“Every so often, life offers you a reset button. When it does, you need to press it as hard as you can.”
Riley Sager, Lock Every Door
I thought Final Girls was good, Locky Every Door by Riley Sager was just as good! Through all the twists and turns I was hooked on every page. The premise was something completely unique. I feel like with psychological thrillers, you tend to get some similar themes, but this was new.
In Sager’s latest novel, Lock Every Door. Jules Larsen has no family, is broke, and was chated on by her boyfriend. She finds herself looking for a new job and when the “too good to be true” add for an apartment sitter at one of New York’s highest-profile buildings, The Bartholomew, pops up she can’t turn it down. Jules comes to learn that there a lot of rules that come with the job, no visitors, no spending the night away, and no bothering the residents. For the sum they’re paying, she thinks she can live with the rules. However, when apartment sitters start missing from the Bartholomew, Jules knows something isn’t right.
Sager just does the most amazing job of really throwing you in the wrong direction. Whenever you think you have the story all figured out, he throws something new at you to distract you from what’s really going on. In Lock Every Door, Jules’s past life has a lot of parallels with her current day life. I really enjoyed the similarities and thinking about how things in her past affect her present actions. Sager gives you enough of a background to really make you focus on things like these instead of what’s really going on.
I just love a good psychological thriller. Lock Every Door was a real page-turner for me. At one point, I found myself downloading the audiobook from my library so I could listen in my car too. Not only did it have me hooked, it just got better and better as I read on. Riley Sager is now a go-to author for me. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!
“All that was necessary was a law degree and a uterus: a lethal combination.”
Margaret Atwood, The Testaments
The much-anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood takes place 15 years after the original story. We’re taken back to the time of Gilead following the first-hand story of three women living during its reign.
It took me a while to put my thoughts down on paper. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my favorite books of all time so to finally get a sequel was an exciting moment for me. I don’t usually love multiple points of view stories but I really enjoyed how this was written from three very different perspectives. Then seeing how the three intertwined. It gives you insight into how some of the different roles in Gilead really operate, not just from a handmaid’s perspective.
I thought it was really interesting that Aunt Lydia was the true common character between the books and not Offred. At first, I was a little upset it wasn’t following Offred but after I got used to it, I didn’t want to put it down. You get a really great story of what happened to Aunt Lydia before Gilead that we don’t get in The Handmaids Tale and it was so interesting. Not what I expected at all!
If you watch the show, the show is very different. I’m curious to see if they will end the same way. I have such a “book hangover” from this one. I finished it on a plane with some time in the air left to spare and I could hardly pick up my next read. Do you need to read The Handmaids Tale first? Yes. There is a lot of background information in the first book that you need to fully grasp the second. Plus, it’s amazing, so why wouldn’t you want to read it? If you read The Handmaid’s Tale and feel like you need “closure,” don’t get your hopes up. While I do feel some sense of closure, I don’t feel like Atwood really tied up all the loose knots. Regardless, I definitely recommend picking this one up!
Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales is the story of boy meets boy over the summer at the lake in North Carolina. Ollie, our storyteller, is from California and thinks he’s going back to San Jose at the end of the summer. The intention is that they were just visiting his sick aunt and her family but when it’s time to go back, his family tells him they’re going to stay in North Carolina for his senior year of high school. Most people can relate to spending your senior year away from the people you grew up with.
Gonzales started off giving me major Grease vibes with this one. After the summer, Ollie starts school and immediately meets the “Pink Ladies” or the rose necklace girls. It turns out, Will, Ollie’s love interest from the summer, goes to the same school even though he lives outside of town and is apart of the “T Birds” or basketball player group. As I kept reading, the Grease vibes went away but it was a fun start. We learn that while Ollie grew up in California and has been out of the closet for years, Will’s family and friends think he’s straight. This really is your typical “jock-doesn’t-want-to-come-out-of-the-close- and-thinks-his-family-will-judge” story. Don’t get me wrong though it was absolutely adorable.
The story is told going back and forth between present-day Ollie and giving excerpts from his time over the summer with Will. I loved the relationship Ollie had with his cousins that he babysits since their mom is sick. Then we learn about how tender and kind Will is with the younger cousins and you can’t help but want to fall in love with Will too.
Look, was it a predictable teenage romance? Yes. But, did it hit all of my emotions? Yes. I smiled through most of this novel. I was reading it on a plane, and at one point I had to prevent myself from sobbing in public. Sophie Gonzales does an amazing job of telling a beautiful story of friendship, family, and love. I enjoyed it from start to finish. It honestly reminded me a lot of a YA Hallmark movie. I would recommend picking this one up when it comes out in March!
“It stops here. With me and you. It ends with us.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends With Us
After Lily Bloom bombs the eulogy at her father’s funeral, she finds herself on a Boston rooftop where she meets Ryle Kincaid. Two strangers and they begin telling each other their “naked truths.” Six months after that night, Lily runs into Ryle again in unforeseen circumstances. Meanwhile, teenage Lily meets Atlas Corrigan who is living in an abandoned house behind hers. The story goes back and forth between present-day Lily and teenage Lily, who’s life we learn about through journal entries written as letters to Ellen Degeneres.
Okay first, WTF kind of name is Ryle. Once I got past that his name was Ryle (not Kyle), I really loved this book. Colleen Hoover really pulled at the heartstrings with this one. I fell completely in love with Ryle from the very beginning. Throughout the novel I found myself playing the Team Ryle or Team Atlas game. It had the perfect amount of romance for me without being too cheesy or over the top.
The story itself was told really beautifully. There is a domestic violence theme in the book so I will give that trigger warning. You can just feel that this story means something to Hoover. Then I learned she wrote the novel from her own personal experience with her parents’ relationship growing up and was moved. For her to tell this story to her readers in such an impactful way was really special.
