AN ANONYMOUS GIRL

  • FIVE STARS ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Authors: Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
  • Genre: Psychological suspense
  • Publication date: January 8, 2019
I don’t know their secret, but whatever it is (SUPREME TALENT), authors Pekkanen and Hendricks need to bottle up their magic mojo and spread it like fairy dust over readers around the world. Their ingenious writing technique is guaranteed to pull you up by the bootstraps – straight out of any debilitating reading slump you may occasionally find yourself in. Believe the hype. It is real. The dynamic duo is currently hard at work on a sure-thing third mega hit– 🙏PRAISE YEEZUS!

This is what you need in your life, people. Their blockbuster debut, The Wife Between Us, is a soon to be major feature film and this currently unreleased An Anonymous Girl is already in development for a television series by the same people that killed it with HBO’s Sharp Objects. And as readers know, YOU MUST READ THE BOOK FIRST TO HAVE PROPER BRAGGING RIGHTS TO YOUR FAVORITE SCENES! So hop to it.

Synopsis: When Jess signs up for the psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Oh my gawwd, read the fine print before you innocently sign up for a paid research survey! Even if you really need the cash.

This book is I M P O S S I B L E to put down! You will be sneak reading it under your work desk and dining table, it is so freakin’ addictive! I swear I developed a physical need to figure out what was going on and solve this puzzle. There aren’t huge in your face twists, but subtle ones that lead you in different directions than you thought you were going in…an anagram of a story that is told in a refreshingly modern and streamlined way. 

Unreliable narrators, interesting and unlikable characters, AND a believably creepy story of obsession without graphic violence- these things I love. I know you will love it, too. It is set for release on January 8, 2019. Pre-order yourself a New Year’s gift!

Thank you to my book fairy, Jordan, at St. Martin’s Publishing for my early copy. You guys are killing it over there! As always, all opinions are my own and you know I’m not afraid to write a negative review🔪.

MY YEAR OF REST AND RELAXATION

FIVE SARDONIC STARS

  • Author:  Ottessa Moshfegh
  • Julia Whelan  (Audio Narrator)
  • Publication date: July 10, 2018
My repeated claim to love unlikable characters is put to the test in this darkly irreverent, strange fable. I’m sticking to my claim. I do love most of the unlikable people in My Year of Rest and Relaxation. Humor goes a long way when writing unpleasant characters! The author is sophisticated and brilliant when it comes to injecting absurdly wry observations on both the glitter and the grime of New York City.

Contrary to the lovely 18th century painting of a leisurely young woman gracing the cover, this novel is set in 2000 and 2001. Women have had “fainting spells” for centuries now and the remedy is usually a good lie-in. Sleep is restorative. Beautiful and necessary for good health. This is all our never-named protagonist wants in life. Sleep. Our Sleeping Beauty makes a conscious decision to slumber for one year.

“I can’t point to any one event that resulted in my decision to go into hibernation,” the narrator tells us. “I thought life would be more tolerable if my brain were slower to condemn the world around me.”

The combination of apathetic, glitzy beauty and horror is a prevalent theme in My Year. The best comparative books I’ve come up with are: Brett Easton Ellis’s Less Than Zero, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian and a little bit of Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities. What a combo, huh?

The obvious timeline will lead you to the impending ending, you know we are headed for 9/11 territory. In a lesser writer’s hands, this would be off-putting and cliched. Moshfegh uses it to dazzling irony and, you better believe, I was stunned into a silent reflection that so few contemporary novels are able to achieve.

Just reading about our never-named character craving sleep all the time, seduced my own mind and I could often hear my pillow calling my name while listening to this perfectly narrated audiobook (Julia Whelan-is the goddess of audio acting!). That’s not to imply the book is in any way boring, many parts are unquestionably disturbing. Our girl secures the worst shrink in history and is given pharmaceuticals by the handfuls. She has some of the most sickening, vulgar nightmares which are described in horrifying detail.

She endures the nightmares and blackouts as the preferred alternative to her awakened existence. What is she hiding from? Why why why? You will get the answers in this dreamily paced, viciously witty story. You may not like the answers, but author Moshfegh doesn’t care. She is the one simply holding the mirror.

Like the main character, the novel is vacuous, yet complicated. Blank, yet layered. A spectacularly detached anti-drama. I really love it, but it definitely may not be your cup of tea.

