What it’s about :
Then her best friend’s teen daughter disappears while in her care, and all of her insecurities are confirmed by this one fatal mistake. Despite her friend’s forgiveness, Lisa can’t forgive herself, and she’ll do everything she can to help bring Lucinda back home.
My Thoughts :
I was so very pleasantly surprised by Just What Kind of a Mother Are You? I was expecting a predictable thriller; instead, I got a novel that was somewhere between mystery and women’s fiction, exploring modern motherhood by way of a suspenseful story.
First, don’t let the publisher’s tagline – “… for readers who liked Gone Girl” – pull you in or push you away. I loved Gone Girl, and I loved this book, but I wouldn’t necessarily compare the two. For one thing, Paula Daly’s first novel does have some likable characters, which gives a very different feel to the book. Sure, the crimes are horrible (some young teen girls are being kidnapped and raped), but here, as readers, we find ourselves at a much safer distance from the wickedness.
The novel is told in three voices : the kidnapper’s, the detective’s, and Lisa. The kidnapper’s chapters are very short, and give you an insight into his motivations. The detective’s chapters are told in a very standard detective manner, and give you the opportunity to see a little bit more of what happens around the characters. It was, for me, the least interesting part of the story. Useful, but it wasn’t what kept me hooked.
It was Lisa’s narration that kept me reading. She was incredibly human; flawed but with a lot of heart, insecure but strong at times, very easy to relate to. I liked her. Even when she did fail her relationships, I still liked her. I surprisingly related to her, even though I have never been a working mother of three – she was just that well written. I also loved that the author took the time to write about Lisa’s life outside of her best friend’s daughter’s disappearance. Knowing about her work, her family and everything else made her a complex and realistic woman.
The story itself did give me a few surprises. Some of them I saw coming, mainly because I felt like the author sometimes placed hints a bit too early in the book. But overall, it was captivating and once I got into it, I kept thinking about the book, wanting to find out what would happen. It was believable, too, and I loved the interactions between all the characters.
I do hope this book gets a lot of good buzz, because I truly enjoyed it. Other reviews have mentioned how it would make for a good suspense movie, and I absolutely agree. There was a lot more meat and depth in this book than I had expected, which only makes the story that much better. I can imagine Paula Daly becoming a great thriller author – and I do hope this happens, because I definitely want to read more from her!
Just What Kind of a Mother Are You? is available for sale right now! Thanks to Doubleday Canada for generously providing a digital copy of the book for this review.
What it’s about :
Now that they are all living under the same roof, their lives are colliding in unexpected ways. It’s up to them to turn their lives around and get back on their feet, through all the yells, laughs and tears.
My Thoughts :
I wasn’t sure about The Smart One when I started reading it. Claire and Martha, Weezy’s daughters, weren’t characters I really liked or could really relate too. Both of them were clearly depressed (not clinically, just in a “life is hard” way) and there wasn’t much joy in their life – which ironically, made them a bit judgmental.
But then we get to Cleo – and that’s when I got really hooked into the novel. I guess it shows my current passion for YA fiction, since Cleo is the youngest of the girls. Still in college, she is the girlfriend of the youngest child in the family, Max. She wasn’t perfect, either, keeping people at a distance and being slightly impulsive; but she also seemed to have a big heart and a head on her shoulders, so I was immediately drawn to her character.
I found it interesting that the author chose to write from the point of view of Cleo rather than Max. She’s not part of the family, exactly; Weezy finds her too beautiful for her son (she will obviously break his heart!) and the sisters are sort of intimidated by her and a little bit distant. She’s only the college girlfriend, after all! But having the narration telling her side of the story was very interesting. First, because it offered a different appreciation of the family, and second, because it made The Smart One less about family, and more about the different relationships between sisters, women, mothers and daughters. The men in the story are, in fact, very secondary to them all.
I think that, from the cover and the summary, I expected something a little lighter. It’s a pleasant surprise though that Jennifer Close gave complexity to her characters. I do wish all of their anxieties would have been balanced by a few more happier or funnier moments. The book was surprisingly… cynical, I guess? For instance, I was expecting Claire to heal and get into a huge romance, but instead, she spends most of her time with a divorced guy who lives in his parents’ basement. So the book was definitely more realistic, and less “romantic fantasy”.
In the end, The Smart One was a pleasant read, even though its characters weren’t always so pleasant (but that’s life, too!) I think many women and young women could relate to the book, whether they are mothers, sisters, daughters – or a little of each.
The Smart One is available for sale right now! Thanks to Knopf for generously providing a digital copy of the book for this review.
From the book’s jacket :
Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable–and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.
My Thoughts :
First, an apology; I usually try to summarize the books I read in my own words, but here it felt impossible to do it justice without spoiling too much. I felt the book’s own summary was sufficiently vague, and I can now use what little brain power is left to write this review!
Insurgent was, in many ways, a lot like its predecessor Divergent; filled with action, quick pace, lots of characters, lots of danger, little room to breath between all the twists and turns. It just never stops. Which is good! Never boring, Insurgent keeps you turning the pages quicker and quicker until you reach the ending, breathless.
But sometimes, there is a thing as too much action. It keeps you so busy with the excitation that you sort of forget to think about what you’re reading. When I reached the last page of Insurgent, I had a very similar reaction to reading Divergent : “Oh that was so much fun! I just can’t wait to see what happens next! These five hundred pages flew by!”
But then, once the excitement died down, I took a moment to think about the story and the worldbuilding, and I realized I felt largely unsatisfied. Questions I had after reading the first book are still unanswered: how can it make sense to categorize people in only 5 categories? What happened to the rest of the world? The book gives hints of maybe answering part of these interrogations in the next book, but at this point, it feels like too little too late.
I do know though that not every book has to feed your brain and make you question the meaning of life. The thrill of the adventure is sometimes sufficient to keep you hooked – which was totally the case for me here. I honestly had a great time reading Tris’s story, even though I didn’t care for her romance, even though I felt like she often made questionable decisions, and even though her world didn’t really made sense.
In short: I was entertained, but not impressed. And sometimes, that’s just good enough to keep you reading!
Series Reading Order :
Filling the Shelf is basically Mailbox Monday or the more recent Stacking the Shelves, but with a title that suits my blog! If you’re interested in joining the fun or seeing what other bloggers added to their shelves, I invite you to visit the two hosts!
Happy Monday everyone!
The last week went by so, so fast! I barely got any reading or blogging done, yet I didn’t pack as many boxes or books as I had planned. How does this happen? It’s like time disappeared, and I have no idea where it went!
Anyhow, new books still make their way to my home. They are colorful and intriguing and much different from my most recent reading, so that’s good! I love having variety on my shelves. Here we go :
What did you add to your shelves recently? Have you read any of these? What did you think?