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?

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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?

Book Review | Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult Leaving Time Book Review Book Cover

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

If you’re a reader, I’m sure Jodi Picoult needs no introduction. Since publishing her first book in 1992, she has written 20 more novels, including Leaving Time. That’s pretty much one book a year. Impressive, right? I’m a little ashamed to say that Leaving Time was my first experience reading Picoult. However, I’m not ashamed to say that I couldn’t put the novel down once I had started it. 

Leaving Time is a detective novel of sorts, as it follows 13 year-old Jenna Metcalf as she recruits two unlikely companions to help her find her missing mother. You see, many years ago, Jenna’s parents owned and ran an elephant sanctuary until one unfortunate night where an accident happens inside an elephant enclosure and Alice Metcalf is never seen again. Where did Alice go? Is she safe? Why didn’t she bring Jenna with her? Will Jenna be able to find out the truth of what happened to her mom?

This book touches on many things that draw me into books: a missing character, a fierce immovable, hopeful love, and a group of characters yearning for second chances. Picoult uses multiple narratives to give her main characters their own voice, and they all reveal a bit of themselves to readers as time passes. It’s interesting to note that Alice is one of these narrators, though it is unclear in the beginning where she is narrating from. This adds to the intrigue of the novel, and as each of the characters involved in the “incident” come under scrutiny, readers start to question everything they thought they knew – especially when it comes to Alice. Why did Alice leave? Was it out of fear? Something else?

Though the story of Alice’s disappearance takes up a lot of the plot, one of the most endearing things about Leaving Time was the trio that sets out to uncover the truth. On her quest to find her mom, Jenna recruits Serenity and Virgil, a psychic and a former detective. It was wonderful to watch as the trio’s relationship developed, especially since Serenity believes in (or knows, rather) a more spiritual world whereas Virgil is deeply invested in science and facts. Somehow, these seemingly discordant elements find their way together in Leaving Time.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fascinating elephant observations that take up a major part of the novel. Both of Jenna’s parents were elephant researchers before the enclosure accident and much of Alice’s narration focuses on her studies, especially her findings on elephants and grief. Alice is fixated on the relationship between an elephant and her calf, and what happens if either of them are left behind. This ties in well with Jenna’s journey to find her mom and made me wonder whether we’re not so different from other creatures after all.

I’m glad that the characters, mystery, and elephant facts were such an interesting read because I did, unfortunately, find the ending to be a little anticlimactic. Though I wasn’t able to predict how the book would end, I couldn’t help but wonder if a more perceptive reader might have. That being said, a good book is as much about the journey as the destination, so I would still confidently recommend Leaving Time for anyone who wants a fast-paced and captivating read.

Verdict: A strong, engrossing read despite a somewhat anticlimactic ending. It features some very strong relationships that are wonderful to read about and a plot that will keep you turning the pages until you’re finished. Plus, there are elephant facts and jokes!

Read if: You love reading and learning about elephants, are a sucker for books that focus on mother-daughter relationships (like me), want to read a book that will keep you up reading past your bedtime. 😉

Have you read anything by Jodi Picoult? Will you be picking up Leaving Time?

Book Review | Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey Book Cover and Review

[I received a copy of this book from its Canadian publisher Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book.]

You know those books that make you want to drop everything you’re doing and read? Emma Healey’s Elizabeth is Missing was that type of book for me. Once I started, it was impossible to put down and my mind would always wander back to it when I was doing other things (oops!). I loved it so much that I even created an online scavenger hunt/search for Elizabeth! You can play along here.

Elizabeth is Missing is about 82-year-old Maud who is convinced that her best friend Elizabeth is missing. Elizabeth’s son Peter has been acting strange, and Maud doesn’t fully trust him. She also doesn’t understand why her own daughter, Helen, keeps telling her to stop looking for Elizabeth (among other strange requests). What are they hiding? Maud is determined to uncover the truth of Elizabeth’s disappearance, no matter what other people say. The one problem? Maud is extremely forgetful due to her dementia.

This novel is at once a page-turning mystery and a beautiful study of human relationships and memory. I found it really interesting which things Maud could and could not remember. Because of her illness, she forgets even the simplest things, like what she was doing just a minute before or why she is standing inside a police station. But she does remember many things in great detail: things in her past, events that affected her greatly, incidences that shape her into the person that she is. You see, years ago, Maud’s sister Sukey disappeared suddenly. One day she was living at home with her husband Frank, the other she was gone. She didn’t leave any explanation nor were there any helpful clues to where she went. Maud spends much of her life trying to find Sukey, and these experiences become her, in a sense. So even though she can’t remember the small, mundane things, she is able to recall past memories vividly. Will these memories help her find Elizabeth? Can she uncover the truth of Sukey’s disappearance?

