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review 2017-04-23 17:01
THE WATCHER Review
The Watcher - Emery Armstrong Ross

Release Date: 04.25.17

 

Ross Armstrong's forthcoming debut novel, The Watcher, is a stylish and experimental challenge — one that will surely leave many a reader scratching his or her head when the story is done, but not without a faint sense of satisfaction . . . an inkling that something unique was just experienced.

 

Lily, the protagonist, lives in a new apartment building with her husband, Aiden. An avid bird watcher, she has taken to watching the people in the apartment building next to hers. Though she does not know these people, she is fascinated by them — going so far as to make names and backstories up for them. Soon she witnesses a murder and becomes entirely obsessed with catching the culprit, for she suspects he lives in the apartment she has spent so much time studying. Things get dangerous, out of control, and confusing . . . needless to say, Lily is the definition of an unreliable narrator (and I don't consider that a spoiler, as it is very much hinted at in the synopsis and apparent from page one). This is an in-depth look at a spiraling character in duress. The reader is totally inside her mind, helpless to do anything except hang on tight.

 

Like most reviewers have said, this novel confused me — but that's the point. It's intentional, though the reason for that does not become apparent until the story's final quarter. I must admit, I spent the first 50% of this one annoyed, lost . . . intrigued, too. This one just broods, right from the start. Lily is an interesting character, for sure. The author keeps the reader at a distance from her, yet by the end one feels as if he or she fully knows this character. I can't explain it, for this book is up to tricks I've ever experienced in modern fiction. I'll say this: The Watcher contains reveals that will knock you on your ass. So buckle up.

 

I finished this one feeling relieved that I made it through, relieved that it was over . . . and so happy I requested an ARC. While I can't award it a full five stars (the experimental style isn't a full success; I don't feel as though I fully grasped everything, either . . . maybe that's the point?), I can give it a solid four. Recommended. The Watcher hits shelves on Tuesday; check it out if you're looking for something off-beat and a little weird.

 

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review 2017-04-21 18:39
THE PERFECT STRANGER Review
The Perfect Stranger: A Novel - Megan Miranda

Megan Miranda's debut novel, All the Missing Girls, was a smash hit last year and put her name on the map. Seriously, is there anyone who book blogs and isn't aware of this woman? I'd think not.

 

I somehow never got around to reading that book, though I do have it on my shelf. Instead, my first Miranda novel is her second outing, The Perfect Stranger. This one focuses on former reporter-turned-teacher Leah, who has recently moved in with an old college roommate and taken a teaching job in western Pennsylvania. One day, her roommate (Emmy Grey is her name) disappears . . . and it's almost as if she never existed at all. While that is going on, there is another mystery unfolding: a couple of people are found murdered in a nearby lake, and Leah seems to be the nucleus of all these strange happenings.

 

Truth be told, this novel's synopsis in any form is more exciting than the story itself. This one just plods, never finding its legs. The narrative has as much energy as I do after sixty minutes on the elliptical at the gym. Leah is a decent character, though, and I like that Miranda made her a teacher. I just like reading about that occupation; it's fun, for me. It doesn't particular serve or hurt the story in any way.

 

The Perfect Stranger just feels too safe. You can sense the author wanting to say more, do more; this story wants to be more, but it falls woefully short. It says nothing of import and leaves the reader sorely disappointed. I guessed the 'twist' (if it can be called that) at approximately the 5% mark. Oops. I haven't felt this let down by a novel since reading Ruth Ware's latest. Ugh.

 

I plan to read this author's debut novel at some point, simply because I always give writers two chances to impress (or disappoint) me. But that won't happen any time soon.

 

Thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for the ARC (which I am just now getting around to reading and reviewing - sorry!), which was given in exchange for an honest review.

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text SPOILER ALERT! 2016-09-03 03:31
RADICALS

Chapter 1

 

   My hands are numb from the cold air. It's 6 am and I'm waiting outside of the Prelude Clubhouse for my dad to finish a breakfast meeting with his work group. Every Sunday, he insists on taking me with him for golf, but when the meeting starts, I only stay long enough to finish my food. Their conversations are always so bland, so reserved. They talk numbers and reports, almost as if to bore me. Deep down, I know that it's a distraction. It might be a family gathering, but I am the only relative that comes. There are dozens of men there. I can't imagine that not a single one is a father or a husband.

No—they purposefully wait for me to leave to talk business. It worries me what kind of work my dad is involved in that's so closed-off and secretive. I picture them as a room of criminals. My presence is an inconvenience, but I have to attend. It's only fitting after my mom died two years ago. He would take her. I feel like coming here helps fill that empty void for my dad.

   A door opens from behind me and I turn slightly to see a younger member of the group approaching me. He's dressed in a black business suit like the others, but striking blue eyes contrast jet-black hair. He stood out to me from the first day and from what I've seen of his mannerisms, he's fairly new to the organization.

   "Needed some fresh air?" he asks as he comes to stand at my left side.

   I shrug. No one has ever asked me this before.

   "I wouldn't know what to talk about in there," I admit.

   He smiles, but looks ahead at the foggy rolling hills beyond the course.

   "You might be surprised," he responds. "There's a lot to be said about what we do. You never know—one of these days, this might be your legacy to share with us."

   I smile back, failing to re-capture his wandering gaze. "I doubt I'm cut out for it. That's more my father's thing." I question why I called my dad that. I'm not one to pick up conversational cues for the sake of the other person. This man has a strange effect on me. It doesn't make me feel very comfortable.

