Consuming – Shelter by Jung Yun

Shelter

by Jung Yun

Published 2016

Genres: Fiction / Literary / Thriller

“He shakes his head and glances at Gertie, who hasn’t said a word since she turned toward the window. Her eyebrows are angled sharply into a frown, and her mouth is open as if she means to speak, but can’t.

“Is something wrong with the yard?” he asks.

Slowly, she lifts her finger and taps on the glass. “I think that woman out there – I think she might be naked.

 

Kyung is the son of Korean parents, and lives with his American wife and son. His upbringing, while lavish, was lacking in affection and warmth, and his connection with his parents as an adult is shaky. But when an act of unspeakable violence suddenly impacts the family, they find themselves thrown together and having to confront their issues from the past and deal with their internal demons.

 

Janelle says…

This book was such a pleasant surprise. I’m still thinking about the story and how much I loved it.

I was expecting a story roughly centred around Asian immigrants trying to make a life in America. I don’t know where I got that expectation from, but I was wrong. This is an exploration of family dynamics and secrets, particularly within non-Western cultures. It looks at both gender and race. It deals with grief and trauma, and it packs quite a few tough scenes. It’s certainly not an easy read, but it’s so thoughtful and moving, and leaves a lot to ponder.

What struck me most about this book was just how much it packed in, and how appealing it would be to a wide range of readers. You’ll notice I’ve categorised it as both literary fiction and thriller, and it’s true – I can’t completely dump it within either category. The plot kept me keen the whole way through, every time I had to put the book down I couldn’t wait to get back to it to find out what else it had in store. It had a few unexpected turns, and I questioned my views on various characters time and again. It kept moving at a steady pace which is something that’s important to me to keep my attention.

Shelter was both shattering and entertaining. It was just a solid, enjoyable read. It would be perfect for book clubs, I think you could discuss this with other people for hours. One of my favourite reads so far this year. Highly recommended!

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Buddy Read – The Girls by Emma Cline

March 2017 – Mel’s choice

The Girls

by Emma Cline

Published 2016

Genres: Fiction / Literary

“I didn’t tell him that I wished I’d never met Suzanne. That I wished I’d stayed safely in my bedroom in the dry hills near Petaluma, the bookshelves packed tight with the gold-foil spines of my childhood favourites. And I did wish that. But some nights, unable to sleep, I peeled an apple slowly at the sink, letting the curl lengthen under the glint of the knife. The house dark around me. Sometimes it didn’t feel like regret. It felt like a missing.”

1969. California. Fourteen-year-old Evie Boyd is living a standard suburban teenage life- trying to make sense of her split family situation, learning about herself, noticing boys. And noticing the group of scruffy, devil-may-care girls who keep crossing her path. Something about them is alluring to her. One of them in particular sticks in her mind, and through some coincidental events, Evie manages to weave her way into their group and become entwined in their lives. Living off the grid, she experiences drugs and sex, and very quickly leaves her old life behind. However the influence of the group’s “leader”, Russell, is about to become something more than she could have ever foreseen.

 

Mel says…

I chose this book for our March Buddy Read as I had heard such amazing reviews. Celebrities were posting about it and it made me want to find out what all the fuss was about.

At the start, I enjoyed the writing style of Emma Cline. The back and forth from past to present was intriguing, for about half the book. I found the present day Evie to become irrelevant. There seemed no real logical explanation for bothering with present day Evie. She added zero value to the storyline, in my opinion and I began getting irritated when I would turn the page and there she would be, for the next 10-20 pages.

From start to finish, I was expecting something….more. I felt like I was constantly on the brink of some huge revelation in Evie’s life, that never came. She was the kind of protagonist that you wish would be killed off in the dying pages. She was infuriating and I just couldn’t get on board with her way of thinking, even when I tried stepping back into teenage-Mel’s shoes.

I think the saving grace for me was the plot itself. I have always been intrigued with real life crime stories and this was very closely related to the Charles Manson story. The cult following, the era and the murders. This is what kept me reading and I have to admit, by the end, I was somewhat relieved it was over and was severely disappointed!

It took me weeks to write this review after finishing The Girls. Partly because of my poor time management, but mainly due to the fact that as the days wore on, I forgot what actually occurred. If I could sum this book up in one word it would be; Forgettable!

