I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh WAS INSANE

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I Let You Go

author : clare mackintosh

pages : [hardcover] 369

favorite character : patrick

summary :

The next blockbuster thriller for those who loved The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl...a novel with “an astonishing intensity that drags you in and never—ever—lets you go.” (Daily Mail, UK)
 
On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street . . .

I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.

At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them.

review :

I received this book as my May Book of the Month from the Book of the Month Club (yes, I’m way behind in my reading, but it’s in no way a reflection of how amazing this book is).

I picked this book because it looked like a very emotional thriller or mystery. I knew that it involved the accidental death of a child, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident in a rainstorm. What I didn’t know was how many other layers this book would have or how devastatingly beautiful it would be. There are so many clever twists in this book that I couldn’t hope to describe without giving away; you’ll just need to read it for yourself. There are things that you’ll never see coming, even in what seems like a simple case like this.

This book follows several years as the case is being investigated. It tracks Jenna, who has isolated herself after the accident in hopes that no one from her past will find her and that she can begin to forget. It also focuses on the detective who leads the case, which is cold almost as soon as it begins. Through the years, he and his rookie partner are convinced that there is more to this story, that more can still be done, so they gradually begin to undercover clues even years after the incident. Even when everyone else, including the mother of the killed boy, has given up hope that the crime will ever be solved.

It was gruesome, terrifying, and all too realistic, but I loved it. Another voice enters the book about halfway through and it was actually so terrifying that I had trouble falling asleep after reading those chapters. Because it felt too real. The author really has a gift, not only in crafting the story but truly finding the voices of her characters. While the chapters about the police investigation weren’t my favorite, it held a completely different tone and style from Jenna’s chapters, which were completely different from this third voice’s. Switching between them didn’t feel jarring at all because you know immediately who and what you’re reading about. I can’t wait to read more by Clare Mackintosh. I’m sure that whatever else she writes, I’ll love it.

I can’t emphasize how much I love this book–and it’s completely different from most things I’ve read. I don’t think I could compare this accurately to anything because it’s just so special. Go out and get a copy yourself!

5/5 stars

 

“The Curse of Crow Hollow” | Wish I DNF’d

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The Curse of Crow Hollow

author : billy coffey

pages  : [paperback] 416

summary :

With the “profound sense of Southern spirituality” he is known for (Publishers Weekly), Billy Coffey draws us into a town where good and evil—and myth and reality—intertwine in unexpected ways.

Everyone in Crow Hollow knows of Alvaretta Graves, the old widow who lives in the mountain. Many call her a witch; others whisper she’s insane. Everyone agrees the vengeance Alvaretta swore at her husband’s death hovers over them all. That vengeance awakens when teenagers stumble upon Alvaretta’s cabin, incurring her curse. Now a sickness moves through the Hollow. Rumors swirl that Stu Graves has risen for revenge. And the people of Crow Hollow are left to confront not only the darkness that lives on the mountain, but the darkness that lives within themselves.

review :

The Curse of Crow Hollow was such an interesting concept. In the end, though, it just ended up being a disappointment that I wish I’d DNF’d halfway through. Although there are creepy parts to this story, a lot of it ended up being fairly predictable.

Crow Hollow is the kind of town where everyone knows everyone else. They all go to church, twice Sunday and usually every Wednesday too. Gossip is the best form of entertainment. Maybe the safest. Because everything starts to fall apart in Crow Hollow when four teens decide to spend a night camping by the abandoned mines. A witch lives out in those parts–one who curses them when they’re led to her land by a trail of strange, almost horseshoe like prints.

The book starts out like it’s going to be a spooky paranormal read. There are the tales about something terrible living in or around the mines, the witch, the curse. I was really excited to read more when the curse first struck at church the morning after the teens’ sleepover. But everything afterward was a little bit of a letdown. The book tries to do something cool, making everything believably a curse while simultaneously making you think that the town is just crazy and essentially under some mass delusion that is really why the curse is escalating. But once you need to think that everything that happens will also be within the general realm of possibility, it all gets to be so predictable. And the hints that the narrator drops throughout the book–like that death is coming or that certain characters “won’t live to see the next day”–doesn’t end up building suspense. It just made me wonder why they would mention such a thing hundreds of pages before it would eventually happen.

