Out of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz: Book Review

 

Out of the Dark By Gregg Hurwitz
Published: Jan 29, 2019 by Minotaur Books
400 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy on Amazon

From Publisher: Taken from a group home at age twelve, Evan Smoak was raised and trained as part of the Orphan Program, an off-the-books operation designed to create assassins. Evan was Orphan X. He broke with the Program, using everything he learned to disappear and reinvent himself as the Nowhere Man, a man who helps the truly desperate when no one else can. But now, someone at the very highest level of government has been trying to eliminate every trace of the Orphan Program by killing all the remaining Orphans and their trainers

My Thoughts: If I’m ever in trouble, I hope someone calls Evan Smoak for me! Orphan X is back in the 4th installment of this fast paced, fun thriller series and he’s going after his most hated opponent yet, the President of the United States. The prologue shows us a very interesting scene in Russia in which Evan is out on his first solo mission as a trained assassin for a dark black ops program the US government formed.  I really enjoyed getting a glimpse of Evan as a young man because, cut to current day, he’s now in what I guess to be his late 30s and he’s no longer in the program. He now spends his days being The Nowhere Man, carrying out his own brand of vigilante justice for those who call his super secret line and are in dire need of help. The two storylines run parallel to each other and the author pulls them off brilliantly.

While Evan is doing some serious scouting of the President’s agendas, day to day security details, life in and outside The White House , etc we are privy to some fascinating details about the life of The President which I’m assuming are true (at least most) and which seem very thoroughly researched. This was one of my favorite parts of the book actually! While Evan is deciding on his best course of action to assassinate the President, the President has called in Evan’s arch rival, Orphan A, to kill Evan. It’s all very cut throat, fast paced, and tension filled.

Along with these 2 main storylines, we also have Evan’s ongoing romantic involvement with his neighbor, single mom and prosecutor Mia, who, accurately enough, suspects that Evan isn’t living the most law abiding lifestyle (she has no idea how right she is) so she won’t allow herself or her son to become too invested in him. I love how Hurwitz has weaved this thread of Mia and Evan throughout all 4 books.

If this sounds like a lot going on in one book, it is but it all works. I’ve said it before, the Orphan X novels remind me of the Jason Bourne movies so if you like that type of fast paced, action filled thriller with a very smart good guy to root for, who let’s face it, seemingly can’t be killed and almost never sleeps, this is for you. Do you have to suspend disbelief in parts? Of course, but who cares because this story and these characters are just so well done.

I will say, I highly recommend starting with book 1, Orphan X, in order to get the full backstory of these characters but if you choose to start here, Hurwitz does a great job of providing just enough info about important events from the previous books so you won’t feel completely lost. If you’re in the mood for an action packed thriller, you can’t go wrong with this series and good news…. I read that there will be 3 more Orphan X books in the future so you have plenty of time to catch up!

Thanks to Minotaur Books via Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review 

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Verity by Colleen Hoover: Book Review

Verity  By Colleen Hoover
Publication: Dec 7, 2018
250 Pages
Affiliate Link Buy On Amazon

Short Summary : Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish. However, it’s not long before Lowen realizes things with the Crawfords aren’t as they seem…in more ways than one.

My Thoughts: You may remember that this year I’ve jumped on the CoHo fan train (better late than never, right?) and have loved many of her books….Ugly Love, It Ends with Us, and All Your Perfects being my favorites. Verity is a totally different type of read and I’m so impressed with Hoover for taking a leap outside of her normal genre and writing something so psychologically dark and suspenseful. And bravo for such an impactful opening scene. Try putting the book down after that harrowing, slightly gruesome opening scene…I know I couldn’t.

We are first introduced to Lowen, getting a feel for her and her life which includes a recently deceased mother, an upcoming eviction, and a loss for where to go next in her writing career. Enter handsome, somewhat sorrowful Jeremy Crawford who, along with his wife’s publishing team, gives Lowen an opportunity she can’t afford to pass up – finish writing his wife’s (the bestselling novelist Verity Crawford) remaining books in her popular series. She accepts and when she begins researching the series and getting to know the family better, things begin to feel off kilter and just wrong in so many ways. Cue the tension and suspense that Hoover manifests throughout the story.

