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.

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meg says read this

Meg Says Read This: Luckiest Girl Alive

51hmfl5xx9l-_sx329_bo1204203200_Of course, when Reese Witherspoon recommends a book, I’m all ears. I saw the praise for Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive, and immediately put myself on the wait list at the library. I was instantly drawn into the world of Ani in all of its splendor, but also hazy secrets. Readers learn quickly that some events  earlier in Ani’s life led her to fight for a life as a successful, beautiful, thriving woman – someone who would build armor from the admiration and jealousy of others. Ani is living in Manhattan, in her late twenties, engaged to a handsome man of Wall Street, and writing provocative columns for a women’s magazine. It’s unclear at first what events drove Ani to revent invent herself into the salty, cut throat young woman, wanting to be superior to those around her but as her story unravels – there’s a tenderness, a vulnerability that makes everything make sense. I’ll say at first all of the high-end label name dropping threw me. I felt like it was an unnecessary tool that didn’t have high impact on the plot but eventually it grew to be less of a distraction, as I was more consumed by the emotional details of the story. Eventually the story starts alternating between Ani’s high school experiences in a small, prestigious prep school and her current life in the city. That’s when things start getting really gritty. I’ll be honest, usually I consider myself to be a pretty observant reader and I can sense a plot twist coming. This one took my breath away. I literally felt my hand fly to my mouth with a sharp intake of breath, unprepared for the turn of events on the page. Now that really made me admire Knoll’s writing style. She’d already captivated this reader’s attention, but then she drug me even deeper into the story unable to look away as hard as it was at times to push through the sharp details. I know that this is a vague telling of a novel that I’m recommending with such a high regard but I was so struck by the element of surprise in this story that I would hate to ruin that reading experience for anyone else.

I subscribe to LennyLetter and several months ago, I saw Jessica Knoll had penned her own, “What I Know.” I saw the description, but I declined reading the letter in its entirety, until I’d read Luckiest Girl Alive. Well, after finishing the book last time I went ahead and read the letter, and I have goosebumps just thinking about it. Click here to check it out.

For those of you who have already read Luckiest Girl Alive, thoughts? Comments? I’ve also seen that Witherspoon optioned the movie rights, and Knoll wrote the screenplay so I’m curious to see how that pans out!

You might not be expecting it at first, but this is definitely a powerful read. Knoll gives TifAni a powerful voice in this story, and she writes in a way that captures a plethora of emotions she cycles through – lust, fear, guilt, remorse, uncertainty – it’s all there. I highly recommend you add it to your list. Happy Reading!

(Image from Amazon.)

meg says watch this

Meg Says Watch This: Stranger Things

Two words: STRANGER THINGS.

Netflix new original series brought to you by the twin brother duo Matt and Ross Duffer has such an amazing story packed into eight episodes. I’ll admit, I’m a scaredy cat – I’m annoying to watch thrillers with because I hide under blankets or peek through my hands, but for whatever reason syfy is a different story. I’m so fascinated by anything paranormal. I had an unhealthy teenage obsession with Roswell and conspiracy theories. The kids are so brilliantly cast in this show (well, all the characters) that I was hooked immediately. It’s set in the 80’s and everything about it was done right – the house decor, the muted outfits, the music, the old corded phones.

I don’t want to spoil any of the mystery of the show, so I’ll tell you this. A group of friends are playing a heated game of Dungeons and Dragons and it’s time to head home for the night. Three boys set out on their bikes, and only two end up making it home. The episodes cover the span of a week while Will is missing. But there is so much more to the story. (Isn’t there always?)

It’s a fantastically crafted piece of work with a beautiful nod to the likes of E.T. and the Goonies, but with it’s own unique appeal. I started it last week after a girlfriend recommended it, and now I can’t stop telling people to watch it. I personally didn’t find the show scary, just sufficiently suspenseful. But I like to think of it as an innocent suspense that plays on imagination.

I love that it’s 2016 and this is the kind of project that people are creating. The technology of our time is amazing, but it’s cool to see a little rewind.

(If you’ve already watched it: I was reading an interview with the Duffer bros from Variety the other day, and they said they have a 30 page document about Upside Down. Thirty pages! I just love the depth of the story here. ALSO, a Season Two has been confirmed!)

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.)
meg says watch this

Meg Says Watch This: “The Martian”

Movies about space fascinate me, and I have a soft spot for Matt Damon so with a combination like that why wouldn’t I check out The Martian? A few weekends ago, my cousins and I got together and we debated between this and Pan (which I am sure I will still end up seeing because c’mon PETER PAN, guys!) but based off of my brother’s enthusiastic suggestion The Martian won. So, I expected some blood pressure raising, probably me having trouble breathing and peaking between my fingers as my hands shielded my eyes while watching this film. (I love that feeling when you don’t think you can stand a second longer of the intensity of suspense, but it also always causes inevitably dramatic bodily reactions.) BUT I was surprised by how much I laughed. Seriously, laughed. It’s not just the writing of the dialogue, but also the way Damon delivers. (And Jeff Daniels because he’s great at it, too.) While this film is futuristic, it’s also so believable – the whole idea that in the not so distant future, we’ll probably be sending astronauts to go hang out on Mars. (Okay, I know they’re not like living it up at happy hour out there, but you know – space exploring and stuff!) It’s kind of mind blowing. And not to spoil anything, but I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of some ABBA in this movie. It’s on the lengthier side, but it didn’t feel like it at all. I’ll admit, amidst the laughter, and the shallow breathing, I did find myself shedding a few tears as well. It’s just a beautiful film. Also, it really put things into perspective for me, too. I mean if this man can be the only inhabitant stuck on an entire PLANET alone and still find a way to muster up hope and hang onto inventive ingenuity – then what’s stopping me from handling some average earthly struggles? If you haven’t seen The Martian yet, I suggest adding it to your to-do list. Might I add try and see it in theatres, it’s one of those that I think the big screen enhances the experience.

If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, check it out from YouTube here:

Did you see The Martian yet? What did you think? Did you enjoy or think the film is overrated? I’d love to hear from you!