#13 The Circle

The Circle by Dave Eggers

18302455The description from Goodreads:
When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. 

As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. 

Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

I really wanted to like this book but I’m just not sure what I think of it. I liked certain parts of it, but as a whole I wasn’t that impressed. I finished it thinking, was this book just okay or did it go completely over my head?

I really liked certain aspects, like how detailed Eggers describes the campus. However, I found that in-depth detail to be tedious when describing other things, like the different projects the main character Mae is working on. The premise of the book is great, but I think it got bogged down in a lot of supporting story for example, the water/sea symbolisms. While I understood why they were used,  I don’t think they added more to be the story.

There are some very eerie parts of the book but they fall flat on the 2 dimensional characters. I think that’s what made this book so hard for me to really get into because I kept doubting myself. Are the characters supposed to be distant seeming and submissive or is this book just lacking character development and interaction?

There were a lot of WTF elements for me, Kalden’s appeal to Mae, Francis, where did the parents go? That list got longer and longer the more I read.

The end was what I thought and didn’t disappoint or excite me.

Overall, the dislikes outweighed the likes. I’m excited to watch the movie, which also has very mixed reviews just like the book.

I give this book 3 stars.

 

 

 

#6 The Girl Before

The Girl Before by J.P Delaney

28016509The description from Goodreads:
Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.
The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.
Emma
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.
Jane
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.
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I’m surprised because despite the good reviews on Goodreads, I really didn’t enjoy this book.

I couldn’t relate to The Girl Before at all, which may have something to do with how much I disliked it. I couldn’t get a good read on the characters or the setting itself. There was also some plot lines (the Japanese restaurant?!) that I felt lacked sincerity. It was as if they were added just for shock value which came across crass to me.

I felt the story had good premise but the book lacked suspense and that thrilling element that made it feel like a thriller. I remember reading and thinking ‘I should feel scared or at least eerie right now’ but it kind of just fell flat.

I couldn’t get past the 50 Shades of Grey vibes this book was serving. The ‘rules’ for the house and relationships were offputting and because of that, it had an overall ughhh factor for me.

I found it hard to keep track of who was who in the dual perspective narrative (which I usually love). Perhaps because I couldn’t connect with the characters, it took me a while to figure out who was who.

All in all, I think this book was both overdone and underdeveloped at the same time.

Ron Howard has signed on to direct the movie so I’ll definitely be watching it so see how it translate on screen.

I give it 2 stars on premise alone.

#3 Tony and Susan (Nocturnal Animals)

Tony and Susan (Nocturnal Animals) by Austin Wright

The description from Goodreads:
dcdcdcdcdcdcdcdFifteen years ago, Susan Morrow left her first husband, Edward Sheffield, an unpublished writer. Now, she’s enduring middle class suburbia as a doctor’s wife, when out of the blue she receives a package containing the manuscript of her ex-husband’s first novel. He writes asking her to read the book; she was always his best critic, he says.

As Susan reads, she’s drawn into the fictional life of Tony Hastings, a math professor driving his family to their summer house in Maine, and as we read with her, we too become lost in Sheffield’s thriller. As the Hastings’ ordinary, civilized lives are disastrously, violently sent off course, Susan is plunged back into the past, forced to confront the darkness that inhabits her and driven to name the fear that gnaws at her future and will change her life.

Every year I make a point of watching all the movies nominated for Best Picture Oscars (some years I watch those and the ones nominated for Best Actor & Actress, too). After watching trailers for Nocturnal Animals I decided I needed to read the book before I watched the movie.

I really struggled with Tony and Susan. I made is half way before I gave up (which I NEVER do) and just watched the movie (which Tom Ford directed beautifully but was a total pass).

Is it fair to review a book you only read half of? I’m not completely sure but I spent more than enough time trying to give it a chance.

The book was borderline boring, filled with meandering plot and dialogue and I couldn’t help but feel I was missing something, despite re-reading the same pages over and over.

I give this book 1 star.

#2 – The Murder Game

The Murder Game by Catherine McKenzie writing as Julie Apple

themudergame

The description from Goodreads:
For fans of The Secret History and How to Get Away With Murdercomes an exciting new voice in suspense fiction.

Ten years working as a prosecutor have left Meredith Delay jaded and unsure of what she wants out of life. She’s good at her job, but it haunts her. Her boyfriend wants her to commit, but she keeps him at arm’s length. Then Meredith is assigned to a high-profile prosecution involving the violent murder of a fallen hockey star. At first, it appears to be just another case to work. But when her old friend Julian is accused of the murder, it takes on a whole new dimension.

Meredith, Julian, Jonathan, and Lily were a tight-knit group in law school. But now, Jonathan’s defending Julian, and Lily’s loyalties aren’t clear. And when Julian invokes a rare—and risky—defense, Meredith is forced to confront their past.

Has something they played at as students finally been brought to death?

I received this free ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I started The Murder Game right after I finished Fractured in November. The concept of this book is the coolest, a book written by a person in another book? Come on!

The Murder Game didn’t grip me quite like Fractured did. In fact, I found this book quite slow at first. I finally decided to pick it up again on the weekend and I’m not sure if maybe I wasn’t in the right mind frame when I started it or if I got passed the hump, but I finished it in a day.

