REVIEW: YOU THINK IT, I’LL SAY IT

REVIEW:  YOU THINK IT, I’LL SAY ITYou Think It, I'll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld
Also by this author: Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice
four-stars
Published by Transworld Digital on May 3, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 256
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

I’m normally not the biggest fan of short stories.  Whenever I read one, I always think of it as a teaser for a full-fledged novel that I’d rather be reading.  Just when I’m starting to get to know and become invested in character, boom, the story’s over.  I’m a big fan of Curtis Sittenfeld’s writing, however, so when I heard she had written You Think It, I’ll Say It, a collection of ten short stories, I decided to give them a try, figuring that if any writer out there could change my mind about short stories, it would be Sittenfeld.

 

What appealed to me the most as I was reading each of these stories is the same thing that always appeals to me when I read anything from Curtis Sittenfeld and that’s the way she is able to get inside of a character’s head and convey everything they’re thinking in such a way that I then can’t get her characters out of my head.  They just always leave me with so much to think about, and all 10 main characters in this collection did exactly that.  Sittenfeld presents each of these characters’ stories from their individual perspectives so that we’re getting an ongoing internal dialogue from each main character as we’re watching the events of the stories play out.  In doing so, Sittenfeld is able to weave several important messages and themes throughout all ten stories so as to make it a cohesive collection.

These themes, in addition to the characters themselves, are what truly kept me engaged.  The central theme of the collection is basically that we’re all human and we all mess up, especially when it comes to our relationships with other equally fallible humans.  All of Sittenfeld’s characters tend to make assumptions about people, maybe based on how they look or how they act, and more often than not, their assumptions end up being not only wrong, but also flat-out unfair.  Her characters are also prone to misinterpreting signals they think other people are giving off, which leads to awkward and embarrassing situations.  There were times when I found myself judging them as well, but then a few pages later, I’d think “I could see myself doing the same thing this character has done, so maybe I’ll just shut up and not judge them.”  In that sense, even though Sittenfeld soundly criticizes these characters for their erroneous snap judgments, she also makes them sympathetic and relatable.  I liked that balance, which she is able to successfully strike with each story.

I also liked that the stories all felt very modern and timely and were filled with Sittenfeld’s trademark insightful social commentary and satire.  There’s mention of the Trump administration in at least one of them, gender inequality factors in at times, there is at least one story that focuses on LGBTQ issues, and one that focuses on the challenges of being a working mother.

I won’t go through all ten stories in detail, but I will say that I don’t think there’s a weak story in the entire collection.  I definitely had my favorites though, including ‘The Prairie Wife,” where an unhappy housewife, Kirsten, is obsessed with Lucy, a popular celebrity.  Kirsten recognizes Lucy, a Martha Stewart-type who is now married with two children and living a conservative lifestyle, as someone she worked with, and had a sexual relationship with, at a summer camp many years ago.  Everything about Lucy’s life infuriates Kirsten because she thinks Lucy  is now living a lie and Kirsten dreams of using the knowledge she has about her to destroy her.  This was such an intense and riveting story  and I absolutely loved the unexpected twist at the end.

Another favorite was “The World Has Many Butterflies,” which contains the title of the actual short story collection, “You Think It, I’ll Say It” in it.  It turns out “You Think It, I’ll Say It” is the name of a gossip-driven game that two people – Graham and Julie – play every time they see each other.  Julie misinterprets why Graham has started playing this game with her and all kinds of awkwardness ensues.  I felt secondhand embarrassment for Julie while I was reading this one!

 

My only issue with this collection was exactly what I feared it might be, that I would become invested enough in the main character from each story, that I would want to hear more from them.  Each story is well-crafted and conveys an interesting and relevant theme, but I couldn’t help but think by the end that I would rather have 10 novels from Sittenfeld about these characters than these brief, although beautiful, snippets.  I’m going to classify that as a “me” problem though. It has nothing to do with the stories themselves or with Sittenfeld’s writing.  She is just such a gifted storyteller that I’ll always want more.

 

While I can’t say that Curtis Sittenfeld has completely changed my mind about short stories overall, I would still highly recommend this very solid collection of stories to anyone who is interested in reading stories filled with messy and unforgettable characters as well as insightful social commentary about how people read and misread each other.  I’d recommend this collection both to those who are new to Curtis Sittenfeld and to those who are long-time fans.

