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.

Audiobook Reviews: Sadie and Camino Island

Happy Friday! I’ve listened to two new audiobooks recently, and I wanted to go ahead and review them for y’all!

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Sadie by Courtney Summers is a great young adult fiction book. I chose to forego the traditional read of this, and instead I went with the audiobook version through the app Overdrive. I am so happy that I chose to go with audiobook for this, because the way the book is written, it almost makes it better than to read it traditionally.

The book centers around a girl who goes missing while searching for her younger sister Maddie’s killer. The missing girl has a bad stutter, and the impact of it would not have been the same to just read it. The point of view shuffles between the missing girl and a man named West McCray, who is looking for her. West is a radio personality and was contacted by Sadie’s grandmother. He develops a podcast series about the girls Sadie and Maddie, and is always one to two steps behind Sadie in her quest. During the book, West hosts episodes of the podcast. I think I would have missed out on a lot by simply reading this book. It  was almost as if it was written with the specific intent to be listened to in audiobook version or to be made into a movie.  The story itself was great, it was full of emotion that tugs at your heart and makes you wonder what you would do if you found yourself in a similar situation with a sibling. Sadie is brave and a hero in her own, messed up way. The ending was abrupt, but I think it was supposed to be. The ending of Maddie’s life was abrupt, and whatever happened to Sadie should be seen as abrupt also. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys Young Adult Fiction, especially mystery.

John Grisham’s Camino Island is beautifully written, per usual for John Grisham. I like to always have an audiobook to listen to on my way to and from work. John Grisham is a writer I really respect, because I hope to follow a similar path in my writing and career.

In this book, a young novelist named Mercer is in a confusing time in her life not knowing what her next book will be about or how to pay for anything, is approached by a security team to help infiltrate the friendship circle of a group of writers that live on Camino Island, a beach where Mercer spent all of her summers growing up with her beloved grandmother Tessa. Mercer had not been back since her grandmother tragically died, and even more than just the money she is being paid for this operation, Mercer has benefited from being back at the beach. She does infiltrate the circle, and even gets romantically involved with the man she is trying to find out the real information on- a man named Bruce who not only owns the bookstore but also deals in rare, expensive books. The security team believes that Bruce has original manuscripts of books by F. Scott Fitzgerald, including The Great Gatsby, that were stolen from Princeton’s library. No one is expecting the danger that is headed to Camino Island, in the form of the original thieves of the manuscripts. Mercer is out of her league when it comes to solving this mystery, but she makes for a great heroine. The ending is great, because it isn’t what you’d imagine the tidy end to a mystery would be. It’s not tidy, but it’s brilliant. I really enjoyed this listen and would recommend it to anyone who a) loves John Grisham books and b) likes mysteries. He never fails to keep me at the edge of my seat.

 

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NEW YEAR, NEW BOOKS

Happy New Year y’all!

I have made my “To Be Read List” for 2019, including the book I’m currently reading: Smart Women by Judy Blume. I’m planning to keep them next to my nightstand so that hopefully I can stay focused. I hope to finish these sixteen books well before the end of the year, so that I can add more to my list.

As y’all know my favorite types of books are mysteries/cozy mysteries but I did try to add a couple from other genres.

I’m excited for the New Year, and I’m especially excited for my new Bookstagram account!

 

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME!

Until today, I had no idea about this, but today is apparently my five-year anniversary creating a blog with WordPress. So much has happened to me in five years, but the one thing that remains a constant is my love of writing.

I created this blog one month before I graduated college. So, in the five years since my first post: I have graduated college, graduated law school, and have been practicing law for a year and a half. I’ve fallen in love, and I’ve also met a lot of new friends. I have so many wonderful memories from the past five years.

I have loved writing down my thoughts and my stories here. This blog has been through different stages and names, but I think I have finally found one that I am happy with and that I have been consistent with over the last year.

I’m grateful for everyone who follows me and that has interacted with me over the last five years. Here’s to five more!

A Halloween Well Spent

Halloween is my favorite holiday of all, and I have been preparing all month for it. From the treats and movies to the pumpkin patches and ghost tours, and carving pumpkins I have been trying to soak in all that this spooky month has to offer.

