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, 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

Meg Says, Read This: Room

7937843Confession time: I am a scaredy cat. Okay, let me rephrase that…sometimes I am foolishly brave, but that’s a whole different ball game; usually situations that involve going out on a limb or whatever. The kind of scaredy cat I’m talking about today is that I hate suspense. I like to see the big picture. I know the whole magic of life is watching all the events unfold, but I literally despise transitions – the in-between. I hate not-knowing, the sickening feeling of uncertainty. I just want to know that everything works out, but better yet I’d like to know right now how exactly it works out. So, I’m pretty sure my aversion to suspense is why I avoid certain topics. (I used to be a serious Law & Order junkie until I realized that irrational amount of paranoia was wreaking havoc in my brain. Convinced that the creeks in the kitchen in the middle of the night, or the scratches from branches on windows were definitely “bad guys” coming to kidnap or kill me were pretty typical scenarios).

The unfortunate result of this avoidance, is that sometimes I miss out on some great stuff. This time, the novel Room by Emma Donoghue. I remember when it was first released a few years ago, I was convinced I’d have nightmares if I read it. Then when I heard they were making a film, my interest peaked. (The trailer didn’t look so scary). Also, you know I was obsessed with Short Term 12, so I was curious about Brie Larson’s role in this. Well, it came and went from the movie theatre here too fast for me to catch it, but if you watched the Oscars last Sunday then you know that Larson won the award for Best Actress for her role as “Ma” in Room. On Monday I paid a visit to the library. I was actually looking for something else, but there was Room, screaming for me to pick it up from the shelf. I started reading it before I went to sleep that night, and I was finished with the novel by Wednesday. Shame on me for waiting so long.
Although the subject matter of Room is definitely intense, the fact that it’s told from the view point of five-year old Jack brings a whole different perspective to the situation. Jack’s Ma, was kidnapped when she was 19 by a stranger in a parking lot. Having been held captive in a sound-proofed shed for 7 years, and giving birth to Jack while held there – “room” is all Jack has ever known of the world. This is an incredible story of the strong bond between mother and child, and the power of perception and resilience. Maybe I read this so quickly because in certain scenes my heart was thumping so hard in my chest, I needed my brain to work quicker to absorb the words because I HAD to know what happened next. Room is such a powerful story, and I already started recommending it to friends. I feel silly for avoiding it for so long. I think the characters will stick with me for a while. I think this is a story that challenges readers to really think about situations in the what “what would you do?” sense. It also made me appreciate the wonder of the world from a child’s perspective, and all the intricate ways we communicate and interact on a daily basis.
All in all, I say if you’re like me and drug your feet on reading this – get to it! Go read it now!
(Image via: goodreads.)
Read This, Throwback Thursday

TBT Read This: “God Shaped Hole”

Hi there, reader! It’s Throwback Thursday and it also happens to be Valentine’s Day. I’m never too crazy about this holiday, but I’m not a complete hater on it either. (I just think we’d all be better off if we shared our feelings and wore our hearts on our sleeves a little more, instead of confining it to one day.) Annnnnyway, with all that being said I think it’s a fine day to share with you one of my favorite fictional gentleman, and heartbreakingly beautiful love stories of all time: God Shaped Hole by Tiffanie Debartolo. Thanks to Tree at Moore with the Most I was introduced to this fabulous novel in about tenth grade I think? So of course, I’ve held Jacob Grace up on a mental pedestal ever since.

