Dare Me by Megan Abbott

  • Title: Dare Me
  • Author: Megan Abbott
  • Genre: Young Adult – Mystery
  • Publication Date: July 31, 2012
  • Format: Physical copy of the book. I own it.

From Goodreads:

“Addy Hanlon has always been Beth Cassidy’s best friend and trusted lieutenant. Beth calls the shots and Addy carries them out, a long-established order of things that has brought them to the pinnacle of their high-school careers. Now they’re seniors who rule the intensely competitive cheer squad, feared and followed by the other girls — until the young new coach arrives.

Cool and commanding, an emissary from the adult world just beyond their reach, Coach Colette French draws Addy and the other cheerleaders into her life. Only Beth, unsettled by the new regime, remains outside Coach’s golden circle, waging a subtle but vicious campaign to regain her position as “top girl” — both with the team and with Addy herself.

Then a suicide focuses a police investigation on Coach and her squad. After the first wave of shock and grief, Addy tries to uncover the truth behind the death — and learns that the boundary between loyalty and love can be dangerous terrain.

The raw passions of girlhood are brought to life in this taut, unflinching exploration of friendship, ambition, and power. Award-winning novelist Megan Abbott, writing with what Tom Perrotta has hailed as “total authority and an almost desperate intensity,” provides a harrowing glimpse into the dark heart of the all-American girl.

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My Review:

When I think of cheerleaders I associate them with fun things like: cheering, boys, parties, best friends, carefree, etc. This book carried me on a dark roller-coaster ride of bullying, anorexia, bulimia, obsession, sexuality, and murder. Not at all what I was expecting but I was sooo intrigued. This sinister book had all the drama and “WTFs” to keep me hooked from the very beginning. And seriously – this book is a fast and mean roller-coaster ride! One minute you love the characters and next minute you cant wait to get far away from them. It is a battle between innocence and the consequences of growing up too fast. So dark. So entertaining.

This is my first Megan Abbott book but not my last!

I highly recommend if you are looking for something dark, mean, & ugly..yet still addictive.

Rating: 4/5

The Other Widow by Susan Crawford

  • Title: The Other Widow
  • Author: Susan Crawford
  • Genre: Psychological Thriller/Mystery
  • Publication Date: expected April 26, 2016
  • Format: Uncorrected Proof from HarperCollins Canada #HCCFirstLook

From Goodreads:

“The author of The Pocket Wife explores the dark side of love, marriage, and infidelity in this sizzling novel of psychological suspense.

Everybody’s luck runs out. This time it could be theirs . . .

It isn’t safe. That’s what Joe tells her when he ends their affair—moments before their car skids off an icy road in a blinding snowstorm and hits a tree. Desperate to keep her life intact—her job, her husband, and her precious daughter, Lily—Dorrie will do everything she can to protect herself, even if it means walking away from the wreckage. Dorrie has always been a good actress, pretending to be someone else: the dutiful daughter, the satisfied wife, the woman who can handle anything. Now she’s going to put on the most challenging performance of her life. But details about the accident leave her feeling uneasy and afraid. Why didn’t Joe’s airbag work? Why was his car door open before the EMTs arrived? And now suddenly someone is calling her from her dead lover’s burner phone. . . .

Joe’s death has left his wife in free fall as well. Karen knew Joe was cheating—she found some suspicious e-mails. Trying to cope with grief is devastating enough without the constant fear that has overtaken her—this feeling she can’t shake that someone is watching her. And with Joe gone and the kids grown, she’s vulnerable . . . and on her own.

Insurance investigator Maggie Devlin is suspicious of the latest claim that’s landed on her desk—a man dying on an icy road shortly after buying a lucrative life insurance policy. Maggie doesn’t believe in coincidences. The former cop knows that things—and people—are never what they seem to be.

As the fates of these three women become more tightly entwined, layers of lies and deception begin to peel away, pushing them dangerously to the edge . . . closer to each other . . . to a terrifying truth . . . to a shocking end.”

