The Rich and the Dead by Liv Spector

17 Mar

The Rich and the Dead

author : liv spector

pages : [paperback] 320

favorite character : lila  

summary :

In exclusive Star Island, Miami, money and power can’t protect you… In collaboration with branding powerhouse Alloy Entertainment comes a thrilling new series featuring a former Miami PD detective on the hunt for a mass murderer, who must face the past she thought she left behind.

On New Year’s Day 2015, twelve powerful, wealthy people were found dead—shot in a lavish Star Island estate. In 2018, the murderer remains at large.

As a detective and lead investigator on the case of the century, Lila Day was consumed by her hunt for the Star Island Killer. But that was before she was pushed out from the force, and her life unraveled.

Years later, down on her luck and no longer a police officer, Lila is approached by mysterious billionaire Teddy Hawkins. He has a job for her, he says—solving the Star Island murders. Lila laughs. After all, how do you solve a crime when all the leads have long grown cold? The answer, Teddy tells her, is to be there before it happened. He is going to send her back in time.

With nothing left to lose, Lila travels back in time to 2014, determined to stop the Star Island killer once and for all. There’s one catch: she must gather the evidence to bring the murderer to justice in her own time, without trying to save anyone. Easy enough, until she starts to care for the people who are destined to die. Now Lila must be willing to say good-bye—or risk setting into motion events that could change the future forever.

review :

Who doesn’t want to read a crime novel where the investigator gets to check out the crime before it even happened? I thought this was an incredibly cool concept and take on a regular detective story so I just had to get my hands on this book. Lila Days is an independent, kick-ass cop who’s such a perfectionist she ruined her career when she simply couldn’t let go of the Star Island murder case. Lucky for her, she isn’t the only one still seeking justice and trying to piece together the clues that’ll lead her to the answers she’s been searching for.

I’m going to try not to focus too much on the actual time machine aspect of things because it’s never really explained how Teddy of all people came to acquire this device because he definitely isn’t the scientist who created it. I was a little dubious about how he just so happened to have it to use to send Lila back. But that needed to happen for the plot to work and I really enjoyed the entire concept. When she first goes back, Lila thinks that this investigation will be easy, though she’s quickly faced with an assortment of challenges including love, loss, and wondering if she could prevent this tragedy from ever occurring.

This book kept me guessing which is always awesome in a crime novel. As soon as I thought that I had things figured out, the plot would twist in a different direction. At times when Lila thought she had the case solved but there were still a hundred or so pages left in the book, it was easy for me to say that she was wrong, but there were so many other aspects and mysteries to the plot that I was never bored. These rich socialites all have their secrets that Lila uncovers slowly.

It looks like this book is building up into a series. I hope that it is because not only would I like to read more from this author, I’d love to read more about these characters. I think that there’s much more about Teddy that needs to be shown and there are parts of Lila’s life mentioned in passing throughout this novel that I think could be explored further. If there’s going to be a sequel, I’m definitely game to read it.

If you’re looking for an easy but suspenseful read, The Rich and the Dead is for you!

4/5 stars

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

14 Mar

The Beginning of Everything

author : robyn schneider

pages : [hardcover] 335

memorable quote And I realized that there’s a big difference between deciding to leave and knowing where to go.

favorite characters : ezra & toby

summary :

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

review :

I started reading this book because I had the privilege of meeting Robyn Schneider while she was on the Story Crush tour. I have to say that this book is as remarkably quirky and maybe a little awkward, reminiscent of the author in all of the best ways. Contemporary young adult literature isn’t something that I always reach for on the shelves; the storytelling nearly always needs to rely on the characters and their development. I think that this is something that The Beginning of Everything did nicely. At some points the characters could become so eccentric the novel took on an aura of absurdity, though in the end it definitely recovered from this and turned into a book that I’ll definitely need to read again.

Ezra Faulker. Not exactly a normal name for a guy who isn’t very normal. He experiences his personal tragedy in the beginning of the book (and, being a tennis player myself, some of what he experienced afterward pummeled my emotions). He basically realizes that his life can never return to what it had been before his tragedy but it’s the only way he’s known of living so he can’t even begin to fathom how things can still work out alright for him.

Enter his new group at school. I definitely think a lot more could have been done with this supporting cast of diverse characters. I wanted to see more conflict and things that would make me incredibly interested and attached to these characters. Usually this group was only pulled in for little bits of amusement, quirky details, or to stir up a little drama that tended to peter out once that conflict was no longer necessary to the plot. This was one of the stronger objections I had to some part of this novel.

Otherwise, it really entertained me and once I got going it only took me two days to read through. At that point I was so overwhelmed by what I’d read that I needed to sit on it for a little while before I could write this review. I couldn’t help but feel proud of Ezra at the conclusion of the book . . which made me realize how emotionally attached I’d gotten to him. The other characters, even Cassidy, were good to me but not great. I’m glad that the focus of the novel really had the chance to shine.

I’d definitely recommend this book if you need a good contemporary read. It might take a little while to get into but it’ll leave you satisfied at the end.

