A Review of One of Us Is Lying and Girl in the Blue Coat

These two audiobooks I listened to were absolutely amazing. Both of them get 5/5 stars, and it’s going to be hard to describe them.

One of Us Is Lying reminded me so much of Pretty Little Liars. It was a web of developed characters that tied together perfectly in the end. Each character had a secret that they didn’t dare tell, because they were terrified of what it would do to their futures. This book is a Young Adult mystery that is your classic “who dunnit” but in a high school world.

It begins with the death of Simon- an outcast aching to be accepted that runs a gossip app- and Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, and Cooper all in detention. They all maintained being in detention because they were set up. Simon, who has a peanut allergy, dies from drinking from a glass found in the room.

The police immediately make everyone suspects, and one by one each student’s biggest secret comes out. I don’t want to give away the end if you haven’t read it, so I will just say that it took until near the very end for me to put loose ends together and figure out who actually killed Simon. Simon is a complex character whose sole desire was for each of the other main characters to be outed for their secrets. The group works their way through each of their own issues, and while doing so solves the mystery.

I highly recommend this book no matter your age. It’s full of twists and turns, and it’s a fun read. I was invested in it from the start right up until the last page.

Girl in the Blue Coat  is a story set in Amsterdam in 1943 during World War II. Our main character named Hanneke spends each day working at a funeral home, and also working on the black market. She is enlisted to help locate a girl who has gone missing from a secret room in the home of a lady she delivers goods to. Hanneke is still grief-stricken by the loss of her boyfriend, Bas, in the war, and I think that’s what drives her to help because she thinks if she finds her, then her guilt may subside.

Hanneke is taken on a journey over the course of a week that concludes with her solving the mystery. For me though, the point was not to find out what happened to the girl, or to bring her back; this book is about Hanneke’s internal struggle to forgive herself and also her journey of realizing what was happening in her country. She doesn’t seem as aware at the beginning of the book about what the Nazi’s were doing to the Jewish people, as she does at the end of the book. It’s odd, because she hates the Nazi’s because they killed her boyfriend, but she blames herself more than them for his death. She believes that if she had not encouraged him to join the military, then he would not have died. Through a lot of revelations from Bas’s brother and the events that unfold in the book, she begins to forgive herself and can see that she will have peace again one day.

The book started a little slow, but when it did pick up I was obsessed with it. The book and its history components were well researched and thoughtful. The events in the book have stuck with me long after I finished it, because while the characters are fiction, the War was real and the Nazi invasion was real. It was not a huge jump to think that this could have been a real event either.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading both of these. Let me know if you’ve read them also and what you thought!

Rediscovering Lois Duncan

I vividly remember being in middle school and hoarding every Lois Duncan book that came through our school’s library. She was my favorite writer and I inhaled her books in a way that I hadn’t from anyone else.

When I was in my favorite secondhand book store recently, I found two Lois Duncan books that I hadn’t read (or at least at my old age of 27, don’t remember reading). One was Ransom and one was Locked in Time. Of course I bought both of them.

Locked in Time was my favorite of the two. It was unlike any other story I’ve read before. It has it all- murder, mystery, and fantasy. The story is of a girl named Nore trying to accept her new stepfamily. The catch though, is that they are strange and full of secrets. There are constant references to the step-mother Lisette, step-brother Gabe, and step-sister Josie being from a different time period.

Lisette’s goal from the start was for Nore to die, so that no one would come looking for Chuck, and that she would be free to murder him and take his money.  Lisette sends Gabe out to take care of Nore by having her drown in the swamp, but it does not work and Nore survives. Nore knows she is in danger, but she cannot convince her father.

The story takes place in Louisiana- home of weird magical happenings. Nore is correct and Lisette and her children are in fact from a different time period many years ago. Lisette struck a deal with her first husband’s mistress, and in turn Lisette and her children would never age. Nore finds the evidence for this, but is never able to produce the evidence for her father though. When Chuck leaves on a business trip, Lisette attempts to end Nore’s life, but with the help of Gabe, Josie,and Nore’s friend, she survives. Gabe drives off with his mother, leaving Josie behind, and gets into a wreck killing himself and Lisette. Josie goes on to live with Nore and Chuck back in New York, and they put off telling him about the non-ageing Josie, until he figures it out for himself.

I finished this book in two days. It was exciting and different. The book is an easy read, and I highly recommend it. She wrote it in 1985, and it won several awards. The one most notable to me though is the 1988 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award, since I am from South Carolina.

