Thrillers are more of a recent adventure for me and I’m not sure why I don’t pick them up more often. This month’s book club pick was An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen and I was captivated the entire time.
What is it?
An Anonymous Girl is a psychological thriller that follows Subject 52, Jessica Harris, in an ethics and morality study. Dr. Shields is an NYU professor seeking girls 18-32 to participate in a study to reveal what is involved in the decision making process.
Jessica soon realizes this isn’t your average study. It’s like the computer knows her and can sense her hesitations. After piquing Dr. Shields’ interest, Jessica is invited to participate in Phase II. The only downside? Phase II definitely wasn’t approved by the Institutional Review Board and Jessica no longer knows what is real and what is a test.
Why I liked it…
As I mentioned earlier, while I may not automatically gravitate towards thrillers I find them really interesting. I really enjoyed the psychological thriller aspect of An Anonymous Girl. The authors had me constantly questioning what was part of the study and how much Dr. Shields actually knew. The chapters were short but I kept thinking, “just one more, just one more, just one more…”
This story is filled with parallels between Jessica and Dr. Shields as well as Jessica and Subject 5 that really keep you saying this can’t just be a coincidence. There’s also some interesting family dynamics/forgiveness themes that give you a break from the experiment side of things.
Would I recommend it?
This is a perfectly paced novel that keeps you intrigued the whole time. I would recommend this for anyone looking for a little excitement in their TBR pile.
I haven’t read The Wife Between Us yet but I’ll definitely be looking into it. It’s another thrilled co-authored by Hendricks and Pekkanen and if it’s anything like the first, it’s definitely worth it!
It’s been awhile since I posted a review but I’m back! I figured I would review all four books in one post as the Winter Street series follows the Quinn family through four Christmases on Nantucket. If you’re looking for a Hallmark movie in a book: this is it. Hilderbrand has taken her classic beach read and transformed it into a Christmas drama spectacular.
This is the first introduction to the Quinn family and I fell in love immediately. I had only read two Elin Hilderbrand novels before this one (The Rumor and Winter in Paradise) and this sucked me in as predicted.
If you’ve read Crazy Rich Asians, imagine that level of family drama but all under the roof of a quaint Nantucket inn (with considerable less money). Kelley and Margaret had it all: good jobs, a brownstone in NYC, and three kids but eventually Margaret needed to make sacrifices so she could go on to be America’s favorite news anchor. Which led Kelley to Mitzi (real name: Margaret), and together they left the city and bought an inn on Nantucket. Kelley raised his three kids on the island and had another son with Mitzi. This book takes place as all the kids are adults and have started their own lives.
Patrick, the oldest son, is living in Beacon Hill and faces temptations that may get him in trouble at work. Kevin is secretly dating the housekeeper. Ava is head over heels but can’t get a ring. And Bart, Kevin and Margaret 2.0’s daughter has been deployed to Afghanistan and shortly after arriving his convoy goes missing. Throw in some infidelity with the inn’s Santa Claus, you have yourself one entertaining Christmas.
To avoid giving away too much I’m just going to be sharing my thoughts on the next three!
The Quinns are back! My favorite part of this one was Ava and her relationship issues. I felt like I needed to ask Ava to meet me at the nearest coffee shop and talk through all her options. I also liked that we got to see more of Patrick’s wife, Jennifer. But giving Jennifer a starring role means adding a whole new level of complicated.
At this point I was starting to lose the story. Similar to how I felt with Rich People Problems (Crazy Rich Asians #3) , it felt like the drama was starting to get old. This was originally supposed to be the end of the Winter Streets series and to me it read rushed to tie the story with a nice little Christmas bow on top.
But wait there’s more! We’re adding even more tragedy to the Quinn family but my interest was piqued again. Allegra Pancik, from The Rumor, takes center stage in the lives of the Quinns (coincidence?? I think not) and I am here for it. She seems to have grown since we last saw her, she’s learned from her mistakes and comes across as somewhat naive but also incredibly understanding. And the story ends with the ultimate present from Santa Claus himself.
I would 100% recommend the Winter Street series. I think while they may not be your traditional, fluffy Christmas read but it’s entertaining through and through. My absolute favorite thing about Hilderbrand’s writing is that you really feel like you are in Nantucket. I’ve never been (yet!) but after becoming a part of the Quinn family I feel like I’ve walked Main Street during the Christmas Stroll. If you’re looking for something that will transport you to a place to quintessentially New England, this is it!
