Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Good Girl

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Like "two tiny figurines in a snow globe that some child has turned over", she feels at peace; truly loved and cherished for the first time in her life. Not long ago, this man that stands beside her, shivering in the tranquility and solitude of newly fallen snow, had every intention of killing her.

Mia could never please her father, James Dennett, the powerful, arrogant, opinionated Chicago judge. He wants to mold her into his likeness as he did with her sister, Grace. Mia chooses a different path by distancing herself from the wealth and prestige her father clings to and desires. She fosters her passion for art by teaching troubled youth in an inner city school. Here she finds happiness, far away from the confines of a home that never welcomed her.

Jilted once again by her current boyfriend, Mia spends a lonely night drinking in the bar where they all know her by name. This night a stranger approaches her, and after exchanging pleasantries, they head to his apartment where Mia hopes to obliterate depressing thoughts that fill her mind, if only for a few fleeting hours. Colin Thatcher is his name, a puzzling man with dark, piercing eyes. It soon becomes apparent that he has other plans for this fragile, lonely young woman. The chilling extortion plot that Colin agreed to is under way. Deliver her to the dangerous thugs who orchestrated this scenario, and he'll have enough money to ease his growing financial woes. Really very simple if it all goes according to the script.

Inexplicably, Colin suddenly changes his mind and continues to drive through the night, hostage in tow, to a desolate, forlorn cabin hidden from civilization in the backwoods of Minnesota. Endless days and nights pass in this frozen remote tundra as Mia slips farther and farther into a world from which she may never escape. All the while, her meek and misunderstood mother, Eve, joins forces with a determined detective to find her daughter at all costs, even if it shatters an already broken family. The question remains. Can they save Mia from this hideous nightmare?

This is the debut novel of Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) graduate, Mary Kubica. It's being compared to Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, and the similarities are apparent but not identical. This novel stands on its own. The chapters alternate between past and present with three narrators, and once you understand the pattern, it is an engrossing, often exhilarating ride. Mia's harrowing tale takes unexpected twists and turns and not until the last few pages does the reader discover the smoking mirror.

Add this mesmerizing and intricately written suspense novel to your summer reading list.




Friday, July 18, 2014

All Fall Down

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

She dreams of a fairy tale ending. Allison Weiss marries David believing that contentment and wedded bliss will follow. He has a successful career as an award-winning journalist, they are doting parents to their endearing, precocious daughter Ellie, and their beautiful suburban home is a showcase. But slowly that idyllic life is eroding and slipping away. David's job has taken a back seat to Allison's budding career as a writer. She is the author of a successful blog that centers on hot topics women crave to read. This unwelcome role as the major breadwinner for the family overwhelms her. Ellie's recent erratic and demanding behavior is a cause for concern. Allison's once distinguished father suffers from Alzheimer's disease while her helpless mother stands by, and the spacious ostentatious house certainly isn't a warm and welcoming home. A bright and promising future is vanishing before her eyes, and Allison knows only one way to take away the pain.


If you are a fan of Jennifer Weiner's books, you know she often interjects wry humor in her stories while exploring serious topics. This novel is no exception. The main character manages to find a bit of levity in her strife, struggling to maintain  normalcy in a life that is crumbling around her. But the author also departs from her usual path of humorous storytelling, by taking a serious look at an all too truth that exists today; the fact that addiction to painkillers, especially by women, has increased in the last few years and threatens the stability and happiness of many families. Obviously the author has done her research and feels strongly about this subject matter. She created a character who is strong and loyal to all those she loves, but misguided in her attempts to deal with deep-seated feelings that cloud her ability to function. Instead she turns to a secret, expensive, and destructive habit to dull the torment and heartache of reality. She is entering the dangerous world of narcotics, "like a warm, fuzzy comforter, a layer of defense between me and the world".

