Stillhouse Lake: A Review

★★★★★

Courtesy of my sister, I found that she had put this book in my holds from the library. And I got the first copy! It’s all new and fresh.

This book was so, SO good. If it hadn’t had been for school, I would have completely devoured this book in a day. Unfortunately my reading time was prolonged to about three weeks. The good thing is that I could enjoy this amazing book for a very long time. Before I get started, here’s a summary taken directly from Goodreads:

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

This book is a psychological thriller, so it’s already something I know I’ll be interested in. But I really enjoyed this book, far more than any other thriller I’ve read. There’s so many elements all brought together into one story: intrusion, murder, mystery, and more. It all worked together really well.

Gwen Proctor, formerly known as Gina Royal, is the main character and the whole story is told from her perspective. The author, Rachel Caine, captured Gwen’s thoughts so well. It felt very real. Gwen’s thinking is so detailed and personal it feels almost relatable in a way. Her tough personality mixed with her love for her kids makes for a well-layered character. Sam Cade, her neighbour, is the next best character. He has quite a bit of depth and he’s essential to the plot. Everyone else is arguably minor in comparison to Gwen’s strong personality. Melvin Royal, Gwen’s serial killer ex-husband, is terrifying. Caine nailed expressing his creepy vibes despite his limited appearance in the book. Whenever he was mentioned, I shuddered a bit.Image result for stillhouse lake book

By default, I dislike books with too many characters. I have enough going on in my life that’s more important than remembering the names and backstories of everyone. Thankfully, this book was perfect. I wasn’t constantly scratching my head, trying to recall someone’s relevance when I should be focusing on the plot. I was comfortably reading.

The book is a reasonable length. It had just the right amount of action and suspense. I didn’t find it to be overly long and drawn-out either. The suspense was crazy. I found myself reading well into school nights because I just couldn’t put the book down. Some parts were so suspenseful, I would be reading and be so completely lost in the book that I lost track of time and found out I had been reading for about two hours straight (which is a long time because I should have been doing homework). I couldn’t really blame myself though. This book had high-speed chases, gun fights, possible intruders, vandals, Internet trolls, police questionings, and more. I mean, come on.

I just recently discovered that there’s going to be a sequel, called “Killman Creek”, released this December. The cliffhanger at the end of this book was brutal, so it’s understandable. There’s only about two more months until that one, so I’m okay. I’m not going to spill about the ending because you should really (!!!) read this book. It’s too good.

If this sounds like something you might enjoy, you probably will! I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers or mysteries. “Stillhouse Lake” is definitely one of my top books from this year. If you know any books similar to this one, please leave a comment and let me know. Thank you for reading!

 

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A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

★★★☆☆

This was an absurd book. In an okay way. Let me give you a summary taken directly from Goodreads before I get into my thoughts:

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

Home intrusion-related things always terrify me. There’s something so hair-raising about the idea of someone being in your house without you knowing. They’re right under your nose, but you’d never know they’re there. That’s the scary part. It’s kind of like a ghost. You don’t know it’s there, but it is. That spooks me out so much. So that’s why I picked up this book. I was looking for a nail-biter, something where I’m on the edge of my seat, ripping through the pages to find out what comes next.Image result for a stranger in the house

Honestly, I was disappointed in that respect. That part of the book, that I thought would be touched on throughout because of the title, was like trying to see stars in the city at night. It was barely there. I feel like I’m justified in wanting something more from the home-intrusion aspect of the book. It was lacking.

I haven’t read any other books from Shari Lapena as of yet, but I going to assume her writing style is similar through all her books. In that case, all her books could be read by a 10 year-old. I don’t mean the content itself, but the way in which she writes is so simple. When I read, I want a challenge. Something to test my vocabulary. I don’t want to read, what I think, is next to a children’s novel. Maybe her plan is to focus on the plot and not the wording. I think that writing style is important and it’s definitely something I look for.