Up next on my reading list is the sequel to Winter in Paradise, and then I’ll be taking a break from Elin Hilderbrand until May (expect her to come back in full force as now I’m hooked!)
PS: last year my goal was to read 30 books and I did it! I’ve upped my game to 45 this year, so drop your recommendation in the comments!
Today’s post has two parts: first I’m going to set the scene (trust me this is a scene worth setting) and then we’ll get into the actual discussion.
How I ended up in Watch Hill.
About a week ago I saw a post on @sarahkjp‘s page about an event with the Newport Ladies Book Club in Watch Hill. I showed my mom and after realizing she had the day off we figured we would go. I have a book club on Instagram but I had never been to one in person and it sounded like an entertaining night.
Then Monday rolled around and my mom and I rolled up to the Ocean House and it was stunning. I’ve seen it so many times on Instagram, and mostly from Sarah’s page oops, but wow. We were a little early and were planning on walking around outside when one of the people who worked at the Ocean House asked us if we were here for the book club and took us to the Secret Garden Champagne Bar. As soon as we stepped onto the deck someone handed us drinks and we found somewhere to sit so we could listen to Deborah Royce (the author!!!) talk about her book. I thought it was a little bizarre that they were already deep in discussion because we were half an hour early but I was too busy living what I can only describe as truly, my best life to think about it. Until two women came in a little later and I realized it. We had unknowingly crashed the book club only discussion. Kylie, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry we crashed the group photo too!
The rest of the night was magical as well. We got to meet several of the ladies in the book club and talk to the author about her creative process. One question that had been in my head after reading this book was “where did she come up with the idea for the necklace?” To me it seemed like such a significant detail but I had never heard of a necklace like that before and it turns out, Royce had been given one by a former beau. Let’s just hope it wasn’t under the same circumstances!
It was such an unforgettable night discussing the book with the author, in a location that was central to the novel! I never knew such a thing could be on my book bucket list, but it has since been added and then crossed off.
And now my thoughts on the book!
When I first read the book jacket I thought this was going to have a political plot but I was surprised to find out that it was more of political undertones and it focused on the idea of who a person is and more specifically what’s in a name.
I usually opt for historical fiction but this was a thriller through and through. I am not used to having such short chapters and the way Royce ends each chapter brought me back to when I used to read the Goosebumps books because each chapter had a cliff hanger than had me saying “oh just one more chapter”.
Mrs. Ford taught me a life lesson that I think may come in handy at some point in my life. While I never plan on having the FBI show up to my house, I may file away the “make them uncomfortable” tactic should I ever need it.
Royce is a very descriptive author. Prior to reading this book I had never been to Watch Hill, but when I arrived it was déjà vu. The same goes for her descriptions of Detroit. I felt immersed in the disco-era. One thing I didn’t pick up on until a woman in the book club brought it up was Royce’s skill in knowing when not to elaborate. There were a few scenes (the most poignant being the scene with the polaroid) where she had given just enough detail to get the point across.
This book also reminded me of a favorite that I read earlier this year. Like, Next Year in Havana, Finding Mrs. Ford tells a story by flipping back and forth between present and past. But there was one line that brought me back to Havana. Sammy, a Chaldean, is describing the political climate in the Middle East and mentions that Saddam Hussein may bring a good future. Which reminded me of all the discussions about Castro bringing good fortune to Cuba. It’s a comment that may go unnoticed but I think it hammers home the idea of choosing between the devil you know and the devil you don’t know.
This was a quick read so either run to the beach tomorrow or save it for next summer because it is the perfect beach day book!
At the end of our night Royce shared details of her next book with us and I can only say, Ruby Falls is already on my TBR list!
I picked this book up because it sounded like movie Book Club and it was on the $5 table at Barnes and Noble, an impulse buy at it’s finest. It looked like I started my own dirty book club as I walked to the checkout with The Dirty Book Club and Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. When the cashier scanned both of my books I said, “I don’t know why it looks like I read 50 Shades of Grey” and she didn’t even crack a smile. But I think I’m funny and that’s all that matters.
When I first picked this up I read the author’s name and thought “Lisi Harrison… I’ve heard that before”. It wasn’t until I started reading it I realized it was the same Lisi Harrison who wrote The Clique series. The Clique books were some of my favorites to read, my school didn’t seem nearly as cool as Octavian Country Day and I loved reading about the Pretty Committee. Which caused my expectations of this book to soar.