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My Review:

My feelings towards this book are very mixed. I’ve been on a ‘Psychological Thriller/Mystery’ kick lately.. and I think that played a role in my mixed feelings towards The Other Widow.

Let’s start with the aspects I didn’t enjoy:
– I felt like there wasn’t anything original here. That might not be the fault of this book in particular but the genre itself is lacking originality.
– I found the story moved slow and then the end was like “BANG! Here is EVERYTHING!” The slow build up made it hard to want to pick the book up. And the ending felt rushed. Like there weren’t enough pages left to really get in to it.
– The cheating. Is this a requirement for mysteries/thrillers? It is boring and very been-there-done-that. Also – this is more of a personal reaction but I find it hard to feel sympathetic towards disloyal people.
– The dialogue felt awkward at times. The way it cut off/shifted/jumped all over the place was kind of annoying. It just didn’t flow nicely.

Now for the GOOD:
– I loved Maggie! She was the only character I actually felt genuinely interested in. Her story could stand alone (perhaps a book that follows her? I’m down for that!)
– I did enjoy the glimpse into the other characters personal lives. Seeing the way the lies and deceit affects those around the characters felt Real.
– Although I suspected one part of the ending I did not figure THAT out. Nice twist! People are not always what they seem…

Recommendation: If you’re in to mysteries that feel familiar then this book is perfect for you.

Rating: 2.5 to 3 / 5. I can’t decide…

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

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  • Title: Don’t You Cry
  • Author: Mary Kubica
  • Genre: Psychological thriller
  • Publication Date: May 17, 2016
  • Format: eARC from netgalley

From Goodreads:

“In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under the stranger’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.”

My Review:

I loved The Good Girl.. so when I came across this book on netgalley I put in a request for an eARC because I MUST HAVE IT. The reviews for Don’t You Cry on Goodreads are all pretty positive. Based on my previous Kubica read and the positive reviews – I had high expectations for this book.

Unfortunately it fell a bit flat for me. There were parts/aspects of the book that I enjoyed and other parts that I didn’t enjoy.  I liked the side-by-side storylines of two very different characters that came together in the end to reveal a somewhat-shocking ending. It is only “somewhat” shocking because I definitely didn’t guess that this was how the story would end but I wasn’t blown away by the reveal either. My biggest beef with this book was how slow it moved (at least to me..) I was never on the edge of my seat.. I sometimes found myself bored. AND Quinn kind of got on my nerves. Her naiveté got a lot of eye rolls. She seemed quite dumbed-down for someone her age. On the other hand,  Alex was great. I found myself much more interested in his storyline.

All in all – This was a decent read. I would definitely recommend to those who enjoy this genre.. but it isn’t the best I have read. I’ve heard AH-MAZING things about Pretty Baby and plan on reading it soon (and I hope it doesn’t disappoint!)

What did you think of this book?

Rating: 3/5

Along Came A Spider by James Patterson

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From Goodreads: “A missing little girl named Maggie Rose . . . a family of three brutally murdered in the projects of Washington, D.C. . . . the thrill-killing of a beautiful elementary school teacher . . . a psychopathic serial kidnapper/murderer who is so terrifying that the FBI, the Secret Service, and the police cannot outsmart him – even after he’s been captured.

Gary Soneji wants to commit the crime of the century. Alex Cross is the brilliant homicide detective pitted against him. Jezzie Flanagan is the first female supervisor of the Secret Service who completes one of the most unusual suspense triangles in any thriller you have ever read.”

Readers seem to have a “Love him or Hate him” relationship with James Patterson. His work is either praised or torn to shreds. This is partly why it took me so long to pick up one of his books. The other reason – he is usually categorized under the “cheap supermarket thrills,” those books that people pick up on discount at the supermarket for easy entertainment. Though I have nothing wrong with that it isn’t usually the type of books I enjoy. This book was my first and I don’t think it will be my last!