Onto the story itself. I enjoyed it. There are many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. That’s about it though. It wasn’t the most amazing thing I’ve ever read, that’s for certain. One thing I loved about this book is the tiny amount of characters. Usually, the amount of trouble I have remembering characters and their names is astounding. It was so easy to remember everyone. More books need to be like that. You really don’t need hundreds of characters to make a good book.

Overall, this book was very average. I’m not obsessed and I don’t completely hate it. It’s alright. This isn’t a recommendation of mine, though.

Thanks for reading!

The Amateurs by Sara Shepard

★★★★★

(spoiler-free)

Sara Shepard; the queen of teen fiction. I have a theory that she single-handedly encouraged the world’s population of teens to read again. It’s pretty understandable, I think. I mean, ever since the Internet was born, teenagers claim they’ve never opened a book or smelled the musty pages of a novel. It’s completely true actually. Students at my school never read for pleasure. Ever. I hear it all the time. If they do read, the only books they read are Sara Shepard’s. So yeah. She must have some pretty good books to make brain-dead teenagers actually want to trudge on over to the library rather than surf through Instagram mindlessly.

When I saw that Sara Shepard had a new book, I put it on hold in a heartbeat. For some reason, those stories about teenagers and their “struggles” never fail to entertain me. To get some insight into the book if you haven’t already read it, here’s a little summary taken directly from Goodreads:

Five years ago, high school senior Helena Kelly disappeared from her backyard in Dexby, Connecticut, never to be heard from again. Her family was left without any answers—without any idea who killed Helena, or why.

So when eighteen-year-old Seneca Frazier sees a desperate post on the Case Not Closed message board, she knows it’s time to change that. Helena’s high-profile disappearance is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place.

Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, she agrees to spend spring break in Connecticut working on the case with Maddy Wright, her best friend from Case Not Closed. However, the moment she steps off the train, things start to go wrong. Maddy’s nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin, doesn’t seem to want any help after all. Plus, Seneca has a secret of her own, one that could derail the investigation if she’s not careful.

Alongside Brett, another super-user from the site, they slowly begin to unravel the secrets Helena kept in the weeks before her disappearance. But the killer is watching…and determined to make sure the case stays cold.

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Mystery in a teen-y book was all I needed. I had been reading some pretty heavy books and needed a little break from that because I’m fragile. Maybe this is just me, but I thought that this would be a lousy mystery book. I mean, a group of teenagers solving a crime together just sounds boring. Well…I can’t even begin to explain how wrong I was. This book was GREAT.

The mystery keeps you intrigued throughout the book. It’s constantly being developed, even in the light-hearted situations. The characters were super dynamic. The personalities of everyone in their clique meshed together so well. The mystery was never quite solved until the very end. You think it’s over but then: IT’S NOT! Who doesn’t love that in a book? It’s no wonder there’s a second book coming out in November, titled “Follow Me”. Ominous. And I’m HYPED.

I’m NOT going to give this book away because I reaaally think you should read it. Even if you’re an old hag. I loved it! It’s not overly long or short. Thanks for reading!

 

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

★★★★☆

Here’s a little review on my opinion of Janelle Fletcher’s “Watch Me Disappear”.

This book took me about 3-4 days of steady reading a few times a day to complete. That’s actually quite good for my speed! I’m trying to get it back up to where it was when I was younger. I’m getting there!

Before I get started, I think you should have an idea of what the book is about. Here’s a summary taken directly from Goodreads:

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a beautiful, charismatic Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. No body—only a hiking boot—has ever been found. Billie’s husband and teenage daughter cope with her death the best they can: Jonathan drinks, Olive grows remote.

But then Olive starts having waking dreams—or are they hallucinations?—that her mother is still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he knew about his wife. Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, their family, and the stories we tell ourselves about the people we love.

