listen to this, meg says read this

Read This: What She Knew

If you’re like me, the weekend isn’t only a time to recharge your batteries for the week, but if you’re lucky it’s a chance to dive into another new book and not have to worry about how late you stay up reading it. A few weeks ago I picked up Gilly Macmillan’s What She Knew. I saw it on a list of suggestions if you enjoyed Gone Girl. Okay, first of all – I really enjoyed the plot twists of Gone Girl. They were shocking, and unexpected. Unfortunately, now I compare any mystery novel with a female narrator to that story. After reading Girl on the Train I thought maybe some of these mysteries were starting to run together in their run of the mill use of plot devices. I’ll admit, I think I ill-judged What She Knew for about the first sixty pages.
In this novel, young mom Rachel is at a park with her 8-year old son Ben and their dog Skittle. Ben begs to run ahead to the rope swing, and Rachel agrees trailing behind him. When she reaches the swing, as it sways in the empty clearing, Rachel doesn’t see Ben – instead of assuming the worst, she thinks maybe he’s playing hide and seek. That is until all the normal go-tos don’t bring  him out of hiding. Of course, Rachel starts to panic. Thus begins a mother’s (and the father who she’s divorced from) worst nightmare – her son has been abducted. I found this story very well written, and hard to put down because I desperately wanted to know what happened next. Rachel’s sister and her journalist friend end up being her main avenues of support in this harrowing ordeal. Unfortunately, Rachel is put in the media spotlight and it does not bode well. Then there’s the blogging world that turns ugly, pointing blame and suspicion on her. The detectives try to research everyone involved in their lives on a daily basis, from friends and parents on the soccer team, to school personnel, to old patients of Ben’s father who’s a pediatric surgeon who may have a vendetta against him.

This is one of those stories that makes readers question the information in front of them. If Rachel a reliable narrator? Are we getting the whole story? Are the investigators sidetracked by their own personal grief?

The story digs into the personal lives of these people, and long buried revelations are revealed. I have to say there were some surprising elements to this story, that I was extremely pleased with. The novel wasn’t entirely predictable, which can be hard to do sometimes. The suspense was carried out though the end. I think the story also lent itself to an introspective reading – displaying so many sides to a story and all of the emotions that go with it. If you’re looking for a fresh mystery novel, check this one out.

meg says read this, Read This

Read This: 99 Days

First of all, let me just say that Katie Cotugno has a genius way of being able to weave a juicy plot, into a story of summer love, lifelong friendship, the meaning of family, and the events in life that make us grow up.

In 99 Days we find out early on that Molly’s mom has done the unthinkable – used the love triangle of her own daughter’s (disastrous?) adventures in love – as the plot for her best-selling novel. Because who isn’t going to read about the sweet girl betraying the boy she grew up with, her first love Patrick, by getting together with his older brother Gabe? Dramatic, I know. So what does Molly do when this story lands itself on the cover of People magazine? Run off to boarding school out of state, of course. Even with a year hiatus from the town holding the secrets of her past, she can’t stay away forever. So, the summer before going off to college in Boston she finds herself back at her mom’s place. Of course, Molly does what any teenager practicing avoidance and any kind of social interaction would do –  lays in bed eating Red Vines and watching Netflix documentaries. Not surprisingly, though that’s a comforting activity, it gets old fast. So, Molly unexpectedly finds herself with a new job to busy her self, (helping with the re-opening of a restaurant at the country club,) and slowly tries to mend the pieces of her broken friendships.

Cotugno tells Molly’s story of learning forgiveness (extending it to others, like her mom and looking for it with her friends by owning up to mistakes she’s made.) We all know I’m a sap, but I felt Molly’s struggle of trying to listen to her heart screaming to her about someone she knew like the back of her hand, and someone new who was fun and present and real, and seemed open. Cotugno also delved into the meaning of family – with Molly’s relationship with her mom but also her relationship with Patrick’s family – she used to be like one of their own.

While yes, this has a great pace for an indulgent read by the pool or at the beach – don’t dismiss it as a fluff read. 99 Days is heartfelt, emotional, funny at times, and it’s true to life. Maybe you see yourself in Molly, or one of her friends. It’s a refreshing take on coming into your own from the throws of teenage-hood, and growing up.

If you haven’t read this one yet, check it out!

meg says read this, Read This

Read This: Everything Everything

I guess you could say I’ve taken a bit of a break from young adult novels in the past few weeks, (well, in terms of usual ratio,) but I saw the movie trailer for Nicola Yoon’s Everything Everything, and thought to myself “why the heck haven’t I read this yet?” Too impatient to wait on the library’s hold list, I picked up a copy at Sam’s Club, and dove right in. Maybe I’m off my game, but I was thrown by the plot twist. And I LOVE that. I genuinely love when I’m surprised by the words on a page, and am so overwhelmed absorbing the information I didn’t expect to see, I have to pause. Everything Everything tells the story of teenager Madeline who has lived her whole life in the same house, breathing filtered air, with only in-person contact with her mom and her nurse (who takes her stats and vitals all day,) and a time or two a visit from a teacher – because she is allergic to everything. Can you imagine? Though, maybe it’s like some things in life – when you haven’t experienced them yet, you don’t know to miss them. You can’t miss the smell of the ocean, if the salty air has never wafted below your nose, and you can’t miss the taste of a steaming hot slice of pizza burning the roof of your mouth, if those ingredients have never touched your tongue. You probably won’t daydream all day about holding hands with a boy, if you haven’t interacted with one in real life. Maddy lives life vicariously through the pages of the books she devours, and is entertained by movie nights, and made-up board games with her mom. Life as Maddy knows it, changes when cute, mysterious, Olly and his family move in next door. How convenient their bedroom windows face one another. What starts with hand gestures, and condensation notes on window panes, leads to e-mails and the ole trusty instant messenger, and then opens to a whole other world of experiences beyond what Maddy could have imagined on her dreamiest days. Armed with a credit card, and a mischievous streak of braveness not to let her life pass her by, Maddy makes some huge decisions – taking her life and all of it’s possibilities into her own hands. Everything, Everything is a story of love and friendship, trust and betrayal, adventure and risk, and listening to your gut. I know I’m late to the game, but this was a fantastic read, and I found it refreshing. If you haven’t yet, check out this great novel. (I have to admit, I’m excited to see what they’ve done with the movie adaptation!)

