REVIEW: AN ANONYMOUS GIRL, BY GREER HENDRICKS & SARAH PEKKANEN

 

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave.

Question #1: Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?

But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding.

Question #2: Have you ever deeply hurt someone you care about?

As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Question #3: Should a punishment always fit the crime?

From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us comes an electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.

 

My Thoughts: Caught up immediately in the events of An Anonymous Girl, I was intrigued…and then concerned for Jessica’s ultimate fate. A New York makeup artist, Jessica is struggling financially, and is often exhausted from work. She lives in a tiny studio apartment with her dog Leo.

She also feels guilty about her parents’ financial circumstances because of something that happened years before. The money from the study could help.

Our story is told by alternating narrators, with someone who appears anonymous as one of them, but that person clearly seems to be directing Jessica’s life. And soon the director is obsessed with everything Jessica does, and, in fact, seems to know everything she is doing and keeps ahead of her along the way.

As the intensity increases, my concern for Jessica grows exponentially. Who, if anyone, can she trust? What events will lead her to the edge and change her life forever?

I was addicted to finding out, while cheering for Jessica. Would she escape from the clutches of her “director,” or would she fail?

A beautifully crafted tale with lots of red flags and a cautionary undercurrent, I could not put it down. 5 stars.***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: WATCH ME, BY JODY GEHRMAN

 

Kate Youngblood is disappearing. Muddling through her late 30s as a creative writing professor at Blackwood College, she’s dangerously close to never being noticed again. The follow-up novel to her successful debut tanked. Her husband left her for a woman ten years younger. She’s always been bright, beautiful, independent and a little wild, but now her glow is starting to vanish. She’s heading into an age where her eyes are less blue, her charm worn out, and soon no one will ever truly look at her, want to know her, again.

Except one.

Sam Grist is Kate’s most promising student. An unflinching writer with razor-sharp clarity who gravitates towards dark themes and twisted plots, his raw talent is something Kate wants to nurture into literary success. But he’s not there solely to be the best writer. He’s been watching her. Wanting her. Working his way to her for years.

As Sam slowly makes his way into Kate’s life, they enter a deadly web of dangerous lies and forbidden desire. But how far will his fixation go? And how far will she allow it?

 

My Thoughts: Alternating first person narratives tell the tale in Watch Me. At first we see that Sam has a crush on Kate, his professor, and she is flattered by his attention. But with each page we turn, the darkness escalates until we are left with fear and angst.

Intense, dark, thrilling…all of the ingredients in a cat and mouse game that can only end badly, yet keep the reader glued to the pages. Will Kate realize the danger? Will Sam’s obsession lead to disaster?

What I did enjoy, aside from the intensity, was getting to know these two characters. Kate’s lonely and solo existence involves a lot of drinking at home, especially after her best friend Zoe has a baby and is no longer available for nights out.

Sam’s existence seems completely focused on Kate and the dream he has for the two of them. Even the persistent attention of a young sexy student named Jess is not enough for him to take his eye off his goals. We empathize a bit with him as we learn about his childhood and how he was dragged from place to place, putting up with his mother’s drug abuse and her series of abusive boyfriends.

Set in the small town of Blackwood, Ohio, the story unfolds in such a way that we never really know what will happen next. As writers, the characters could almost be creating fiction for us. Could any of it be really happening? We are watching them, unable to believe what we are seeing. The characters are as addictive to the reader as they are to each other. We turn the pages quickly in order to find out what happens next. In the end, we are stunned by it all. 5 stars.***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley

BOOKISH THURSDAY #32: SERENDIPITOUS MOMENTS

bookish thursdays

Welcome to Thursday, a day that once seemed lost, with nothing exciting happening anywhere.  But then that changed, and today I am celebrating a couple of the bookish events around the blogosphere, like Lexxie’s Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts; and Christine’s Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts.

 

unConventionalBookViews_Meme-ThirstyThursdayHungryHearts-1-450x200

Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts:

Today’s featured book is an e-ARC I just finished reading.  Cruel & Beautiful World, by Caroline Leavitt (click for my review), is set in 1969, near Boston, and takes us into the lives of several characters, including a sixteen-year-old girl named Lucy, her eighteen-year-old sister Charlotte, and their caretaker, Iris.  Lucy has run away with her high school teacher, living off the grid, while her family tries to manage despite her absence.

 

 

51zv3sung0l

Iris sells her house and moves into a senior residential center.  She rediscovers companionship, and in this excerpt, she is preparing dinner for a gentleman caller.

 

The following night, Iris stood at her stove, panicking.  She had chicken breasts roasting in the oven and string beans frying in olive oil.  She had made a salad with dark lettuce instead of iceberg and had thrown in some walnuts to make it different.  Her little table was set with her good china and silverware, and she was wearing a rose-colored dress that Charlotte had bought her.  She’d fixed her hair with a rhinestone barrette, which she hoped didn’t look ridiculous.  She kept looking at her watch, and then at the door, and once or twice she even opened it to peer down the hall, which was silent as a bottle…She was about to peel off her apron and take his plate from the table when there was a knock on the door, and when she opened it, there he was, in a suit jacket, his hair combed back so she could see the rake marks from his comb.

***

It had been years since Iris had “entertained” a gentleman caller, so she was understandably nervous.  Her planning and attention to detail was rather sweet.

