The Child — Fiona Barton

31 Aug

 

Publisher: Penguin Random House
Released: June 27th, 2017
Genre: Mystery, suspense
Source: Finished copy from publisher

 

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

From Goodreads

 

Oh the twists, the twists, the twists!!!!!

This was an awesome mystery novel and let me tell you, the final twist? I so didn’t see it coming. I literally said “WHAT?” out loud. It caught me completely by surprise and I love that that happened.

It’s hard to talk about it without giving anything away. All of the characters were believable and I love how the author weaves everything together. Everything unfolds at a nice pace and nothing seemed rush or really hectic. The format was more traditional than most of the mysteries I’ve read lately and it reminded me that while I love a mystery with an unreliable narrator, I also love a mystery that moves slower and delves deeper into characters. The pacing and the tone reminded me a lot of the TV show Broadchurch, which is my fave mystery show. I definitely want to read more from this author.

 

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The Fashion Committee — Susan Juby

29 Aug

 

Publisher: Penguin Random House
Released: May 23rd, 2017
Genre: YA contemp
Source: ARC from publisher

 

 

What if one contest could change the course of your entire life?

Charlie Dean is a style-obsessed girl who eats, sleeps, and breathes fashion.

John Thomas-Smith is a boy who forges metal sculptures in his garage and couldn’t care less about clothes.

Both are gunning for a scholarship to the private art high school that could make all their dreams come true. And whoever wins the fashion competition will win the scholarship.

From Goodreads

 

Susan Juby is one of those authors that I can always count on to deliver an engaging and amazing and awesome book. She has a way of dealing with serious issues with laughter and an honesty that can be brutal. She is also hands down one of the best writers of misfits and odd characters.

OMG these were interesting characters. And you know what? *SPOILER* They don’t fall in love!!!!!!! This is SOOOO refreshing and unexpected for the genre.

The format of the book is diary entries, and I just loved that. And Juby writes both Charlie Dean and John so differently. Both had very distinct voices and sometimes that’s hard to do.

Charlie Dean is such an optimist and the way she writes about some of the crap in her life so matter-of-factly is heartbreaking. She reminds me a lot of Rachel from Glee in season one. That whole the show must go on and I am always awesome attitude. John, on the other hand, is a bit of a pessimist despite the fact that his life is pretty good. The contrast between their attitudes and situations in life is my favorite part of the book.

This was a pretty unique book for the genre and I think everyone will enjoy it.

What to Say Next — Julie Buxbaum

24 Aug

 

Publisher: Penguin Random House
Released: July 11th, 2017
Genre: YA contemp
Source: ARC from publisher

 

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her. 

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

From Goodreads

 

This is one of my fave YA contemp novels of all time. I have so much love for this book, the writing and the characters. I love when unlikely friendships/relationships end up being just the thing that the characters needed. And this was definitely the case in What to Say Next. A spur of the moment decision by Kit resulted in a friendship that, on paper, shouldn’t work. But it does. Because the real world isn’t perfect and some times the things that makes the least sense end up making the most sense.

I love David’s voice. Buxbaum nails it. I don’t want to give anything away, but the way she writes him is so true and amazing that he fast became one of my fave YA characters.

I whipped through this book and hated anytime I had to put it down. It was a captivating read and I just got more and more hooked as I delved deeper into Kit and David’s lives and friendship.

As soon as I finished I thought of all my bookish friends I wanted to recommend it to. Julie Buxbaum is now one of my fave YA authors and I can’t wait to read all of her other books.

Marriage of a Thousand Lies — S.J. Sindu

22 Aug

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Released: June 13th, 2017
Genre: Literary, LGBTQ
Source: Finished copy from publisher

 

 

Lucky and her husband, Krishna, are gay. They present an illusion of marital bliss to their conservative Sri Lankan–American families, while each dates on the side. It’s not ideal, but for Lucky, it seems to be working. She goes out dancing, she drinks a bit, she makes ends meet by doing digital art on commission. But when Lucky’s grandmother has a nasty fall, Lucky returns to her childhood home and unexpectedly reconnects with her former best friend and first lover, Nisha, who is preparing for her own arranged wedding with a man she’s never met.

As the connection between the two women is rekindled, Lucky tries to save Nisha from entering a marriage based on a lie. But does Nisha really want to be saved? And after a decade’s worth of lying, can Lucky break free of her own circumstances and build a new life? Is she willing to walk away from all that she values about her parents and community to live in a new truth? As Lucky—an outsider no matter what choices she makes—is pushed to the breaking point, Marriage of a Thousand Lies offers a vivid exploration of a life lived at a complex intersection of race, sexuality, and nationality. The result is a profoundly American debut novel shot through with humor and loss, a story of love, family, and the truths that define us all.

From Goodreads

 

This book captivated me from the first line. There’s no preamble, no explaining. We are just thrown right into Lucky’s life. And what a life it is. Reading about her and the double life she leads was fascinating.

The writing is just so raw and beautiful. It put me right there, in the thick of things. The descriptions of what’s going on and what Lucky is feeling are gorgeously written without being too flowery. With just a simple line Sindu can paint a whole picture of emotions.