Besides the interesting conversation on memory, Healey also does a great job in showing and exploring human relationships. As you can imagine, dementia can be a difficult thing to deal with. I love that readers get to understand multiple perspectives, from the sufferer herself to her primary caretaker. I came to understand and sympathize with almost every character of the book at some point, and I attribute that success to Healey’s rounded writing and characterization. I loved this book and would highly recommend it!

Verdict: A book that I could not pull myself away from. A realistic portrayal of illness and how far we will go to help the ones we love. A book that has a strong character suffering from dementia but doesn’t let that define her.
Read if: You love reading about family relationships and strong bonds between friends, mysteries that will make you want to know more until you’ve finally reached its conclusion, characters you can get to understand and really know, stories that deal with illness but does not make that the  book’s sole focus or purpose.

What is one memory you don’t think you’ll ever forget? Will you be checking out Elizabeth is Missing?

Elizabeth is Missing will be published in Canada by Random House Canada on June 10th, 2014.

Elizabeth is Missing Blog Search

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey Blog Search on One More Page blog

Elizabeth is missing.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll know that I received a copy of Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey from Random House Canada to review earlier this week. Well, I finished and loved the book so much that I thought I would do something a little interactive and fun to get my blog readers as excited about it as I am! So, let me introduce the Elizabeth is Missing Blog Search! 

Elizabeth is missing and it’s up to us to help her friend Maud find her! I have hidden clues all over the internet for you to find. Once you solve a clue, you will receive a new clue until you have found everything. You will also find one word with each clue. There are four words (and five clues) in total. These four words will spell out a phrase. When you think you know what the phrase is, come back to my blog and enter the phrase here! Please note that the password does not have spaces! Example: DOESNOTHAVESPACES. Let’s see how many of you can figure it out!

To make things a little easier, I have some links for you (also pictured above):

My Facebook page: http://facebook.com/onemorepagereviews
My Pinterest account: http://pinterest.com/karenfma
My Twitter account: http://twitter.com/karenfma
My Instagram account: http://instagram.com/onemorepageblog

And to start you off, here is the first clue!

“Elizabeth is missing. Has she had food to eat? Maybe we’ll find her where birds like to tweet.”

(Since I’ve gotten tired of having the tweet pinned on my Twitter, here’s the answer to the first clue!)

Happy searching! PS. This is a SPOILER-FREE blog search, so don’t worry if you haven’t read the book yet!

**Disclaimers:
(1) This blog search was not organized or suggested by Random House Canada. This is something I thought up on my own because I loved the book and was incredibly excited to share and discuss it with you all!
(2) The Elizabeth is Missing heading in my picture above was taken from a picture of the book cover shown on its Goodreads page. **

Wishlist Wednesday | Frog Music

Emma_Donoghue_Frog_Music_harpercollins

Source: Amazon

[Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop hosted by Pen to Paper]

This week on my wishlist is Emma Donoghue’s highly-anticipated new novel Frog Music. In Canada, it will be published by HarperCollins Canada on March 25th, 2014 in hardcover and eBook formats.

Truth be told, I actually tried winning an advanced copy of this book through HarperCollins Canada’s Medal 4 Books giveaway they were hosting throughout the Winter Olympic Games. I had read Donoghue’s award-winning book Room a few years ago and found it to be a gripping and thought-provoking book. Room poses interesting questions about the vulturistic nature of media and explores the effects sensationalism has in trivializing the sufferings of victims for monetary gains. It was a perspective that I wasn’t expecting, and that element of surprise is what draws me to want to read Frog Music.

In Frog Music, Donoghue once again takes a real-life story and gives it her interpretation. “Based on real people and documents,” Frog Music “digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime” (HarperCollins). The story is set in San Francisco and centers around French burlesque dancer Blanche Beunon’s quest to find out the truth about her friend Jenny’s murder.

Just reading the book’s blurb gives me goosebumps. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book and delve into the mysterious underground world of burlesque dancing and crime. I’m also eager to analyze the book as I often find that to be the most rewarding part of reading and, in my experience, Donoghue always gives readers lots to talk and think about.

Bonus: Here’s the book trailer, recently released on Goodreads:

Have you read Room? Will you be picking up Frog Music? Let me know what’s on your wishlist!