Review Time: All the Missing Girls

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All the Missing Girls was a book I was super excited about reading. I mean… What mystery lover isn’t going to be stoked to dive into a book touted as the next Girl on the Train?! Count me in.

The premise of the book was intriguing on it’s own — a small-town is reeling after the disappearance of a second young woman in the span of 10 years. Nicolette Farrell’s best friend Corinne went missing after a day out at the local fair and Nic left a devastated town behind in an attempt to move on from that tragic day. Ten years later, Nic is forced to return to her hometown to deal with with her ailing father and the past is drudged up when another young woman, Nic’s neighbor Annaleise, goes missing. The kicker of the story though? It’s told in reverse. From Day 15 to Day 1. Which took my excitement about it from a regular 7 to an overwhelming 12.

Telling the story backwards, though, turned out to be the reason I didn’t much care for the book as a whole. The story was interesting — family drama, shady characters, lies, deceit, secrets. But the format of the story made it hard to follow along with the dual mystery of Anneleise’s new disappearance and Corinne’s unsolved one. I didn’t hate it then, though. It took a little bit more back-and-forth than usual to remember where I was and what had just happened, but I was still intrigued. The end though, that Day 1 chapter, was where it lost me. As it turns out, Nicolette had known the answer to the mystery since her first day in town. And once you learn that, you can think back to everything else that happened in Cooley Ridge over the past two weeks and feel duped. Why was she questioning so much when she already knew what happened? What was the point of documenting the following two weeks if the mystery was already solved? What the heck?

I think the book had the potential to be stellar — an intriguing plot with an interesting style twist. But the lackluster plot development and the difficult arrangement just made All the Missing Girls fall a little flat for this mystery lover. Womp womp.

Grade:★★☆☆☆

 

Review Time: Find Her

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It only took me almost a year, but I finally made it. Find Her is the most recent addition to Lisa Gardner’s D.D. Warren series, aka Adult Nancy Drew. The book was actually the reason that I started reading the D.D. Warren series to begin with, so I’m glad I finally got to circle back around to it seven books (and 10 months) later.

Flora Dane, an innocent and naive girl, found herself separated from her friends during Spring Break and nothing was ever the same again. Flora was kidnapped from the sunny Florida beach and held in captivity, inside (and out of) a small wooden box, for 472 days. Miraculously, though, she manages to escape her real life nightmare and tries to return to a normal life.

But Flora can’t really leave her nightmare behind. Since her escape five years ago, she’s worked to make sure that no one else has to go through what she did — though her tactics are a bit guerilla. One night, while working her recon, Flora finds herself bound and gagged in a dank garage, her only company the exceptionally muscular man that put her there. But she’s not a victim any more, she refuses to be, so she does the only thing she knows how to do. She escapes. Again. And she takes the man down in the process. Enter D.D. Warren.

D.D. is not a fan of vigilante justice, so she has some questions for the girl. But, not long after her run-in with D.D., Flora disappears. Again. And this time, she doesn’t surface in someone’s garage. She doesn’t surface in a seedy motel. She doesn’t surface at all. Suddenly D.D. knows, without a shadow of a doubt, that something is very, very wrong. And it’s her job to make sure Flora the Survivor returns — it’s her job to Find Her. (lol get it? SO corny, I know.)

I love D.D. and I love all of Lisa Gardner’s stories. They keep you guessing, keep you turning the page and keep you up at night because “just one more chapter, Mom!”. The end of this one had a massive twist I didn’t see coming  but that made everything come together magically. So, so good.

Grade:★★★★★

 

Review Time: Daisy in Chains

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I found this book at one of those rare moments in time when I literally had nothing else to read. My local library puts together a “Best of the Month” list every month — which are apparently wildly popular because the vast majority of the books they showcased weren’t available for checkout. Luckily for me, Daisy in Chains — which was of course a murder mystery — was available so I decided to give it a try. Side note: I really do need to branch out.

Anyway. Back to the story. So a devilishly handsome man, who goes by the name Hamish Wolfe, has been tried and convicted of brutally murdering a string of obese women. But, of course, Hamish has always maintained his innocence. Enter Maggie Rose, the scrupulous attorney — and impressive novelist — who has decided that Hamish’s case is interesting enough to warrant a second look. She doesn’t think he’s innocent, mind you, but she’s fascinated nonetheless.

In addition to steadfastly maintaining his innocence, Hamish has a fan group of sorts, led by his mother, that assembles occasionally to discuss the facts of Hamish’s case and conspire to get him out of maximum security prison. These folks are… interesting, to put it lightly.

Maggie meets with Hamish, attends these group discussions and liaises with local law enforcement. And she begins to put together her next novel, based on the murders of the four women and her client’s involvement in the deaths. As she becomes entrenched in the case, things start to spiral out of control, and by the end, you don’t know which way is up. Or which way you want to be up, quite frankly.

This story was gripping and fast-paced and twisty — just how I like my murder mysteries. So the lesson here is: the next time your library is out of the book you intended to read, take a little browse through the stacks. You never know what you might stumble upon.

