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ARC Review: Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia

ARC Review: Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy MejiaEverything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia
four-stars
Published by Atria/Emily Bestler Books on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Mystery, Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own..

Goodreads Synopsis:   Full of twists and turns, Everything You Want Me to Be reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront…and she inches closer and closer to her death.

High school senior Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good citizen. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death on the opening night of her high school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of her small town community. Local sheriff Del Goodman, a family friend of the Hoffmans, vows to find her killer, but trying to solve her murder yields more questions than answers. It seems that Hattie’s acting talents ran far beyond the stage. Told from three points of view—Del, Hattie, and the new English teacher whose marriage is crumbling—Everything You Want Me to Be weaves the story of Hattie’s last school year and the events that drew her ever closer to her death.

Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery—or destruction?

My Review:

I love a good murder mystery and Everything You Want Me To Be really fits the bill.  Although it started out like a fairly straightforward CSI/Rizzoli and Isle’s style murder investigation story, it ultimately ended up being a lot more complex and fascinating than I was anticipating.  Everything You Want Me to Be is a fast-paced psychological thriller that took me on a wild and unexpected ride.  The main character is high school senior Hattie Hoffman who is found brutally murdered in the opening pages of the novel.   Hattie lives in a small, close knit town where not much of anything ever happens so her murder completely rocks the community.  The pressure is on local law enforcement to find out what happened to Hattie and to bring the murderer to justice, which is the focus of the bulk of the novel.

Highlights of Everything You Want Me to Be:

Hattie Hoffman:  Hattie is a complex and well-drawn character.  I never could decide if I actually liked her or not, but regardless, I found her to be a truly fascinating young woman.   Even though the novel begins with her death, we go back about a year before that to follow the events that lead up to her murder.  In taking that journey, the reader learns that Hattie is basically an actress in every sense of the word.  She of course acts on the stage in plays, but the more we learn about her, the more it becomes apparent that she has no real sense of who she is and sees herself as acting out various roles all her life trying to make other people happy – the good daughter, the model student, the doting girlfriend – even if it’s at the expense of her own happiness. I can’t say much more without spoiling the plot, but it is unfortunately when she finally decides it’s time to figure out who she really is that Hattie sets into motion the chain of events that lead to her death.

Plot Twists:  I love a mystery that is filled with plot twists, especially when the plot twists make sense and don’t seem contrived.  In Everything You Want Me To Be, the author has woven together so many twists and turns that I was kept guessing the entire novel as to who the murderer was and what exactly had transpired the fateful night of Hattie’s death.  I loved that I not only guessed wrong once or twice – I actually guessed wrong three times and each time was sure I had the right person.  Every time I thought I had it all figured out, a new and equally plausible suspect would turn up.

Three Narrative Points of View:  The story of Hattie’s murder unfolds from three different viewpoints through the eyes of Hattie, through the eyes of Del Goodman, the town sheriff and also a friend of Hattie’s family, and finally through the eyes of Peter Lund, Hattie’s English teacher and also one of the prime suspects in her murder. I know sometimes having so many different points of view can be confusing, but in this case, I thought seeing the story play out through these three sets of eyes really added a lot of layers to the tale.

MacBeth:

Hattie and her classmates are working on a production of William Shakespeare’s MacBeth at the time of her murder.  When she turns up dead, one of her classmates claims that her death is a result of the so-called “MacBeth Curse,” where historically, people have often met with misfortune during productions of the play.   While I didn’t believe for one moment that Hattie had lost her life because of a supposed curse, I did love the added mystique that the “MacBeth Curse” cast over the events especially once the news media got wind that the curse had been mentioned during the police investigation.

Themes:  Speaking of MacBeth, it served a dual purpose in this novel. Not only is it the play Hattie was starring in when she was killed, but more importantly, it also shares major thematic elements with Everything You Want Me To Be, particularly regarding the dangers of acting on one’s desires without regard for the potential consequences. I won’t go so far as to call this a retelling of MacBeth, but there are definite similarities in that sense. Hattie going after what she wants no matter the fallout is very reminiscent of Lady MacBeth.