That’s all I want to say on the plot because I loved not knowing anything about it. The tension in the Crawford house felt palpable to me and when Hoover introduced a book within a book subplot I knew I was in for a late night of reading. It’s not often that plot device works for me but in this story it was brilliant. I zoomed through this book, all the while not really sure I knew who to trust, who was mentally off, or who was just outright lying.  I thought I did, but my feelings changed throughout which I loved. My only critique is that I felt the ending was too abrupt. It felt very rushed to me. Overall, I really enjoyed this and hope this isn’t the last we see of Colleen Hoover’s foray into romantic suspense.

Have you read this or plan to? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Us by David Nicholls: Throwback Thursday Book of the Week

Throwback Thursday is a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published months or years ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them.  I like that these older backlist books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere!

MY PICK THIS WEEK IS: 

Us  by David Nicholls
Publication: October 28, 2014 by Harper
400 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy On Amazon
 

From PublisherUs is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger.

My Thoughts:
The short of it…I loved this book!  Douglas Petersen, a 54-year-old biochemist, is awoken in the middle of the night by his wife of 24 years, Connie, a 52-year-old former artist turned art gallery employee. Douglas assumes Connie is worried about burglars again and sets off to check  the house. But it’s not burglars she’s concerned about — it’s their marriage. Connie believes their marriage has “run its course” and tells Douglas (who’s madly in love with his wife) she wants a divorce after their son, Albie, leaves for college in October. And just like that, the story is off and running.

Douglas convinces his wife not to cancel their Grand Tour of Europe with their son (one last family vacation before college) in the hopes that he’ll be able to make his wife fall back in love with him.  The narrative flows with 180 short chapters that have catchy titles like “On Practical Ethics in the Breakfast Buffet System” (this one is hysterical). The chapters alternate between the present-day Grand Tour and flashbacks of Douglas and Connie’s early days. Can you say opposites attract? Douglas is a type A, by-the-book type of guy. Connie has always been a free spirit who feels she has lost herself over the years.  As a result, she seems to have a case of “I love you; I’m just not IN love with you anymore.”

I enjoyed getting to know all the characters in this story but it’s Douglas I was rooting for. Through his triumphs and missteps with his wife and son throughout the Grand Tour, you will laugh and sometimes cringe, but you will always be entertained. Nicholls cleverly puts him through some tricky situations that beg the question: Is Douglas going to bend or break?

This ended up being a one-sit read for me. Once you get to know these characters, you’ll have to learn how it all turns out for them. Will it ultimately be a story of the inevitable failure of an opposites-attract marriage to go the distance? Or will it be a tale of – that which doesn’t kill us (i.e. marriage, children, family vacations) makes us stronger and keeps us together? You’ll have to read Us  to find out.

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: A Must Read Summer Debut

Where The Crawdads Sing  by Delia Owens
Published August 14, 2018 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons
384 Pages
Buy From Amazon

From the Publisher: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, aka the “Marsh Girl”

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My Overall ThoughtsWhere the Crawdads Sing is a book you’ve probably been seeing everywhere lately whether it’s been blowing up your Instagram feed, hitting some of the late summer must read lists and recently making People Magazine’s Best Book Of the Week pick! If you’ve wondered if it’s possibly as good as everyone is making it out to be I’m here to give my two cents worth and say yes it is, so run, don’t walk, to buy or borrow it now.

What Initially Drew Me In
I was intrigued by the fact that the storyline involved a possible murder, an isolated “marsh girl” and the two men who get wrapped up in her world. Could this also be a love story? (hint: yes!) Funny thing was, when I really got into the story which alternates between 1969 and the 1950s, I almost forgot about the murder mystery part as I was so invested in Kya’s story.

Atmospheric Writing
Owen’s writing created a feeling of actually being in the marsh which truly became its own character . I felt the suspense of wondering how this little girl, abandoned by her entire family, was going to survive on her own. The townspeople saw her as “white trash” and, not surprisingly, did little to help her. There was, however, bright spots amongst the cruelty, one of them being a local man named Jumpin who was my favorite character after Kya. Speaking of Kya, if you’re at all worried that she’s a “weird” character who doesn’t want to connect with others, don’t be as her desire for companionship and to be cared about by others came through so clearly.

