A good book can take places you’ve never been.
A great book n only takes you to places you’ve never been, but has those places linger in your thoughts after the final page is turned.
In the past couple of months, I’ve read two books that have taken me outside my typical worldview and have lingered in my thoughts long after the final page was turned. The first was the much (deservedly so) lauded The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and the other, as unlikely as it may seem, was a new collection of Marvel’s Ms. Marvel comic book, Mecca. Continue reading
About two-hundred pages into The Wife Between Us the unreliable narrator notes that there are three sides to a marriage — his side, her side, and the reality of the situation.
This thought occurred to me long before Vanessa pointed it out to her readers. I also found myself wishing that the cover blurb and marketing materials hadn’t teased that there were twists contained within the pages of the story and that we’d question everything being related by the narrator. It would have made the surprises much more unexpected when Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen begin pulling the rug out from under us and playing with our assumptions.
After her husband divorces her, Vanessa is left trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. She is apparently obsessed with the woman who will soon be marrying her husband and will do anything in her power to warn his next wife of the secrets she hid before, during, and after her marriage. Vanessa teases tidbits to come that led to the demise of her relationship as well as the truth of what was really happening in her life and her marriage. Continue reading
A rainy afternoon turns into a parents’ worst nightmare. A five-year-old boy slips from his mother’s grasp and runs out in front of a car. What follows is a set of tragic events that set into motion that gripping mystery story, I Let You Go.
Haunted by the event, Jenna Gray flees to an isolated town, renting a home with little or no contact with the outside world. Meanwhile, the police task force assigned to the case is haunted by the fact that no witnesses will come forward and they can’t seem to find the missing piece of the puzzle to understand this tragic event, much less track down the culprit.
After an initial character choice that took me out of the novel for a moment (the lead detective’s name is Ray Stevens. As a big fan of the musician Ray Stevens, it took me a few pages to not see my favorite singer in the role as the lead detective), I Let You Go, slowly ratchets up the tension and suspense until the layers of the central mystery are slowly peeled back. It all adds up to one of the more satisfying series of revelations, character examinations, and solutions to the central mystery I’ve read. Every twist is earned and while I saw a few coming, Mackintosh pulls up a few surprises within the story.
I Let You Go is a bit of a slow-burn. The first half is all about putting the pieces on the board and setting up our assumptions of the characters, situation, and mystery. The second half is about pulling the rug out from under the readers in the most satisfying way possible. Be prepared to blaze through the second half of the novel and possibly stay up a bit later reading than you’d originally planned.
After acing her sophomore year finals, Brooke is looking forward to a fresh start. Transferring to a new high school across town with more AP options, Brooke has her path to college and the world mapped out.
But life takes an abrupt turn when she arrives home at her apartment to find flashing lights, sirens and her mother arrested, charged with the murder of her father. Lashing out at those around her and the world, Brooke must try to find a new way under a new reality. It helps that she’s falling in love with a new girl at her new school even as she struggles to hold her family together.
Told from the first person point of view of Brooke, The Last to Let Go is a complex, dark and enthralling young adult novel. Brooke’s dogged determination and belief in her mother’s innocence and desire to have things go back to the way they were drives much of the tension early in the novel. And while it’s clear that Brooke is lashing out at people and not behaving well, readers are treated to the internal struggle and justifications Brooke has for her behaviors. It doesn’t help that her family has secrets and many of those are about to come to light.
A coming of age story, Brooke’s raw, emotional storytelling captured my interest from the first page. Amber Smith’s prose sweeps you in, capturing the emotions and conflict of what Brooke feels. This is a confidently told story that deals with some big real-world issues.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book as part of the Amazon Vine program.
After the runaway success of The Martian, it would have been easy for Andy Weir to publish his grocery list and have it race to the top of the bestseller list.
Instead, Weir made fans wait what seemed like an eternity for his sophomore effort, Artemis. Good things come to those who wait.
While not as immediately engaging as The Martian, Weir’s Artemis avoids a sophomore slump by delivering an entirely new narrator and story. Set in the near future, Artemis introduces us to Jazz, a citizen of the lunar colony Artemis. Jazz wants to help guide tours of the lunar surface, but while she trains for that role, she makes ends meet by running the lunar black market. This leads her to a complicated plot to pull off what should be a perfect crime and earn a reward that will see her set for life. Continue reading
In an afterword to one of his stories, Hugh Howley suggests that the sci-fi trope of AIs rising up and going to war against humanity probably won’t be the way things really happen. Instead, he sees how AIs could go into battle with each other, with humanity being little more than ants in the /8956-9battle between intelligences. We’d be a distraction and little else..*
Several stories in his short-story collection, Machine Learning, delve into this question with varying degrees of success. One memorable story finds humanity falling because of an oversight involving a Roomba. Other stories look at what will happen when we have artificial lifeforms and people begin to fall in love with them and engage in a romantic relationship.
Howley’s stories (collected together by theme) show a wide range. Howley includes a story he thought was long lost from his website as well as several short stories set in his popular Silo universe. If you’re a fan of the Silo universe, those stories alone make this a must-read collection.
Howley also offers an afterword to the stories, giving us a bit of insight into the creation of the stories or further reflections on some of the central themes and questions raised. Using the afterward to address these questions allows the reader to go into each story fresh and without having anything of what’s to come given away by a well-intentioned introduction.
If you’re a Howley fan, this collection is a worthy addition. If you’re not, this collection is a nice way to dip your toe in and see why Howley is one of the more respected writers in the business today (though I will warn you that having a familiarity with his Silo universe lends more enjoyment to that section of stories).
In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book as part of the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.
Seeking to escape from her patient turned stalker, psychologist Faith Corcoran changes her identity and relocates to Cincinnati to begin a new life in her grandmother’s home. Her desire to have a quiet life off the radar quickly goes sideways when Faith comes across one of two kidnapping victims on the lonely road to her new home. Now, she’s drawn into the investigation and its lead investigator, Deacon. Will they be able to figure out how Faith’s stalker might be tied to this new kidnapper before time runs out on the other kidnapping victim?
Billed as “romantic suspense,” Karen Rose’s Closer Than You Think is chock full of both. Faith and Deacon’s instant chemistry screams off the page, despite multiple warnings from Deacon’s co-workers that he shouldn’t get involved with a victim in a case he’s investigating. The suspense factor comes from the investigation into where the other girl is and what the potential connection is to Faith’s family and her past. Continue reading