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Janelle says…

Well, it started out ok.

It’s no secret that this story is meant to be reminiscent of the evolution of the Manson family. But if you’re going into it expecting a lot of gruesome details and a focus on the murders, you’ll be disappointed. This is a story about puberty, love, friendships, and learning about oneself – your limitations, your image, your self-restraint.

As far as a book that studies the above topics goes, it doesn’t do a bad job. If I was reading this about 15 years ago, I probably would have felt very connected to the internal challenges that the main character Evie faces. I could definitely identify with her at certain times, particularly in her defiant moments.

But…..that’s it. In all honesty I just found this to be, well, boring. I had the scene all figured out within the first 100 pages or so, I didn’t need it to go on with the same stuff for the next 250. It probably didn’t help that I had already read reviews and opinions on this book when it first came out, but still, that didn’t stop me wanting to read it. Now that I have read it though, I found it lacking in substance, and basically just forgettable.

Teens and other people into YA would probably really enjoy this, but personally I think I just can’t be interested in teenage girl problems. I wasn’t interested in them when I was a teenage girl myself. Sorry not sorry.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Surreal – Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

 

 Fever Dream

by Samanta Schweblin

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Published 2017

Genres: Fiction / Literary / Horror

“You’re confused, and that’s not good for this story. I’m a normal boy.”

“This isn’t normal, David. There’s only darkness, and you’re talking into my ear. I don’t even know if this is really happening.”

“It’s happening, Amanda. I’m kneeling at the edge of your bed, in one of the rooms at the emergency clinic. We don’t have much time, and before time runs out we have to find the exact moment.”

 

Amanda lies in a clinic, talking to the young David. What transpires between them is confounding, eerie, and unsettling. As they, and you, try to put the pieces together, they speak of grief, the family bond, and secrets. And they relive their mutual experience in an effort to find the key to it all – where they are, what they’re doing there, who David is, and what has happened to Amanda.

 

Janelle says…

 

I heard a couple of early reviews of this book, which seemed to be unable to go into specifics about the plot but emphasised just how strange the book was. I had to check it out for myself.

Strange doesn’t quite do it justice. This is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. At 183 pages long, I read it in one sitting, and if you’re going to read it too I suggest you do the same. It’s at its most powerful that way. Don’t look up from the page or you’ll break the spell.

Just like other reviewers before me, I don’t feel like I can talk about specifics either, and I still don’t quite know what it was about or exactly what happened. The only way I can describe it is by saying that our two main characters are searching for answers about the things that have happened to them, but their conversation doesn’t really make any sense. Certain details do seem to connect to each other and this connection becomes apparent as you go along, however their meaning is unclear.

But I enjoyed the experience. And that’s exactly what this book feels like, it’s not just a book, not just a story….it’s an experience. By the end I felt like I’d been on some kind of time-travelling acid trip, following the stream of consciousness recollections of the protagonist, Amanda, whose discussion with creepy David almost seemed like as if she were under hypnosis. I don’t recall a book ever making me feel the way this one did. It was so weird, and unsettling, and confounding.

I know how I’m describing it probably makes it sound awful, but I loved it. I just couldn’t put it down, from the first page I wanted to know what was coming next and where it was leading. I don’t how Samanta Schweblin (and translator Megan McDowell) has done what she’s done here, I can’t help but feel like maybe she knows some great secret that we don’t.

If you’re not into totally bizarre books that make you think “WTF?”, then steer clear because you’ll probably end up throwing it at the wall. But if, like me, that’s your bag, then you need to pick this one up because it will rock your world.

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Intricate – The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

The Summer that Melted Everything

by Tiffany McDaniel

Published 2016

Genres: Fiction / Literary

“The lukewarm past had been overtaken by the scalding now. Gone was the perfect temperature. The breeze. All replaced by an almost violent heat that turned your bones into volcanoes, your blood into the lava that yelled their eruptions. Folks would later talk about that sudden onset of heat. It was their best evidence of the devil’s arrival.

The Bliss family live in the small, humble town of Breathed, Ohio. In the summer of 1984, local prosecutor Autopsy Bliss publishes in the town newspaper an invitation to the devil to come visit the town. Soon after, thirteen-year old Sal appears, alone and grubby on the courthouse steps, where he is met by Autopsy’s son, Fielding. The Bliss family take in Sal like he is one of their own, but there are others in town who are less than thrilled to hear that the devil has arrived. As a freak heatwave sends frustrations and patience simmering, a number of shocking incidents befall the residents of Breathed. But where will the blame be laid?