Anything I Didn’t Care For:

The only real complaint I had throughout the novel was that sometimes it felt like the whole “Hattie is playing a part” angle of the story was laid on a little thick.  I guess it was because we’re reading the three different viewpoints coming to the same conclusion, but at a certain point, I just kept thinking “Okay, that’s enough. I get it.”  That’s probably just me though. I tend to prefer story threads like that to be a little more subtle so that I can connect the dots myself and so reading it several different times was a little heavy-handed for me.  That said, it didn’t remotely take away from my overall enjoyment of the story.

Who Would I Recommend This Novel To?

Everything You Want Me To Be is a well-crafted “whodunnit.”  If you like a suspenseful read that will keep you guessing from start to finish, I would definitely say to give this one a shot!  I probably would not recommend it to younger audiences since the discovery of the body and the murder itself are pretty graphic, but other than that, I think most audiences would enjoy it.

 

Rating:  4 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an e-galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This in no way affects my review.

four-stars

About Mindy Mejia

mindy mejia

Mindy received a BA from the University of Minnesota and an MFA from Hamline University. Apart from brief stops in Iowa City and Galway, she’s lived in the Twin Cities her entire life and held a succession of jobs from an apple orchard laborer to a global credit manager.

She’s currently working on a project set in Duluth and the Boundary Waters that may or may not be a trilogy.

Mindy is available for readings, workshops, and book group discussions. Contact her at mindy(at)mindymejia.com.

Waiting on Wednesday – Spotlight on The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

New WoW“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.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord.  The stunning cover is what first caught my eye, but once I read the synopsis and all of the advance reviews, I knew this book just had to go on my wish list. It sounds like it’s going to be a beautiful and moving read.

The Names They Gave Us

by Emery Lord

Publication Date:  May 16, 2017

From Amazon:

From the acclaimed author of When We Collided comes a vibrant, compelling story of love, loss, faith, and friendship.

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake and spending quality time with her parents. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters-in her faith and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp-one for troubled kids-Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

Emotionally-charged and unforgettable, Emery Lord’s storytelling shines with the promise of new love and true friendship, even in the face of life’s biggest challenges.

Check out this Advance Praise for The Names They Gave Us!

“A vividly drawn novel of how we believe, how it changes, and how it changes us. In Lucy Hansson, Emery Lord gives us a narrator so vibrantly real that by the last chapter she felt like a friend I’d grown up with. Lucy’s journey is as unforgettable as her voice.” – Anna-Marie McLemore, author of Morris Award Finalist THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS and National Book Award longlisted WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS

“This is more than a love story. When We Collided carefully yet effortlessly puts mental illness in conversation with the beauty and struggle of adolescence. It is a book I wish could have written, but am so much better for having read.” ―Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of DUMPLIN’ and SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY on WHEN WE COLLIDED

“Searingly honest, gut-wrenchingly authentic, and deeply romantic, When We Collided is a gift of a novel. It tackles tough topics with nuance, and will make readers both laugh and cry, sometimes within the span of a page.” ―Jasmine Warga, author of MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES on WHEN WE COLLIDED

“A five-star must-read romance for older teens (and up) that will challenge readers toward a better understanding of a too-often marginalized and stigmatized segment of the population, When We Collided is an important book not only for this generation of teens, but those who’ve come before . . . and those who will come after.” ―USA Today on WHEN WE COLLIDED

An absolute tearjerker romance with a powerful message about weightier topics of grief and mental illness.” ―starred review, School Library Journal on WHEN WE COLLIDED

“In sharp contrast to darker, more issue-driven YA books, this title keeps truer to the problems that most teens face. The protagonist’s upbeat attitude will inspire readers to persevere even during the low points in life.” ―starred review, School Library Journal on THE START OF ME AND YOU

“This is the teen world as it should be, full of good times and good friends to temper life’s inevitable sorrows, big and small. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti will want to add Emery Lord to their summer reading list.” ―BCCB on THE START OF ME AND YOU

“Lord offers a sweet story of love and loss. . . . The author is gentle with Paige as she struggles to redefine herself both in school and at home, as well as figure out who understands her best as she stumbles toward new romance.” ―Publishers Weekly on THE START OF ME AND YOU

“Reads like an ode to unconditional love that will keep readers firmly believing in believing.” ―Booklist on OPEN ROAD SUMMER

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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 WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Waiting on Wednesday: Spotlight on Gilded Cage by Vic James

New WoW“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.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is Gilded Cage by Vic James.  I was sold on this one as soon as I read that fans of the Red Rising and Red Queen series should enjoy it.  I tend to enjoy dystopian novels because they’re always so thrilling and action-packed. Just from reading the book blurb, I think it’s safe to say Gilded Cage will be a wild ride. Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy and find out for myself if it’s as amazing as it sounds!

