Review Time: Pretty Baby

PrettyBaby

So here we are again. Another month of radio silence from me. March Madness bled into large-scale work events which bled into wedding season which bled into Opening Day which made for a very hectic few weeks for this girl. So after a brief (albeit necessary) hiatus, we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming. And since we haven’t gone over March’s must reads yet, I figured that would be a good place to jump back into it. So let’s do it. First up: Mary Kubica’s sophomore novel, Pretty Baby.

Heidi Wood is a compassionate and dynamic woman with what can only be described as a massively bleeding heart. She works for a non-profit and spends her days trying to better the world for those she knows and those she doesn’t. Which is why when she spots a dirty and bruised-looking young woman on the “El” platform, she can’t shake her from her mind’s eye. When the young woman’s presence on the platform becomes a pattern, Heidi can no longer pretend she doesn’t want to help. After a few attempts, Heidi is able to convince the young girl to join her for a meal in a nearby diner, essentially changing the course of both of their lives.

Willow Greer is 18, alone and hungry. She has a new baby who she doesn’t know how to care for and she has no one to turn to to answer the questions she so desperately needs answered. When Heidi shows up with her open arms, Willow is cautious but optionless, so she takes Heidi up on her offer for food and shelter. Willow and her baby, Ruby, end up in Heidi’s husband’s office, barricading themselves in every chance they get. The questions start swirling almost immediately — from Chris (Heidi’s husband) asking if they really know the girl whom they’ve let into their lives, from Heidi asking if that really could be blood on Willow’s undershirt and from Willow asking if the help is worth the danger.

Similar to The Good Girl and Don’t You Cry, Kubica uses various voices and a non-linear timeline to tell the interwoven story of Willow and Heidi’s relationship. And it just works. Heidi brings optimism and sunshine (at first), Chris brings caution and questions and Willow brings danger and they all work together to form the basis of a fantastic story that shows that you never really know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. And again, another Kubica ending that I did NOT see coming.

Mary Kubica is three-for-three in my books.

Grade:★★★★☆

 

To Read: March Edition

marchlist

It’s March. Which means March Madness. Which means my boyfriend will be glued to the television for an insane amount of time watching college kids play with basketballs. Which means that I will have SO MUCH TIME for book reading this month. Which means I’m doing my happy dance over here.

And this month I’ve got some books that I’ve been really looking forward to cracking open. Another from my new favorite Mary Kubica. Another from my other new favorite Lisa Gardner. And another World War II saga. Because I can’t get enough of any of those. And also because the library finally decided they would loan each of them to me after a stupid long time. Po-tate-oh, po-taht-oh. Let’s get to it.

Pretty Baby: Heidi Wood spots a seemingly homeless girl and her infant daughter on Chicago’s “El” and can’t shake them from her mind. She works to befriend the girl, but what she learns as their relationship grows could put her and her family in danger. Mystery and intrigue, FTW.

Lilac Girls: This story follows three girls from three very different walks of life as they navigate through Hitler’s tumultuous Germany. The ad copy for the book likens it to The Nightengale, another WWII-era novel that I think I’ve decided is my favorite book of all time. So, I’m a little excited about this one, to say the very least.

Fear Nothing: It’s taken me almost 11 weeks to get this 8th installment of the D.D. Warren series and I’m beyond excited to break into it. A new serial killer is roaming around Boston and it’s up to D.D. to make sense of everything. But, as per usual, the obstacles are stacked against her and it isn’t going to be easy. I can’t wait to see you soon, D.D.!

Happy reading!

Review Time: Don’t You Cry

dontyoucry

Like I mentioned earlier, I put Don’t You Cry on my library Holds list as soon as I finished The Good Girl and MAN am I glad I did. This story about the search for a missing woman is told by her roommate who is desperately trying to find her and a boy in a small town in Michigan who quickly falls for the new girl in town is captivating, to say the least.

Similar to The Good Girl, Mary Kubica uses an alternating narrative to help drive the story and maintain the suspense. And it just works. Be warned that the two narrators in this story lean on the side of VERY ANNOYING sometimes. But once everything comes full circle, you can’t help but love everyone which really is Kubica’s best quality. I did NOT want to love these characters but I couldn’t resist in the end.