4/5 stars

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

9 Mar

Burial Rites

author : Hannah Kent

pages : [hardcover] 322

memorable quote : To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.

favorite characters : agnes & margret

summary :

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

review :

I was very fascinated by the idea for this novel and nearly as soon as I began it I couldn’t put it down. Historical fiction for me can either be a hit or a miss. Burial Rites for me was a fantastically enjoyable read, set in an unfamiliar setting with struggling characters I couldn’t help but feel for. The book really explored how the thoughts and stories of others can affect how one’s life turns out and throughout the entire novel the reader is shown several perspectives. The characters speculate as to what could have truly happened the night of the murders and you’re left to wonder and read on to see if Agnes will take the opportunity to tell her side of the story or die with the truth still unspoken.

Agnes was a very complicated woman and I absolutely loved that. Flawed characters abound in this novel, making it more realistic so that I really felt like I was reading a historical account of what had happened. Adding to the effect were the letters and other documents posted at the beginning of every chapter. The author explains that these are translations from original sources. That’s noted at the end of the book, which makes me want to read through everything again so I can really put myself in the mindset of the times.

I can’t imagine what it would be like, being sentenced to death. Although at a few points in the novel Agnes seems very passive and I grew frustrated with her, I think this only added to the story. She chooses to deal with or ignore her problems as they come and we’re right there alongside her, viewing the days of a convicted murderer.

If you’re looking for a fascinating historical read based on actual events I highly recommend this novel. It’s very captivating and I flew through the pages, though the content was weighty enough that it will stick with me for a while. This is definitely a book that I’ll need to read again.

5/5 stars

Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead

7 Mar

Apex Hides the Hurt

author: colson whitehead

pages : [hardcover] 227

memorable quote Later he decided the specifics were not important, that the true lesson of accidents is not the how or the why, but the taken-for-granted world they exile you from.

summary :

From the MacArthur and Whiting Award–winning author ofJohn Henry Days and The Intuitionist comes a new, brisk, comic tour de force about identity,history, and the adhesive bandage industry

When the citizens of Winthrop needed a new name for their town, they did what anyone would do—they hired a consultant. The protagonist ofApex Hides the Hurt is a nomenclature consultant. If you want just the right name for your new product, whether it be automobile or antidepressant, sneaker or spoon, he’s the man to get the job done. Wardrobe lack pizzazz? Come to the Outfit Outlet. Always the wallflower at social gatherings? Try Loquacia. And of course, whenever you take a fall, reach for Apex, because Apex Hides the Hurt. Apex is his crowning achievement, the multicultural bandage that has revolutionized the adhesive bandage industry. “Flesh-colored” be damned—no matter what your skin tone is—Apex will match it, or your money back.

After leaving his job (following a mysterious misfortune), his expertise is called upon by the town of Winthrop. Once there, he meets the town council, who will try to sway his opinion over the coming days. Lucky Aberdeen, the millionaire software pioneer and hometown-boy-made-good, wants the name changed to something that will reflect the town’s capitalist aspirations, attracting new businesses and revitalizing the community. Who could argue with that? Albie Winthrop, beloved son of the town’s aristocracy, thinks Winthrop is a perfectly good name, and can’t imagine what the fuss is about. Regina Goode, the mayor, is a descendent of the black settlers who founded the town, and has her own secret agenda for what the name should be. Our expert must decide the outcome, with all its implications for the town’s future. Which name will he choose? Or perhaps he will devise his own? And what’s with his limp, anyway?

Apex Hides the Hurt brilliantly and wryly satirizes our contemporary culture, where memory and history are subsumed by the tides of marketing.

review :

I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy this book. I needed to read it for class and was relieved that it was very slim and didn’t seem to have difficult prose for me to trudge through. The characters were interesting. The plot wasn’t very shocking or gripping but it was easy to see the underlying themes and ideas, especially about consumerism and marketing.

I found it so incredibly interesting that the main character doesn’t have a name when his entire job involves naming things so that they will reach their full potential. A great product with a terrible name will never sell; most people take this for granted but don’t imagine there’s an entire job that revolves around settling on the perfect name for something. The narrator himself admits that usually he landed the perfect name early on and needed to wait a while to give it to the client, so that it’d seem like he took a long time contemplating the decision.

I really enjoyed the partially ambiguous ending, though I think that it would annoy some readers. It fit in perfectly for this kind of odd little novel. There was so much going on throughout, with not much action and a lot of flashback, that to just tie it all up neatly wouldn’t have seemed right.

I definitely recommend this book especially if you’re looking for something that’ll really get you thinking. I don’t typically read adult novels or books of this type for my own enjoyment, yet I think this is something I’d pick up again just to see what all I missed the first time around.

