I bet you guys thought I forgot about this little challenge, didn’t ya? For some inconceivable reason, it’s been over two months since my last book recap–not sure how that happened, but apparently I’ve been reading at the pace of a snail lately. Regardless, this batch of books was a good one–there are some definitely “beach reads” in here, along with a few more…ahem, eerie picks. Let’s get reading!
The Last Letter from Your Lover, By Jojo Moyes God I am such an obnoxious Jojo Moyes lover. I’ve been reading everything I can by her lately, including a lot of her old stuff. There’s just something about her writing style I connect with–I liken her a bit to Jodi Picoult, another one of my favorites. Anyways, The Last Letter from your Lover was fairly similar to some of her other reads, in that the story spans two heroines and several decades. In one storyline, we’re introduced to Jennifer Sterling, a seemingly has-it-all privileged beauty who wakes up from a car accident to find she barely remembers much of her adult life. Her one clue? A mysterious love letter tucked into a book, signed “B”–and I’m pretty sure I don’t have to tell you this, but her husband’s name does not start with a “b.” The mirroring story follows down-on-her-luck reporter Ellie who finds her own love letter of Jennifer’s and breathlessly hunts down any clues she can find to help her figure out what happened to Jennifer and her beloved “Boot.” Typically with Moyes’ books, I always end up liking the old-fashioned character best, and this book was no exception–I really loved the character of Jennifer, and I was less drawn to Ellie (not to say I didn’t like her). I wouldn’t go as far as to classify this as chick-lit (I know how some people absolutely cringe at that phrase), but I will say if you enjoy books with romantic undertones and an actual plot, this is for you! Rating: 8 out of 10
The Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver I guess it’s about time this finally comes out–I have big love for abnormal psychology. In addition to my degree in journalism, I also have one in psychology, and I’ve been fascinated by various psychological disorders and abnormalities for as long as I can remember. I usually stick to reading non-fiction books about serial killers and psychology studies, but I had to pick up Jeffery Deaver’s new book, The Skin Collector. You may remember Deaver’s most famous novel, The Bone Collector, and the namesake movie starring Denzel Washington and saint Angelina Jolie. Well, as evidenced by the similar title, The Skin Collector is a follow-up to that. It brings back forensic detective Lincoln Rhymes to hunt NYC’s newest “thing that goes bump in the night”–a serial killer who has a habit of tattooing his victims. Another thing you should know about me: I always (always always) guess the endings of things–almost to an annoying degree where people refuse to watch things with me or read the same book at the same time as me. Well, I didn’t guess the ending of this. I’d like to say it was because it was just so blindingly brilliant that I was completely caught off guard by the ending, but I almost feel like it was because the ending didn’t make sense. In lieu of giving too much away, I’ll have to leave it at this: the ending kind of came out of left field, and not in the best way. That being said, it was still extremely well-written and suspenseful. Definitely worth reading. Rating: 7.25 out of 10
Gemini: A Novel, By Carol Cassella I gotta say: I really liked this one. It came across my desk at work one day in an advanced copy months ago–typically, the stuff I get isn’t always the best, but the cover of this caught my eye (not to mention it’s my zodiac sign, so I thought at the very least it could be 400 pages of horoscopes). Gemini, a cross between a thriller and a character-driven drama, opens on Dr. Charlotte Reese, who works in the ICU of a Seattle hospital. She gets a new charge, in the form of a Jane Doe that’s barely clinging to life. Enlisting the help of her journalist boyfriend Eric, she sets out to piece together Jane’s life in the hopes of figuring out who she is, saving her life–and saving her own drowning relationship. You can figure out on your own pretty early on who “Jane” really is, due to flashbacks that introduce a whole new set of characters and story line. It was really fun to watch all the pieces of the novel come together–to see how Jane and Charlotte and Eric and all the others I haven’t named were intertwined. And even though I guessed the ending (due to my minimal but random knowledge of Greek mythology and obsession with certain CSI episodes), it was engaging until the last page. Rating: 9 out of 10
The Vacationers: A Novel, By Emma Straub Yeah yeah, I know…everyone and their mother is reading this this summer, right? Well, I’ve always loved me a good bandwagon. And what can I say–the hype is well-deserved. Straub’s Vacationers strikes the perfect balance by maintaining the tone of a light-hearted beach read and presenting a developed, respectable pool of characters. It follows the Post family on a trip to Mallorca–imagine your immediate and extended family in one house for three weeks in a foreign country, and you can pretty much imagine how shenanigans go down here. I loved the wry wit Straub wrote with, and the characters were equal parts sympathetic and slightly annoying–pretty much how anyone feels about their actual family. It also had a touch of Under the Tuscan Sun, in that it made me want to have a house in a foreign country completely isolated from everyone and everything. Overall, a fun read! Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart If Gone Girl, Reconstructing Amelia and Gossip Girl had a baby, We Were Liars is the angsty teenager that would result from that union. It follows a group of cousins/friends that refer to themselves as “the liars”…a nickname only silly pre-teens can come up with and actually think is a good idea. The Liars spend every summer together on an idyllic island off the coast of Cape Cod, soaking in their family’s wealth, basking in the ease of adolescence and narrowly avoiding all the family drama brewing up around them over their late grandmother’s hefty estate. But during “summer 15″ (or is it summer 16? I can’t remember truthfully), a horrible accident occurs and the world the Liars know is shattered forever. Left to pick up the pieces is Cadence, who finds her memory gone and her friendships shadows of what they once were–with no explanation as to why. Lockhart maintains a sense of edge all throughout We Were Liars, and I often forgot I was reading a novel written from the perspective of a 16-year-old…it felt ages older than that. It’s a quick read that gives you a dose of mystery and a look into the lives of the upper-crust where appearances are everything. And I will just say this: you will not see the ending coming. Promise. Rating: 9 out of 10.