BREAKING NEWS: The gorgeous, talented Margot Robbie has optioned the film rights! I think she would be perfect as the disturbed Sleeping Beauty.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Our narrator should be happy, shouldn’t she? She’s young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, works an easy job at a hip art gallery, lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like the rest of her needs, by her inheritance. But there is a dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a powerful answer to that question. Through the story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs designed to heal our heroine from her alienation from this world, Moshfegh shows us how reasonable, even necessary, alienation can be. Both tender and blackly funny, merciless and compassionate, it is a showcase for the gifts of one of our major writers working at the height of her powers. 

 About the Author:

Ottessa Moshfegh is a fiction writer from New England. Her first book, McGlue, a novella, won the Fence Modern Prize in Prose and the Believer Book Award. She is also the author of the short story collection Homesick for Another World. Her stories have been published in The Paris Review, The New Yorker, and Granta, and have earned her a Pushcart Prize, an O. Henry Award, the Plimpton Discovery Prize, and a grant from the National 304748Endowment for the Arts. Eileen, her first novel, was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Man Booker Prize, and won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction; My Year of Rest and Relaxation, her second novel, was a New York Times bestseller.

SOMETHING IN THE WATER

FIVE STARS

  • Author: Catherine Steadman
  • Publication Date: June 5, 2018

 

For domestic suspense fun, it doesn’t get much better than this! SOMETHING IN THE WATER is Numero Uno on the NYT bestseller list this week, a Reese’s bookclub selection and the movie rights have long been snatched up!

All that buzzy attention heaped on one lil ole debut novel can make some of us (okay…..me😂)a tad skeptical. No need to worry. You are in expert hands with Catherine Steadman. Maybe you live on a deserted island and haven’t heard, but Steadman is a fabulous, gorgeous actress working in the U.K. She, most notably, was a cast member of Britain‘s Downton Abbey. She can also write like the pros, if not better. What the heck? So much talent in one person! Quit your day job or not, Ms. Steadman, you are a superstar either way!

There are tons of summaries out there. Please don’t read them. Listen, I accidentally read the “spoilest spoilers” EVER in the New York Times and Kirkus Reviews. Geez. Don’t look for more about the story. I would have enjoyed it so much more if I didn’t already know what the something in the water was! Take my word for it.

The pacing is brisk, the narrator is unreliable (BUT NOT A DRUNK!) and the story translates quite believably as a realistic situation. You guys know how much I abhor the hand-wringing heroine. But here, our protagonist is VERY pro-action. True, she doesn’t always make the best decisions (omg!), but she tries her best and I, for one, felt a weird kind of kinship with our main character.

It’s my favorite kind of suspense-building story. One bad decision leads to another, leads to one more and so on…..It’s the ultimate “what would you do” situational structure. Steadman writes in a slick, sophisticated manner. I’m completely infatuated with her wit and style.

If you enjoyed The Girl on the Train, The Woman in Cabin 10, or The Flight Attendant you will love Something in the Water.

The audiobook is stellar! Steadman acts as her own icy, sexy narrator and you will quickly understand why she is such a wonderful actress! Highly recommend! I am so excited to discover this new, gifted author. Looking forward to her career in this difficult-to-write genre

THE WIFE

FIVE STARS

  • Author: Alafair Burke
  • Published Jan. 23, 2018
  • By Harper Books/Harper Audio

SYNOPSIS:

His scandal. Her secret.

When Angela met Jason Powell while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, she assumed their romance would be a short-lived fling, like so many relationships between locals and summer visitors. To her surprise, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. For Angela, the marriage turned out to be a chance to reboot her life. She and her son were finally able to move out of her mother’s home to Manhattan, where no one knew about her tragic past.

Six years later, thanks to a bestselling book and a growing media career, Jason has become a cultural lightning rod, placing Angela near the spotlight she worked so carefully to avoid. When a college intern makes an accusation against Jason, and another woman, Kerry Lynch, comes forward with an even more troubling allegation, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, and Angela believes him. But when Kerry disappears, Angela is forced to take a closer look at the man she married. And when she is asked to defend Jason in court, she realizes that her loyalty to her husband could unearth old secrets.