Grade:★★★★☆

To Read: June Edition

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This month, this first month of “summer,” is really where the temptations and nostalgia lie. The skies are sunny. The wind is brutal. And we’re stuck inside all. day. long. It really is heartbreaking. These are the days when I reminisce about the days of old when I used to drag my blanket and pillow into the backyard, set up my own little reading corner and work on my suntan. But now, no more reading corner and definitely no more suntan. Though I’m not sure there ever was much tanning to begin with… I’m pretty sure I could give Snow White a run for her money these days. Though my hair is less perfectly coifed and wild animals don’t like me that much…

BUT. Back to the important things. Even if there are fewer hours to devote to diving into new reads, that doesn’t mean I won’t try my darnedest. So let’s get reading.

Daisy in Chains: A serial killer. A defense attorney turned writer. A claim of a wrongful conviction. A recipe for a page-turner.

Find Her: This one is yet another installment of the D.D. Warren series, the kick-ass Boston detective who don’t take no shit from nobody. This time, a kidnap victim goes missing again and it’s a race against the clock to find her before her demons do. You can do it, D.D.

All the Missing Girls: A decade after one girl’s heartbreaking disappearance, another has gone missing in a sleepy North Carolina town (can you sense a theme here?). And one person seems to be connected to them both. Dun, dun, dun.

Perfect Husband: Because I can’t get enough, I’m diving into yet another Lisa Gardner detective series. And it looks like it’s going to be awesome. In this first installment, a hardened killer has escaped from prison and is coming after the woman who helped put him there — his wife. And she’s going to be ready for him when he gets there.

Maybe next month I’ll pick something that isn’t a murder mystery. Maybe.

Around the Internet

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Check out these five great stories from around the web.

  1. A look at why the now-classic novel about Socs and Greasers still matters, 50 years later.
  2. The book purists of the world are (probably not so silently) rejoicing about the decline of e-book sales. Me included.
  3. Hollywood’s most sought-after trio–DiCaprio, De Niro and Scorsese–have their eye on the newest true crime tale to grip the nation. Fingers crossed they can work their magic.
  4. The book industry and the tech industry converged this week to discuss the the state (and future) of the publishing union.
  5. A captivating look at the title this bookseller puts into the hands of every patron who comes into her shop.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

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I read a blog post the other day entitled “10 Expert Tips for Raising a Reader,” and while I’m nowhere near popping out little humans of my own, it got me thinking about my own experiences with reading as a child. And since I was going down memory lane, I figured I’d go ahead and invite you along. Because we all have to embrace our geekiness at some point.

I don’t really remember being read to as a little kid, but I do know the story my mom tells about how my complete Virgo-ness appeared at an early age. My mom was usually in charge of reading my bedtime stories, which were all Disney-related (because, of course). One night, for whatever reason, she couldn’t read me my precious story, so she sent my dad in there instead. And ever the impatient man, he decided that I was little, I wouldn’t know if he skipped a few pages every once in awhile to get to the end quicker. But, while I might not have been able to read, I did know the order of the illustrations and I could recognize when something just wasn’t right. So I called him out on it, made him start over again and scarred him for life.

One of the stories I do remember specifically reading was the story of Stellaluna, the little bat that could. Man, I loved that book. I couldn’t tell you the storyline without looking at a synopsis of the story first, but I can tell you that the illustrations were beautiful and Stellaluna was just the cutest little bat in the night’s sky. Which tells me that I made my mom read me that story A LOT if I remember the illustrations that vividly. And that mom was a trooper. She had to read stories to both me and my sister separately because I’m a brat who couldn’t/can’t share. So she did. And on more than one occasion she fell asleep mid-word. And I’d have to wake her up to keep going because, like I said, I was a brat. I could pretend like I’ve changed since my bratty days and I wouldn’t still do the same thing, but I’m fairly certain that would not be the truth. Win some, lose some.

I remember the Christmas my grandmother gave me an inscribed copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I think it just said “I’ve heard great things about this book, so wanted you to check it out. Merry Christmas! Love, Grandma and Grandpa,” but I can’t be 100 percent positive of that. What I do know is that it started a 1) obsession with the world of HP and 2) a tradition of inscribed books at Christmas time (which you know I loved). They were generally books that she liked or ones that her friends had recommended to her for a kid my age, but those books became some of my favorite gifts because books are so personal and she took the time to share a little of herself with me through them. And that’s a pretty cool thing for a 10 year old.

Probably the most vivid of my “childhood reading” memories is finishing the final book of the Harry Potter series. The book came out the summer after I graduated high school and before I started college, which I thought was so poetic because Harry and I would be moving on at the same time. I remember getting near the end and saying, chapter after chapter, that I was going put the book down and finish in the morning. Of course that didn’t happen. Instead, I stayed up until 7 o’clock in the morning to finish it. It was just one of those moments where you had been with these characters for almost 10 years and it was all coming to an end. It was emotional and stressful and exhausting, but exhilarating and exciting. Everything book reading is supposed to be. And the perfect final stamp for a childhood full of the love of books.