Review: Let Me Lie

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh Review
Title:
Let Me Lie
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: March 13, 2018
Genre: Fiction | Thriller | Police Procedural
Synopsis from PRHC
Book provided by publisher

Review: After reading so many promising reviews about Clare Mackintosh’s previous books I found Let Me Lie to be light on suspense with disappointing plot twists and so many lies the whole thing started to feel convoluted. I prefer my thrillers to keep me on the edge of suspense and this one lacked the element of surprise.

Lately anything written and promoted in the same vain as The Girl on the Train, The Woman in Cabin 10, or Into the Water isn’t of interest to me. Those types of books seem to cast a negative light on women – either they are suffering mental illness, abuse, or some unfavourable condition and always portrayed as weak.

The writing was good and I liked the multiple points of view but wasn’t entirely sure the reason for the unidentified narrator because it seemed obvious to me who it was.  I found myself enjoying the parts about Murray and Sarah and their relationship more than anything.

Overall, this book was okay but I will definitely go back and pick up Mackintosh’s I Let You Go.

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Review: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara ReviewTitle: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
Author: Michelle McNamara
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Genre: Nonfiction | True Crime | Serial Killers | Memoir
Synopsis From Harper Collins

Review: My fixation for true crime began in my Grade 10 psychology and sociology classes.  My teacher was an eccentric and fascinating woman who had a lending library full of books ranging from psychological disorders (think Sybil) to true crime (Manson Murders).  I was hooked and devouring her books nonstop.  This wasn’t my only link to true crime.  I grew up just outside of Wichita, Kansas during the BTK murders, a high profile unsolved (at the time) serial killer case paralleling the Golden State Killer.

My interest is piqued when a new true crime book hits the shelves and Michelle McNamara’s release of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is no exception.  Published posthumously by her husband, Patton Oswalt, this book is one part true crime and one part memoir.

The Golden State Killer terrorized communities in California from north to south between 1976 and 1986.  His m.o. was methodical, consistent, and torturous linking him to over 50 crimes.  He canvassed neighborhoods weeks in advance sometimes breaking into homes before attacks to study the layout, he would call victims and hang up repeatedly learning their daily schedules, and peep into windows at night to see who was home.  He always attacked in the middle of the night waking victims with a flashlight blinding them. Initially he preyed on women home alone but quickly escalated to couples.

One thing I find amazing about this case is how many witnesses saw the Golden State Killer lurking around homes but no one reported him to police.  One witness even heard a scream but didn’t think anything of it.  The Golden State Killer was so confident and unphased by people he would casually walk away when confronted.

Michelle devoted countless hours researching and collaborating with law enforcement, victims, and witnesses to piece together the gruesome details behind the Golden State Killer in an attempt to bring him to justice.  He is still at large.

I would be remiss if I didn’t forewarn you this book is graphic and incredibly scary.  Very little frightens me and keeps me from losing sleep at night but I could only read this book is small doses during daytime hours, and preferably with someone else in the room with me.  If these details don’t bother you then I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book.

Review: The Great Alone

The Great Alone - Kristin Hannah ReviewTitle: The Great Alone
Author: Kristin Hannah
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Genre: Fiction | Historical | Coming of Age | Literary
Synopsis from St. Martin’s Press
Book provided by publisher

Review: My connection to the Great Alone is deeply rooted in a time when the country was sharply divided during Vietnam, those who supported the war and those who didn’t and Ernt Allbright is a POW who fell into an extreme facet of the latter.  Fed up with ‘the system’ and threat of apocalypse, Ernt packs up his family and heads north to Alaska to live off the grid.  An old war buddy has willed him his dilapidated home on a swathe of land in a small tight-knit community in Kaneq, Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula.  Ernt’s pie in the sky vision of Alaska doesn’t rub off on Cora and Leni but the promise of a life absent of his nightmares and volatility are convincing enough.

The Allbright’s settle in to their cabin and the Kaneq community but Ernt’s nightmares return and temper flares.  Leni is caught in the middle of a toxic dance between her mother and father’s abusive relationship.  Ernt hits Cora but she swears he never means it and he loves she and Leni more than anything.  It doesn’t take long for friends to find out what happens behind closed doors and causes tension and strain in the community.

