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review 2018-07-08 15:37
GIVE ME YOUR HAND by Megan Abbott
Give Me Your Hand - Megan Abbott

At 1:30 Saturday morning, I finished reading GIVE ME YOUR HAND. It was worth every one of those late minutes!

 

Kit Owens and Diane Fleming are not your normal teen girls. (I'm not sure if Megan Abbott has written any stories about normal teen girls, come to think of it.) They are good students and they both jog. They push each other to be better runners and they both come to realize that they want to be scientists. Every since the beautiful and mysterious Dr. Severin came to their school to talk about her lab work and what it meant to perform studies and to do research, they both dedicate themselves to their goal. Then Diane shares a dark secret with Kit, one that Kit can't get out of her mind-one that's eating her alive. But eventually Kit gets past it and they both graduate and move on with their separate lives.

 

Fast forward a number of years and Kit has achieved her goal. She works in Dr. Severin's lab and is vying for an important spot on a team studying PMDD, a horrible offshoot of PMS that causes all kinds of problems for women. She's almost certain to obtain that rare position-that is until she's told that Diane Fleming is also vying for the same spot. How will Diane's return affect Kit? Who will get those valuable positions on Dr. Severin's team? What about the secret they both share, how will it affect them now that they are together again? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

Megan Abbott's writing is pure gold and this book is no different. Inside the warped minds of teenage girls and then again inside their heads as women, she nails it. Not only that, she unflinchingly depicts what it's like for women in the mostly man's world of scientific academia. With fierce competition at hand these men are respectful...until they're not. As a woman in a mostly man's world, (just cars, nothing hoity toity like science), I could identify with these women and what they went through. In the end though, a scientific world and some chauvinistic attitudes are only a small part of this twisted tale.

 

I felt that the pacing of this story was fast and I had a difficult time pulling away from it. Just when I thought I'd read one more chapter something else would happen and I was compelled to read on. This is my favorite Megan Abbott book so far, (though I still have a few to read yet), and it was partially because I'm a super fan of the THEN and NOW format and it worked beautifully here. It helped build the tension and suspense and just kept me going on. And on. And on...until the stunning denouement that floored me. Floored me, I say!

 

GIVE ME YOUR HAND was an excellent mystery/thriller/suspense novel full of interesting and mysterious characters and it was a BLAST! I highly recommend it!

 

Available everywhere on July 17th, but you can pre-order your copy here: GIVE ME YOUR HAND

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2018-06-22 18:30
THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS by John Connolly
The Woman in the Woods - John Connolly

 

At this, the 16th novel in the Charlie Parker series, I find myself still blown away by the quality of the writing and the depth of the story. Charlie Parker rocks!

 

But it's not just him, is it? It's Louis and Angel, a pair of gay henchmen, (but I mean "henchmen" in the best way), whose story has to be counted among the greatest love stories of all time, at least in my humble opinion. Their relationship is complicated and wonderful all at once, as is my love for them both.

 

It's Charlie's daughters, both alive and dead, and my fears for them and what might happen in the future.

 

It's Moxie Castin, the lawyer with a heart of gold and a soft spot for the Star of David, which plays such an important role in this story.

 

I won't rehash the plot, because the synopsis and about 10 million other reviews already do that. I will say that the end of this book left me rattled and somewhat angry. 

A couple of people still deserve their due and I have no doubt they're going to get it, but it didn't happen here.

(spoiler show)

However, I know that Charlie Parker doesn't fail, (at least he hasn't yet), and I will be there, bright eyed and bushy tailed when it happens. In the meantime? I'll be keeping an eye on those Times of London crossword puzzles.

 

THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS gets my highest recommendation. Period!

 

*Thank you to Atria and to NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This is it.*

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review 2018-06-14 18:45
BORN A CRIME: STORIES FROM A SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDHOOD written and narrated by Trevor Noah
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood - Trevor Noah

 

BORN A CRIME: STORIES FROM A SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDHOOD is hands-down, one of the most hilarious and informative audio books EVER. Seriously, it's outstanding.

 

I admit that I stopped watching THE DAILY SHOW after Jon Stewart left. I didn't know much about Trevor Noah other than the fact that he was a comedian before coming to that television show. I know a lot more now and I've started watching TDS again.

 

I remember hearing about Apartheid, but I didn't have a clear understanding as to how it affected people. Now, I understand a little better. This is Trevor's story about growing up in South Africa, his family-specifically his walking miracle of a mother, ("Jesus is my health insurance."), his father and his stepfather. It's about family life, church, music, and so much more. It's funny and entertaining, but it's also painfully honest at times, and it's those times that bring this book home. (I have never laughed at any story that involves the name Hitler. With this book and Trevor's Hitler story? I swear to all that's holy, I almost peed my pants.)

