Becky’s Two Hundred and Sixty-Second Book Review: “I Let You Go” by Clare Mackintosh

“I Let You Go” by Clare Mackintosh was such a thrilling adventure. I started reading it one Saturday morning and finished it before the day was over. I absolutely devoured this novel and my only regret is that the other book that Clare Mackintosh has written thus far has not been released yet. So I must wait. I’m hopeful that there are even more books in her future (and therefore, selfishly, my future).

Within the first few pages of “I Let You Go” it was clear this was not going to be a happy book. A five-year-old boy gets hit and killed by a car. This book is about the aftermath of that incident and it is told through several different characters’ perspectives including the investigators on the case. This was where you could see a little bit of Mackintosh’s background peeking though with the realistic aspects of police work during an investigation.

I really liked the way that this book was written. The perspective jumped around between the characters and Mackintosh kept her readers guessing how everyone was connected. There were several unexpected twists in this book that continually lured me in. I think the way that Mackintosh illustrated the grief that some of these characters experienced made “I Let You Go” all the more compelling. I really enjoyed this quote: “The grief I feel is so physical it seems impossible that I am still living; that my heart continues to beat when it has been wrenched apart. I want to fix an image of him in my head, but all I can see when I close my eyes is his body, still and lifeless in my arms. I let him go, and I will never forgive myself for that.” (I Let You Go, pg 40). There are many gut-wrenching parts to this novel, and the guilt co-mingling with the grief blends so well, especially in this passage.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely!! This was such an amazing read and I think it would appeal to a wide range of readers. That being said, this isn’t a book for the faint of heart. There are many parts of this book that are awful and could even be triggers to some people. But it was so well written and thrilling that I think it is well worth the read. I cannot wait to get my hands on more of Clare Mackintosh’s writing.

Becky’s Two Hundred and Sixty-First Book Review: “The Hard Way” by Lee Child

“The Hard Way” by Lee Child went in a slightly different direction than the other Reacher books. Instead of Reacher rallying himself behind the little guy or even his own interests, he gets roped into a situation where there are bad guys and worse guys. He gets sucked into these circumstances by just being in the wrong place and having to make impossible choices. As the series develops, so does Reacher.

The way that Reacher views himself is curious. “Reacher always arranged the smallest details in his life so he could move on at a split second’s notice. It was an obsessive habit. He owned nothing and carried nothing. Physically he was a big man, but he cast a small shadow and left very little in his wake.” (The Hard Way, pg 2). I think that this is a good example of Reacher not even realizing how he devalues his own worth. But that is kind of how Reacher is, he doesn’t over think it, he just does what is right in his mind and lives for the small luxuries like a hot shower and a cup of coffee. He doesn’t let possessions weigh him down.

“The Hard Way” was slightly darker than the other Reacher books have been. Part of this was the other characters in this book being terrible people and worse people. The other part was Reacher’s resignation to his violent tendencies. “He was calm. Just another night of business as usual in his long and spectacularly violent life. He was used to it, literally. And the remorse gene was missing from his DNA. Entirely. It just wasn’t there. Where some men might have retrospectively agonized over justification, he spent his energy figuring out where best to hide the bodies.” (The Hard Way, pg 475). This quote was dark and badass at the same time, very Reacher. His straight-forward attitude towards everything is endearing, and part of what makes him such a likable character.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely – it was a suspenseful read that I devoured. I think that Lee Child’s writing is highly enjoyable and I love that the further we get into the series, the more we learn about Jack Reacher and why he is the way he is. I’ve already acquired the next book and it is in my short to-be-read pile. I have to force myself to read these books one at a time so that I can really enjoy them. It’s difficult to restrain myself, but I try.

Becky’s Two Hundred and Sixtieth Book Review: “The 5th Wave” by Rick Yancey

“The 5th Wave” by Rick Yancey was an okay book. When I first saw the preview for “The 5th Wave” I had two thoughts: that movie looks terrible and I want to read that book! Conflicting thoughts – I know. Once I started the book, I did need to push myself to continue with it for the first few pages. Despite all efforts, it did start out a little slow. Once I got caught up in the story however, I devoured it.

Cassie Sullivan (named after the constellation, not the myth the constellation is named for) is the main character and she did make for an interesting one. In some ways, she was strong, resilient. She saw what happened to the world and she chose to fight for her life and her brother. She relies on herself and trusts no one. “In the 4th Wave, you can’t trust that people are still people. But you can trust that your gun is still your gun.” (The 5th Wave, pg 8). I thought this was a pretty badass statement. She has a few of those and even though she is only sixteen, the world being what it is has forced her to be realistic and, by most standards, darkly pessimistic. “The thing about killing is you don’t know if you can actually do it until you actually do it.” (The 5th Wave, pg 11). On the other hand, she didn’t seem quite believable. It wasn’t like in “The Hunger Games” where I could relate to Katniss and really be part of the book. And it wasn’t like “Divergent” where Tris was someone I could admire and relate to. Cassie was just there, I wasn’t about to cheer against her, but I was not naturally inclined to cheer for her. Cassie was just not what I look for in a female protagonist.

I thought that while the overall idea of a teenage protagonist in a disintegrating world is not that original, the way that the world is invaded captured my attention and the systematic elimination of resources and in turn people, was interesting. I wasn’t blown away by Rick Yancey’s writing, and I think that is part of what took me so long to really get into the book. This is no groundbreaking piece of literature that will be talked about for years and years to come. But the direction that he took things was definitely intriguing. I did like how Cassie was not the only one telling the story. Having different characters in very different situations can be a great way to illustrate a novel more fully and I thought this was well done. The voices between the characters were different enough that you weren’t confused halfway through the chapter as to who was narrating. It kept the pace of “The 5th Wave” moving and made for an overall more enjoyable read.

