Today, I'll be discussing Tana French's latest novel, The Witch Elm.
The Witch Elm by Tana French
Toby is a charmer who's dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating at a bar friends when his night takes a turn that changes his life--he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries and coming to terms with the fact that he may never be the same again, Toby takes refuge at his family's ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then, a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden. And as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.
The Witch Elm is quite different from French's other novels—those featured in the Dublin Murder Squad Series. Unlike the DMS books, which are police procedurals narrated by detectives, French's latest is a standalone, told through the perspective of a young man who's dealing with the aftermath of his assault.
This latest novel features superb writing, an intriguing cast of characters, and a captivating storyline.
However, The Witch Elm's downfall comes in the book's last chapters, when French's fascinating novel is altered by the anticlimactic scenes in which the crime is solved. After the murderer is uncovered, The Witch Elm takes a bizarre turn. The last 50 pages of The Witch Elm are quite unrelated and unnecessary to the story. These scenes not only take away from the narration, they also shift the focus of the story. This novel goes from telling a story of healing and recovery, to telling a story of the human psyche.
Tana French's latest could've been a great read if not for its immense shift in the closing scenes.
I had a great time reading this twisted tale, but would not recommend it to others. If you're eager to try a French novel, check out the Dublin Murder Squad series!
Did you like The Witch Elm? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram.
Today, I'll be sharing my favorite books of the year.
Though some were not published in 2018, I happened to pick them up in the past 11 months.
Without further ado, checkout these standout picks...
For the classic, detective mystery reader:
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
The tranquillity of a cruise along the Nile is shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway has been shot through the head. Linnet was young, stylish, and beautiful--a girl who had everything until she lost her life.
Hercule Poirot recalls an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: "I'd like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger." Yet in this exotic setting, nothing is what it seems...
For the psychological thriller enthusiast:
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
The Contis seem to have it all: a loving relationship, a lovely home, and a beautiful baby. But one night, when they attend a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. When Detective Rasbach notices that the panicked couple is hiding something, suspicion falls on the parents. The couple soon discovers that each has been keeping secrets. Will their lies get in the way of solving this unsettling case?
For the heart-stopping thriller fanatic:
Final Girls by Riley Sager
Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on a cabin vacation with friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of the infamous club—a group of survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a dropout's knife; Sam, who fought the Sack Man at a motel in the late hours of the night; and now Quincy, who ran through the forest to escape the man she only refers to as Him.
Now, Quincy is doing well—thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring partner, a popular baking blog, a beautiful apartment, and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the officer who saved her life all those years ago.
Despite this, her memory won’t allow her to recall the events of that dreaded night; the past is sealed shut... That is until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit; and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy's doorstep.
For the hopeless romantic:
One Day in December by Josie Silver
Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic...and then her bus drives away.
Laurie spends a year searching for him at every bus stop and cafe in London. But she doesn't find him, not when it matters anyway...
Then one day, Laurie finds him at a Christmas party where her best friend, Sarah, giddily introduces Jack, the man from the bus, as her new boyfriend.
What follows for Laurie, Sarah, and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered.
Silver's latest reminds readers that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.
For the bibliophile:
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Meet Ove. He has strict principles, inflexible routines, and a very short temper.
One November morning, a family of four move into the neighborhood and accidentally wreck Ove's mailbox. This accident leads to a funny and heartwarming story of unanticipated pets, surprising friendships, and eventful afternoons--all of which change the ill-tempered old man and his daily routine.
For reviews of these books, check out the "reviews" tab.
Read any of these? Comment what you thought about them down below.
Today, I'll be discussing popular bestseller The Hate U Give.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter spends her time between the impoverished neighborhood in which she lives and the mostly white, prep school she attends. When one night, Starr witnesses her best friend get shot and killed by a police officer, her world is shattered and forever altered.
Soon, Khalil’s death is national news, and the public is calling him a thug. With protesters in the streets and the community close at war, everyone wants to know what really happened that night. If Khalil was unarmed, why would an officer kill him?
The Hate U Give is a unique novel. It's important because it addresses an immensely important issue. Despite this, many readers, myself included, struggle with the fact that Thomas' novel is written for a very specific audience: white mothers and teenagers.
THUG, although a good introductory tool to the BLM movement, is undoubtedly oversimplified, stereotypical, and a bit juvenile. As a matter of fact, the dialogue featuring Starr Carter and her boyfriend, Chris, is unsophisticated and cliched.
However, Thomas' novel is a quick and intriguing read nonetheless.
The storyline is captivating and also heartbreaking. Additionally, the cast of characters is quite memorable. Although there are a handful of characters the novel can do without, there are also some standout figures, including Starr's parents and other residents of Garden Heights.
Those who are interested in reading The Hate U Give should do so. However, I'd advise readers to pick it up with realistic expectations.
