Some months when I read a set of books I will see a common theme. I don’t usually plan for that to happen. This month was one of those months.
A theme developed accidentally. See if you can decide what it is ( and I will tell you later)!
I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll
This is a book that Amazon recommended to me- based on my scrolling and purchasing history. It seems I read a lot of girl-in-distress books or suspense thrillers!
Anyway, this is the story of several families and how they are entwined in the story of Anna. It begins with Ella (an adult) who watches two young girls on a train. The girls, Anna and Sarah, are being very flirtatious with two young men. Sarah is suspicious of the circumstances but does nothing.
Then Anna disappears! Without a trace, Anna is gone. Sarah has no idea where she went and the police can find no clues. Except for Ella. Ella was a witness on the train and blames herself for not reporting the young men.
Here is where the book gets interesting. Each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the main characters. The chapters alternate and occasionally flip back in time. There are hints throughout the book and each chapter ends with a dramatic statement. Like this:
“A tall man at the window of a second-floor flat, with a blonde woman. A gun to her head.”
And then you are left hanging because the next chapter begins with another point of view! It is quite maddening, actually. But that is what makes it suspenseful! I would give this one 4 stars. It had a slow start, but by the second half it picks up quickly. There are multiple people involved in the story and you will wonder to the very end which one is the guilty person. It was a surprise for me!
The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti
Here is the fun little backstory of how I got this book. Amazon has this “one-click’ feature and, well, you can figure out what happened.
So, I decided to read it. And I am glad I did.
Zoe is a young woman with a dark past. Her adoptive mother, Evelyn, has died and in the middle of that drama, Zoe was involved with a nefarious group of drug pushers. She escaped after testifying at the trial of the men and made her way to New York. Then in a Cinderella-type story, she finds herself married to a wealthy man named Henry.
Henry is a dream and her life has taken on all the qualities she thought she would never have.
Until someone from her past shows up at a charity event. I cannot tell you much more than that because it would reveal too much. This one is full of surprises- most of which I did not see coming. I will be honest and say I did rather guess the main part of the surprises and you might, too. But, it was still great to read how it all played out.
The book is well written with details and descriptions and very likable characters (well, except for Henry). I give it 5 stars. Grab this one- but beware of that one-click thing when ordering.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Modern suburbia, planned communities, all families adhering to standards of behavior….or do they?
In this book you meet the Richardsons. There are four teenagers- two boys and two girls. Everything seems perfect.
Then a young woman and her teenage daughter move into a rental owned by the Richardsons. Mia and the daughter, Pearl, furnish their apartment with castoffs and thrift store goods and seems as happy as can be. They move often and are just settling into this community when Pearl meets the Richardson kids. Her life is turned upside down as she begins to live at their home as much as her own.
Into the middle of the story comes a case of an adopted Asian baby. The baby was abandoned at a local fire station and the couple that is trying to adopt her must fight the adoption when the birth mother comes forward. Mia and the Richardsons are smack in the middle of this.
The adoption story is the point of the book when you begin to learn about the background of Mia and Pearl. And to complicate matters further there is the youngest Richardson daughter, Izzy. Izzy has become very close to Mia and prefers her home to her own.
All the stories come together at the end and I will let you read the book to find out how this occurs. I would give this one 5 stars. I love this author and this book did not disappoint. (To be honest, as I started this book I was thinking, “Great, finally I found a book written by a real author.” If you read a lot you will understand what I mean by this.)
Grab this one!
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
At a girls board school, four unlikely girls come together and form a group that consistently tells lies about anything. The foursome invented complicated rules about the lying- including that they must never lie to each other.
The girls, Kate, Fatima, Thea, and Isa, are experts at the game they have invented and actually keep a score of sorts.
But, their lies catch up with them eventually and they are expelled from the school. At about this same time the school’s art teacher mysteriously disappears ( and just happens to be Kate’s dad). The girls go their separate ways and stay apart for many years until Kate sends a message:
“I need you.”
The other three drop everything and go back to Kate’s home to see what has happened. It becomes a test of their friendship and you will also find glimpses into their lives before and after the boarding school events. Each of them has new lives and this is also interwoven into the story.
So, what did I think? I enjoyed most of the book. It is very well written and I did like the main character, Isa. It was an interesting read, but not as much a page-turner as Ms. Ware’s previous book (The Woman in Cabin 10). I give it four stars- only because it did drag a little. I did find myself wishing the story would just move on!
Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
This is a young reader type book but does contain a chapter that tells about a mature event. I would not have been able to keep this on my third-grade shelves.
The premise of this book is haunting. Nine children of various ages live on an island- alone. About once a year a boat arrives with a very young boy or girl. The eldest child on the island leaves. No one knows where the children come from or what happens to them when they leave.
The second eldest child becomes the caretaker and teacher of the new child. The new child must be taught to swim, read, and make his or her own food. And after about another year, it happens again.
The book opens with the arrival of Ess on the boat and the departure of Deen. Jinny becomes Ess’s caretaker and with the help of some of the others takes her through her year’s worth of lessons about island life. And then the boat comes with Loo and Jinny is supposed to leave. Supposed to….
Several things of note about this book:
- Jinny is alternately brave and bossy. She does the right thing and then does the wrong thing. She wants to be in charge of Ess, but cannot seem to teach her the smallest things.
- Ess is adorable. You never really know her exact age, but her speech patterns (mispronunciations) would make her 3-4, I think. She learns quickly but still remembers that she once had a mother.
- The island has a mysterious perfection. Snakes don’t bite, bees don’t sting, there is a cabin full of books the children read, they have plenty of food and know how to prepare it, and a fierce wind keeps them from falling off cliffsides.
- The children have typical childish spats but work together well when it is needed.
- The book is well written and I enjoyed it a lot. I give it four stars because I have too many unanswered questions about it. You will have to read it to see what I mean!
What a variety of books I read this month.
Suspense and a children’s book, disappearances, missing people, orphans…and I did notice a common thread. Each book has a main focus on children or young people. Something in the past has caught up with some of these characters. And it changes everything. Perhaps some wisdom from these books!
I found something amazing recently? Books on my phone!
I have a Kindle, but I don’t always remember to throw it in my purse. Here’s what you do- get the Kindle app. You do not have to have a Kindle to grab it and it’s fabulous. It’s easy to read on my phone and I like the way the pages turn much better than my real Kindle!
My rating system: 5 stars- perfection, the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it. This might include the way it ended. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.
Susan K. says
I LOVED Little Fires Everywhere ~ even my husband read and enjoyed it (we don't often like the same types of books either!). I'll have to check out the Ruth Ware book. I like your beginning sentence about a reader choosing to have many lives!
Carol Davis says
Thank you Susan! I do have many lives and sometimes all at the same time! I am almost always reading a fiction book while listening to a different book. Right now I am almost finished listening to the first Harry Potter! It is so good and the reader is just fabulous!