“The lonely became larger than she could hold. She wished for someone’s voice, presence, touch, but wished more to protect her heart.”

And possibly my favorite passage in the book…

“Sometimes she heard night-sounds she didn’t know or jumped from lightning too close, but whenever she stumbled, it was the land who caught her. Until at last, at some unclaimed moment, the heart-pain seeped away like water into sand. Still there, but deep. Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.”

This is debut writing! Amazing!

A Flawless Second Half
I loved how Owens clearly combined her love of nature writing with her exploration of a little girl coming-of-age within the natural world. As for the mystery, I found it to be perfectly paced. The author hands us bits and pieces slowly, allowing this storyline to eventually merge with the past one and then really pick up speed. I found the last third of the book especially riveting as I couldn’t wait to find out if my theories were correct. They weren’t which I loved. As for the ending, I can honestly say I didn’t see one part coming and it left me a little stunned. 

You’ll be seeing this one on my top 10 reads of the year list, it’s just that good. I can’t wait for Delia Owen’s next book, I hope she writes fast! 

Thanks to G. P. Putnam’s Sons via Netgalley for my copy

 

 

The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger: book review

The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger
Published July 3, 2018 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons
341 Pages
Affiliate Link : Buy From Amazon

From PublisherOn an early morning in November, a couple boards a private plane bound for Geneva, flying into a storm. Soon after, it simply drops off the radar. Among the disappeared is Matthew Lerner, a banking insider at Swiss United, a powerful offshore bank. His young widow, Annabel, is left grappling with the secrets he left behind. Ambitious society journalist Marina Tourneau is engaged to Grant Ellis whose father is set to run for President of the US. While looking into Swiss United, Marina uncovers information that implicates some of the most powerful men in the financial world, including some who are too close to home…

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I’ll admit, when I first came across this title I assumed it was another domestic psychological “wife” thriller (although one with a great cover). The Banker’s Wife , however, was not at all what I expected. I knew from the opening scene in the London airport that this financial thriller was not only going to keep me on my toes, but it had such an international flair and hint of conspiracy and secrets to come that I couldn’t wait to find out more. 

We first meet Marina, an investigative journalist for Press magazine, whose fiancé’s father is close to securing the bid for the next US Presidential election. Although she’s been contemplating quitting the further immersed she gets in the upper echelon of New York society, she’s enticed by her editor to help gather secret evidence from a source in Paris. What follows propels Marina into an investigation of a top Swiss Bank, Swiss United, which may or may not have close US ties. From there we get to be flies on the wall, immersed in the secrets and scandals that cross the globe.

The story alternates perspectives between Marina and Annabel, whose husband Matthew is missing after his plane goes down in the Swiss Alps. Matthew is a banking executive with Swiss United (can you start to see the threads?) and it’s not long before Annabel is questioning not only what happened to her husband’s plane but also if she really knew her husband. 

I was equally invested in both these smart, sophisticated, take control women and the way Alger structured the novel, with lightening paced chapters that combined phenomenal dialogue with increasing tension, was just brilliant. Seriously, I felt like I was watching a movie while reading this book, if that makes sense? It is one of the most cinematic, globe trotting novels I’ve ever read, taking us to Switzerland, Paris, London, and New York.  I could picture each place and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out how all the little threads were connected…or not. Some advice though, this is a close reading type of story where details can be missed, especially in the second half where a few more characters were introduced. I had to really pay attention so as to not feel confused. I highly recommend this intelligent, tightly plotted thriller if you’re looking for something original and fast paced. 

Many thanks to G. P. Putnam’s Sons via Netgalley for my copy

 

 

2 Page Turning Books to Read Before Summer Ends

Aren’t page turning books the best in the summer for an afternoon at the pool, beach or, if you’re like me, the patio?  I read both of these in about a day and they both led to late night reading & loss of sleep which for me is the hallmark of a page turner. That sounds like a new category list for the blog…books that cause a loss of sleep…hmmm

The Wife  By Alafair Burke
Published January 23, 2018 By Harper
340 Pages
Affiliate Link Buy From Amazon

Short Summary: A celebrity husband’s scandal, a wife’s secrets, a disappearance all intersect to test loyalty and make us wonder what EXACTLY is going on.

