Reading Progress Updates

Providence by Max Barry

Goodreads

Progress: 142 of 320 pages

Synopsis: Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson are astronauts captaining a new and supposedly indestructible ship in humanity’s war against an alien race. Confined to the ship for years, each of them holding their own secrets, they are about to learn there are threats beyond the reach of human ingenuity–and that the true nature of reality might be the universe’s greatest mystery.

In this near future, our world is at war with another, and humanity is haunted by its one catastrophic loss–a nightmarish engagement that left a handful of survivors drifting home through space, wracked with PTSD. Public support for the war plummeted, and the military-industrial complex set its sights on a new goal: zero-casualty warfare, made possible by gleaming new ships called Providences, powered by AI.

But when the latest-launched Providence suffers a surprising attack and contact with home is severed, Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson must confront the truth of the war they’re fighting, the ship that brought them there, and the cosmos beyond.

Thoughts So Far: I am LOVING this book. It has reminded me what I loved about Max Barry’s writing in Lexicon. He uses word like they contain actual power. He uses words with intent. Not a single word is wasted. And it is beautiful. I find myself losing time reading this book. I ❤ Max Barry!

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

Goodreads

Progress: 240 pages of 359

Synopsis: She tried to run, but she can’t escape the other Mrs….

Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home. The murder rocks their tiny coastal island, but no one is more shaken than Sadie.

But it’s not just Morgan’s death that has Sadie on edge. And as the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery of what really happened that dark and deadly night. But Sadie must be careful, for the more she discovers about Mrs. Baines, the more she begins to realize just how much she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light.

Thoughts So Far: I keep putting this book down and then forgetting to pick it back up. As a result it’s taking me forever. Sadie is horrendously dull as a character. I get the sense that there’s more to the story with her but for now she’s boring. Camille is amazing and even Mouse is starting to interest me a little. I have a few theories about the ending right now and I hope all of them are wrong. If my theories are right it will be yet another thriller that disappoints me with the conclusion. Please let me be wrong!

Take My Money! Sunday

It’s been a busy few days. Started a new position at the day job, so was trying to train while working from home (not easy). Plus the husband had to work, so I had the child at home by myself while trying to train at my new job. See definition of “Impossible” to describe this task! But I did have a few books come across my radar that make me want time to move faster, so I bring them to you.

Gaijin by Sarah Z. Sleeper

Expected publication: August 1, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: The Japanese word gaijin means “unwelcome foreigner.” It’s not profanity, but is sometimes a slur directed at non-Japanese people in Japan. My novel is called Gaijin…

Lucy is a budding journalist at Northwestern University and she’s obsessed with an exotic new student, Owen Ota, who becomes her lover and her sensei. When he disappears without explanation, she’s devastated and sets out to find him. On her three-month quest across Japan she finds only snippets of the elegant culture Owen had described. Instead she faces anti-U.S. protests, menacing street thugs and sexist treatment, and she winds up at the base of Mt. Fuji, in the terrifying Suicide Forest. Will she ever find Owen? Will she be driven back to the U.S.? Gaijin is a coming-of-age story about a woman who solves a heartbreaking mystery that alters the trajectory of her life.

Why I’m Excited: This books sounds absolutely haunting. It is a story of not fitting in and trying to find the silver lining. And sometimes, even along a hard journey, there is beauty to be found. This synopsis roped me in and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

Brides of Rome by Debra May MacLeod

Expected Publication: October 27, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: It is a world of power and privilege, secrets and sacred duty. It is the world of ancient Rome. And it is the esteemed Vestal Virgins-priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the home and hearth-who protect the Eternal Flame that protects the Eternal City.

Dedicated to a thirty-year vow of chaste service, Priestess Pomponia finds herself swept up in the intrigue, violence, wars, and bedroom politics of Rome’s elite-Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Octavian and his maneuvering wife, Livia-all the while guarding the secret affection she has in her heart.

But when a charge of incestum-a broken vow of chastity-is made against the Vestal order, the ultimate punishment looms: death by being buried alive in the “Evil Field.”