4/5 stars

Panic by Lauren Oliver

3 Mar

 

Panic

author: lauren oliver

pages : [hardcover] 416

favorite characters : dodge & bishop

summary :

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

review :

I’ve been a big fan of Lauren Oliver ever since I first read Before I Fall. As soon as I heard she was coming out with another book I knew I needed to see what it was about. The premise for Panic didn’t sound as exciting as I had hoped it would have been, though it certainly intrigued me. But it had the potential to be a very campy contemporary book. There were some moments that were very thrilling and suspenseful, though they are spread throughout the novel as the game drags on through the summer. Panic had the potential to get gritty and real-with death-defying events being undertaken by teenagers, reports of previous contestants losing their lives or at least being seriously injured. Yet the book to me was never much more than okay.

Part of this was because of the disconnect I felt with the characters. Dodge and Heather get to alternate the focus in most of the novel, yet the characters are so similar that their lives don’t seem very unique. They both want the money to get out of town, have sisters they need to take care of, are annoyed with their mothers over who they’re dating, live in bad spaces. If their parts had been written in first person I’m not sure I would have been able to differentiate between them very well.

The romance in this book . . . I’m not sure if I was actually supposed to see it here. Right up in the blurb it says that Heather and Dodge both encounter the possibility of love and within the book I could see how that was intended to happen. I liked how the relationships there weren’t conventional and were more complex than are usually found in YA novels. Yet the way things ended, at least for one pair of characters, didn’t make much sense to me and actually left me disappointed.

The ending wrapped up way too quickly and was a big thumbs down for me. I wanted to hear more from the characters outside of the game of Panic, I wanted a bigger explosive finale. I wanted more. I just didn’t get that, though I’m glad that this novel is a standalone and wouldn’t be unnecessarily drawn out. Panic had an interesting concept and didn’t use that to every advantage I think that it should. While I still love Lauren Oliver and will love to read more from her, this book was just an okay read for me.

3/5 stars

The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

24 Feb

The House of the Seven Gables

author : nathaniel hawthorne

pages : [paperback] 502

review :

I needed to read this book for school, right after we read The Scarlet Letter. While I didn’t particularly enjoy either book I definitely see the reason why The Scarlet Letter is a more popular book to read in classes. The House of the Seven Gables is a boring book that takes a few hundred pages to tell a simple story. It’s very easy to see the themes and ideas Hawthorne attempted to convey through the book. Apparently he intended to write a brighter, more romantic story after he completed The Scarlet Letter. This book was still rather depressing and the romance was odd and not a delight to read about at all.

The Pyncheons are for the most part an overly privileged rich family brought down by a supposed curse placed on them by the Maules. There was the opportunity here to bring in some interesting supernatural aspects but I don’t think the opportunity was ever fully utilized, even though it was obvious that everything supernatural was only symbolic and not intended to be taken seriously.

I don’t recommend reading this book on your own for personal enjoyment. It definitely doesn’t stand up against the test of time. Although there are certain aspects of the themes that can still be relevant today, like the class conflicts and questions about gender roles. But the dry way the story is told, accompanied by the lack of plot flow and an interesting climax, made this book a chore to read.

1/5 stars

Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

22 Feb

Mary Poppins

author : p. l. travers

pages : [hardcover] 224

memorable quote Don’t you know that everybody’s got a Fairyland of their own?

favorite character : mary poppins

summary :

From the moment Mary Poppins arrives at Number Seventeen Cherry-Tree Lane, everyday life at the Banks house is forever changed. This classic series tells the story of the world’s most beloved nanny, who brings enchantment and excitement with her everywhere she goes. Featuring the charming original cover art by Mary Shepard, these new editions are sure to delight readers of all ages.

It all starts when Mary Poppins is blown by the east wind onto the doorstep of the Banks house. She becomes a most unusual nanny to Jane, Michael, and the twins. Who else but Mary Poppins can slide upbanisters, pull an entire armchair out of an empty carpetbag, and make a dose of medicine taste like delicious lime-juice cordial? A day with Mary Poppins is a day of magic and make-believe come to life!

review :

I can’t believe that it took me so long to finally get around to reading this book! I don’t remember when I first realized Mary Poppins started out as a book series. My friend gave me this first book for my birthday a while ago and I’ve been meaning to read it ever since because I absolutely adore the movie version. Of course with Saving Mr. Banks out recently, Mary Poppins has once again been everywhere and I finally took a day to read this quick, charming book.

There are portions of it very similar to the movie and I think anyone would enjoy seeing the connection there. But there are so many wonderful little scenes and adventures that never made it into the film that were so captivating and were a joy to read about! Jane and Michael have many interesting trips with Mary Poppins, though of course after each one she pretends that nothing has even happened and the two children are left to investigate and ponder whether or not there actually is something very peculiar about their nanny.

The characters of the book were incredibly interesting, even the ones who only appeared in small sections. I was surprised to see how little Bert was involved in the novel and would love to see if he reappears in the rest of the series. I certainly want to continue it because I think that people of all ages have already fallen in love with Mary Poppins and will like her quite a lot more once they read the books written about her. Even if she does stop often to check her reflection in shop windows. :)

I highly recommend this book! It’s something that everybody must read! It’s so short and sweet and don’t go and think that only children can read it. Go out and read this book soon and then tell me what you think of it!

5/5 stars

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