Book Review | She’s Not There by Joy Fielding

She's Not There Joy Fielding Crime Fiction One More Page Book Review

[I received a copy of this book from its Canadian publisher Penguin Random House Canada. This does not affect my review of the novel.]

Imagine: your husband surprises you and your two young children with a luxurious vacation in Mexico to celebrate your 10th anniversary. Imagine: on the night of your anniversary dinner, your youngest child, 2, goes missing. Imagine: fifteen years later, after being constantly hounded by the press, a young woman calls you claiming to be your daughter. Imagine getting to watch every detail unfold in Joy Fielding’s latest mystery She’s Not There

Before I started reading this book I had heard other bloggers mentioning that they had read the book in one day. Well, I was in the mood for a quick and engrossing read this weekend, and I gladly fell into the group of readers who couldn’t put this book down until it was finished. I’ve completely embraced crime fiction, my friends!

Joy Fielding does a great job of transporting her readers into the various situations her characters go through in She’s Not There: I held my breath as I read the exchange between Caroline and maybe-Samantha; I felt tense when Caroline and her other daughter, Michelle, couldn’t stop arguing; I traveled alongside the Shipleys as they followed an intriguing lead on a crazy whim… But, it was not just my emotional response to this book that made me love it so much; I was also fascinated by the way Fielding crafted her characters and the way they each handled the same incident differently. I read on a friend’s blog (I forget where at the moment – sorry!! If I am quoting you, can you please leave your link in the comments so I can give you credit?) that crime fiction/thrillers are essentially studies of human choices and how those choices play out as consequences. Reading She’s Not There made me wonder: what would I have done if I were Caroline? How would I have reacted if my child went missing? What would my life look like? In the end, not only did She’s Not There provide a bit of escapism for a day, it also made me look inward and wonder.

Verdict: A really well-paced and well-plotted novel that will lure you in and hold your attention until the very last page. This was my first Fielding book, but I’m excited to read more from her.

Read if: You’ve ever wondered how you would react if a child went missing on your watch, you enjoy fast-paced thrillers, want to see why Joy Fielding is so (rightfully) beloved.

Are you a Joy Fielding fan? What are your favourite mysteries/thrillers?


February 2016

Happy leap day everyone! I spent the day at work, which made it more or less a normal day, but I really can’t complain because I love my job and everyone I work with (even when they point out that I came in dead last in our Oscars pool…) That being said, I’m thankful for an extra day of reading! Speaking of reading…

This month, I read:

*The Illegal by Lawrence Hill (My first Canada Reads book this year!)
*The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
*Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
*Birdie by Tracey Lindberg (Canada Reads book #2!)
*A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
*She’s Not There by Joy Fielding
*13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad

I feel like I read a good mixture of books this month: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and She’s Not There were really really great mysteries; The Illegal was a fantastic book that I had meant to finish a long time ago; Birdie was an interesting and tough read; A Little Life left me in pieces; and I hate to say that I was a little underwhelmed by Beautiful Ruins and disappointed by 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl (or, more accurately, by its cover copy).

All things considered, if my reading matches these past few months, I’ll be very very happy.

Have you had a good reading month? Did you read anything that blew you away? Did you read anything that left you underwhelmed?

Monday Musings | Disappointed by Cover Copy

Reading a book in a bar

Have you ever finished a book feeling a little unsatisfied but unable to pinpoint exactly why? Like… you didn’t dislike the book, per se, but you felt vaguely let down? This happened to me last weekend, and after thinking about it for a while, I realized why: my interpretation of the book’s cover copy was different than what the book ended up being.

The book in question is 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad (coming out tomorrow from Penguin Random House Canada), which is mainly about Lizzie and her relationship with food and self-image. I did get that the book was going to be centered around those topics from the copy, but what I felt let down by was it was described as “hilarious” both in the description and in a quote. I don’t want to say that this book won’t be hilarious to other people, but I will say that I assumed that I would be laughing out loud throughout the reading process. So, when I wasn’t feeling that catharsis, I felt like something was missing. Another reason why I felt thrown off — and one could argue that this is my own shortsightedness — was that I expected the book to be a linear narrative that follows Lizzie smoothly from one stage of her life to the next. What I didn’t realize was that the book is in fact 13 linked short stories (again, maybe I should have deduced that from the title?). It was a little disorienting when the first chapter was written in first person only to have to adjust to second person in the second chapter. It’s not that short stories are bad, it’s just that I wasn’t expecting to be reading a book of stories, if that makes sense.