 

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

A suburban mother of two fantasizes about the downfall of an old friend whose wholesome lifestyle empire may or may not be built on a lie. A high-powered lawyer honeymooning with her husband is caught off guard by the appearance of the girl who tormented her in high school. A shy Ivy League student learns the truth about a classmate’s seemingly enviable life.

Curtis Sittenfeld has established a reputation as a sharp chronicler of the modern age who humanizes her subjects even as she skewers them. Now, with this first collection of short fiction, her “astonishing gift for creating characters that take up residence in readers’ heads” (The Washington Post) is showcased like never before. Throughout the ten stories in You Think It, I’ll Say It, Sittenfeld upends assumptions about class, relationships, and gender roles in a nation that feels both adrift and viscerally divided.

With moving insight and uncanny precision, Curtis Sittenfeld pinpoints the questionable decisions, missed connections, and sometimes extraordinary coincidences that make up a life. Indeed, she writes what we’re all thinking—if only we could express it with the wit of a master satirist, the storytelling gifts of an old-fashioned raconteur, and the vision of an American original.

four-stars

About Curtis Sittenfeld

CURTIS SITTENFELD is the bestselling author of five novels: Prep, The Man of My Dreams, American Wife, Sisterland, and Eligible. Her first story collection, You Think It, I’ll Say It, will be published in 2018. Her books have been selected by The New York Times, Time, Entertainment Weekly, and People for their “Ten Best Books of the Year” lists, optioned for television and film, and translated into thirty languages. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and Esquire, and her non-fiction has appeared in The New York Times, Time, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, Slate, and on “This American Life.” A graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Curtis has interviewed Michelle Obama for Time; appeared as a guest on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” CBS’s “Early Show,” and PBS’s Newshour; and twice been a strangely easy “Jeopardy!” answer.

Weekly Recap #50: Week of 4/22 – 4/28

 

It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

Now that my tax deadlines have passed, life is getting back to a more normal pace, so I’m excited about that.  Work was so quiet this past week because most of the CPAs were on vacation, so quiet in fact that I was able to squeeze in an extra book this week that I wasn’t planning to read.  I listened to the audiobook of Geekerella, which was a super cute read, by the way.

This week my top reading priority if Song of Blood and Stone as I’m on the blog tour for this book and my turn comes up this Friday.  I meant to read it this weekend but got so engrossed in I Stop Somewhere that I couldn’t put that one down long enough to jump over to my tour book.

Not too much else has been going on.  I tried to get caught up on my blog visits this week.  If I missed you though, yell at me so I can stop by.  I have to confess that I had gotten so far behind as my deadline got closer that I ended up losing track of who I had visited and who I hadn’t. I suffer from C.R.S. (Can’t Remember Shit).

Outside of reading and blogging, about the only other exciting thing I can remember that happened was that The 100 finally came back.  I feel like I’ve been waiting for that show to come back for ages so it was fantastic to finally have a new episode to watch.  I watched that and then I binge watched season 1 of the Netflix remake of One Day at a Time.  I liked that show a lot more than I was expecting to and Rita Moreno is absolutely hilarious in it.

I think that’s about it for me.  I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

     

 

 UPCOMING REVIEWS

       
    
  

 

 STACKING THE SHELVES

 

  
 
 

TOTALLY RANDOM

 

Review: GIRL MADE OF STARS by Ashley Herring Blake

Review:  GIRL MADE OF STARS by Ashley Herring BlakeGirl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
Also by this author: How to Make a Wish
five-stars
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on May 15, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

Ashley Herring Blake is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  She has such a gift for handling very difficult topics with sensitivity and grace.  I didn’t think she could top How to Make a Wish, which was one of my favorite reads last year, but she has outdone herself with her beautifully written and heartbreaking latest, Girl Made of Stars. 

It’s not just a well-crafted story either. Girl Made of Stars is also an incredibly relevant and timely story, hitting the shelves in the midst of the #MeToo movement on social media that is calling out sexual predators and finally holding them accountable for their actions.