My Thoughts: I have no idea why I waited until now to read this book, big mistake on my part. I loved the intricate web Burke created with this plot so much, even more so because she fooled me in the end. I love that! This book starts with a bang and ends with a “gasp” and includes many subtle twists and turns in between.  How tempting is this first sentence?

In an instant, I became the woman they assumed I’d been all along: the wife who lied to protect her husband. 

Of course I can’t even give you a smidge of a hint about the ending but know this…it’s perfection. What I love about Burke’s writing is her ability to weave an intricate plot that caused me to guess, question everything, guess again, and then realize I wasn’t going to figure this out any time soon, hence the late night of reading. The story is layered and very clever, yet also incorporates timely subject matter which made it feel “ripped from the headlines.” I don’t want to give a single plot detail away so I’ll just say pick this up if you’re looking for a QUALITY psychological thriller that lives up to the thriller title. And if you love this (I think you will), try Burke’s book All Day and a Night , a Throwback Thursdaypick from long ago.

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Jane Doe By Victoria Helen Stone
Published August 1, 2018 By Lake Union
258 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy From Amazon 

Short Summary: Plain Jane is blending in nicely at her new job at an insurance agency but there is much more to Jane than meets the eye. No one suspects she’s leading a double life with a single purpose of revenge

My Thoughts: Oh my you guys, Jane kind of left me speechless and I mean that in the BEST possible way! She’s a little cray-cray but I’d certainly love to be friends with her. She’s a very self aware sociopath, making no apologies for herself and in no way wishes to change. She’s returned to the US after living in Malaysia with a single focus and agenda – revenge. This page turner is told entirely from Jane’s perspective and believe me that’s the best way to tell it.

The dress is soft and flowery, like all of my recent purchases. It could be demure, but I’ve unbuttoned one too many buttons. He’s a breast man, our Steven. Mine aren’t large, but I’ve pushed them up to make them look more C than B. He likes the result. If he ever sees me naked, he’ll be disappointed, but it will only work in my favor.

Along with the fact that I just really loved Jane’s wit, her ingenuity, and her single minded determination to succeed with her plan, I also loved that there was no unreliable narrator and no flashbacks. This is a straightforward, no gimmicks story and that was so welcome! I literally couldn’t put this book down and stayed up super late to finish. My best advice would be to just pick this up -don’t read the synopsis- and prepare to be thoroughly entertained. If you’ve already read and enjoyed You (My Review) by Carolyn Kepnes, I think you’ll definitely love this….and wouldn’t Joe & Jane make the BEST literary couple??

Have you read either of these? What page turning books have YOU read lately?

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

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***Before I get to this week’s pick, I wanted to update you on the upcoming discussion post for Rebecca…the consensus was that many others haven’t read it either (yay!) but needed longer to get to it so I’ve moved the date to Thurs. May 31st! Can’t wait to read and discuss this classic with all of you***

 

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published months or years ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

My PICK this week is…

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Published May 2006 By Bantam

My Rating: 4/5 Stars  

What would you do for love? Would you die? Would you kill?
We have your wife. You can get her back for two million cash. Landscaper Mitchell Rafferty thinks it must be some kind of joke. He was in the middle of planting impatiens in the yard of one of his clients when his cell phone rang. Now he’s standing in a normal suburban neighborhood on a bright summer day, having a phone conversation out of his darkest nightmare.
Whoever is on the other end of the line is dead serious. He has Mitch’s wife and he’s named the price for her safe return. The caller doesn’t care that Mitch runs a small two-man landscaping operation and has no way of raising such a vast sum. He’s confident that Mitch will find a way.
If he loves his wife enough. . . Mitch does love her enough. He loves her more than life itself. He’s got seventy-two hours to prove it. He has to find the two million by then. But he’ll pay a lot more. He’ll pay anything.

