Beautiful. Poetic. Haunting. Lyrical. This latest story from Celeste Ng is all that and more.
Izzy has finally gone over the edge. Everyone knew it was going to happen eventually. But what caused this inevitable collapse? Things are never as simple as they seem, and that rule applies to the Richardson house being burnt to the ground by their erratic, youngest daughter.
Rewind to the beginning. That’s when Mia and her daughter Pearl arrive in town. At first just tenants in a rental house owned by the Richardsons, they soon find themselves ingrained into the family. Pearl finds friendship among the four Richardson children while Mia takes up employment as their housekeeper. Their nomadic, artistic lifestyle is too tempting to resist. Soon their lives are intertwined in unimaginable ways. But all families have secrets, and these two families are no exception. As secrets typically go, when one is discovered another soon follows. Some secrets aren’t so big, others are huge and life changing.
These characters are amazing, every single one of them. Mrs. Richardson is controlling and disciplined beyond belief. Mia is free spirited and thoughtful. The teenagers are, well, what you would expect of teenagers. The way they all come together is simply spellbinding. This is a story that I both wanted to end and wanted to last longer at the same time. An outstanding tale!
Buy It Now: Little Fires Everywhere
I love it when I find an unexpectedly good story. One that you haven’t heard of, pick up on a whim, are moderately intrigued by the blurb on the back, and then are pleasantly surprised by the way it turns out.
A bridge collapses…hundreds of lives in the balance. But instead of focusing on the victims, this story centers around the family members waiting to find out the fate of their loved ones.
Siblings Alexa and Jason, at odds much of the time lately, find themselves clinging to each other in the hospital waiting room. Not knowing if their parents are alive or dead, they’re still finding it difficult to set their bad feelings aside. Scott rushes to the hospital after hearing that his girlfriend, Aimee, was on that bridge when it collapsed. Skyler is devastated when she’s notified that her sister Kate is among the missing.
These young people, not even adults, are facing everyone’s worst nightmare. We find out, though, that each one of them has something else haunting them. And hearing each story unwind is more intriguing than the accident that brought them all together. A good story with a satisfying, though not necessarily happy, ending.
Buy It Now: All We Can Do Is Wait
Yes, I’m doing it again. I’m recommending a book about lying families with dark secrets. Sorry, it is what it is! But never fear, this one is heavy on the emotions and light on the mayhem.
Willow has lived with her aunt Hope for almost as long as she can remember. Orphaned at a very young age, she takes her aunt’s version of what happened at face value. Why would she question the past, anyway? But when she receives an invitation to a gallery exhibit, she begins to wonder. And the more she wonders, the more she uncovers. An aunt she didn’t know existed, questions about her parents’ death…all these things lead her to dig deeper. Unfortunately her aunt Hope is no help, preferring to leave the tragedies of her youth hidden and forgotten. So Willow is left on her own, with a lot of determination and a bit of help from both friends and strangers.
Alternating between the past and the present, the author successfully blends the two together into a story that covers all possible angles. I found myself caring as much about Charity’s story as I did Willow’s. It’s a rare author that can do this. A great summer beach read!
Buy It Now: My Sister’s Secret
What can I say about this latest novel from Megan Miranda other than it’s pure gold? Truly, it’s along the lines of “Run and grab this one as fast as you can and be prepared to stay up way past your bedtime to finish it.”
Nic dreads returning to her hometown. But she can’t avoid it after being summoned by her brother. He needs her help to make arrangements for their aging father. Her plan is to get in and out as quickly as possible, get back to her life as she knows it. History, however, has other ideas…
You see, there’s a reason she left in such a hurry all those years ago. Was it the devastating disappearance of her best friend, Corinne? Or was it something else? Whatever the cause, it’s still there after all these years. Dark secrets don’t stay hidden forever. And once you start digging, well, it’s just a matter of time until everything is out in the open. Or maybe not.
Megan Miranda has written an outstanding thriller, making me want to read all of her others. Bonus points on originality for this one as the story is told in reverse. I wasn’t sure how that was going to work at first, but by the end it all came together. A must-read for fans of suspenseful, well-told stories!
