“This Is Not Over” by Holly Brown

I just finished reading This Is Not Over by Holly Brown, and I wish it weren’t over! Although this book has gotten mixed reviews, I really enjoyed it for entertainment’s sake. I found the plot line different and interesting, and the story jogged along at a pretty captivating pace.

This Is Not Over starts with Miranda getting a negative review on Getaway.com, a fictional Air BnB short-term rental site. Since she regularly receives rave reviews for her gorgeous Santa Monica mansion, the negative remarks floor her. Miranda prides herself on being fair, honest, and a superior hostess. She normally has great communication with her renters, is upfront and prompt, which is why she thinks charging Dawn $200 for the damage done to her sheets is more than fair.

Dawn can’t believe that Miranda had the nerve to charge her for ruined sheets that she most certainly didn’t ruin. When Dawn and her husband left the home, everything was in perfect shape. Dawn views herself as an honest, respectable renter, and believes that Miranda must be trying to run a scam. Her Getaway.com review wasn’t rude, it was just the facts.

What starts as a simple online argument blows up into full on obsessions of vindication between two grown adults. As the feud progresses, both women learn more and more about one another and eventually find themselves entangled in a mess that is much larger than an internet review.

This premise in and of itself is intriguing enough to run a plot line, but the back stories of Miranda and Dawn give the book an extra layer of depth. Miranda’s son has a methamphetamine addiction and Dawn has an unhealthy history with her parents and upbringing. Yes, both characters are exceptionally unlikeable, but I’ve never been a reader who insists on falling in love with my protagonists. I don’t mind reading about completely despicable and unreliable humans; after all, that is what fiction reading is all about, stepping into a world outside of your own.

Since I am someone who tends to keep my Facebook comments to myself, I did, at times, find the extent of Miranda’s and Dawn’s feud a bit extreme. However, a simple browse through the comment section on any online political article will show you how quickly these differences of opinion can heat up with keyboard warriors and trolls.

Some readers have felt that the ending of this book was too rushed, and I do have to agree. The climax of the story happens with mere pages until the ending, so it did feel that there were some loose ends that were never fully tied up.

But, overall, I found This Is Not Over to be an entertaining and exciting read, one which I sped through in three days. I even had a dream that I was addicted to meth after reading some of Miranda’s chapters before bed. I woke up in a sweat thanking God I was sober and had all of my teeth!

3/5 stars

http://hollybrownbooks.com

“Beautiful Animals” by Lawrence Osborne

Beautiful Animals isn’t the type of book I typically read. This would be considered more of a “literary thriller,” where there is a suspense aspect to the plot line, but the majority of the book is location description and character driven. I prefer my books to be on-the-edge-of-my-seat and to-the-point. With that being said, this novel wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea, although I can appreciate it for being a lovely work of literature and certainly some peoples’ taste.

Set in Hydra, a small island off the coast of Greece, Beautiful Animals tells the story of a summer spent between two newfound friends and the trouble they find themselves encountering together. Naomi’s father, Jimmy, is a wealthy English businessman who purchased a home on the island long before it was fashionable or cool. Naomi has spent every summer living on Hydra, but, since the death of her mother, the summers are not nearly as enjoyable with her stepmother, Phaine. Naomi is rich and bored and sort of an odd duck. She’s in her mid 20’s,has been recently been fired from her job, and has no friends on the island. Until one morning after a swim, she meets Sam.

Sam is an American whose family is visiting Hydra for the first time. Sam is beautiful, but insecure, and immediately smitten by the more sophisticated Naomi. They quickly form a friendship over weed, booze, and their mutual distaste for their family, and find themselves spending every day with each other.

One afternoon, after a yacht trip to a remote part of the island, Naomi and Sam stumble upon a runaway from Syria, by way of Turkey, who has nothing to his name except the clothes on his back and a bar of soap. Faoud, they learn, was from a wealthy family in the middle east, but fled to Hydra to escape into Europe under asylum. Naomi and Sam have differing opinions as to what to do with their discovery, and the decision results in a disastrous tragedy neither could have imagined.

