“Where They Found Her” by Kimberly McCreight

This book was on my TBR list for a long time before I finally got the chance to read it! I read Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight a few years ago and was obsessed. It was definitely a high ranker on my list. For some reason my local library was late to the game in getting Where They Found Her, and since I absolutely refuse to pay for a book (the bane of my existence when my library doesn’t have one I crave) it waited and waited on my list. But lemme tell ya, it was well worth the weight!

When the body of an unidentified infant is found deserted in a New Jersey park, three unconnected woman find themselves tied together in ways they never imagined.

Journalist Molly Brown is assigned as the lead reporter on the case of the found baby. Having recently mourned the loss of her own child, the assignment becomes an emotional uphill battle for Molly.

High school dropout Sandy is navigating through her mess of a life which includes studying for her GED and trying to make ends meet, all while searching for her MIA alcoholic and destructive mother.

Wife of the lead detective in the unidentified infant case, Barbara is struggling to deal with the struggles of her own son, who has recently become the “problem student” in his school.

Where they Found Her alternates storylines and perspectives of these three women and leaves the reader dying to know how they will eventually intersect. Though at first it is hard to keep track of the numerous characters and minor storylines, McCreight pulls everything together nicely toward the end of the story. Her writing is detailed and precise, letting us into the lives of the three main characters in their separate, but similarly challenging, struggles. The only thing I didn’t adore about this book was some of the “fluff,” such as Molly’s newspaper stories. Since they typically reiterated information already discovered in the book, they appeared to me as more filler than pertinent to the novel. But, again, very minor flaw in a deliciously engrossing book.

I really thought I had the ending to this one “figured out,” but was wowed with a surprise ending that, while somewhat farfetched, was completely gripping. Where They Found Her kept my interest until the last page and left me both bewildered and very impressed.

4.25/5 stars!

www.kimberlymccreight.com

To-Be-Read List

I am CONSTANTLY adding new books to my “to-be-read” list, much faster than I can read them. I get my suggestions from a variety of places, the most common being:

  • Amazon, specifically the “customers who bought this item also bought…”
  • Book bloggers and Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Good Reads (www.goodreads.com)

So, here are the books I’m anxiously awaiting reading!

What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan
The Child by Fiona Barton
Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson
The Trespasser by Tana French
We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley
The Doll’s House by M.J. Arlidge
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica
The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
Confess by Colleen Hoover
November 9 by Colleen Hoover
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Good as Gone by Amy Gentry
The River at Night by Erica Fenerick
Triptych by Karin Slaughter
Kisscut by Karin Slaughter
Coptown by Karin Slaughter
Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch
Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner
No One Knows by J.T. Ellison
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich
The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker
This Is Not Over by Holly Brown
The Dark Room by Jonathan Moore
Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough
Ill Will by Dan Chaon
The Guise of Another by Alan Eskens
We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilley
Fellside by M.R. Carey
Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens
My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry
The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
Little Monsters by Lauren Beukes
The Dry by Jane Harper
The Dark Rose by Erin Kelly
I’m Traveling Alone by Samuel Bjork
The Killing Lesosns by Saul Black
Trust No One by Paul Cleave
The Ritual by Adam Nevil
Exquisite by Sarah Stovell
What She Saw byGerard Stembridge
Tornado Weather by Deborah Kennedy

I’d love other suggestions you think I need to put on my radar!

Recently Read Books

Hey guys! My friends ask me all the time “what books do you recommend I read?” When you read as much as I do, that’s a really tough question to answer. I have a really high-tech (sarcasm) way of keeping up with books I’ve read recently, as well as my to-be-read list–I keep them in the “notes” section of my iPhone. I really need to create a spreadsheet and some sort of cool rating and classification-by-genre system, but for now they go in the notes with the title and author, and they get a green emoji check mark when I’ve read them. So I wanted to share with you the books that I’ve read in the past few months, probably since around February or March or so. I have considered giving each one a rating, but then what would keep you coming back to my blog? 😉 If you have any questions or are curious about any of the books listed, feel free to comment and I’ll give you my super quick mini-review! So here it goes, in no particular order:

In the Blood by Lisa Unger
The Girl Before by Rena Olsen
Find Her by Lisa Gardner
The CircleI by Dave Eggers
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson
The Ex by Alafair Burke
Birdbox by Josh Malerman
The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
Love You More by Lisa Gardner
Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger
All the Summer Girls by Meg Donoghue
Little Deaths by Emma Flint
The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
I See You by Clare Mackintosh
The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe
Pop Goes the Weasel by M.J. Arlidge
Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
Perfect Days by Raphael Montes
In the Woods by Tana French
The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer
The Life We Bury by Alan Eskens
Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf
The Widow by Fiona Barton
Those Girls by Chevy Stevens
The Perfect Girl by Gilly MacMillan
Dare Me by Megan Abbot
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman
Saving Grace by Jane Green
Blonde Hair Blue Eyes by Karin Slaughter
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall

 

“Find Her” by Lisa Gardner

I love a good crime story. I enjoy the suspense of the “whodunit,” piecing together clues and sorting through red herons. But I am always hesitant to start “detective series” because I’m not a huge fan of police procedurals. I can often get too bogged down in the details, and, sometimes pointless, backstories of the detectives and police personnel. So I was a little hesitant to begin Find Her by Lisa Gardner, as it is a part of the Detective D.D. Warren series. Number ten, actually. I also try my hardest not to read series out of order—I hate reading things in more recent books which can be spoilers for those that came before. But thanks to Find Her’s rave reviews and the fact that my employer’s library had it in stock, I picked it up and was pretty impressed. Gardner’s alternating perspectives between the aforementioned Detective Warren and the victim-turned-potential-perpetrator makes this book a perfect blend between thriller and crime.

Flora Dane has recently returned home after a 472-day abduction, during which she was brutally raped and tortured. While her family desires for her to return to her normal life, normal is no longer enough for Flora. She sets out on a vigilante mission to stop other abductors before it is too late. But when she pursues the disappearance of local college woman, Flora quickly finds herself reliving the nightmares of her own captivity and unable to cope.

This book is extremely fast paced and has constant twists and turns to keep the reader’s interest. In addition to the alternating perspectives, Gardner adds in some flashbacks of Flora’s time with her abductor, which makes the story even more engrossing and gives the reader internal conflict regarding siding with Flora, or, with the law. While some of the plot line may be rather far-fetched, Find Her is an entertaining read, sure to keep thrill seekers and crime enthusiasts on their toes. This was my first novel by Lisa Gardner (pretty insane considering she’s written almost 30,) but I’ve since read Love You More and have Right Behind You  on my TBR list. Reviews promised to come soon!

4.75/5 stars! 

www.lisagardner.com

“In a Dark Dark Wood” by Ruth Ware

I’m 28. I’m at the age where most of my friends have recently gotten engaged or married, or are on their way. So bachelorette parties have been on regular rotation as of late. I’ve been to D.C., Ocean City, and Atlantic City and will be heading to Charlottesville in a few weeks, all in the name of penis straws, bride-to-be sashes, shots of Fireball, and “Never Have I Ever.” Maybe that is why I enjoyed In a Dark Dark Wood  so much, because I felt that I could somewhat relate. Although, thankfully, none of my recent bachelorette adventures have included a murder.

In a Dark Dark Wood begins with Nora/Lee/Lenora receiving a random invitation to her long lost BFF Clare’s hen party (British for bachelorette.) She can’t get a feel for why she was invited, but after talking to another mutual friend decides there’s no hurt in going. The hen party gathers in an almost fully glass cabin in the middle of the woods, ready to celebrate bride-to-be away from civilization.

Nora can’t admit to the group that she hasn’t spoken to Clare in over ten years, she isn’t invited to the wedding, and she doesn’t even know who Clare is marrying, without ruining the illusion that she and Clare are blissfully reunited in the name of love and everlasting friendship.

The book alternates between scenes of tequila shots and bumps of cocaine, and Nora in the aftermath in a hospital bed, no memory of the two nights prior. I enjoyed the flipping back and forth, I felt that it added to the suspense and whodunit appeal.

A story of murder, marriage rituals and dark jealous friendships, In a Dark Dark Wood will keep you on the edge of your seat as a quick, thrilling read.

4/5 stars.

www.ruthware.com

“Don’t You Cry” by Mary Kubica

I read Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl a while back and really enjoyed it, so her other two novels have been on my list to read for quite some time. I managed to snag Don’t You Cry in a large print edition at my local library. I felt like a speed reader turning those pages with the big words so fast!