 

Janelle says…

This started out kind of comical, slowly building your rapport with the main protagonists, the Bliss family, so that you felt protective towards them as the story progressively got darker.

For me this book threw many questions out there – like what is good and what is evil, to what extent do they need each other and where does the line get blurry. And then we have the issue of labels, and group mentality. Young Sal, as the devil, is the scapegoat for every bad thing that befalls the town, the label applied to him enough to condemn him despite people not taking the time to get to know him. Is he really evil? Is it all really his fault? You’ll have to read it to find out.

Fear is a running theme. The fear of Stella Bliss, who refuses to leave her house because of a phobia of the rain. The fear of Grand Bliss, who has a secret in a time and place of hatred when he is likely to be misunderstood. The fear of Sal, who doesn’t want to own the label that is pinned to him and despite fearing the townfolk, tries to show love and compassion. The fear the town has of Sal, believing he has brought the heatwave and the spate of terrible events to them. Some of these characters will overcome their fears, some will succumb to them, some will not be able to live with them.

Overall, I’m still trying to gather my thoughts about this book and decide exactly what impression it’s left on me. But while reading it, there were a number of times I read over a sentence more than once because its composition was so clever. The writing was beautiful and intricate, many times I paused to admire how the author had put together the message, especially when in the mind of the main character Fielding and the dialogue of Sal. And a book that I still think about long after finishing it is always worthy of credit in my opinion.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Chilling – The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry

by Jane Harper

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Published 2016

Genres: Fiction / Crime Fiction

“The body in the clearing was the freshest. It took the flies slightly longer to discover the two in the farmhouse, despite the front door swinging open like an invitation. Those that ventured beyond the initial offering in the hallway were rewarded with another, this time in the bedroom. This one was smaller, but less engulfed by competition.

First on the scene, the flies swarmed contentedly in the heat as the blood pooled black over tiles and carpet. Outside, washing hung still on the rotary line, bone dry and stiff from the sun. A child’s scooter lay abandoned on the stepping stone path. Just one human heart beat within a kilometre radius of the farm.
So nothing reacted when deep inside the house, the baby started crying. “

Australia is in the grip of its worst drought in a century, and it hasn’t rained in the small country town of Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past bubble to the surface as he investigates the truth of his friend’s crime.

Mel says…

This is the debut novel for Jane Harper and what a debut it is! Jane Harper has arrived on the scene people and I for one, will be divulging all of her material, if the standard remains this good!

Just reading the synopsis had me intrigued and eager to get my hands on a copy and rather than patiently waiting, (or not so patiently as it would seem), for the 20-odd eager readers in line for library copies to divulge ahead of me, I bought my own copy and swiftly began to explore this twisted world that Harper so cleverly lays out.

The small Aussie town is one that any Australian could have passed through, at some point in their lives. A handful of shops scattered up the “main street” and mass farm land laid out, as far as the eye can see. The landscape is so relatable and easy to picture, so as the story moves through the small town of Kiewarra, it is easy to imagine exactly what it looks like.

It took me 4 days to complete this book and I would have read it quicker, but you know, life…!  Right from the prologue, I had shivers down my spine. The detail that Harper uses to describe such a horrific scene sends chills down my spine. More than once, I had to put the book down and take a breather. There is so much intensity and emotion that was brought out in various chapters, I found that I was wincing and at one point, gasping. It was a true roller coaster of a novel.

From page 1 through to 339, I was hooked. The characters were relatable and people you would typically meet in any rural town and I think that is why it was so brilliant and shocking. If you enjoy books with more than one twist and smack in the face, raw writing that brings you crashing down to Earth with emotion, then I can’t recommend The Dry highly enough. I am calling this one very early, but I am going out on a limb and stating that The Dry is my 2017 Book of the Year!

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Raw – Like a Queen by Constance Hall

Like a Queen by Constance Hall

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Published 2016

Genres: Non Fiction/Biographical

“Every time you are expressing kindness, handing over some of your wage to a charity, giving another Queen a compliment, recognising a lonely Queen and taking the time to get to know her, offering to babysit for that single mum at school who’s doing it all on her own, sacrificing your coffee money for that homeless guy who waits at the train station every morning, choose to understand instead of judge.