I have my traditions that I do every Halloween, and this Halloween I have also had a couple of new experiences. Every October I make my way through my core list of non-negotiable movies: “Halloweentown”, “Hocus Pocus”, “Practical Magic”, the “Halloween” movies, “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.” “Halloweentown” can be found on Amazon, “Hocus Pocus” plays just about every night on Freeform, “Practical Magic” is on HBO GO, and “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is constantly being shown on Freeform also. AMC plays repeats of Halloween, “Jeepers Creepers”, and “Nightmare on Elm Street” as well. “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” is shown sparingly on local channels, but I also found it on YouTube.

This year, I have seen all of my non-negotiable movies (a couple of times each), and I was also able to go see the new “Halloween” movie that was recently released. This year is the 40th anniversary of the original “Halloween” movie, and I thought the new one was very well done. It even had some funny quirks relating it to the original. I have also been watching “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” on Netflix. This is a sort of remake of everyone’s favorite witch show, “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” There are a lot of similarities to Sabrina, but the new adaptation is much darker and not as generally happy as the older show. The new one is scarier and more violent, and the premise of the show is completely different. The new Sabrina does look strikingly like Melissa Joan Hart though.

Not only is this the 40th anniversary of “Halloween”, it is also the 25th anniversary of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Hocus Pocus”! 1978 and 1993 were very good years for Halloween movies. Hopefully, if you’re like me and these are three of your favorite movies, you’ve had time to watch them this month.

We also went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party this year! It was absolutely adorable, and I loved getting to go through Magic Kingdom dressed as Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. The decorations were obviously incredible and we left with a ridiculous amount of candy.

I am currently baking my favorite cookies (Halloween Pillsbury Holiday Cookies), with a fall candle going, while continuing to watch “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” I just so happen to be planning to dress up as a witch tomorrow.

Tomorrow night we are planning a movie fest, and hopefully some Trick or Treaters will stop by. I hope everyone has a great day tomorrow and of course, Happy Halloween!

 

 

BOOK LOVERS DAY!

Happy Book Lovers Day!

If you follow my blog, I assume you love books and reading as much as I do. It has always been a huge part of my life, and I would not be the same person I am if it had not been for many different novels growing up. I figured I would update everyone on some books I have recently finished reading to celebrate the day; along with what I am currently reading!

 

Five Books I Have Recently Finished Reading

  1. Death Overdue is part of the “A Haunted Library Mystery” series by Allison Brook. This book follows a girl named Carrie who works in a library in a Clover Ridge, Connecticut. The book is set during Halloween (my favorite) and involves a ghost who resides in the library, and a couple of murders both in and out of the library. It’s an amateur sleuth type of mystery, and I enjoyed the character development for Carrie throughout the book. I will definitely pick up a few more books from this series in the future.
  2. Pet Sematary almost seems like a silly book to write a review on. Honestly, everyone is familiar with this book by Stephen King. I had seen the movie years ago, but after seeing they were making a new one I wanted to read the book. I was absolutely terrified, but it was an amazing book. Again, I really feel like it would be ridiculous to explain to you how good of an author Stephen King is.
  3. The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Loveit by Chelsea Sedoti has got to be one of the strangest books I have ever read but I definitely found myself really invested in it. It is a story of a teenage girl who leads an incredibly normal life, and then she inserts herself into a completely insane scenario for no good reason other than because she wants to. Throughout the book she navigates life, death, and love and it ends in a perfectly normal way but the journey through the book is full of twists. I would not recommend it for anyone younger than sixteen, but I am glad I read it.
  4. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis hit me right in my feelings. I have long been obsessed with the Chronicles of Narnia movies, but as a kid I never read the books. I figured I may as well start now, and I am so glad I did. Reading this made everything in the movies start to make sense. I am a sucker for fantasy type books for kids. Every single kid should read this book.
  5. In Conclusion Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham was so good. I actually did this in audiobook form, because I had heard that she narrates it. Lauren is Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls, and that has been and will always be one of my favorite shows. I was very interested in this book for that reason, but I ended up really enjoying the content. It’s not long at all (probably an hour) but she lets us in on a glimpse of her past and how she got to the point in her career that she is at. It was very uplifting and motivating.

 

My current read: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. My younger cousin Will, who is wise beyond his eighteen years, recommended this book to me. It is absolutely wonderful so far. I love historical fiction, and I think this book will end up being a favorite of mine.

 

A little fact about me: My favorite book growing up (and to this day remains the book that helped me fall in love with reading) was: The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews. It is a book that my future children will read, and hopefully the generations beyond it. Whenever I feel discouraged or in a rut reading, I pull it out and remember the things that book did for my imagination.

 

Happy Book Lovers Day everyone! Enjoy celebrating!