In Brides of Rome, Book One in the Vesta Shadows series, Debra May Macleod skillfully recreates the world of ancient Rome with all its brutality and brilliance, all its rich history and even richer legend. A true page-turner that is as smart as it is compelling, this must-read novel brings the Vestal order to life like never before.

Why I’m Excited: I have a fascination with the worlds of ancient Rome and Greece. Their priestesses and temples were among the first pagan religions, and traces of that are carried into paganism today. So stories like this always draw me to them. And this story sounds excited too.

Review: Docile by K.M. Szpara

Docile by K.M. Szpara

Published: March 3, 2020 by Tor

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: There is no consent under capitalism

Docile is a science fiction parable about love and sex, wealth and debt, abuse and power, a challenging tour de force that at turns seduces and startles.

To be a Docile is to be kept, body and soul, for the uses of the owner of your contract. To be a Docile is to forget, to disappear, to hide inside your body from the horrors of your service. To be a Docile is to sell yourself to pay your parents’ debts and buy your children’s future.

Elisha Wilder’s family has been ruined by debt, handed down to them from previous generations. His mother never recovered from the Dociline she took during her term as a Docile, so when Elisha decides to try and erase the family’s debt himself, he swears he will never take the drug that took his mother from him. Too bad his contract has been purchased by Alexander Bishop III, whose ultra-rich family is the brains (and money) behind Dociline and the entire Office of Debt Resolution. When Elisha refuses Dociline, Alex refuses to believe that his family’s crowning achievement could have any negative side effects—and is determined to turn Elisha into the perfect Docile without it.

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Tor!***

SPOILER ALERT: I don’t think I can actually discuss this book without spoilers, except to say it had no point.

This book was basically a slavefic erotica with a messy attempt at a moral/political/social message attempt. But it failed pretty badly on all fronts with it. Instead I was left with a book that had a good idea and a snazzy tagline but otherwise had no purpose. It gets an extra star for being well written, because the writing is very good.

I had hoped this book would make some point about the social and economic gap between the wealthy and the poor. I mean, re-instituting slavery is a rather aggressive step to deal with a debt problem so I expected there to be some kind of larger point. But this is very rarely touched upon except to be pointed out that “this person is wealthy, this person is not.” There exists no other purpose for this distinction that I could fathom. I also don’t understand how there’s seemingly two classes of people at play here (3 technically). First, we have the very poor and indebted county folk. Most of them seem to have somehow accumulated millions of dollars in debt over three generations but I am not clear how. They live in a house that was built with abandoned bits of other houses. They run a self sufficient farm. No one is college educated and all of them refuse to seek medical care. So, where exactly did all this debt come from? Never explained. Then you have the trillionaires who buy the debt of the county folk. Always trillionaires. I don’t know why, and it’s not clear how they amassed such extreme wealth either. Then they have a mostly absent third category of people who work in the city, live outside the city, and spend most of their time worried about making sure they don’t accumulate debt. They aren’t wealthy but they aren’t in debt either. But these people only become relevant in the latter half of the book so they don’t matter.

We spend the first few chapters of the book being introduced to this world system. Laws have been passed that make debt inter-generational. You inherit your parents’ debt. We later learn that this has been in place for about three generations. You have two options to handle your debt. Go to debtor’s prison or become a Docile (a slave) for a set period of time that is set forth in the contract agreed upon by you and your Patron (the one who will be paying your debt). As a Docile your Patron can do….well basically anything they wish to you, as long as they get you medical care and try to keep you alive. The wealthy seem to mainly use this power to rape their Dociles and have sex parties. I don’t know why, except so that we could put in sex scenes or make it seem more despicable. But the more we learned about the treatment of Dociles, the more I thought “you have told me nothing about debtor’s prison, but in pretty much any world it’s better than spending multiple years being raped……”

Dociles have rights…sort of. They have the right to request or refuse to use the drug Dociline (which makes them forget their memories while under its influence), they have the right to not tell anyone their real name, they have a right to medical care…and a few other things that really don’t matter. But here’s the rub. Everyone chooses to take Dociline (except Elisha it seems). Dociline makes that person agree to anything. So what is the point of insisting that there are rights they have if they have no capacity to realize that their rights may have been violated? It seemed utterly pointless. We spent a LOT of time being reminded of a Docile’s rights, but they are entirely unaware of themselves and unable to say no to anything. So they really don’t have those rights if no one is actually around to enforce them.