Whew! It feels like forever since I read a 5 star novel in my adored psychological thriller genre. THE WIFE is everything I’m constantly on the lookout for in a book! However, this little gem wasn’t even in my sightline, mainly because of the boring cover and generic title. I know, I can be really shallow like that.  Also, in my defense, the blurb makes it sound a bit too chick-lit for me.  No, I was so wrong! IT IS A DETAILED PORTRAIT OF A SOCIOPATH.  Thanks to my amazing Goodreads friends for bringing THE WIFE to my attention.  It’s a very new book and I was still able to check it out from my local library on my beloved Overdrive App. Both written and audio versions were available, which shows me THE WIFE is still flying under the radar for a lot of readers. Quick, now’s your chance to read it free from your library, before it becomes a hot commodity!

I was starting to question my love for the unreliable narrator after so many alcoholic and agoraphobic narrators. Yawn. Yawn. OBVIOUSLY, they are unreliable! It’s so much more fun for the reader to figure out IF the narrator is trustworthy or not. Are we being lied to? Who can we believe? I love the simple mystery of figuring out which characters we can trust.  I was wrong about all my preconceived notions about THE WIFE.  And I have the highest regards for a book that surprises me.

In THE WIFE, Alafair Burke has created the perfect blend of a character driven suspense novel with some police investigation (just enough) and courtroom drama (again, just enough!). On top of that perfect combo, Burke is a gifted storyteller and creates tension in small ways. The story feels relevant and timely; seriously, this book feels like it was written this month, all the current events are spot-on accurate.

The plot is full of twists, but not huge IN YOUR FACE twists, again, just small enough that you read a sentence a couple of times to make sure you got it right! There are clues all throughout the book, but until those last few pages can you start piecing together your suspicions. Even then, watch out for the last sentence!

If you are into listening to your books, the audio version is OUTSTANDING. The actress is unbelievably talented, I felt like I was listening to my best friend tell me a juicy story.  I was constantly all “and then what happened?”

I don’t know where Alafair Burke has been my whole life, but I’m in love with her writing. (Okay, so I googled Ms. Burke and it appears she spent some time in my hometown of Portland, OR working as an assistant district attorney for Multnomah County. WHAAAT???)  She obviously knows of what she writes and personally, I think she should quit all her attorney/teaching jobs and just write books for me full time.  Just kidding…

I’m crazy about THE WIFE and chances are… you will be too! Check out that lofty GoodReads rating of 4.01!!

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THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT

FIVE STARS

  • Author: Chris Bojhalian
  • By: Doubleday
  • Publication Date: March 13, 2018

YES YES YES!! Last page turned. Cue the slow clap. This is a phenomenal character-driven mystery WITH A TWISTY, SATISFYING ENDING I will not soon forget.

I don’t know who said “the devil is in the details” but if that’s true, then Chris Bohjalian is the devil himself. The plot is intricate and complex with well-researched details and data providing clues for the reader in this story of international suspense.

Yes, much of the story is set in cushy locales and sumptuous hotels, but the pull of the novel lies in our high-flying party girl. Our flight attendant, Cassie, is a psychologically impaired young woman who single-handedly drinks more in an evening than I do in a year. She means well and does worry about her bad habits. She loves her friends and family and volunteers at the animal shelter whenever she is at home in NYC. Awww, a detail that deff pulled at my heartstrings. Cassie, with all her flaws, is a human being as real as any fictional character can possibly become. She is endearing, maddening, and most of all, REAL! I loved her.

I don’t want to give away any of the story line, because it goes in places you will not expect. And you will love that. What I can say is… this is the book I wanted The Woman in Cabin 10 to be. It is a very strong and convincing plot with thoroughly fleshed out characters. Ruth Ware is a swell writer, but (forgive me for saying!) she could stand to learn a thing or two from Bohjalian when it comes to structure and plot.

You think you’ve heard all the gossipy stories about the crazy things passengers do on planes? Wait until you read some of the nuggets Cassie has to share about things she has seen in her career! I also loved reading about the flight schedules, the day-to-day life, THE DETAILS of what it’s like to be a flight attendant. I found it riveting!!

An old-fashioned suspense thriller that reads as fast as an addictive domestic noir, it is simply terrific. All my writerly respect to the brilliant Mr. Bohjalian! You will not want to miss this one. UnknownBlogger’s note: I posted this review originally on GoodReads a few weeks before the book publication date. Chris Bohjalian saw the review and tweeted out my most treasured tweet ever……

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About the author:

Chris Bohjalian is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 20 books.  His work has been translated into over 30 languages and three times become movies.

Writers-Digest-CoverThe paperback of “The Sleepwalker” was just published.