Quinn Collins wakes up one morning to find that her roommate, Esther Vaughan, has vanished out of her room on Chicago’s north side. As morning turns into night turns into morning, Quinn realizes that Esther might not have left of her own volition. Quinn employs her friend, Ben, to help her search for her missing roommate. And what they find during their search slowly changes their perception of who Esther was and makes them question if they ever really knew the girl. Also, as previously mentioned, Quinn is annoying. She obsesses over pretty much everything — Esther, Ben, Esther’s previous roommate, papers in Esther’s room, everything. But, in the end all of her obsessions are justified so… 

Alex Gallo lives a pretty drab life in a small lakeside town in Michigan, busing tables during the day and taking care of his alcoholic father all night long. One day Alex spots a new, beautiful young woman at the diner where he works and he’s immediately transfixed. Alex’s whole life becomes waiting for the girl, whom he calls Pearl, to show up at the diner. She comes and goes, never sticking to a schedule. And Alex loves her. Then one day, Alex finds Pearl living in the abandoned house across the street from his own. And he finally starts to learn about this mysterious girl, though turns out to not be quite who Alex imagined her to be.

Alternating between both Quinn and Alex’s obsessions is as exhausting as it sounds, but eventually, their obsessions become yours and you care as much about finding Esther as both of them do. I will say, though… That ending… I did NOT see that coming. 

Another Chicago-based, suspense-filled story. Another home run.

Grade:★★★★☆

To Read: February Edition

 

februarylist

We’re in the throes of winter up here in Chicago. The days are getting longer, but they’re not long yet. You can still see a sliver of sunshine when you leave the office, but night will have fallen before your bus completes the 20-minute journey home. The sun manages to peek through the clouds some days, but the snow still has a mind of its own. (I love the snow though, so I won’t complain about that one.) You’ve worn out your entire collection of sweaters, but you can’t fathom walking outside with any sliver of skin exposed. Despite all of the less than glamorous aspects of the late-January (almost-February) Chicago winter, there’s nothing better than hanging around the house in your not-for-public-viewing (aka kind of grungy) grandma sweats with a book in hand and the snow making a scene outside the window. And maybe some hot chocolate with the tiny marshmallows. Because the tiny marshmallows are the best.

For February, I’ve got a few more books from my long-term Holds lists in my queue and I’m excited to finally get to dive into these beauties. So grab your own book and mug of hot chocolate and let’s get to this. Happy reading, folks!

The Dollhouse: This is one of the “days of yore” novels that I love to dive into–getting lost in the golden days when life was a little slower and fashion was a little fancier. This is a two-part story about a young girl’s life in an NYC hotel in 1952 and a current-day reporter trying to uncover just what happened inside those walls so many years ago. Mystery, intrigue and a little bit of glamour? I’m sold!

Don’t You Cry: I placed a hold on this thriller the minute I finished Mary Kubica’s second novel, The Good Girl. This is a story of a young woman vanished, a young man crushing and a best friend left wondering. If it’s anything like The Good Girl, I know I’m in for quite a treat.

You Are a Badass: Because sometimes you just need to be reminded that you are, indeed, a badass. This one was recommended to me by a friend who just finished it (and subsequently landed quite the dream job). I ponied up and bought it (shocking, I know!) so I can notate the heck out of it and be the best badass I can be.

That’s all for this month, folks. Until next time!

Review Time: The Good Girl

thegoodgirl

Like I said earlier, I’ve been on quite the mystery/thriller quick lately so I was stoked when I got my hands on The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. It’s a story of a girl kidnapped during what she thinks will be a one-night stand, but it turns out to be much, much more than that. And it was fantastic.

The book is written from the back-and-forth perspective of three influential characters: the kidnapper, the kidnapped woman’s mother and the detective trying to find her. Hearing the various stages of the story from these three very different people with three very different intentions is… well ‘emotionally chaotic’ might be the best way to put it.

Colin Thatcher is paid a hefty chunk of change to kidnap Mia Dennett, the daughter of a prominent Chicago judge. But instead of handing the young woman off to his employer, Colin takes her to a secluded cabin in Minnesota until he can figure out his next move. You really want to hate Colin because what kind of dirtbag kidnaps a woman? But hearing a third of the story from his perspective makes hating him an uncomfortable task because maybe he’s not so bad after all (even though he’s still kind of a dirtbag).

Eve Dennett, Mia’s mother, just wants her baby back, even though Mia moved out of the house the minute she turned 18 and Eve hasn’t had a ton of contact with her since. A large portion of Eve’s third of the story revolves around flashbacks to when Mia and her sister when children and the regrets that Eve has about how their childhood played out. You can’t help be feel for her because we’re all doing the best we can, aren’t we? Also, her husband is a jackass, which tends to complicate things even more.

Gabe Hoffman, the detective assigned to Mia’s case, is the final third of the story. While he’s the least emotional of the three (four if you’re considering Mia), he still pulls some heartstrings during his search for the kidnapped woman and his interactions with her devastated mother.

I love, love, loved this story because the continual switches in narrator kept things fresh and the pace of the story kept you on your toes. And the Scorsese-esque twist at the end really put the nail in the “I love this” coffin for me. All in all.. Get this, read this, love this. You won’t be disappointed.

Grade:★★★★★