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Weekly Reads: October 1-18

Weekly Reads: October 1-18

Weekly reads is more like bi-weekly reads this month, but such is life.

The month started off slow as home renovations threw my life into a complete tailspin (Goodbye hideous brown carpet, hello refinished wood floors!) but once my house was a home once more I was able to get back up to my usual bookishness.

I have a couple great preview titles to bookmark for reading next month and next year.
(Click the title for purchasing information.)

Thrice the Brinded Cath Hath Mew'd
Alan Bradley (September 20, 2016, 320 Pages)
4 Stars

I was extremely eager to sink into the wonderful world of Flavia de Luce once more, though with every book I read in the series I'm aware that we're drawing closer to the end as Bradley has said that the series will end with book ten.

In book 8 we join Flavia as she arrives back at Buckshaw after her stint in Canada. Flavia discovers that her father has come down with a bout of pneumonia bad enough to land him in the hospital. While her homecoming turns out to be little like what she was hoping for, a random errand soon causes Flavia to find yet another dead body, and another delightful opportunity to be sleuth and chemist in solving what appears to be a murder. 

While some of the twists were apparent earlier than they have been in earlier books, it's still a delight to watch Flavia be the sharp intelligent girl we've come to love, while also daring to allow some changes as she grows up a bit. 

Flavia was very much at the center of this book, her feuds with her sisters only a small addition this time, and very few outside characters taking up much of the narrative. And her bicycle, Gladys, shows off her spunky and inquisitive personality more than a few times throughout the story, always a welcome moment in my book. 

A warning though, to fans of the series: when all is said and done, this one is another heart-wrencher. Tissues are recommended.

 

Re-read
I re-read "The Girl on the Train" (4 stars) in anticipation of watching the film on opening night and writing an article about it. However, the path I took, examining the issues of gender in the film, has taken me longer to finish than I expected. It's like having a word on the tip of your tongue and not being able to say it.

 

The Vanishing Year
Kate Moretti (September 27, 2016, 304 pages)
Audiobook
4 Stars

One of the greatest joys about an excellent audiobook is that it you can be whisked away by a story instead of focusing on whatever mind-numbing task is before you. In this case it was a two day stair renovation project. 

Early on you discover that Zoe Whittaker is not who she says she is, at least not in the latest iteration of her life. Later, you learn this may be true of other characters as well. 

As Zoe's story unfolds and you learn who she was when she was younger and the mistakes that she made, you also start meeting other people who while seemingly on the periphery of the novel and her life, are going to be key players in how her life goes astray.

While you may start to guess at the "whys" of some of the creepy moments, you're not likely to see every twist of the ending coming. By the end Zoe has been duped, we've been duped and we wonder who will make it out alive.

 

Fractured
Catherine McKenzie (October 4, 2016, 360 pages)
Audiobook
4.5 Stars

I loved that I couldn't tell where this story was going, and I was simply along for the ride. Alternating between the past and the present, with two different narrators Julie and John, it was interesting to guess at where it was all going. Despite the style of the narrative it was never difficult to understand what was going on. 

For writers its also an interested look at a MC who is a famous author, and why in Julie's case that may come with more pitfalls than perks.

The story builds and builds, with the entries from "now" making the listener/reader question who will be the victim by the end of the book, and there are plenty of candidates and motives.

And if anyone has ever dealt with an overly nosy and rule-happy neighbor before, the emails from Cathy will both make you laugh and make your blood boil.

 

The Murder Game
Julie Apple, Catherine McKenzie (November 1, 2016 300 pages)
4 Stars

In "Fractured," Julie Apple is one of the main characters and she has published a novel called "The Murder Game" that was based on real events from her life.

Popping from the page and into real life, readers will have the opportunity to read the novel that caused so much trouble for our fictional heroine.

In hindsight I would recommend that readers enjoy "The Murder Game" first, and "Fractured" second because one of the biggest plot points from "Fractured" ends up coloring the reading experience of "The Murder Game" as you wait for "the twist" that has been such a big deal to the author, Julie Apple. 

Told in alternating sections of flashbacks and the present day trial, we follow Meredith as she navigates her law student years with three close but socially complicated friends, and her relationships, or lack there of, with them when she is made to prosecute one of the friends.

The legal jargon is kept to a minimum, and the courtroom scenes have a fantastic cinematic quality to them. As in "Fractured," the author invites the audience to contemplate the ideas of blame and the ethics of the character's actions. 

This review is made possible thanks to receiving a copy of the book from NetGalley.

 

The Ringmaster's Wife
Kirsty Cambron (June 7, 2016, 356 pages)
3.75 Stars

This was the book for September's Once Upon A Book Club box that arrived in October. Please refer to my previous blog post about the box for details on the book.

 

The Fire Child
S.K. Tremayne (June 16, 2016 UK, March 28, 2017 US, 389 pages)
4.25 Stars

This was a wildly different book from where it started to where it ended, and I simply couldn't put it down.

So much of the physical landscape felt like another character, an enhancement of the plot, similar to how Tremayne used the stark landscape to build tension in "The Ice Twins". In this case, the family home, Carnhallow, most certainly feels like another character in the small cast of unreliable narrators.

I don't want to spoil the twists and turns, especially since so many of them were brilliantly unexpected, but know that the last quarter of the book excels like a high speed train while you try to figure things out at the same moment that the main character, Rachel tries to.

I highly recommend this book for fans of "The Ice Twins" and anyone who enjoys the kind of book best read during the daylight. (Seriously, I stayed up late to finish this and then was wary of climbing into bed in the dark)

 

The Girl Before
J.P. Delaney (January 24, 2017, 320 pages)
4.25 Stars

Me: I'm going to stay up for the second night in a row reading a really thrilling book.
Brain: you know that you'll lie awake, full of tension in the dark for seemingly forever before you fall asleep, right?
Me: Yup! ;;turns page;;

Told through "Then" and "Now" stories of Emma and Jane respectively, the story is of two women who are similar in appearance and similar in what could be perceived as their brokenness. 

Years apart Emma and Jane come to live in the same house with an unusual leasing contract. And the house itself inspires, enhances, and ruins the women in equal turns. But is it just the house? Or the brilliant but possibly sociopathic architect behind the contract and the building. 

From the description of the book you have to know that something bad is going to happen, but as the tension continues to ratchet up chapter by chapter, and you discover that our narrators may not be exactly who they seem, you wonder just how bad the final reveal will be.

I'm not put off by characters that in real life would be extremely unlikeable. Their fictional flaws and terrible choices make for interesting and compelling plots. That being said there was a surprising confluence of remorseless people in this book.

Trigger warnings: There are frequent conversations about rape.

This review is made possible thanks to receiving a copy of the book from NetGalley.

 

That's it for this week (these few weeks) come back next week when I will share about my current listen "Fool Me Once" and my next read, "The Roanoke Girls".

Once Upon A Book Club Box: October

Once Upon A Book Club Box: October

Once Upon A Book Club Box: September

Once Upon A Book Club Box: September