Girl Made of Stars follows the journey of Mara, high school student and founder of the feminist school publication, Empower.  Mara has very strong convictions about giving a voice to those who wouldn’t normally have one, but when she finds herself caught in the middle of an impossible situation, her whole belief system is turned on its head and she doesn’t know what to do.

Her twin brother Owen is accused of rape by his girlfriend, Hannah, who also happens to be one of Mara’s best friends.  Mara doesn’t want to believe that her beloved brother could be capable of such a heinous act, but Mara also doesn’t believe that Hannah would lie about such a thing so she just feels so lost and confused.

It also doesn’t help Mara’s state of mind that her own personal life feels like such a mess.  She and Charlie, her best friend since they were kids, tried to take their relationship in a romantic direction and things didn’t go well.  Now everything is awkward between them and Mara doesn’t know what to do about that either.

Girl Made of Stars follows Mara as she tries to make sense of all of the things that are happening in her life and as she tries to confront demons from her own past that are holding her back.

 

This is one of those books where I feel like I’m going to ramble and ramble and never quite do justice to just what a gorgeous and well-crafted story it really is.

One of the standout moments of the book is how the author sets the stage.  The book opens with Mara and her twin brother Owen lying outside on a flat roof, gazing up at the stars, and reciting a story they made up when they were kids about some of the constellations.  It’s this perfect portrait of innocence and because it seems so innocent and pure, it’s all the more shocking and hard to believe that just a few pages later, Mara’s brother will be accused of rape.  Those two images are just so jarring and hard to reconcile.

I also loved that the story comes to us from Mara’s perspective.  That way we don’t actually see the rape but instead, we learn of it the same way Mara does and have to make up our minds using the same evidence Mara does.

Speaking of Mara, I thought she was just such a loveable main character.  I love that she founded a feminist publication and used it to stand up for what she believed in.  I also spent those early pages ooh’ing and ahh’ing about how sweet her relationship with her sibling was so I became super invested in her once I read what her brother was being accused of because I knew it would tear her up inside.  Mara has to face some tough facts in this story and I was right there with her every step of the way as she begins to watch her brother more closely at school and with his friends.  She begins to see the possibility that just because he’s her brother and she loves him more than life, there is still the possibility that he could be guilty of what he’s accused of doing.

And then to complicate what Mara is feeling even further, there’s Hannah to consider.  Hannah is precious and I loved her just as much as I loved Mara. Hannah is this kind, free-spirited, hippie type and she is absolutely adorable.  That and she’s also head over heels in love with Owen.  When we first meet them at a party, it’s almost nauseating how cute they are with each other.  Her obvious love for Owen makes it all the more shocking that she later accuses him of forcing himself on her.  At the same time, though, it lends that much more credibility to her story.  If she loves him so much, what would be her motivation to accuse him of something so awful?   It becomes so easy to see why Mara is so lost and confused and it made me all the more sympathetic to her as she tries to decide where her loyalties should lie.

In addition to the story of Hannah and Owen, which dominates much of the book, I also really liked the Mara/Charlie storyline that threaded its way through the narrative.  I loved Charlie right away.  Charlie is gender queer and is still trying to figure out exactly what that means, but uses music as a way to work through it.  I kind of wanted to knock Mara upside the head for nearly messing up her relationship with Charlie and really wanted her to figure things out so that she could have at least one good thing happening in her life.

Have Your Tissues Handy.  This is a book where I felt so invested in all of the characters that I ended up in tears several times while I was reading.  I shed tears for Hannah, not just because of what happened to her but also because of how she was treated by Owen’s friends and others when she returned to school.  Blake effectively exposes the ugliness and unfairness of victim blaming and Hannah’s experience serves as a stark and heartbreaking reminder of why so few rape victims come forward and report the crimes.

I didn’t just cry for Hannah though.  I also cried for Mara as well.  I cried for the impossible situation that she finds herself in, torn between her best friend and her brother.  Not only is Mara’s whole world torn apart because she’s caught in the middle, but the whole experience serves as a trigger for Mara, reminding her of a traumatic event from her own past that has haunted her for years.