I knew that Alex would change course and suddenly have a change of heart about the company and Dociline, and would see Elisha as a human being and be horrified by his treatment of him. But it was also made clear to me through the writing that I was supposed to feel sorry for him. He just didn’t realize that what he was doing was wrong. Except that isn’t true. He knew it was wrong. He told us it was wrong over and over again. But he did it anyway. He spent 200 pages torturing and dehumanizing Elisha but then suddenly has so much regret and “loves” him. The fact that the two of them end up in a relationship at the end of the book was such bad judgment. It’s like the abused woman leaving the shelter to go back to the husband who’s been beating the crap out of her for years. That is literally what happened here. Elisha got a month or two of making his own choices and then went back to his abuser. I don’t give a damn if his abuser “changed” or was a better person, that was disgusting and cheap.

Now we come to my biggest problem with this book. It makes no sense. Literally zero sense. At first I thought this was the new debt system of the entire United States. But at the end we find out it’s only Maryland. So…..the entire federal government and 49 other states were totally okay with Maryland pretending that the Constitution doesn’t exist and that the Emancipation Proclamation, Civil War and Civil Rights Movement never happened? They just allow an entire state to reinstate slavery? No one took that decision to the Supreme Court as a gross violation of the Constitution? Really? I am expected to believe this? No sense. If it was the whole country then I could get there if you gave me an explanation. But one singular state that is allowed to do all these outlandish things with no interference or intrusion from other states or the federal government? I have a really hard time believing that is even remotely plausible.

This book is nothing more than an erotica with a snazzy tagline and a half backed premise. Which is disappointing because the writing is wonderful.

New Releases Wednesday

Devolution by Max Brooks

Published: June 16, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: As the ash and chaos from Mount Rainier’s eruption swirled and finally settled, the story of the Greenloop massacre has passed unnoticed, unexamined . . . until now.

But the journals of resident Kate Holland, recovered from the town’s bloody wreckage, capture a tale too harrowing–and too earth-shattering in its implications–to be forgotten.

In these pages, Max Brooks brings Kate’s extraordinary account to light for the first time, faithfully reproducing her words alongside his own extensive investigations into the massacre and the legendary beasts behind it.

Kate’s is a tale of unexpected strength and resilience, of humanity’s defiance in the face of a terrible predator’s gaze, and inevitably, of savagery and death.

Yet it is also far more than that.

Because if what Kate Holland saw in those days is real, then we must accept the impossible. We must accept that the creature known as Bigfoot walks among us–and that it is a beast of terrible strength and ferocity.

Part survival narrative, part bloody horror tale, part scientific journey into the boundaries between truth and fiction, this is a Bigfoot story as only Max Brooks could chronicle it–and like none you’ve ever read before. 

My Thoughts: I know that I already raved about this in the coming soon awhile back, but I can’t help but do it again. It’s finally here! I’m so excited! Now to dig out that ARC…

Fast, Feast, Repeat by Gin Stephens

Published: June 2, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: Stephens’ intermittent fasting protocol is the culmination of three years of following the latest IF and autophagy research out of top universities, as well as coaching tens of thousands of people via her online communities. Once an adopter has determined an effective fasting window, they transition to a consistent schedule, utilizing Stephens’ tips and tricks until IF becomes a “forever lifestyle.” The personal aspect of the book, featuring Stephens’ home-grown success story, is buttressed with case histories, some with over 100 pounds lost and kept off.

Fast. Feast. Repeat. is divided into four sections. Fast covers the science behind fasting and announces the end of the calorie. Feast, focuses on food choices. Food quality matters when weight loss is a goal, while still allowing treats! It discusses appetite correction and how to avoid “diet brain.” Repeat explains how to turn intermittent fasting into a long-term lifestyle. In The Clean Fast Protocol, readers will learn how to track their progress in multiple ways, how to use the secrets of mindset to help them stay on the right track and how to troubleshoot if they aren’t finding success.

