Posted in Must read, Recenzie

Review The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

35506211From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest Room, a powerful story about the ways an entire life can change in one night: A flight attendant wakes up in the wrong hotel, in the wrong bed, with a dead man – and no idea what happened.

Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She’s a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and the accompanying self-loathing. When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets. Afraid to call the police – she’s a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home – Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it’s too late to come clean-or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai. Could she have killed him? If not, who did?

Set amid the captivating world of those whose lives unfold at forty thousand feet, The Flight Attendant unveils a spellbinding story of memory, of the giddy pleasures of alcohol and the devastating consequences of addiction, and of murder far from home.

Much to my embarrassment I have not heard of this author prior to my perusal of the Edelweiss catalog in a quest for a captivating ARC, although I later came to know that plenty of his books have been well-received both by the readers as well as the critics. Noticing the theme-anticipating title The Flight Attendant was sufficient to make me take the plunge and click the ‘request’ button, considering that I have been nurturing an interest in the mystery/thriller novels focusing on the lives of those working as flight attendants or pilots as well as on a crime committed in an airplane ever since my reading experience of Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie, followed by The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve.

The Flight Attendant presents itself as a relatively straightforward and more traditional in nature mystery/thriller in that the reader is introduced to the murder scene from the very first chapter of the book. Furthermore, it does not take long to discover the identity of the culprit who assassinated the man with whom Cassandra, the main character the title refers to, had a one-night stand in Dubai. Hence, it is my opinion that the author did not attempt nor opt to write his book in the widely used ‘whodunit’ style, an aspect I personally found refreshing, but instead made the reason behind the crime the focal point of the novel along with the abounding and compelling characterization he crafted successfully. Through its protagonist, Cassie, the novel provides the reader with a detailed, thought-provoking, and credible description of the chaotic and disorganized lifestyle that results from the stewardess job. Cassandra’s life is illustrated as an amalgam of one-night stands, numerous being drunk experiences, and the faced difficulty in settling down and engaging. Bearing all this in mind, I was somewhat surprised at the end of the book as I had not foreseen the highly improbable twist the author would incorporate in the storyline in his endeavor to administer a last ounce of excitement and thrill.

I have stressed countless times that I hold in high regard the authors who put a significant amount of effort into researching those striking topics approached in their literary works and it is safe to say that Chris Bohjalian merits inclusion in this category. The Flight Attendant serves as an incontrovertible proof that he is well versed in the functioning of FBI, the life of a flight attendant, weaponry, and forensic medicine.

In terms of negatives, unfortunately, I did not consider the overall plot as addictive and engrossing as I would have expected taking into consideration the promising premise. One aspect I particularly disapproved of was the underdevelopment of the other character who was the focus of some of the chapters, because I thought that that subplot had potential and should have been more skilfully handled by the author.

That being said, I have mixed feelings for Chris Bohjalian’s upcoming publication, hence my 3.5-star rating. Considering the theme of the novel, namely the tumultuous life of a flight attendant, I believe thatThe Flight Attendant is a must-read for the mystery/thriller genres fans as well as those who have enjoyed Bohjalian’s previous works.

Special thanks go to Edelweiss and Doubleday for supplying me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:

Imagini pentru three and a half stars

Posted in Recenzie

Review The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

The Liar's GirlWill Hurley was an attractive, charming, and impressive student at Dublin’s elite St. John’s College-and Ireland’s most prolific serial killer. Having stalked his four young victims, he drowned them in the muddy waters of the Grand Canal. Sentenced to life imprisonment when he was just nineteen, Will is locked away in the city’s Central Psychiatric Hospital.

Freshman Alison Smith moved to the Big Smoke to enrol in St. John’s and soon fell hard for Will Hurley. Her world bloomed … and then imploded when Liz, her best friend, became the latest victim of the Canal Killer-and the Canal Killer turned out to be the boy who’d been sleeping in her bed. Alison fled to the Netherlands and, in ten years, has never once looked back.