And lastly, I shed tears for the relationship between Mara and her brother.  Bottom line, whether Owen is innocent or guilty, their relationship is forever changed.   Those twins who would lie outside, look up at the stars, and make up stories about them are no more.  The innocence is lost and there’s no way to get it back.  Will they ever be close again?  Where do they go from here?  It’s heartbreaking to see that Mara could lose the person she has been closest to all her life.

 

I love when a book is so good that I have to leave this section blank.

 

I’ve been somewhat stingy with 5 star ratings this year, but I say without hesitation, that Girl Made of Stars is a 5-star read all the way.  It’s a heart-wrenching read that tackles difficult subjects with sensitivity and understanding. I guarantee it will move you.

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

“I need Owen to explain this. Because yes, I do know that Owen would never do that, but I also know Hannah would never lie about something like that.”

Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn’t help that things have been strained with her ex and best friend since childhood, Charlie.

As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.

five-stars

About Ashley Herring Blake

Ashley Herring Blake is a reader, writer, and mom to two boisterous boys. She holds a Master’s degree in teaching and loves coffee, arranging her books by color, and watching Buffy over and over again on Netflix with her friends. She’s the author of the young adult novels SUFFER LOVE and HOW TO MAKE A WISH.

Can’t Wait Wednesday – Spotlight on LETTING GO OF GRAVITY by Meg Leder

 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.  It is a meme that I have  loved participating in for over a year now, but as Jill is no longer actively posting, from now on I’ll just be linking to Can’t Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

* * * * *

My selection for this week is LETTING GO OF GRAVITY by Meg Leder.   This is one of those books that I was initially drawn to because of the gorgeous cover but then read the synopsis and knew I had to read the book.  I love sibling stories and this one just sounds like it has the potential to be very moving.

 

LETTING GO OF GRAVITY by Meg Leder

Publication Date:   July 17, 2018

 

From Goodreads:

Twins Parker and Charlie are polar opposites.

Where Charlie is fearless, Parker is careful.

Charlie is confident while Parker aims to please.

Charlie is outgoing and outspoken; Parker is introverted and reserved.

And of course, there’s the one other major difference: Charlie got leukemia. Parker didn’t.

But now that Charlie is officially in remission, life couldn’t be going better for Parker. She’s landed a prestigious summer internship at the hospital and is headed to Harvard in the fall to study pediatric oncology—which is why the anxiety she’s felt since her Harvard acceptance is so unsettling. And it doesn’t help that her relationship with Charlie has been on the rocks since his diagnosis.

Enter Finn, a boy who’s been leaving strange graffiti messages all over town. Parker can’t stop thinking about those messages, or about Finn, who makes her feel free for the first time: free to doubt, free to make mistakes, and free to confront the truth that Parker has been hiding from for a long time.

That she keeps trying to save Charlie, when the person who really needs saving is herself.

 * * * * *

 

I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your CWW selection for this week. 🙂

Discussion: Girls, Girls, Girls – Why Are There So Many “Girls” in Mysteries & Thrillers?

Designed at canva.com

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!

 

This week’s TTT topic is Frequently Used Words In [Insert Genre/Age Group] Titles.

 

Okay, so I have no clue if I’ve really properly addressed this topic or not, but what immediately popped into my head when I read it is how many times I’ve seen the word GIRL or GIRLS in the titles of mystery/thriller novels.  And maybe it’s something I read too much into, but I can’t help but wonder why so many authors choose to use that word.  I’m sure there are plenty of other words that are used equally often, but I just seem to see this one so frequently that I’m literally like “Oh look, it’s another ‘GIRL’ book” whenever I come across a new title that has it.

Every time I see it, the same series of questions pops into my head.  Is it just a coincidence or are these authors making a conscious choice by selecting that word?  If it’s a conscious choice, are they trying to make some kind of statement?  If so, is it a statement about how often girls are victimized?  Although in the case of a few of the titles I’ve highlighted below, said ‘girl’ is not necessarily a victim at all so I’m not convinced I’m on the right track in my line of thinking.  (Did I mean that I might be overthinking this topic?)

Another question I often have when I see the word GIRL in the title of these kinds of books is why GIRL instead of WOMAN.  Again, in the case of most of the titles I’ve listed below, the majority of the female characters are grown women, not girls at all.  So why refer to them as girls? Are they coming at it from the perspective of the criminal? Do they think of their victims as girls?  (Seriously, am I giving this too much thought?)

