WATCH ME DISAPPEAR

4/5 Stars

    • Author: Janelle Brown
    • Hardcover, 368 pages
    • Published July 11th 2017 by Spiegel & Grau

Janelle Brown, the author of WATCH ME DISAPPEAR, says in her Goodreads author profile that her books “tend to be page-turners with dysfunctional family relationships at their hearts.” I couldn’t have said that better myself. Throw in a compelling mystery and this book exceeds that description.

WATCH ME DISAPPEAR tugged at my own heart from the beginning with a beautifully described scene of a family of three –lying on their backs watching hundreds of butterflies cling to the eucalyptus trees during the monarch migration through Northern California. We soon find out that things are not always as beautiful as they appear.  Before too long one member of this family has gone missing and the book takes us on a truth finding mission that had me quickly turning the pages until the twisted end.

Janelle Brown is an effortless writer. She is so good, you won’t even notice the writing, and she expertly gives an authentic voice to husband Jonathan and his teenage daughter, Olive. Between these two character’s roles we are left to our own speculation of what happened to missing mom, Billie. Finally, in the Epilogue, the reader hears Billie’s thoughts for the first time. We find out exactly what may or may not have happened to her.

I love the California setting of the book; the mountains, deserts and beaches of the West Coast are colorfully drawn. The story mostly takes place in the small city of Berkeley, with coffee shops and neighborhoods brightly depicted. There are some mean girls and high school angst issues that may appeal to the YA crowd, but the marital secrets and lies are the subjects that create the uneasy suspense in the book.

The book is quick to read but there is one slow wordy area, the Epilogue itself. This last chapter was a bit too tedious for me. I would have liked a few of the thoughts in the epilogue to have been scattered as bread crumb clues throughout the book instead of all at once.

Many thanks to NetGalley,  Random House, and Janelle Brown for allowing me to read and review this book.

AMAZON link Watch Me Disappear: A Novel

LIES SHE TOLD

5/5 Stars

  • Author: Cate Holahan
  • Crooked Lane Books

Completely captivating, LIES SHE TOLD receives a 5 star rating on the old Twister Richter Scale!

A book within a book that is actually believable (no shape-shifting or body-snatching!), twisty and mind-bending.

Our main character, Liza Cole, is a romance/suspense writer. She has been in a writing slump for several months due to fertility issues and her husband’s distraction about his missing business partner. Liza’s protagonist in her current book, a similarly aged woman, Beth, could be described as Liza’s alter ego, she is a completely fictional character. But, real in the sense that she is in Liza’s book and in her constant thoughts. Got all that? The lines start getting a little blurry, then they get a lot blurry.

Don’t worry, Cate Holahan (the REAL author of this book) has expertly written a parallel story universe that exists between Liza and Beth. You have to stay on your tippy toes to keep up with this story, don’t miss any details, everything is a clue!

Unreliable narrator? Check. We have not one, but two extremely untrustworthy narrators! Hooray! And those narrators have unreliable characters in their own lives. AAAAAH, who to believe? What’s real, what’s not? This book had me questioning my own sanity until the end when all the clues come together in a believable way.

I have never read Cate Holahan before. She is a young author and based on this newest novel of hers, she is going to have a long successful career. She’s brilliant and I want to be in her head again soon! Highly recommended!

AMAZON link Lies She Told: A Novel

What Makes a Plot Twist Work?

stormy-800pxThere are few things I love more in this world than a book or movie with a great plot twist.  Plot twists can occur throughout a novel (a constant rollercoaster ride) or there can be one huge twist at the ending after pages of suspense.  Not all plot twists work for me.  In fact, so many fail (BEHIND HER EYES).  It is a difficult thing to pull off and an author has to be quite skillful.  There are certain elements that a story must have in place for a plot twist to be successful.

  • element of surprise (duh)
  • foreshadowing/clues
  • believable, logical or plausible
  • red herrings

Of course, these elements only work if the characterization and narration of the story is compelling. Points of view are are also important. How well do we know the narrator? Unreliable narrators, such as Rachel in GIRL ON THE TRAIN, are all the rage right now and I for one, LOVE IT!! It is difficult for these aspects to all come together in a story, but when they do, HOLY CYCLONE!!  A thing of beauty.