The conclusion to the book wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped it would be, either. There was a little intrigue as the narrator to the book is finally revealed, because the book is set up like someone is telling an outsider to the town all that has happened there. Everything else was just . . . not satisfying enough because it was something you could see coming before the book was halfway over.

I really wanted to like this book. It seemed like it was going to have a lot of creepy, mysterious, and possibly horror-movie quality elements to it. I don’t think I’ll be recommending this one.

2/5 stars

The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass: A Disappointing Read

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The Cresswell Plot

author : eliza wass

pages : [hardcover] 272

summary :

The woods were insane in the dark, terrifying and magical at the same time. But best of all were the stars, which trumpeted their light into the misty dark.

Castella Cresswell and her five siblings—Hannan, Caspar, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem—know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.

Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.

Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.

review :

Although I dove right into The Cresswell Plot and it kept me interested until the very end, I couldn’t help but feel like it was missing some spark that would have made me love it.

This book was very predictable. The plot revolves around a cult-ish family called the Cresswells, who live in the woods next to a small town who doesn’t seem to care whether or not they’d all drop off of the face of the earth. The patriarch of the family believes they’re all too good for the world, that they’re the only ones going to heaven, and that he’s a chosen prophet of God. All of the basic cult-ish elements are here, including a home environment of fear and abuse. Castella and her fellow siblings have only been attending public school for a few years, after they failed their homeschooling tests. This is basically the only contact they receive from the world outside of the woods and their father. Unfortunately most of the town is pretty hostile toward them because they consider all of the Cresswells freaks.

The plot seemed to meander toward the final, big scene which I’d known was coming from the very start. Little subplots would start up–small rebellions by the children, pushing the boundaries of their world–and seem to go nowhere. It was difficult to follow Castella’s narration at times, but I think some of that stemmed from the unhealthy mentality she had from her childhood and ongoing abuse. It was interesting to see how she and the rest of the family could make anything her father did seem rational, because that was how he’d taught his children. And, of course, there was the threat that if she disobeyed, it was really God that she was disobeying, and she’d be barred from heaven like the rest of the world. That’s a pretty heavy threat.

Unfortunately, I feel like even though the Cresswell household was pretty well fleshed out, none of the townspeople were very believable to me. They all seemed like empty stereotypes, there just to make Castella feel or act a certain way at parts of the book. None really felt like their own person.

Overall, I was just really disappointed with The Cresswell Plot. I feel like it had the chance to really be something interesting and unique, but the flat characters and predictable plot bored me.

3/5 stars

 

Servants of the Storm blew me away

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Servants of the Storm

author : delilah s. dawson

pages : [hardcover] 376

memorable quote:

I miss the days when I could wake up from a nightmare and call out, and someone would hold me close, make me feel warm and safe.

favorite character : baker

summary :

Dovey learns that demons lurk in places other than the dark corners of her mind in this southern gothic fantasy from the author of the Blud series.

A year ago, Hurricane Josephine swept through Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction—and taking the life of Dovey’s best friend, Carly. Since that night, Dovey has been in a medicated haze, numb to everything around her.

But recently she’s started to believe she’s seeing things that can’t be real…including Carly at their favorite café. Determined to learn the truth, Dovey stops taking her pills. And the world that opens up to her is unlike anything she could have imagined.

As Dovey slips deeper into the shadowy corners of Savannah—where the dark and horrifying secrets lurk—she learns that the storm that destroyed her city and stole her friend was much more than a force of nature. And now the sinister beings truly responsible are out to finish what they started.

review :

I went into this book basically knowing nothing about what might happen and think that I liked it more from not having any expectations, from wondering alongside Dovey what could be true or hallucinations. So, if you’re interested in reading this book, I’d say dive right into it without too much reading from summaries/reviews.

When I started Servants of the Storm, I expected a mystery with a little intrigue. I expected everyone to think that Dovey was crazy and to spend the entire novel trying to figure out whether or not she really should go back to taking her medication. Somehow I missed the big old ‘horror’ sticker stuck to the copy of my book, when I took out a few novels that have been on my TBR list for ages (so long that I don’t even remember where I got the recommendations from in the first place!).

