Tuesday, November 28, 2017

book review: Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

The backstory: Last summer, I read and enjoyed Wendy Walker's first psychological thriller All Is Not Forgotten (my review). (Walker has also published several novels that aren't thrillers.)

The basics: One night, two sisters, ages 15 and 17, go missing. Three years later, one of them comes back, and she's desperate to find her sister, whom she left behind in order to escape.

My thoughts: When I read All Is Not Forgotten, I was enraptured. In my review, I wrote "ll Is Not Forgotten is an utterly gripping thriller. I read it compulsively. As I reached its conclusion, however, I realized the thrills were likely gone. In this sense, the novel is authentic and realistic--it's characters feel like real people. While I appreciate the novel's conclusion in this sense, for such a twisty ride, I was mildly disappointed there wasn't one more twist." In many ways, Emma in the Night has the opposite problem. The premise is such an intriguing one, but I found it relatively slow to start and get going. The early chapters are long, particularly by psychological thriller standards, and because the novel shifts narrators, some things are repeated, albeit with subtle differences, so different narrators cover the same events and times. Early on, I found myself most enjoying the narration of the psychiatrist. I'm drawn to police procedurals, and something about Cass's narration didn't grip me immediately.

About half-way through, however, this novel became unputdownable. There were many delightful and surprising twists, and it more than made up for the slow start, which was needed to establish the foundation for the novel's long, satisfying climax.

Favorite passage:  "There is something about understanding that comforts me, even if I don’t like what I understand."

The verdict: Emma in the Night may start a bit slow, but the pay-off more than makes up for the time investing in the set-up. I read compulsively and loved every single twist.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Length: 298 pages
Publication date: August 8, 2017
Source: library

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Emma in the Night from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

book thoughts: Are You Sleeping? by Katheen Barber

The basics: When Reconsidered, a podcast examining the murder of Charles Buhrman, becomes a huge hit, it sends many lives into chaos, including his daughter, Josie, who has done all she can to distance herself from the family after his murder.

My thoughts: Although I didn't love it as much as some people, I was caught up in the podcast Serial several years ago. That podcast inspired the fictional podcast in this novel. Josie narrates this novel, but her narration is intermixed with podcast transcripts, Reddit forums, and Tweets. As a narrator, Josie is frustrating at times. She's not necessarily unreliable, but she doesn't share all she knows (and to do so would ruin much of the suspense.) As a reader, I know I see situations differently when I'm reading a book and looking for clues than I would if it were my life, but it can still be a frustrating experience.

I knew very little about this novel going into it, and I think that's best. As we learn more about Josie and her past, it puts a very human face on pop cultural true crime obsession. In that sense, this novel is partially social commentary and partially an engaging mystery.

Favorite passage:  "The truth is never complicated. It’s just the truth. Circumstances may be complicated, but the truth is always black and white."

The verdict: I enjoyed the mixed media elements of this novel the most. The mystery itself was underwhelming at times, but the premise as clever enough to elevate this novel. It's a fun, fast-paced reading experience, but the payoff wasn't as big as I hoped.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 337 pages
Publication date: August 1, 2017
Source: publisher

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Are You Sleeping? from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Looking Back on October 2017

And the great reading slump of 2017 continues, but I think it might actually be (finally) going away. I have lots of books in process, and I'm spending more time reading and listening the last few weeks. Here's what I read in October:

Books read: 6 (it feels like cheating to count an individual issue of Paper Girls, but I'm so into this series, I have to read them as soon as they're published instead of waiting for the new volumes)
Fiction: 5
Memoir: 1
Short Stories: 1
Comics: 3
Audio: 1
New-to-me authors: 1
Re-read: 1
My Favorite October book: Paper Girls Vol. 2

Now tell me: what was your favorite read in October?

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!