I don’t really know if there are truly any concrete answers to my questions but I know I would find it hard to believe that any author would painstakingly pore over every word in his or her novel only to then just willy nilly slap a random title on it.  There’s a reason for GIRL; I just don’t know what it is.

Anyway, those are my ramblings about GIRLS in mysteries.   I’d love to hear your take on it. Why do you think there are so many GIRLS in Mysteries/Thrillers?

 

Why Are There So Many “Girls” in Mysteries & Thrillers?

 

* * * * *

     

 

* * * * *

 

  all the missing girls 

 

* * * * *

 

   

 

* * * * *

 

   

 

Review: TWENTY-ONE DAYS by Anne Perry (A Daniel Pitt Novel)

Review:  TWENTY-ONE DAYS by Anne Perry (A Daniel Pitt Novel)Twenty-One Days (Daniel Pitt, #1) by Anne Perry
four-stars
Series: Daniel Pitt #1
Published by Ballantine Books on April 10, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

Anne Perry’s Twenty-One Days is the first book in a new series that follows Daniel Pitt, junior barrister and son of Detective Thomas Pitt (from Perry’s popular Thomas Pitt series).  When the novel opens, Daniel has minimal experience in the courtroom and yet somehow finds himself assigned to defend a famous client, biographer Russell Graves, who is charged with having murdered his wife.  When the trial doesn’t go well and Graves ends up sentenced to death even though he insists that he is innocent, Daniel is given twenty-one days to find out what really happened and file an appeal.  If he can’t find something in those twenty-one days, Graves will be executed.

It’s a race against the clock that takes Daniel in a direction he never expected to go in, one that could ruin the reputation of London’s Special Police Branch, where Daniel’s beloved father works as a detective.

Will Daniel find the truth?  Will the truth free or condemn his client?  How does the Special Police Branch fit into the picture?

 

First, let me start by saying that even though the Daniel Pitt series is a spin-off series from Anne Perry’s popular Thomas Pitt series (Daniel is Thomas’ son and is still a child in the earlier series), it can still easily be enjoyed as a standalone.  I didn’t feel like I was missing anything relevant by not having read the earlier series. That said, however, I enjoyed this book so much and was intrigued enough by every mention of Thomas Pitt that, at some point, I may go back and read the Thomas Pitt series.

Daniel Pitt was absolutely my favorite part of Twenty-One Days.  I found him to be witty and charming, which made him a fun character to follow, but at the same time, I also loved how naïve and unsure of himself he could be at times because he’s brand new to his chosen profession and has been thrown into this huge case by chance.  I’m always a sucker for a likeable underdog and that description fits Daniel to a T.  Daniel had many qualities that I found endearing, such as his fierce loyalty to his father.  But even as devoted as he is to his father, Daniel is still determined to find out the truth to see if it could help his client, even if the truth could possibly turn out to be something Daniel ultimately doesn’t want to hear because it could negative impact the Special Police Branch and by extension, his father.  I really admired that he was willing to make such tough choices.

In addition to Daniel, I also really liked the secondary characters, so much so that I hope they will all continue to play active roles in future books.  There’s Kitteridge, the senior barrister that Daniel gets partnered with on his big case.  At first these two are like oil and water because Kitteridge feels put out that he has to work alongside this newbie on such a major case, but they eventually come together as a pretty dynamic duo when it comes to working all aspects of the case in and out of the courtroom.

Then there’s Miriam, who adds a touch of Feminism to the story.  She has gone to medical school and studied to become what we would probably now consider to be a Medical Examiner, but because she’s a woman, she was never awarded an actual degree.  She’s clearly a little bitter about this but is excited when she is called upon to help Daniel with his case.  Miriam is smart, tough, funny, and I think she and Daniel may have a bit of a mutual attraction going on.  It’s subtle but adorable, and I would totally ship it if they do in fact become a couple.

In addition to this fun cast of characters, the setting of Twenty-One Days also very much appealed to me.  It’s set in London in the 1910’s, and the author does a wonderful job of capturing the time period and the location.  Although this book is set a bit later than Arthur Conan Doyle’s books, I still got a bit of Sherlock Holmes vibe as I was reading it.  I love the Sherlock Holmes series, so this was definitely a plus for me.