Gilded Cage

by Vic James

gilded cage

Publication Date:  February 14, 2017

From Amazon:

For readers of Victoria Aveyard and Kiera Cass comes a darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule—and commoners are doomed to serve.

Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

Check out this Advance Praise for Gilded Cage!

Gilded Cage is a heart-pounding combination of dark magic, political revolution, and forbidden romance that had me addicted from the first page!”—Danielle L. Jensen, USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Trilogy

“Devious and deliciously dark with lashings of magic, mystery, and mayhem, this juggernaut of a book will keep you hanging on by your fingernails until the very last page.”—Taran Matharu, New York Times bestselling author of The Summoner Trilogy

“A dark and intriguing vision of an alternate, magic-drenched Britain, Gilded Cage kept me up long into the night.”—Aliette de Bodard, author of The House of Shattered Wings

“Brisk plotting, sympathetic characters, and plenty of intrigue will keep readers on the edges of their seats, eager for the next book in a very promising series.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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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 WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Waiting on Wednesday: Spotlight on ‘The Girl Before’ by J.P. Delaney

New WoW“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.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is The Girl Before by J. P. Delaney.  I enjoy a good psychological thriller and this book just sounds like it’s going to be filled twists and turns that keep me guessing from start to finish.  I keep saying that I’m tired of books that are in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, but I think The Girl Before sounds like it has potential to revive my interest. We’ll see… 🙂

The Girl Before

by J. P. Delaney

girl before

Publication Date: January 24, 2017

From Goodreads:

In the tradition of The Girl on the Train, The Silent Wife, and Gone Girl comes an enthralling psychological thriller that spins one woman’s seemingly good fortune, and another woman’s mysterious fate, through a kaleidoscope of duplicity, death, and deception.

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

Emma:  Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

Jane:  After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

Check out this Advance Praise for The Girl Before!

“Dazzling, startling, and above all cunning—a pitch-perfect novel of psychological suspense.“ —Lee Child

“Riveting! One of the most compelling page-turners I’ve read in years. Twisty, turny, and with an ending not to be missed!“ —Lisa Gardner

“I was instantly gripped and held captivated by the pace and elegant writing. I devoured it.” —Peter James

The Girl Before is a cat-and-mouse game that toys with our expectations and twists our sympathies. At times almost unbearably suspenseful, it keeps us guessing from the first page to the very last. Don’t miss it.” —Joseph Finder

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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 WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Waiting on Wednesday – Spotlight on The Bear and the Nightingale

New WoW“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.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.  I have to admit that the comparison in the book blurb to Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, one of my all-time favorite books, is what initially drew me to The Bear and the Nightingale. But then I had the opportunity to preview an excerpt from the book and became more excited than ever. I think this is going to be a truly exciting read and I wish I didn’t have to wait until January to get my hands on it!

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

bear-and-nightingale-th

Publication Date: January 10, 2017

From Amazon:

A magical debut novel for readers of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman’s myth-rich fantasies, The Bear and the Nightingale spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent with a gorgeous voice.
 
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles nearer, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

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Check out this advanced praise for The Bear and the Nightingale!

“An extraordinary retelling of a very old tale . . . A Russian setting adds unfamiliar spice to the story of a young woman who does not rebel against the limits of her role in her culture so much as transcend them. The Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderfully layered novel of family and the harsh wonders of deep winter magic.”—Robin Hobb

“A beautiful deep-winter story, full of magic and monsters and the sharp edges of growing up.”—Naomi Novik

“Haunting and lyrical, The Bear and the Nightingale tugs at the heart and quickens the pulse. I can’t wait for her next book.”—Terry Brooks

The Bear and the Nightingale is a marvelous trip into an ancient Russia where magic is a part of everyday life.”—Todd McCaffrey

“Enthralling and enchanting—I literally couldn’t put it down. A wondrous book!”—Tamora Pierce

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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 WoW selection for this week. 🙂