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I thought it was time to feature another Dean Koontz on the blog! I featured Velocity last year which is another must read thriller that puts an average guy into an out of the blue nightmare. Can you imagine just being out on a nice summer day, planting impatiens, and you get a call that blows up your entire life?? I love it and I love that he writes this story full speed ahead. Along with the thrills of wondering how he’s going to get that much money in such a short time, there’s also the mystery of why his wife was taken and is he really going to get her back. Lots to love with this book, so if you haven’t yet read Dean Koontz and you’re in the mood for a fast paced thriller, why not add this to your TBR this week.

HAPPY READING! 

 

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Annie at The Misstery

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Laurie at Cozy Nook Books

Diana at A Haven for Book Lovers

Kaila at The Traveling Inkwell

REVIEW: THE GREAT ALONE By Kristin Hannah

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Published Feb 6, 2018 By St. Martin’s Press

Alaska, 1974.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival. Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown. In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

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 I finished this book last week and while I typically try to write my reviews right away, I struggled with my feelings about this one so I’ve put it off for a week and I’m glad I did. If I would’ve wrote it immediately I might have focused too much on my feelings about the ending; however, with a little time and perspective I think I have a clearer understanding of why I feel so torn about parts of this book.

Enough vagueness, let me be more specific. The blurb, which I heavily edited from Goodreads (this is really all you need to know), gives you the bare bones of the story. What Hannah so brilliantly manages to do is to take that set up and place the reader right there in the Alaskan setting with the Allbright family. I’m not exaggerating when I say I was mesmerized by the Alaskan setting and the way the author was able to place me there….I literally couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I felt the cold, I saw the beauty. I’m not sure that’s ever happened to me before, where a setting has so completely captured my attention and made me feel the suspense and drama of the surroundings that are at once beautiful yet deadly.

Then we have the Allbright family and really I don’t know where to start with them. The level of dysfunction and domestic violence prevalent in their family dynamics was heartbreaking, yet infuriating, because as a reader it’s very hard to read about the details of the abuse that Ernt (a former POW) inflicted on Cora and then having a child, Leni, be witness to it and becoming the caretaker of her mom while trying desperately to not rock the boat with her dad…her life was truly “walking on egg shells” on a daily basis.  Add to that Leni’s struggles with her new life in the harsh Alaskan setting and here was a character I was rooting for and as a result I could. not. put. this. book. down! Was the domestic abuse over the top as many reviewers have discussed? In my opinion, no. Yes, it was very difficult to read but as someone who worked in social work, foster care to be exact, the domestic abuse cycle and trauma to Leni and Cora was (unfortunately) realistic to me.

In terms of another major aspect of this novel that I loved were the supporting characters. Hannah has crafted a small group of townspeople who inhabit the little Alaskan village and my absolute favorite was Large Marge. Seriously, I would’ve taken so many more chapters about Large Marge verses some of the extended storyline chapters toward the end. Hannah’s ability to craft secondary characters with intricate subplots is just superb.

This, however, brings me to my critique which honestly I feel torn writing about because overall I was captivated by this story.  In fact, I read the first 70% of this like a madwoman and then literally there was a shift, slight but there, in which the narrative began to feel bogged down with descriptive details in what felt like a much slower pace. Add to this some questionable character motivations and actions, one which felt like a glaring misstep that was put in to force the plot and you have my reasons for feeling so conflicted. I do question whether my expectations were too high, am I being too picky? Perhaps. I just read (and loved) The Nightingale in November so it was fresh in my memory, but unquestionably this is a completely different book, wonderful in it’s own right which needs and deserves no comparison to any other.

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published months or years ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

My PICK this week is…

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Published Feb 2015 By William Morrow 

My Rating: 5/5 stars

In the summer of 1986, two tragedies rocked Oklahoma City. Six movie-theater employees were killed in an armed robbery, while one inexplicably survived. Then, a teenage girl vanished from the annual State Fair. Neither crime was ever solved.

Twenty-five years later, the reverberations of those unsolved cases quietly echo through survivors’ lives. A private investigator in Vegas, Wyatt’s latest inquiry takes him back to a past he’s tried to escape—and drags him deeper into the harrowing mystery of the movie house robbery that left six of his friends dead.