I’m kind of a CSI junkie so one of my favorite elements of this book was the forensic science that comes into play.  With the story being set in the 1910’s, we’re still in the very early days of fingerprints, etc. so sometimes it could be risky to try to introduce a science that was still so little understood.  I loved the tension that the use of forensics actually added to the story because Daniel and his scientist friend Miriam have to find just the right balance – they need to explain how fingerprints work in such a way that there is no misunderstanding how the science works but without coming across as condescending to the jury.  The last thing Daniel needs to do is alienate the group of people who hold his client’s fate in their hands.

And speaking of Daniel’s client and his case, the mystery in this first book was really solid too.  It had lots of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and kept me on the edge of my seat for much of the book.

 

The only real issue I had was that occasionally, especially in the early pages, the pacing was a little slow.  I’m chalking it up to all of the setting the stage that is in involved in starting a new series and introducing all of the major characters, etc.  Once I settled into the story though, it moved along at a nice, steady pace.

 

Twenty-One Days is a solid first book in Perry’s new series.  I think fans of the earlier Thomas Pitt series will enjoy seeing young Daniel all grown up, but I also think that those who have never read about the Pitt family before will enjoy this new series just as well.  The characters are well drawn and it’s a lot of fun watching them come together as a team.  I look forward to continuing the series and watching them work their way through more twists and turns to uncover the truth on future cases.

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

In this first book in a new series, Thomas Pitt’s son Daniel races to save his client from execution, setting him against London’s Special Police Branch.

It’s 1910, and Daniel Pitt is a reluctant lawyer who would prefer to follow in the footsteps of his detective father. When the biographer Russell Graves, who Daniel is helping defend, is sentenced to execution for the murder of his wife, Daniel’s Pitt-family investigative instincts kick in, and he sets out to find the real killer. With only twenty-one days before Graves is to be executed, Daniel learns that Graves is writing a biography of Victor Narraway, the former head of Special Branch and a close friend of the Pitts. And the stories don’t shed a positive light. Is it possible someone is framing Graves to keep him from writing the biography–maybe even someone Daniel knows in Special Branch?

The only answer, it seems, lies in the dead woman’s corpse. And so, with the help of some eccentric new acquaintances who don’t mind bending the rules, Daniel delves into an underground world of dead bodies and double lives, unearthing scores of lies and conspiracies. As he struggles to balance his duty to the law with his duty to his family, the equal forces of justice and loyalty pull this lawyer-turned-detective in more directions than he imagined possible. And amidst it all, his client’s twenty-one days are ticking away.

four-stars

About Anne Perry

Anne Perry (born Juliet Hulme) is a British historical novelist.

Juliet took the name “Anne Perry,” the latter being her stepfather’s surname. Her first novel, The Cater Street Hangman, was published under this name in 1979. Her works generally fall into one of several categories of genre fiction, including historical murder mysteries and detective fiction. Many of them feature a number of recurring characters, most importantly Thomas Pitt, who appeared in her first novel, and amnesiac private investigator William Monk, who first appeared in her 1990 novel The Face of a Stranger. As of 2003 she had published 47 novels, and several collections of short stories. Her story “Heroes,” which first appeared the 1999 anthology Murder and Obsession, edited by Otto Penzler, won the 2001 Edgar Award for Best Short Story.

Recently she was included as an entry in Ben Peek’s Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth, a novel exploring the nature of truth in literature.

Series contributed to:
. Crime Through Time
. Perfectly Criminal
. Malice Domestic
. The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories
. Transgressions
. The Year’s Finest Crime and Mystery Stories

Weekly Recap #49: Week of 4/15 – 4/21

 

It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

I guess the big news of the week is obviously that I made it through the tax deadline that has had me working 6 day weeks for so many months!  It was exhausting and the IRS experienced an outage on deadline day that made it so we couldn’t check to see if our clients’ returns had actually been accepted, so that didn’t exactly help, but they ended up giving everyone a one-day extension and everything worked out in the end.  Woo Hoo!  We had our after-tax party on Friday night, which is always a lot of fun, and I’ve spent most of the rest of the week catching up on sleep, reading, and watching TV.  I did start getting caught up on my blog visits too, so if I haven’t made it to you yet, I’ll be there soon!