When a young woman’s body is found in the Grand Canal, Garda detectives visit Will to see if he can assist them in solving what looks like a copycat killing. Instead, Will tells them he has something new to confess-but there’s only one person he’s prepared to confess it to. The last thing Alison wants is to be pulled back into the past she’s worked so hard to leave behind. Reluctantly, she returns to the city she hasn’t set foot in for more than a decade to face the man who murdered the woman she was supposed to become.

Only to discover that, until now, Will has left out the worst part of all …

Last year I was one of those readers who found themselves engaged and engrossed altogether in Catherine Ryan Howard’s debut, Distress Signals, a cruise-themed thriller packed with twists, gory scenes, and abounding information on the workings of the maritime law. Needless to say, that novel deservedly gained a 5-star rating from me and you can imagine the sheer excitement I was overwhelmed with at the prospect of reading a brand new Ryan Howard publication in advance.

The Liar’s Girl is an enthralling mystery due to be published in March 2018 and I advise you all not to miss the opportunity of purchasing this well-plotted and well-researched novel by a highly talented author who, in my opinion, has not received sufficient acclaim and credit for her skillful narrative capabilities. In this second publication, Ryan Howard employs a selection of the tricks that worked out so well and have made Distress Signals stand out in the eyes of the avid mystery/thriller genres readers, such as the blend of past and present, the story told from the protagonist’s point of view as well as the culprit’s, plenty of detailed information about the functioning of the Garda (the Irish police force) and the law of Ireland, this last component contributing to the realistic and authentic aspect of the novel. While The Liar’s Girl bears welcome similarities to Ryan Howard’s previous work, it also showcases a set of distinctive features that together distinguish it from its predecessor, namely the slow-burning storyline as well as the strong emphasis on the procedural aspects in which Alison, the protagonist, is immersed in.

I thoroughly enjoyed the manner in which the author managed to build the relationships between the characters, in this endeavor successfully making use of characterization. In order to make sense of the present situation the characters of the novel find themselves in and the development of the plot, the readers ought to properly know their personalities, mentalities, backgrounds, and therefore the masterful characterization written by Ryan Howard comes in handy in this regard. I was certainly interested in seeing how Alison and Will would react in a face-to-face contact after ten years during which their lives obviously followed opposite paths and they did not communicate with one another at all following the dramatic prosecution of Will. Regarding this, it is safe to say that the author did not disappoint, considering that she wrote emotionally packed and tense dialogues between the two showing the drama derived from miscommunication, misunderstanding, and perhaps misjudgment. In addition, I appreciated the dynamics of the relationship between Alison and Malone and I loved the fact that the author left the reader hanging in the air with regard to whether they felt something for one another or not. In terms of working partners, they certainly made a rather good team despite the fact that they did not discover the truth in full, this aspect relating to the biggest and well-executed revelation Ryan Howard is bound to surprise most of the readers with.

To conclude, I believe that the worthiness of this mystery lies in the effective execution of the narrative flow, the beautiful writing, the exquisite characterization, and the fine build-up of suspense culminating in an unexpected but realistic twist. The Liar’s Girl is a strong 4-star read I am wholeheartedly recommending to everyone who has a love for the mystery/thriller genres.

Special thanks go to Edelweiss and Blackstone Publishing for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:

Imagini pentru four star rating

Posted in Recenzie

Review The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

36967019When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her cast mates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

Lauren, the start-up world’s darling whose drinking has gotten out of control, is Goal Diggers’ recovery narrative—everyone loves a comeback story.

And Jen, made rich and famous through her cultishly popular vegan food line plays a holistic hippie for the cameras, but is perhaps the most ruthless of them all when the cameras are off.

The Favorite Sister is an upcoming publication by the author of the best-selling mystery novel Luckiest Girl Alive, which I read in the fall last year and unfortunately found neither as engrossing as other readers nor as reminiscent of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train as it has been aggressively marketed to the audience. Despite my slightly underwhelming experience with that book, as I was browsing through the Edelweiss catalog my interest was naturally caught when noticing that a new Jessica Knoll work of fiction was available for advance reading. I felt fortunate and surprised at the same time the moment when my ARC request was approved and I immediately started The Favorite Sister.