To sum it up, I’m not a big romance reader plus this was my first Colleen Hoover book, but I loved it. In fact, it inspired me to read some more (light-hearted) romance novels. For how much I love Hallmark movies, I actually can’t believe I haven’t read more romance. This is besides the point. I highly recommend picking up It Ends With Us if you haven’t already. Plus I just learned Justin Baldoni is turning it into a movie! How exciting!
“Life with a cheat code isn’t life. Our existence isn’t something to be engineered or optimized for the avoidance of pain. That’s what it is to be human – the beauty and the pain, each meaningless without the other.”
Blake Crouch, Recursion
In Black Crouch’s latest novel, Recursion, he follows the lives of Barry, a detective in New York City, and Helena, a scientist trying to create a technology to restore memories of people with Alzheimer’s. Helena is recruited by Marcus Slade to work with him on her device and given an unlimited budget. When Americans start experiencing False Memory Syndrome, memories that don’t seem to be their own, Helena and Barry’s lives soon become intertwined. This was my Book of the Month June pick and I don’t know why it took me so long to read it!
I’m not sure I even know how to write this review without spoilers. Blake Crouch uses a unique concept that hits close to home for a lot of us, making advances in technology and the people behind it the villain. Crouch does a great job of making you want to like the villain in the beginning and slowly bringing you around to thinking they’re bad. Technology is so prominent in our current culture you never want to think anything bad could happen from it so of course, you want to like the people behind it. It honestly reminds me of some of your superhero stories like Spiderman and Ironman where the villain uses technology to destroy the world.
I loved how the characters in the story’s lives come together. While they may not know each other in the beginning, they become quite acquainted in the end. It’s really interesting how Crouch manages to make the whole fictional world of people connected in a way. It’s great how the scientist is a badass female character too. We don’t see this often.
This book is action-packed! Every turn of the page left me wanting more. I’m a sucker for sci-fi and Recursion did not disappoint. This is the first novel I’ve read from Crouch and I will certainly be reading more now.
“Final Girl is film-geek speak for the last woman standing at the end of a horror movie.”
Riley Sager, Final Girls
Final Girls is a psychological thriller about 3 girls who were the ones left alive after a mass murder. Quincy, the main character in the story survived the Pine Cottage killings. After Lisa, the first final girl, is found dead in her apartment, Quincy can feel in her gut that there’s something not quite right. Then Sam, the second final girl, shows up at Quincy’s apartment and creates chaos.
Rily Sager did such an amazing job with this one. There were so many twists and turns, I kept thinking I was on the right track to solving everything and then he’d throw a wrench in everything. I should’ve known though, the foreshadowing in the book is incredible. At one point in the story, we learn that Quincy won’t say the Pine Cottage murderer’s name since it all happened. Then, in the next retelling of Pine Cottage, we learn his name. Somehow, even though all that foreshadowing is there, Sager still managed to baffle me.
The story goes back and forth telling Quincy’s present-day story and exposing what happened that night at Pine Cottage. I loved the way Sager would narrate something about Quincy’s life now and then go right into something related that happened at Pine Cottage.
I read this book as a buddy read and we were supposed to read up to chapter 30, well I couldn’t put it down. The story was so engrossing, giving me something new to hook onto after each and every chapter. If you like psychological thrillers, I highly recommend picking this one up. It has a different premise than any other thriller I’ve read. And it was a really great read!
“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”
Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give
What took me so long to read The Hate U Give? Now that I’ve read it, I have no idea! Starr lives with her mother, father, and two brothers in Garden Heights. A neighborhood full of violence, gangs, and now, police brutality. Starr has witnessed this violence first hand her whole life and is ready to speak up against it.
First, I have to commend the person who narrated the audiobook, Bahni Turpin was fantastic. I loved the voice of this book. It’s written from Starr’s perspective and it has its typical teenage girl moments. I love all of the pop culture and music references that are thrown in. I often found myself humming the theme song from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. If you’ve read the book, you know why.
The relationship between Starr and her father Maverick may be one of my all-time favorites. You can just feel the love they have for one another. And when Starr does something Maverick knows she shouldn’t be doing but wants to commend her for it, you can just feel it in the narrative. In reality, all the relationships in this book are ones you can relate to on a personal level. Consider the relationship between Hailey, Maya, and Starr. Hailey is that friend we’ve all had who somehow manages to get you to do whatever she wants. Hailey and Maya conquering this as teenagers is something we all had to go through.
This book made me laugh and definitely made me cry. There wasn’t one moment I wasn’t completely hooked into. Thomas did a great job of taking really tough topics and making them digestible for both young readers and adults. This one is a must-read for anyone. I still can’t believe it took me this long to read it. It was brilliant.
“When women are gathered together with no men around, they don’t have to be anything in particular; they can just be.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, City of Girls
City of Girls is written as a letter from the main character, Vivian, to Angela, the daughter of a man we quickly find out has some kind of relationship with Vivian. Most of the story is based in New York City where Vivian lives with her Aunt at the Lily Playhouse. There’s drama, sex, laughs, and cries.
I have to start by saying, I listened to the audiobook version and the narrator did a phenomenal job of expressing the characters. Overall, I very much enjoyed this book. The parts at the Lily had me completely hooked. I loved that Vivian and many of her friends were early adopters of women in empowerment and had control over their bodies. This is unlike most of the novels I’ve read about the 1940s with the characters being prim and proper women or heroes. Elizabeth Gilbert did such a wonderful job of describing the Lily that I felt like I was in the playhouse with the characters. The reason I gave the book four stars is that the end felt extremely rushed to me. It felt completely displaced from the first part of the novel that went well in-depth into Vivan’s life. Besides that, it was a great read!