Aside from work, soccer once again dominated my week.  After our 0-4 loss last weekend, we bounced back on Monday night was a 1-1 tie against the toughest team in their league.  Our team had never won or tied against them before, so the tie this week felt like a victory!  We then went on to win our game yesterday 1-0 in another nail biter.  The team is looking better and better, and are passing more, so this passionate soccer mom is much more content than she was last weekend, lol.

I didn’t get nearly as much reading done this week as I would have liked, but Girl Made of Stars was the standout of what I did read.  I can’t wait to write and post my review for that one.  It was a super emotional read that made me shed a few tears on more than one occasion.

I think that’s about it for me.  I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

     

 

 UPCOMING REVIEWS

       
  
 

 

 STACKING THE SHELVES

 

 
 

TOTALLY RANDOM

 

Review: SKY IN THE DEEP by Adrienne Young

Review:  SKY IN THE DEEP by Adrienne YoungSky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
four-stars
Published by Wednesday Books on April 24, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

As soon as I realized Sky in the Deep was about Vikings, it immediately became one of my most anticipated reads of 2018.  (Have I mentioned that I love Viking stories?)  I was hoping for an exciting, action-packed read, and I’m thrilled to say that I got that and so much more.  Sky in the Deep opens with our main character, 17 year old Eelyn, and her Aska clan engaged in battle with their lifelong enemies, the Riki clan.  The fighting is fierce and the energy is electric, but all of that fades away when Eelyn sees something on the battlefield she never expects to see – her brother, who she watched die in battle five years ago, apparently alive and well and fighting for her enemy.  It’s a total WTF moment and I was immediately hooked and, like Eelyn, I had so many questions that I wanted answers to.

How is it possible that Eelyn’s brother is there if she actually saw him die?  And why in the world would he be fighting against his own people and for his sworn enemy?

During one of the clashes between the Aska and Riki, Eelyn is captured and taken up into the mountains to the Riki village.  If she can survive winter in the mountains surrounded by all of her enemies, she has the opportunity to confront her brother face to face and demand answers.

But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan who has also attacked the Aska village in the past – the same clan who killed Eelyn’s mother — Eelyn becomes desperate to get back to her family.  It becomes clear that if the Aska and the Riki are going to survive, they’re going to need to work together to defeat their common enemy.

Can Eelyn convince her father that the Riki are not their enemy and that they need each other?

Eelyn was such an epic main character. I really loved her.  She’s a fierce and proud Aska warrior and her loyalty to both her family and her clan knows no bounds.  Some of my favorite scenes from Sky in the Deep are those scenes where Eelyn is out there fighting like a total badass on the battlefield.  What I also loved about her character though is that she’s not all fierceness and badassery – she’s also a vulnerable and conflicted sister who fears that her brother is a traitor to her people and doesn’t know what to do about it or how to feel about it.  I thought the author did an incredible job of conveying every emotion Eelyn was feeling.  Her pain was palpable, as was her anger, her initial hatred of the Riki, her feelings of betrayal, etc.  Everything about Eelyn was so vividly depicted that it was just very easy to feel a connection with her.

Sky in the Deep is one of those books that I would consider to be the best of both worlds – if you enjoy action-packed battle scenes, you’ll love it, but if you enjoy character and relationship-driven stories, you’ll love it too.  The battle scenes were truly thrilling.  There were axes and swords flying everywhere and I was on the edge of my seat each time Eelyn fought, hoping that she would make it through unscathed.  The scenes were vivid and somewhat graphic but didn’t really veer over into outright gory territory, which worked well for me.

As if those action-packed scenes weren’t fabulous enough, the book is also filled with relationships that just really got to me.  I’ve already mentioned the conflicted relationship between Eelyn and her brother.  That one just broke my heart because Eelyn was so crushed to think her brother was a traitor. I really wanted to hate him for hurting Eelyn with his betrayal, but then we hear his side of the story, and everything I initially thought of him got turned on its head and I just wanted brother and sister to reconcile so badly.

