Around the Internet

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Check out these five great stories from around the web.

  1. EasyJet now has books on board for kids to read during the flight. And they called it… wait for it… the Flybrary. I’m dead.
  2. Sarah Jessica Parker can now add both Publisher and Honorary Book Club Chair to her list of enviable accomplishments. Carrie would be so proud.
  3. This six-stop tour of Chicago’s best book spots is a bibliophile’s dream. I think I know what I’m doing this weekend.
  4. It turns out that millennials love all things sharing economy (duh) — especially the granddaddy of them all, the library (double duh).
  5. An interesting and poignant look into what might be one of the last vestiges of the Great American Typewriter.

Review Time: The Next Accident

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“We’re all looking for something to believe in, and someone to blame.”

After coming to terms with her demons, Rainie Connor left police life behind in Virginia and made a new home for herself as a Private Investigator in Portland. As she begins the process of figuring out how to actually make a living as a P.I., her old pal Quincy shows up on her doorstep. Quincy’s daughter, Mandy, has been on life support ever since she drunkenly wrapped her SUV around a tree, killing a pedestrian in the process. Quincy, though, doesn’t think Mandy’s accident was, well, an accident. And he’s going to prove that to the world, with Rainie’s help.

Mandy was an alcoholic — there was no denying that. But she was on the wagon, according to all of her friends. So how did she end up beyond drunk at 5AM on a remote road no where near her house? As Quincy and Rainie start to zero in on the answer to that question, Quincy’s life takes a turn for the unexpected. His ex-wife, Bethie, begins seeing a man who can only be described as “perfect” — and who happens to look exactly like Quincy in the moonlight. His remaining daughter Kimberly, still reeling from the death of her sister, is following in her father’s profiler footsteps in New York, though it quickly becomes apparent that she’s not safe there. His dementia-ridden father is checked out of his full-time care facility by a man masquerading as Quincy. Someone is taunting Quincy and they have to figure out who–and why–before they become the next victims.

The Next Accident is the third installment of Lisa Gardner’s “FBI Profiler” series and it is a dark and twisty masterpiece. There are a lot of different angles in this one and a lot of long-held grudges to keep track of, but it’s not an impossible task. Gardner weaves doubt through the whole novel about Quincy’s innocence in the deaths of his family in a way that is both infuriating and intriguing. The book is suspenseful, gory, sad and hopeful–and I loved it, of course. Another winning read from my girl L.G. —  you go, girl!

My favorite scene: Bethie is meeting her handsome stranger for dinner and is giddy about the prospect of dating again. Her giddiness turns into something much more after her stranger showed her his scar, a scar her received as a result of a kidney transplant — Mandy’s kidney. It’s an incredibly emotional scene that showcases just how heartbroken Bethie is over the loss of her daughter and how lonely she is after the loss of her family. Up until now, we’ve only seen Bethie as the over-bearing mother who can’t face reality. Now, though, we get a glimpse of her as a grieving human. If only we had more time with her…

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Around the Internet

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Check out these five great stories from around the web.

  1. Two industry hotshots have teamed up to create a new imprint at Macmillan that will focus on “idea-driven narratives” that “straddle the line between commercial and literary.” You go, girls.
  2. Author Max Winter reminds us that rules are made to be broken, especially when it comes to writing fiction.
  3. This 94-year-old man keeps his mind active by self-publishing fiction. Because why not write 20 books after you retire at 90?
  4. The LA Review of Books created a five-week summer program to help people break into the publishing industry, and I. Want. To. Be. There.
  5. A fascinating look at what really goes into making a cookbook. Spoiler: it’s a lot.

Review Time: Into the Water

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I, like pretty much everyone else in the world, was STOKED for the release of Paula Hawkins’s newest thriller, Into the Water. Hawkins, of The Girl on the Train fame, doesn’t shy away from twisted stories, so this one was bound to be a page-turner. I was extra excited about this book because it was the first one I got from the popular Book of the Month club. If you haven’t heard of BOTM (unlikely), it’s a subscription service that curates a list of five books per month that you can choose from and it’s AWESOME. (Side note… Why didn’t I think of this!? SUCH a good idea and product.)

