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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 2018-06-15 18:30
THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Paul Tremblay
The Cabin at the End of the World - Paul Tremblay

 

THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD takes a look at an American family and asks what are you willing to do to protect them? But this book asks that question in an unique way- right before it rips your heart out and stomps all over it!

 

Eric and Andrew take their daughter Wen on vacation to a remote cabin located on a lake in the woods of New Hampshire. It's been deliberately chosen because it has no cell service, no internet, no nothing. They want to spend this time together, uninterrupted as a family. Unfortunately, their dream vacation came to a screeching halt when a large man named Leonard wandered into their front yard and started talking to Wen. Soon thereafter, three more people join him and together, they all enter the cabin. Things go so downhill from there, it's hard to even talk about. What happens after that? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

To give away any more about the plot would be spoilery, so I'm just going to talk about my thoughts and impressions and leave it at that. First, I love the way that Paul Tremblay writes families. He always provides honest insights and observations and as such, these parts of his writing are the ones that appeal to me the most. In this case, I loved 7 year old Wen SO MUCH, I just wanted to pick her up, give her a hug and go help her catch grasshoppers. Eric and Andrew were mysteries at first, but the one thing that soon became obvious about them was their love for Wen.

 

When things started to go sideways, I was captivated. I had so many questions but I expected and trusted the author to lead me through. Was I right to invest my trust? Yes and no. This is a very slight and "in general" type of spoiler, but just in case:

I suspect that the end of this tale is going to ruffle some feathers, and I have to admit I felt a bit ruffled myself. I don't need everything tied up in a neat little bow, but I wouldn't have minded a few more answers. That aside, I honestly LOVED how it all came together at the end, (or didn't as the case may be, you'll have to read it!) I think it takes a certain amount of courage on the part of the author to end things the way he did and I'm very interested to see how it goes over with other readers.

(spoiler show)

 

One other thing did bother me: after the group of strangers entered the cabin, the pacing slowed down a bit and there was a lot of talking without much actual explaining, if that makes any sense. Having chapters from different character's points of view helped me gain a little more insight as to what was going on in their heads, but I thought those portions were a little dragged out and for that, I deducted one star. (And to be honest, this issue is most likely mine, and mine alone.)

 

THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD is now my favorite among the works of Paul Tremblay. The writing here was powerful and my heart is still healing from the major break it suffered while I was reading this book, and as such: I highly recommend it!

 

Up for pre-order now HERE and available everywhere on June 26th,2018.

 

*Thanks to Edelweiss and William Morrow for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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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 18:45
THE OUTSIDER by Stephen King
The Outsider - Stephen King

 

I loved the first half of this book so much, I hardly knew what to do with myself. I just wanted to be reading every minute of the day. Don't get me wrong, the second half was good, it just didn't impress me quite as much.

 

I'm not going to rehash the plot, because today, only one week from the release date, there are already hundreds of reviews that do that. I'm just going to give a few of my thoughts and impressions:

 

The first quarter of this book was outstanding. It reminded me of all the reasons I love King in the first place. Then the second quarter? It was even better! I know that my mouth dropped open when I was reading quite a few times and who doesn't love being surprised? The third quarter brings us Ms. Holly Gibney, (who was probably my favorite character from the Bill Hodges crime trilogy which began with Mr. Mercedes), but the pacing began to slow. The fourth quarter just got draggy and I wanted things to wrap up.

 

Overall, I was prepared to go all fangirl over this book and at first THE OUTSIDER deserved that and more. By the time we approached the denouement, I was still enjoying myself, but not as much. Perhaps it's because I expect so much from King and it's just not possible for anyone, even him, to live up to my expectations? Perhaps, it's because I was also reading CARRIE at the same time for a book club meeting, and that short novel reminded me how lean and mean King can be?

 

Whatever the reason, I do recommend THE OUTSIDER, I just can't give it my highest recommendation. Even so, a 4 star King book is worth 2 or 3 of most other author's 5 star books, so you should still read it! I hope you enjoy it, if you do!

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review 2018-05-25 18:30
THE ROAD TO JONESTOWN by Jeff Guinn, narrated by George Newbern
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

What a sad, sad, story. Even while I was listening, I was hoping for a different ending. 

 

Jeff Guinn is an excellent author of true crime. He is somehow able to relate the facts of the story without passing judgement. In this case, I learned a lot. The Peoples Church, (no apostrophe!), did a lot of work in the area of desegregation. Jim Jones and his wife even adopted a black child. In fact, they did a lot of good works together, for the elderly and for the members of their church. 

 

But as so often happens, absolute power corrupts and all that. Jim ran his church with an iron fist. He slept with many partners and somehow made it so that it was okay within his church. He began to do drugs-a lot of drugs. There was corporal punishment for those who did not follow the rules. He began to become paranoid and unbearable to be around, at times. 

 

Follow this to the end that we all knew was coming. I didn't realize how many people were involved in this mass suicide/mass murder, but I know now it was over 900. I say mass murder because children, (children!), were killed by having a syringe full of poisoned flavor-aide shot down their throats. It's one thing when your twisted beliefs cause you to kill yourself, it's another thing entirely to kill infants and children. It's just such a waste of life. 

 

Despite my attempts, I will never understand this mentality. I'm fascinated with it, I admit, but I can't understand it. Perhaps, it's just not understandable? It's certainly not sane. 

 

If you want to learn more about the Peoples Church and Jim Jones, then I highly recommend this book. I listened to it on audio, narrated by George Newbern and he was excellent. 

 

*I downloaded this audio-book from my library for free. Libraries RULE!*

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