Fast. Feast. Repeat. is not only a guide to moving toward an intermittent fasting lifestyle, but is a permission book: eating is every bit as important as fasting on Stephens’ plan! 

My Thoughts: This came out a few weeks ago but it just came to my attention recently. I have been doing an intermittent fasting diet for about six months now and lost about 35 pounds…even while on lockdown. So I am interested in the science behind it and a checkup to see if I can maximize my routine at all.

Reading Progress Updates

Docile by K.M. Szpara

Published: March 3, 2020

Goodreads

Progress: 39 out of 429 pages

Synopsis: There is no consent under capitalism

Docile is a science fiction parable about love and sex, wealth and debt, abuse and power, a challenging tour de force that at turns seduces and startles.

To be a Docile is to be kept, body and soul, for the uses of the owner of your contract. To be a Docile is to forget, to disappear, to hide inside your body from the horrors of your service. To be a Docile is to sell yourself to pay your parents’ debts and buy your children’s future.

Elisha Wilder’s family has been ruined by debt, handed down to them from previous generations. His mother never recovered from the Dociline she took during her term as a Docile, so when Elisha decides to try and erase the family’s debt himself, he swears he will never take the drug that took his mother from him. Too bad his contract has been purchased by Alexander Bishop III, whose ultra-rich family is the brains (and money) behind Dociline and the entire Office of Debt Resolution. When Elisha refuses Dociline, Alex refuses to believe that his family’s crowning achievement could have any negative side effects—and is determined to turn Elisha into the perfect Docile without it.

My Thoughts So Far: I was drawn in by the tagline, hoping for a dystopian sci-fi that examines the worst possible consequences of our society’s debt addiction and the gap between those in debt and the wealthy. But I am getting the feeling that this is just going to be a gay 50 Shades of Grey. Which is fine, if it’s good. I don’t mind a good slavefic erotica. But it wouldn’t be what I thought I was getting.

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

Published: February 18, 2020

Goodreads

Progress: 40 out of 405 pages

Synopsis: She tried to run, but she can’t escape the other Mrs….

Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home. The murder rocks their tiny coastal island, but no one is more shaken than Sadie.

But it’s not just Morgan’s death that has Sadie on edge. And as the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery of what really happened that dark and deadly night. But Sadie must be careful, for the more she discovers about Mrs. Baines, the more she begins to realize just how much she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light.

My Thoughts So Far: This took me a little bit to get into, but I think I have now. We were just introduced to Camille and I think I’m going to love her. But I may have figured out part of the mystery already. I hope not because I might need a break from mystery/thrillers if that happens.

Review: The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell

The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell

Published: April 14, 2020 by Lake Union Publishing

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: Filmmaker Tessa Shepherd helped free a man she believed was wrongly imprisoned for murder. When he kills again, Tessa’s life is upended.

She’s reeling with guilt, her reputation destroyed. Worse, Tessa’s mother has unexpectedly passed away, and her sister, Margot, turns on her after tensions from their past escalate. Hounded by a bullying press, Tessa needs an escape. That’s when she learns of a strange inheritance bequeathed by her mother: a derelict and isolated estate known as Fallbrook. It seems like the perfect refuge.

A crumbling monument to a gruesome history, the mansion has been abandoned by all but two elderly sisters retained as caretakers. They are also guardians of all its mysteries. As the house starts revealing its dark secrets, Tessa must face her fears and right the wrongs of her past to save herself and her relationship with Margot. But nothing and no one at Fallbrook are what they seem.

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing!***

I was not sure that I was going to like this one when I first started it. I liked Tessa as the narrating character but the story just didn’t grab me at first. Tessa was so real. She had flaws and had made mistakes, she was open with these things and wanted to escape from it. I like characters that feel like real people and Tessa did. This book weaves three different stories that all center on the idea of justice, family and the damage that the past can do to the present.