Women in the sleepy British town of Beckford have been dying in the Drowning Pool for centuries. Its first victims, way back in 1679, were suspected witches who were drowned to prove that they weren’t witches. Because we were smart back then. As the centuries rolled on, the witch drownings may have ceased, but the curse of the pool remained. Today, the pool is the site of an unsettling number of suicides, the latest being Nel Abbott. After Nel’s death, her estranged sister, Jules, is called back out to the town she  vowed to never return to care for Lena, her now-motherless teenage niece. Once there, Jules learns that Nel was working on a book about the Drowning Pool and its victims, including its most recent–Lena’s best friend Katie. Not everyone was on board with the idea of a book about the Drowning Pool, the loudest critic being Katie’s grieving mother and Nel’s most recent enemy. The evidence begs the question: did Nel kill herself in the storied Drowning Pool or did someone take her life from her?

This book is complicated. The story is told by myriad characters, not precisely in chronological order. There are SO MANY subplots to track, some of which didn’t actually end up leading anywhere and others I had trouble remembering in the moment. There’s a town psychic who I think thinks she’s a witch so she spits a lot? She just confused me. The moral is that it was just tough to keep everything straight with this one. As much as I wanted to love it, I only liked it. I’d recommend this one to anyone who has the time to read it in one or two sittings. Otherwise, you’re going to need a tracking sheet or two.

My favorite quote: “No one liked to think about the fact that the water in that river was infected with the blood and bile of persecuted women, unhappy women; they drank it every day.”

Grade: ★★★☆☆

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To Read: July Edition

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The sun is (finally!) out, the birds are chirping and I’m slathering on the sunscreen. I do love the summer in Chicago… Much, MUCH less hellish than the sauna that is summer in New Orleans. This fabulously tolerable weather has put a bit of a damper in my summer reading game though, because instead of being cooped up inside every weekend because it’s just TOO DANG HOT, we’re actually venturing outdoors. And it’s lovely. But it’s sadly cutting into my reading game. Thank goodness for those twice daily–and often tedious–bus rides to get me through my To Read lists. And with that, let’s dive into July’s.

PS – You’ll be so proud! I’m branching out! Not all of them are murder mysteries! Small victories, man. Small victories.

Mischling: This story set in Nazi Germany during WWII is one that came recommended by the Chicago Public Library’s blog. Identical twins that end up in Auschwitz are selected to be part of Mengele’s Zoo, the “experimental population of twins” that serve as the guinea pigs for the awful Joseph Mengele. I’m a sucker for a heart-wrenching WWII novel (hello, The Nightingale), so I’m excited about this one.

Into the Water: By the author of The Girl on the Train, this story follows the happenings of a small English town after a woman is found dead in the “Drowning Pool,” a body of water made infamous after numerous deaths in its depths over the years. It looks twisty and turn-y and spine-tingly and you know I’m about that life.

The Next Accident: As the third installment of what Lisa Gardner has dubbed the “FBI Profiler Series,” this book follows Quincy and Rainie (from The Third Victim fame) as they try to track down what really happened to Quincy’s daughter Mandy. I love all of LG’s books (we’re on a nickname basis at this point), and I imagine this one will be no different.

The Rules Do Not Apply: I really strayed from my usual with this one, but sometimes you gotta reach out of your comfort zone every once in a while. That’s exactly what Ariel Levy does in this memoir about what happens when your life decides it has its own ideas about the future. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve read a memoir of any sort, and I think this one is going to be the perfect one to jump back in with.

Happy reading, y’all!

Review Time: The Perfect Husband

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“‘Til death do us part’ could be sooner than she thinks.”

Tess met the man of her dreams while she was still in high school — handsome, older and a police officer to boot. But only a few years into their marriage, things started to unravel. As it turns out, this man who saved her from a life of abuse had been savagely killing women for the past decade, ten women in all. Tess helped put him behind bars, but not before he vowed his revenge.