You are changing the world. Every time that you are connecting yourself to someone else, you are changing the world.

Queens are the change the world needs.

This, Queens,

Is just the beginning.”

Australian “Mummy” blogger, Constance Hall’s, first book. A must read for all ‘Queens’.


Mel says…

Before I read Like a Queen, I had only read exerpts of Con’s writing on Facebook and my only memory of her was from a series of Australian Big Brother, many many years ago. So let’s just say that my opinion of her was fairly iffy, at best. But as my girlfriends and fellow Mum’s started raving about this book, I just had to give it a read.

I’ll start with the negatives first; for one, Con is up front with her lack of grammar and punctuation in her blog but I must admit, publishing a book should come with an editor, right? So I don’t think it is too much to ask for someone to have proofread and corrected the use of the words ‘woman’ and women’ in their correct context. It is minor, but something that ALWAYS irritates me. Secondly, I did get a tad irritated with how much Con used the word ‘Queen’ throughout. I know, I know, the book is titled Like a QUEEN for crying out loud, but to use it up to 5-6 times in one paragraph just irked me.
By the last 50 or so pages, I was kind of over the whole book, but I do appreciate the messages that were coming across.

Ok, I have gotten the negatives off my chest, so on to the positives. This book literally had me LOL’ing many times, once in a busy cafe with other patrons staring awkwardly at me. Con tells it like it is and when it comes to early motherhood, it was pretty bloody accurate. As a new mother myself, a lot of the stories that were told resonated with me, as they were so fresh in my memory from my own personal experiences.

From poop to sex and everything in between, this book made me cringe, laugh and hold back tears. I did enjoy reading about Constance’s life in general however, as I was not an avid fan of hers before reading her book, I wasn’t all that interested in those chapters. The chapters that were in relation to mothering and motherhood are what kept me intrigued, but I did struggle to finish it.

Overall, this is a book for women but in particular, Mum’s. New Mum’s, old Mum’s, Grandmothers and step-mothers. I think we can all relate to a lot of the stories and learn from the generous heart that belongs to the original “Queeny’ herself, Constance.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Resonating – Leave Me by Gayle Forman

Leave Me

by Gayle Forman

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Published 2016

Genres: Fiction

 

“What is the matter with you?”

“What’s the matter? I’m here alone all day with my mother and the kids and I still feel like shit.” She paused, waiting for Jason to respond but he didn’t say anything. “You’re never here. I can’t tell if you’re trying to avoid home, or if you think that a week in the hospital, a week of recovery, was enough luxury for old Maribeth.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You promised me a bubble,” she said, her voice cracking.

“I’m trying, Maribeth. But keeping you in the bubble and keeping the house running and keeping on top of my job is no easy feat.”

“Welcome to every fucking day of my life.”

 

Maribeth is like so many other mums – forever chasing a never-ending to-do list, always putting everyone else first, and rarely feeling appreciated. No wonder she didn’t even notice that she was having a heart attack.

At home on leave from work and trying to recover, Maribeth is finding that even now, life must go on and there’s no rest to be found. Why does it seem that only mothers can never catch a break? Even after having a heart attack, her family can’t cut her some slack. What if she had died? How would they ever cope if she wasn’t around?

So, she decides to let them find out…..

 

Janelle says…

This is one of those books that makes you want to scream “YES! I KNOW!” and then berate your husband for not understanding. Poor Maribeth – I feel you, girl! Not that I’ve ever had a heart attack and had to rely on my family being able to fend for themselves and let me recuperate. BUT I have often wondered just how well, or not, they would do under those circumstances.

The tasty thing about this book is that you get to live out that evil little fantasy vicariously through Maribeth, as she takes the plunge on your behalf. And it is satisfying as all get out. Maribeth actually does just pack up and leave her family to their own devices, heading off to who-the-hell-cares to do god-knows-what, just as long as it doesn’t involve looking after other people for a change. Regardless of whether you’re a parent or not, haven’t we all just wanted to throw our hands up in the air at some point and say “I’M OUT!”