I’ll start with what I liked, the first being all the Canadiana. Catherine McKenzie does a great job at settings, she describes and writes them so well you can picture them so clearly and I really enjoy that. Being Canadian made me appreciate all the little tidbits and places she incorporated into her book.

I enjoyed the law school and courtroom sections of the book, you can tell the author used her legal expertise to add to the story in a credible, easy to understand way without having to dumb it down.

Unlike Fractured, I didn’t like the character dynamic in this book. I also didn’t find any of the characters likable, although I feel they were well developed. I didn’t like how destroyed the main character was by her on again off again boyfriend Jonathan. I get it, love hurts, but I found myself getting annoyed at how depleted the character got over a guy.

Overall, I give The Murder Game 3 stars.

#13

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

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The description from Goodreads:
Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself drawn, irresistibly, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate. From a writer with “exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl,” (Janet Maslin) You Will Know Me is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition.

I’ve wanted to read a Megan Abbott book for a while now, this one in particular, and I was lucky enough to receive a free copy from NetGalley for an honest review.

I’m wary when I come across a book on Goodreads (where I do all my best book stalking) and the description gives me the INEEDITNOW feels and the rating is solid. I always think ‘could this be my next __(insert book I’ve loved and raved about to anyone who will listen)__?’. Then I received the copy and started it 10 minutes after finishing In A Dark, Dark Wood.

This book pulled me in right away and held on until the end, I finished it in two days and that was only because I forced myself to stop.

An underlying ominous tone lasted the whole book, it was eerie in such an effortless way, not contrived at all, like a slow burn or that feeling of dread deep down in your stomach. You get the feeling that somethings going on, somethings off but you can’t quite put your finger on it, it’s perfectly simple but so complicated at the same time.

I loved how real the characters felt and how important they all were to the story as a whole. You end up flip flopping between loving some characters and hating them and screaming expletives at them in your head. I separated this book into two groups: the Knox family and the gymnastics family, both tight knit, both flawed and you just know both are coming to come undone, you just don’t know how or why until it all starts coming together, and falling apart at the same time.

I didn’t love that every chapter ended in a vague, cryptic statement or quote but I got over it quickly.

Unalike a lot of reviews, I don’t feel this book took to a long time to get to the point and I definitely don’t feel it was too centered on gymnastics.

You Will Know Me is a perfect whodunit in the sense where as you’re reading, you start second guessing everyone but it never feels like your average, mundane murder mystery. The themes of drive, sacrifice, sex and jealousy kept me plowing through it.

In a perfect world You Will Know Me would be turned into a movie that would be just as good as the book, a la Gone Girl.

I give this book 5 stars. Love love love!

 

#10

Behind Closed Doors by B.A Paris

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The description from Goodreads:
The 2016 debut bloggers can’t stop raving about. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and The Ice Twins
Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace.
He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do. Though, you’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.
Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.
Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

 

A good friend of mine saw this book on Goodreads a couple months ago and told me I needed to get the sample. After reading the 5 chapter preview I was immediately pulled in, I love a good, toxic marriage story.

I bought Behind Closed Doors yesterday (the first day it was available to buy) around noon and finished it last night. I couldn’t put this book down.

I loved the setting of this book and the characters were really well developed.I can’t remember ever hating a character more than I hated Jack. My friend and I were reading it at the same time and I we were going back and forth in our Whatsapp group with messages like “this f**king guy!!!” and “Ughhhhh I hate him”.

Behind Closed Doors is a thriller, through and through. While it did lack a little depth, I took this book for what it was, a really good, really disturbing thriller. The dynamics of this book is where B.A Paris excelled. The relationship between Grace, her sister Millie, and Jack is so intertwined it kept me on edge until the very end.

I give Behind Closed Doors 5 stars for a couple reasons:
-I read it at such a feverish pace, in one sitting
-I haven’t read a book with such a disturbing (in a good way) story that didn’t feel recycled in a while
-The story itself, while again lacking some depth, is extremely intricate in a very easy to read way
-I cannot stop talking about it

I look forward to reading what this author puts out next!

 

#8

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

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The description from Goodreads:
On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street . . .
I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.
At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them. Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into the Darkest Corner, says, “I read I Let You Go in two sittings; it made me cry (at least twice), made me gasp out loud (once), and above all made me wish I’d written it . . . a stellar achievement.”
 *Peter James, author of Want You Dead

I was fifty pages into this book  when a friend asked what I was reading and I summed it up as “alright so far, a nice, cozy, easy read”. I really enjoy books about women running away, abandoning their old life and starting again so I was contently reading at a leisurely pace. That was until part 2 that is, then I could.not.put.it.down!

Everything about this book felt right, the location was quaint and comfortable, the characters were well developed, likable and relatable. There were sad parts, disturbing parts, triumphant parts and oh no oh no oh no parts.

I kept wondering about the twist, but I’ll be honest and say I didn’t guess it right away, which I always appreciate.

I was leaving work on Saturday, on my way to a birthday bbq and I realized I only had a couple pages left of my book. The only problem was I was almost at my destination and I couldn’t put the book down, not with 5 pages left! So I did the only thing I could think of, I finished it in the back of my Uber, outside the party.

I Let You Go is a fantastic debut novel, I look forward to reading anything Clare Mackintosh’s writes next.