So, sadly, I finished the book feeling underwhelmed. I may enjoy the book more if/when I do a re-read of it, but I don’t feel compelled to do so yet.

Have you ever been disappointed by a book’s description?

Book Review | The Widow by Fiona Barton

The Widow Fiona Barton Evidence Bag

[I received a copy of this book from its Canadian publisher Penguin Random House Canada. This does not affect my review.]

Remember when I avoided thrillers/mysteries/anything remotely scary? Yeah, me neither. Ever since Slade House by David Mitchell brought me over to the dark side, I can’t get enough! When The Widow showed up at my door a few months ago, I couldn’t wait to start. Luckily for me, I started this book when I had a bit of time off, so I could read as long as my heart desired (translation: I read it until I finished it — I couldn’t put it down!). In fact, I loved it so much that I couldn’t wait to share; see my Wishlist Wednesday post about it here!

The Widow appealed to me not only because it’s mysterious and thrilling, but also because it’s about a woman who’s figuring things out for herself now that her husband is no longer in the picture. (Or, more accurately, we’re able to learn more about The Widow, aka Jean Taylor, now that her husband isn’t around.) You see, before her husband died, he was the prime suspect of a terrible crime. Is Jean ready to tell the truth now that she’s no longer bound to him? Or is there more to Jean than we know? I find the darker side of relationships so interesting to read about, and this angle gave The Widow an extra bit of intrigue that I really enjoyed. How much of Jean’s actions were because of her husband? Was she protecting his secret all along? Will she still keep his secrets now that he’s dead?

This compelling book follows multiple perspectives: the widow, the reporter, and the detective of the case. Each story is told with a unique voice and the cast of characters are all well developed and interesting. The Widow is a quick and entertaining read, perfect for those weekends where you just want to curl up with a good book! (Preemptive warning: you may never look at Skittle packets the same way again.)

Verdict: A fast-paced read full of secret motivations and mystery that keeps readers grasping for the truth at every turn. Make sure to reserve a full weekend for this book as you’ll have trouble putting it down. I can’t wait to read what Fiona Barton writes next!

Read if: You’re a fan of mysteries and thrillers, love looking into the darker side marriage, want to know why Skittles are forever ruined for me.

Are you a fan of crime fiction? Have you read The Widow?

Monday Musings | Unpopular Opinions

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child J.K. Rowling New Book

(Photo via The Telegraph)

One of the things that I like most about being on the internet and social media in particular is the excitement you feel when others are excited about certain things: Benedict Cumberbatch lands a new role! A new Marvel movie is out! A new HARRY POTTER book! The downside to this is how strange you feel when you don’t share the excitement.

Last week, news broke that J.K. Rowling’s new project — Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — will be published in play form. It pains me to say this as a Harry Potter fan, but I just couldn’t muster up the same excitement as everyone else has. I don’t know why! I’ve felt the same ambivalence towards all other Harry Potter spin-offs: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages, etc. I think maybe it’s because I’m so attached to the original seven books that I think everything else is just trying to match the greatness that was? (I know this is incredibly unfair of me, but I guess that’s what makes it an opinion…) I suppose, what I’m trying to say is, I’m skeptical. Can the original magic be recreated? We’ll soon find out.

Do you have any unpopular opinions? Are you excited about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Get Ready For Valentine’s With These Bookish Pick-Up Lines (Success Not Guaranteed)

Bookish Pick Up Lines Valentines Day for Book Lovers

Unless you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t come across any Valentine’s Day merch recently, you’ll probably know that Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. (It’s this Sunday, in fact!)

