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The Last Time I Lied
The Last Time I Lied
Riley Sager | 2018 | Thriller
6
8.8 (8 Ratings)
Book Rating
Plot is interesting (0 more)
Pacing is a bit slow (1 more)
Characters act a lot younger than their age
An Alright Read
I was so excited to read The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager. It had such an interesting synopsis, definitely one that piqued my interest. While this book didn't meet my expectations of it, it was still a fairly good read.

The pacing starts off painfully slow in The Last Time I Lied. I had to force myself to keep reading. I was so bored. Luckily, the pacing picks up around chapter 12 or thereabouts. Each chapter is more fast paced than the previous one.

The plot was definitely interesting even if it does take awhile to really get going. I found myself sucked into the mystery of what happened to Vivian, Allison, and Natalie. I couldn't get enough of the story. The Last Time I Lied had quite a few plot twists that I didn't see coming! Every time I thought I had figured out who the guilty party was, I was proved wrong. Saying all that, I definitely felt like some of my questions weren't answered especially one at the end involving Emma. I don't want to say what it is because it would give away a spoiler. I also don't understand why a certain area wasn't searched and why a certain character didn't retrace their steps when the girls went missing. I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give away any spoilers. Also, the ending felt a little rushed to me, and I didn't like how the author uses "you" to describe what is actually happening to Emma. He does this in two chapters only, thankfully.

The world building was done almost perfectly. I did feel like I was in camp with Emma. I felt like I was experiencing everything Emma did. Riley Sager, the author, did a fantastic job of setting up everything with his wonderful descriptions and what not. The only problem is that the dialogue makes this book sounds more like a young adult novel rather than an adult novel. During my whole time reading The Last Time I Lied, it was hard to picture all the adult characters as adults. The way they spoke and acted reminded me of the way a bunch of teenagers would act. One other thing that took away from the world building being perfect was that I had a hard time believing the main culprit could have gotten away with the crime for so long without being discovered. Again, I can't say too much because of spoilers.

I enjoyed the characters in The Last Time I Lied. I empathized with Emma. I admired her bravery, and I could definitely relate to her sense of wanting to fit in especially with the older girls. However, even though Emma was supposed to be 28 in the book, she came across as sounding like she was about 16. The rest of the grown up characters, with the exception of Franny and Ben, also reminded me of a bunch of 16 year olds. Saying that, I did enjoy all the characters, and while they did sound younger than their actual age, I thought they were fleshed out well enough. Two of my other favorite characters were Vivian and Miranda. There was just something about them that I enjoyed reading about. One character I thought was pointless was Mindy. She's not important to the story, and I just felt like the book could have done without her.

There are scenes of violence, swearing, a sex scene (although not graphic), alcohol use (of age and underage), smoking, and mental illness is mentioned a few times.

Overall, The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager is a good read. The plot is interesting enough, and the characters are fun. However, there were a few things that kept this from being a great read such as the characters not acting like their age and some unanswered questions. The ending also lets the book down a little. However, I would recommend The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager to others.
  
What To Say Next
What To Say Next
Julie Buxbaum | 2017 | Fiction & Poetry
8
7.0 (2 Ratings)
Book Rating
“It turns out cliches are cliches for a reason – they are true.”

This is the first novel I read by Julie Buxbaum and oddly enough, this isn’t the book that is sitting on my TBR list. I have another book of hers that I haven’t even cracked open yet, and I find this one instead. I think my favorite trope is the abundantly smart, socially awkward person (like Sheldon Cooper) meets someone who essentially completes them. Corny, I know, but you know what? I don’t care.

The story is of David, whom is incredibly smart but lacks some social skills and doesn’t always pick up on his surroundings. He likes his headphones and recites Pi in stressful situations (I loved him from the first chapter). Then there is Kit “Katherine”. She just lost her father in a car accident and she sits with David in the cafeteria one day because she just doesn’t want to be the one who is asked how they are feeling. I can understand that. I can appreciate the sympathy for a loved one pass, but sometimes not talking or just silence is the best for me.

David has an older sister, whom he calls Miney, and she’s sort of his guide to knowing when to react and knowing when not to do or say something. Their sibling bond is so cute. Kit has her two friends and only her mother (still in mourning of course) and along the way, Kit finds out some rather disturbing things that have been kept from her, including the accident that killed her dad.

David thinks and does things differently, which obviously, makes him an outcast at school. I loved that Buxbaum didn’t make David to be this stereotypical socially awkward guy who doesn’t know how to defend himself physically (I loved Big Bang Theory, but they could have learned to fight, just saying). So, not only is David wicked smart, but he’s also trained in techniques like Karate and Krav Maga.

