Arrowood

By Laura McHugh

Source: Purchased

Series: n/a

Publication Date: August 9, 2016

Published by Spiegel & Grau

My Rating: three-half-stars

Arrowood

Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads:

A haunting novel from the author of The Weight of Blood about a young woman’s return to her childhood home—and her encounter with the memories and family secrets it holds

Arrowood is the most ornate and grand of the historical houses that line the Mississippi River in southern Iowa. But the house has a mystery it has never revealed: It’s where Arden Arrowood’s younger twin sisters vanished on her watch twenty years ago—never to be seen again. After the twins’ disappearance, Arden’s parents divorced and the Arrowoods left the big house that had been in their family for generations. And Arden’s own life has fallen apart: She can’t finish her master’s thesis, and a misguided love affair has ended badly. She has held on to the hope that her sisters are still alive, and it seems she can’t move forward until she finds them. When her father dies and she inherits Arrowood, Arden returns to her childhood home determined to discover what really happened to her sisters that traumatic summer.

Arden’s return to the town of Keokuk—and the now infamous house that bears her name—is greeted with curiosity. But she is welcomed back by her old neighbor and first love, Ben Ferris, whose family, she slowly learns, knows more about the Arrowoods’ secrets and their small, closed community than she ever realized. With the help of a young amateur investigator, Arden tracks down the man who was the prime suspect in the kidnapping. But the house and the surrounding town hold their secrets close—and the truth, when Arden finds it, is more devastating than she ever could have imagined.

Arrowood is a powerful and resonant novel that examines the ways in which our lives are shaped by memory. As with her award-winning debut novel, The Weight of Blood, Laura McHugh has written a thrilling novel in which nothing is as it seems, and in which our longing for the past can take hold of the present in insidious and haunting ways.

I can’t remember where or how I heard about this book, but it had been on my TBR for a while, so I ended up choosing it as my pick for one of my book clubs.

In a way, even though this book is a mystery, it felt at times like not much was going on. It was kind of slow paced, but things moved really quickly at the end.

Much of the story centres around memory, and nostalgia: Arden’s thesis, her memories of her last day with her sisters, her eyewitness account that set the course for the investigation into their disappearance, the Arrowood house, even the town itself. Characters in Arden’s hometown seem to be living in the past, or trying to in some way or another. Arden does to, returning to the old house, eating the same food she ate as a child, and sleeping in her old room.

As for the mystery, I liked it, but there’s no definitive solution, which frustrates me. I like reading mysteries with a definitive ending, and this one felt open-ended (although our book club definitely agreed on what happened).

I liked this book overall and am definitely interested in reading more by Laura McHugh. Recommended.

Check out the other reviews from my bookclub:

Kelly at KellyVision

Kathy at A Glass of Wine

The Lying Game

By Ruth Ware

Source: Received from the publisher

Series: n/a

Received from the publisher, for free, for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Publication Date: June 15, 2017

Published by Simon & Schuster Canada

My Rating: three-half-stars

The Lying Game

Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads:

The text message is just three words: I need you.

Isa drops everything, takes her baby daughter and heads straight to Salten. She spent the most significant days of her life at boarding school on the marshes there, days which still cast their shadow over her now.

Something terrible has been found on the beach. Something which will force Isa to confront her past, together with the three best friends she hasn’t seen for years, but has never forgotten. Theirs is no cosy reunion: Salten isn’t a safe place for them, after what they did.

At school the girls used to play the Lying Game. They competed to convince people of the most outrageous stories. But for some, did the boundary between fact and fantasy become too blurred?

And how much can you really trust your friends?

I read Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood a while ago and liked it. When I received this ARC, I was definitely intrigued. I’m on a very big mystery kick this year, and am always excited to check out a new one.

I liked this book. I think I liked it more than I did In a Dark, Dark Wood. I really enjoyed its focus on female friendship, particularly getting to see the girls’ friendship develop from the time they were teenagers to adulthood.

