The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin

34818163The Room by the Lake
Emma Dibdin
Goodreads

When Caitlin moved from London to New York, she thought she had left her problems behind: her alcoholic father, her dead mother, the pressure to succeed. But now, down to her last dollar in a foreign city, she is desperately lonely.

Then she meets Jake. Handsome, smart, slightly damaged Jake. He lives off-grid, in a lakeside commune whose members practise regular exercise and frequent group therapy. Before long, Caitlin has settled into her idyllic new home.

It looks like she has found the fresh start she longed for. But, as the commune tightens its grip on her freedom and her sanity, Caitlin realizes too late that she might become lost forever…

Review:

Though I finished this book in two days, I wasn’t very impressed by it.  The summary intrigued me and I always do enjoy fictional accounts of cults and those ensnared by them but I wanted this book to be different and it wasn’t.  It was same old ‘character wants a different life, character gets taken in by a charismatic man, character thinks she’s found her life, character realizes that this is not a good place, character escapes.’

I was waiting for the sense of ominous foreboding that I expected with a book like this and I just didn’t get it.  Everything was serene and strange but nothing stood out to me as being a precursor to the bad stuff I knew would be coming.  It was fine and then it wasn’t.  Everything seemed to happen in like twenty pages which made the journey up to that seem pointless.

It didn’t help that the author went for a huge cliche with the main male bad guy in regards to what he was using his power for.  I was disappointed and didn’t really feel anything when he got his comeuppance.

This book was merely all right.  A good fast read for when you need something to do but nothing that I’d highly recommend.

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Ill Will by Dan Chaon

30687788Ill Will
Dan Chaon
Goodreads

Two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—are linked by one man’s memory and self-deception in this chilling novel of literary suspense from National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon.

“We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves,” Dustin Tillman likes to say. It’s one of the little mantras he shares with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to symbolize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients gets him deeply engaged in a string of drowning deaths involving drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses talk of a serial killer as paranoid thinking, but as he gets wrapped up in their amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.

Review:

What a shit pile.  Honestly, I struggled through this book to the point that I thought about putting it down several times and not finishing it.  There were no characters that I connected with, the plots were convoluted and unnecessarily melodramatic and there were chapters where the writing was written in stupid columns that made it hard to read and just pissed me off.  I’m sure it was done to be cutesy and different but it just annoyed me and I was already annoyed with the book at that time.

The only thing that got this book two stars was one of the twists at the end of the book.  Of course, said twist went unresolved so the author could give an ~ ambiguous ~ ending on EVERY SINGLE PLOT LINE HE SHOVED INTO THIS STUPIDLY LONG BOOK.

I think I probably would have been more satisfied putting the book down and marking it DNF than to muddle through and ending up with the denouement I received.  Just boring and dull and dumb.

 

 

Silent Child by Sarah Denzil

33984070Silent Child
Sarah Denzil
Goodreads

In the summer of 2006, Emma Price watched helplessly as her six-year-old son’s red coat was fished out of the River Ouse. It was the tragic story of the year – a little boy, Aiden, wandered away from school during a terrible flood, fell into the river, and drowned. 


His body was never recovered. 
Ten years later, Emma has finally rediscovered the joy in life. She’s married, pregnant, and in control again…

… until Aiden returns. 

Too traumatized to speak, he raises endless questions and answers none. Only his body tells the story of his decade-long disappearance. The historic broken bones and injuries cast a mere glimpse into the horrors Aiden has experienced. Aiden never drowned. Aiden was taken. 
As Emma attempts to reconnect with her now teenage son, she must unmask the monster who took him away from her. But who, in their tiny village, could be capable of such a crime?

It’s Aiden who has the answers, but he cannot tell the unspeakable.

This dark and disturbing psychological novel will appeal to fans of The Widow and The Butterfly Garden.

Review:

I think this book could have been a lot better if it was about fifty pages shorter.  It wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination but the climax was dragged out a bit and really didn’t need to be as I’d guessed the culprit about a hundred pages prior.

The book also suffered from nearly making Emma, the protagonist, unlikable to a degree that I wanted to kick her in the face.  Luckily, the author dialed back some of the things she did that made me want to punch her but I still didn’t very much care for her by the book’s end.

Despite all the things that didn’t work for me about this book, the overall mystery was intriguing enough that it kept me interested enough to continue reading.  There was one small twist at the end that caught me off guard, made me mutter ‘oh fuck me’ but everything else was pretty predictable in a harmless sort of way.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

18498558Bird Box
Josh Malerman
Goodreads

Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat–blindfolded–with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

Review:

There was a lot I liked about this book.  It was short which meant the plot had to be tightly unfurled and didn’t have any chance to go off on tangents or introduce characters that had no bearing on the book.  Everything was concise, efficient and unspooled in a way that, while not as detailed as some books, rocketed the tension up to make it a page turner in spots.  There were several areas where I wanted more and more, wanted to see what happened and how it happened.  Malerman’s writing is very spare, using words as weapons to really drive a point home or using the sparse and stripped language to paint a picture of a world torn apart.

I thought the book was building to finally revealing the antagonists that had been so feared and so talked about the entire book but that didn’t happen.  So, that was a bit of a let down, a bit of tension yanked away.  While I get what the author was going for in keeping things ambiguous, the previous pages had made me want to know more.  But, the climax is open ended, leaving the reader to imagine what might happen in the future to Malorie and her kids.

It’s an interesting book.  It’s short enough that I’d recommend because it won’t take you long to finish but I did wish for more because I felt like the end fell flat.

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

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Hex
Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Goodreads

Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay ’til death. Whoever settles, never leaves.

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a 17th century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters your homes at will. She stands next to your bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened.

The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting, but in so doing send the town spiraling into the dark, medieval practices of the past.

Review:

I really enjoy books that make the setting an additional character. Black Spring the place was just as freaky as the Black Rock Witch. That ratcheted the tension up even higher, making certain parts of the book suffocating and overwhelming in intensity.

There were some slower parts of the book, parts that could have been cut out to make the book a bit shorter and tighter but they were few and far between. The characters, while not very memorable, played their parts well but they were really the backdrop for the town and the witch herself.

The only other quibble was that the author had quite the obsession with mentioning nipples, both men and women. I don’t know why or what’s behind it but dude really likes to describe nipples.

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.

Final Girls, by Riley Sager

32796253Final Girls
Riley Sager
Goodreads
★★

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Review:

What the hell? I was promised a thriller and all I got was a character study that wasn’t that great, terrible decisions made by boring and awful characters, and a plot twist that came out of nowhere and didn’t really make any sense.

I ended up skim reading the last half of the book because I wanted to see how it all played out, but I really disliked Quincy and Sam. I can kind of see where the author was going with their relationship leading down toxic paths, but I don’t think making me hate both characters to the point where I didn’t want to read the book anymore was intended.

As for the reveal of what happened at Pine Cottage…okay, sure, I’ll buy it. I buy Quincy’s actions and some of the stuff that went on, but the overall action of the actual murders didn’t make sense in my head. But I didn’t really care at that point so I didn’t even bother trying to make sense of it all.

So disappointing.