My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars I received this book free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or th...moreMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars I received this book free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
‘That’s what it’s like to be a prisoner of anything. You want your freedom until you get it, then you feel bare without your chains.’
Senna Richards leads a life of solitary. Her novels have been on the bestseller’s list but she doesn’t wish to be famous, she’d rather be left alone. She awakes on the morning of her thirty-third birthday unable to recognize the walls around her and outside her windows all she can see is snow for miles. Enough food has been stockpiled to last her months upon months which she considers fortunate seeing as she’s unable to leave the locked cabin. In each of the rooms lies the evidence to who her captor is and private details of her life that she’s told few. Will the food last long enough for Senna to determine how to break out of this mind game someone is playing on her?
‘Fear, light footed, dances around me. She whispers seductively in my ear. We are lovers, fear and I. She calls to me, and I let her in.’
Mud Vein is an intense psychological thriller that I found to be quite fascinating. The story opens with Senna finding herself locked in a cabin in the middle of nowhere and the author slowly gives out details of Senna’s past in order to determine who exactly has done this to her. Senna, a recluse that rarely ventures out in public for anything other than the basic necessities, was a strange yet interesting character. After a brutal attack leaves her irrevocably changed she chances upon a man who nurses her back to health and inadvertently becomes an integral part of her life. Senna’s behavior after the attack was completely understandable and heartbreaking. No one should have to go through the mental trauma that she experienced in such a short time. While her behavior after the attack was conceivable, I had a bit of difficulty understanding how prior incidents caused her to separate herself completely from the world. I think more details on her past would have been helpful to show the emotional impact it had on her.
I don’t typically read a lot of indie because the writing isn’t as polished as I expect from books. Mud Vein was for the most part well-done and while there were several sections that were missed in editing it wasn’t enough to diminish my enjoyment of the book. The story itself was written in such a way as to keep the pages turning, only giving you small snippets of information and always leaving you wanting more. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump as of late and I read this book faster than any in recent weeks. The conclusion was surprising yet did leave me with questions on the motivation behind it all. I feel that I was so wrapped up in Senna’s confusion that I never took a step back to evaluate what was happening to her. It seems to me now that the answer could have and should have been obvious but I was kept oblivious in the dark until the final reveal.
There are many other details of this book that impressed me greatly but it would be careless of me to share. This is definitely a story that is much more enjoyable knowing as little as possible so as to experience the shock firsthand. Mud Vein is going to be a good read to those that enjoy psychological thrillers.(less)
‘But it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our s...more‘But it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.’
The contemporary genre in general has never been my go-to type to read. Personally I like to sit down with a book and open up onto another world. Not necessarily fantasy but I’ve never cared to read about real-life problems that humans have to deal with on a day to day basis. Depression, death, heartbreak and everything along those lines that manage to make life so dreadfully difficult. For this reason, I always avoided John Green’s novels and this one in particular because, who wants to read about a girl that’s dying of cancer? Apparently, me. This was my first John Green novel, yet I can safely say this will not be my last. And the one thing everyone wants to know: I didn’t cry. Okay, I didn’t BAWL but it did come pretty close and for me that’s pretty miraculous.
‘You realize that trying to keep your distance from me will not lessen my affection for you. All efforts to save me from you will fail.’
Hazel Grace Lancaster is a girl who doesn’t expect to live for very long at all. As she puts it so eloquently, “I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?” She knows she’s going to die, she knows it’s inevitable that she’s going to cause some pain, but she’s doing the best she possibly can to keep people at a distance so as to not cause any unnecessary pain. Then she meets Augustus Waters. These two meet in a cancer support group and they are two peas in a pod getting along so well so quickly and falling for one another equally as quick. While suffering through the harsh realities of life with cancer, these two add a flair of wit and sarcasm that manages to make the bleakest of subjects surprisingly funny. Regardless of the humor these two imbue into the story, those harsh realities make their expected appearance so as to cause heartbreak and great distress forcing us as the reader back into the tragic reality of the lives they’ve been given.
‘You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories, and we made the funny choice.’
Hazel and Augustus are the stars of this show but there are several other noteworthy characters as well. Their friend Isaac recently underwent a surgery which made him blind but prior to that he was dealing with the loss of his long-term girlfriend. So after the surgery, Hazel and Augustus take him over to her house so he can egg her car. At one point, Augustus says, “Hazel Grace! Take a picture of this so Isaac can see it when they invent robot eyes.” I rewound that on my audiobook about three times because it was so ridiculous yet so touching how these three bonded together to be there for one another. It made me laugh, it made me smile and it made me sad because of their unfortunate circumstances.