Image result for watch me disappear janelle brownI’ll start with the characters. Jonathan, the husband and father, is rather bland. He manages to develop throughout the book but not change at the same time, strangely enough. He’s just a boring old dad who is obsessed with his work and realizes this obsession too late. Olive has more depth. She’s the teenage daughter with an attitude that’s labelled “aggressive”, although I beg to differ. I can relate to Olive and her teenage struggles myself. She’s been through a lot more trauma than I have, however. Still, she is comparable to myself. Billie is more intriguing than Jonathan, and her POV is only shown in the prologue and monologue. Of course, she’s described in the book but, as I’m sure you can tell, I was quite disappointed in Jonathan’s character. He’s such a crucial character in this story and I feel as though an opportunity was wasted, just because his character rubs off as so pedestrian.

That being said, the plot was great. I’m not going to lie, when I read the blurb on the back and I saw that ghosts would be involved, I was ready to put the book right back on the shelf. I wasn’t looking for an unrealistic book. However, I was feeling generous and so I decided to give it a go. I’m glad I did! The “ghosts” part was nothing like a fantasy novel. It didn’t feel childish or anything. It integrated into the book very well, actually.

If I say anymore, I think I’ll be giving too much away. I highly (!!) suggest you read this book. It’s got a very special, interesting theme that I don’t often see in books.

Stacking the Shelves (1)

This is my first time participating in Stacking the Shelves! It’s an opportunity where you can share what new books you’ve added to shelf. Thank you Tynga’s Reviews for this opportunity!

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I’ve been meaning to get my hands on Sara Shepard’s “The Amateurs” for a while and I finally borrowed it from the library. I’ve liked all the books of hers that I’ve read. I actually haven’t read the Pretty Little Liars series ever, but I have read the Lying Game series and “The Heiresses” but that’s about it. PLL seems too juvenile for me to read now. Hopefully “The Amateurs” isn’t too childish. It sounds promising and should just be an easy read. I kind of need it since I’ve been reading some pretty heavy books as of late.

 

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I also plan on reading Harlan Coben’s “Gone for Good”. It’s an old book (published in 2002) but I have never read it before. The few Coben books I have read have caught my attention and I enjoyed them. It’s his typical kind of book: a crime that twists and turns relentlessly. I hope it isn’t predictable and that I don’t know who committed the crime until the very end. Because who wants that? Also, I hope this one is as good as his other books. From what I remember, his books are written without any fluff and flowery language. That is always a plus for me. I don’t need any unnecessary writing please and THANK YOU.

 

That’s all that I’ve got on my TBR shelf for now. Please comment a link to your STS so I can read yours. Thank you for reading.

Dark Matter: A Review

Here’s a short review on a great book.

I wish I could remember where I discovered this book. So I could go back and look for more hidden gold like this.

Here’s a brief summary: Jason Dessen is asked if he is happy with his life before being abducted. He finds himself strapped to a gurney and locked in a building. He finds himself in a new world where his other life is unheard of. Jason just wants to return to his original world, to his family. But he must overcome the one thing that comes in his way of achieving this mission: himself. This sci-fi thriller by Blake Crouch is a mind-boggling tale that touches on the relationships and choices we make, and the effort they will make to protect them.

Image result for dark matter blake crouchI’ve never truly meddled in the sci-fi department. Sure, I read the YA books with all the dystopia, but never a book quite as advanced as this one. Well, at least I think it’s advanced. My mind was racing while reading. The scope of it all is astounding. Having such a complex idea as the basis of the plot is risky. What if people don’t understand? Is it too scientific for readers? Nope. It’s executed in such a way that gives the reader a full understanding of the advanced science, yet it still leaves one to think. My gears were turning the entire time I read the book, trying to wrap around all the concepts and twists. It’s remarkable.