So off she goes, with no real plan and not knowing how long she’ll stay away. She has to find a place to rent, a new grocery store, new friends, a new cardio specialist to keep an eye on her…..and for a while, she doesn’t seem to think about her family all that much, only writing the occasional un-sent letter to her children. But of course, with each passing day Maribeth examines her relationships – past, present and future – her own worth, and her happiness. We see her coming to realise that, even though they can be a pain in the arse and unbelievably inconsiderate at times, her family gives her life meaning and satisfaction that she can’t get otherwise. Having had them, she can’t go back to NOT having them. Being a mother and wife are integral to who she is.

I loved this book, it resonated with me so much and even weeks on from finishing it, I’m still thinking about it and realising new ideas to ponder in it. It’s an easy read, and if you love books that examine families and relationships and identity, then you must put this on your list.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Peculiarly Perfect – Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Series by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Series

by Ransom Riggs

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Published 2011-2015

Genres: Fiction/Fantasy/Young Adult

 A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

‘Peculiars – The hidden branch of any species, human or animal, that is blessed – and cursed – with supernatural traits. Respected in ancient times, feared and persecuted more recently, peculiars are outcasts who live in the shadows…’


Mel says…

It has been a long time, well since Harry Potter, that I have found a book series that captured my attention so quickly. Enter ‘Miss Peregrine’s’. I read the first book over 6 months ago, just before the birth of my first baby and I really enjoyed it, rating the first book 4 stars on Goodreads.

It was several months until I was able to get my hands on book two, Hollow City and I must admit, the plot just got better. The characters are so loveable and it is hard not to get attached to each and every one of the Peculiar Children as time goes on. The second book of the series picks up immediately where book one left off and it gets straight down to business. I loved the second book enough to give it a rare Five stars. It built perfectly on book one and just grew from strength to strength, with the introduction of further Peculiar’s and the great land that I now know as ‘Peculiardom’.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end and that is how I felt while reading ‘Library of Souls’. It is hard to complete a series that has such complexities as Miss Peregrine’s, with so many dimensions to characters and landscapes, but Riggs has done a perfect job in tying up loose ends. Although it took me a while to complete the third instalment, this was due to life and not a reflection on the story itself. Trust me, I was not impressed at being stalled from devouring this gem, at all!

Overall, the Miss Peregrine series is a must read for fans of YA and fantasy. I LOVED the concept of storytelling through the use of old photographs, which is not something I have yet come across, but found that as the series went on, fewer photographs were used to depict events and characters, but that isn’t to say that this was a bad thing.

Ransom Riggs has created a world full of peculairities (pun intended) and I for one am a HUGE fan. I look forward to seeing the movies however, I hope that they stay true to the books.

Overall SERIES rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Flat – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses

by Sarah J. Maas

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Published 2015

Genres: Fiction/Fantasy/Young Adult

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal but Tamlin – one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As Feyre dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility to a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it…or doom Tamlin – and his world – forever.


Mel says…

When I first decided to read this book, I didn’t really know much about it except that images of the cover were all over Instagram and blog posts, so I knew it had a lot of fans. I’m not usually into too much fantasy, but was excited to give this a read nonetheless.

My first impressions were pretty good. I devoured the first quarter of this book fairly quickly, but then I started to get bored of it. Too much of the characteristics of the protagonist, Feyre (pronounced, Fay-ruh) reminded me of The Hunger Games protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. For one, her family was poor and living in starvation – same as Katniss. Two, she had to hunt to feed her family – same as Katniss. Three, she was described as being a tomboy, yet beautiful – same as Katniss. The similarities between ACoTR and The Hunger Games didn’t stop there, but you get the picture.

The main focus of this story centres around Feyre and Tamlin’s relationship. It is described as ‘burning passion’, so you know it is going to be juicy. I found the relationship between them to actually be pretty boring. It seemed like it went from pure hatred on day 1 to passion and sex on day 4. Maybe not in that exact timeline, but it was that quick of a shift, that you get the point. I found it confusing, but I also found that some of the plot and descriptive writing fell flat. I struggled to picture a fair few of the characters as the descriptions weren’t written well.