Don’t You Cry tells two separate stories for it’s first 80%. Storyline A is that of Quinn, early 20’s, entry-level career, trying to make a life for herself in Chicago. Quinn lives in a somewhat decent apartment in the heart of the city with her roommate, Esther. One groggy morning, after a night out drinking, Quinn wakes up to find Esther missing. While not immediately alarmed, panic begins to bubble up as Esther doesn’t return for several hours. Or the rest of the night. Or the next few days…
Quinn spends the rest of the week desperately trying to find out what happened to Esther and why she has disappeared–did she leave on her own free will, or is she in danger? Is Esther really the sweet, gentle roommate Quinn knows and loves?

Storyline B follows Alex (for the first few chapters I thought he was a girl, damn those unisex names) who is working a dead-end job as a diner dishwasher in his run-down hometown. Alex turned down a college scholarship to stay home to take care of his incoherent alcoholic father. The highlight of his day is delivering the lunch orders to his agoraphobic neighbor. His life is dreadfully dull, until he meets a mysterious, and incredibly odd girl in the diner, who he affectionately names “Pearl.”

Quinn becomes more and more suspicious of Esther, after finding dark clues from her past in the apartment.

Alex becomes more and more fascinated by Pearl’s lunacy, but is blinded by her attention and companionship.

The pieces start falling together as to how these two tales will align, and while I thought I had it all figured out, I definitely didn’t.

This was a quick read, although a little slow to start and get into. Once the suspense started building, I found it engaging with a fairly okay twist at the end.

4 out of 5 stars.

http://www.marykubica.com

“The Girls” by Emma Cline

I’m really obsessed with cults. I know, I know, that makes me sound like the ultimate emo creep. But it’s true. They’re just so fascinating! I’m really intrigued as to how someone gets sucked into the commune lifestyle, abandons their family and friends, and blindly follows a savior, who inevitably is a decently attractive, charismatic, middle-aged white man. It’s just so hard for me to wrap my brain around, which makes it all that much more interesting. Thanks to my slightly sociopathic obsession, I’ve seen my fair share of cult documentaries, shows, books, etc. and I was super pumped to get my hands on one of the summer’s trendiest books, The Girls, by Emma Cline.

The Girls parallels the story of Charles Manson and his family almost to a T. I think maybe this is why I didn’t love this book as much as I had expected. I was hoping for a more imaginative story, or at least some great insight as to the secrets of the family and their lifestyle. But, being already pretty familiar with the Manson case, I didn’t find this storyline especially shocking.

Evie Boyd opens the novel in modern day, reflecting on her former life as a part of the “family.” She flashes back to age 14 where she is living a life pretty typical of a teenager in the late 60’s. Her parents are divorced, she is an only child, and she spends her days in suburban California drinking beers in her best friend’s basement, gossiping about girls at school and crushing on the upperclassmen boys. There is nothing especially remarkable about her life, but also nothing horrendous enough for me to buy her slipping into the claws of a murderous cult.

Evie happens upon a group of hippie older girls, with whom she is immediately infatuated. The center of her obsession is Suzanne, the 17-year old female leader. She develops what can only be described as a massive crush on Suzanne, hanging on her every word, doing everything she says. Suzanne and the girls bring Evie back to “the ranch,” where she meets, and, unsurprisingly, hooks up with Russell, aka Charles Manson. Evie becomes a daily fixture at the ranch, and gets away with always  being gone from home by telling her mom she’s sleeping over at her best friend’s. This is another thing that didn’t really make much sense to me in the book; even a somewhat absentee mother would start to think it odd after not seeing her daughter practically the entire summer. And the author does nothing to make us think that Evie’s mom is abusive, an alcoholic, plain old horrible, etc. How does Evie become a full fledged member of a cult with her normal-ish mom not even realizing she’s missing? Anyway, I digress.

Evie’s story continues with the family slowly unravelling, eventually to the point of homicide, just as we know to be true in the case of the Manson followers. Sans Helter Skelter. And then that’s just kind of the end. (Did I just ruin it?)

While the literature and prose of this book was gorgeous, I just didn’t love the story nearly as much as I wanted to. And I desperately wanted to love it. I was expecting this book to be one of my favorites of all time, but I found myself struggling to push through certain dry parts. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t amazing. Now, if you’re looking for a stellar first-person life-in-a-cult account, check out Holy Hell on Netflix. One of the best cult documentaries I’ve seen (and again, I’ve seen a lot.) Hours of footage and testimonies from folks actually living inside a cult (for 22 years!!!!!) I’ll let you have that nugget of info for free.

3 out of 5 stars.

http://www.emmacline.com