 

As the title suggests, this story only covers Trevor's time in South Africa. I can only hope that he will write another book about how his career as a comedian began and how he came to be hosting THE DAILY SHOW. Please, Mr. Noah, please write some more!

 

The audio is the only way to go with this book. Trevor Noah's accent and delivery make his special story even better. BORN A CRIME is worth your time. (Thanks to Ctgt, Petra and to Melissa for their reviews of this book, which you can find herehere, and here, respectively. 

 

My highest recommendation!

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review 2018-06-11 18:45
PROVIDENCE by Caroline Kepnes
Providence: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes

 

PROVIDENCE is a tale of love and heartbreak, (literally and figuratively), infused throughout with a powerful longing for something that's just out of reach. I. LOVED. IT. !!

 

Young Jon Bronson is stolen away from his life and his first love, Chloe. He wakes up in a body he doesn't recognize because it's been 4 years since he was taken. The only clue he has as to what happened is a copy of Lovecraft's THE DUNWICH HORROR which contains a short note to him inside. He soon discovers this book is not the only reminder he has of his experience. What is the other reminder? Will Jon be able to resume his life at school, with his parents, with Chloe? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I'm not going to lie, at first I was disappointed to discover this wasn't a book about Joe Goldberg. Then when I heard this tale was somehow related to Lovecraft I was excited again. Turns out, this tale is actually only tangentially related to Lovecraft, so those unfamiliar with his work need not worry. It also turns out that Jon Bronson is a much better person than Joe Goldberg EVER could have been. That is the fact that made this book so difficult to put down. Look, I'm the type of person that loves it when everybody dies at the end of a story. The fact that I was rooting so hard for Jon surprised even me!

 

There is a whole other subplot going on here, involving Eggs, (a police officer) and Lo, his wife. While the story of Jon and Chloe involves young love with more than the normal obstacles in the way, Eggs and Lo showcase an entirely different tale of love-the long term marriage kind; the marriage facing major obstacles kind. Somehow, Eggs and Lo sneaked in through the back door of the main plot and stole my heart. I just wanted so badly for them to make it through.

 

All of this proves to me how powerful and capable of a writer Caroline Kepnes really is. These are not my types of stories: YOU, HIDDEN BODIES and now PROVIDENCE. I am not a romance reader, but somehow I became wholly invested in the fates of Jon and Chloe, of Eggs and Lo. I hope that that all of their stories will captivate you as well. If any of what I've written sounds appealing to you, go and get this book and find out what happens. Come seek me out when you're done and we'll shed our tears together.

 

My highest recommendation!

 

Available June 19th everywhere, available for preorder now here: PROVIDENCE

 

*I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-05-30 22:30
Carrie by Stephen King
Carrie - Stephen King

I finished my third read of Carrie on Sunday. I wanted my thoughts on it to be fresh for an in-person book group meeting at the end of this month. (It is prom season after all!)

 

 

 

I still love this style of story-telling which includes snippets from newspaper articles, different (fictional) books and journals, and several eye-witness accounts. I still find myself feeling for Carrie, and mostly those feelings consist of pity and sadness. I think every American schoolkid has been where she was. I wonder if Carrie would be a school shooter these days instead of a telekinetic time bomb? That may be a crazy thought, but having just re-read RAGE last month, (not to mention seeing the daily news here in America), I think it's natural for such a thing to cross my mind.

 

Lastly, reading this book while also reading King's latest, THE OUTSIDER, presented the chance for comparison. King was lean and mean in writing Carrie, in fact, I wished for more. THE OUTSIDER, while good, is a bit bloated and not as focused. Is that just his writing style changing over the years? Is it the fact that editing guidelines were different, and tighter back in the day? Whatever it is, there's a definite difference between the two, and despite King's tendency to ramble on? I think some of his largest books will still remain among my favorites of all time.

 

-

 

8.21.2012:

 

I just finished a re-read of this book. It was a bit different than I remembered. I think I took a lot more away from it this time than I did the first. Perhaps it's in light of the current problems regarding bullying among teenagers, or perhaps it's just that more than 20 years have passed since I last read it, and I am viewing it from a different perspective. Whichever it is, I enjoyed revisiting the town of Chamberlain and all its residents.

 

I also enjoyed (very much) how the story was related. Little bits from the White Commission (the investigatory body formed to discern the truth about what happened in Chamberlain), fake AP news articles, and tidbits from books later written about the Carrie White case. The only thing I would've have liked would be a little more meat to the story. Not something I would normally say in regards to Mr. King!  All in all, I'm very glad I re-read this book.

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