I really enjoyed Along Came a Spider. It had enough going on to keep me interested, I like Alex Cross and I enjoy stories where the killer messes with your mind. This had it all and it was a super easy book to read too. Alex is that good cop who wants to keep his family and city safe. He is likeable and admirable. He fights for what he believes in. What is not to like about that? And then there is the other voice – that of Gary Soneji that allows the reader to glimpse the mind of a very sick man. Having the two main characters, a symbol of good and bad, switch between chapter-to-chapter gives you the opportunity to dive deeper in to the story. It hooks you and keeps you guessing until the very end!

The only downside – I found the book to be a bit longer than needed. Some parts dragged on a little and would’ve helped the story if they were cut. I will be continuing with this series. I hope I enjoy the others as much as this one!

Rating 3/5

p.s. Just a warning – It seems that most people agree that the quality of the series diminishes the further in you get.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Love thrillers with a twist? Love murder mysteries that keep you guessing? Perhaps you will enjoy Gone Girl?!

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From Goodreads: “On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?”

 

Gone Girl follows the alternating point of views of the two main characters: Nick and Amy. It jumps between “present day Nick” and “diary entry Amy” and their relationship before and during her disappearance. This book had me guessing from the very first chapter who her killer was and I was completely wrong! The shocking twist at the end really MADE this book.

I had a hard time believing the validity of the main characters. Nick, Amy, and the others introduced throughout the story were very unlikable and unbelievable. Their spoken word seemed as if it were coming from a much younger age group. Believing that these characters are in their 30s and dealing with adult situations while talking like teenagers kind of threw me off. Flynn’s writing is nothing to get excited about but the need she instills in the reader to determine who “did it” is strong. Putting aside my annoyance with the characters, I devoured the book whole as I desperately needed to find out the truth. And that truth was well worth the struggle! I haven’t read many murder mystery stories but I found this ending to be quite original and a major surprise! Who would’ve thought!

Gone Girl is an easy read. Perfect for the beach or a rainy day indoors when all you want is pure entertainment!

Rating – 3.5/5

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The Shining – Stephen King

From Goodreads: “Danny is only five years old, but he is a ‘shiner’, aglow with psychic voltage. When his father becomes caretaker of an old hotel, his visions grow out of control. Cut off by blizzards, the hotel seems to develop an evil force, and who are the mysterious guests in the supposedly empty hotel?”

This was my very first Stephen King novel, and definitely not my last! I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to get around to reading any of his books. He produces so many books, year after year, that I questioned the quality that they may possess. How can someone write SO many great novels in one life span? But reading the reviews, and hearing people commenting highly about his work, I had to give it a chance.

The Shining was a great place to start. I love to fit in ‘eerie’ reads in the Month of October. Something about fall, and halloween approaching has me craving a scare! I’m not going to shield the fact that I’ve seen The Shining (movie) many times. I knew what was going to happen, and anticipated the shocking story lines. But normally, if I’ve seen the movie first the book usually doesn’t fare well with me. This was quite the contrary! I was hooked. His writing style is beautifully simplistic, and wonderfully descriptive. I felt the moments of terror, I envisioned the hotel and all that happened within. King made it easy to follow along, to stay hooked within the story.

The story centers around three main characters – Danny, Jack and Wendy. Danny is a bright 5-year-old boy with a special talent. He has the shining. This talent allows him to see the dead, see the unnatural and hear other peoples thoughts. Jack, Danny’s father, is a man with an abusive past both at the hands of himself and his father. He started drinking heavily, lost his temper and then lost his job. With no other options, he accepts the job as a caretaker at the Overlook Hotel. He brings along his family, Wendy and Danny, to keep him company in the long secluded months. Wendy is unsure if this is a good idea or not but she agrees to this arrangement not wanting to separate her son for the man he idolizes.

The Overlook is a nasty hotel, with a slew of supernatural within its walls. Jack, being an easy target is recruited to the Hotels cause. Horror, suspense, unlikely occurrences take the readers on a wild ride as the family tries to survive within these horrible walls. Dick Hallorann, another with the shining, befriends Danny the day they arrive at the Overlook. He holds crucial to their survival.

I must say that I am glad I jumped on this bandwagon. I was thoroughly impressed with is work! I’ve now added the rest of his work to my ‘Must Read’ pile!

Rating – 4/5