I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

I Let You GoThere aren’t many mystery novels that I want to re-read. For me, mystery books typically warrant a one-time read because the case has been solved. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh is one of the rare mystery novels that I want to re-read because the plot twist was that good and I connected with the characters that much.

The story begins on a rainy afternoon when a woman is walking her young son home from school. When he runs ahead to get out of the cold a car hits him out of nowhere. The child dies on impact and the car speeds off without a trace. Right from the start, with this dark and eerie prologue, this book consumed me.

There has been a lot of hype about a major plot twist in I Let You Go and to be honest I was a bit skeptical because many mystery books boast the same thing. I was VERY mistaken because when I got to the plot twist, I instantly thought OH MY GOSH WHAT WHAT OH WOW or something along those lines because I was so shocked!

I Let You Go The book was gripping and I really felt for the protagonist, Jenna Gray, and the pain she suffered from the accident. She is one of those characters that I found myself rooting for and I felt generally upset when she faced trouble.

I have heard from some readers that the beginning of this book is slow moving. I didn’t feel this way, but if you start the book and find yourself thinking that it’s too slow, I hope you’ll keep reading! It’s worth it.

I Let You Go is definitely going on my top pick recommendations list! Beware, some portions of the story are dark, but I believe that these contributed to the overall emotional aspect of the book and made it all that much more touching in the end.

I Let You Go What about you all? Do any of you re-read mystery novels?


Bookish Podcasts pt. 2

Dream by Day book reviewsI’m back with another round of bookish podcast recommendations! There are so many great podcasts out there and I’ve listed the ones that I’ve recently been listening to below. Enjoy!

Beaks & Geeks by Penguin Random House

I’m honestly bummed that I didn’t know about this show earlier because I love their segments! It’s informal and conversational with author interviews, writing tips, and upcoming book releases. I’ve listened to quite a few at this point (each clip is pretty short) including interviews with Ernest Cline, Charlene Harris, Beatriz Williams (my favorite author!!!!), Tana French, Fiona Barton, and Sylvia Day. I really recommend this one!

World Book Club by BBC World Service

This show features longer segments covering a range of stories from classics to contemporaries. I listened to a panel discussing The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a fantastic story loved by many around the world. The panel discussed the artistry in Fitzgerald’s language and the idea of reinvention. I thought it was really interesting when they discussed whether there are heroes in The Great Gatsby and if so, who can be categorized as one. This is a good show too.

Dream by Day book reviewsBooks & Authors with Cary Barbor

I enjoy the content of this show quite a bit. In an interview with Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven, the host asks questions about how the idea developed for this post-apocolyptic story. An aspect of the book that I really enjoyed was that it’s not enough to simply survive, but that art needs to have a place in life too. The podcast also hosts interviews with literary agents and editors as well, both of which I found to be really insightful!

What about you all? What are you listening to?

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

The Nest There has been a lot of hype around Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s debut novel, The Nest, lately. With a gorgeous cover and a description boasting the scandalous affairs of a New York family, I’m not too surprised.

This book is a family drama examining the lives of the Plumbs. The four Plumb siblings are set to receive an inheritance, which they call “the nest”, when the youngest of the siblings, Melody, turns 40 on her upcoming birthday. When the eldest brother, Leo, causes a terrible accident, that trust fund is suddenly at risk. With the inheritance serving as a safety net, the siblings have each gotten into various messes and are depending on that money.

The Nest is a well-written book with complex characters and relationships. The story illustrates the ways that the characters transform, which I enjoyed. The book is told from many points of view including those of the four siblings and the people that they come into contact with. I counted at least 10 throughout the book, but despite the shifts in perspective the story flowed nicely. I particularly liked the portions of the book from Melody’s perspective because they were authentic and I could actually feel the anxiety and pressure she felt to be the perfect mother to her daughters.

