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Review: Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pretty Girls
Karin Slaughter

Genre: ThrillerMystery
Hardback: 397 Pages
Publication: September 29, 2015
by William Morrow

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia's teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that's cruelly ripped open when Claire's husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

My Thoughts

Julia, Lydia and Claire’s oldest sister, has been disappeared without a trace for 24 years. The family is torn apart and doesn't feel complete. Their father Sam, a successful veterinarian, devotes his life to finding out what had really happened to his eldest daughter Julia. He loves his wife and daughters, and will do everything to keep his family together.

It is heart-breaking to read the determined father’s writing to Julia. Their mother Helen remarries since she can’t deal with Sam’s obsession. Lydia is no longer close to her family, and she has been struggle with her life since then. She also is a single mother of a teen daughter, Dee. Claire marries a successful rich architect Paul Scott and leads the perfect life until her husband is killed by a mugger in front of her eyes.

The death of Paul brings Lydia and Claire back together. When Claire is told that Paul embezzles millions of dollars from his company, she searches Paul’s computer files and finds files on women all across the country and the rape victims. She finds out her husband is not who she thought he was.

I love the characters grow through the book. Also, I enjoy how Claire and Lydia join forces to unravel what really happened to Julia. There are sadistic and dark aspects in the story, such as the power of money, corrupt law enforcement officers and greed. The plot twists are unexpected.

Pretty Girls is a thrilling, engaging, tension-filled read. I love the action and suspense of the story.

About the Author

Karin Slaughter is the #1 internationally bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including the Will Trent and Grant County series and the instant New York Times bestseller Cop Town. There are more than 30 million copies of her books in print around the world.

Connect with Karin
Website | GoodreadsFacebook

This post was made as part of the TLC Book Tour for Pretty Girls
Click here to see the full tour schedule

Movie Monday: Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

Monday, September 14, 2015

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Genre: action spy thriller
Running time: 131 minutes
Released: 2015
Distributed by Paramount Pictures

With the IMF now disbanded and Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) out in the cold, a new threat -- called the Syndicate -- soon emerges. The Syndicate is a network of highly skilled operatives who are dedicated to establishing a new world order via an escalating series of terrorist attacks. Faced with what may be the most impossible mission yet, Ethan gathers his team and joins forces with Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), a disavowed British agent who may or may not be a member of this deadly rogue nation.


Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is a fun summer blockbuster. It manages to distinguish itself even among the new Bond films and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. As opposed to the more serious James Bond films, it takes a somewhat comedic and more action-intensive approach to the spy genre. For example, the film emphasizes huge fight scenes more heavily than spying, making for a fun and thrilling film.

In Rogue Nation, the IMF has been disbanded as it finally answers for all the collateral damage that Ethan Hunt has caused in the previous four films. This occurs just as Hunt finally discovers the Syndicate, a mysterious organization linked to multiple terrorist operations that nobody else seems to believe even exists. To complicate things further, the CIA has turned Hunt into a fugitive and wants him to answer for all the damage he has caused, leaving Hunt and his team to combat the Syndicate alone while evading the government.

Part of what makes Rogue Nation a fun film is that it does not shy away from poking fun at Cruise. There is a scene where he faces an agent of the Syndicate who turns out to be practically twice his height, which makes fun of Cruise’s actual height. In addition, the film lets him take a beating before he fights back, showing that he is no superhuman. I also enjoyed the focus on Hunt’s team and its dynamic instead of trying to portray him as some sexy, infallible, “I work alone” type of guy.

Despite all of this, the main appeal of the Mission: Impossible series is still Cruise and his penchant for action films, and Rogue Nation delivers plenty of these. The film opens with a thrilling scene in which Hunt clings to the side of an airplane while it takes off. Further in, the action continues with an interesting opera assassination that incorporates the music of the opera with the fight scene pretty well. There is also an intense extended car chase that switches to a motorcycle chase that will really get the adrenaline pumping.

Rogue Nation is another great entry into the Mission: Impossible franchise. It delivers what the viewers want: great action and thrills. I would definitely recommend this film for anyone looking for some mindless fun.

Review: A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Sense of the Infinite
Hilary T. Smith

Genre: YA Contemporary
Hardback: 400 Pages
Publication: May 19, 2015
by Katherine Tegen Books

It's senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn't prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe's new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she's been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe.

But most especially, she isn't prepared to lose Noe.

For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don't involve Annabeth. Without Noe's constant companionship, Annabeth's world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she's really meant to be—with her best friend or without.


Full disclosure - I saved this book for one of the last of the recent review batch because I normally prefer sci-fi/fantasy and upon reading the inside dust jacket it seemed like just another YA novel about best frannnds! that are getting ready for college.

