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Recently Read: August

Another month has come and gone, and somehow it's already September. I'm so excited for autumn (that and winter are my favourite seasons) and all the cozy blankets, aromatic candles and suspenseful novels. As I'm writing this post, it's only 16 degrees in Toronto, and I'm already curled up with a blanket and a cup of apple spiced tea. 

recently read, books I read, book recommendations, book review, local girl missing, Claire Douglas, a man called one, fredrik backman, the lying game, ruth ware, gin Phillips, fierce kingdom, master of the game, Sidney Sheldon, a little something different, sandy hall

recently read, books I read, book recommendations, book review, local girl missing, Claire Douglas, a man called one, fredrik backman, the lying game, ruth ware, gin Phillips, fierce kingdom, master of the game, Sidney Sheldon, a little something different, sandy hall

I technically finished Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine this month, but seeing as I've already reviewed it, I'm just talking about the six other books I got to in August.

Local Girl Missing: 4/5
Twenty years after the disappearance of Sophie, her best friend Frankie is brought back to the small coastal town the girls grew up in after a foot has been discovered, reportedly preserved from the rubber shoe it was found in. But as Leon, Sophie's brother, and Frankie begin looking into the case, Frankie begins seeing a woman on the pier who looks eerily like Sophie. Frankie begins spiralling out of control as she attempts to find out what happened to her best friend. 

I had heard a lot about this book, and since I'm always game to read a thriller, I thought I would give it a go. It was a very quick read with likeable characters (for the most part). The novel has a quick, engaging pace in terms of the revelation of clues, twists and turns, but the ending is what threw me--there were two twists, one of which I really liked, and the other I hated. The first twist involved who the murderer was, and the other focused on something about the victim (I won't say to risk spoiling the story). But for me, that second twist was completely unbelievable and cheapened the story. Aside from that, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any thriller-loves like myself.

Fierce Kingdom: 4/5
Joan and her four-year-old son are leaving the Zoo as they hear what they believe are firecrackers. But on the way out, Joan sees the gunman and dead bodies piled up by the exit. Over the course of three hours, Joan must find a way to ensure that the two of them survive a series of frightening and life changing events. 

This book was a Heather's Pick, so naturally, I was intrigued. It was slow paced in parts, and very quick in others--as you would expect would happen if you were actually in a hostage situation. Where I was conflicted the most about my enjoyment of the book was the focus on the maternal bond between mother and son. As someone in their mid 20's who is unmarried and childless, I couldn't relate to the struggles she's was facing or necessarily understand the thought process behind her decisions.

I was also unsatisfied with the ending. It left a lot of questions unanswered, but I believe that was purposeful--you wouldn't know what happened to other people or have a nicely tied up ending in a real hostage situation. Overall, I thought this novel was very thought provoking in terms of the lengths you would go to to protect those you loved, and it was topically relevant, given all the terrorist attacks in the world in recent years.

The Lying Game: 3/5
Isa Wilde receives a text from a friend she hasn't spoken to in years: "I need you." As Isa, Thea and Fatima return to Kate near the Salten private school they attended as teenagers, events begin to unravel surrounding the sudden disappearance of Kate's father years before. As the four women address the mistakes they have made and struggle with the isolation they feel, they must also contend with the lies they have told and their trust in each other. 

This was the Reese Witherspoon book club pick for August. This was my first Ruth Ware book, so I wasn't sure what to expect (side note, I just finished In a Dark, Dark Wood and really enjoyed it!) I found The Lying Game to be very slow, and not nearly as gripping as other thrillers I've read. Similar to the Fierce Kingdom, the focus on the main character related to maternal bonds. She faced the events of her past with the child and mentality of her current self--as someone who is ten years older. Like I said above, I have a hard time relating to characters that focus on their children. In terms of the ending, I really didn't enjoy it. It seemed almost like a cop-out whereas it was meant to relate to the love we have for one another. I also had a hard time relating to most of the characters in terms of their actions when they were in high school and the choices they made.

A Man Called Ove: 4/5
Ove, a grumpy and cantankerous man hates his neighbours and everything else in his life. His old fashion values are at odds with the world he is living in, and those around him don't seem to understand. Ove must learn to cope with the life he thought he would have, and the one he is living. 

I really didn't like the beginning of this book. It was very slow paced, especially after having read some quicker-paced thrillers in the month. While I found Ove to be a grumpy, albeit hilarious, character, I hated the neighbour right off the bat. The neighbour was bossy, demanding and intrusive, especially since she had just met Ove. The book takes and exaggerates stereotypes for humorous reasons, and at times it can get a bit annoying. But as the novel progressed, I found I liked more of the characters, and as their past and actions are explored, I wanted to read on to find out what happens to them. A Man Called Ove really addresses how people express their love in different ways. It also focuses on how we shouldn't judge people because we don't always know what others have gone through or understand why they act the way they do.

Master of the Game: 3.5/5
How far would you go for success and wealth? Over the course of 100 years, the McGregor/Blackwell family perseveres and achieves greatness by growing the family business, becoming one of the most successful enterprises in the world. But the lengths they go to achieve this puts those they care most about at great risk. 

This was one of my mom's favourites books, and it's one that I've always wanted to read. I found the book really hard to relate to for three main reasons: one, the book takes place over 100 years and the jump between characters and settings created a disjointed feeling; two, the characters are for lack of a better term "bat-shit crazy", and I found it hard to relate and like their personalities; third, it was written in third-person, which makes it hard to get in the mindset of the characters.

The book focuses on the lengths you would go to protect your family and lineage, and how you treat others in order to gain power and wealth. The book starts with the innocence of Jamie McGregor and progresses through his trials and tribulations of gaining and losing wealth through diamond mining in Africa in the last 1800's, and continues through to his great granddaughters and the selfish, entitled lives they leave. There is a common bond of members of the family doing whatever is necessary to get what they want, and the lack of empathy they have for those who they hurt in the process. The book addresses issues of self-preservation, psychopathy and mental illness in an almost sinister light. Overall, I found the book fascinating and couldn't put it down as I wanted to know what the family was capable of, but I wouldn't say I necessarily enjoyed the book.

A Little Something Different: 3/5
Lea and Gabe are in a creative writing class together. They get the same jokes, eat the same food, and hang out at the same places. Yet, they seem to be the only people who don't see how perfect they are for each other. Told from 14 various characters in their lives, including the park bench and a squirrel, the story addresses the palpable chemistry people have with each other. 

This was a really cute, easy to read story. It was a nice change of pace from the more thought-provoking books I've read recently. The book made me laugh out loud a few times. The love story was told from 14 perspectives surrounding one couple, and while it was a cute idea to show how other people take notice of two individuals and their apparent chemistry, I didn't find it the most realistic, but it was still very cute and endearing.

Congratulations to anyone who actually made it to the end of this blog post! What have you been reading lately? I'm always looking for recommendations!