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review 2018-04-23 05:22
Psychological thriller that puts sexual assault and harassment at the center, and keeps you gripped all the way through; an unassuming title but a great twist
The Girl I Used to Be - Mary Torjussen

This is a psychological thriller that is hard to put to down, and despite the unassuming title, this novel goes from being a story about a seemingly innocuous meeting with a prospective client for estate agent Gemma to a full-blown harassment and sexual assault case. Gemma is the breadwinner of her family, with her husband being at home with their three-year old son, and while she is trying hard to deal with the mounting stress of running a company, she’s constantly dealing with the anxiety of an incident in her past. Suddenly she is very much alone in a world where she is being harassed by private messages and letters, and she is finding herself lying and wondering who she is becoming.
It’s so hard to review this without revealing a major amount about the plot but this had me quickly turning the pages because author Mary Torjussen has crafted the perfect thriller whereby she has weaved a story from the character’s past into one in the present day, and while I was reading I felt Gemma’s anxiety - and fear - all the way through. It really was compulsive reading.
I will also personally disclose that the initiating incident that Gemma experiences, the one that she feels she must run from, and the one that is the cause of so much tragedy (revealed in part 2), is something that I personally went through myself. I only wish this sort of thing didn’t actually have to be something that becomes the basis of both adult and YA fiction, but (yes, this is my trigger warning), sexual assault happens, and will continue to be a part of fictional and non-fictional works. As women start to fight back by talking about it, as now it is very much a topic of our time (there’s a line in the book acknowledging that once upon a time, it wasn’t talked about so easily), it has become different when we read about it too.
This is actually the second book released this year that I have read with this similar sexual assault issue.
The book is thoroughly engaging to read and I liked the ‘two parts’ that it was separated into, with the massive twist. I don’t know what I’d change it to, but for some reason I have an issue with the title, although I understand the concept of how we look back at what we ‘used to be’, feeling like we have changed so much, or looking at what we were back then, but I want something else to grab people by. This book is so good and too clever for people to miss.

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review 2018-04-21 19:17
I Was Anastasia
I Was Anastasia - Ariel Lawhon

I Was Anastasia


Ariel Lawhon, 2018



In 1918, after being overthrown and imprisoned by the Bolshevicks, the Tsar and his family were taken into a basement in Ekaterinburg and murdered. This included the Tsar, his wife, his son, his four daughters, and four members of their staff. No one survived... or did they? Rumors spread that the youngest daughter, Anastasia, survived the attack. In 1920, a woman is pulled from a canal in Berlin. Covered in scars, she at first refuses to identify herself, but eventually claims to be Anastasia herself. This is the story of both Anastasia as a child and of the woman known as Anna Anderson, and about the mystery that surrounded them.


I'm going to try and do this review without any major spoilers.


First of all, I want to talk about the structure of the book, which is really the only thing I had an issue with, although I'm not sure how I would have done it differently. The chapters alternate, with one telling the story of Anastasia from the point where the Bolshevicks begin their rebellion and overthrow of the imperial family, through to the point of the execution. The other chapters are told from the point of view of Anna Anderson, starting in 1970 when the courts are ruling about whether or not they believe her claim, and work backward from there to 1918. This is the point where I had some trouble. I want to say that I think it was probably the right way to tell this book, allowing for the two stories to meet in the middle, but I sometimes found it hard to follow. A chapter would introduce a character and I would know I had heard the name before, but couldn't always remember the details. I think my problem might have stemmed more from the fact that I didn't read this book straight through - the last 100 pages or so I read in a much shorter span of time and had no trouble keeping characters straight. So I definitely recommend just reading this one through and not taking your time with it. In general I'm not always a huge fan of weird timelines like this, but while I didn't necessarily love reading it this way, it definitely made the most sense for the book. I don't think it would have worked otherwise. 


Second, the plot. Now, anyone who knows any Anastasia Romanov history knows that the woman named Anna Anderson is a real person and really did claim to be Anastasia, but that it was later proved that she was not Anastasia - Anastasia unfortunately died with the rest of her family in 1918. This is not a spoiler. This is actual historical fact. What I didn't know going into this book - and what I won't reveal in this review - is how the author was going to use these facts. Was she presenting the book as an actual true account, or was she using these real people and writing a fictional account: "What if Anna Anderson really was Anastasia?" I didn't know. Which made the book interesting (and which is why I'm not revealing it here.) All I will say is that when the two stories reach their conclusion in 1918, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. 