The brother-sister relationship takes center stage when it comes to relationships, but it’s not the only relationship by far.  I thought the author did a beautiful job depicting the evolution of the relationship between the Aska and Riki clans once they realize they face a common threat and need to band together if they hope to survive.  I loved the range of emotions that she has the various Aska and Riki clanspeople, Eelyn and her captor Fiske in particular, move through – the long-standing hatred, the mistrust, the curiosity, tentative acceptance, friendship, etc.  These relationships were all so messy and so realistic and I just ate them up!

And yes, there is a romantic relationship as well. And guess what?  I didn’t hate it!  Why?  Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that it was a subtle relationship that gradually developed over the course of the story and I never felt like it took over the story or distracted from anything else that was going on.  There’s no insta-love at all – in fact, it’s quite the opposite.  It’s enemies to lovers all the way, which apparently I’m a huge fan of!

Even though I loved Sky in the Deep overall, I did have a bit of an issue with uneven pacing.  Those action-packed battle scenes had me absolutely flying through the pages, as did the scenes where Eelyn confronted her brother or where she clashed with her captors. But then I would hit the occasional lull when the story focused more on the day-to-day life of the Riki and Eelyn’s thoughts as she watched them and did chores for them.

These domestic-focused chapters were still beautifully written– let me be very clear on that– and they definitely served a purpose, which was to show Eelyn that her sworn enemies are normal people just like she and her fellow Aska are.  My issue was mainly that reading about sewing and gardening and other chores just felt a little mundane in comparison to the adrenaline rush that goes along with reading about someone slashing and hacking their way across a battlefield. I think this would have been a 5-star read for me if there had been fewer passages that dealt with household chores.

Sky in the Deep is a fantastic read that has something for everyone.  If you’re into character-driven books that feature fierce females and plenty of complicated relationships, then this is a book for you.  However, if you’re into action-packed stories that feature warring Viking clans, this is a book for you too.  And finally, if you’re into a slow-burn romance featuring enemies who suddenly don’t hate each other quite as much as they thought they did, then yes, Sky in the Deep is for you as well.

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

four-stars

About Adrienne Young

Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.

Can’t Wait Wednesday – Spotlight on A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY by Brigid Kemmerer

 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.  It is a meme that I have  loved participating in for over a year now, but as Jill is no longer actively posting, from now on I’ll just be linking to Can’t Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

* * * * *

My selection for this week is A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer.   This book went on my TBR before I even read the synopsis because I loved Kemmerer’s More Than We Can Tell so much.  But then I realized it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling and it fully cemented its status as a must-read book for me.  I have a long while to wait before this book comes out, but I think this will be one that’s worth the wait!

 

A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY by Brigid Kemmerer

Publication Date:   January 29, 2019

 

From Goodreads:

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

 * * * * *

 

I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your CWW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books People Keep Telling Me to Read…But I Still Haven’t (Yet!)

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!

This week’s TTT topic is a FREEBIE, so I thought it would be fun to share some books that everyone keeps telling me to read because they know I’d love them, but somehow I just haven’t quite gotten myself to read them yet.  I swear that I will get to them all eventually because these books are all recommended by trusted blogger friends, but it’s just taking me longer than I thought it would to actually get around to them. Some of them I really have no excuse though because I’ve even read other books by the authors and loved them, Laini Taylor and V.E. Schwab, for example,  so I don’t even know what I’m waiting for.

So many books, so little time!

 

Top 10 Books People Keep Telling Me to Read…But I Still Haven’t (Yet!)

 

* * * * *

 1. LETTERS TO THE LOST by Brigid Kemmerer

 

 

* * * * *

 

2. THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater

 

 

* * * * *

 

3. IN A DARK, DARK WOOD by Ruth Ware

 

 

* * * * *

 

4. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor

 

 

* * * * *

 

5. THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas

 

 

* * * * *

 

6. ALEX, APPROXIMATELY by Jenn Bennett

 

* * * * *

 

7. VICIOUS by V. E. Schwab

 

 

* * * * *

 

8. RED WINTER by Annette Marie

 

 

* * * * *

 

9. A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman

 

 

* * * * *

 

10. REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton

 

 

* * * * *

 

Question:  What books are people telling you that you need to read?