Sunday, August 15, 2021

The Final Girls Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Holy God.  I haven't done a book review since October 2020.  What the actual hell.  Well, life has definitely gotten in the way - two granddaughters under two have been life changing in the best of ways.
But I haven't stopped reading!  I'm actually reading more than ever.  I've also started reading some thriller and horror this year, and I'm enjoying scaring myself.  

The Final Girls Support Group by Grady Hendrix

What They Say - In horror movies, the final girl is the one who's left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she's not alone. For more than a decade she's been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette's worst fears are realized--someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

What I Say.... Okay, this one was good.  At first, I found Lynnette to be an unreliable narrator, and thought that was going to be the story, me wondering what was real and what wasn't.  Lynnette is beyond cautious and beyond paranoid, but with good reason.  She had a close encounter with a serial killer twenty two years ago, and now feels the world is crawling with monsters just waiting for you to let your guard down.  

Lynnette's one weekly outing is a Final Girls support group is run by a psychologist who wrote a book about the girls, and continues to work with them for free.  But these are not emotionally healthy girls, no matter how much therapy they've had.  They don't even like each other all that much, and they are all in different phases of healing, as well as different walks of life.  Suddenly, one of them stops showing up at group, and Lynnette is instantly convinced she's been found by her serial killer.  Not everyone agrees, and the group starts to splinter even faster.  

But when it turns out that she was murdered, the group starts to tailspin even faster. No spoilers here, but you are reading about some seriously emotionally unhealthy people, some of whom don't even want to be tied to each other anymore.

I honestly wasn't rooting for any of the characters - Lynnette was just too broken to even be likable.  She talked to a cactus like it was her best friend and lived in a cage, but then she went into the woods to an absolute freak show of two human beings purposefully.  

The closure was great - it all wrapped up really well and I was actually surprised at the killer.   Sometimes you can tell where it's going and finishing the book becomes a chore, but I would say the last chapters were the best in the whole book.  I give it 3 stars.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Daughters of Foxcote Manor by Eve Chase

Kindle Edition386 pages
Published July 21st 2020 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published May 14th 2020)

What They Say..... Outside a remote manor house in an idyllic wood, a baby girl is found.

The Harrington family takes her in and disbelief quickly turns to joy. They're grieving a terrible tragedy of their own and the beautiful baby fills them with hope, lighting up the house's dark, dusty corners. Desperate not to lose her to the authorities, they keep her secret, suspended in a blissful summer world where normal rules of behaviour - and the law - don't seem to apply.

But within days a body will lie dead in the grounds. And their dreams of a perfect family will shatter like glass.
Years later, the truth will need to be put back together again, piece by piece . . .

What I Say....  Eve Chase!!!  I love her books and you definitely have to be patient because she only puts one out about every 2-3 years.  So I was beyond excited to get a review copy of The Daughters of Foxcote Manor.  

Rita grew up with her grandmother, and is beyond excited to get a job as a nanny in London, with a glamorous mistress,, Jeannie, pregnant with her third child.  Rita loves the children, but Jeannie is devastated when her baby is delivered stillborn. She never even got to see her, her husband, Walter decided it would be too painful, so she has no closure.

Walter decides that his wife and children need to be bundled off to the country for the summer, without him.  He puts Rita in charge, and demands that she give him private reports on his wife's mental health - deciding whether she needs to be put away.

Rita doesn't want to spy on Jeannie, but Walter holds all the power, and the money, so she has to go along with it. 

As the summer goes on, Rita has to contend with Jeannie's mood swings, Hera's insecurity and anger towards her mother, a family friend who comes to stay and won't leave, and a baby that was found on a fencepost covered in ants.  Yep, you read that correctly.  A foundling that Jeannie immediately begins to think of as her replacement baby, and pushes Rita to delay notifying the police.

Poor Rita, she is also dealing with a local boy that seems interested in her, but she's not sure how she feels about him.  And she can't leave Jeannie in her current situation.

