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What I Read This Month: December 2017

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Y’all. Today is the last Monday before Christmas. I have a house full of family coming on SATURDAY and do you know how I spent 99.9% of my weekend? Reading on the sofa in front of the fireplace and I don’t even feel bad about it. After a flat out crazy December for both of us, A and I took a much needed break from the “have tos” and focused on a few “want tos”.  It was delightful!

Thanks, in large part, to a relatively lazy weekend, here’s what I read in December.

Final Girls by Riley Sager

“Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet. Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past. That is until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit; and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep.”

A co-worker got this book as her Book of the Month selection and when she finished, handed it to me and said, “don’t read this while your husband is away.” After reading it, I totally get why. It was all kinds of creepy, suspenseful and more than a little twisted. I read it in the middle of the day with all the lights on and was still pretty convinced I’d have nightmares.

I can usually guess the ending of most thrillers, but this one surprised me! Right up until the twist was revealed, I totally thought it was something else. That’s the mark of a good thriller in my opinion. This was a page turner without a doubt and I flew through it. Quincy wasn’t my favorite character in the entire world, but I felt like she was an authentic version of someone who’d experienced her particular past. I liked that the author chose to make it so she didn’t remember the events of the night and revealed it piece by piece throughout the story.

The English Wife by Lauren Willig

“Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life in New York: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three year old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?”

This was undoubtedly the least scary of my three thrillers. Perhaps it was the historical setting or maybe it was because the plot was very specific to those characters, but it doesn’t have nightmare potential the way the other two do. It started a bit slowly, but once the plot got rolling, it moved along quickly, thanks in part to the characters. Their backstories were complex even by today’s standards, but certainly by the standards of the late 1800s. I was especially a fan of Janie, the main protagonist who eventually found her voice and stood up for herself.

I’m not sure I saw the ending coming, but when it was all revealed, I somehow wasn’t terribly surprised. Nothing at all like Final Girls. One of my only complaints is that a minor character (who was awful) didn’t really get what I thought he deserved.  Otherwise, this one was very good.

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

“It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small-town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands. But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’s biggest scandal from more than a decade ago, involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.”

This was probably my least favorite of the three and the one I’d recommend last, if only because it was the most…icky? I can’t really explain it without giving it away, but the ending made me intensely uncomfortable, although I suppose most people got what they deserved. I actually wasn’t a huge fan of Abby, even though I know I was supposed to root for her to overcome her past and save a town that had basically tortured her as a child. Bonfire was the shortest one I read and moved quickly; I actually finished it in one evening.

I think all three books were enjoyable (albeit creepy) reads and I would recommend them if you’re into the suspense/thriller genre. What have you read lately?

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