I am in awe of the characters in this book and I especially enjoyed Large Marge – with a name like that you know she’s full of vigor!  Everyone is spirited, insightful, and complex which draws a deep bond between the reader and the story.  And I put myself in Leni’s shoes as a 13-year old uprooted from a comfortable suburban lifestyle transplanted into the vast wilderness unprepared for the conditions and decisions she has to make to survive.  One scene in particular I can’t get out of my mind is the one where Matthew rescues Cora and Leni from Ernt and flees up the mountain.  It was a chilling juxtaposition between Alaska’s majestic beauty and how quickly she can turn on you and the frailty of human life.  The outcome was wrought with emotion.  I was utterly wrecked.

What impressed me about this novel is how easily it reads like an autobiography.  I learned so much about what it takes to set up shop in the harshest conditions.  There were things I hadn’t considered beforehand such as constructing a meat locker to keep the animals from eating the food, and how the short, dark winter days and brutal winter conditions effected people’s moods and ability to work or go to school.  And equally the long 12-hour summer days of labour chores to prepare for the winter.  I also learned what a close community really stands for.  The saying, ‘he gave the shirt off his back’ isn’t just an idiom it’s the survival mantra in these parts – everyone helps each other.

To say this novel is moving is an understatement.  It’s touching on so many levels.  The Great Alone is one of my all time favourites and quite possibly the best of the year!

Review: Class Mom

Class Mom - Laurie Gelman ReviewTitle: Class Mom
Author: Laurie Gelman
Publisher: Henry Holt
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Genre: Fiction | Chick-Lit | Contemporary Women
Synopsis from Henry Holt

Review: Meet Jen Dixon. She’s one part snarky, one part plain-spoken, and she’s the kindergarten class mom who has been around this block before. I devoured this audiobook, read by the author, which is the best audio delivery, in two days!  I was so thoroughly entertained and humoured – this book was just what I needed after reading so many serious and heavier reads lately.

Jen’s take no prisoners approach to being class mom had me rolling from the get-go. I absorbed her emails to the parents and teacher. And I’m fairly certain all of us school mother’s have known a Jen at some point, which is why this story is so relatable.

The book is in no way deep but as the story unfolds Jen becomes more than the snarky class mom. She has a heart of gold and is a little misunderstood, a lot more experienced, and probably a tad bit fed up.

This was a really great read (or listen!) and I highly recommend it if you need a dose of laugh out loud hilarity.

Review: Tanya Bakes

Tanya Bakes - Tanya Burr ReviewTitle: Tanya Bakes
Author: Tanya Burr
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK
Publication Date: June 30, 2016
Genre: Cookbook
Synopsis from Penguin

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: I have a slight addiction to reading cookbooks and eating good food so when PRHC asked me if I wanted to review Tanya Bakes I was more than happy to oblige. First, I want to talk about this book cover.  It might be the most beautiful cookbook I’ve laid my eyes on.  From the bright and festive background to the gorgeous birthday cake and the text flanked by tiny gold stars. The goodness doesn’t stop with the cover.  The recipes inside are divine.

I’m a mom of three girls so there’s a lot of food talk in my house. One of my daughter’s has an affinity for baking so when Tanya Bakes cookbook showed up at our house she squealed with delight. A few recipes she and I earmarked for weekend baking include Salted Nutella Cookies – six ingredients to what sounds like the best cookie ever. Peaches & Cream Muffins – we are saving this one up for August when fresh, local peaches are abundant and sure to take these muffins over the top. Lemon Drizzle Loaf – I cannot pass up a slice of lemon loaf and will always choose it over chocolate.  Pineapple Upside Down Cake – this is the quintessential dessert of the 1970’s and still going strong in 2018. And finally, Birthday Cake (pictured on the cover) – my little baker requested this one for her birthday next week, surely because it’s decorated with ten million candy sprinkles and a fistful of birthday candles!

If you love cakes, loaves, puddings, and breads, which I think just about everyone does, then you need this cookbook!