He has a brand new novel arriving in March 2018, “The Flight Attendant.”

His books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Courant, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Bookpage, and Salon.

His awards include the Walter Cerf Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts; the ANCA Freedom Award for his work educating Americans about the Armenian Genocide; the ANCA Arts and Letters Award for The Sandcastle Girls, as well as the Saint Mesrob Mashdots Medal; the New England Society Book Award for The Night Strangers; the New England Book Award; Russia’s Soglasie (Concord) Award for The Sandcastle Girls; a Boston Public Library Literary Light; a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Trans-Sister Radio; a Best Lifestyle Column for “Idyll Banter” from the Vermont Press Association; and the Anahid Literary Award. His novel, Midwives,was a number one New York Times bestseller, a selection of Oprah’s Book Club, and a New England Booksellers Association Discovery pick. He is a Fellow of the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Reader’s Digest, and The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine.  He was a weekly columnist in Vermont for The Burlington Free Press from 1992 through 2015.

Chris graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Amherst College. He has been awarded Honorary Degrees as well from Amherst and Champlain College.

He lives in Vermont with his wife, the photographer Victoria Blewer.

Their daughter, Grace Experience, is a young actor in New York City. Among the audiobooks she has narrated are Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands and The Guest Room.

ARC Giveaway!

Hello Fellow Readers,

I am super excited to giveaway one of my favorite books of the year! GOOD ME BAD ME by Ali Land is one fun intense read! See my review.

As you guys know, numbers matter to some people in publishing. Well, all the people in publishing. In my quest to review more books, I need more followers and I need you to win this book! I plan on hosting lots more giveaways in the coming months.

HOW TO WIN A CHANCE FOR GOOD ME BAD ME:

Follow this blog!

See my social media buttons under stalk me and then STALK away!

Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest

If you don’t have an account on one of these, don’t worry. I will enter your name one time for each of your follows. So the more places you follow me, the more chances you have of winning.

Also, for another entry: Retweet my pinned tweet from my Twitter profile.

The giveway contest will end on Thursday, September 21 at MIDNIGHT PST and I will announce the winner on Twitter on Friday morning, Sept 22.

I just checked the international shipping rates and I apologize, but I cannot send outside of the U.S.A.  BOO! I’m sorry.

GOOD LUCK, fellow readers!

DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES

  • 4/5 Stars
  • Author: Holly Seddon
  • U.S. Publication 7.4.2017

I’m on a winning reading streak lately! Let’s face it, choosing a book can be a crapshoot (even with GoodReads) and I feel lucky when I win!

C’mon snake eyes, keep those good books coming in!

I listened to DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES through a new site called Scribd. I keep trying to find something cheaper than Audible. Scribd works much, much better than the other one I tried (and hated), Playster. It is very easy to stop and start the audio in the place you left off, much like Audible. I’m not sure how large the Scribd audio selection is, but overall I was pleasantly surprised by how well their listening app worked for me. I believe it is $8.99/month for one audio and three e-books. The downside for me is they don’t use a Kindle format for the e-books.

Back to this wonderful little family drama of a book. The subtitle could be “Don’t Split Up the Twins When You Divorce.” That’s what happened to Sarah and Robin, the two narrators of this story. The estranged sisters grow up on different continents and suffer separately through traumatic life events. They eventually meet back up, but so much has happened by then.

The story is a slow burn, but still captivating- virtually a handbook illustrating how adults’ bad choices affect children’s lives forever. I had basically resigned myself that this book was going to be just that. A juicy, but sad family drama, void of any real mystery to solve.

Then at around the 90% mark, BANG! A whopper of a plot twist that caught me completely off-guard. Yikes! What is going on here? Things aren’t what I thought they were and that made me smile on the inside. I love when that happens!

My complaints are minimal. I couldn’t really connect to the characters, I wish they were more extensively developed. The story was still compelling and a fast one to read (well, listen). The narration of the book was very good, though the actress that read as Robin had an irritating quality. I cringed just a little every time it was her turn to read.

DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES is a four star book for me. The narrators are unreliable, the plot is dramatic and, ultimately, twisty. Holly Seddon is a solid writer and I look forward to reading her again.

Don’t Close Your Eyes
by Holly Seddon, Mandy Williams (Narrator), Elizabeth Knowelden (Narrator)
Audiobook published 7/4/2107

Don’t Close Your Eyes: A Novel Amazon hardcover