If this is you, if you read that summary and gave it a pass ("the secret she's been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides"??), maybe go back and give it a chance instead. It's a sometimes-painfully realistic look at real friendship, drifting away from each other and finding new connections with different people. It's about growing pains, growing up, and growing apart. The characters are not perfect - they make mistakes and hard decisions, they get angry and sad and gossip and joke around in class, they tell secrets and keep them at all the wrong times. And that lets it transcend the high school setting to lead you to realizations that we all still need sometimes.

My quick plot synopsis - two best friends, one of whom has been "set[ting] their joint path." They start growing apart, life happens, and in the end the main character begins to find herself "not herself+friend."

The central friendship is that of Annabeth and Noe, who start the novel as BFFs. Noe has a new boyfriend, Steven. Steven befriends Annabeth, and they give each other the support that they used to give (and get) only from Noe. This was one of the most beautiful parts of the story for me, seeing Annabeth's friendship with Steven blossom as Annabeth and Noe's withered. I was really glad that the author didn't take the obvious route of having them only linked through/competing over Noe.

The story shows splinter friendships as well, which makes the characters more multi-dimensional (who really is friends with just one person?). Old friends who like you more than you like them, new friends you make at a party and then never see again, friends of your cousin who share cookies with you during a college visit... they all weave a rich tapestry of human relations and connections.

I loved that the 'lessons' of this story are delicately but thoroughly addressed - anorexia and bulimia are woven into the story so subtly you share in the characters' realizations of their dangers only chapters later, when all the warning signs have piled up. This is infinitely preferable to the usual dramatic irony approach of "I decide to go throw up in the toilet because I think I'm overweight" where the characters are clueless but the readers are clubbed over the head.

My only criticism would be that Annabeth's deep, dark, secret doesn't seem quite so deep and dark when it's finally revealed. It's one of those moments where you're practically yelling at a character to just talk about it already so the misunderstandings can be cleared away. I can see how it shaped the plot as the driving agent behind Annabeth's clinging friendship with Noe, but I can't help feeling that it was mildly contrived, and the climax of that secret felt out of character (fight rather than flight).

Overall, this was actually one of my favorites from the batch I reviewed. Give it a shot, then go hug your friends.

"I remembered who I had been when I needed Noe the most, and who she had been when she needed me. Maybe none of us can tell what we're becoming until we become it, like seedlings instinctively groping for certain nutrients without knowing why."

A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review

Rating: 4.5 stars

  1. N/A

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  • Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu
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  • eating disorders
  • references to pre-marital sex, abortion
  • references to depression and suicidal thoughts
  • reference to nonconsensual sex

Review: The Third Woman by Jonathan Freedland

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Third Woman
Jonathan Freedland

Genre: Thriller
Hardback: 480 Pages
Publication: August 4, 2015
by Harper

The United States have yielded to the People’s Republic of China – Beijing has written off trillions of dollars of US debt in return for a permanent military presence on US soil. America is now a former global superpower, dependent on and junior to China. And the evidence – cultural and political – is everywhere.

Madison Webb is a work-obsessed journalist who will do anything to get to the heart of a story; to expose lies and corruption. When her sister is brutally murdered, the police seem too eager to write it up as an isolated incident. Madison starts digging and uncovers a series of similar rape-murder cases.

As her investigation beings to attract the media spotlight, Madison draws the attention of some powerful people. And when she reveals the link between the victims, Madison will find out that the Chinese military makes for a terrifying enemy…

My Thoughts

Madison Webb is a LA Times investigative journalist. Her sister Abigail has been found dead with doctor announcing that Abigail died by a massive drug overdose of heroin. Madison does not accept it, so she is determined to find out what really happened.

The story sets in a time when the United States has defaulted on its national debt and has been usurped as a super power by China. Not only does China control the western ports and smog fills the air, the United States dependent on Chinese finances. Corruption is rife in this world.

I love how the story shows journalism’s impact on society, American election campaigning, and the political correctness. I also enjoy that there's an awareness in society that the press can interfere with the course of the law, but it also can expose things that the public have a right to.

The author creates tension and mystery and keeps the reader constantly guessing on what will happen next. With solid writing and interesting characters, it is a thriller to pick up this fall. Overall, I enjoyed the story and would recommend it.

About the Author

Jonathan Freedland is an award-winning journalist, a number one bestselling author, and a broadcaster. He is the Guardian's executive editor for Opinion and also writes a weekly column. He is a regular contributor to the New York Times and the New York Review of Books, and presents BBC Radio 4's contemporary history series The Long View. In 2014 he won the Orwell special prize for journalism.

Connect with Jonathan
Website | GoodreadsFacebook | Twitter

This post was made as part of the TLC Book Tour for The Third Woman
Click here to see the full tour schedule