Now, Jim Beckett, prolific serial killer, can add another item to his resume: escaped convict. Jim is coming back for the one thing he knows will break Tess–their daughter, Sam. After taking precautions for Sam’s safety, Tess flees out west, hoping beyond hope to learn to save herself.

She employs the services of the military man-turned-mercenary, J.T., to teach her to defend herself and her daughter. J.T. is a troubled–and sometimes brutal–man himself, but eventually he softens to Tess’s pleas, coaching her in self-defense and strategy. But Jim is always hunting. And he won’t stop until he gets what he wants.

As you know, I love all of Lisa Gardner’s thrillers. This one is the first in a series featuring FBI profiler Pierce Quincy, though his role is minor in this first installment. This book is bloody and gory and, at times, pretty freaking sad. But I think its best descriptor is an uncomfortable glance into what real life sometimes is–nitty, gritty and a little unpolished. What I didn’t love, however, was the underlying “love story” between J.T. and Tess. It felt a little forced sometimes and incredibly unbelievable at others. But I did like J.T., bad moods and all. All in all, I’d give this book a double-thumbs up and encourage anyone and everyone to pick it up (and keep going).

My favorite scene: When we first meet J.T., he’s going on a five-day alcoholic bender on the anniversary of his wife and child’s untimely death. You immediately sympathize with him until he has his on-call prostitute come over and then your sympathy sort of fades away. Later in the story, though, J.T. goes a little further in depth about his wife, Rachel, and their son. And all of your sympathy plus some comes crashing back in. I won’t go into the actual scene because #spoiler, but it changed an entire character for me in a way that has stuck with me. It demonstrates that you never really know what goes on behind closed doors, but almost in the exact opposite way of Jim Beckett.

Grade: ★★★★☆

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Review Time: All the Missing Girls

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All the Missing Girls was a book I was super excited about reading. I mean… What mystery lover isn’t going to be stoked to dive into a book touted as the next Girl on the Train?! Count me in.

The premise of the book was intriguing on it’s own — a small-town is reeling after the disappearance of a second young woman in the span of 10 years. Nicolette Farrell’s best friend Corinne went missing after a day out at the local fair and Nic left a devastated town behind in an attempt to move on from that tragic day. Ten years later, Nic is forced to return to her hometown to deal with with her ailing father and the past is drudged up when another young woman, Nic’s neighbor Annaleise, goes missing. The kicker of the story though? It’s told in reverse. From Day 15 to Day 1. Which took my excitement about it from a regular 7 to an overwhelming 12.

Telling the story backwards, though, turned out to be the reason I didn’t much care for the book as a whole. The story was interesting — family drama, shady characters, lies, deceit, secrets. But the format of the story made it hard to follow along with the dual mystery of Anneleise’s new disappearance and Corinne’s unsolved one. I didn’t hate it then, though. It took a little bit more back-and-forth than usual to remember where I was and what had just happened, but I was still intrigued. The end though, that Day 1 chapter, was where it lost me. As it turns out, Nicolette had known the answer to the mystery since her first day in town. And once you learn that, you can think back to everything else that happened in Cooley Ridge over the past two weeks and feel duped. Why was she questioning so much when she already knew what happened? What was the point of documenting the following two weeks if the mystery was already solved? What the heck?

I think the book had the potential to be stellar — an intriguing plot with an interesting style twist. But the lackluster plot development and the difficult arrangement just made All the Missing Girls fall a little flat for this mystery lover. Womp womp.

My favorite scene: At one point in the story, Nicolette is recounting her relationship with Corinne and tells the reader a story about something that happened on the last day anyone saw Corinne in Cooley Ridge. Nic and Corinne are on the Ferris wheel at the local fair and Corinne dares Nic to step outside of the cart’s safety harness. And she does. There are a few other factors at play that you understand later in the book, but I think this scene paints a good picture of the girls’ relationship, of who was the leader of the pack and how Corinne’s absence truly affected Nic in the years to come.

Grade: ★★☆☆☆