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Review : The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

Posted by on September 24, 2016 3:43 pm in 3 stars reads | 0 comments

the-girls-in-the-gardenThe Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell
Pages : 320
Genre : Mystery, Fiction
Stand alone
My Rating : 3/5

About the Book  :

Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really?

On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

My Thoughts :

The Girls in the Garden intrigued me as soon as I read the premise. I’m always partial to stories about small villages, communities and dysfunctional family dynamics, and if you throw a mystery in there, it’s even better!

The story starts with the scene of Pip finding her sister, then jumps back in time to when the family moved in. From there we follow the characters living around the park, discovering hints of their numerous secrets. Adding to that, we also get the letters of Pip to her father, with whom she has limited contact following a dramatic event.

Over all, I thought the book was okay. It was definitely more general fiction than mystery – not a bad thing, just a simple observation – but it was missing that little “spark” for me. The mystery and the secrets were predictable, and the characters felt a bit two-dimensional. I also thought the pace was quite slow! There’s almost no plot, which I can work with if something else catches my interest, but since the mysteries and the characters also felt flat, the lack of plot was even more apparent.

I realize what I’ve written up so far suggests I didn’t like the book, which isn’t the case. I did think some of the characters were good, and most importantly, I liked the dynamics between them. I also appreciated the weird atmosphere enveloping the park and the relationships : even though the secrets were easy to predict, their existence added to the uncomfortable ambience.

I think it’s safe to say that, while I didn’t dislike the book, it wasn’t a perfect fit for me. I can see why other readers would love it though! I have other books from the author on my wishlist, but now I’m a bit hesitant. If you’ve read something else of hers, let me know what you thought and how it compares to The Girls in the Garden!

Review : The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

Posted by on September 21, 2016 5:45 am in 4.5 stars reads | 2 comments

the-obelisk-gateThe Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin
Pages : 448
Genre : Fantasy
Series : The Broken Earth, book 2
My Rating : 4.5/5

About the Book  :

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS… FOR THE LAST TIME.

The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman, world-crusher, savior – has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.

It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy.

It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.

The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken.

My Thoughts :

Welcome to my new obsession.

I read The Obelisk Gate last week and when I finished it, I felt completely drained. At that time, I had to put every reading plan aside and jump into one of Kristan Higgin’s contemporary romances to give my heart and my head a break. It was a good kind of exhaustion, and I’m currently feeling quite desperate knowing I can’t read the third book right away (I’m barely exaggerating here!)

First, a word of caution : if you happen to pick up The Obelisk Gate in store and haven’t read The Fifth Season yet, DO NOT READ THE BACK OF THE BOOK. I got myself quite spoiled by simply glancing at it, and while I had already guessed what was probably coming, it was a major disappointment to have it revealed in such a way. The summary I picked up on Goodreads and added here is much more vague and appropriate, if you ask me (maybe it’s a US/Canada difference? US/UK maybe?). I usually avoid reading the details of sequels when I haven’t read the previous book, but I barely looked and read 3 words and BOOM! Spoiled.

Okay. Now, we can talk about story. And because don’t want to spoil you, I’ll be vague on the specifics and talk more about my impressions.

The Obelisk Gate had a lot to live up to. I adored The Fifth Season and my expectations were really high for its sequel. And while it wasn’t quite as awesome as the first book, I thought it was pretty close! Once more I loved how monumental and breathtaking the magic was, the complexity of the world and the characters, the surprises and the revelations and, of course, the brilliant narration penned by the beautiful wordsmith that is N. K. Jemisin.

I’ll say that, toward the middle of the book, I felt the story dragged a bit, was told rather than showed in some places, and that something in the pace was missing, or maybe out of place. But the rest of it was magical.

Two things I really loved from this sequel : first, the added characters and points of views. Such a diverse cast – race, gender, worldview, anything. I loved not only how diverse it was, but how the author explores the intricacies of the relationships between different castes of society. The characters feel like individuals, yes, but also like they’re part of a bigger structure, and their individual stories speak for the world they live in. I have to say that Essun is one of the most fascinating characters I have met. She’s all shades of gray, good and bad, anger and love, soothing and vengeful all at once. Her trauma is a powerful motivation but also a limitation, and it is meticulously explored through her choices.

Second thing I really enjoyed : how the world expanded (figuratively) through the pages. I’ll admit that the science aspect is a bit over my head at times, and I sometimes had to reread passages to get a good grasp on it, but it, and the magic and the history of the world, felt immense even more. There was so much to learn and discover.

This was so, so good. And I have a hard time imagining how all will be answered in a third book… which can’t come soon enough! Meanwhile, I know I’ll be rereading these two in a near future.

Series reading order :

  1. The Fifth Season
  2. The Obelisk Gate
  3. ?

Filling the Shelf – 225

Posted by on September 19, 2016 2:54 am in Book talk | 8 comments

Welcome to Filling the Shelf, or as many of you know it, Mailbox Monday! If you’re interested in joining the fun or seeing what other bloggers added to their shelves, click away! (but beware, visiting other mailboxes will probably add to your neverending wishlist!)

Good Monday all!

Another week begins, new books have arrived. It’s heavy in fantasy, which I always enjoy – although right now, I’m enjoying a break from it with one of my favorite authors (Kristan Higgins). Even though I’m not a huge romance reader, she’s the best when it comes to comfort reads, and after finishing The Obelisk GateI was too spent to read anything else! Seriously, what a roller coaster it was!

So, these books arrived, a new release and some nice sale finds, mostly. Guys, this will be my third time trying to read Assassin’s Apprentice! I’ve never made it through, though the writing is lovely, I found it to be a bit flat. But, I’ve been recommended it by people with similar tastes to mine again and again, insisting the payoff will be worth it. We’ll see! I’m also excited to soon read Magonia, since it had been on my wishlist for a while!

fillingshelf225a

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb – Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan – The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

fillingshelf225b

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir – Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley – To Ride Hell’s Chasm by Janny Wurts

What books did you recently add to your shelves?

 

Review : The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Posted by on September 17, 2016 4:02 am in 4 stars reads | 0 comments

the-couple-next-doorThe Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Pages : 320
Genre : Thriller
Stand alone
My Rating : 4/5

About the Book  :

How well do you know the couple next door? Or your husband? Or even—yourself?

People are capable of almost anything. . . Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco  soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years. 

My Thoughts :

The Couple Next Door is a really fun read. Fast pace and filled with secretive, twisted characters, it grabbed me from the first chapter and I had a hard time putting it down.

First, I have to say I really enjoyed the narration, which skips from Anne to Marco to Detective Rasbach, with one or two more points of view added in at some points. There was just enough of each voice, and I felt all of them did bring something to the story.

It’s also a thriller that has a bit of a different pace than most : rather than have a complete list of revelations in the last 20% of the book, we discover halfway through who planned the kidnapping. What follows is the search for the baby and a slow reveal of the motivations behind the crime. I really liked that, and there was still a lot of suspense left in the second part!

The book did lose me a bit toward the end, I’ll admit. There were too many twists, secrets and turnarounds, a lot of which didn’t feel necessary. I didn’t particularly enjoy the last few pages/chapters. I think the author was trying to give an additional edge to the story, when it had already reached its (satisfying) conclusion.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Couple Next Door. It was suspenseful and easy to slip into thanks to Shari Lapena’s captivating writing. While the conclusion disappointed me a little, I would happily read again from this new author. Fans of a fast-paced suspense will want to give this one a try!