Thematic wise, the plot is constructed around a reality TV series titled Goal Diggers that features successful women owning profitable businesses or making a prosperous living from other sorts of activities (e.g. writing), seemingly meant to serve as a source of inspiration to aspiring and ordinary female entrepreneurs. In reality, Goal Diggers lays more emphasis on the dynamics of the relationships between the current protagonists and the ongoing or emerging conflicts and tense situations generated by the women’s strong willingness to maintain the fans’ interest in their persona and therefore prolong their participation in the show. I believe that Jessica Knoll did a praiseworthy job with regard to genuinely capturing the drama of a reality series, the behind-the-scenes aspects which are often considerably different from those presented to the audience, the ever increasing competitiveness between the participating women who are vying for popularity and appreciation in the eyes of the viewers as well as the Goal Diggers producers. Furthermore, Knoll did not shy away from displaying an abundance of diversity in her book in several regards, another aspect in addition to the aforementioned ones that contributed to my higher enjoyment of The Favorite Sister as compared to the author’s previous publication.

Interesting and unsettling was the way in which Knoll developed the narrative perspectives in that the reader gets a direct insight into the mechanism of Brett, Kelly, and Stephanie’s minds through first-person narratives, while Lauren and Jen’s psychologies are indirectly grasped by the reader through the way the other characters view the two. There is an event in the second half of the book that somehow explains the structure the author opted for, in my opinion. As you might have already noticed, I have not mentioned anything murder-related in my review yet and this is not random as the death of one of the protagonists represented nothing but the mere culmination of the rivalry between the women in the show. Other than that, the book wants the reader to understand the personalities of each protagonist and those things that drive their actions in their public and personal lives. I will not go so far as to say that the novel lacked decent twists and revelations, but these literary devices were not the reason why I kept turning the pages.

Lastly, I would like to emphasize the quality of Knoll’s style of writing. She undoubtedly makes proper use of her vast, intellectually sophisticated vocabulary when crafting her novels. However, as I said in my review of It’s Always the Husband, having the impression of reading an overwritten novel can be an exhaustive and at some point not enjoyable experience. This is how I felt as I progressed through The Favorite Sister.

All in all, I am glad I had the opportunity to read The Favorite Sister in advance and I think that Jessica Knoll brings an array of novelties in her second publication and takes a new creative direction than those realms she explored in the Luckiest Girl Alive. Bearing all this in mind,The Favorite Sister can be deemed a worthwhile read and I am convinced it will appeal to those who have been captivated by the Luckiest Girl Alive.

I would like to thank Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster for supplying me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:

Imagini pentru three and half stars

Posted in Recenzie

Review A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

A Stranger in the House

In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A domestic thriller packed full of secrets, and a twisty story that never stops—from the bestselling author of The Couple Next Door

He looks at her, concerned. “How do you feel?” She wants to say, Terrified. Instead, she says, with a faint smile, “Glad to be home.”

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

At the beginning of last year I dived into The Couple Next Door out of sheer curiosity considering it has been a huge bestseller and I am always interested in experiencing an applauded psychological thriller/mystery/suspense novel having an enticing premise. Despite my initial excitement, I ended up underwhelmed and peeved at the awfully created storyline and the mediocre style of writing.

When I found out that a new Shari Lapena publication was due in the summer of 2017 I told myself that I should give this author a second chance and leave my negative thoughts on her previous work aside. I finally read A Stranger in the House at the beginning of this year and although this book was far away from captivating me altogether, it showed signs of improvement as regards the language used as compared to The Couple Next Door, which was disastrous in this regard, in my opinion. Apart from this aspect that made me enjoy this author a little more, the plot was built in such a way that the book left me with the impression that it was meant to be a soap opera rather than an unputdownable and engrossing mystery/thriller. I kept expecting a decent twist or at least an intense scene but the author clearly took the book in a different direction. The main characters were bland and I am starting to feel more and more annoyed at authors who appear uninspired when it comes to choosing names. I truly believe Shari Lapena could have chosen better names than Tom and Karen (no offense to those having these names).

