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review 2020-07-13 09:30
'Her Final Words' by Brianna Labuskes
Her Final Words - Brianna Labuskes

Tightly plotted and tensely told mystery that kept me guessing and gave me a strong sense of a place and its people.

 

 

The only thing I didn't like about 'Her Final Words' was the opening. It's the hook the rest of the book wriggles on: a teenage girl from rural Idaho drives for five hours, crossing a State line, to the FBI field office in Seattle, asks for agent Lucy Thorne by name, confesses to having murdered a twelve-year-old boy, explains that the boy's body has a bible verse carved into it and then refuses to say more. It's a great hook that was never going to need much to sell it, yet I felt like everything in the opening was too bright and too loud and trying too hard to tell 'look how dramatic this is!'


I almost stopped there. Except it really was a great hook and I wanted to wriggle on it a little so I persisted. I'm very glad I did. The tone changed as soon as Lucy Thorne arrives in Idaho, with a long weekend to check out the details of an apparently open and shut case that feels off because there is no motive. The image of the Sheriff standing in the rain waiting to meet Thorne and take her to where the body was found was dramatic without being pushed hard.


It quickly becomes clear that the teenager who confessed to the killing and the boy who was killed were both members of a local Church/Cult and I wondered for a while if we were up for Federal Government rescuing the poor country folk from an abusive cult sort of story, because that never ends well but, thankfully, Brianna Labuskes was more ambitious and more original than that.

This is a story where good guys and bad guys are hard to tell apart. Where everyone is connected to everyone else but how and what it means are not clear and where the only thing the FBI agent is certain about is that she doesn't understand what's really going on.


The false simplicity of 'the bad cult must be to blame' is quickly replaced with something denser and more textured. I liked the way Brianna Labuskes brought out the geographical isolation of this rural community while showing how aware everyone is of what everyone else is doing and who they're doing it with.


Telling the story through multiple points of view and cross-cutting timelines that flip from 'Now' to 'Three Days Earlier' really tightened the tension and kept the surprises coming. The more Agent Thorne learns about the people and their history with one another, the more complicated the puzzle becomes and the fewer people she can trust. Discovering the story from the point of view of the teenagers involved and the Sheriff as well as Agent Thorne made everything more personal and more human as well as deepening the mystery.


The plot, the characters and the tightly controlled pace kept me engaged all the way through. The denouement was unexpected, memorable, believable and deeply sad.


I'll be back for more of Brianna Labuskes' stories.

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text 2020-07-04 23:51
Reading progress update: I've read 11%.
Her Final Words - Brianna Labuskes When this opened, I felt like everything was too bright and too loud. A story painted in primary colours. BUT... the cross-cutting of timelines adds mystery and tension and the puzzle at the centre of the plot is engaging. If I can get a little more light and shade as we go along, I'll be happy.
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review 2020-06-15 05:42
Final Girls by Riley Sager
Final Girls - Riley Sager

Basically a slasher movie in book form, complete with dumb decision-making and shallow college students. It has a few good misdirections and an unexpected (for me) final reveal, but the path to get there feels convoluted. The narration for the flashbacks sounds rather unnatural and robotic, although I suppose it's meant to come across as eerie.

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text 2020-06-01 16:18
Reading Wrap Up: Stay at Home Edition March, April, May 2020
The Final Days - Carl Bernstein,Bob Woodward
War on Peace - Ronan Farrow
Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth - Sarah Smarsh
Pox: An American History - Michael Willrich
Eisenhower 1956: The President's Year of Crisis--Suez and the Brink of War - David A. Nichols
Beauty Queens - Libba Bray
Golden in Death - J.D. Robb
The Girls of Mischief Bay - Susan Mallery

So here is my reading wrap up for March, April, and May. 

 

March

1. Golden in Death (In Death #50) by JD Robb - 4 stars

2. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera - 3.5 stars

3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot - 2.5 stars

 

April

1. Pox: An American History by Michael Willrich - 4.5 stars

2. A Distant Melody (Wings of Glory #1) by Sarah Sundin - 3 stars

3. The Scandalous Suffragette by Eliza Redgold - 3 stars

4. The Final Days by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein - 5 stars

5. Beauty Queens by Libby Bray - 4 stars

6. The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic That Shaped Our History by Molly Caldwell Crosby - 4 stars

 

May

1. The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty - 1 star

2. Eisenhower 1956: The President's Year of Crisis - Suez and the Brink of War by David A. Nichols - 4 stars

3. War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence by Ronan Farrow - 5 stars

4. Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed - and Why It Still Matters by Andrew Gumbel and Roger G. Charles - DNF

5. Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1) by Rachel Caine - 1 star

6. Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh - 4.5 stars

7. The Dead & the Gone (Last Survivors #2) by Susan Beth Pfeffer - 3 stars

8. 1666: Plague, War, and Hellfire by Rebecca Rideal - 3 stars

9. The Girls of Mischief Bay (Mischief Bay #1) by Susan Mallery - 4 stars

10. A New Life (West Meets East #1) by Merry Farmer - 2.5 stars

 

Goals and Challenges:

GoodReads: 40/125 (32%)

Library Love: 17/24 (70%) - I am thinking of moving up my goal to the next level

 

Participated in BoB28

Participated BL's Snakes & Ladders 2020

Participated in Dewey RAT

Participated in 24 in 48 Stay at Home RAT

 

 

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text 2020-05-26 01:38
Master Post: Snakes & Ladders Game 2020 - It. Is. Finished.
A Distant Melody - Sarah Sundin
The Scandalous Suffragette - Eliza Redgold
The Final Days - Carl Bernstein,Bob Woodward
Eisenhower 1956: The President's Year of Crisis--Suez and the Brink of War - David A. Nichols
The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic that Shaped Our History - Molly Caldwell Crosby
Beauty Queens - Libba Bray
The Dead and the Gone (The Last Survivors, Book 2) by Pfeffer, Susan Beth [Hardcover(2008/6/1)] - Susan Beth Pfeffer
Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth - Sarah Smarsh
1666: Plague, War, and Hellfire - Rebecca Rideal

 

 I am Finished!

Nine rolls.

Eight prompts filled.

Five books off my physical reading shelf read.

No ladders, yet also no snakes. 

 

 

 

Previous Rolls

1. Space 1: Author is a Woman

A Distant Melody (Wings of Glory #1) by Sarah Sundin, 355 pages (worth 2 rolls) - Finished 4/9/2020

 

2 You rolled 2 dice:

6 5

Timestamp: 2020-04-10 00:43:11 UTC

Space 11

 

You rolled 2 dice:

3 5

Timestamp: 2020-04-10 00:44:57 UTC

Space 19: Set in UK

The Scandalous Suffragette by Eliza Redgold, 234 pages, set in London, Manchester, and the Kent countryside (worth 2 rolls). Read April 9th-14th. 

 

3. You rolled 2 dice:

2 3

Timestamp: 2020-04-15 13:56:05 UTC

Space 24

 

You rolled 2 dice:

3 1

Timestamp: 2020-04-15 13:57:14 UTC

Space 28: Written between 1900 and 1999

 

The Final Days: The Classic, Behind-the-Scenes Account of Richard Nixon's Dramatic Last Days in the White House by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, originally published in 1976 (456 pages without the index). Worth 2 rolls when completed. Read 4/16-4/22.

 

 4. You rolled 2 dice:

1 3

Timestamp: 2020-04-23 00:31:33 UTC

Space 32

 

You rolled 2 dice:

5 4

Timestamp: 2020-04-23 00:32:04 UTC

Space 41 - Characters involved in politics

 

Eisenhower 1956: The President's Year of Crisis - Suez and the Brink of War by David A. Nichols (286 pages without notes or index). Worth 2 rolls when completed. Read 4/17-May 11.

 

 5. You rolled 2 dice:

1 6

Timestamp: 2020-05-12 21:04:28 UTC

Space 48

 

You rolled 2 dice:

5 6

Timestamp: 2020-05-12 21:04:48 UTC

Space 59 - Book published more than 10 years ago

 

I am using a book that I read during the game. The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic that Shaped Our History by Molly Caldwell Crosby (285 pages without notes and index). Read 4/25-4/27. Worth two rolls.

 

6. You rolled 2 dice:

5 6

Timestamp: 2020-05-15 01:35:41 UTC

Space 70

You rolled 2 dice:

2 1

Timestamp: 2020-05-15 01:36:02 UTC

Space 73 - Categorized as YA

 

Another book I read during the game is Beauty Queens by Libby Bray (396 pages; I listened to the unabridged audiobook). Read 4/25-26th. Worth 2 rolls.

 

7. You rolled 2 dice:

3 2

Timestamp: 2020-05-16 14:56:03 UTC

Space 78

You rolled 2 dice:

3 1

Timestamp: 2020-05-16 14:56:24 UTC

Space 82 - Urban Fantasy

 

The Dead & the Gone - 309 pages.  Read 5/15-16. Worth one roll.

 

8. You rolled 2 dice:

6 6

Timestamp: 2020-05-19 00:27:52 UTC

Space 94 - Nonfiction

 

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh. Read 5/13-14. Worth 2 Rolls.

 

9. You rolled 2 dice:

2 4

Timestamp: 2020-05-19 00:41:19 UTC

Space 100 - Right on the nose, how 'bout that?

 

1666: Plague, War, and Hellfire by Rebecca Rideal (234 pages of reading material).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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