Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

July 22

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Recent Arrivals: The Last Bridge by Teri Coyne

by Ann-Kat

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: The Last Bridge by Teri Coyne

last-bridge-cover

First line: Two days after my father had a massive stroke my mother shot herself in the head.

Initial thoughts: After reading the first couple of pages, I can say that this one looks like it’s going to leave me a bit breathless. The reason I wanted to read it, however, was the air of dark mystery that permeated the storyline.

Book description:

For ten years, Alexandra “Cat” Rucker has been on the run from her past. With an endless supply of bourbon and a series of meaningless jobs, Cat is struggling to forget her Ohio hometown and the rural farmhouse she once called home. But a sudden call from an old neighbor forces Cat to return to the home and family she never intended to see again. It seems that Cat’s mother is dead.

What Cat finds at the old farmhouse is disturbing and confusing: a suicide note, written on lilac stationery and neatly sealed in a ziplock bag, that reads: Cat, He isn’t who you think he is. Mom xxxooo.

One note, ten words–one for every year she has been gone–completely turns Cat’s world upside down. Seeking to unravel the mystery of her mother’s death, Cat must confront her past to discover who “he” might be: her tyrannical, abusive father, now in a coma after suffering a stroke? Her brother, Jared, named after her mother’s true love (who is also her father’s best friend)? The town coroner, Andrew Reilly, who seems to have known Cat’s mother long before she landed on a slab in his morgue? Or Addison Watkins, Cat’s first and only love?

The closer Cat gets to the truth, the harder it is for her to repress the memory and the impact of the events that sent her away so many years ago.

Book Details: 240 pages; Ballantine Books; Pub. July 28, 2009

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June 9

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Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

by Ann-Kat

Dark Places Cover

Back Cover of Dark Places

I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—famously testifying that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details, she hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings…and maybe admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her across the Midwest, the narrative flashes back to the events of that day, replayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members—including Ben, a loner who’d recently begun a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

Three Quick Points About Dark Places

  • Point 1: Multiple personality disorder. The book alternates between three different perspectives, the main character Libby Day (in first person), and Patty and Ben Day (in third person).
  • Point 2: A twisted Jerry Springer episode. None of the characters had any redeeming qualities, but on some level, they were truly human. And the situation, as it unfolded, was truly out there but on some level you have to wonder could this possibly happen?
  • Point 3: Smartly written. I am surprised and delighted at Flynn’s smart and fluid writing style.

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June 7

Comments: 3

Sunday Salon: YA Books Galore, Dark Thrills, and The Great Perhaps

by Ann-Kat

The Sunday Salong Welcome to another edition of the Sunday Salon…

I’ve been slacking in my Sunday Salon blogging duties, but that’s because my life has been hectic. It’s no excuse, I know. That’s why I’ve resolved to do my Sunday Salon each week unless I have a better excuse. :)

And to make up for my slacking ways, this week, I’ll start you off with a little contest news.

Every day this month a new YA title will be given away to mark the release of Giving Up the V by Serena Robar.

Giving Up the V by Serena Robar What’s So Wrong With Waiting?

Spencer Davis just turned sixteen. But unlike most hormonal teenagers who seem obsessed with sex — like her entire crew of friends — Spencer just doesn’t get it. She’d rather wait for the right guy and the right moment. But that moment may be arriving sooner than she’d thought.

Enter Benjamin Hopkins, a new transfer student who seems to have his eyes on our V-card-carrying heroine. He’s gorgeous, funny, suave, athletic, and capable of making Spencer’s knees wobble with a single glance. Spencer has never felt this way about anyone before, but is Ben truly V-worthy?

Those who like to be winners or just want a chance to nab some darn fine YA literature should head over to Serena’s website and sign up for the newsletter to enter.

Dark Thrills

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn I’ve finished reading Dark Places by Gillian Flynn and let me just say what a ride. On one hand, I absolutely adored her prose and evocative descriptions. You could feel and taste the words coming right off the page. On the other hand, I absolutely disliked every one of the characters. I had sympathy for some, yes, but little more than that.

None of them had any redeeming qualities, which was surprising as there were plenty of characters in that book. It needed at least one person who wasn’t utterly broken on some level to help balance it. Lyle came close, but still missed the mark.

For that reason alone, this book wasn’t on my favorites list. In fact, it was enough to bump this book from “loved it” status to just plain “liked it.” The full review will be online next week. I’m letting it marinate in draft right now.

The Great Perhaps

I’ve read the first two chapters of three books: Swoon by Nina Malkin, Bad Things by Michael Marshall, and The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno.

Swoon has potential and it was planned as my next big read, until I saw that not everyone was pleased with its execution. (After reading Karissa’s review, I went to Amazon and saw that it was a general consensus.) It put a slight damper on my excitement to read it. Mind you, I’m still excited to read it, but I’m afraid it won’t live up to all the hype I’ve built in my own mind. Best solution? Set it aside and read a couple books, then come back to it when I’ve let that hype dwindle a bit.

After reading the first page of Bad Things, I thought the writing was a bit too dry for my liking, but I’m so intrigued by the storyline that I know I’ll finish it. Thank goodness the writing picked up around the tenth page. But I set it aside so I could finish Dark Places, which had a writing style that gripped me from page one.

The Great Perhaps Finally, The Great Perhaps beckoned and surprisingly, it was quite easy to answer its call. The writing style is fluid and easy. The characters, from page one, are so quirky that it’s almost impossible not to connect in some way. They’re all flawed, mind you, but they almost seem normal. (Odd when you consider the father has a seizure each time he sees a cloud or thinks he sees a cloud and one of their daughters wants to build a bomb for her science project.)

And that’s where I am. Next on my reading list has been decided: The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno. Chances are it will be finished within the next couple of days, the writing’s that smooth.

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