have Lost My Way

I got my first taste of Gayle Forman when I picked up an advanced reading copy of her upcoming book, “I Have Lost My Way.”

The book follows three young adults, teens who are struggling to find themselves. Freya is an up and coming start, but when her singing voice goes, she starts wondering what she has left. Nathaniel is estranged from his mother, and with his father’s departure, is left floating aimlessly, trying to decide what to do next. Finally, Harun is afraid to come out to his family, but keeping his secret has cost him everything g he wanted.

When the three teens collide, they find themselves taking care of each other as best as they can, looking individually for any sort of connection to anchor them to their lives.

My first impression what that Forman was trying way too hard to tie the title of her book into each introduction of each character. Each one repeats the phrase to his or herself several times as character is being established. Additionally, it felt like a book that was written intending to be a film. The writing feels a little unpolished, but it could be that that’s what Forman was going for.

All in all, though, it’s a compelling story, not the least because I think everyone encounters a lost moment, at least once in a lifetime. And it highlights how simple kindnesses can change the trajectory of a person’s life.

While it’s not my favorite book that I’ve read lately, I think Forman’s book has a good message about reaching out to others, and about considering who you and and what you let define you. It’s a relevant story for any age.

Tuck Everlasting

I saw this movie ages ago and remembered very little beyond the general premise, so when I had the opportunity to get the book, I was excited to read it.

Natalie Babbitt’s story focuses first on Winnie Foster, a young girl who feels trapped in her own life because she isn’t allowed outside her yard. One day she finally works up the nerve to go out into the first, where she meets the Tuck family, who has a secret that must be protected at all costs. Winnie finds herself forced to choose where her loyalty lies, does she honor her own parents, or do what she can to save and protect her new friends?

In the movie, I remember the story taking place over a time span longer than one day. I also remember Winnie being older than 10. And while, for a children’s book, it’s an easy read and relatable, I think this is one of the instances where I prefer the movie to the book (I’d have to watch the movie again to be sure), simply because the movie, if memory serves, expounded more on the story line.

Babbitt seems more to present several questions for readers to ponder: the whole question of eternal life, whether it’s ok to do harm to someone who intends to do harm to you, or whose actions may bring more harm than good.

It’s a short, fast read that moves in one signal line, but for Babbitt’s purposes (laid out in a Q and A at the end of the book), the singular, linear progression works.

All in all, I have to remind myself that it is, in fact, a children’s book. While something more modern might have more subplots and themes to it, it’s a simple read that prompts deep thoughts. And that’s one of the best kinds of reads.