The NestI liked this book. The reason why I didn’t love this book is because I didn’t especially connect with the characters. I felt for and was intrigued by them, but that was it. All in all, I do recommend this book as a good read, especially for those who enjoy a fast paced family drama.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

EligibleEligible by Curtis Sittenfeld is a remaking of the classic Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, a story that I LOVE. Along with being a modernized version of the classic story, there is a play on the hit reality TV show The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, which is called Eligible in this book. I didn’t know what to expect with this one and I can happily say that I really enjoyed it!

Eligible mirrors the original Pride and Prejudice pretty well and stays true to the characters’ personalities, even using the same names to avoid confusion. It was a bit raunchy at times in a comical way, which I enjoyed and I was amused by the outlandish characters and their bizarre behavior. Filled with delightful surprises that I didn’t see coming (but were quite obvious after the fact) this is a fun read!

Some areas of the book were cheesy and a bit unrealistic as the plot was translated into the 21st century, but that’s to be expected with a retelling like this. For example, some portions of Darcy’s dialogue, which I really liked, seemed a bit too proper to flow naturally in a conversation today. Darcy can do no wrong in my mind though so it didn’t detract from the overall story for me.

While reading I was very aware of the narrator, which isn’t always the case when I read a story from the third person point of view. This is also how I felt throughout the original Pride and Prejudice though so the tone here matched nicely.

Eligible I definitely recommend reading the original Pride and Prejudice, or at least becoming familiar with the story, beforehand so that Eligible can have more meaning. I sped through this one and would happily recommend it to a friend!

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld releases on April 19, 2016.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall KellyLilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly has been sitting on my TBR pile for a while now and I’m happy to have finally picked it up!

Lilac Girls is set during World War II and tells the stories of three women around the world. The first, Caroline, is an American working in the French consulate in New York City. The next, Kaisa, is a Polish teenager working for the underground resistance who is arrested and sent to a German concentration camp. The last, Herta, is a German doctor who becomes involved with the camps.

I’ve read many books set during World War II and am both fascinated and horrified by the stories, but this is one of the only books I’ve come across that extends so far after the war. By continuing the story more than a decade after the war ended, we were able to see the effects of the war on world.

It was really interesting to read these different perspectives of the war, especially as their stories began to intertwine. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. On the other hand, because there were three separate points of view, the writing felt a bit choppy in the beginning.

Caroline, the character from New York City, really frustrated me at times as well. She was incredibly stubborn when it came to her love interest and pushed him away after all they had been through, causing them to both be unhappy. The person who this character is based on, Caroline Ferriday, played a huge role in helping survivors of the concentration camps and I wish the book and given more emphasis on the impact she had.

A few quotes that I marked while reading:

“I was free of spending my life pleasing them, free to go it alone.”

“’Everyone steals from everyone now. Goods belong to those who can hold onto them.’”

Lilac Girls“…the war was officially over, I did not rejoice. The war continued for us, just under a different dictator, Stalin.”

“How nice is its, when one’s own reputation is damaged, to hear of others’ misfortunes.”

Lilac Girls is a great book and I definitely recommend it, especially for historical fiction fans!

The Viking Hostage by Tracey Warr

The Viking HostageI was initially drawn to The Viking Hostage by Tracey Warr because I’m really interested in Viking history. The stories of raiding and sailing around northern and central Europe are enchantingly wild and barbaric. I think this started when I began watching the show, Vikings, and I’ve been captivated ever since!

The story takes place in Wales and France during the 10th century. The book focuses on three woman and their intertwining stories. One is a Norwegian woman of Viking descent who has been kidnapped and sold into slavery, another is an heiress to a French fortress, and the last woman is in love with her father’s prisoner. How their stories unfold is what really pulled me in and I really liked each of the them.

Despite liking the plot of the story, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the details of the extensive families and the relationships between them. I kept mixing up characters and the book spans a long time range so it was difficult to keep up with what was going on. By the second half of the book though I felt familiar enough with the characters to follow along easily.

The Viking Hostage I liked The Viking Hostage and thought that the story idea was really strong, but I wish
there had been more engagement early on. This was a slower read for me, but once I was engaged (about halfway through) it was really good.

Happy reading!