The mystery was really interesting, but there were times where it felt like not much was happening, plot-wise. I also got frustrated with the way a character would say something mysterious and then no one would follow up or ask about it. It happened more than once and was kind of irritating.

Overall, this was a good, interesting read. Ruth Ware has another book out that I haven’t read yet, but I definitely want to check it out.

Buy a copy for yourself!

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Week In Review

June 12 – 18

Happy Sunday! I’ve had a lovely, quiet weekend so far, and I’m looking forward to spending my Sunday with a cold beverage and some books.

I was really excited to receive some bookmail from Raincoast Books this week:

Sparks of Light, Janet B. Taylor (sequel to Into the Dim); and

Moxie, Jennifer Mathieu.

Thank you Raincoast!

I also borrowed some ARCs from my friend Kathy, who attended BEA this year:

Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!, Mariko Tamaki, Brooke Allen;

Wonder Woman: Warbringer, Leigh Bardugo (SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!!); and

Bonfire, Kristyn Ritter (which I have already read).

I also purchased some e-books for my Kobo this week:

The Progeny, Tosca Lee;

Dear Reader, Mary O’Connell;

Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill; and

The Magpie Murders, Anthony Horowitz.

This week, I finished three books:

Always and Forever, Lara Jean, Jenny Han;

Dear Reader; and

Bonfire.

I’m currently reading Magpie MurdersGiven to the Sea (which had a fantastic opening and now has sort of slowed down for me – I’m waiting for it to pick back up) and by Mindy McGinnis. Neither one is really grabbing me today, so I’m considering starting something else…we’ll see.

On the blog, I posted my reviews of two books that I loved:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid; and

When Dimple Met Rishi, Sandhya Menon.

You should read both of those books!!

That’s it for me! Time for a coffee, a diet coke, some review writing, and some reading!

via GIPHY

When Dimple Met Rishi

By Sandhya Menon

Source: Borrowed ARC

Series: n/a

Publication Date: May 30, 2017

Published by Simon Pulse

My Rating: four-stars

When Dimple Met Rishi

Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads:

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

I was so excited to read this book! I’d heard such good things about it and it was getting lots of buzz. So I was thrilled when a friend gave me her ARC to read!

When Dimple Met Rishi was so fun to read! I loved the characters. I loved Rishi’s optimism and earnestness, contrasted with Dimple’s sarcasm. They were such opposites in many ways, but maybe that’s why they were such a good match.

I loved the romance, going from the idea of an arranged marriage to being completely ruled out to falling in love! It was so adorable! And I loved reading about Dimple and Rishi’s families and backgrounds, and reading about Bollywood films. I also loved that they were working on building an app. I think this is the second book I’ve read this year (the other is Romancing the Throne) that had a female character talking about coding and web development and building apps, and I just thought it was so interesting.

This book definitely lived up to my expectations and I’ve already purchased a finished copy! Recommended!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

By Taylor Jenkins Reid

Source: Received from the publisher

Series: n/a

Received from the publisher, for free, for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Publication Date: June 13, 2017

My Rating: four-stars

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads:

From Taylor Jenkins Reid comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.

I’ve only read one of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s previous books (After I Do), and I really liked it. So when I heard she had a new book coming out this year, I was intrigued. And when I read the synopsis, I knew I had to read it!

Old Hollywood/the Golden Age of Hollywood is so interesting to me, and I loved reading about Evelyn’s rise to fame. And as I was reading this book, I was pausing to look up classic film clips online. Evelyn’s story was full of highs and lows, and I was fully invested in its outcome.

I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t talk about the plot. But Taylor Jenkins Reid shows how complex the relationships are between friends, family, lovers and spouses.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was a wonderful, well-written, moving story. This is definitely my favourite of the two Taylor Jenkins Reid books I’ve read. Highly recommended!!

Pick up a copy for yourself:

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The Book Depository

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