Buy It Now: All the Missing Girls
Having never read anything by Ann Troup, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Sure, the description is intriguing. But how many times have we started a book with high expectations only to experience disappointment when it doesn’t follow through? Not the case with this one!
When Edie returns to her childhood home to clear up some loose ends after her aunt’s untimely death, she doesn’t expect to be there for long. Clean out the house, sell off some belongings, settle the estate, and then she’ll be on her way. But of course things don’t go as planned.
It’s known by all that Coronation Square was the scene of a series of grisly murders years ago. When the killer was caught and executed, justice surely was served. But as Edie starts digging through the clutter and dankness that was her aunt’s life, she begins uncovering secrets. It quickly becomes apparent that there are people who want those secrets to remain hidden. And they’ll stop at nothing to make that happen.
This is such a dark, dreary book. And that’s exactly as it should be. Anything else wouldn’t have worked. The author paints a depressing, suspenseful scene that fits the story perfectly. There are twists and turns galore to keep you guessing until the very end. An excellent, well-told mystery!
Buy It Now: The Silent Girls
***Spoilers without spoilers***
Another tough one for me. I love this book for the most part…put the ending really knocked it down for me from a book I could have loved to just “meh”.
The stuff going on between Kate and her husband, Dexter was more than enough to carry the entire book. Once we found out what Kate’s previous job was there were dozens of ways this book could have went…All of them good. When you add the secrets that she kept from her husband and how they continued to grow after time to such an extent that she felt she could never share them. Once you’ve went years not telling the truth, the truth becomes even harder to share, simply because you didn’t do so long ago. Something simple and harmless (Although her previous job was far from that!) grows more menacing as the time goes by…The party kept in the dark will always wonder why didn’t you share SOONER? What else have they hiding all that time.
Then you have Dexter…who might not be so innocent as Kate once believed. Maybe he doesn’t truly have such a passive personality after all. If she has her secrets, why shouldn’t she realise that he might have his very own. Perhaps even bigger than hers!
See! Paranoia just feeds upon itself with just that….it just builds and builds. Considering Kate’s previous job title, paranoia is understandable…or is it? See! There it goes again! That is why this book could have been fantastic….
Alas, the author decided that it wasn’t enough….he had to throw in some extra characters and at the ending make the entire storyline not about Kate and Dexter, but about this mass cover up/conspiracy/manipulation. The entire novel could have…nay, should have left the other couple as bit players and nothing more. I wish authors remembered that you don’t have to fabricate drama in every sentence. If it’s there it’s there! No need to try to insert more. It just seems forced and unbelievable for me. I understand the need for some authors to provide *surprising and shocking* endings in novels. I suppose the public does demand them. However, the best ones are the believable ones aren’t just Johnny on the spot and seemingly there to cause drama. They are the ones that were there all along…
Another major let down for me, but just as the book was too predictable, I suppose my let down is just as predictable….
Until next time…
Buy it now The Expats by Chris Pavone
Stories like this are the reason I continue to love historical fiction. Skilled authors are able to take an event or era from the past and weave an intricately compelling story around it. Granted, there’s no shortage of stories set in Nazi Germany, but this one is definitely a must-read if you’re a fan of the genre.
It’s the early 1970’s, and Hannah must come to terms with her mother’s recent death. Not particularly close to her in life, she now is faced with the task of clearing out her mom’s house and possessions. A job to be completed as quickly as possible so that she can get back to her life. Until she comes across some mysterious letters, that is.
And so her quest takes her all the way to Germany where she meets a grandfather she had no idea even existed. And she’s a surprise to him as well. Hannah is as determined to find out her family secrets as her grandfather is determined to keep them forever hidden. As she digs deeper, she finds out so much more than she bargained for. And she discovers the person her mother truly was.
Much of the appeal of this story, as is the case with most historical fiction, is that it’s told from two perspectives spanning several decades. What Hannah is feeling is entirely justified, but hearing her mother’s story puts a whole new spin on things. An excellent story with the reminder that things aren’t always what they seem!
Buy It Now: Secrets She Kept