I won't give any spoilers, but this book is full of Eve Chase's twist and turns, and I absolutely loved, loved, loved the ending.  Once I was done with this one, I went straight into Black Rabbit Hall and loved that too.  

My only complaint is that I want her to write faster!!!!  When I finished this book, the first thing I thought was now I probably have to wait until 2022 to see anything new 

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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Our House by Louise Candlish

Kindle Edition416 pages
Published August 7th 2018 by Berkley (first published April 5th 2018)


What They Say......There's nothing unusual about a new family moving in at 91 Trinity Avenue. Except it's her house. And she didn't sell it.

When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she's sure there's been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern coparenting arrangement: bird's nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona's children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram's not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses.

What I Say..... I try not to rage blog, because I have so much respect for anyone that can sit down and write a book, much less get it published.  However, for this book, I'll make an exception.  

Fair warning, this will contain ALL the spoilers.  Fiona Lawson is coming home from a romantic weekend with her new lov-ah, when she sees movers outside of her house.  Moving other people's belongings INTO her house.  She is understandably shocked, and here our story begins.

First of all, this is told in alternating perspectives, in the form of a true crime podcast and a suicide note.  Fi is #VictimFi in the podcast, and it is the type of podcast everyone would listen to and discuss how they can't be as stupid as they think, because look at this woman.  Her husband is the one writing a novella suicide note as he backpacks across Europe.

#VictimFi (and she is truly life's victim), has decided to divorce her drunken, cheating husband after she finds him having sex with a neighbor in the kid's playhouse.  The husband is sorry, but this isn't the first time and she's apparently over it.  Bram has always broken the rules, but he's a good dad, so Fi decides to have the world's kindest uncoupling since Gwyneth Paltrow.  

Show me a middle aged woman who decides to divorce her cheating husband, and has no anger towards him, wants to share the house - a "bird's nest" arrangement and immediately meets a handsome stranger in a local bar and starts a supportive new relationship.  Seriously, show her to me.  

Anyway.....Bram has a an anger management problem, and a speeding problem, and a drinking problem (Fi: but he's a great father!), and has had his driver's license suspended but doesn't want Fi to know, because she might not let him stay with the kids on the weekends because he has to drive them around.  What else can a great father do but start driving on a suspended license?  And then when he's late for a work presentation, what else could you expect him to do but drive?

It's obviously not his fault that he drinks after his presentation, and then drives through residential streets to avoid the police, and tries to pass a jerk who he thinks is driving too slow, who then won't let him back in, causing an oncoming car to swerve and hit a house.  Mom and daughter are critically injured, but both Bram and the other driver leave the scene.  

I honestly can't believe I'm devoting this much time to writing this review - it really sucked that much.  

Bram is now worried that the other occupants will die and that he will get caught.  Both are hospitalized with critical injuries.  But how can he admit what happened? He was driving on a suspended license.  He could go to jail for up to 4 years.  More if they DIE.  

Meanwhile, what's a guy to do but hook up with a lady looking at you in a bar?  In the world's worst walk of shame, the next morning she tells Bram she saw him leave the scene and now wants a ridiculous amount of money in order to keep quiet.

Now throughout this book, Fi harps on and on about how much their house is worth, how the neighborhood is a family, how important this house is to her, she wants to leave it to her sons so they can raise their families in it - umm, okay, it's a house?

But now the one night stand has an accomplice, and he tells Bram to sell the house, the chickie will pretend to be Fi, and they will pocket the money and he can leave the country.  Like seriously, sell your house without your spouse's knowledge so you can pay off blackmailers because you drove drunk on a suspended license and don't want to go to jail.  At what point do you say, what the eff?  The answer if you are Bram is, you don't.

Because he's such a great dad, he doesn't want to leave his kids while he goes to jail.  Not bad enough to take a goddamn Uber, but you know how it is.  Btw, the child in the other car died.

He makes a series of stupid decisions, dumps the car in a crappy neighborhood, reports it stolen, but he can't even get an Audi successfully taken when he leave the keys in it. Yep, he's that bad.

