Monday, July 6, 2020

Books I read in May and June

I didn't read much in the past two months. Between working on my dissertation and packing to come back to the USA, there just wasn't a lot of time for reading.  But I was able to get through a few books, so I wanted to share them with you.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Here we go, a murder mystery about a psychotherapist trying to figure out why his patient killed her husband. The set up alone is intriguing enough, but the actual novel is WILD. I don't want to give any spoilers away, so I'll just say: some things I saw coming, some I didn't. But most of the things I guessed didn't become clear to me until the last fifty pages. The book was coming to an end, and I kept thinking, How is everything going to wrap up? Will there be a cliffhanger ending?

Most of the book is told from the first-person point of view of psychotherapist Theo Faber. However, there are also diary entries from Alicia Berenson from the days leading up to her husband's murder.

By chapter two, Theo makes it very clear that he is telling this story to the reader, breaking the fourth wall so to speak that many novels don't. How he tells this story is very important. It becomes clear that he and Alicia have quite a few things in common, which makes you wonder if his past makes her case too personal for him. As much as I want to continue this paragraph, that's about as much as I can say without getting fully into spoilers.

If you enjoy murder mystery novels, I highly recommend this one. After I finished it, I texted a bunch of my friends and told them to read it, which I don't typically do. I usually wait for my friends to ask me for book recommendations, but this one was too crazy not to share. This novel keeps you wondering what really happened the whole. And even though everything makes sense in the end, it's still hard to believe.

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
Another murder story! Except this one isn't a mystery, which makes it even more interesting. Matthew admits to being a serial killer pretty quickly, and while he first tries to keep Hen from finding out, he eventually tells her everything. Of course, the only reason he does this is that he knows no one will believe her and he has alibis for everything. Hen had a mental break when she was in college and accused a classmate of planning to murder her. Now, she comes off as the girl who cries wolf and although her husband and the police want to believe her, they take everything she says with a grain of salt.

It was super cool to watch the friendship between Hen and Matthew develop. Hen didn't condone or understand Matthew's desire to kill, even when he gave his reasons for doing so, but she was still able to form a bond with him that was honest and sincere. Matthew doesn't realize how much he needs someone to confide in until he essentially traps Hen into being that person.

As the story continues, Hen still tries to get justice for Matthew's victims and he starts to feel the pressure of the police and his brother (no spoiler) that ultimately leads to an ending with a plot twist.

Ink by Alice Broadway
I'm not going to talk about this book for too long because I didn't enjoy it. This book is a YA novel, which I usually love, but this one ended up being too young for me. My main issue was that I didn't like the main character.  She was very naive and very quick to pass judgment.  At the beginning of the novel, she finds out that her dad has been marked as a "forgotten" but she doesn't really think it's fair because she knew her dad as an awesome person.  The second she discovers why her dad marked she writes him off.  In this process, she is also betrayed by someone she thought was helping her hind her dad's mark. It was crazy t me that she had zero questions for the boy who betrayed her. And then, like two days later, she decides that her dad was great and marks herself. Her thought process was very confusing to me and I couldn't enjoy the novel.
The Honey-Don't List by Christina Lauren
I waited so long to read this book. I preordered it while I was in Scotland, so reading it was one of the first things I did when I got home. At this point, I pretty much know what I'm getting when I start a Christina Lauren novel, but I still love every page. I loved the dynamic between Carey and James. All Carey knows is life as an assistant, while James is in a role he doesn't want to be in. Also, since he has fresh eyes on the situation, James is able to see that Carey deserves more than what she's been given. Especially considering how much work she's doing behind the scenes. Mix all that in with a dysfunctional couple whose entire career depends on them being in love and life as assistants can get pretty crazy.

Christina Lauren writes love stories, so like I said before, I know what I'm getting even before I start reading.  However, they still always find a way to include serious situations. Besides having worked the Tripps for so long that they feel like family, Caret needs the job for the health insurance it gives her. Meanwhile, James desperately needs it as a boost on his resume, so quitting too soon isn't an option. Working in a job you've outgrown or don't really like for an outside reason is something most people can relate to. Mix in the romance and humor and this book is a perfect balance of serious and fun.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
This was another novel I was excited to get home and read. As someone currently writing a creative writing dissertation, a book about two authors with writer's block hit very close to home. January is used to looking at Augustus as a rival, but when she creates a challenge that forces them to write in each other's genre, the time they spend together grows their relationship. However, both of them have scars from their pasts that make it hard to fully open their hearts to each other. Plus, the main reason January is in town is to sell her father's house, and once it's gone she might be too.

I loved this novel. Both characters are in the middle of "what comes next?" moments in their lives that allow them to try things they wouldn't have considered before. Mainly, the bet to write a novel in a new genre as a way to get their creativity flowing. My favorite thing about the bet is that although they agree to it, they're both able to stay true to themselves as they write. But also, through the bet and spending time together, they allow themselves to grow and move on from some of their past experiences. As the title says, this novel is a perfect beach read, while also sprinkling in a few "more serious" topics.


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