This book was slightly dramatic as I remember The Clique books to be, which is odd because it covers everything from cheating husbands to pot brownies. It was however a great read and the perfect book to bring with you to a beach.
While I enjoyed it I think I would have rather it focused more on the original members or on the bonding between the next generation. While there was a lot going on, I finished it and still felt like I was missing something. There’s little talk of the actual book club and how the new members got closer.
While we do see personal growth in a number of the characters, whether it’s actually reading that month’s pick or signing in pen, it feels like we’re following the Downtown Beach Club and not the Dirty Book Club. While each of the characters were independent of each other they blended together for me. If it wasn’t M.J., I had to remind myself who was who.
If you’re looking for a light-hearted and dramatic read this is one to have. While I felt like the relationships between characters fell a little flat, it was a good read for a day on the beach.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, The Enlightenment of Bees by Rachel Linden is the perfect mix of self discovery, a love story, and an honest reflection about voluntourism. This story is well thought out and each theme plays out very well and compliments each other.
This story starts out with a proposal gone wrong and follows Mia on her journey to find herself. After a six year relationship, she realizes she had been in a relationship that forced her to compromise rather than fostering her growth. But it’s not just her love story, Nana Alice and her best friend Rosie also find themselves looking for love.
As for the voluntourism aspect, Linden does not shy away from addressing the savior complex. If you’re not familiar with it it can be easily explained by @barbiesavior on Instagram. This book brings up two really good points about changing the world:
It’s a two way street. You can’t go into a different culture and assume you’re the only person of value, you need to build a community.
finding where your passions meet the worlds needs
It’s a hard discussion to have, but this book definitely paves the way for the discussions to happen. As someone who has always wanted to do a volunteer trip abroad this has made me realize that without the community aspect no real change can be made.
Another important lesson from this book was that the refugee crisis does not stop at the border. The true test comes as people are trying to acclimate into their new lives.
There was one thing that was totally lost on me, the bee analogy. Bees are scattered throughout the text and I’ll be(e) honest I was confused. Until, I couldn’t take it anymore, I felt like they must mean something for them to show up that often. So I turned to Google and saw that bees represent community, brightness, and personal power. Well played Linden, well played.
If you’re looking for a thought provoking read that has a seamless storyline, this is your next pick.
Today I am sharing my first book review from BookSparks! I shared in June that I was accepted as part of the #booksharks team and now I get to share my thoughts on the first ARC I have received!
I was instantly intrigued when I read the description. While science fiction isn’t my go-to I often think I can communicate with my dog telepathically so it seemed super interesting. The description also mentions a disease called “Disorientation” which is much like Alzheimer’s and I thought a human/dog search team that goes after missing people seems like it would be right up my alley. Add in the fact that one of the people who goes missing is a famous scientist and I was hooked.
While I enjoyed the storyline, the narrating style wasn’t for me. I felt like I was coming in in the middle of a series, it’s a science fiction/alternate reality kind of story and at the beginning I had trouble figuring out what kind of world we were living in. It was also difficult to keep the characters straight, I had a similar feeling to the third Crazy Rich Asians book where there is a lot happening and I need to take the time to remember who everyone is.
However, this was a really quick read. I feel like I flew through it! The story was compelling and I was intrigued the whole way through to figure out what the answer was. There were a lot of pieces to the puzzle to be fit together but overall it was a good read.
Reading the author’s note at the back I discovered she wrote this as part of NaNoWriMo! National Novel Writing Month was something I had taken part in when I was in high school and I loved that that’s where this idea was born.
Overall, I would say that if you love dogs, science-fiction, a good mystery, or any combination of the three this book is worth picking up. For me it was more of a stylistic thing that didn’t match up for me so it’s worth a try! You’ll never know if you don’t pick it up!
Happy reading! Let me know what’s in your TBR in the comments!
I just finished The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid and I knew I immediately had to start writing my review. There was so much in this book that I knew if I let myself fall asleep tonight, I would miss something.
While this book doesn’t quite earn five stars from me it comes pretty close. The main reason this book doesn’t get five stars- I’m selfish. I didn’t like the ending. Well, I liked the true ending and I saw that coming but what had happened a few pages before was too much for me. I don’t even know why it hit me so hard, I understand wanting to protect your own family but at the expense of another family? It got under my skin.
But let’s get to the everything else that is jam packed into 380 pages. There a lot to unpack in this book so let’s start with the dedication. Before the book even started Reid dedicated the book to her daughter and wrote “Smash the patriarchy, sweetheart”. With that I knew this was going to be a good read.