“Homo is a pejorative term for a gay person, and even if my classmates are mistaken about my sexual orientation, they should know better than to use that word.”

Who ever decided that calling someone Homo was a great insult to your sexuality was highly idiotic. Homo simply means same, so how the hell is that even an insult? Who decides to redefine a word to make it negative?

One more rant…

I HATE when I see the song You Are My Sunshine used as a happy song. IT’S NOT A HAPPY SONG. Don’t let the title fool you. Read the lyrics and see that it is not happy at all. As annoyed as I was to see this song referenced in this book, the context of how it was used was a bit better than the norm. It was used to recall a memory, a particularly sad memory. I’ll definitely give props to the author for that. Thank you.

Rant over.

I wanted to read more books centering on characters with mental health/illness and I saw this book on the list. Even though David makes some bad choices, I still loved him. I loved him from the very first page of his POV. Kit was a great character and although I do question some of the things she does, like her fight with her mother going on for a long time, I loved the bond that her David eventually formed.

“All I can think is Kit kissed me, over and over until I stop thinking all together.”

It’s always so nice in that one moment where you’re not thinking at all, you’re just there in the moment.

Some things happened with the two, however, and of course it was bound to happen, but I also really liked and felt satisfied with how the story ended. I could love these two characters for a long time.

“Good-weird is what I’ve been telling myself I am for years, when just being plain weird was too much of a burden to carry.”
  
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Kristy H (629 KP) rated Starworld in Books

Jun 21, 2019  
Starworld
Starworld
7
8.3 (3 Ratings)
Book Rating
Despite running in very different circles in school, Sam Jones and Zoe Miller have more in common than they think: they both want to escape the difficulty that is their home lives. Sam is a quiet loner, content to spend Sundays with her best friend, Will. She loves the stars, but isn't sure she'll ever be able to study them, thanks to her mom, whose life is ruled by obsessive compulsive disorder. Ever since her Dad moved overseas, the burden of caring for her Mom falls squarely on Sam. Meanwhile, at school, Zoe seems carefree and popular. But her charisma hides her secrets: she struggles with the fact that she's adopted. She also has a mom in remission from cancer and a disabled younger brother who is the main focus of her parents. When the girls have a chance meeting at school, they exchange phone numbers, and suddenly find themselves bonding over text messages and a land they've created together: Starworld. Starworld gives Zoe and Sam the escape from reality they both so desperately need. But can it survive all the outside influences and stress each are facing?


"If I have a superpower, it's invisibility. Like the perpetually overcast skies of Portland in winter, I'm part of the background -- a robot with a disappearance drive, the dullness against which everyone else shines."
~Sam

This was an interesting and somewhat different YA novel. I enjoyed the story of two brave girls battling tough circumstances. Boy, poor Zoe and Sam certainly had the weight of the world on their shoulders. I really liked both of our main characters. The book tells the story from each of their perspectives, making it easy to know each girl. I found myself a bit more aligned to Sam--probably because she was queer and shy (like drawn to like, right?). As other reviews have mentioned, some of the book is in texting format, as Sam and Zoe fall into Starworld. Being far removed from teenagehood myself (sigh), I will admit that I did sometimes sort of "fast read" or skim those sections. I appreciated them--because Starworld meant so much to these girls and their friendship--but the text-speak wasn't always the easiest to read and digest.

I had picked this up thinking it was a love story, but it's not a true romance, though there's love in other forms. There's some great representation in this book: a queer character in Sam, plus discussion of adoption, mental illness (OCD and anxiety), disabilities, and more. All were very well treated too, I felt.

The book felt a little slow at times. It felt a little repetitive in its insistence on Zoe feeling different due to being adopted. Still, I was very drawn to Sam and Zoe's story. There was a strength in each of them, and I was intrigued to see what was going to happen. Sam's arc as she struggled with her romantic feelings was especially strong and wonderfully done.

Even though much of the book is serious, it's also very funny at times, with some excellent quotes and zingers. (I really did love Sam and her sense of humor; she was right up my alley.)

"I hate using phones for their original intended purpose. It's like Alexander Graham Bell wondered, Hey, what could maximize the awkwardeness of human-to-human communication? And then answered himself by giving us the ability to speak to one another through stupid disembodied little boxes."

I mean, right? One of the best quotes ever.

So, overall, this book is really a love story of friendship and triumph. It's very easy to root for the characters and get caught up in their lives. I was often just aghast at how much these poor girls had to go through. If you're not necessarily used to text-speak, it may give you a pause, but Starworld is a big part of the book (obviously!) and it's woven well into the story. This was a different and intriguing read, and I'm glad I picked it up. 3.5+ stars (rounded up to 4 here).
  
