Tag Archive | #BookReview

“One Of Us Is Lying” Book Review

Author: Karen M. McManus

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Type: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 out of 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸

Synopsis:

On a Monday afternoon, five students find themselves in detention after all having been caught with cell phones in their bags during class, the thing is, the found cell phones do not belong to the offenders. Each of these students have been set up by an unknown figure and for an unknown reason. As they quickly come to realize that they’ve been set up, detention takes a turn for the worse when Simon dies in front of the other students. In what should be thought of as an accident is labeled murder by the local police, the four remaining students learn that the next day, Simon had planned to post scathing and true gossip about all of them to his app About That.

The book is narrated by the four remaining students, Bronwyn (the Brain), Addy (the Beauty), Nate (the Criminal) and Cooper (the Jock). Through the progression of the book, the reader learns of each characters secret that Simon had found out and the possible reasons they would want Simon dead. With red herrings being thrown throughout, and the characters questioning what they know and one another, the crime can only be solved if they all learn to work together and even trust one another.

Thoughts:

This is one of those books that is hard to discuss, because I don’t want to give anything away, so here goes. When I first heard about this book and that it was being referred to as “The Breakfast Club  meets Pretty Little Liars” I immediately put in a hold request for this book at the library so that I could read it as soon as the book became available. I’m happy to say that this book did not disappoint. I was drawn into the story right from the start and just as the characters questioned one another and possibility of it being someone who wasn’t in the room that had planned out this murder, I too was left questioning and working through different theories.

I found that the author did a great job of taking your stereotypical characters and high school personalities and turning them upside down. The criminal wasn’t just a criminal who got in trouble for selling prescription drugs, instead he was a more complex character who only got into drug dealing in order to stay alive and be able to support himself. The beauty turned out to actually be really smart and a fighter. Each of the characters proved that they were more than just what people saw and expected them, they were all flawed thus making them more realistic and relatable.

This is a debut novel that lives up to the hype. I cannot wait to see what Karen McManus comes up with next as she is a new favorite author that I will be sure to read more of.

“American Gods” Book Review


Author: Neil Gaiman

Publisher: William Morrow

Type: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Mythology

Rating: 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 out of 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸

Synopsis:

Not wanting to give anything away about the story, all I will say, is that American Gods is the story of a war that’s brewing on Earth, in America no less, between the gods of old and the new gods of technology. Amid this growing battle, is Shadow, a recently released convict who finds himself encountering a strange man who goes by the name of Mr. Wednesday. What ensues is a strange and mind bending journey through the United States and all the ethnic groups and their belief systems which have created the country.

Thoughts:

American Gods is one of those books that I bought after my best friend told me that I had to read it since I love all things to do with mythology of any kind. After being told this, it still took me about a year or so before I finally purchased copy, selecting the 10th Anniversary Edition with the Author’s preferred text. It should also be noted this was the first book of Neil Gaiman’s I ever purchased for myself, all the other books I owned by him up to this point, my best friend (the one and the same) had bought for me as birthday and Christmas gifts. Yet, even after buying the book, it still sat on my bookshelf for another year. I finally picked up American Gods last month as I wanted to start reading it before the premiere of the television adaptation that Starz was heading up.

Having finished the book, managing to stay ahead of the show in my reading, my initial thought upon completion was “why did it take me so long to read this?” My best friend was right, I did love this book and it was right up my alley with my love of mythology and religion and how people’s belief systems not only affect them but society around them. For as Sam says to Shadow:

“I can believe things that are true and things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not.”

This book posed the question of “what would happen if all the gods of old were brought to the new world and found themselves being forgotten as humans began to worship technology?” and it summarily answered that question.

I loved this story and all the detail that Neil Gaiman put into writing it. The small vignettes which were inserted at varying points throughout provided wonderful guideposts to help explain how all these vastly different gods found themselves in the United States as well as an idea of how the different cultures worshiped their deities to remember their heritage and what they had been taught as children. Reading this made me want to read more mythology, especially lesser known myths and gods that aren’t commonly taught, such as those from Africa that are not part of the Egyptian pantheon. Neil Gaiman has helped to remind me that not only is important to know the history of a people and where we came from, but part of that is also knowing their cultural and religious beliefs for all of those help to form not only a society, but we as individuals.