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The interesting thing that drew me to this novel was the lettering of the title. That may sound weird but I remember scrolling through Bookbub’s daily deals one day and the style of this title as well as the title itself just caught my eye. I find it so interesting to  think about what draws us in or repels us as far as titles and book covers go. I had never heard of this author but once I read the book’s description I was sold. I loved the idea of two mysteries being set in the summer of the late 1980’s. I have to tell you, not only is this an excellent crime story, it’s beautifully written.  The characters and setting felt real as his writing puts you there, in that movie theatre and at the county fair.  I really believe you’ll be hard pressed to put this one down once you start reading as Berney’s writing compels you to want to find out what happened that long ago summer. He expertly shifts perspectives between Wyatt and Julianna as well as between past and present. This book was one of my top 5 favorites of 2015 and I’d say if you love crime fiction with intriguing mysteries and you haven’t yet read this one, I think you’ll want to put this at the top of your TBR.

HAPPY READING!

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Annie at The Misstery

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Laurie at Cozy Nook Books

Laura at Snazzy Books

Holly at Dressed to Read

 

REVIEW: BEASTS OF EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCE By Ruth Emmie Lang

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Published Nov. 2017 By St. Martin’s Press

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance tells the story of Weylyn Grey’s life from the perspectives of the people who knew him, loved him, and even a few who thought he was just plain weird. Although he doesn’t stay in any of their lives for long, he leaves each of them with a story to tell. Stories about a boy who lives with wolves, great storms that evaporate into thin air, fireflies that make phosphorescent honey, and a house filled with spider webs and the strange man who inhabits it.

There is one story, however, that Weylyn wishes he could change: his own. In this warm debut novel, Ruth Emmie Lang teaches us about adventure and love in a beautifully written story full of nature and wonder.

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As many of you know, I’ve had a run of 2018 reads that haven’t worked for me lately and I’ve been dying for something to come along and sweep me away, compel me to stay up late and create that excited feeling of ‘I can’t wait to get home and read.’ I’m happy to say Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance has been that book! I don’t even know where I came across this book…Goodreads perhaps…but there was something about the synopsis that drew me in because really…this isn’t my typical type of read but it’s EXACTLY what I needed right now. Don’t you love it when just the right book comes along?

So what’s it about you might be asking and here’s the thing…I’m not going to tell you too much about the plot because this is a story best experienced by knowing as little as you possibly can before starting. Just trust that you’re going to experience a magical, original, charming story of love, friendship, and fate. This is ultimately the story of one man, Weylyn Grey, who we first encounter at his birth before quickly moving ahead several years to his childhood when he’s an orphan living in the woods with wolves. I was immediately captivated with Weylyn, so much so that I didn’t quite care where the story went, I just hoped he made it out of each situation with his essence still intact. I haven’t felt this invested in a character since Cyril Avery from The Heart’s Invisible Furies (my top pick of 2017)! In fact, this book reminded me of Heart’s in the way it was structured as well as how it made me feel. Similar to how Heart’s was set up, I loved that, through the years,  we got to meet many different characters who in some way were connected to Weylyn; some who resurfaced later in the story and others who became friends we never saw again.

I want to gush a little here about the fact that I thought the writing in this story was just beautiful! From the language, to the flow, to the dialogue…to me it was all brilliant. One of my favorite passages was made by Weylyn toward the end and made me literally smile while on the elliptical….

“I’ve been called magic, but I wouldn’t use that term exactly. I like to think of myself as always being in the right place at the right time, or the wrong place at the wrong time. Very rarely am I simply in an acceptable place at a generally convenient time.” 

By the middle of the book I had decided I was immediately seeking out Ruth Emmie Lang’s backlist and reading whatever she’s wrote only to discover this is a debut! Incredible is all I can say, and please write as fast as possible Ruth Emmie Lang because I’ll be first in line for your next book. Can you tell I loved this one? One final thought…yes, there’s a certain amount of suspension of disbelief required in this story and if you aren’t in the mood for magic, communication with animals, and strange weather phenomena then maybe this won’t be for you but if you’re willing to take a chance on a wonderful, charming story you just might be rewarded with your next favorite read. I’m calling this one now for myself…this will have a place in my top 10 reads of 2018!