December Recap | 2019

A blog post? On a Monday?

As I mentioned on Friday, this is something new that I’m trying this year. The aim is to have recap, stat, and other types of content on Mondays, as well as having weekly reviews on Fridays. There are a lot of books that I’m really excited to read in 2020.

As for December, I didn’t get to complete any books during the month, and took the time for the holidays to spend time with my family and focus on work. I’m excited to jump back into reading in January, and my January TBR will be posted in a few weeks!

-Siobhan

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens | Book Review

★★★★★
October 30th

This book has been on the top of every list since it came out at the end of August last year. It’s received extremely high praise, and I’ve been on the list to loan this book from the library for about 30 weeks.

At first glance, this isn’t my type of book. I’m not usually into historical fiction, the cover screamed that it would be a somewhat slow-paced read, and I couldn’t figure out a time where I would be in the mood to try it. But the description hinted at a mystery, and I just can’t resist a good mystery.

I’m so glad that I read this book. It was heartbreaking, and beautiful, and dark, and scientific, and showed me that I can love historical fiction, I just have to find the ones right for me.

The novel is told in two timelines, one starting in 1952, following Kya, a young woman who is slowly abandoned by her Mother, siblings, and Father until she is living alone at the age of seven in a shack at the edge of a swamp in North Carolina. She learns to take care of herself, never going to school, and dodging any police or social services who come to try and take her away.

Kya is locally known as a bit of an urban legend, the Marsh Girl. The town believes she’s dirty, crazed, and won’t go near her, or help her for that matter. Kya eventually makes some friends, Tate, a boy a few years older than her who teaches her to read, write, and some basic math, and eventually a boy named Chase. At some point though, everyone seems to leave Kya. Though she’s a bit immature as a character from the amount of time spent alone, there’s a maturity to her actions and to her love of nature that’s really beautiful to read about.

In 1969, Chase is found dead and the local police force (and town) begin to suspect that Kya had something to do with it. The investigation is very one-sided, and the town seems more hellbent on pinning the death as a murder than in finding out the truth about what happened to him.

This book hurt to read. It was heavy and sometimes hard to get through, but the scientific aspects were a good way to pull the reader out of the hard-hitting plot. Delia Owens love of nature and animals definitely came through the page, and I wasn’t surprised at all to find that she had spent a good amount of time studying in Africa. Her fondness of the nature in the south is just as present in this book, and it quietly shows the importance of marshland to the reader, not just to those Kya interacts with in the book.

I would definitely recommend the audiobook. I listened to about half of the book this way, and it was a great way to get some of the pronunciations and slang that I was unfamiliar with.

I’m in awe that this is Delia Owens’ debut. I can’t wait to see what else she writes, and to also check out some of her non-fiction work.

-Siobhan

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware | Book Review

★★★★☆
October 24th

The Turn of the Key is the fifth book by Ruth Ware, and the first that I’ve read by her. I definitely feel like I started off on the right foot.

This book was creepy. It had suspense, mystery, and an element which left you puzzling whether or not it was supernatural, or if there was a logical explanation for it. The main character we have is Rowan. Following a rough childhood, she became a nanny and began working at a daycare. After finding an advertisement for a nannying job with a salary she can’t say no to, she leaves London and moves to the Scottish highlands to work for a family in a remote, and extravagant house. The parents are aloof, busy, and flustered by the departure of the previous four nannies they’ve hired.

As Rowan starts her new job, she begins to wonder if the nannies left because of the parents, the slightly aloof and creepy children, or something more sinister happening in a house with a lot of history.

This book is told in an epistolary format, as Rowan writes letters to appeal to a lawyer she wants to represent her in the trial for the murder of one of the children. Most of the time that I was reading this, I forgot that it was written in this format, and liked the reminders of the jumps in time we were experiencing.

Maybe it’s because I read the book in one day, but I found myself so hooked into the plot and Rowan’s actions (and her assurances that she was innocent), that I didn’t have time to theorize or try and figure out what the twists were. I was along for the ride, and found the plot twists, surprising and very well executed.

This was the thirteenth thriller/mystery/horror book that I’ve read this year, and is definitely towards the top of the list. It’s the book that surprised me the most. From what I’ve seen and read about Ruth Ware’s other books, this is her best so far. I’m reluctant to go back and read some of her older novels, but if they have any similar twists to this one, I definitely want to give them a try.

-Siobhan

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager | Book Review

★★★★☆
October 22nd – 23rd

Jules has no one left.

Her parents have both died, and her sister has been missing since she was 19. Jules is living and working in New York City, struggling to stay afloat after losing both her job and her boyfriend (and therefore apartment) in one day. Enter an ad to be an apartment-sitter at one of New York’s oldest, most prestigious, and most secretive buildings: The Bartholomew. The ad is vague, but the rules are extremely strict. No nights away from the building. No bothering the tenants. No visitors. No photos inside. No exceptions.

But if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

This is Riley Sager’s third book, and the third one that I’ve read by him this year. At this point, I feel like I can immediately identify one of his novels. They’re very formulaic. There will always be a female main character, with a dark and twisted past that they don’t want to initially talk about. Their struggle will parallel the horror that they face. They’ll be wrong about something, or have a complete misconception about the events that have transpired in the past to them.

Lock Every Door is no different in this regard. Even though all of Sager’s novels have been standalones, beginning one feels like returning to something. I enjoy the tone that he conveys, his subtle clues at what’s going on towards the beginning, usually as a completely innocuous detail, which makes you go “Oh, that’s what that was about” after the twist is revealed.

I liked Jules’ character. She’s struggling, she’s alone, and she’s desperate. All of those things make her an easy target for the horrors she’s beginning to face. I enjoyed seeing how each of the characters in this book were involved in the mystery, and this book ended up surprising me and taking a sharp turn towards an element I thought was only slightly too far-fetched. My biggest complaint was how grand the scale of this book was compared to Sager’s first two books, and how a few of the elements towards the end were things which could really only happen in fiction. That sort of ending drew me out of the realistic setting, tone, and characters I’m so used to from Riley Sager’s novels.

Riley Sager announced his fourth book, titled Home Before Dark, which comes out in July of next year, and it’s definitely one of my most anticipated books of next year so far.

-Siobhan