Warning – I’ve read a lot of books lately! Which means I have a lot of books to share today! I’m linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books as well! This month, I went to the library and started looking for books on my To Be Read list. I found a bunch of them and got started!
First up, I read The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews. May I just say that I feel like I read this so long ago that I barely remember it? I guess it wasn’t memorable…not that it was a bad book or anything!
“Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Others come only for the weekends, and the mix between the regulars and ‘the weekenders’ can sometimes make the sparks fly. Riley Griggs has a season of good times with friends and family ahead of her on Belle Isle when things take an unexpected turn. While waiting for her husband to arrive on the ferry one Friday afternoon, Riley is confronted by a process server who thrusts papers into her hand. And her husband is nowhere to be found. So she turns to her island friends for help and support, but it becomes clear that each of them has their own secrets, and the clock is ticking as the mystery deepens…in a murderous way. Now Riley must find a way to investigate the secrets of Belle Island, the husband she might not really know, and the summer that could change everything.”
This book reminded me of another book I read recently, How To Keep A Secret by Sarah Morgan, in that there was a family thrust together in a similar way, on an island, with a teenage daughter. In both, the husbands were up to something suspicious as well. I think How To Keep A Secret was better, with more character development, and more likeable characters overall, but The Weekenders does have an interesting family to read and learn about as well.
Next, I read Something In The Water by Catherine Steadman. I had put this on hold at the library when I saw it reviewed by another blogger. I guess it has a long wait because it was recommended by Reese Witherspoon, but I didn’t find it all that compelling. Throughout the book, I kept wondering whether there was a point to the whole thing. This book also reminded me of a book I read previously, The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian, because both featured characters who couldn’t seem to stop themselves from getting involved in things they shouldn’t.
“If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you?
Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .
Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?
Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . .
Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?
Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman’s enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.”
This is the kind of book that starts at the end and then goes back to determine how the characters got where they were headed. I was hoping for a quicker return to the ending, but things moved along somewhat slowly. And like another reviewer on Amazon mentioned, the ending gave me a feeling of “so what.”
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott had been on my list for awhile, long enough that I don’t remember why it was there in the first place, other than someone else must have said it was good. This book was a mystery taking place in the world of competitive gymnastics, which was a new and interesting setting for me, and I felt that it was well-written in a lyrical sort of way.
“How far will you go to achieve a dream? That’s the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits–until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself irresistibly drawn to the crime itself. What she uncovers–about her daughter’s fears, her own marriage, and herself–forces Katie to consider whether there’s any price she isn’t willing to pay to achieve Devon’s dream.”
The author did a good job at making competitive gymnastics sound like a very scary sport to participate in, with injuries and difficult loses, as well as the push for perfection that seemed to be quite hurtful to those involved. One of the more intriguing characters for me was Devon’s younger brother, who lives in her shadow and did what he could to help the family. It may have been interesting to get more than just one character’s voice throughout the story, but overall I thought this was a good read.
One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline wasn’t on my list, but because she is an author I like, I have been reading a few more of her books. There was a bit of a major twist in the first part of this book and after that, it plodded along until the unrealistic ending. As far as an easy, quick read, this definitely qualifies.
“On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He’s applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he’s ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable. But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie. Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he’s being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil. Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Jordan’s baseball games. But Jordan is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans. Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon’s wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them. At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?”
The boys and their moms were pretty interesting and I liked finding out more about each of them. The conclusion as far as the mystery goes seemed a little out of the blue. I think the author likes to lead her readers in the wrong direction to figure out what is happening, but she goes a little far in not giving any clues towards the right one!
Next I read One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I had a lot of time and I finished it over two days. I did find it entertaining and a good story. You feel for the main character and her difficult choice, although I think the author did a good job expressing why she had to do what she did in the end.
“In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.
On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever. Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness. That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves. Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly? Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.”
The book goes back into the past and describes Emma’s life from the time she was young until her marriage to Jesse and beyond. You really get a picture of the type of person she was and who she is now. Both men were perfect for Emma and while it may be easy to say she chose wrongly, I was also able to tell why she chose who she chose and to say it was the right choice for her.
In a very different direction, The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen was another book that made me think and wonder what I would do in the situation the characters found themselves in. This book is about a family who has been through tragedy. The way the story is told makes it hard to know who to empathize with and who to trust, and I found the reveal to be very sad and even disturbing.
“For his whole life, the boy has lived underground, in a basement with his parents, grandmother, sister, and brother. Before he was born, his family was disfigured by a fire. His sister wears a white mask to cover her burns. He spends his hours with his cactus, reading his book on insects, or touching the one ray of sunlight that filters in through a crack in the ceiling. Ever since his sister had a baby, everyone’s been acting very strangely. The boy begins to wonder why they never say who the father is, about what happened before his own birth, about why they’re shut away. A few days ago, some fireflies arrived in the basement. His grandma said, There’s no creature more amazing than one that can make its own light. That light makes the boy want to escape, to know the outside world. Problem is, all the doors are locked. And he doesn’t know how to get out…”
One thing I didn’t like about the book is that the characters don’t have names. It made me wonder the author’s reason for not providing them with names. One reviewer wrote that it was done to avoid anyone assigning the characters characteristics they did not have based on their names alone. Another says that it was because this shows that the things that happened to this family could happen to any family. It’s quite scary to imagine a family like this existing, and yet I’m sure there are things that happen in families that are thousands of times worse than the things that happened to this one. While this book is upsetting, it focuses on the things you do to protect your family. It definitely makes you think about the things you might have done differently.
Finally, I read Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens. I have had this book on my list for awhile and while I’ve read other books by Stevens, I didn’t get to this one until now. It was a fast and suspenseful read in which I thought I knew who to suspect and then questioned whether I was correct.
“Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband, Andrew, was sent to jail and Lindsey started over with a new life. Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with her own business and a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When Andrew is finally released from prison, Lindsey believes she has cut all ties and left the past behind her. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her, tracking her every move. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But has he really changed? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?”
The beginning of the book flashes back to Lindsey’s marriage to Andrew and you understand how he treated her and how awful he was to her. When similar things start happening to her again in the present, of course Lindsey thinks Andrew is stalking her. There are several other characters who can be suspected and many of them do things that make you wonder, including Lindsey’s own daughter. There is a twist that surprised me and made everything clear with a suspenseful conclusion. I think of all the books above, I enjoyed this one the most!
What have you been reading lately?