So, to get into the spirit of the “holiday,” I’ve combined two of my favourite things (book lovers and being cheesy) to help you get ready for V-Day. Note: Every time I’ve used puns to try to attract people I’ve been met with groans and slow claps, so… Your mileage may vary.

Continue reading

Monday Musings | Library Love

Distant Places by Noah Friebel. 10 Bookish Things I'd Like To Do This Summer (Besides Reading)

Credit: Noah Friebel  Flickr | Facebook

Happy Monday, friends! How’s your week going? I finished reading A Little Life over the weekend, and fell into something similar to despair. That book just rips your heart out and stomps on it, doesn’t it? (I’m obviously still not over it…)

Anyway, as I was walking home today, my thoughts (naturally) drifted towards my local library and how wonderful it is. The Toronto Public Library system is honestly one of the best I’ve ever experienced. There are so many books! They will send books to my home branch! I can place holds for books that aren’t even out yet! I’m sure many library systems are fantastic, so I thought I’d encourage the library love!

Do you love your library system? What’s your favourite thing about it? What’s the most beautiful branch you’ve been to?

January 2016

Divergent, Finding Winnie, Lindsay Mattick

Happy Friday, friends! I haven’t done a monthly summary for a LONG time, so I thought that I’d start doing it again in the new year. This January I ended up reading a total of 11 books, which is way more that I’ve read in a month in a long time. To see my 2016 50 Book Pledge Read shelf, click here!

This month, I read:

*99 Days by Katie Cotugno
*How to Love by Katie Cotugno
*Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson
*The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless
*Divergent by Veronica Roth
*Insurgent by Veronica Roth
*Allegiant by Veronica Roth
*Catherine, Called Birdie by Karen Cushman
*Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg
*Finding Winnie by Lindsey Mattick
*Disclaimer by Renee Knight

I think one of the big reasons that allowed me to read so much was the #24in48 readathon, which encouraged me to read A LOT in one weekend. It also helped that I read a lot of young adult novels (and one picture book). This month, I started off with the opposite: the long and emotional A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize last year and I’ve heard so many great things about it. Since it’s finally out in paperback, I figured I’d give it a shot!

What are you reading this month? Did you read any of the books that I read? How was your January reading?

Monday Musings | Are You #TeamAusten or #TeamBronte?

Bronte Penguin Classics Oxford Classics

Over the past few years, I’ve spoken to a lot of book lovers and whenever the subject of Jane Austen and any of the Brontes come up, there’s almost always a debate between Team Austen and Team Bronte. (For the record, I’m Team Bronte, as you might have guessed from the photo above.)
I find this so fascinating because, more often than not, people do have a strong preference between the two. Now, I’m not saying that Bronte fans actively dislike Austen and vice versa, but I do find a divide between the two camps and I wonder why that is. (Even when thinking about it myself, I am clearly identify that I really like the Brontes and always felt like Austen was hard to get through, with the exception of Northanger Abbey.)
It’s been a while since I’ve read an Austen novel so I can’t pinpoint the differences between authors — I can’t even explain how it is that I’ve loved every single Bronte novel that I’ve read, no matter which sibling wrote it– so I’m hoping you can help me out here!
Do you have a clear preference between Austen and the Brontes? Why do you think there’s such a divide?

Wishlist Wednesday | Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

HarperCollins Canada

This week’s Wishlist Wednesday pick is inspired by today’s #BellLetsTalk initiative, which was created to encourage conversations about mental health and work towards ending the stigma around mental illness. I’m so glad that initiatives like this exist because it works to bring people together to support and love each other.

I know I’m not the only one who’s had a loved one confide that they’re suffering from or have suffered from mental illness, including depression and anxiety. It’s hard to know what to do sometimes — do I try to talk to them or do I leave them to figure things out on their own? — but then, I saw this tweet:

I had already had Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive on my radar (I do work for its publisher, after all) but up until this point I hadn’t realized just how important it is for me to read it. It sounds like the perfect life-affirming book to help others — or yourself — in times of darkness.

Have you read Reasons to Stay Alive? Did you participate in the #BellLetsTalk initiative?