This is one of those books where I found the main character so irritating, that I struggled to keep reading at times. For whatever reason, Maas kept jamming down our throats that Feyre was a painter. With every description of scenery, Feyre would think ‘if only I could paint this’, or ‘I tried to store every line of his face in my memory, so I could paint him later’. This happened all. the. TIME! We get it, she likes to paint. Moving on…

I know I have slammed this book with my above comments, but in the end, I finished it with the intent of seeking out the second book in the series. I’m in no hurry to read the second book, but I will eventually, when I need a bit of a ‘nothing’ book to fill some time. Seeing as this book took me a month to read, when the text is actually quite large and I didn’t really engage with many of the characters, I can’t give it anymore than 2-stars. Sorry!

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Buddy read – Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

August 2016 – Janelle’s choice

Truly Madly Guilty

by Liane Moriarty

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Published 2016

Genres: Fiction / Suspense

The air rushed from Clementine’s lungs. Afterwards, everyone would say, ‘It happened so fast’, and it did happen fast, but at the same time it slowed down, every second a freeze-frame in unforgettable full colour, lit by golden fairy lights.

Clementine leaped to her feet so fast her chair fell over. What? Where? Who?

This story revolves around three families – Erika and Oliver; Clementine, Sam, Holly and Ruby; and Tiffany, Vid and Dakota. Their insecurities, their worries, their relationships with one another, and the life events that have shaped the people they presently are. But most of all, it revolves around one day in all of their lives when their worlds are irrevocably changed. One incident at a backyard barbeque that changes everything.

Janelle says…

I think it’s safe to say I’m a “Liane Moriarty fan”, now having read two of her books. Big Little Lies blew me away with its suspense and all the connections between characters, I was really looking forward to more of the same with Moriarty’s newest – Truly Madly Guilty.

The narrative jumps back and forth between life prior to the barbeque (which is the defining point in the book), and then replaying the barbeque itself up until the point of the “incident”, and then throwing to life after the barbeque. All the while, hints are dropped along the way about what might have happened at the get-together but never giving enough away that the reader can piece it together. The gap between the two narratives gradually closes until we finally reach the incident itself and all is revealed.

As said about Big Little Lies, I do really enjoy this format of slowly working away at the puzzle, especially when the end result is something completely surprising that I didn’t see coming. All in all I enjoyed this book, the plot kept me hanging on to find out what happens, while also bringing up interesting thoughts around the themes of what is socially acceptable as an adult, as a parent, and just as a person in the world.

I had two reasons for not rating it any higher than 3 out of 5. Firstly, to me it was a dead ringer for another Australian book I read a couple of years ago, which shall remain unnamed so as not to give away the endings of either book, BUT the endings were so eerily similar that I couldn’t get it out of my head and it really bugged me that I felt like I was reading something I’d already read. My other reason is that I didn’t think it needed to go on for as long as it did. This is a pretty hefty book, and there were moments where I was reading and thinking “Yes yes yes, get to the point…how is there still 200 pages to go?!!”

It’s no Big Little Lies, but if you’re a Moriarty fan, it’s definitely worth a read.

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Mel says…

This is the third Liane Moriarty book I have read and it followed the same suspenseful format that I have come accustomed to. The day this book launched, I had my hot little hands on my own copy and began devouring it. By page 100, I was hooked and hungry to know what the big “incident” at the barbecue was, that the characters kept eluding to.

The characters were all so personable. Vid was the kind of man I would love to be friends with, his wife Tiffany was the kind of woman I would be intimidated by, Clementine was the kind of person I would warm to and Erica was the kind of woman I would try and avoid. As the story unfolded, these opinions started to shift and not necessarily in the way I thought they would.

It took a fair amount of reading, but once I approached the actual “incident”, it had me gasping in shock and dismay. I couldn’t continue reading until I had given myself time to digest what happened. As the story continued past the barbecue, I started to better understand the characters, their differing reactions and the aftermath.

It is hard to go into detail, without giving away what the actual “incident” is, but I think if we were to spoil that part of the book for the readers of the blog, it would take away any desire you may have to read this book for yourself. The shock factor is what made this book a great read.

I agree with Janelle in that this book was longer than necessary, but I enjoyed the plot enough that it didn’t annoy me as much as it could have. This book is a must for any Liane Moriarty fan, or if you are looking for a read that creates intrigue, mystery and a little bit of heartache with a twist of humour. Sounds like an odd mix, but once you read it for yourself, you will understand what I mean!

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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