In the end, I’m glad that I finally read American Gods, I think it may be my new favorite book by Neil Gaiman. I’m also pleased that I started and finished it before the completion of the show on Starz, although now I must wait patiently for some of my favorite scenes to unfold on the show. If you are a Gaiman fan and haven’t read this book, read it already! If you’re a Gaiman novice but love mythology, pick this book up. Keep in mind this is not the easiest book to get through, but persevere and push through and let me know what you think.

 

“The Night Strangers” Book Review


Author: Chris Bohjalian

Publisher: Crown Publishers

Type: Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal, Thriller

Rating: 🌸🌸🌸🌸 out of 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸

Synopsis:

Chris Bohjalian’s creepy thriller tells the story of the Linton family: Chip, Emily and twin ten-year-old daughters Garnet and Hallie. The Linton’s have moved to New Hampshire for what they hope will be a fresh start for their family, following Chip’s tragic plane crash of his regional jet into Lake Champlain. For Chip, the day started off like any other, with a normal taxi and take-off; unfortunately, the flight quickly went wrong when the plane hit a flock of geese causing dual engine failure and the inevitable crash into the lake. Despite Chip’s best efforts to safely land the plane, a la “the Miracle on the Hudson”, the majority of the passengers and crew aboard his flight die upon the initial impact or shortly thereafter due to drowning.

While Chip works to cope with the crash and discern what the ghosts who now haunt him want, Emily and the twins find themselves the center and focus of a group of herbalist women who are viewed as being witches by others in the town. As the ghosts push Chip closer towards harming his own family, Emily finds that not only does she need to protect her children from the father who has become distant and a stranger in their own home, but also from the neighbors whom she kept telling herself were just a harmless group of herbalists, yet are showing themselves to be anything but.

Thoughts:

From the very first sentence to the final page of the book, I was hooked on The Night Strangers. I found the depiction of the crash to be both engaging and wonderfully described, so much so that it caused me to reflect on my training as a flight attendant the different scenarios I’m trained for, to think about what kinds of actions I would be performing in that scene as part of the cabin crew. As I followed the family in their journey to their new town and house, I couldn’t help but pick up on what I viewed as influences on the author from other pieces of literature. The haunted house with whispers in the dark to the father, slowly driving him mad and pushing him towards murder made me think of both The Amityville Horror  and The Shining; I further thought of The Shining in the depiction of the twins. Although Garnet and Hallie are in no way shape or form as creepy as the twin girls in The Shining, there was still something about them and the keen interest the women of the herbalist club took in the girls that made me feel that there was something possibly supernatural within the girls themselves.

Anyone who has read a book by Chris Bohjalian will tell you that he is an amazing writer who really brings his characters to life and has an unbelievable knack for writing the female voice, but of all the books I have read by him I think that this may be my favorite in how he tells it. Most authors will tell and entire story in either first person narration, or third person; in The Night Strangers, Chris not only utilizes both first and third person narrations, but he also incorporates the second person narrator which was a truly unique and enjoyable method of storytelling to encounter as the reader. For those who are not familiar with second person narration, it is typically encountered in how-to books and cook books, for it’s when you as the reader are told what to do. In The Night Strangers, the second person is used when the reader is alone with the father, Chip. In these scenes, the reader is made to feel as though they themselves are Chip performing the different actions throughout the house. These scenes were some of my favorite parts of the book as it made me more sympathetic towards Chip as I was literally placed into his shoes.

In the end I was very satisfied with The Night Strangers, in no small part because it was an interesting and unique read which held my attention, but also because of how it was told. The only thing I had to complain about, it you can even call it a complaint, was a brief section in the book when Chip is reflecting on how if he hadn’t had the crash, he was on track to go from being the Captain on a regional jet to one day flying a Boeing 777. The issue I had with this is that that’s not how it works. In the airline industry, regional pilots can only transition from a regional plane (United Express, American Eagle) to a mainline aircraft (Airbus A319/A320 and Boeing 777, 747, etc.) if they interview with a mainline carrier (United Airlines, American Airlines) and are hired by that mainline airline. This was such a minor issue, and one that unless the person works in the airline industry or has family who works in the industry, the average reader wouldn’t even pick up on this, which I do recognize.

Despite my nitpicking of a truly minor detail to the larger story as a whole, I continue to be an avid fan of Chris Bohjalian. I will continue to read more of his books, and I’ll probably even return to this story at some point as I know that there are things I will pick up on with future readings.