   "Maybe," he concludes simply.

   I open my mouth to mention that I'm not fully sure what it is that they do, but he turns and returns to the front double-doors.As one opens, he catches it, holding it for my dad.

   "Thank you," my dad says to him, before walking to me.

   The man disappears inside, but not without another glance at me. I'm not sure what it is behind his eyes that has me stuck in place. It was forceful.

   "There you are," my dad tells me in a tone that's meant to be cheerful. I don't buy the attitude for one second—his eyes tell a different story. They're apprehensive, almost scared.

   "That was weird," I explain to him. "He asked why I'm out here."

   "I'm not surprised. You never stay." He starts walking with me across the road leading from the clubhouse to the entrance gate. "What did he say?"

   "I'll explain when we're back at the house."

   This place has the tendency to give me the creeps on any day. I have no interest in discussing anything personal within possible earshot of the grounds. Before we take more than two steps onto the lawn to cut across to the parking lot, a black sedan drives at an oddly-low speed across the road. I follow it with my eyes as it circles to behind us. Then, it stops—so do I. My dad must sense my hesitation. He stops, too, turning around to look at the car. A rear passenger's window rolls down and I see a mirror-like reflection no bigger than a bottleneck shining from the lower edge of it. I get an uneasy feeling and step towards my dad.

   A loud bang cuts through the air and I hear my dad gasp. The window rolls up as the car leaves, just as slowly as it came.       The next few moments don't feel real—they happen too quickly. All I can do is let out the breath I've been holding as I shake my dad on my lap, having collapsed onto the grass in a desperate attempt to catch his falling body. I see blood soaking through his blazer where his heart should be. I near to touch it, to try to stop the bleeding, but my hand freezes, moving sharply to his face instead as I pray that he moves.

   "Dad," I squeak in the loudest voice that will escape my lips—it's inaudible. I shake him again by the shoulders, but he won't move anymore. It's like he froze. "Dad!"

   Echoes of my cries pulsate through my head, but he won't hear me. He won't listen anymore.

Source: mayatripathi.wix.com/fallacies/radicals
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photo 2016-05-18 18:59

What better place to read The Fireman than by the water? 

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review 2016-03-20 00:32
HIDDEN BODIES Review
Hidden Bodies - Caroline Kepnes

Synopsis: 
In the compulsively readable follow-up to her widely acclaimed debut novel, You, Caroline Kepnes weaves a tale that Booklist calls “the love child of Holden Caulfield and Patrick Bateman.”

Hidden Bodies marks the return of a voice that Stephen King described as original and hypnotic, and through the divisive and charmingly sociopathic character of Joe Goldberg, Kepnes satirizes and dissects our culture, blending suspense with scathing wit.

Joe Goldberg is no stranger to hiding bodies. In the past ten years, this thirty-something has buried four of them, collateral damage in his quest for love. Now he’s heading west to Los Angeles, the city of second chances, determined to put his past behind him.

In Hollywood, Joe blends in effortlessly with the other young upstarts. He eats guac, works in a bookstore, and flirts with a journalist neighbor. But while others seem fixated on their own reflections, Joe can’t stop looking over his shoulder. The problem with hidden bodies is that they don’t always stay that way. They re-emerge, like dark thoughts, multiplying and threatening to destroy what Joe wants most: truelove. And when he finds it in a darkened room in Soho House, he’s more desperate than ever to keep his secrets buried. He doesn’t want to hurt his new girlfriend—he wants to be with her forever. But if she ever finds out what he’s done, he may not have a choice...

 

*****

 

Caroline Kepnes is back with the sequel to her widely acclaimed debut novel You, and it is everything a good sequel should be. Hidden Bodies picks up right where You left off, with first person narrator Joe in love with Amy, his latest squeeze. Things go awry and soon Joe is off to Hollywood from New York City on a journey that will result in lots of sex, money, and murder. I do not want to risk giving much away because so much of the reader's enjoyment of this novel relies solely on not knowing the details.

 

This was an exciting read -- the perfect book to get me out of my reading slump. Kepnes has her finger on the pulse of what makes her readers tick in 2016, and uses that to her advantage. Pop culture references are sprinkled throughout, though it never feels intrusive like it occasionally did in You. This is very much a book about now, which is not bad -- it adds a certain level of authenticity to the whole affair, me thinks. These characters use Instagram and Facebook and email each other because that's what people in this age do. Some authors are afraid to incorporate technology into their works, but not Caroline Kepnes. Kudos to her for it.

 

Joe Goldberg is one of my favorite characters in modern fiction, with all of his messed up, twisted (insert a million other synonyms for 'crazy' here) ideas and mood swings. I can't help but love and feel sorry for the guy. However, my sole complaint about this book is Joe felt a bit . . . predictable. Like, we saw what he's all about in You, and there is nothing new added to his character in Hidden Bodies. I suppose that sounds like I'm nitpicking, but I could not escape the feeling that Joe had a bit of a been-there-done-that feel. Part of the fun of reading about him in You was seeing his personality and actions unfurl, and in Hidden Bodies we get the exact same Joe . . . up to maybe last ten pages or so. 

 

This is a great read. It's quick, it's fun, and it's just as chilling and twisted as its predecessor. Caroline Kepnes is a new author writing with the skill of a veteran -- she has love for every character she has created, and she truly sympathizes with them. And it shows. If you're looking for a quickly paced plunge into the depths of a psychotic killer's mind, you could do much worse than Hidden Bodies.

 

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