Did you read Angie Thomas' bestselling novel? Let me know what you thought about it in the comments below!
Today, I'll be discussing Dublin Murder Squad mystery The Secret Place.
The Secret Place by Tana French (DMS #5)
A year ago, a boy was found murdered at a girlsʼ boarding school; the case was never solved.
Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to join Dublin’s Murder Squad when sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey arrives to his office with a photo of the boy captioned: “I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.” Stephen joins Detective Antoinette Conway to reopen the case.
With clues leading back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends, their rival clique, and a tangle of relationships that binds them all to the murdered boy, the private underworld of teenage girls turns out to be more mysterious and dangerous than the detectives could’ve imagined.
After completing half of the books in the Dublin Murder Squad series, I love Tana French more than I could've seen coming. Like Faithful Place and Broken Harbor, The Secret Place is a story like nothing I've read before...
The fifth mystery in the Dublin Murder Squad series is quite unlike the third and fourth books. Despite also featuring a merciless murder, The Secret Place is set in an all girls' boarding school and is centered around a group of sixteen-year-olds—that in itself is a recipe for likely disaster. Nonetheless, French once again manges to create an unforgettable and captivating narrative.
Like in French's other pieces, this novel features a very detailed writing style. Through the author's word choice, readers are taken right to where the story takes place. The Secret Place becomes so vivid, audience members feel as if they're a part of the story themselves.
Aside from French's pristine writing, another magnificent element of the story is the cast of characters. Although this novel features a very large cast, most personas work to bring the narrative to life. With the students at St. Kilda's, the students at Colms, and every character in between, Chris Harper's death brings about more a few likely suspects.
Despite French's superb writing style and cast, the standout element of The Secret Place is the plot. The story itself is what keeps readers hooked right until the very last page.
With lies being told and secrets being held, it seems unlikely that Chris' killer will be uncovered. The fifth DMS mystery is a story filled with betrayal and deception.
Eager to discover the wickedness that lies at the heart of St. Kilda's? Pick up a copy of The Secret Place!
Today, I'll be discussing October BOTM pick, The Lies We Told.
The Lies We Told by Camilla Way
A daughter: Beth has always known there was something strange about her daughter, Hannah. The lack of emotion, the disturbing behavior, the apparent delight in hurting others... Sometimes Beth is scared of her and what she could be capable of.
A son: Luke comes from the perfect family, with the perfect parents. But one day, he disappears without a trace, and his girlfriend, Clara, is desperate to discover what has happened to him.
A life built on lies: As Clara digs into the past, she realizes that no family is truly perfect, and uncovers a link between Luke's long-lost sister and a strange girl named Hannah. Now Luke's life is in danger because of the lies once told and the secrets once kept. Can Clara find him before it's too late?
I had a blast reading this twisted thriller with @thrilltalkbookblog. The Lies We Told is, without a doubt, an ideal, spooky October mystery.
Camilla Way's latest novel, The Lies We Told, features a compelling writing style, an immensely gripping storyline, and an incredible cast.
Way's diction is remarkable and detailed but also easy to follow. She gives just enough specifics to rouse interest in the audience without making readers feel overwhelmed.
The plot of this thriller is also quite fascinating. The author introduces the audience to the lives of two families which are later brilliantly connected. By introducing these families separately, readers become engrossed by every single character only to be awe-struck once their long-awaited connection is finally revealed. This perfectly developed plot works to keep readers engaged and enthralled until the very last page.
Besides the amazing writing and storyline, Way also creates an unforgettable cast of characters—all of which are one-of-a-kind. By the end of this novel, readers will come to learn that no one is as innocent as they appear.
Do you like crooked storylines? Pick up a copy of The Lies We Told.
Welcome back to AZE book friends!
Today, I'll be discussing Hercule Poirot mystery: The Mystery of the Blue Train.
The Mystery of the Blue Train (Hercule Poirot #6) by Agatha Christie
When the luxurious Blue Train arrives at Nice, a guard attempts to wake Ruth Kettering from her slumber. But she will not wake—for she has been strangled and a heavy blow has rendered her features unrecognizable. What is more, her rubies are missing.
The prime suspect in the case is Ruth’s husband, Derek. But Hercule Poirot is not yet convinced...
The Mystery of the Blue Train, the sixth book in the Poirot series, can be described as a character-based novel. While this Christie pick features an extremely intriguing premise, the story itself revolves around the cast, not the mystery. Additionally, the book lacks mystique and suspense.
This Hercule Poirot mystery does not read like a mystery. Despite its immense potential, The Mystery of the Blue Train appears more similar to contemporary fiction than to the crime and thriller genres. It does not invoke any sense of eeriness or thrill. As a matter of fact, it's quite anticlimactic.
While this Christie novel cannot be considered a bad read, it is not an ideal pick for readers looking for a suspense-filled mystery.However, if you enjoy contemporary fiction and character-based stories, this might be a great pick for you!