The first storyline is of Oliver Barlowe. Tessa did a documentary about his conviction for rape and murder. She didn’t go into the project with any particular agenda but along the way she began to believe that Oliver was innocent. And so the documentary ended up leading to a new trial where he was released. But then, a year or so later, he kidnaps and murders the daughter of the police chief. There’s no doubt he did it this time because he made a video admitting it. This throws Tessa into an unwelcome spotlight as she has to examine whether or not she was wrong the first time. And even if she wasn’t wrong about his innocence then, she can’t deny that he’s a murderer now.

Then we have the story of Tessa and her sister Margo. Something really terrible happened when they were newly college-aged that yanked Tessa out of her sister’s life. The death of their mother forces the two of them to confront that past and the reasons why neither one reached out to bridge the gap.

Finally, we have the story of the forgotten family homestead. Again it is a place where awful things have happened. Things that just about everyone would love to forget. But when Tessa runs there to hide from public pressure about Oliver, she can’t resist pressing into the history and trying to find out the truth.

At first, I wasn’t in love with the story about Fallbrook. I kept hoping we’d hear more about Oliver instead, but in the end that story won me over. It chilled me, it touched me, and then it shocked me. Similarly the story of Tessa and her sister. At first I didn’t really care and thought it didn’t belong in the book at all. But as the book went on I was drawn into the tale and it took on a much greater significance to the overall story.

I read the last 140 pages of this book in one sitting. I was so entranced by it that I simply couldn’t put it down. I loved how the three storylines ended up coming together and each one was given more gravity and significance together than it did on its own. I loved it.

Take My Money! Sunday

Nucleation by Kimberly Unger

Expected Publication: November 13, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: We are live, we are live, we are live . . .

Helen Vectorovich holds the unique distinction of failing at first contact – and she did it in both virtual reality and outer space.

Only the most elite teams of operators and navigators get to pilot in remote space-mining operations. And no one was better than Helen and her navigator. Together they secured a multibillion contract for establishing an interstellar gate to a distant star. But during a routine mission, what should have been an easy success turned deadly.

Helen, grounded in a desk job, has overeager junior pilots jockeying to take her place, jealous corporate rivals, and nasty rumors blaming her for the botched mission. Meanwhile, Helen’s new discovery in space – the Scale – seems to be . . . evolving.

When someone – or something – wants to terminate her project, Helen must race to find out why before it is far too late.

Why I’m Excited: I love things that deal with space and the expansion of humans into the universe at large. Naturally, in fiction, these things go wrong. And I really love it when it goes wrong.

A Witchly Influence by Stephanie Grey

Expected Publication: October 1, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: Get ready to have fun and be influenced!

Fate can show up as anything… As a freshly minted divorcee, witch Carmen Devereaux returns to her hometown in North Carolina. With this decision comes another change in her life: Fate has decided that she is to become an Influencer, someone who guides others onto the path that they were meant to take.

When she’s assigned to Abby Windsor, a young schoolteacher, as well as her own stepbrother, Finn Cleary, she soon encounters several obstacles, including getting stuck in her own past.

A quirky, fun, and lovable cast of characters, including Lenny the Snowman—a grumpy, old snowman who really loves trashy reality shows, especially ones about real housewives, Egbert the Lobbyist Pencil—a pompous pencil who lobbies on magic and loves tasty cuisine, and Muse Siobhan Waters, who is thoughtful and down to earth, help guide and inspire Carmen whenever she gets stuck working on her assignment. Along the way, Carmen learns to influence others…and herself.

Humorous and light-hearted, A Witchly Influence is the perfect feel-good book of the year. 

Why I’m Excited: As a practicing Pagan, I love books about witchcraft. Light-hearted, dark, or anywhere in between. I just love it. This one sounds like a fun, easy October read.

Review: Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah

Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah

Published: February 4, 2020 by William Morrow

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: All Beth has to do is drive her son to his Under-14s away match, watch him play, and bring him home.

Just because she knows her ex-best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn’t mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She hasn’t seen Flora for twelve years. She doesn’t want to see her today, or ever again.

