Book Review

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

After recently reading Katherine’s new book, Things You Save in a Fire, I immediately looked up the rest of her bibliography and decided to start with How to Walk Away. I decided to go into the book blind – I didn’t even read the back cover summary before I dove in. That gamble paid off in spades – this book was just as emotionally packed as her latest book, but offered a totally different main character to root for.

Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect.

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Book Review

One of Us is Lying by Karen M McManus

It’s clear that One of Us is Lying was trying to be the teenage answer to acclaimed domestic mysteries such as Big Little Lies and Gone Girl. While it did succeed in creating a fun mystery in the young adult space, it definitely falls short of being a memorable and lasting entry to the genre.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

My main issue with this book was it’s poor character management. While a bigger cast of core characters can be fun, it requires a lot of plotting and balance that this book sorely lacked. Most of the five characters were pretty bland and didn’t have a lot of personality, not to mention that they weren’t used very effectively. All five characters should have been utilized to keep the reader on their toes and to maintain more of a whodunit vibe. Sadly, at least two of the characters could have been cut with little impact to the story, which really speaks to their poor character definition and lack of contribution to the plot.

The plot itself of this book is nothing new, but it’s still a fun ride. It has a strong Pretty Little Liars vibe – the main plot focuses on an anonymous figure releasing the group’s darkest secrets. The story is mildly twisty, and is a decent mystery – though it is easy to guess the ending. Further, the mystery was pretty forgettable. I’m writing this review about a week after I read the book, and already the details are getting pretty fuzzy. One notable thing about the plot was that it was largely driven by cliches. Each character represented an overused trope from every popular high school movie, and all of their fears/secrets/motivations, were just as cliche. Any one of the characters could have been swapped out for a different cliche driven character with little impact to the book overall.

This book strives to be taken seriously and clearly wants to be considered in the league of modern mystery giants such as Gone Girl or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It fell leagues short of that bar, but would still be a decent (and easy) read if you wanted a lighthearted mystery. 3/5

Book Review

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

Normally, Sophie Kinsella’s books are a mix of cringe comedy, dumb antics (that lead to easily avoidable problems), and a healthy dose of uber-cute romance. It’s the third part of this recipe that keeps me coming back and reading more of her books. This one, however, lacked the spark between the romantic leads and veered much further into the territory of unbelievable than any of her other books.

Workaholic attorney Samantha Sweeting has just done the unthinkable. She’s made a mistake so huge, it’ll wreck any chance of a partnership.

Going into utter meltdown, she walks out of her London office, gets on a train, and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she’s mistaken for an interviewee and finds herself being offered a job as housekeeper. Her employers have no idea they’ve hired a lawyer–and Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. She can’t sew on a button, bake a potato, or get the #@%# ironing board to open. How she takes a deep breath and begins to cope–and finds love–is a story as delicious as the bread she learns to bake.

But will her old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?

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