Emma Cline’s “The Girls” – A Review.

the-girls-emma-clineStory   ★★★
Writing ★★★
Cover   
Mystery 

PROS: Well structured
      Emotional
 
CONS: A little slow beginning
      No strong characters
      No real plot twists

You have probably seen Emma Cline’s book all over the internet by now. It seemed at one point to be THE book you ought to read, if you were only going to read one book (after all it made it to the NY Times Bestsellers list!).

I really had high hopes for this book. And maybe that’s the problem. I am not sure it if was all the hype constructed around the book, or if it was my hope to read the next “Gone Girl” with an even bigger story twist. Instead… well. It was all but that.

The Girls is Emma Cline’s debut novel and it tells the story of Evie Boyd, a young privileged teenager, who finds herself drawn by a group of girls living in some sort of made-up boho camp ( really a run down ranch), and following an older man as their leader. It is very clear whose story Emma Cline is trying to tell: the infamous Manson clan. The story doesn’t get any more original from that point, instead, we are offered to relive the horrors of the past but it a very slow fashion. Where one would hope to see strong female characters and their take of what it must have been like to be part of a cult like Manson’s was, we are instead offered a pretty pale version. Evie is another stereotyped rich girl who finds herself sucked into something bigger than she had bargained for. We are supposed to feel bad for her, but instead I fell very annoyed by her character and disappointed by all the other female characters in  this book.

As you can imagine by now, I didn’t think much of this debut novel. Yes, it was well structured and well told, but the magic and the surprise elements were just lacking. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong inspiring ourselves from history (what would be do without a good historical fiction anyway?), but there must be something more compelling than just regurgitating facts and changing names. There must be an element of surprise for the reader, and the characters have to be compelling enough to lead us til the end. However, in my humble opinion, The Girls missed the mark.

I give the book a solid 3 stars, and that is mostly due to the fact that despite Emma Cline missing the ‘Thrill’-bandwagon, she was pretty good at describing scenes and translating how Evie felt and why she was drawn to the leader of the cult. We get it – she is lonely, feeling unloved, and desperate for attention. Emma Cline made me understand Evie’s struggle, and why Suzanne seemed so appealing to her. But like I said, besides that, there was nothing else to the story, and that is very sad.

I think Emma Cline has potential to write a good novel, and I hope that someday I will come across a much enticing novel that will really make me rate it 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, and Random House for an ARC of  The Girls by Emma Cline, in exchange for an honest review.


BUY THE BOOK: Amazon
FOLLOW SARA AHMED: Website
MORE INFO
 Language: English
 Genre: Fiction, Coming of Age, Thriller
 ISBN-10:  0735208182
 Published: June 14, 2016
 Publisher: Random House Large Print

Luke Gracias “The Devil’s Prayer” – A Review

the-devils-prayer-luke-graciasStory  ★★ 
Writing ★  
Cover Mystery 

PROS: Captivating
      Suspenseful
      Strong characters
      Beautiful narrative

CONS: Slow beginning

Oh Boy.

I finally finished The Devil’s Prayer and I still can’t stop my heart racing with excitement. It has been a while since I had read a book this good. And boy was it good!

The Devil’s Prayer is a historical fiction, and even more a thriller in its way. It opens in Spain, in a convent, with the death of a nun. The first pages set the tone for the whole book, with the reader forming instantly questions, such as What are the pages the nun stole from an ancient book? Why did she steal them? Why would monks of her rank be after her? and Why would she kill herself as a result? We then learn that the nun had two daughters, Siobhan and Jess, and of the two, Siobhan is the one after the truth about her mother’s unusual death. Without going into details, and not wanting to spoil the book for you, Siobhan flies out to Spain, to pay her respects to her mother’s body and maybe learn the real reason why their mother abandoned them a few years earlier to become a nun, and why she decided to end her days so abruptly. When she gets to Spain, what Siobhan finds is more than what she had bargained for, as she retrieves her mother’s confession and learns her ties to the Devil and the importance of the Devil’s Prayer.