But she can’t resist. She parks outside the open gates of Newnham House, watches from across the road as Flora and her children Thomas and Emily step out of the car. Except… There’s something terribly wrong. Flora looks the same, only older. As Beth would have expected. It’s the children. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily were five and three years old. Today, they look precisely as they did then.

They are still five and three. They are Thomas and Emily without a doubt – Beth hears Flora call them by their names – but they haven’t changed at all.

They are no taller, no older… Why haven’t they grown?

Review: I had quite the journey with this book. Through the first two hours of the audiobook I felt like I was being tortured and interrogated. The entire portion was almost entirely a repeat of “I definitely know what I saw, but it’s impossible, I couldn’t have seen that. But I know I did!” For two hours. I felt like crying in exasperation. At a certain point you just have to accept that you saw something that doesn’t make sense!

Then things started to pick up and I was glad that I hadn’t given up on it. Beth was investigating and running into more things that didn’t make sense. Pieces started falling into place in her head and in mine. I also loved her daughter Zannah. She was so sarcastic and ruthlessly logical. I was so happy when Beth enlisted her help in investigating the mystery because she was amazing. I also enjoyed learning little tidbits about their past relationship with Flora and Louis. What had it been like being their friend all those years ago? Did it shed any light on the situation occurring now? I was fascinated.

I didn’t like how Beth acted like her husband was trying to “mansplain” to her and treating her like she was a hysterical woman though. I mean, Beth was literally stalking two strangers. Following them to their children’s school. Getting into their unlocked car when they stepped away. Going to their home to interrogate their neighbors. Interrogate the school receptionist about their children. He wasn’t wrong (or sexist) to treat her like she was behaving hysterically, she was!

But ultimately, like any book, it comes down to the ending.

SPOILER ALERT!! Spoilers for the ending.

The ending literally made no sense. I had come up with all kinds of options in my head. Obviously since this book had no shades of the paranormal, the children were not the same two children. They were two different children, with the same names and approximate ages of the children Beth had known.

But all of my theories were wrong, instead it was so stupid that I still can’t believe it went there. Louis and Flora had a third child, Georgina, which we learn early on. Louis didn’t like Georgina because she had an eye problem. So he became horribly abusive to Flora, deeming the medical condition to be her fault because she had gotten pregnant after he told her that he didn’t want more children. Louis drugs Flora and then kills Georgina and convinces Flora that she had gotten drunk and rolled over on the baby and smothered her. In order for him not to turn her in for murder, she agrees to cut off all contact with the children and pretend to go away forever. But he occasionally visits to rape and impregnate her against her will and insist that she name the children the same names as their existing children. He’s even hired someone to pretend to be her new husband and keep her in line.

I mean, really? It was all an abusive husband, trying to make his wife miserably because she gave birth to a cross-eyed baby? That was so incredibly stupid that I just couldn’t get past it. It didn’t matter how compelling the middle of the book was because it flubbed it when it matter.

Review: The Body Double by Emily Beyda

The Body Double by Emily Beyda

Published: March 3, 2020 by Doubleday Books

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: A strange man discovers our nameless narrator selling popcorn at a decrepit small-town movie theater and offers her an odd and lucrative position: she will forget her job, her acquaintances, even her name, and move to Los Angeles, where she will become the body double of the famous and troubled celebrity Rosanna Feld. A nervous breakdown has forced Rosanna out of the public eye, and she needs a look-alike to take her place in the tabloid media circus of Hollywood. Overseen by Max, who hired her for the job, our narrator spends her days locked up in a small apartment in the hills watching hidden camera footage of Rosanna, wearing Rosanna’s clothes, eating the food Rosanna likes, practicing her mannerisms, learning to become Rosanna in every way. But as she makes her public debut as Rosanna, dining at elegant restaurants, shopping in stylish boutiques, and finally risking a dinner party with Rosanna’s true inner circle, alarming questions begin to arise. What really caused Rosanna’s mental collapse? Will she ever return? And is Max truly her ally, or something more sinister? With echoes of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, The Body Double is a fabulously plotted noir about fame, beauty, and the darkness of Hollywood.

