The Child Finder, by Rene Denfield

32223884The Child Finder
Rene Denfield
Goodreads

Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

Review

I started this on a whim and ended up reading it late into the night in one sitting. What a magical, wonderful, powerful, painful, engrossing piece of work.

Every character touched on in this is fascinating. Though there are two main characters that the book surrounds, each secondary character feels like a fully developed and real person despite some having very little page time.

I do have to warn that this novel is dark and doesn’t stray from the darkness that surrounds the topic it covers, but…it’s a beautiful way of writing about it, with absolutely none of the sleaziness that a lot of slash-and-kill thrillers write about crime and violence. Every character makes sense. Every scene is beautiful, even when painful. The ending is optimistic without losing any of it’s realism — which is a bit amusing to write, considering half the novel deals with the power of imagination in dealing with trauma.

The last time I can remember wanting to immediately re-read a novel when I finished the last page was with Burial Rites, another novel that deals with cold and dark themes but is beautiful and treats them with respect and weight.

I want everyone to read this book even though I know the topics within are very tough to deal with. IT’S JUST SO BEAUTIFUL, OKAY???

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Triple Threat, by Gwenda Bond

31632115Triple Threat (Lois Lane #3)
Gwenda Bond
Goodreads

For the first time, Lois Lane has almost everything she wants. Non-temporary home? Check. Dream job? Double check. Incredible BFFs? The absolute best. And now, her online crush, SmallvilleGuy, is coming to Metropolis. If all goes well, they’ll turn their long-distance friendship into a some-kind-of-fairy-tale romance. But when does all ever go well? Before she can check boyfriend off her list, Lois must take down a mad scientist plus a trio of mutant teens, protect the elusive flying man from the feds (including her dad), and navigate her very first date with SmallvilleGuy. In the follow-up to FALLOUT and DOUBLE DOWN, Gwenda Bond’s reimagination of DC Comics’s first leading lady takes on her toughest challenge yet: Love.

Review:

I’ve loved this series since book one came in as a breath of fresh air after one disastrous comic book tie in novel experience I had years ago. It’s like someone decided to write a Teen AU fanfic starring Lois Lane, but took only the best parts of what make Lois tick and wrote the hell out of it. We don’t deserve Gwenda Bond, truly.

Triple Threat builds on the first two books, showing a Lois who is finding her place in Metropolis, doing her best to be a good friend, excelling (or trying to) at her career as a junior reporter, and finally tackling an IRL meeting with SmallvilleGuy, aka CLARK KENT.

Look, I’ll be the first to say that I felt the novel dragged on a bit with the actual plot seeming extremely insignificant in the grand scheme of things. (What really happened, in the end? It’s like nothing changed whatsoever.)

But. But!

Lois and Clark finally meet. THEY FINALLY MEET.

I was something like ten years old when Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman aired on one of the two main television stations we received in Kenya. They were the epitome of cool and I used to watch the show with hearts in my eyes, wanting to be like them. I have a very clear memory of the moment Lois finds out Clark is Superman. I never got to watch too much of the show, but they made such a huge impression on tiny me that I got excited right alongside Lois in Triple Threat when she finally meets Clark. The meting itself, the way they’re awkward and adorable around each other, the way things move slowly and LOGICALLY for kids their age who’ve only had an online relationship until now…it’s incredibly sweet and satisfying.

Back to the plot…honestly, there were some threads of interest here and there, but like I said before, ultimately nothing really happens. I did love the mature and different look at a teen relationship going on with Maddy and Dante, and I love that Lois has a really good relationship with all her friends and her family. (As good as it can be with her dad, really, which is really good here.)

Oh oh oh, one thing I did love: Lois turned around and did one of the most frustrating, stupid things a Strong Female Character can do, but then turned it around and became a truly strong character by realizing she was dumb and apologizing for it. I don’t need my female characters to be Strong and take on the world on their own – I need them to be whole. Which Lois is, and which I appreciate wholeheartedly.

This book is perfect for teen readers and adult Superman fans alike. I can’t recommend the series enough.

PS. I went looking for Lois & Clark gifs when writing this review and W O W I forgot the humongous crush I had on Dean Cain before I even realized what crushes were.

tumblr_mldl3nvf0e1rnw80to5_r1_250(I mean, COME ON.)

