People Like Us

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Having just done the tags for this novel, I realise there is *a lot* going on in it! I am a little in two minds about how good I think it is – on the one hand, I did want to keep reading to find out whodunnit, but on the other, I found the characters a little grating and spoiled, and the whole thing a bit crazy and unrealistic. But maybe that’s not always a bad thing? The main character is a bisexual student at a posh boarding school, Kay, who is the queen bee of the super popular, super bitchy click. She’s just broken up with her cheating boyfriend, although it turns out she’s actually in love with her best friend, so he wasn’t the only one being unfaithful.  The girls are sneaking out to their annual freezing swim in the pond after the Halloween dance when they find the body of another student, Jessica, floating in the lake. It quickly becomes clear that Kay is being set up for the murder and she has to race to try and prove her innocence. This is not helped by a guilty conscience relating to the death of her brother and her best friend back in her home town. See, a lot going on! A fun read but not one I think I’ll bother getting for our own library.

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Book and Movie Review ...

It would be fair to say this book has sparked a genre.  There are now so many books with similar titles (in this blog alone we’ve already got Good as Gone and The Girl Before), all of which follow similar creepy twists and turns designed to mess with your head.  It’s about a girl called Amy whose parents have messed with her life by writing a children’s book series called ‘Amazing Amy’; basically a book about a girl who is just that much better at life than their own child. She then meets Nick and her reality seems to catch up to the fiction, until one day she disappears and it looks like Nick is the culprit.  I liked this book a lot although I didn’t feel it lived up to the hype necessarily, at least not at first. Then – and I know this is sacrilege to say – I saw the movie and suddenly it all came together for me, particularly the ending. It just made more sense when it was acted out, and I must say Ben Affleck is well cast. He really is the type of guy who you know probably hasn’t done much wrong, but something about his face just makes you want to believe he’s guilty.  (Poor Ben Affleck!)

The Girls

the girls

The Girls is described by The New Yorker magazine as, “a song of innocence and experience…Finely intelligent, often superbly written, with flashingly brilliant sentences.” This was enough of a sales pitch for me and I immediately went and picked up a copy from the library. The reviewers weren’t kidding. It’s a dark and brooding novel, one that embodies the slow, sticky feeling of summer in which the story takes place.  It follows a girl called Evie who becomes seduced by a group of free floating girls she sees around her home town. These girls live in a commune led by a character based on Charles Manson. In fact, the whole thing is a fictional take on that murderous cult.  I had limited knowledge of Manson before reading the book, which perhaps was an advantage, and led me to some obsessively googling when I’d finished. It’s definitely a book for young readers looking for a challenge, but those who have read it have found it brilliant.

Reconstructing Amelia

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If your child died in an apparent suicide, jumping from the top of a school building, would you act on an anonymous text saying she didn’t jump, or would you leave it alone? Kate Baron decides she needs to know more, and this book is a heart stopping race to unravel the mystery of what happened in the lead up to her daughter Amelia’s death.  It’s got all the components of a great suspense novel and has been thoroughly enjoyed by all the students who have read it (and myself).

The Girl Before

the girl before

There is no denying this is a gripping read. I mean, when you have a quote from Lee Child on the front saying, “Dazzling – a pitch-perfect thriller”, you can be pretty sure it’s gonna be a page turner. And it is. But the comparisons on the back to Gone Girl and all the others like it, perhaps set this book up for a fall. I won’t deny that I loved most of it and devoured the 320 pages in less than 2 days.  There is no question that it’s a rip roaring read. But I kinda saw the ending coming. I think the genre demands a twist and in this case, there seemed to be only one way for it to go. So. On balance, great if you’re looking for a psychological thriller, but don’t expect too much if you’ve already read Gone Girl, Good as Gone, etc etc.

Oh, and what it’s about? It follows the story of two women who at different times have lived in the same insane property. No really, it’s insane. The architect who designed it has some kind of OCD and the house comes with a list of about 200 rules that must be followed, including no books or pictures. It’s freaky. And of course he’s really hot and they both end up in bed with him.  But the first girl, Emma, dies in mysterious circumstances in the house, leaving the second girl,  Jane, wondering if she could be in for trouble, too.

Her Fearful Symmetry

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This is a super weird and creepy book. It’s good, but you need to want something that will make you simultaneously scratch your head in wonder and your skin in discomfort! It’s about a pair of twins who inherit an apartment and then start doing some supernatural stuff, which ends with one of them becoming a ghost. Basically. There’s more to it than that, but this is the overarching plot (can you tell I read this one a few years ago?).  I definitely preferred Niffenger’s other book, The Time Traveler’s Wife, but this still held my attention and is worth picking up if you’re into the supernatural.

good as gone

Phwoar, this is a tense book!  It opens with Anna recounting how her youngest daughter watched her eldest daughter, Julie, be abducted at knifepoint 8 years earlier.  They have presumed her dead and tried their best to move on, but the whole thing bursts wide open when Julie appears on their doorstep one evening out of the blue. The book then tracks both backwards and forwards, sending the reader spiraling down the rabbit hole as they try to work out who this young woman claiming to be Julie really is.