The characters aren’t developed as well as they could be. I’ve read books with a much more dynamic set of characters. In this book, I only really feel like Jason Dessen, the main character, has any proper development. Understandably so, however. This book literally centers around him, so it does make sense. Daniela Vargas, Jason’s wife, appears a lot, and her development is only mediocre. I do think, however, that it makes sense that many characters aren’t as developed as, say, a drama book. It’s focused on the sci-fi part, not necessarily all the relationships (although it’s still touched on throughout).

It’s amazing how this scientific idea or theory can be made into such a human tale of choices and what we feel is best for us. It’s about the lengths people will go to make their dreams true. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend this to everyone if you are interested in a mind-bending tale.

 

City of Bones: A Review

This is for Michael Connelly’s “City of Bones”, not Cassandra Clare’s.

I’ve been trying to find the genres of books that most interest me recently. Growing up, I understandably wasn’t into crime novels and thrillers, rather I was into those typical children and teen novels; Harry Potter (still love with all my heart), Percy Jackson, Hunger Games, Divergent, Inkheart, etc. I was never into the classics or the comics (still not into comics, just not my thing) either. These past few years, I fooled around with different types of books. I started reading crime novels and quickly found myself enjoying them. This book just so happens to be the centre of my scrutiny today.

Before I get into the contents itself, can I just say that I bought this perfectly intact second-hand paperback book for a dollar?! A STEAL.
As a brief, brief summary for you to get an idea of the book, it starts off when a dog fetches a bone, a human bone, while out with his owner. Detective Harry Bosch must get to the bottom of the case. Only one thing that puts a wrench in his gut; it’s a bone from a child. He uncovers a case almost twenty years old and struggles to find the evidence he needs to put the monster who did it behind bars.

Harry Bosch is part of a series of books Connelly has written. Harry Bosch’s endeavours are even a TV show, which I just recently found out can be found on Amazon Prime. I will have to check that out.

This would be the first book I’ve read from Connelly and I liked it. It’s a very different writing style in comparison to previous books I’ve read. The writing and storytelling is very succinct, no fluff. I love that. Unnecessary writing is one of my pet peeves, and I’m sure I’m not alone on that. Since the writing was so easy to read and comprehend, I devoured this book faster than most. I’m not entirely familiar with Connelly’s work and style, but I think he puts more care into the plot and characters themselves than the manner in which the plot and characters are presented in. If that makes sense. I think that’s probably why there’s no unnecessary writing.

The plot itself is typical of a crime novel. It leads you to believe one person did it but then something else pops up that changes everything. There are many suspects that come up in the story and Bosch tries to figure out who the true suspect is. He’s led to believe one suspect did it, and the case seems to have come to a close, but then he realizes that something isn’t right. Bosch’s detective skills are spot-on, and he covers his mistakes.

Overall, this book was an enjoyable read. The story line is intriguing and I never found myself wanting to put the book down. I’m sure to read more books from Bosch. I bought “The Brass Verdict” and I plan on reading that sometime soon also.

Gone Girl: A Review

It’s about time I got my hands on this book. Though the library’s hardcover copy was gnarled and stained, I still had patience and flew through this book. My reaction: WOW!

I’m sure you’ve already read “Gone Girl” but here is a little summary: Nick and Amy Dunne seem to have the perfect life. They’re (seemingly) happily married, but when Amy goes missing, their small town turns to Nick for answers, who seems to be in the same boat as everyone else. Lies and deceit make this harrowing story by Gillian Flynn hair-raising.

The story seemed to be typical at first; spouse goes missing, blame other spouse, turns out he/she killed the other spouse they’re arrested. But as the story progresses, the lies told by both Amy and Nick complicate the plot.

Image result for gone girl bookIt is written from the alternating perspectives of Amy and Nick. Amy’s perspective is shown through her personal diary, which later becomes a part of the plot. Through these first-person perspectives, you can see the similarities and differences in their thoughts. Since this story is about a relationship gone haywire, you can see through their thoughts why they thought they were good for each other at first but not later. It’s a very personal telling of their inner feelings. Especially for Amy, as she writes down everything she is feeling. Nick’s perspective is told on the present. He is in the time when Amy first goes missing and it carries from there. Sometimes the things Amy and Nick think are downright psycho. And that’s what makes this book so intriguing.

