What I’m Reading: Dark Places

From the book jacket:
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

My review:
Well then, this book was a little intense compared to the silly, light, & refreshing book I reread right before diving into this one!

I decided to pick up Dark Places as I really enjoyed Gone Girl. (Which I apparently read way back in 2013!) I was in the “mood” for something a little darker, and this definitely filled that request.

Dark Places takes you back and forth between the past and present, going between Patty and Ben before the murders happened, and Libby during the present day as she tries to figure out what actually happened. There ends up being a lot of finger pointing as to who may have killed the Days, and I thought I had figured out what had happened a couple of different times but alas, I was WAY wrong.

The characters were all well developed, but I would’ve liked to know more about Debbie and Michelle, and perhaps even Runner.

Overall, I definitely recommend this book, and I’ll give it ★★★★½ / 5. Maybe read it in the summer in the sunshine though, as it’s pretty heavy for a dreary winter read.

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What I’m Reading: The Light We Lost

The Light We LostFrom the book jacket:
He was the first person to inspire her, to move her, to truly understand her. Was he meant to be the last?

Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.

My review:
I stumbled across this title while casually looking for one more book to add to my cart for a special Kobo 3-for-1 deal. I had never heard of the author before, but the it received praised from both Reese Witherspoon and my favourite author, Emily Giffin, so I figured why the heck not?

I definitely don’t regret my decision as The Light We Lost really drew me in quickly and I had a hard time putting it down. In a nutshell, the main character Lucy is addressing her ex-boyfriend Gabe, telling the story of how they came together during a horrific time in history, and how they eventually grew apart and where her life took her after that.

The book really makes you think about all the things that could’ve been, the what-ifs, and if-only’s of life. What if you chose a different university? What if you chose one partner over another? What if … ?

Although I found the ending to be slightly predictable, I still loved The Light We Lost and would definitely recommend it.

My rating: ★★★★★/5

What I’m Reading: Little Fires Everywhere

From the book jacket:
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

My review:
Little Fires Everywhere is the first novel I’ve read by Celeste Ng, and I was really confused at first when she the story started at the end, but it ended up being a brilliant way to keep me intrigued and wanting to read more.

I really loved how even in the most “perfect” community – one where everything is precise and planned – people have their secrets, their flaws. Even Mrs. Richardson bends the ethical guidelines of her and her friend’s profession.

Then there’s the controversy in the story between the McCullough’s and Bebe, which really made you think about your own morals and what is right and wrong. Should do-overs, per-say, be allowed in such instances? I also had to keep reminding myself that this was a different decade that this was all occurring it, so I’m certain that this had a lot to do with the outcome. I do wonder if Mia felt compelled to help Bebe because she felt guilty of her own actions all those years ago … Whatever the reason, I was disappointed in Mia’s actions towards the Ryans and feel bad for Pearl not knowing the true reason behind their nomadic lifestyle.

That being said, I did appreciate Mia’s compassion towards the Richardson children, not judging them even in their darkest moments. Growing up in a “perfect” community, I imagine, could be hard on any person, especially when it doesn’t allow you to be who you truly are. (Like Izzy, for example.)

I also felt bad for Moody. He befriended Pearl and she did nothing but deceit him after falling for his older brother. Moody was perhaps the only character in the story who wasn’t being selfish; even Izzy was selfish in a sense by wanted to keep Mia all to herself.

I think I would have given Little Fires Everywhere five stars, but I was a little disappointed in the actual ending of the book. I was hoping for a bit of reunion between Mia and her family, some answers owed to the Ryans. Maybe I’ll get lucky and there will be a sequel.

My rating: ★★★★½ / 5