2015 Book #103 – Surviving Valencia by Holly Tierney-Bedord

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Title: Surviving Valencia
Author: Holly Tierney-Bedord
Date finished: 9/29/15
Genre: Fiction, thriller
Publisher: Unknown
Publication Date: June 30, 2012
Pages in book: 335
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A car accident robs the Loden Family of twins Van and Valencia shortly after they start college. Charmed, bright, and beautiful, they held their family together and elevated the Lodens to greatness. In their loss, a shadow is cast upon the family, particularly on the remaining child, who lacks the easy grace and popularity her older siblings took for granted.
As an adult, her life begins to turn from mediocre to amazing when she is saved by cool, artistic Adrian. The kind of happiness once reserved only for others is finally hers, until pieces of the past begin ruining what seems to be a perfect life.

My rating: 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of our narrator, a 30-ish year old woman who is married to a well-known and wealthy Savannah artist. Now an adult, she is still haunted by the death of her siblings (who were twins and 7ish years older than her) when she was young, and her upbringing has made her feel significantly inadequate as a person. The book alternates between chapters from the past and the present, starting when the narrator is a child and her siblings were still alive. As the book goes along, the chapters about the past eventually catches up to close to where the story began in the present so we luckily end up covering the span of the narrator’s entire life. As the story evolves, we learn a lot more about the narrator’s husband and how he hasn’t been as honest as expected.
Overall I liked this book, it kept me interested from the very beginning and honestly I didn’t want to put it down. I was a little let down with the ending, only because it happened pretty abruptly and I found it to be a tad confusing plus there were some unanswered that as a reader I probably would’ve like to know the answers to. The story switched to a different narrator for the last chapter (not saying who but be prepared for a twist) and the second narrator mentions a baby with green eyes but you really have to pay attention to small details during the rest of the story to grasp the significance of this and even then its entirely possible that there is another villain out there with green eyes. And there is a reference to the second narrator escaping but what were they escaping from and how long did they have to wait before they escaped? And there is a mention of an old and a young guy but who the heck is the old guy? Just a lot of questions. Which really, I mean the story is very engrossing, i just wish we found out what happened to the second narrator! Other than that though the story is interesting and mysterious and a bit thrilling. Honestly while I was reading it reminded me of a cross of both Luckiest Girl Alive and The Space Between Heartbeats in certain parts of the plot line. It was a great read!

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot but the ending left something to be desired for me personally. Story really draws you in though, I would recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #66 – The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor

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Title: The Daylight Marriage
Author: Heidi Pitlor
Date finished: 6/30/15
Genre:  Fiction, Thriller/Suspense
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Pages in book: 245
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

She still had time before work. She could go food shopping. She could fold the kids’ laundry and get the car washed and return some library books. Or Hannah could do something else. She could do something that she had never done–drive to a part of town where she had never been, pretend to be someone that she was not.
Hannah was tall and graceful, naturally pretty, spirited and impulsive, the upper-class young woman who picked, of all men, Lovell–the introverted climate scientist who thought he could change the world if he could just get everyone to listen to reason. After a magical honeymoon, they settled in the suburbs to raise their two children.
But over the years, Lovell and Hannah’s conversations have become charged with resentments and unspoken desires. She has become withdrawn. His work affords him a convenient distraction. And then, after one explosive argument, Hannah vanishes.
For the first time, Lovell is forced to examine the trajectory of his marriage through the lens of memory. As he tries to piece together what happened to his wife–and to their life together–readers follow Hannah on that single day when a hasty decision proves irrevocable.
With haunting intensity, a seamless balance of wit and heartbreak, and the emotional acuity that author Heidi Pitlor brings to every page, The Daylight Marriage mines the dark and delicate nature of a marriage.

My rating: 2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book with bad reviews” check box since there are a number of bad reviews on Amazon, 17% of reviews were for 2 stars and 15% of the reviews were only for 1 star. The one I think I agreed with the most is this one, which touched on many issues I had with the book. I think that the Amazon reviewer hit the nail on the head when they said that it felt “like an unfinished manuscript.” There were just so many holes in the story and so many things that did not make sense and could not be pieced together. It felt like the story had started to develop and then it was over and the reader is left feeling as if there are so many questions left unanswered or even unasked.
Lovell’s relationship with his daughter in the book really bothered me. She was afraid of him the whole book pretty much and the whole time Lovell is trying to convince her that he wasn’t really acting that badly the last night that Hannah was home and then all of a sudden at the end of the book he remembers things the way Janine has been describing them? That didn’t make any sense. And what caused his sudden revelation? And honestly that girl needed a lot more discipline. She was fifteen and she offered to be a surrogate for her gay next door neighbors. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That is an unhealthy relationship, and they let her get drunk at their party and Lovell is having Ethan stay at a party where two dudes are making out and grinding on a dance floor. Ethan is NINE. TAKE HIM HOME.
That’s really all I want to say about the book. I could go on for awhile I think but I will just leave it here at “this book was not my cup of tea.”
The bottom line: I wasn’t a fan of this book. There just wasn’t much about it that appealed to me, it left me fieeling both unfinished and unsettled.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2014 – Book # 78

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The seventy-eighth book I read in 2014 was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This was the first book I have read by this author. I finished this book on 8/31/14. I rated this book 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5. This book is about Nick Dunne and how his life changes when his wife Amy goes missing. On their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick comes home to find his living room in horrible disarray and his wife is nowhere to be found.

There are three pretty much separate parts of this book. The first part alternates between (1) Nick Dunne’s point of view from the day Amy goes missing and (2) Amy’s point of view for the past seven years up to the point of her disappearance through her diary entries. Through Amy’s diary we see Amy and Nick’s relationship from the beginning , and watch it deteriorate as the years pass. Through Nick’s point of view we see the guilt, the emptiness, the fear. This at first makes readers wonder if his reactions are due to the fact that Nick has something to do with Amy’s disappearance. And as all the clues seem to come together to the same conclusion, Nick has trouble continuing to convince his family, Amy’s family, the police and the public that he is innocent.

The second part of the book tells the story from Amy’s point of view from the day of her disappearance (first hand and not through diary entries) as well as continuing through Nick’s point of view after the disappearance. Nick is beginning to seem very, very guilty and he enlists the help of one of the nation’s greatest husband-defense lawyers. Nick tries to bring the public around to his side through the help of the media. But for someone who isn’t good at showing emotions in a general sense, not showing emotion when your wife is missing just makes you seem more guilty.

The third part of the book is told through Amy and Nick’s point of views after Amy is “found.” This part of the book I found to be the most twisted and honestly a little disturbing. Amy and Nick’s obsession with each other seems to be self-destructive and I can’t imagine how Nick was able to sleep next to her at night. Amy is cunning and ruthless and both her and Nick surprised me in this section.

Overall this was an interesting book but not one that I would read again. The plot itself was fascinating and inventive but was a little dark for my taste. I’m very glad that I read it though and would recommend it to other readers. Especially since they’re making a movie out of it, I always like to read the book before I go see the movie. I am curious about how the book will translate into film though given the transition that has to happen between the first and second parts of the book. I am interested in seeing the movie when it comes out. The official site for the movie, including trailers, can be found here.

Link to author website: http://gillian-flynn.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Gone-Girl-Gillian-Flynn/dp/030758836X/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1409743995&sr=8-1