Amy and Nick’s characters are extremely well-developed, due to this first-person perspective. It is truly unbelievable how the thoughts of psychopaths can seem so real, almost relatable (not saying I’m a psycho, OK). Flynn creates characters that actually contribute to the story and plot in their own way. It’s remarkable how each character is so important to the story.

This book was just the right length. I wasn’t left missing information nor was the book stretched out. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it!

Can’t Wait Wednesday (1)

“Can’t Wait Wednesday” is a meme hosted by Wishful Endings that lets you share what book’s release you’re hyped about or even which book you haven’t gotten around to reading, but are excited to finally get your hands on. Thanks for the opportunity!

I’ve been scouring the “Just Ordered” section on my library’s website lately, putting any upcoming books that look promising on hold. One in particular has me very excited for 2018. The first book of the new trilogy by Sara Blaedel called “The Night Women” looks very interesting. Below is a summary taken directly from Goodreads.

Goodreads Summary

A journey to a new life or a prison of despair and death? A shocking murder on Copenhagen’s idyllic streets and an abandoned child reveal a perverse criminal underworld that crosses international borders. A young woman’s body is found on the street with her throat slit, and the media is clamoring for the grisly details. Detective Louise Rick is investigating the gruesome murder when her friend Camilla Lind calls. Louise assumes it is because Camilla, a crime reporter, wants to be the first to hear of any juicy new developments. Instead, her distraught friend reveals that her ten year-old son found an abandoned baby on his way to school. As Louise digs deeper into the murder and the mysterious foundling, every clue uncovered points to organized human trafficking from Eastern Europe, run by ruthless gangsters who won’t hesitate to kill anyone who gets in their way…

Looks to be right up my alley. I hope the book’s as good as the summary.

If you participated in “Can’t Wait Wednesday”, leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll check it out.

Thanks for reading!

 

The Book Thief: A Review

I actually had to read this novel for school. And surprisingly, for once, it was pretty good. This international bestseller by Markus Zusak won many awards for its complicated story and wonderful characters.

Liesel Meminger is the main character in the book, and her story is told through the perspective of “Death” in Germany during the 30’s and the Second World War. She is a young German girl who is fostered by two poor parents and as the story goes on, Liesel grows into a teenage girl. Along the way, she develops family relationships, makes friends, learns valuable lessons, and creates her own values, all while the horrors of Hitler’s rise and the war occur. It’s a coming-of-age novel that will strike a chord with readers.

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Let me start by saying that this book is bursting with literary devices. The entire book is quite literally one giant metaphor, as “Death” tells the story. Every page has a metaphor somewhere, used in some way. You could be talking about socks and there would still be some deep metaphor made by the author. This is really great for analyzing and interpreting the multiple meanings. When I was discussing this book in a seminar, we all interpreted the book differently, and our answers were all reasonable. The descriptions are so detailed and the language used is not complicated and not too easy, which I like in a book.

The fact that Death tells the story, I found, was very interesting. It created a lot of literary devices and all, but it was also interesting to see how Zusak used Death to illustrate its role in the war. He talks about how “busy” Death becomes in the war and how demanding Hitler is of Death. I think it’s quite clever, and it was enjoyable to read these parts.

The thing I didn’t like about the book is that it is so unnecessarily long. There are countless parts in the book where I could not find a single explanation as to what it adds to the book. Trust me when I say I genuinely tried to find its relevance to the book; I was being graded on my analysis. Not only were these parts useless, but they were just plain boring! Some characters have no real purpose in the book. In fact, they just take away from the story. This book would be so much better if it was less than 584 pages.

Overall, this book was pretty enjoyable. I would recommend this to freshmen, not sophomores (as I was when I read this book). Thanks for reading!