***

 

 

picmonkey-collage-textured

 

My Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts:

  • This week has been especially busy with outside appointments and activities.
  • Last Friday and this Monday, I had appointments to see new homes, since I have been contemplating a move.  They were lovely, but the more I think of the hassle of moving, I am probably stepping back from that idea.  For now.
  • On Tuesday, I went in for my flu shot…and an eye exam.  I’ll be getting new eyeglasses, which I’m excited about, as I’ve had my current frames for a few years.  I kept them whenever the lenses needed to change because I really liked them.  But now I am ready for something new.
  • Today I had lunch with a friend at The Olive Garden.  Delicious things!

 

sept-lunch

***

  • I finished watching Offspring on Netflix, and I’m halfway done with Season 5 of Longmire.
  • So far this week, I finished Sunshine Beach, by Wendy Wax (click title for my review) (in addition to Cruel Beautiful World).

 

 

28926996

 

  • Tomorrow, I want to stay home all day!  I have a stack of books to choose from, and hope to do some serious reading.

***

That’s it for my week.  What did yours look like?

***

REVIEW: THE PRICE OF SALT, BY PATRICIA HIGHSMITH

24645992

 

 

Set in Manhattan in the early 1950s, The Price of Salt takes the reader into a forbidden love between two women: one, Therese Belivet, a set designer, and a wealthy suburban wife and mother, Carol Aird.

It is nearly Christmas in the year the two meet, when Therese was working as a temporary employee at Frankenberg’s, a department store. The author describes the first moments, as the two gaze across the room at one another…and then Carol approaches, followed by a shop transaction that takes place involving a delivery. Could something momentous be happening?

It doesn’t take long before they are drawn together again, for a lunch, then drinks, and then a visit to Carol’s suburban home, and, at the very least, a friendship is developing. Carol and her husband are separated, and their daughter Rindy goes back and forth between them.

Nothing overt happens between Therese and Carol, but within a few weeks, they are traveling across the country, toward the West…and their lives are changing dramatically.

Meanwhile, Carol discovers something very sinister is happening, at the hands of her husband. Will the two be ripped apart? Will it be a question for Carol of losing her daughter?

The intense and somewhat obsessive love between them could end; in any case, their lives could be altered moving forward. Wondering what will happen and if the societal expectations of the times will dictate the course of their feelings is a reminder, once again, of how times have changed and how stultifying the world once was. A timeless tale that could be about any kind of forbidden love, gay, straight, or otherwise…and was captivating in its ability to describe the longing of two people reaching across barriers to be together. 4.5 stars.

REVIEW: THE FURIES, BY NATALIE HAYNES

19286509Alex Morris, a theatrical director, has been happily pursuing her dream life in London with her fiancé Luke, a lawyer, when he is murdered. Trying to save a woman from a violent man.

Starting over means wrenching herself away from her former life, so she heads to Edinburgh and a job working with troubled teens in a “last chance” therapeutic environment.

Teaching them the Greek classics satisfies a need in Alex to stay connected to the theatrical world she’d loved, and she enjoys how the students begin to explore the themes, almost as if they find them relevant in their daily lives.

What she didn’t count on was how one especially troubled teen would immerse herself so fully in these themes and take obsessive actions that would change their lives forever.

The story felt like a game, of sorts, as the writer’s style keeps us guessing throughout, building to a dramatic and surprising end. Alex narrates the story in first-person perspective, but she also alternates between the present and past tense. It took me a bit to realize that when the narration is in the present tense, we are in the aftermath of what has happened. Most of the story alternates between what happened before and what is happening now. And as we see the past unfold in bits and pieces, we realize, finally, what is about to occur. And I am cringing at the level of obsession going on with one of the young characters.

Part of the story is told through the obsessed character’s diary entries, and we learn a lot about what is going on with her through this slow reveal.

A wonderfully dramatic and enticing read that kept me glued to the pages throughout, I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. The teenage characters were complex, annoying, and also engaging. You want to give up on them, but then you realize you must keep trying. The Furies: A Novel “is a psychologically complex, dark and twisting novel about loss, obsession and the deep tragedies that can connect us to each other even as they blind us to our fate.” 5.0 stars.

HUMP DAY SERENDIPITY: WAITING FOR “YOU”

wow logo - timepiece

Welcome to our weekly bookish event that showcases upcoming releases.  Hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine, anyone can join in, sharing their own enthusiasm and adding the eagerly anticipated books of others to their own lists.

I discovered my selection today fairly recently, and luckily, I don’t have long to wait.  You, by Caroline Kepnes, will be released on September 30, 2014.

 

 

81TrjwNHXdL._SL1500_

 

Amazon Description:  Love hurts…

When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe works, he’s instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted: She’s gorgeous, tough, razor-smart, and as sexy as his wildest dreams.

Beck doesn’t know it yet, but she’s perfect for him, and soon she can’t resist her feelings for a guy who seems custom made for her. But there’s more to Joe than Beck realizes, and much more to Beck than her oh-so-perfect façade. Their mutual obsession quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences . . .

A chilling account of unrelenting passion, Caroline Kepnes’s You is a perversely romantic thriller that’s more dangerously clever than any you’ve read before.

***

What drew me to this book?  Let’s just say that I’m obsessed with thrillers, and when the characters in that thriller are obsessed with each other…that’s a combination I cannot resist.

What are you waiting for today?  What drew you to your choice?

***