September books

95. All Fall Down – Tom Bale
Story – A family barbecue is interrupted by the arrival of a brutally beaten man, coming through the back gate from the common begging for help. This seemingly random event has repercussions beyond what anyone in the family could have dreamed, as they are caught up in a web of danger and deceit and their secrets are being revealed.
Thoughts – Mixed feelings on this one. I kept thinking I knew what was happening, but then something else happened to change the story. This would usually be a good thing, but part of me just felt like the story didn’t quite connect for a long time. The characters’ motivations were sometimes not really clear. However I did just keep reading and reading to find out what was going to happen, so that was a positive. I will try something else by this author if I find something, I definitely think the writing was good in most ways and it might have just been this story that didn’t quite gel for me.

94. The Lost and the Found – Cat Clarke
Story – When Faith was four, her six year old sister Laurel was taken from the front yard. Despite all the searching and publicity, no trace of her was found, and for thirteen long years Faith has lived in the shadow of her lost sister. But then one day, completely out of the blue, Faith’s mom receives a call from the police – Faith has been found, in the yard of their old home, clutching the same teddy bear she was carrying when she disappeared.
Thoughts – There was definitely good and bad with this book. I loved the premise – I love books about family and sibling relationships, especially when they are compromised or challenged, and the idea of a sister/stranger coming into your home after so many years was a good one. However, I didn’t feel like the author did as much with it as she could have. Laurel’s reintegration into the family was a little too smooth, and I would have expected someone coming from the background she had living with the kidnapper to have more emotional and behavioural difficulties. I did like Faith, and I thought her reactions were a little more believable. Really though, the book fell apart for me in the last chapter or two – I saw the twist coming from the start, but being surprised or not doesn’t really matter to me too much so that wasn’t a huge problem. But Faith’s behaviour, and the way she handled the situation was utterly appalling…I mean, I really think she made a massively wrong decision and ending it like that left too many loose ends for me.

93. Malicious Intent – Kathryn Fox
Story – Dr Anya Crichton is a pathologist and forensic physician. With a freelance business, an ex-husband and son she doesn’t see often enough, work that involves sexual assault victims, testifying in court, and assisting police, she has more on her plate than most people. When she is drawn into an investigation of some suicides and drug deaths, things get far more complicated and far more dangerous than she would ever have guessed.
Thoughts – This is the first book in a series, and I think that it sets the stage for a good one. Anya is a strong, sympathetic character and the plot and pacing were good. My one criticism was that there was perhaps TOO much going on – too many characters and too many backstories sketched in to really take them all in. And such complicated ones! I am guessing that they will be expanded upon in future books, and I will be interested to see how the series progresses.

92. The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo – Amy Schumer
Story – A memoir by comic Amy Schumer, telling stories about her childhood and her career as a stand up comic.
Thoughts – Most of what I have heard of Amy Schumer comes from ONTD on Livejournal (where I get all of my celebrity gossip) and they hate her, so it’s been pretty uncomplimentary. However ONTD basically hates everyone and vilify people for the most ridiculous things, so I thought this would be worth a read so I could form my own opinion. And frankly, I really liked the book, I really liked Amy, and once again I really wonder why I read ONTD at all. Really, Amy was pretty funny, and I really enjoyed her approach to life and people and her career. I’d actually love to go and see her stand-up, and if her tv show ever came across my radar I’d definitely give it a try.

91. With Love From the Inside – Angela Pisel
Story – Grace is on death row for the murder of her baby son William nineteen years ago. Her appeals have run out and her execution date is set, but all Grace can think about is the chance to reconcile with her estranged daughter.
Sophie has made a life built on lies, but now the truth is becoming harder to hide and everything is threatening to fall.
Thoughts – This one just didn’t really fulfil its potential. I wanted something really gut wrenchingly emotional, and this wasn’t it. The characters were a little bit insipid, and it all just felt a little dull. I also didn’t think it really felt believable that a woman who was accused of killing her own baby through making him sick would be on death row and slated for execution, and I also didn’t feel that the last minute reveal of information would have been ignored in that way.

90. My Million-dollar Donkey – Ginny East
Story – Ginny East and her husband ran a dance school in Florida for eighteen years, before selling everything they owned and buying a property in rural Georgia. They planned to move their with their children, trading down for a ‘simpler’ life, full of family and animals and country living as they built their dream home…but things didn’t go exactly to plan.
Thoughts – I was really looking forward to this one. I love the idea of moving to the country to spend more time with family, having lots of animals and experimenting with things like incubating eggs, beekeeping and gardening, as well as building the perfect country home. If I could sell everything for the couple of million the couple in this book did, I might be very tempted!
Reading this book though…aaargh! I loved the main character, she was sweet and relatable and funny. I loved reading about the adventures (and misadventures) of raising animals and adjusting to country life. But her husband was a complete asshole, to the point that the ONLY satisfactory outcome I could accept was for her to divorce him. The more she wrote about him, the more my jaw just dropped…how could anyone live with that??? Add in the incredibly messed up approach to their new wealth, and as much as I enjoyed the book I was also kind of horrified by it and kept feeling incredibly tense because of all the bad choices! Still, I’d recommend it despite all that, since she really did get to live my dream. Apart from the husband and money issues. But she did get a donkey.

89. Girl Unknown – Karen Perry
Story – When the young, pretty student walks into his university office and tells David Conolly she is his daughter, he could not guess what is about to unfold in his life. Zoe seems so happy and grateful to be part of his family, meeting his wife and two children, even moving in to his house when she needs a place to stay. But although she might be his daughter, Zoe is also a stranger, and perhaps David has just invited the cuckoo into the nest…
Thoughts – This book was much better than I was expecting. The premise is a good one, but it’s been done before and I wasn’t sure that this book would bring enough that was new and fresh. Well, it did. It was told in alternate chapters from the point of view of David and his wife Caroline, so we get to know David’s thoughts as he gets to know his new daughter and Caroline’s thoughts as she sees the other side of Zoe and the rift she causes in the family. As I said, the story has been done before and done beautifully (thinking about Summer of Fear by Lois Duncan, which scared the pants off me in primary school) but this version was strongly readable and had a nice twist in the end that I didn’t see coming.

88. The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty
Story – Small child possessed by a demon. Exorcised by two priests.
Thoughts – This book as a reputation as one of the scariest books ever written. I think it deserves it. Despite never having read it before nor seen the movie, I somehow knew everything that was going to happen and yet I was still creeped out, so I can only imagine my terror if I had read it blind.
I kind of want to see the movie. I also kind of think it will make me wet my pants in fear.

87. Sober Stick Figure – Amber Tozer
Story – A biography of comedian and writer Amber Tozer, focussing on her alcoholism and recovery. Illustrated with stick figures for some reason.
Thoughts – This book was good, if you’re into biographies about alcoholism. Which apparently I am, since liked it. It was interesting to read about how she became an alcoholic and how she was prompted to go into recovery, because she didn’t really have a horrific ‘rock bottom’ story. It was pretty sad to read about her family history and how many lives she’s seen ruined by alcohol, and it makes her own sobriety particularly touching in that she’s broken that cycle.