Ransom was also a good book, but I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed it like I enjoyed Locked in Time. It was written in 1966, and one thing I love about reading old books is immersing myself into the language and style of a different time period.

It is the story of five students held hostage while taking a bus home from school in New Mexico. There are three criminals, and they each play different roles; one in charge of phone calls and collecting ransom, one in charge of driving the students and getting them to the cabin where they are being held hostage, and one who plays the “motherly” role. The kids are all very different, one sociopathic all-american guy named Glenn and his brother Bruce, one loner named Dexter, one beautiful girl who has daddy-issues named Marianne, and one well-traveled, intelligent girl named Jesse.

While they are being ransomed for $15,000 each, the kids themselves are hatching a plan to escape. A couple of them are successful in escaping, and when one kidnapper comes after them in the car, he goes over a cliff, dying instantly. I call Glenn a sociopath, because throughout the book it is revealed to us that Glenn is not capable of loving anyone else, but he is capable of doing things like leaving a child to die after hitting him with his vehicle. Even Glenn’s parents have a moment between themselves in the book where they doubt Glenn would save the others if he could get himself out. (They were right).

The book shifts viewpoints between each of the hostage’s views, and the views of their parents. In the end, the same step-dad that Marianne has resented is the one who saves the day. It was a little predictable, but what makes this book so great is that this is such a chilling, realistic scenario. Lois Duncan does a great job at capturing a very real fear that most parents have when sending their kids to school, which is that something bad could happen to them.

The book was a bit rushed, especially at the beginning, but it was still a great read. I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in Young Adult fiction or any young adult that loves reading.

I’m so glad I picked these two books up. They helped remind me why I’ve always wanted to write Young Adult fiction. I hope that one day far into the future, people will read my books with the same fondness that I have for Lois Duncan’s books.

Smart Women- First Book Review of 2019

Good Morning!

I finished my first book of 2019 on Saturday, and I wanted to go ahead and write this while it was fresh on my mind.

Smart Women by Judy Blume was different from the only other adult appropriate book I have read by Judy Blume. Until I read, In the Unlikely Event (which I reviewed on here a while back), I only ever thought about Judy Blume being an other for children and pre-teens. I loved her books when I was little, so I was thrilled to learn she also writes books for adults.

Smart Women was definitely not a child’s book to put it mildly. It’s set in the early 1980s. There’s a lot of sex. At some times, I even thought it was a bit much. The book needs it though, because it is an integral part in how the characters progress.

There are several main characters, and each chapter comes from the perspective of a different person. The two main characters are Margo and B.B. They both are divorced and relocated to Colorado to start over. Their mutual friend Claire (on the verge of divorce throughout the whole book) is their mutual connection, but otherwise there isn’t much of a friendship between the two. B.B. (formerly Francine) has one living child, a preteen named Sara, and Margo has two teenagers Stuart and Michelle.

B.B. is a high-strung, type A personality who thinks everything is going perfect until her ex-husband moves to town and tosses her perfect world up in the air. B.B.’s world is not perfect, it hasn’t been; she is just good at pushing all of her emotions and the memory of her deceased son to the back of her mind. I mean, B.B. isn’t even her real name- that’s how far she’s gone to create a new life. In the end, it backfires on her and she ends up in a mental institution getting the help she desparately needs.

Margo is a loveable mess. She just wants to love and be loved, and she finds that in B.B.’s ex-husband Andrew. It is definitely a factor in B.B.’s eventual breakdown, but it certainly isn’t the reason. The two fall in love pretty quickly, and throughout the whole book I switched from being happy for her and sad for B.B.

The details aren’t as important as the theme of the book though, which is that in the end, a smart woman always knows what is good for her. The book revolves around love, divorce, and change. In the end, B.B. gets the help she needs, and Margo gets the love she deserves. Even the teenage girls go through lessons that require them to grow up sooner than necessary.

All in all, I thought it was a good book. I probably wouldn’t have read it if Judy Blume had not written it though. I don’t typically enjoy cheesy love stories, and while this had a lot of other themes, the main one was love and doing whatever was necessary to hold onto it. I think it felt a little cheesy because of when it was written more than anything, but even though it’s from the 1980s I think most women can still relate to the characters in the book.

I would recommend this if you’re looking for an easy read. It’s a fun book to relax with, and I’m glad I found it on the back of a shelf at my parent’s house.

Out of my Comfort Zone Book Reviews

Happy Monday!