While I may sound critical in my review, I have not completely disliked A Stranger in the House and I definitely enjoyed it more than the author’s previous publication. Am I going to read other novels written by Shari Lapena? We’ll see.

Rating:

Imagini pentru two stars and a half

Posted in Recenzie

Review Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda

Fragments of the LostFrom the New York Times bestselling author of All the Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger comes a suspenseful psychological mystery about one girl’s search to uncover the truth behind her ex-boyfriend’s death. Perfect for fans of We Were Liars and 13 Reasons Why . 

Jessa Whitworth knew she didn’t belong in her ex-boyfriend Caleb’s room. But she couldn’t deny that she was everywhere–in his photos, his neatly folded T-shirts, even the butterfly necklace in his jeans pocket . . . the one she gave him for safe keeping on that day.

His mother asked her to pack up his things–even though she blames Jessa for his accident. How could she say no? And maybe, just maybe, it will help her work through the guilt she feels about their final moments together.

But as Jessa begins to box up the pieces of Caleb’s life, they trigger memories that make Jessa realize their past relationship may not be exactly as she remembered. And she starts to question whether she really knew Caleb at all.

Each fragment of his life reveals a new clue that propels Jessa to search for the truth about Caleb’s accident. What really happened on the storm-swept bridge?

I have been looking forward to reading Megan Miranda’s newest publication, marketed as a blend of YA and psychological mystery genres. I love the subtlety and finesse with which this author plays with words, an aspect I have been able to find not only in Fragments of the Lost , but also in The Perfect Stranger and thoroughly enjoyed All the Missing Girls. However, aside from the exquisite, almost lyrical style of writing employed, this novel did not offer the kind of reading experience I would have expected from a novelist of Megan Miranda’s calibre. The incredibly slow pace characterizing over half of Fragments of the Lost did not allow me to be fully concentrated on what was going on as I was often drifting off due to a slight sense of boredom. On top of that, the characters were not particularly likeable, from my point of view, although I found the dynamics of the relationship between Jessa and Max rather interesting. The suspense was intelligently built up, but the revelation, albeit unforeseen, did not shock me and therefore did not make up for a very much needed faster pace and quite bland characters. While I may sound very critical of this novel, the overall experience was not a negative one, but perhaps I just expect Megan Miranda to reproduce the level of quality, complexity and cleverness attained in All the Missing Girls. Most of my Goodreads friends have written very positive reviews of this book so I am evidently very much in minority with the few displeasures I pointed out.

Rating:

Imagini pentru 3 stars rating

Posted in Recenzie

Review Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Turtles All the Way DownSixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

Paper Towns was my second ever read in English and my first encounter with John Green. I loved the storyline, the characters, the mystery, the symbolism, the humour, the flowing prose – in other words, everything about that book. I came to understand why so many readers have fallen in love with John Green’s literature. I excitedly dived into Looking for Alaska, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to my expectations. The same can be said of Turtless All the Way Down, a release that, as many other readers, I have highly anticipated for the last few months, given that John Green had taken a hiatus after his highly successful publication, The Fault in Our Stars, which I haven’t read yet.

Turtles All the Way Down was by no means an unpleasant read, but rather a confusing one without a clearly defined plot. My impression is that John Green failed in his attempt to build multiple subplots. While he took the plot into more than one direction, he has never finalized the process. As a result, Turtless All the Way Down has an uninteresting and unclear plot. Nonetheless, John Green displays once again his talent for crafting memorable teenage characters, capable of introspection. He couldn’t have illustrated in a more realistic manner how OCD affects one’s life. Considering that the story is told from Aza’s perspective, the youngster suffering from OCD, you are made aware of her thoughts on her mental disorder from the first page to the last and I promise that you will feel unsettled at times. In addition, the novel lays emphasis on how the people in Aza’s life cope with her mental health struggles and I thought that this aspect was well-done and realistically approached. I very much appreciated Daisy’s (Aza’s best friend) raw honesty, because she did not forbear from criticizing and scolding her friend, now and then.

Even though I disliked the writing style at the beginning, believing that John Green let himself get lost in unnecessary details, as I kept turning the pages, I was able to find many relatable quotes that summed up life and were worthy of highlighting on my Kindle:

It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.

