“Don’t You Cry,” by Mary Kubica

These days I always feel hesitant when reading books with blurbs describing it as, “The next, ‘Girl on the Train,'” or more commonly, “The next, ‘Gone Girl.” For me, that seems to bring on disappointment with the book, which is often unfair to the book I’m reading. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more, had I not been set to have such high expectations from that comparison. All of this being said, if comparing, “Don’t You Cry,” by Mary Kubica to, “Gone Girl,” gets more people to read it, then I am totally on board.

In this particular case, I am confident the comparison will not be a let down. It is a twisty, tight thriller and I stayed up far past my bedtime to finish it. Ok so I don’t have a bedtime but I really did stay up late reading it. To me, Kubica deserves to be big enough for her own name to be the one that is brought up in blurbs for other books. I think that she will be someday and that someday will be soon.

Like her previous two books, “The Good Girl,” and, “Pretty Baby,” “Don’t You Cry,” has a somewhat deceptively unassuming title for the story behind it. Quinn and Esther have been roommates for about a year and Quinn feels like she knows Esther pretty well by this point. They have their squabbles but Quinn is fairly certain there is nothing mysterious about, “Saint Esther,” who has become her closest friend. When Esther vanishes one night, Quinn is mildly concerned but not overly worried. She figures Esther will be back soon enough. However, the days go by with no word from Esther. Slowly, Quinn begins to unravel the trail Esther has left behind and now Quinn is not just concerned for Esther but also for herself.

Thank you Netgalley for the review copy of this book.

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“City of Mirrors,” by Justin Cronin

I was working at Borders Books when the first book in Justin Cronin’s trilogy, “The Passage,” came out. We had received an advance copy at the store. It wasn’t on my radar at the time, but a coworker was reading it. I remember every break she went on, she hauled out the massive book out of her locker and just sat there entranced. I found myself curious because I had never seen this coworker so engaged by a book. She liked them well enough, for working at a bookstore, but I had never seen her so engaged. I asked her about it and she said it was a book about vampires but not the typical vampire tale.

Honestly, I was skeptical. I felt, if there was a vampire book out there, I had read it. From Anne Rice to Laurel K Hamilton to Charlaine Harris to J.R. Ward to, of course, Bram Stoker to countless others, the vampire story had been done. Some more successfully than others. I was kind of over it. Still, she assured me it was different, so when she finished the book, I started it and I’m so glad that I did.

“City of Mirrors,” has a few timelines but, for the most part, it picks up about three years after the events of, “The Twelve.” If you think you may not remember enough to read this without rereading the first two, I too felt that way. I had reread, “The Passage,” before, “The Twelve,” came out and I had every intention of rereading both before, “City of Mirrors.” My plans fell out the window when I received the arc of the new one. Feeling a little concerned, I saw that Justin Cronin’s website gives fairly detailed recaps of the first two books. He also gives a small introduction in the beginning of this one that sums up some things. Starting the book, I found that I remembered far more than I thought I did. I think it’s due to how well written the characters are. They wedge themselves into your memory so deeply that, when you encounter them again, it’s like catching up with old friends.

Alicia searches for Zero, the original viral. Peter is in Texas, helping to rebuild civilization but still dreaming of Amy. He has unofficially adopted his brother Theo’s son Caleb. Sarah and Hollis are there, with their daughter Kate. Greer is in Texas as well and he alone knows what has become of Amy. Michael looks for Alicia, finding instead a wrecked ship that both reveals what became of the rest of the world and offers hope for the future. It may have been almost three years since a viral sighting, but the danger is not over.

I will not reveal more plot details. It is quite complex and spans decades. Instead I’ll just say that it was a highly satisfying ending to the trilogy. I complained over the years, mostly to myself, how long it took between books. I see now, that the time was needed to craft this amazing story with these characters I loved. It was definitely worth the wait.

I lost touch with the coworker who introduced me to the series so many years ago. That makes me sad for many reasons, but today it saddens me because I long to ask her if she read the second book in the trilogy, “The Twelve,” and if she will read this stunning conclusion. I want to sit with her and talk about Peter and Amy, Alicia and Michael and every other character. Sometimes there is nothing as wonderful as discussing a beloved book with a friend. Thank you Netgalley for the review copy.

 

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“The Girls,” by Emma Cline-Review

I should start this by saying that there are few things I love more than a good coming of age tale, true crime and cults. Ok, ok ok…I love lots of other things; funny cat videos, Doctor Who, Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows, the list is never ending. It’s also important to note that I don’t actually love cults to the point where I would want to be in one. (At least I don’t think so?) It’s more that I will watch or read anything I can find on the subject. For the past seven weeks, I’ve been watching every episode of, “The Path,” on Hulu. This might be partially due to my obsession with Hugh Dancy and Aaron Paul,  but I digress.

My point if I have one is, I love all of those things. Therefore when I heard about Emma Cline’s book, “The Girls,” my ears perked up and I scrambled to get my hands on a copy. When I obtained said copy (thank you Net Galley!), I basically did not come up for air for two days except to work, eat and hate watch Scandal. (That’s another story.)

The crime of the story will seem familiar. It’s not identical to the Manson murders but it’s close enough to give you a chill. However, it’s unfair to the excellence of this book to simply compare it to that. This book is so much more.

At it’s heart, this book is about Evie Boyd. She is young and not yet hardened at the beginning. She wants to be loved and she wants to be seen. Basically, she is all of us at 14. The story flashes back and forth between modern day Evie and Evie as a teenager. It’s hard to say which story was more gripping. In the modern part of the story, we see Evie as an older woman, still wrestling with her past told in the flashbacks. My heart broke for both versions of her. I wanted modern day Evie to heal and I wanted teenage Evie to not do the things that would bring herself hurt later even though I knew that was impossible.

Evie is somewhat of a typical teenager when we meet her. She worries about her body, has a love-hate relationship with her best friend and has a crush on that friend’s brother. She meets intoxicating  Suzanne, an older girl, who pulls Evie into her world at The Ranch, a world led by the charismatic Russell. It may be Russell who is in charge of everyone else but for Evie, it is Suzanne that she flocks to, dreams of and seeks to connect with. It is Suzanne who will lead her astray.

I won’t say more about the plot. I like to keep my reviews as spoiler free as possible, especially with a book like this where not knowing is part of the magic. I will just say that I found myself thinking of these girls as real people, worrying over them. I was consumed and I was at odds with myself. On one hand, I wanted to read it quickly as I was fully invested. On the other hand, the writing was so beautiful that I found myself going back pages to slow down and reread a line or a paragraph. If this is Emma Cline’s first book, I simply cannot wait to read what she comes up with next. It’s a firecracker of a debut.

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