Overall, I'm not quite sure how to rate this book. I found the plot to be enjoyable as a whole. I much preferred the Anastasia chapters to the Anna chapters, however. I thought that, at times, the Anna story dragged a bit - it covered a large number of years, but not a whole lot happened. They weren't bad, and they were well written, I just found that overall I found Anna's timeline more interesting and kept wanting to get back to it. I did find the book as a whole to be well-written and well-researched, though, and overall I liked it, even though there were a few chapters that dragged and despite my initial problems with following the reverse timeline. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Anastasia story or who enjoys historical fiction.

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review 2018-03-20 17:25
Stephen King’s first book, a true classic: read the book where it all started!
Carrie (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) - Stephen King

I have FINALLY read ‘Carrie’, Stephen King’s first book. Yes, it was his FIRST book!
Reading a book when you already know the story so well (from the movie) is such a different experience than reading the book and then watching the movie, but it’s even more different when it’s one like this. I’ve seen ‘Carrie’ so many times because it’s one of my favorite horror films (not talking about any stupid remake, despite the fact I happen to have the book copy that is the remake movie tie-in. Remakes of good films are blasphemy). The original movie is perfection with Piper Laurie and Sissy Spacek and when reading the book, is was VERY hard for me not to get their images out of my mind. It was brilliant casting, for a brilliant story.
When reading this pretty short book (it comes in at basically 300 pages, which is so short, when you compare it to the behemoths of IT and The Stand), you are transported to 1979 immediately by the language, the descriptions of the clothing, and even the comparative style of King’s writing. It’s kind of a treat and a bit of a time warp you are pulled into. It took a bit of getting used to, along with the way King uses different narrative styles; the reader is given reports of the main ‘incident’, as well as character accounts, and intersperses them into the main story. If you didn’t know the ending from seeing the movie, you would have a good idea about a lot of it from these accounts as you go through.
As for the dynamic between Carrie and her hellacious (sorry, have to say it) mother, the interactions are horrific and they make your blood boil and King has given all he can to make the dread and tension so vivid. By writing in Carrie’s ‘thoughts’ we get little peeks into what’s going on in her mind as her powers are getting stronger; you start rooting for the girl who is being bullied, dominated, threatened all her life. You just know that there is no other way for this story to end.
What is most interesting to me now is the contrast with what what acceptable in terms of what kids could get away with (in terms of bullying and hazing) at school, compared to now. That’s a whole other story.
Anyway, I’m glad I finally got to read it as part of a Litsy buddy read. I love the movie so much, and it’s amazing to think that this is where Stephen King’s book career started. With a short novel that had one of most memorable horror movies made out of it.
*Don’t ever bother with the remake though.

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review 2018-03-12 23:32
Insanely long dystopian/apocalyptic novel that holds on to you tightly; vivid imagery, could be shorter
The Fireman: A Novel - Joe Hill

So I read this as it was someone else’s pick for the ‘Horror Postal Book Club’ I’m in, and my first reaction when I received it was ‘oh my goodness, this book is huge’. It happened to be the first Joe Hill novel I’ve got around to reading, and it really was a wild ride. A long one.
It feels dystopian, apocalyptic, and sometimes sci-fi, and has huge sections that have a lot of action, but then it also felt quite slow in parts. I definitely feel like it could have been a lot less than 762 pages to get the story told.
Since I’ve journaled my way through my reading of this for my book club (we are mailing the book to each other; all the way from Singapore to me in Seattle, and back to out to Asia by way of BC, Germany, and Spain), I won’t babble too much here, especially since there are tons of reviews. My next Joe Hill will have to be NOS4A2, so I’d love to see how his writing compares between novels. This is entirely entertaining (and depressing, in too many ways!), but not the quickest read.
*Note: I don’t like it when the Space Needle gets hurt in books...

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review 2018-02-20 16:46
Truthers Book Review
Truthers (Fiction - Young Adult) - Geoff... Truthers (Fiction - Young Adult) - Geoffrey Girard

Two stars is being kind. Truthers has a good premise and I like the idea of the plot, a girl born after 9/11 is thrown into conspiracy theories and trying to figure out what happened. But I honestly can't see any high schooler or young adult actually enjoying this. The plot is weak, its a lot of facts about 9/11 thrown at you. I barely finished and got really bored.


I honestly skimmed a lot of it but feel like I didn't miss much. I'm not really into the whole conspiracy thing with 9/11 but even so this could have been done a lot better than it was. 

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