In addition to the strong friendships showcased, there was another surprising addition to this story and that’s a strong parent presence and relationship. It’s often seen in YA fiction the complete lack of parents but not only were Hazel’s parents present, they were a huge and necessary support group for her and it was such a joy to see. It was clear that Hazel’s mother was trying to make her daughter as happy as possible for the short time she had.
“HAZEL! IT’S YOUR THIRTY-THIRD HALF BIRTHDAY!” “Ohhhhhh,” I said. My mom was really super into celebration maximization. IT’S ARBOR DAY! LET’S HUG TREES AND EAT CAKE! COLUMBUS BROUGHT SMALLPOX TO THE NATIVES; WE SHALL RECALL THE OCCASION WITH A PICNIC!, etc.”
The Fault In Our Stars is a love story but it’s so much more than that. This is a truly heartbreaking and powerful tale. We’re given such a small amount of time to live as it is yet the characters in this story are given even less. Cancer is a thief, a robber, a purloiner of time. Living life to its absolute fullest is the only thing you can do and these characters did just that. I am highly recommending this book even for those of you who were like me and didn’t care to suffer through the heartbreak of watching fictional characters die. Looking past the heartbreak and suffering you’ll see a hopefulness and a zeal for life that is quite contagious. So, give it a shot, okay? Okay.(less)
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the...moreMy rating: 2.5 of 5 stars I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
‘We are Sinclairs. No one is needy. No one is wrong. We live, at least in the summertime, on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Perhaps that is all you need to know.’
There is much that one could say about We Were Liars, but would be better off experienced firsthand. But here are a few things you can know: There are some truths but mostly lies. There was an accident. There is love. There is loss. There are secrets. But everything may actually be nothing but one big lie. You won’t know until it’s all said and done.
We Were Liars reminded me much of The Secret History with its collection of privileged people. In We Were Liars, they all spent their summers on an island, owned by their family. They spent their days soaking in their pretension. The main difference is Tartt took a cast of incredibly unappealing characters and made them fascinating. Lockhart did not. None of Lockhart’s characters had me concerned for their fates and while the ending was a bit of a shock despite my suspicions it still failed to generate an emotional resonance with me.
I love unreliable narrators because it typically turns novels into one big guessing game that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The entirety of this book is written in such a vague and elusive style that I never would have guessed the ending would possess such a perfectly wrapped up conclusion. Much too picture perfect. I definitely would have appreciated a more mystifying ending to match the rest of this potentially enigmatic book.(less)
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the...moreMy rating: 2.5 of 5 stars I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Hannah has always held herself back from love for fear of becoming like her acrimonious mother after suffering through the divorce from her father. Her uncertainties ceased to exist when she meets Mark; a fellow Brit and a friend of a friend. They fall in love instantaneously and they are married shortly after. A few months into their marriage, Mark is on a business trip to the U.S. and when Hannah was expected to pick him up from his return flight he’s not there. Fearing the worst, she’s finally able to get a hold of him but his excuses only cause her suspicions to grow. As her concerns continue to mount, the cracks in her life begin to appear and nothing is as it seems.
The story alternates between the present and the past, when she first met Mark, and rehashes she knows about him. Hannah’s uncertainties make her realize foolishly how little she truly knows about her husband which causes her to investigate and uncover unpleasant information. ’Before We Met’ captured flawlessly how suspicion and doubt can morph into a crazed paranoia where you aren’t able to clearly discern what is right before your eyes. The building tension is well-done and turned this into quite a page-turner, however, it was quite clear what was going on before Hannah finally caught up with the rest of us. I kept hoping that an unexpected twist would happen at the end but it never did.
I have always been a fan of psychological thrillers and while I understand that comparisons to other novels of the same genre are bound to occur, I can only expect there to be some semblance of originality. Having read ‘Gone Girl’ last year, the comparisons to ‘Before We Met’ are great and while there are slight differences, it only managed to come off as a weaker interpretation. I did have the same issue with both books though, where so much crazy had happened throughout the novel that by the end it had all become so disheveled and unrecognizable from the beginning. It all ended up being a bit too contrived for my liking.
‘Before We Met’ works that little paranoid nerve in all of us by serving as a reminder that you’re never able to truly know a person completely, even the ones you love and have devoted your life to.(less)