True terror isn’t being scared; it’s not having a choice in the matter.

Reading someone’s poetry is like seeing them naked.

The worst part of being truly alone is you think about all the times you wished that everyone would just leave you be. Then they do, and you are left being, and you turn out to be terrible company.

She noted, more than once, that the meteor shower was happening, beyond the overcast sky, even if we could not see it. Who cares if she can kiss? She can see through the clouds.

“The problem with happy endings,” I said, “is that they’re either not really happy, or not really endings, you know? In real life, some things get better and some things get worse. And then eventually you die.”

You remember your first love because they show you, prove to you, that you can love and be loved,that nothing in this world is deserved except for love, that love is both how you become a person,and why.

All in all, I have mixed feelings on Turtles All the Way Down. I enjoyed various aspects of this novel, but at the same time it had obvious imperfections that partly interfered with the reading experience. If you are an avid fan of John Green or the Young Adult genre, this is a must-read, although it is not as compelling as my beloved Paper Towns.

Rating:

Imagini pentru three stars rating

Posted in Recenzie

Review Here We Lie by Paula Treick DeBoard

Here We Lie

A riveting novel about how the past never stays in the past, from the critically acclaimed author of The Drowning Girls and The Mourning Hours 

Megan Mazeros and Lauren Mabrey are complete opposites on paper. Megan is a girl from a modest Midwest background, and Lauren is the daughter of a senator from an esteemed New England family. But in 1999, Megan and Lauren become college roommates and, as two young women struggling to find their place on campus, they forge a strong, albeit unlikely, friendship. The two quickly become inseparable, sharing clothes, advice and their most intimate secrets.

The summer before their senior year, Megan joins Lauren and her family on their private island off the coast of Maine. The weeks go by, filled with fun and relaxation, until late one night at the end of the vacation, something unspeakable happens, searing through the framework of the girls’ friendship and tearing them apart. Many years later, in the midst of a political scandal, Megan finally comes forward about what happened that fateful night, revealing a horrible truth about Lauren’s family and threatening to expose their long-buried secrets.

In this captivating and moving novel of domestic suspense, Paula Treick DeBoard explores the power of friendship and secrets and shows how betrayal can lead to disastrous, and deadly, consequences.

Due to be published at the end of January 2018, Here We Lie is my second encounter with Paula Treick DeBoard’s literature following The Drowning Girls, her enthralling novel of domestic suspense which I read a few months ago and very much enjoyed. Paula Treick DeBoard reinvented herself in Here We Lie in the sense that she left the realm of psychological thriller/mystery/suspense that she had explored in her previous publication and switched focus to the anatomy of female friendship intertwined with the themes of sexual assault and political scandal. I have always held the novelists unafraid to try different literary genres in high regard.

Here We Lie reconfirms the quality of Treick DeBoard’s storytelling skills. It is a slow-paced novel filled with well-done characterization and realistic, thought-provoking events. The chapters are told from Megan and Lauren’s perspectives and follow the past, when the two were roommates at Keale College and close friends, and the present, when the former friendship is non-existent. Even though the author opted for a dual timeline, the past accounts for a greater part of the story as it provides an explanation for the current state of the relationship between the protagonists.

Speaking of the protagonists, Lauren has always been the rebellious member of her political and very wealthy family, whereas Megan comes from an ordinary family and has been able to afford college tuition following her father’s death. Despite the evident antithesis regarding their backgrounds, the two form a close friendship when they become roommates, both being haunted by past secrets. While these characters are undoubtedly flawed and I have constantly wondered whether their friendship has ever been genuine, I wouldn’t say they are despicable. I appreciated the fact that both Lauren and Megan were well-aware of their defects most of the time.

All in all, Here We Lie is a spellbinding novel that requires slow reading in order to savour the beautiful and flowing writing of Paula Treick DeBoard. I definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a well-written and complex female friendship-themed book.

I was fortunate to be provided with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Special thanks for this opportunity go to NetGalley, Harlequin (US & Canada) and Park Row Books.

Rating:

Imagini pentru 4 stars rating