If you’re into paranormal, demonic, mysteries, this is the one for you. It creeped me out to the core. It really is like reading a horror movie, once you get about 50 pages into the book, and I never saw it coming. The things that the demons in Savannah like to do are horrifying, yet oddly fascinating, and you just can’t look away. I really like the world that Dawson constructed in her book because all of the rules about demons, their servants, and everything in between was easy enough to understand. I’m not learned enough in more demon novels to know if this is typically how they’re dealt with, but it was enough to give me shivers at night. I don’t mind things that can hurt you, even kill you–but once some creature starts messing with immortal souls? Nuh-uh. Goodbye.

Still, as much as it horrified me, I loved it for what it was. Except for the ending. Um, this book was published two years ago, ends like it’s setting itself up for a sequel, and then . . nothing. No sign of a sequel that’s even being written, let alone set to be published. Which is incredibly frustrating!

4/5 stars

 

Cathy’s Book = one of my favorite books of all time

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Cathy’s Book

Cathy Vickers Trilogy #1

author : jordan weisman, sean stewart, cathy brigg

pages : [hardcover] 143

memorable quote :

If this were a war year, if this were 1918 or 1944, I wouldn’t be the only girl whose dad was never coming home.

favorite character : cathy

summary :

Things weren’t so peachy in Cathy’s life before Victor broke up with her. Her father died unexpectedly, she’s failing school, and her best friend is mad at her. But when Cathy decides to investigate Victor’s reasons for ending their relationship, things suddenly go from bad to very, very, very bad as her findings produce more questions than answers. For instance, what does the death of Victor’s co-worker, the strange mark that appeared on Cathy’s arm, and the surreal behavior of several Chinese elders have to do with it?Through Cathy’s unique and irresistible voice-and lots of proof in the form of letters, photographs, date book entries, telephone numbers readers can call, websites they can access, as well as secrets only a careful reader will be able to decipher-readers will enter a strange and fascinating world where things often aren’t how they appear. Two-color illustrations plus supplemental material.

review :

I first read this book about a year or two after it came out. Cathy’s Book was first published in 2006 and has been extremely underrated ever since then. Maybe partly because of that, it took me an absurd amount of time to realize that this was actually part of a trilogy. Now that I have my hands on the other books, I decided to read the first to remind myself of the characters, plot, and setting. Honestly, I feel like I love the books even more now that I’m older.

What’s so incredible and unique about these books is what is done to make the mystery of it all seem real. Any phone number or website mentioned can be called or accessed. You can listen to the voice messages Cathy finds, and it’s just like you’re discovering the clues alongside her as she tries to find out why her boyfriend is being so mysterious and what his secret could be. There’s a nice blend of contemporary paranormal mystery going on here.

All of the other evidence in the case is conveniently located in a plastic pouch glued to the inside flap of the book. Cathy collected it all for her best friend Emma to read and, luckily, decided to share it with all of the other readers as well. IT’S SO COOL. Little things like business cards and fortunes that play such a small role in the book are gathered right there for you to actually see and feel for yourself. When I was younger, it freaked me out a little bit, as I wondered if this actually could be happening. That’s how convincing it was to me.

I don’t want to give too much about the book away, because it’s fairly short (less than 200 pages!) so it dives right into the mystery practically on page 1. Cathy is determined to get to the bottom of Victor’s sudden and mysterious break-up with her and subsequent disappearance. Cathy and Emma exchange notes in the margins of the notes (which are basically like a diary for Cathy, so she does not hold back at all) and I could ramble on and on about how I love this book for days. It’s so underrated! So go find a copy and READ.

5/5 stars

 

 

 

Forget Me by K. A. Harrington

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Forget Me

author : k. a. harrington

pages : [hardcover] 288

favorite character : evan

summary :

An edge-of-your seat psychological thriller with a romantic twist

On the three-month anniversary of her boyfriend Flynn’s death, Morgan uploads her only photo of him to FriendShare to get some closure—but she’s shocked when the facial recognition software suggests she tag him as “Evan Murphy.” She’s never heard of Evan, but a quick search tells her that he lives in a nearby town and looks exactly like Flynn. Only this boy is very much alive.