Beautiful Animals deeply investigates the psyche of two unstable young women in their quest to do the right thing. It also examines how far humans will go for greed, money, and freedom. This novel’s biggest strength is its setting. Osborne does a phenomenal job painting a picture of Hydra for the reader. I’ve always wanted to go to Greece, but now it is on my bucket list for sure. I found myself googling pictures of Hydra as I was reading, and understanding why someone would spend their entire summer in such a lovely place.

The biggest drawback was the disjointed character perspectives and slow plot. Osborne regularly switches back between Naomi, Sam, and Faoud, all within the same chapter and even the same paragraph. I found it somewhat hard to follow with the jumping back and forth. I appreciated the underlying story and character development of Beautiful Animals, but it didn’t get to the action quite quick enough for my liking, and never fully accelerated for me.

2.75 out of 5 stars. 

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/247814/beautiful-animals-by-lawrence-osborne/

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are completely my own. 

 

“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

 

“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

http://www.gillian-flynn.com

I just finished this summer’s mega-hit Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn last night. It was OUT. OF. CONTROL. Seriously. Crazy or psychotic would be the best way to sum it up in one word. Along with AMAZING.

I really don’t know how I am possibly going to review and summarize this without giving everything away (well, not everything…just when you think you know one secret, 300 more follow.) But let’s give this a shot. First let me preface this by saying I am a sucker for a solid depressing story. Sometimes I think it just makes me feel better about my own life and how normal and happy it is. If you’re looking for fun, glamorous chick-lit, STAY AWAY, this will not be your cup of tea.

Gone Girl can be considered a mystery or a thriller, if you are trying to fit it into a category. But truthfully, it is unlike anything I have ever read. I found it shocking and disturbing, yet ultimately delicious. I literally had nightmares after reading this book before bed!

The story starts off in small town Missouri, where Nick Dunne’s beautiful wife Amy has turned up missing. As the police become involved, they soon discover evidence that suggests Amy has not just gone missing, it is more likely that she has been killed. And that evidence is blatantly implicating Nick as the killer. The case soon becomes national news, especially because of Amy’s semi-celebrity status—she is the inspiration for a children’s book empire that her parents, two authors, have created.  The country quickly turns against Nick and we are left wondering whether they are in the right or wrong.

The first person narration alternates chapters between Nick and Amy, as told through her diary entries. Nick speaks about what is currently going on in the case and the impact the investigation is having on his own psyche, as well as his close friends, family, and community. Amy paints a picture of her slowly declining relationship with Nick. The two begin completely in love and infatuated with each other. But after they move from New York City to Missouri, they start to drift apart and their marriage becomes darker and more dysfunctional by the day. I personally loved the alternating view points and thought it kept things even more suspenseful. I often times found myself finishing a chapter by Nick, then wanting to skip through Amy’s chapter to know what happened to Nick’s situation, and vice versa.

As a reader, you will constantly go back and forth between thinking that Nick is guilty, and then believing him that he is innocent. So be prepared to be stressed out over this. A LOT. Okay, actually, be prepared to be stressed out over everything in this book. It starts out a little slow, but press on until you get exactly halfway through the book. Then all of a sudden, BAM! Craziness will be unleashed! At the midway point I seriously felt as if Gillian Flynn had slapped me straight across the face…and I loved it. It continues to get more and more nuts the further the story goes. I’ve heard a lot of criticism about the ending. I will not ruin it for you, but I will just say that I LOVED the ending. I thought it was perfect. Fitting, believable, and psychotic all at once.

Okay, let me stop before I give anything away—I am so tempted! Be prepared for a haunting tale that will resonate in a surprising and uncomfortable way for every reader, making you question your relationships and the people around you. At one point during reading I literally looked at my boyfriend (who I’ve been dating for almost a decade and have known since middle school) and said “I am SO glad I have known you practically all of your life. It keeps me from running the risk of you being a psycho and me not knowing about it.” But really, you can’t help but thinking that after reading this book.