Review: This book had such an interesting premise. Something has gone very wrong with a young starlet and she is actively avoiding the public eye. She needs to hire a body double in order to make public appearances while she focuses on her mental health and recovers. I was fascinated by this story and the aura of celebrity.

Unfortunately this just wasn’t very good. The writing was technically proficient, but the writer writes in a literary style that just isn’t suited to this kind of plot. This was a dark, twisted tale but the literary writing style made it difficult to read. I felt like I was being tortured through much of the book because we spend so much time on stupid details. We spent endless pages on what Rosanna likes to eat, read, wear, watch, buy, how she does her makeup, who her friends are, every conversation she has ever had. Probaby a minimum of 200 pages was spent on this. I’m not being the slightest bit sarcastic either. I was so bored. It felt like an interrogation. I was being presented the same facts over and over again and demanded to know what Rosanna liked.

I also, didn’t buy into the premise about halfway through. We learned that it has been a full year since anyone besides Max has seen Rosanna. That’s a long time. She just disappeared with no explanation and a year later this double comes on the scene. Add in the over the top obsession that Max has with Rosanna and I deduced pretty quickly what was going on here. So all that was left was the journey. I already know the end, would the journey be worth it?

It wasn’t. I didn’t believe that none of Rosanna’s close friends was suspicious of how much she had changed in a year. They comment on it and then just casually toss it away with “I guess you have changed since we saw each other last.” No, that doesn’t really explain personality changes. It just doesn’t. Or the fact that she looks younger, a lot younger. They remark on this too and then just ask for her beauty secrets. It was shallow and fake.

SPOILER WARNING: I am about to spoil the end of the book. Please halt your reading if you do not want to be spoiled.

I was almost correct on how I thought this would end. Max was Rosanna’s assistant. He was also obsessed with her. He had set up cameras to film her and all sorts of things. She caught him and threw him out of her life. Then she proceeds to kill herself, knowing he will be the one to find her.

Max becomes obsessed with getting Rosanna back and so he goes on the hunt for this double so that they can be together for real. Our narrator gets progressively crazier as the book goes on. She starts wandering Los Angeles at all hours of the night, swimming in stranger’s pools, leaving blood smears on the pavement outside Rosanna’s house. It was very strange. Then it all culminates when our narrator breaks into Rosanna’s house and discovers that she is dead and decides that Rosanna will use her body as a portal to come back to life. It ends with Max discovering her after she has become the “real” Rosanna and they lay together, whispering Rosanna’s name.

It was a very weird ending. I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. I had to read certain portions several times in order to make sense of it. It did not pay off for me.

New Releases Wednesday

Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle

Published: June 9, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: When Charlotte married the wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her humble past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned.

At first, it seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two.

As Charlotte uncovers dark mysteries about the man she married, she doesn’t know what to trust—her heart, which knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s hiding in the water.

My Thoughts: I am a big sucker for “is my new husband a murderer?” I can’t say no when I see another one. This one sounds interesting because the new wife suspects nothing until a second body shows up. Hmm, intriguing.

Broken People by Sam Lansky

Published: June 9, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: “He fixes everything that’s wrong with you in three days.”

This is what hooks Sam when he first overhears it at a fancy dinner party in the Hollywood hills: the story of a globe-trotting shaman who claims to perform “open-soul surgery” on emotionally damaged people. For neurotic, depressed Sam, new to Los Angeles after his life in New York imploded, the possibility of total transformation is utterly tantalizing. He’s desperate for something to believe in, and the shaman—who promises ancient rituals, plant medicine and encounters with the divine—seems convincing, enough for Sam to sign up for a weekend under his care.

But are the great spirits the shaman says he’s summoning real at all? Or are the ghosts in Sam’s memory more powerful than any magic?

At turns tender and acid, funny and wise, Broken People is a journey into the nature of truth and fiction—a story of discovering hope amid cynicism, intimacy within chaos and peace in our own skin.

My Thoughts: Dealing with our past and trying to move forward into the future as a better person is a common trait to all humans. It is a quest. This sounds kind of trippy, I hope it is.