Digging through layers of secrets and lies, Morgan is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her boyfriend, her town, and even her parents’ involvement in this massive web of lies.

review :

I’ve picked up a few different young adult mysteries lately and have been really interested in getting more into the mystery/thriller genre. I think it’s interesting to see how stories like these can really grip you, shock you, and pull you into the narrative. Unfortunately, though Forget Me had a great start, it ended up being a big disappointment.

Morgan’s boyfriend, Flynn, was killed in a hit-and-run. Worse, she witnessed the accident. But when she uploads a picture of him as a memorial to a website and is asked to tag his picture with some other boy’s name, a boy who looks exactly like Flynn, she wonders if he’s really dead at all. Or if the accident wasn’t what it seemed.

Throughout the book, there are all of these hints at some bigger picture story happening and the pieces don’t fall into place until the finish. Which, y’know, is expected in the mystery. But Morgan’s town has been run into the ground because the big company that used to employ so many townspeople has shut down. I thought that there was going to be a whole conspiracy surrounding that, because it seemed like most of the people working there were scientists. I figured there was some genetic testing going on there or a crazy answer like that would be found in the mystery. What the plot really builds up to, though, is less satisfying.

I won’t give away the ending. But I will say that Forget Me really fell when it came to pacing. So much of the middle of the book fell flat while Morgan was navigating the mystery. And then, in the last 20 or so pages, so much information was randomly packed into them. Pieces that had no build-up to them whatsoever and seemed much too convenient, and unsatisfying, an answer to all of the intrigue and quirky clues we’d been getting throughout the novel.

I’m going to keep on reading mysteries, but won’t be recommending this one.

3/5 stars

Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker

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Beware the Wild 

Beware the Wild #1

author : natalie c. parker

pages : [hardcover] 327

memorable quote :

Secrets are never so dangerous as when they’ve been forgotten.

favorite characters : lenora may

summary :

It’s an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp—the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn’t return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed.

Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp’s done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance—and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her.

This debut novel is full of atmosphere, twists and turns, and a swoon-worthy romance.

review :

I checked this book out of the library because I’ve been trying to methodically cut down on my TBR. To be honest, I’m not sure how long this one has been sitting patiently waiting for me to finally track it down and read it. I’m glad that I didn’t let it disappear in a sea of good intentions for reading because Beware the Wild is a 5 star book.

The mystery. The paranormal elements. The horror. It all blended together perfectly in a story that captivated just as much as it rattled me. The swamp that borders Sterling’s home has always held its secrets and she’s been content to keep away from it, until the day her brother runs into the swamp and Lenora May runs out . . to take his place. Things only grow stranger from there, as Sterling realizes she may be completely alone in unraveling this mystery before it is too late and she loses her brother to the swamp, forever.

I think it’s interesting, in stories like these, when nature itself seems to be a predator to humanity. The people in town like to pretend that the ‘swamp stories’ (their personal ghost stories) are all myth, though on the side they do as much as possible to superstitiously protect themselves from the swamp. There’s always the thought that maybe the swamp is nothing but normal . . . But I’ll pray for the evil to stay inside of it where it belongs, just in case. As the mysteries deepen and more questions arise, it becomes even more difficult to discern what is real and what is myth.

The characters were amazing, especially Lenora May. As soon as she emerged from the swamp I knew that I was going to be intrigued by her. Sterling was fascinating, too, because she needs to learn to come into her own to save her brother, after he’s basically saved her throughout her entire life. I also found this book interesting because Sterling has an eating disorder but this isn’t a book about eating disorders. It’s about the mysteries of the swamp. I loved how it was just one aspect of her character and how it was handled throughout the story, though I’d have liked to see more of what happened with that aspect after the paranormal excitement died down.

This book was amazing–and it turns out that there’s a sequel? If I’d known that before reading, I may have been disappointed, but because this book was so surprising and hooked me in, I definitely need to get my hands on book two.

5/5 stars