Nothing Tastes as Good
Nothing Tastes as Good
Claire Hennessy | 2016 |
8
8.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
I happened to see this book by chance, in my local library. I was drawn to it because it's cover, it's title - I'm anorexic, and I happen to be drawn to things relating to mental health. It doesn't expressly say on it that it's about anorexia, but the cover made it pretty obvious to me. A warning to anyone that wants to read it: it's hard. If you suffer from something like this, like me, then you will probably have difficulty reading something so close to home. Especially if you're recovering. But it gets better. (I mean the book; I'm not using that "life gets better" crap.)

So Annabel is dead. I'm studying The Lovely Bones at school so the whole beyond-death narration isn't that special to me now. But Hennessy does it pretty differently to Sebold.

We don't know much about Annabel, not at first. But we begin to learn about her while she helps her assigned "soul-in-need" - The Boss (definitely not God) has promised her a final communication with her family if she helps Julia. And this looks easy, at first - Julia is from Annabel's old school, with a loving family and good grades. Everything is fine, except she's fat. Annabel thinks this should be easy - after all, she's an expert in weight loss. She lost weight until she died.

But Annabel soon finds out that Julia's issues are a whole lot more complex than her weight. At first, losing weight helps. But then her old scars come back to haunt her, and Annabel realises that maybe losing weight isn't going to fix all her problems.

Aside from the obvious issue, this book does talk about a lot of important topics. It covers friendships and relationships, like most YA novels do, but it also combats ideas on feminism, affairs with older men, and people all having their own hidden demons.

At first, I wasn't keen on Annabel. I wanted to like her - I felt I should, because I could relate to her story so much. But she was a bitch. She wanted other people to be like her, and rather than encouraging recovery and health and happiness, she shared tipped on weight loss. It really did hurt to read. Her ideas on "perfection" and being weak for eating just really hit a nerve for me. Not because it was wrong (though I'd never encourage an eating disorder in someone else), but because it's exactly how I'd think about myself. Her behaviours, her worries, her anger - they were so real.

But Annabel, despite being dead, grows alongside Julia. Yes, she tells Julia to starve herself and run on an empty stomach and hate herself, but eventually she starts to feel for her. She wants Julia to combat her issues, to actually be happy. And she realises, despite having been so upset with her old friends for recovering, that maybe she wasted her life. Maybe she could have been something more, rather than striving to be less.

I found this really emotional. Annabel's love for her sister, the sister she neglected for years while she was focused on her goals, and the future she cut short. The way Julia's life changed when her passion for writing and journalism was overtaken by her obsession with food, calories, exercise. It's so real and so sad. And the ending isn't "happily ever after" - Annabel's still dead, Julia's in counselling - but it's real. It gives hope that things can change, that Julia can really achieve happiness.

At first, I didn't like this that much. I know Annabel is just a character, but I just didn't like her. She was one of those girls that makes anorexia sound like a choice, a lifestyle, and I hated that. But later she realises she is sick, and I actually felt sorry for her. I was sorry that she had been brainwashed by her illness into believing she was doing what was right.

The only reason I'm giving just 4.5 stars to this book is because Annabel was a bitch. Yes, she is a character, and yes, she grows considerably throughout the novel, but her encouragement of EDs just drove me insane. Personal pet peeve, I guess.
  
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
2014 | Action, Sci-Fi
Story: This follows up from the first one so we have to remember unlike the Avengers and Dark Knight we are dealing with a teenage superhero. He has different problems like whether he wants a girlfriend or whether to go to college, you know the serious stuff. We have him putting out all the cheesy lines against the person he fights not taking anything seriously. While Peter is trying to figure out what his life holds next, the people against him start their own stories. We have the generic loner scientist who ends up having an accident, gaining powers and using them for evil, been there seen that in every Spider-man film. We also have the Harry Osborn who wants Spider-Man’s blood to cure his sickness and when he can’t have it he goes on a rampage against Spider-Man. It would be fair this is a slow moving film and it really is building up for the next chapter. (7/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Andrew Garfield: Spider-Man/Peter Parker while trying to figure out what to do with his life he carries on fighting crime, he has to decide whether to keep with his girlfriend when her father’s dying wish was to leave her so she couldn’t get caught up in trouble. He does ends up having to face the biggest battle of his life after his battles with Electro and Green Goblin. Good performance in a character that develops as the film unfolds. (8/10)