Follow one woman's emotional journey as she reclaims her life from the misery and hopelessness of drug addiction. As she confronts demons from painful childhood memories, she learns she isn't the only one in her family with a shameful secret. Harsh truths can't be ignored. With an inner strength and the belief that healing is possible one day at a time, Allison finds a thread of hope. Love and redemption are hers for the taking if only she has the courage to take the next step on the winding road to recovery.  



Friday, July 11, 2014


Invisible by James Patterson and David Ellis

He's back.....

Prolific writer James Patterson teams this time with David Ellis to tell a chilling story about a devious serial killer who continues a spree of hideous murders across the nation; and no one even knows he exists.

Vivid nightmares plague Emmy Dockery at night. Scorching fire surrounds her as she valiantly struggles to breathe. She hears the pleading cries of her twin sister, Marta, while intense, deadly flames engulf everything in the room. Sizzling and destructive, the fingers of  fire crawl towards her.  Then Emmy awakens with a pounding heart and realizes that it's all a dream except for one horrific fact; Marta is dead. She is one of many who met their death at the hands of a deranged twisted mind. Emmy knows it's true, yet no one believes her, so now she must prove it.

Emmy is compulsively obsessed with her sister's death. In fact, she is on a leave of absence form the FBI as a researcher spending endless hours finding a common link between the hundreds of fire-related deaths sweeping the country. All of them have been deemed accidental with reasonable explanations. There is nothing to suggest otherwise; no weapons, no motives, no foul play, just tragic circumstances claiming innocent lives. Even Emmy's ex-fiance questions the credibility of her theory until a crucial piece of evidence emerges at one of the scenes. The possibility exists that a dangerous deviant individual is in their midst, taking great delight in mocking and taunting law enforcement. Somehow Emmy and her cohorts must decipher his pattern and unearth clues to stop the madness. The clock is ticking.

The subject matter in this novel is often gruesome and repulsive. There is a lunatic on the run trying to outwit everyone. It's a gritting suspense thriller that allows the reader to analyze the riddles and become a detective as the story moves at a fast pace to the riveting end. Get past the shocking details of grizzly murders, and you'll find this newest stand-alone novel from Patterson a winner. See if you can solve the mystery behind a cunning and clever mind with an unwavering desire to remain...


Monday, July 7, 2014

We Were Liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

They had it all at their fingertips. Wealth, beauty, social standing. And then one summer it just slipped away......

Candence Sinclair Eastman is the narrator of this story but those who know her well call her Cady. Even her name sounds regal, as it should, considering she is an heiress to her grandfather's fortune. She's one of The Sinclairs; blonde, lovely, and privileged. Cady eagerly anticipates the summer because once again she and her cousins will spend languid days and nights on a private island off the coast of Cape Cod, walking the rocky shoreline, eating rich, buttery, fresh seafood and occasionally imbibing in the liquor hidden behind locked doors.

As well as being related, these four teens call themselves the Liars. There are cousins Mirren and Johnny and the illusive Gat.  He's the son of Aunt Carrie's boyfriend, and Cady is awestruck in his presence. She's in love. They've all known each other since they were eight years old. This posse of four must stick together as their dysfunctional family surrounds them. Granddad is rigid and controlling, the aunts bicker and argue over the many material possessions, and Cady's mom stills reels from the day her  husband walked out on her. Yes, the four Liars can weather it all, if they just stick together.

Then during her fifteenth summer on the island, Cady has a mysterious accident that leaves her in constant pain and suffering from amnesia. Now it is two years later and Cady still fights to remember what really happened that pivotal summer. If only she could remember.....

Much like John Green's The Fault in our Stars, this much talked about book appeals to an adolescent reader, but seems to have acquired an adult audience.  E. Lockhart is a National Book Award finalist with a distinct writing style. All 240 pages are written in a halting abbreviated manner which eventually you will come to expect as the pages turn. This book has almost a mystical quality. Continue reading and the heavy fog of uncertainty gradually lifts until Cady's story becomes painfully clear. Powerful and not easily forgotten, it's a book you'll either love or hate, but certainly one worth the discussion.

And by all means, don't tell anyone how it ends.