Then we find out Fi's boyfriend is actually the blackmailer, because why not?  It is a little unbelievable that a newly separated mother would immediately meet Mr. Right, but she's this gullible.  He won't let her take his picture, she's never gone to his house, but it's all good, right?

Meanwhile, Bram throws an open house, sells the house and disappears, leaving the boys with his mom.  He's traveling across Europe, writing his suicide novel.  Turns out his dad also committed suicide, after hitting an old man driving drunk.  So Bram decides that suicide has been what his life has been leading to since he was born.  Holy God, how about therapy?  How about AA?  He literally thinks he's the victim in this scenario, he says sure I made a mistake but if these people weren't blackmailing me, we wouldn't be here.  

Meanwhile, Fi, Miss Holier Than Thou, is realizing what her husband has done, and that her new boyfriend wasn't really ever interested in her.  He calls her fat, and takes off when he realizes that  Bram has double crossed him.  So of course she lures him to the apartment and poisons his with alcohol and sleeping pills.  He chokes on his vomit and dies.  Then she calls one of her best friends to help her, and of course this pregnant housewife does, because she's the one that Fi caught screwing her husband in the playhouse.  "I didn't think this is what it would take for you to speak to me again.".  These two clean the crime scene and call the cops, framing Bram for the murder since he won't be coming back.  Yep, you read that right, #VictimFi just killed a man for stealing her house and calling her fat.  

Bram changed the account number the house money was deposited into and although he knows the police will tie it up for 3-4 years as evidence, he feels like he did Fi right.  So he kills himself, because you know, he's such a good dad.  And this is his gift to them, that they not be ashamed of him.  Or you know, see how a grown man takes accountability for his actions.  

Writing this review has been therapeutic.  I've never read a book with characters that repulsed me quite as much as this one.  I deserve to buy two books as a reward for reading this one.  

Current Goodreads Rating 3.71 - so obviously I'm the odd man out.  I want to hear from someone who loved this book. Explain it to me, please!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

What They Say......Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and joy for living.

But she wasn’t always that way.  
Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen. 
But he wasn’t always that way.  

And Sam knows it. Because she knew him before—at another school, in a different life. Back then, she loved him—but she was invisible. To him. To everyone. Even to herself. She escaped to a new school, a new job, a new chance at living. But when Duncan, of all people, gets hired as the new principal there, it feels like the best thing that could possibly happen to the school—and the worst thing that could possibly happen to Sam. Until the opposite turns out to be true. The lovable Duncan she’d known is now a suit-and-tie wearing, rule-enforcing tough guy so hell-bent on protecting the school that he’s willing to destroy it.

As the school community spirals into chaos, and danger from all corners looms large, Sam and Duncan must find their way to who they really are, what it means to be brave, and how to take a chance on love—which is the riskiest move of all.  

What I Say.... 

I love Katherine Center's books, I've always been a fan.  See, The Bright Side of DisasterHow to Walk AwayEveryone is Beautiful.  She's writes books that relax me to read and on occasion, make me cry.  

So I was excited to get a chance to read her newest book.  Sam is a librarian, she embraces life, and lives big in her small town.  Her school is her home and her coworkers and students her family.  She's left love behind - the man she loved never even knew she was alive. 

Then he shows up.  Her lost love, but he's lost his color, his joy, his love of life.  And Sam is afraid he's going to draw all of the color out of hers.  Duncan has been involved in a tragedy at work, and although he's still physically healing, he's not emotionally healing at all.  

I liked this book because it brought forth some very topical issues.  How do we balance being cautious in today's world with how do we live without fear, and embrace joy?  

My one bit of feedback is that at times Sam didn't feel real - real like other characters have in Center's books.  She was trying too hard with her wardrobe, her "uniqueness", it was like she was trying to become Duncan, but it didn't quite fit.  It kept making me realize I was reading a book and she wasn't real, which is so unusual for this author.  Usually I fall right into her character's world.

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