Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Book Reviews - Triple Thrills with a Side of Historical Fiction

Well, hello, there. I am woefully behind in getting these books blogged. The good news is I'm looking at a blog revamp soon, so that should help getting these darn things back on track.

So, once more, I read some books, and I have some thoughts. 

Home for Erring and Outcast Girls by Julie Kibler was an outstanding read that told both a story in the past and the present. In the past, it was the story of the Berachah House, a place in 20th century Texas. The house takes in women (and their children) who are in poverty. These are women who might be judged or not allowed in other shelters, so the shelter is especially progressive. In real-time, Cate, a university librarian is going through the archives of the Berachah House stories with a student worker. Cate has lots of secrets and memories of her own that she's also trying to work through. Y'all, this was just a wonderful read. I loved that it was historical fiction focused on something I'd never heard of, and I loved how that story came to be in both the past and present. I also just really loved Cate's story. She was clearly navigating some "stuff" and that was slowly interwoven with Lizzie and Mattie's stories of the past. These were characters that just totally drew me in, and I was so emotionally connected to what they were going through. There were also some really powerful twists that added to the emotional complexity. Thanks to Crown Publishing for the early look at this one that is now available and worth checking out.

Read this book if - You appreciate historical fiction with stories that aren't always told. You enjoy two stories being told with intersecting themes and issues. You want something unexpected with lots of feels. 

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline was such an unexpected thriller. I've somehow not read any Lisa Scottoline before this, and I'm not sure how that happened. The good news is I have a few more from the most recent book sale, so this won't be our last date. Anyway, I'm here to talk about this book. This one focuses on all the secrets, and loved that. It begins with Chris Brennan, a young teacher who isn't who he says he is. He shows up in Central Valley, Pennsylvania with an impressive resume, and he's hired to teach social studies and coach baseball. Only thing is his name isn't Chris Brennan - Not. At. All. From here, you get swept up in trying to figure out just who he is and what he's planning to do while at the school. Well, y'all, at the end of Part One, there is a twist that is just WHOA. It was one of those that made me stay up reading way, way past my bedtime because I had to know what was going to go down. The story is about Chris, but it's also about several students who are on the baseball team, as well as each of their mothers. Each family has a unique circumstance that impacts the story and adds to the secrets - Oh, and the lies, too. What I loved was that the nature of the suspense and drama in this one were new and different. It involved things I definitely didn't see coming, and I had to know where it was all going. It was interesting throughout with really well-timed reveals, and the way it all went down at the end was such an unexpected blend of happenings. Y'all, if you aren't in the Lisa Scottoline game, and you're a thriller fan, be like me, and go on your rookie reading journey to check her out.

Read this book if - You like a thriller that just keeps all the twists coming. You want a thriller that has layers on its layers on its layers.

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda was an intriguing premise. Leah reconnects with her old friend Emmy. Needing something new, Leah and Emmy move to rural Pennsylvania. They're readjusting to their new normal, and then Emmy disappears. Leah is concerned, but she's even more concerned when she reports her missing. Partnering with a detective, there's no trace of Emmy. And not in that "Hey, she's missing" kind of way, rather in the "She doesn't seem to exist" kind of way. Emmy doesn't seem to have any family, friends, and even a digital footprint. From there, the mystery turns to figuring out who Emmy was and why she's missing. With this revelation, Leah's memories and stories are called into question. The quest then begins finding out who Emmy was to protect herself and find out the truth about her friend. This was one I wanted to love, and I while, I liked it, it wasn't totally my jam. I'll own that part of this was I read most of this on a day I was tired and travelling, so that might have had an impact. However, while the premise captivated me, I didn't stay fully connected with the characters until the end. This one had some decent twists, but I would say that if you're looking to dabble with this author, go with All the Missing Girls and/or The Last House Guest to begin.

Read this book if - You like thrillers built around people not being who they say they area and stuff.

The Killer You Know was a book I really, really wanted to love. It sounded like such a different and compelling thriller. Will says he wants to be a serial killer in high school. His classmates think it's a joke, but also, whoa dude. Fifteen years later, the gang makes it back home. Will isn't there, and they start to wonder if he pursue this path. Clues start to indicate that might have been the case. Going back and forth between the present and a dangerous game they played as kids, secrets are unveiled, as they all wonder what really happened with Will. Part of my error in reading this one was I spread it out too much. Given all the past and present, I should have read it in a tighter timeline, especially with the various timelines in the book. That said, I also found I just didn't connect with the characters. The plot moved along okay, but I just didn't feel many feels for the people that were involved. That might not have been the intent, but that connection also mean the thrills weren't so deep for me. If you are into thriller as a process though, this could be for you.

Read this book if - You want a thriller built around a reunion, I guess?

Until the next round.