meg says read this, Uncategorized

Meg Says Read This (Maybe): The Girls

414vpuuee6l-_sy346_I woke up at 5:30 in the morning on Sunday, and I couldn’t go back to sleep so I decided to finish reading a book I’d started last week. The book had a ridiculous amount of hype last year, finding a place on so many must-read lists. I’d been excited to finally read it after being on the library wait-list for a few months, only to be turned off by the slow pace and anti-climatic story telling.

I was curious of other reader’s feedback, so I looked at some reviews on Amazon. One person shared: “Look, I’m stoked people are even still writing books, let alone reading them AND sometimes buying the actual book. However, this was just boring.”

Unfortunately, I had to agree.

The Girls focuses on fourteen year old Evie, in the summer of the late 60’s. Bored with her only friend Connie, frustrated with her mom and her string of new boyfriends, desperate and eager for attention she finds herself falling in with a cult. This story line had strong potential, but in my opinion fell flat. The descriptions of the characters, though flowery in their prose, brought us no closer to understanding any of them. The most we got were Evie’s obsessive sexual fantasies about (basically the ring leader of the woman in the group – though they claimed to live belonging to no one with an equal flow of love in all directions) Suzanne. The story is told in flashbacks of present day Evie – older, timid, living a quiet life alone. Basically the whole book just felt like a shell of a story. We don’t really learn much about Evie’s life after that summer, (she wasn’t connected to the crimes committed), except that she made a few friends at boarding school that year, and later in life she had a few different roommates. Even during the summer with the cult and it’s leader, Russell (baring uncanny descriptive similarities to Manson) the flashbacks are lacking as well. Listen, I wasn’t looking for some gruesome telling of the murders, or sexual assault but I just felt confused the whole time. The story didn’t really seem to have much to do with the bizarre practices themselves. Evie seemed to mock them, and question them regularly (mostly internally,) but it was just a means for her to be able to follow Suzanne around and be close to her. Sure – if this wasn’t fictional, it’d be great that some young teenage girl didn’t get completely sucked in. But how much reality is there to the idea that she just rode her bike to hang out with these people on a ranch, occasionally spending the night, but sometimes returning home in time for dinner? It felt non-committal.

Hopefully the other titles on my “to-read” list for 2017 are less disappointing. I know that mine is not necessarily a popular opinion regarding this book. Some people sing the praises of Emma Cline for her “beautiful style.” I wouldn’t personally recommend this book, but I still think it’s good to gather your own opinions, of what is being buzzed about.

(Image from Amazon.)

meg says read this, Uncategorized

Meg Says Read This: Scrappy Little Nobody

scrappy-little-nobody-9781501117206_lg2017 has been off to an interesting start. I mentioned before I started reading A Game of Thrones which is great, but I just really needed to read a book that would make me laugh. Books can expand our horizons, provide an escape, a distraction, and some books can entertain us. In comes Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody as my first read of 2017. I laughed out loud reading this, continuously, hard, and sometimes until tears sprung in my eyes. Oh, Anna did I need those laughs. But also her book made me think a lot about our preconceived ideas of celebrity, and Hollywood. I can’t imagine being in a film at Sundance, and your peers having no idea, or worse just not caring a bit about it! Kendrick shares stories from her childhood, (I loved the one about how she got her first Broadway gig), her dating life, apartment living, how she still gets star struck, and everything in between. I was surprised to learn that Happy Christmas was filmed in eleven days, on an $80,000 budget, with  no script! And I guess, like Kendrick, I thought once you were famous people probably followed you around and basically made you keep yourself (and your house) together – surprise! They don’t. Kendrick writes with such ease, and honesty that it feels like it’s a friend telling you about her life. I felt like you could feel her anxiety about certain situations, or the frustration with  nothing productive happening on press tours (even if they’re necessary.) If you’re a shorty, petite girl I think you could really relate to this too. She touched on a lot of points, of experiences I’ve had all my life. (At 5 feet tall, with tiny feet, and still being able to wear clothes from first grade when I was in fifth grade – I felt like I’d just use my noise level and energy to make up for my lack of size. Anna Kendrick sounds like she totally got this!) She talks about insecurities, but also about the things she knows she should just say “screw you” about if someone has a problem. She sounds like she really takes pride in her work, and invests in the relationships she develops with her coworkers but she’s super open about the time she’s not on a job she’s at home chilling in sweatpants, watching Netflix, eating take out. She sounds like the rest of us doesn’t she? (Adulting, hmm…)  Kendrick mentions multiple times that she hopes while reading her book, the reader feels less alone – well girl, I think you more than accomplished that task. I would definitely recommend this book. It lifted my spirits a little, and it reminded me that although our paths might look different, we’re all kind of floating around in the same boats.