I have two new book reviews for y’all. I don’t read many books outside of mystery/crime fiction BUT these two books were so good. I’m glad I stepped away from my “norm” for a little while.

Dorothy Benton Frank is from Charleston and is one of my favorite authors. She had a book signing a few weeks ago, but I was sick and couldn’t make it. When I was in Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks ago and was checking out, there were signed copies of her new book at the register. Obviously I bought it, and I am thrilled I did.

By Invitation Only is the perfect summer read.  The book centers around Diane Stiftel and her family as they prepare for her only son to marry into a wealthy family from Chicago. The book gives us her point of view, her future daughter in law’s point of view, and the mother of the bride’s point of view. There are so many issues at play in the book, and the author does an amazing job of bringing it all together. The book has everything you could want in a story: love, heartache, surprise, and surprisingly a little bit of crime. I highly recommend checking this book out, as well as her other ones, especially if you are from Charleston.

The next book is an audiobook titled, A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline. It’s an emotional book told from the perspective of Christina Olson, a disabled farm girl. She is destined to live her life on her family’s farm, partly from her disability but also because of her pull to stay true to her family’s legacy. While her world is small, she does end up having an influence on the outside world. She becomes the muse for Andrew Wyeth as she hosts him for over twenty years at the family farm. She is the subject of one of the most well known American paintings of the twentieth century. The author blends fiction and fact incredibly well, and tells a story that will make you cry for the character one minute and be angry at her the next. This book is not one I would have normally chosen, but I am glad it was available through Overdrive for me to check out and listen to!

piece of the world

What I’m Reading Right Now

Hi friends!

I am having a little bit of writers’ block for my blog, also known as “blogger’s block”. So, I thought it could be fun to see what everyone has on their reading lists right now!

Currently, I am reading Carrot Cake Murder- A Hannah Swensen Mystery- by JoAnne Fluke. She’s a favorite murder mystery writer of mine. Her reads are easy and fun. I’ve been reading her books for probably thirteen or fourteen years, and I have always enjoyed them.

We are going to be driving to Nashville next weekend, and it’s about a nine hour drive. So, by pure necessity since most of our trip will be while it’s dark, I have the first book from the Nocturne Falls series queued up on my Kindle App on my phone. The first book is titled: The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride. This book series was recommended to me by a follower. It reminded me a lot of the Disney movie Halloweentown (that I was OBSESSED with as a kid…and still am), so I was excited to hear about these books. They seem like a light, easy read also, so perfect for a long road trip.

My book is…umm coming along….sort of. It’s so easy to get sidetracked from writing, so I really need to take the time this weekend to sit down and write some more.

Happy Thursday 🙂

 

Audiobooks- a Love Affair

Hi, my name is Julie and I love audiobooks. I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.

I am old school when it comes to reading. I refuse to get a Kindle, because it feels like I’m cheating on my books. Maybe one day I’ll break down and get one, but nothing will ever be able to replace the feel and smell of a real book.

One thing I have no problem welcoming into my life are audiobooks. They are the best thing to ever happen to driving. They allow me to “read” while I otherwise cannot, whether I’m driving or it’s dark in a car I’m riding in. They also give my eyes a rest, and after a day of staring at my computer and going through files, my eyes thank me for not reading a normal book. .

I’m currently “reading” (listening) to John Grisham’s The Whistler. Per usual, it’s an incredible book and he is everything I aspire to be in an author. It’s about judicial misconduct, murder, money, and a whole slew of other topics.

Audiobooks are easy to download and easy to listen to, but my favorite recent discovery is the app OverDrive. It has won me over even more for audiobooks, because it utilizes my library. You enter in your library card information and link your library, and you can check out ebooks and audiobooks onto your phone. I love this, because for me anything that keeps the county library relevant is a good idea in my book. (No pun intended).

What are you currently reading? I would love to hear from you!

My Book Title!

I am so excited, because I have come up with the title of the book I will be writing. I know many authors find the title as they are writing or at the end, but I have always found that when I come up with it at the beginning it gives my work direction.

So, unless something changes the book will be titled Best Interest of His Child. In family law, the standard judges look to is “Best Interest of the Child.” It is drilled into us in law school and while studying for the bar, so when I decided to write this book that centers around family law, I thought this title would be appropriate. Once I write a post explaining the plot, the title will make more sense.

I am excited to be making some headway though, even if it is not very much. Hopefully, I will have more updates for y’all soon!