The story is an interesting mix of heartbreaking and hopeful. Lucky doesn’t fully fit in anywhere but she keeps trying to find her place in the world.  As a caucasian Canadian the struggle between honoring her family and tradition and being true to herself is something I’ve never had to deal with but thanks to Sindu’s writing I understand it more.

If you like character-driven books where things aren’t all tied up nicely at the end (read=realistic) then Marriage of a Thousand Lies is the perfect read for you.

Optimists Die First — Susin Nielsen

9 Aug

 

Publisher: Penguin Random House
Released: Feb 21st, 2017
Genre: Young adult contemp
Source: Arc from publisher

 

 

Life ahead: Proceed with caution.

Sixteen-year-old Petula De Wilde is anything but wild. A family tragedy has made her shut herself off from the world. Once a crafting fiend with a happy life, Petula now sees danger in everything, from airplanes to ground beef.

The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class. She has nothing in common with this small band of teenage misfits, except that they all carry their own burden of guilt.

When Jacob joins their ranks, he seems so normal and confident. Petula wants nothing to do with him, or his prosthetic arm. But when they’re forced to collaborate on a unique school project, she slowly opens up, and he inspires her to face her fears.

Until a hidden truth threatens to derail everything.

From Goodreads

It’s no secret that I worship the ground Susin Nielsen writes on. She is one of my top five favourite authors and her books never disappoint. Optimists Die First continues that trend. This is a heartfelt and honestly written book.

I read this book at the perfect time. I was having a hard time dealing with my depression and anxiety. So despite the fact that I am way older that Petula, I could really identify with her. And I think a lot of readers will. For me Nielsen is the queen of writing about important topics without hitting readers over the head with it. She really gets into the psyche of her characters and shows rather than tells the readers what’s going on.

I’m a sucker for stories about people who don’t 100% fit in. Those who are on the edge of society, either doing their own thing or trying to fit in. Petula and Jacob are perfect examples of this.

I really can’t recommend this book enough. Or any of her other books.

Are You Sleeping? — Kathleen Barber

7 Aug

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Released: Aug 1st, 2017
Genre: Mystery, suspense
Source: ARC from publisher

 

Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

The only thing more dangerous than a lie…is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay. The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

From Goodreads

 

My husband and I binge watched How to Make a Murderer over three nights. We were OBSESSED. Looked things up online, talked about the show, the people involved, who was guilty and who was innocent. But never once did I consider the impact the show had on those involved. That people who live in the area or close by would rubberneck and check out the area and the people who were impacted by the murder. And that’s the key thing I took away from Are You Sleeping?.  While it is a mystery/suspense novel, it also deals with how invasive our society can be, how everyone is looking for their fifteen minutes of fame and how commenting online on something that is really happening can be harsh.

It also deals with families and relationships with relatives. The character description and building was spot on. How Josie interacted with people in her hometown was just as captivating as the mystery in the book.

This is the perfect psychological thriller. It’s very twisty and turny and there is more than one thing that needed to be puzzled out and I love that. The plot is very dynamic but there isn’t so much going on that the pacing got bogged down.

I really enjoy books that make me think, regardless of the genre. Are You Sleeping? is the perfect example of this. This is a book with a delicious mystery and other plot aspects that will really make you think.

Our Little Secret — Roz Nay

4 Aug

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: June 6th, 2016
Genre: Mystery, thriller
Source: ARC from publisher

 

 

For fans of In a Dark, Dark Wood and All the Missing Girls comes Our Little Secret, a compulsive and thrilling debut about a missing woman, a tangled love triangle, the secrets we keep and the secrets we share.

The detective wants to know what happened to Saskia, as if I could just skip to the ending and all would be well. But stories begin at the beginning and some secrets have to be earned.

Angela is being held in a police interrogation room. Her ex’s wife has gone missing and Detective Novak is sure Angela knows something, despite her claim that she’s not involved.

At Novak’s prodding, Angela tells a story going back ten years, explaining how she met and fell in love with her high school friend HP. But as her past unfolds, she reveals a disconcerting love triangle and a dark, tangled web of betrayals. Is Angela a scorned ex-lover with criminal intent? Or a pawn in someone else’s revenge scheme? Who is she protecting? And why?

Twisty and suspenseful, Our Little Secret is an intense cat-and-mouse game and a riveting thriller about the lies we tell others—and ourselves.

 

From Goodreads

 

If I had to describe Our Little Secret in one word, that word would be delicious. The voice of Angela, the narrator, is one of my favorite this year. It’s so hard to know if she’s telling the truth or batshit crazy and I LOVED it. Not only did I not know whether to believe her or not, I got the sense that she herself wasn’t sure whether or not to believe what she was saying.

I also love how the story is laid out. In a way it reminded me of The Usual Suspects in that there was a back and forth between the actual interrogation and the past.

I felt off kilter during the whole book. It was like I had no problem following the story but I really wasn’t sure what was going on. As I have discovered this year, this is my fave type of mystery.

And I just have to take a moment to talk about the name Saskia. LOVE IT.

I’ve read In a Dark Dark Wood and yes, if you like that then you’ll absolutely love Our Little Secret.