At the beginning of the book, I could not help but draw some comparison and similarities with Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, but as I read more, The Devil’s Prayer stood on it’s own. Luke Gracias did a fantastic job with his debut novel, offering an interesting and pretty well researched background on religious belief, while exploring the coexistence of Good and Evil, of God and the Devil. He masterfully shapes the story throughout various timelines, both during Sister Benedictine’s time (who is the mother of Siobhan), as well as way back to the 1220s. Although the book started a bit slow, the pace quickly picks up once we enter the “Confession” part of the book. The Devil is revealed and with him, human’s love for a good bargain. The narrative and its characters are strong, and Gracias masterfully uses historical timelines to tell his story, and draw the reader in suspense with a major cliffhanger waiting for them at the end of the book. Throughout the book, one has to put aside his/hers preconceived notions about Good and Evil, and foremost about religion in itself and embrace, even if it’s just as a work of fiction, the possibility that “maybe” as we pray to God, the Devil also listens, stirring along dreadful events for which we just have no explanations.

If you love historical fiction, fast paced suspenseful stories, mysteries, religious conspiracies…then you will love The Devil’s Prayer. I could not put it down from the moment I picked it up, and I am glad I was offered the opportunity to read it and review it fro you all. I am very impressed by the details and the research Luke Gracias has performed for his story, and I cannot wait to read more from him in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley, author Luke Gracias, and Australian eBook Publisher for an ARC of The Devil’s Prayer by Luke Gracias, in exchange for an honest review.


BUY THE BOOK: Amazon
FOLLOW LUKE GRACIAS: Website
MORE INFO
 Language: English
 Genre:Historical, Horror, Thriller, Fiction
 ASIN: B01BXR4838
 Published: February 18, 2016
 Publisher: Australian eBook Publisher

Lucy Atkin’s “The Missing One” – A review

the-missing-one-1024x684
*This review was originally posted on Skattered Notes Blog.com*

Dear ones,

I am finally taking the time to write this long awaited review of Lucy Atkins’ debut novel! As they say, better late than never. Since the release of this book, Lucy Atkins has written a second novel, The Other Child.
Author
Story   
Writing
Cover  
Mystery

PROS
Captivating
Thrilling
Strong characters
Beautiful narratives
Tense

CONS
Long narratives
Slow beginning

BUY THE BOOK
Amazon

FOLLOW LUCY ATKINS
Website
Facebook
Twitter

MORE INFO
Language: English
Genre:General Fiction
Adult Fiction
            Thriller
            Mystery

ISBN-10:

9781623659899

Published: Feb 3, 2015
Publisher: Quercus

DISCLAIMER
The Missing One, debut novel of Lucy Atkins, was kindly provided for an honest review by NetGalley and its publisher Quercus.

What drew me to this book was not only the beautiful cover, but the mysterious title. I had questions such as “Who was missing?” and “What is the whales connection?” when i picked up my copy of the novel. Because this was Lucy Atkins’ debut novel, I had no previous background on her writing style.

As Lucy Atkins shares in the video above, the story starts with the death of Kali’s mother – Elena. Kali is going through a lot at this period of her life, a lot due to her uncertainties about things and the people in her life. As I turned the pages, it was obvious that Kali holds a grudge against her mom, while desperately seeking closure. The novel is written from two sides: as a flashback from Elena’s life, and as a present scene depicted by Kali.

Although I found this going back and forth between the past and the present a bit difficult to digest the novel and progress through it, I also was surprised by how well each scene was described. Lucy Atkins had me wrapped up in her beautiful imageries, and I felt transported to the British Columbia she so well describes. Despite the fact that at times some narratives seemed a bit too long for my taste, I couldn’t resolve to leave the book without having reached its end.