Trixie Jordan was twelve when a fortune teller told her, her one true love would die at a young age. Do you believe a fortune teller at age twelve? I don’t know, but I know if I answered a personal ad like this:

“If your intentions are pure
I am seeking a friend
for the end of the world.”

and found Jacob Grace, I wouldn’t want to believe anything of the sort. Except for the one true love part. Jacob is a vibrant soul, marches to the beat of his own drum. He’s smart, intelligent, handsome. He and Trixie have a magnetic relationship, they bring out a beauty in one another, together their love is a passionate romance. If you haven’t read this novel yet, seriously get to it! I promise this story of the amazing highs and heart-wrenching lows of an incredible relationship is worth it even if you sob a little. (Just me? I don’t think so.) I’m not guaranteeing you any happy endings, but I will tell you that I read this like ten years ago and it has stuck with me all this time. It’s one of those. It’s epic. It’s unforgettable. And you’ll know why I got so excited (and then disappointed) when I saw Keira Knightley and Steve Carrel were making a film called Seeking a Friend For the End Of the World. (It wasn’t about this, unfortunately.) I’m leaving this short and sweet because honestly I don’t want to spoil another single word of this book.

Have you read God Shaped Hole? Does Jacob Grace have a special place in your heart? Tell me about it!

Read This, Reading

Read This: “MWF Seeking BFF: My Year Long Search for a New Best Friend”

I think I have a book crush. If you keep up with my rambles,  (here or on Mugs Life and Twitter) you probably noticed my incessant mentions of Rachel Bertsche’s MWF Seeking BFF.

I’m still in the middle of reading this wonderful book MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend (look the paperback costs less than the Kindle version – love when that happens!) Though I suspect I’ll probably be finished by tonight because it’s just that good. I originally found out about it on Hello Giggles when I read this awesome article by Sarah Heyward, who actually went to school with the author Rachel Bertsche. Bertsche is awesome, and I would love to go on a friend-date with her (though I don’t really meet the requirements seeing as I would just add to the list of friends a plan ride away.) Heyward always contributes really clever articles to HG, and it feels like we share a lot of the same brain because we obsess over the same tidbits of pop culture. Plus! She writes for HBO’s Girls – extra awesome points, duh!

Her website provides this synopsis that gives you a perfect idea of the book without spoiling any of the hilarious and thought-provoking experiences of her friend dating:

When Rachel Bertsche first moves to Chicago, she’s thrilled to finally share a zip code, let alone an apartment, with her boyfriend. But shortly after getting married, Bertsche realizes that her new life is missing one thing: friends. Sure, she has plenty of BFFs—in New York and San Francisco and Boston and Washington, D.C. Still, in her adopted hometown, there’s no one to call at the last minute for girl talk over brunch or a reality-TV marathon over a bottle of wine. Taking matters into her own hands, Bertsche develops a plan: She’ll go on fifty-two friend-dates, one per week for a year, in hopes of meeting her new Best Friend Forever.

I tried to drag it out, savoring chapters because I loved the friend finding journey she was on. I took the book to the bathtub and work and carried it in my purse everywhere, enjoying it and wanting to know how the year ended up but not wanting to be done. It’s been a few weeks since I finished, and I’m still thinking about the book on a regular basis. If I had known research could be that cool, I definitely would have felt more inspired by communication studies when I was in school. (I loved my major, but wasn’t very keen on research projects.) Bertsche has all these mentions about psychology and sociology and different studies that were done on friendship characteristics and such.

If you think about it, we’re all kind of friend dating on a regular basis anyways and they really do operate like the romantic kind. She met so many people, and had a constant schedule of activity going on during that year – I think the process would be exciting but exhausting. It’s pretty impressive that she kept up with it so well, determined and not letting the bad ones make the whole experience sour. Also, on a side note – her adventures made me even more intrigued by the city of Chicago. I already wanted to go, but it added to that intense curiosity and probably more so solidified it’s spot on my places to visit list.

I know my vagueness might not have drawn you in, but honestly I couldn’t stop talking about this book! I laughed so much, I even teared up. Plus, it’s Bertsche has such a refreshing voice, and I enjoyed how it was unlike anything else I’d read, a memoir of sorts. I don’t know what took me so long to finally pick it up, but I was so so glad once I did. If you’ve eyed it but haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend doing so ASAP. Also, she has some cool book suggestions in the back, and I know I’ll be reading some of those soon as well (like The Happiness Project.) Did you read it already? What were your thoughts? Leave a comment – we can discuss!