And smash the patriarchy she did. While this isn’t a true biography there is word going around the internet that it is loosely based on multiple early movie starlets. Hugo started life in New York City and dreamed of being a star. She had no easy way to get out of the city so she did the only thing she could think of- she used men. A common thread in this book is that Hugo gives men what they want as long as she can get what she wants.
It is a call to action of sorts. Now I’m not saying we should all move to Hollywood and make movies topless, it seems like they have enough of that, but rather that we should all be unafraid to ask for what we want. If we all had the confidence of Hugo, girls really would run the world.
Another huge part of this book that I was completely unaware of when I picked it up was the LGBTQ+ content. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo shows the hard reality of the 1930s if your dream wasn’t to get married, have two and a half kids, a dog named Spot, and a white picket fence.
Overall this book touched a lot of gray areas. People that aren’t fully good but cannot be described as evil. Characters that felt stuck between two worlds, not white enough for one but also too far away from the culture they want to call their own. There’s even a little medical gray area thrown in there, with the moral debate- do I stop it or was I trusted to let it go.
While the first few chapters went by slow, and by husband five I thought how could we possibly get through two more, I would definitely recommend this book. It is the perfect summer read, once I reached the 2/3 mark in the book I knew I had to power through the rest of the book because I had to understand.
Let me know what you think of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo in the comments below!
This book was a Christmas present and I have to say it is my favorite book I’ve read this year. While it started out slow, I’m not exactly sure why I thought it was slow because there was a home invasion but I wasn’t really feeling it. But then I got to Lo’s time on the boat and wow I could not put it down!
Maybe it’s my unhealthy obsession with the Titanic and tragedies at sea (a story for another time) but I was hook line and sinker for this book. I would describe this book as a psycho-thriller, I was on edge the whole time and just as I thought I figured it out, there was a plot twist to hide the truth yet again.
I will say I had some serious Shutter Island vibes going on here. But I was completely wrong, there’s so much going on here and that’s the least of Lo’s worries.
If you’re looking for something to keep you on the edge of your seat that isn’t scary (I’m not good with horror movies) this is it!
Welcome to What I’m Reading Valentine’s Day edition! You might be thinking “The book was called Autumn but it’s February” and well get to that!
Over break I went into Boston and while I was on Newbury Street I stopped by Trident Books. It’s right next to Pure Barre and I don’t know how I never stopped there before!
They have this cute bookshelf at the front of the store called Blind Date with a Book! Ta-da! So I’m writing today to tell you all about my blind date. How this works is that all of the books on this shelf are covered in paper bags and have pictures drawn on them so you have no idea what’s underneath.
The shelf was filled with so many books and I was so torn on what to pick until I saw this:
I took the commuter rail in to the city and on the way home I finished the book I was reading at the time and so I was left with a decision: open the book now and risk tearing the paper or wait until I could show my mom (she’s also a huge fan of Trident Books). Still having 30 minutes left on the train I opened the book. Very. Carefully.
The cover was absolutely stunning. I fell in love with the book almost immediately.
So now onto the real deal…
Autumn by Ali Smith is the first in a series of 4 seasonal novels. Summer has not been released yet which is fitting as it seems summer is years away at this point.
At first glance, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. Smith’s writing can be overwhelming until you get used to it. She alternates between the story and another narrative that took me awhile to pick up but I’m so glad I did.
If you like linear plots, this is one you should put aside (unless you want to challenge yourself and expand your bookshelf of course). Smith switches between past, present, and everything in between. This book covered everything from intergenerational friendships, a pop-artist, feminism, and Brexit.
The wise people of Goodreads have put my feelings into words and I will share that with you know: I’m not exactly sure what I’ve read. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed what I read, I’m just not exactly sure I picked up on all of the references she included. I think Smith is a brilliant writer and I will definitely be picking up the other two, and eventually a third, but I don’t think there’s anyway I could have possibly picked up all of the things Smith addressed.
While I was able to understand the relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Gluck, and I fell in love with it, the Pauline Body part was just too much for me. If there had been less Body I think I would have enjoyed it more but it tied together Elisabeth’s childhood to finding her thesis. It’s just that it kept going on and on and on.
That being said, I am very excited to pick up the next few books in her series. Something I find extremely interesting about this series is that it’s called a “series quartet” in that they’re stand-alone books that relate to each other as seasons do.