In two days time, it will have been a full calendar year since I have been anywhere other than my own apartment in Hong Kong. Not that my apartment isn't lovely. But I can honestly say that since I was 5 years old and my parents split up, I have not spent 52 straight calendar weeks in my own bed. It is weird.
Life is trying hard to get back to some semblance of normalcy where I am, though we have little faith in the "plan" being espoused by the Government. Seeing as the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were delivered just last week, and less than 500,000 doses have even arrived in the country, versus the over 75 MILLION given in the USA....I'm finding it difficult to see any light at the end of that tunnel.
Last week, I tried hard to just stay busy. Reading, working out, listening to books, podcasts, etc. This week, my kids went back to school for a full day for the first time since last November. It has been so gloriously quiet during the day that I did not sit down to write the reviews that have been on my plate. Rather, I just chilled.
I hope you will grant me a pass. I give you full grace to do whatever you need to get through this bizarre time- a time when we thought things would be normal but they are anything but normal.
I have three reviews for you this week. All fiction, but three different genres. I've got one domestic thriller, one contemporary fiction, and one magical realism.
I'll summarize my reviews in order of ratings-lowest to highest.
To begin, I give you The Woman Outside My Door: a debut novel by an Irish author, Rachel Ryan, with a really gripping premise. Georgina, a young mother struggling to finish her degree whilst mourning the death of her own mother, takes her 7 year old son to the park. He bounds out of the bushes with a lollypop in his mouth declaring his "new granny" gave it to him. Chilled but not wanting to over-react, Georgina has to decide if her son has an active imagination or if something more sinister is going on. The author, Rachel Ryan does a good job of keeping the suspense going. The writing is solid and I truly love when I can "hear" accents or intonations in a writers work and I found myself reading the entire book in my head with an Irish lilt. If you are a fan of domestic thrillers, a la B.A. Paris, or Shari La Pena, I'd recommend this one. For my full Goodreads review, please click this link. I am grateful to NetGalley for the digital ARC.
Next, I present Malibu Rising, the much-anticipated upcoming new release by Taylor Jenkins Reid (author of the much lauded Daisy Jones & the Six as well as The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo). I was truly chuffed find it for request on NetGalley and even more excited when I was offered the chance to preview an ARC. Daisy Jones was one of my favorite books of 2019, and Evelyn Hugo was both a former book club choice and a really interesting story. Taylor Jenkins Reid writes like a Californian talks, casually and with humor. Her characters are mostly all famous, beautiful, rich, and somehow still deserving of our empathy. Malibu Rising is true to form. It is a story that could only take place in California in the height of 80s excess: surfing, supermodels and tennis stars, drugs, sex, and family drama. It is a solid story, well written and relatable characters, despite their John-Hughes-esque perfection. I enjoyed the melding of fictional famous characters and real-life cameos, the over-the-top drama, and the honest emotion between the family members. This is not a deep book, though there is alcoholism, drugs, sexual content and lots of infidelity I would recommend it to my grandmother (God rest her soul). I would honestly recommend this one to anybody looking for a light, good read this summer. Definitely add this to your beach read list. I am thankful to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this one before it hit the shelves! For my full Goodreads review, please click on this link.
Last, but definitely not least, I offer you The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. My second 5-star review on this blog and only my third of the year, I cannot stop thinking about this book!! I decided after reading reviews to go for the audible version, which is read by Carrey Mulligan. Carrey Mulligan has the most gorgeous voice. Even sped up to 1.4 (Audible Gods forgive me but I have ADHD and I am painfully distractible), you cannot take the butter out of her vocal chords. She does an absolutely stunning job with accents, taking on various tones and accents and intonations for the characters she is reading. And it really adds to the story. That said, the premise of this story alone had me hooked before I'd read or listened to one word.
"Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices... Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?"
Nora Seed is deeply unhappy. The book begins counting down the hours before Nora decides she no longer wishes to live. But when she ultimately decides to call it quits, she does not find herself in the afterlife. She finds herself in the Midnight Library. I won't go further. But suffice to say I got in the car way more than I needed to while I was listening to this book just to have excuses to listen. And I've recommended it to everybody I know. Including my eldest teenaged daughter who loves nothing more than a great magical realism story. My highest accolades to Matt Haig, whom I will be seeking out for exploration of his other works. For my full review on Goodreads, please click this link.