As Kali meets Susannah, the woman who has been sending her mother postcards for years, in an attempt to learn more about the woman her mother really was, the story starts to take a very interesting turn. The novel becomes darker and darker, with angry landscapes and muted notes. I found my heartbeat pick up a bit as I felt the danger nearing Kali and her baby Finn. I wanted her to stop searching for the truth regarding her mother and just go back to England, to her comfort zone. But as I worried for her and Finn, I also wanted to discover the secrets that had been hidden from her her whole life.

As a debut novel, I must say that Lucy Atkins set the bar pretty high. The tone was right, the narratives and characters were strong. There was no unnecessary word uttered, no unnecessary scene. Everything fell into place by the end of the novel, just like a puzzle game, revealing the big picture. It took me a while to get through the book, because it was so intense with descriptions of whales and Elena’s work with them, I felt the  need to put it down to absorb it fully. I could have done without such detailed accounts of whale-studies,but I understand that they were necessary for the sake of the story-line. Now, I will admit that it also took a while to even understand where the story was going, with all the back and forth between Elena’s past and Kali’s present. However, I am glad I stuck with it, as as soon had Kali reached Susannah, the book began to climax. Overall I did enjoy this book, which is really packed with intensity leading to a discovery of a really dark past.  I think readers of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and lovers of anything thrilling/dark will enjoy this book.

Book Review| The Therapist by Lori Lesko

Book Review: The Therapist by Lori Lesko

Author  

Story     

Writing 

Cover    

Mystery ★

 

PROS

Good structure of the book

Easy to read

Easy to follow

Multiple (unexpected) plot twists!

CONS

Too short

ORDER THE BOOK

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

MORE INFO

LoriLesko.com

Language: English

Genre: Fiction,

           Thriller,

           Psychological thriller,

          Mystery

ISBN-10: 1508994951

ISBN-13: 978-1508994954

Published: April 15, 2015

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

DISCLAIMER

All opinions generated in this review are purely my own. No compensation was received for this review.

I have been exchanging tweets with Lori Lesko long before I purchased her latest book. There were many reasons for me to acquire the book: I had witnessed Lori’s perseverance as a writer, which has also been stimulating me with my own writing, and I was very intrigued once the synopsis (and cover!) was revealed to the public. I knew then that I wanted to read this book, and since it would be supporting and encouraging the writer, it didn’t take much of convincing.

“Lindsey CarMichael was a gifted child with an IQ of 190. Her father had high hopes that she would follow in his footsteps and practice law. Instead, Lindsey decided to pursue psychology as a career and her father relented, with one caveat: Lindsey was to be the very best. And she was. But the combined stress of recovering from a past trauma and the frustration of being stuck in an unhappy relationship has left Lindsey overwhelmed and anxious. She definitely needs a vacation, but her boss isn’t willing to let her go. Exhausted, Lindsey’s life begins to unravel quickly. If she’s not careful, she’ll be the one in need of therapy.”

Not having read Lori’s previous work, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that this was her first attempt at writing a thriller/mystery type of novel. When I picked up the book, I could hardly put it down. The storyline was great, the characters were all very captivating. Lori has a gift with words, as they seemed to flow naturally, and I never felt prompted to criticize the writing style. For a debut novel in this genre, I found The Therapist quite surprising. Every time I thought I had the plot figured out, there was a twist in the storyline, which kept my interest going.

Although this was a great read, I felt a little bit unsatisfied by its brevity. I think the characters and their troubles could have been dived into deeper, with a couple more chapters exploring Lindsay’s ghosts of the past, as well as the devious plan of her patient and the outcome(s). Maybe even get more insights of the devious personality of each supporting characters? I think it would have contributed more to the psychological part of the novel.

However, despite finding the novel a bit too short, I think Lori Lesko did a wonderful job at providing the readers with an engaging book full of twists. I am really looking forward to reading more of her work!

Side Note: This review was first published on my personal blog.