Sunday, July 1, 2018

July

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
The author of the 2017 hit, Final Girls, is back with a new thriller and it is as dark and twisty as his last one. In fact, I liked this one better. This time around, Sager combines every adult's awkward memories about summer camp, and then pumps them full of creepy steroids to make summer camp a bit more 'murderous.' The main character, Emma, is fifteen years past her one and only sleepaway camp experience, and it was a doozy. As a thirteen year old, all of Emma's roommates disappear one night, and they never return; needless to say, that ended her camping week as well as Camp Nightingale itself. Fast forward to today and Emma, now a celebrated artist who consistently paints the missing girls into forest scenes, has been invited back to the newly opened camp in hopes that this return will banish all her ghosts, both literally and figuratively. The plot line skips between Emma's narration from today and her camp weeks, and eventually leads the reader to some fairly dark places. Admittedly, I read tons of mysteries and thrillers and can usually at least narrow it down to a list of whodunnits, but this book had my head reeling, especially with the final twist at the very end. If you're looking for a great summer read that you will not be able to put down, I would definitely recommend this one.

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
A woman visits a funeral home to plan her own memorial, and is then found strangled just six hours later; a deliciously clever cast of suspects abound as we see the latest crime-solving duo created by Anthony Horowitz, screenplay writer of BBC's Foyle's War, author of Alex Ryder children's series and the newest Sherlock Holmes books, and author of my favorite mystery of 2017, Magpie Murders. This is the start of a new series for Horowitz, which combines a crusty, socially inept yet brilliant London ex-cop named Hawthorne with writer Anthony Horowitz (yes, one and the same) who Hawthorne wants to write up his life story into true-crime fashion. These two are hilarious, brilliant, and ultimately completely ingenious as we watch the mystery unfold. As with any British caper, red herrings are rife in the scenery and Horowitz uses his own bungling to mirror the reader's confusion as to whodunnit. Another five-star mystery, it is a "can't miss" for your summer reading list.

The Banker's Wife by Cristina Alger
I really enjoyed Alger's first two books (The Darlings and This Was Not the Plan), and her latest is another solid story, with some intriguing twists and interesting characters. Alger heads back to the world of her first book, The Darlings, and in fact, some overlapping characters in the journalists who investigated the SEC schemes of a wealthy well-to-do family. This time around, we have another wealthy NYC family, but this time their hands are in corrupt politics and money laundering (sound like some headlines over the last year??). The story is told through two viewpoints: Marina, the independent, intelligent news reporter who just happens to be engaged to the son whose dad is announcing his candidacy for president, but there's a few skeletons in that dark rich closet; and Annabel, the wife of a young international banker, working in Switzerland and recently killed in a suspicious plane crash. As Alger strings all the pieces together, so do Annabel and Marina in a taut plot line, with some surprising twists that kept me turning the page. Alger is very good at slowly developing characters so be patient - it is worth it.

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Malloy
Wow, this Book of the Month book has sure received a lot of buzz. The fact that Kerry Washington is starring in the movie version of it might have helped a bit. However, it is a pretty decent thriller. Set amongst a group of New York city mothers who have recently given birth and have formed a loose friendship group with one another. When their first night out turns to tragedy and an empty crib is found, an investigation into all the women ensues. Debut author Aimee Malloy has created an eclectic group of mothers: the career woman battling to return to work, a mom who gets overly involved in the police work of the missing baby, a writer with writer's block and sleep deprivation, and a former reality TV star. Sprinkled throughout are the private thoughts of the young mother dealing with relationship betrayal and love issues, adding a whole other twist to the story. It is a good mystery, yet I found myself a bit bothered by the betrayal of new motherhood and the supposed 'craziness' that comes with it. This story seemed to perpetuate some asinine myths about what hormones do to one's brain, as well as the fall out of choosing to end a pregnancy. Perhaps small complaints, but it just did not sit right with me.

Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon by Robert Kurson
As a child of the 60's with a father who worked in the Boeing space program, I was fascinated, along with the rest of the country, with astronauts, the moon, and those humongous rockets out of Cape Canaveral. This new book on the historic first orbit of the moon is a wonderful walk down a lot of exciting memories, but it is also an outstanding reminder of what hope, determination, and plain ole hard work can accomplish. Author Robert Kurson does an admirable research job, filling his book with intriguing facts and tidbits about NASA, the backstories of the three astronauts, and the state of America in 1968 (not good, by the way - we needed this space trip pretty desperately!) This is a fabulous listen, as well as an incredibly inspiring story of what three men did for our country on Christmas Eve in 1968; they raised our spirits, gave us belief in the future, and reminded us about the goodness of America. It is exactly what I needed to hear in these dark days of summer 2018.


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