Would I recommend this book? Yeah, probably – it is worth reading. I do have the second book in the series and I’m hoping that Rick Yancey’s writing improves as the series progresses. I am curious about what direction the series will be going in, especially because the book didn’t end exactly the way that I anticipated. “The 5th Wave” was enjoyable enough. I wouldn’t necessarily rush out to buy your own copy, but borrow from a friend or the library for a quick read.

Becky’s Two Hundred and Fifty-Ninth Book Review: “Clockwork Prince” by Cassandra Clare

“Clockwork Prince” by Cassandra Clare is the second book in the Infernal Devices Series. The more I read Cassandra Clare, the more I admire what she has created. The Infernal Devices Series takes place in the same universe as the Mortal Instruments Series, but about one hundred and fifty years in the past. I was once again swept away by Cassandra Clare’s words.

 

SPOILER ALERT – There are some spoilers regarding the first book of this series “Clockwork Angel

 

Diving once again into the world of Shadowhunters and other magical forces, “Clockwork Prince” picks up shortly after the first book ended. We know that Nathan was the cause of Tessa’s initial capture and subsequent torture by the Dark Sisters. We know that Mortmain is the one with evil plans in the works, but his motivation and location is unknown. And as she continues to live at the institute, Tessa is working towards understanding who or what she is while helping out as much as possible.

Tessa is a great character. In the first book she discovers that she is not 100% human and has this gift that the Dark Sisters forced her to embrace. Then when she is saved from them and brought to the institute, Tessa tries her best to be helpful and use the gift for good. She goes above and beyond what anyone would ask of her and for entirely selfless reasons. Plus, she’s an avid reader and to me that makes her remarkably relatable.

There is a love triangle that comes to light between Tessa, Jem, and Will. Despite the attraction that Tessa feels towards Will, he has verbally attacked her so many times that she refuses to allow any fantasizing about him. Unbeknownst to her, Will is struggling with his feelings for her as well, not believing that he could love her without putting her in mortal danger. Then Tessa’s friendship with Jem slowly blossoms into more and Tessa is left wondering how it is that her (self-proclaimed) plain features could possibly attract the attentions of one man, let alone two. “She hated that Will had this effect on her. Hated it. She knew better. She knew what he thought of her. That she was nothing, worth nothing. And still a look from him could make her tremble with mingled hatred and longing. It was like a poison in her blood, to which Jem was the only antidote. Only with him did she feel on steady ground.” (Clockwork Prince, pg 35). On the one hand, I can’t help but want things to work out between Tessa and Will. The way that their relationship developed in the first book built up that expectation. But his behavior towards Tessa is too awful and she finds herself leaning towards Jem, who is a wonderful character that we know is doomed to die young. It is hard to cheer for a relationship that is pretty much guaranteed to have an unhappy ending. All the while, there are much bigger things going on in this magical world that Tessa has to prioritize. There were so many interesting things going on in this book; it was a real page-turner.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I think this is a great series for anyone interested in fantasy young adult. Even if you don’t usually gravitate towards fantasy, this book is so entertaining that I think most people would find themselves swept away by Cassandra Clare’s words. I look forward to reading the next and final book in the series and I’m excited to devour whatever else Cassandra Clare writes next.

Becky’s Two Hundred and Fifty-Eighth Book Review: “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple was a rollercoaster of a book. There were so many different things going on at once: from the characters to the evolving plot to the fun way in which the book was written. I absolutely devoured this book.

The story is told from several different perspectives. There is Bernadette, a former architect and stay-at-home mom who is on the verge of a breakdown. There is Bee, the daughter of Bernadette and Elgie that we learn has a heart condition and almost died as a baby. Elgie, the semi-clueless and very exasperated husband and father. Then there are also the ‘gnats’ – Aubrey and Soo-Lin, mother’s at the same school that Bee go to with nothing better to do with their time than over achieve on everything related to their kids and school – at least from Bernadette’s perspective.

I liked Bernadette in a lot of ways. She was really funny, between her sarcasm and her perspective on life, I couldn’t help giggling while I was reading. But there were a lot of flaws to her as well. After finding out what the Huge Hideous Thing was, you can understand a bit better why Bernadette has isolated herself from other people only interacting with her husband and daughter. But the more that is revealed about the complete disrepair of her home and how she did nothing to stop the problems, I couldn’t understand her behavior. Maybe if it was just her – but she had a family. She’s a mom, and she let the Huge Hideous Thing overwhelm her life. Despite all that Bernadette doesn’t do, Bee turned out to be amazing.

Bee was a great character. She had a significant portion of her mother’s personality and humor. When interacting with one of the gnats, I just burst out laughing, ““I could never send Kyle to boarding school,” Audrey said. / “I guess you love Kyle more than my mom loves me,” I said, and played my flute as I skipped down the hall.” (Where’d You Go, Bernadette, pg 48). Little quips like this made Bee such a likeable character.

The biggest offending gnat, Audrey, was someone that you just wanted to shake. I’m sure that I’m going to find myself interacting with an Audrey at some point. That kind of person that has a very clear-cut idea of what a parent should be doing and those that do not follow her specific rules to the T are harshly judged. She certainly made for an interesting antagonist.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely – I loved it. I think that Maria Semple successfully developed interesting characters, and combined with the unique plot, I fully understand why this book was so popular. It’s a great read and I hope Semple continues to produce work as amazing as “Where’d You Go, Bernadette”.