Time to scour the internet to see if I can do some re-watching and relive some childhood memories.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

IMG_6089In a Dark, Dark Wood
Ruth Ware
Goodreads

In a dark, dark wood

Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room….

Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

Well then.

Admittedly this is not a book that I would’ve picked up if I hadn’t been outvoted by my book club. However, I read Gone Girl and I loved how awful everyone was. This book is covered in pull quotes about how it’s the next Gone Girl! Those pull quotes are garbage!

Like setting aside the trying too hard writing style, the POV protagonist is so grating, the mystery is obvious, and it is about twice the length it needs to be.

A good rule of thumb is if someone you’ve never spoken to invites you to a bachelorette party/hen night that is also a weekend away for someone you haven’t spoken to in 10 years then don’t fucking go. Just don’t. Own the fact that you are not 16 anymore and just not go. Especially when you had no idea that they’re getting married because a basic internet search is beyond you.

Most of us do not regress to our teen selves when confronted with people from our pasts. Then again, most of us actually grow up.

Underground Airlines, by Ben H. Winters

IMG_5669
Underground Airlines
Ben H. Winters

From Goodreads

It is the present-day, and the world is as we know it: smartphones, social networking and Happy Meals. Save for one thing: the Civil War never occurred.

A gifted young black man calling himself Victor has struck a bargain with federal law enforcement, working as a bounty hunter for the US Marshall Service. He’s got plenty of work. In this version of America, slavery continues in four states called “the Hard Four.” On the trail of a runaway known as Jackdaw, Victor arrives in Indianapolis knowing that something isn’t right–with the case file, with his work, and with the country itself.

A mystery to himself, Victor suppresses his memories of his childhood on a plantation, and works to infiltrate the local cell of a abolitionist movement called the Underground Airlines. Tracking Jackdaw through the back rooms of churches, empty parking garages, hotels, and medical offices, Victor believes he’s hot on the trail. But his strange, increasingly uncanny pursuit is complicated by a boss who won’t reveal the extraordinary stakes of Jackdaw’s case, as well as by a heartbreaking young woman and her child who may be Victor’s salvation. Victor himself may be the biggest obstacle of all–though his true self remains buried, it threatens to surface.

Victor believes himself to be a good man doing bad work, unwilling to give up the freedom he has worked so hard to earn. But in pursuing Jackdaw, Victor discovers secrets at the core of the country’s arrangement with the Hard Four, secrets the government will preserve at any cost.

Review:

This book had a lot of potential that was just wasted. An intriguing universe that seemed to be relatively well thought out (the little glimpses we got of it suggested there was more thought behind the scenes than on the page).

Unfortunately, in the quest to make this a thriller/mystery Winters ended up disappointing. The narrator was underdeveloped, nothing more than a cipher to let the greater story unfold upon. The argument could be made that that was the point, that our narrator was “no one” out of necessity, and therefore he was “everyone”. But at the end of the day it was hard to care about him or the bigger search of the novel. Caring about anything in this book was a lot harder than it should. The alternative history had so much potential!

One of Us is Lying, by Karen M. McManus

32571395One of Us is Lying
Karen M. McManus
Goodreads
★★★

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Review:

(Note: For a first post in a brand new blog I figured I should probably expand on my thoughts a little bit, but that would totally go against the idea of what this review blog is about. So short & lazy review that I originally put up on Goodreads it is!)

I wasn’t going to write a review or anything BUT I JUST FUCKING REMEMBERED SOMETHING.

One character legitimately, actually, unironically thinks the line but god, it’s beautiful when that boy smiles.1

kTY1fkh

Gag.

OTHERWISE!!!! This was a really entertaining book that I read in two sessions. I do wish the whodunit reveal could have dug a little deeper into the psychology/motives of the person who did it, but I was satisified with the mystery as a whole.

1(I don’t have my library copy anymore so I can’t say that’s verbatim but it’s close. And for the record, that line is from 2AM (Breathe) by Anna Nalick, a song that I wholeheartedly love and in which the lyric works and isn’t a cheesy mess.)