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book reviews in 200 words

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Since We FellSince We Fell by Dennis Lehane

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second book I’ve read by Lehane (the other being Shutter Island a ways back). I’d forgotten what a smart, smart writer he is. Very seldom is there a book that makes me read every single word. I’m a skimmer when I can be. With Lehane you must read every word, or you will miss something. Even something big.

Since We Fell is a great read! Starts out as a book about a sort of troubled young women trying to figure out who her father is. She ends up becoming a TV news reporter until she covers Haiti after the earthquake (2010); and, her life is never the same again. Then some bad things happen, some good, some terrible, and then…I can’t tell you any more. Just when you think you know what this book is about, there’s another twist – and it’s another type of book altogether. In the end, what you think is going to be a story about a crazy girl’s search for belonging ends up being a crazy good book about betrayal, your sense of self, trust, and belief. Oh, and murder.

You should read it while I go pick out my next Dennis Lehane book!

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My Best Friend’s Exorcism – a book review in 200 words

My Best Friend’s Exorcism
by Grady Hendrix

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Grady Hendrix, author of the Orsk store turned hell-house tale, Horrorstör, has taken us for another scary-fun and disturbing journey with his new book, My Best Friend’s Exorcism.  I originally picked up the book because of the title, but the design of the book served as the clincher; it mimics a 1980s high school yearbook, signatures, ads and all.

Horror fans will enjoy the book’s smorgasbord of terrible things, from uncontrollable vomiting to animal mutilation.  But, the truly terrifying scenes present the demon, in teen girl form, masterfully exploiting all her friend’s insecurities – boys, bodies, friendships, and social status.

The two best friends, Abby and Gretchen, are popular.  They are untroubled, complacent.  They are self-absorbed as only teen girls can be.  Until a night of partying, when Gretchen disappears overnight.  With Gretchen’s return, Abby is slowly stripped of all her assurances and comfort.  We, the horrified audience, can only watch the story unfold bit by gruesome bit.

Children of the ‘80s will enjoy the nostalgia: song references, fashion choices, devil worshippers, cult members, and being a teen before cell phones were a thing.  Really, there’s nothing like a possessed teen to scare your pants off!

Rating: 89/100

Buy My Best Friends Exorcism at Barnes & Noble

She remembered being “buzzed on the dopamine high of belonging to someone else, having a total stranger choose you, someone who wanted to know you, another person who cared that you were alive.” – on being a best friend, My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Brady Hendrix

A Little Life – a book review in 200 words

Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life will kill your heart.  Once finished, you will need to binge watch Disney movies for days.  But, this book. A life changer.

A Little Life is a mystery/romance/straight-up literary read about four boys right out of college who move to New York to start their careers.  Willem, JB, Malcolm and Jude; actor, artist, architect and lawyer.  Yanagihara throws you directly into the thick of things, so some readers may find it difficult to navigate  the beginning, as you must sort out who is who.  Do not give up.  Understanding comes quickly after the first few chapters.

As in real life, all of the boys are somewhat broken, but the meat of the book centers around Jude.  Jude is damaged, physically and mentally.  He doesn’t talk about it, his friends don’t ask.  Not surprisingly, Jude finds myriads of ways to hurt himself, and by extension, them. How does he deserve these friends?

In the most simple, beautiful language I have ever read, Yanagihara writes about self-harm, suicide, depression, abuse, victim-hood, orphan-hood, trauma, friendship, relationships, love and family.  This 2015 Man Booker Prize finalist is a must-read and has become one of my top five reads of all time!

Rating: 96/100

Buy it at Barnes & Noble

A Little Life

“You have never known fear until you have a child, and maybe that is what tricks us into thinking that it is more magnificent, because the fear itself is more magnificent. Every day, your first thought is not “I love him” but “How is he?” The world, overnight, rearranges itself into an obstacle course of terrors…I would think how absurd it was that my child, that any child, could expect to survive this life” – A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

If you haven’t read this book, take a couple days out of your life and do so.  You will never regret it!

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