 spide

Emma Stone: Gwen Stacy ambitious girlfriend of Peter, who wants to excel in her studies and gets that chance to but with Peter in her life she will always be in danger. Good supporting performance, but I always find relationships for superheroes only get in the way and annoy. (7/10)

emma

Jamie Foxx: Electro lonely scientist who has helped the city design a better power source. He feels like everyone is against him but when Spider-Man saves him he gets a boost of confidence. Just when things look good for Max he ends up having an accident at work and turning into Electro, who starts off just wanting help but when he feels betrayed by Spider-Man he wants to take out the web-slinger and the city. Good performance playing a very difficult character that really looks the part. (8/10)

 eletrco

Dane DeHaan: Green Goblin/Harry Osborn an old friend of Peter who wants him to find Spider-Man so he can use his blood to cure his terminal illness. After both Peter and Spider-Man refuse for safety reason he finds out his company secretly has some stored away and he uses it and becomes the Green Goblin out to stop Spider-Man. Good performance from the always solid Dane. (8/10)

harry

Director Review: Marc Webb – Great direction creating a story that really is building to something bigger, creating some very memorable fight scenes and a villain in Electro like nothing we have seen before. (8/10)

 

Action: When the action happens it is all very good, with some great camera spinning shots of Spider-Man in battle. (8/10)

Superhero: A solid entry in the superhero genre. (8/10)

Settings: New York makes a great setting because without all the building Spider-Man couldn’t swing as much. (9/10)
Special Effects: Great special effects used throughout the film. (10/10)

Suggestion: This must be watch by all the superhero fans out there, it is creating a big picture without having to use separate films to add to one of franchise. (Superhero Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Spider-Man battles Electro round two.

Worst Part: It does start slow, nearly an hour before we meet Electro.

Action Scene Of The Film: The final battles

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Has one planned

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $708 Million

Budget: $200 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 22 Minutes

Tagline: His greatest battle begins

 

Overall: Solid Addition to Spider-Man Franchise

https://moviesreview101.com/2014/09/01/the-amazing-spider-man-2-2014/
  
<b>Synopsis</b>
Richard Stearns is the president of World Vision United States who, along with his wife Reneé, regularly visits the poorer countries of our world to see the ways the charity is helping to change people's lives. <i>He Walks Among Us</i> is a compilation of short thoughts and observations (two-to-three pages, including photographs) they have both had while conducting their work. As they alternate the writing, we are given opinions and experiences that we may be able to relate to our own. As Richard is the president of the organisation, he can give an insight into the way World Vision works, however, he can also express his opinions as a father, grandfather and believer in Christ. Reneé is also a World Vision worker, but due to her nature, gives a more maternal impression of the scenes she witnesses.

The individuals written about in this book come from all over the world. Most are located in Africa, but there are also similar stories in Asia, South and North America, and even Eastern Europe. The terrors these people have faced are shocking (AIDs, war, sexual abuse, natural disasters etc), but each family has been aided in some way by World Vision and their donors.

The purpose of <i>He Walks Among Us</i> is not to promote World Vision, but to encourage us to let God and Jesus into our lives. Richard and Reneé assume their readers are Christians, however, they realise that being a Christian does not equate to fully accepting God's plans. The victims of war, rape, and poverty mentioned have also been touched by Jesus. Many did not know him before World Vision came into their lives, but they have now been transformed through the power of his love - although their situation may not have significantly improved.

The actual stories used to illustrate the work of World Vision are only brief mentions, providing the bare bones of the situations. What Richard and Reneé have focused on is linking these lives, their lives and our lives to passages from the Bible. Either taken literally or metaphorically, the pair manage to relate everything to the actions and fates of a number of key Biblical characters. This emphasises that Our Lord is walking among us, giving life, peace, hope and steadfast faith.

<b>Ideas</b>
Giving someone new hope or purpose in their life can be related to Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Whether people are literally dying, or on the edge of hopelessness and despair, improving their situation can turn their lives around.

The donors and workers at World Vision are like the Good Samaritan in Jesus' parable. We do not know these people, know their religion or circumstances, yet we send money and aid. To do nothing would make us the Priest or Levite in the story.

David was only a young boy when he had to face Goliath, yet, against all odds, he defeated him. The children mentioned in this book are similar to David. They each have their metaphorical Goliath's: poverty, illness, loss of parents, war, hunger etc, but with God working through us, these can be overcome.

<b>Noteworthy Bible Verses</b>
Each chapter of the book begins with a Bible verse, and often more are included within the text. Here are a few that really relate to the work of World Vision and the ways in which we can involve ourselves:
Philippians 4:12-13
Luke 21:3-4
Luke 6:20-21
Psalm 23:4

<b>Statistics</b>
23 million people in sub-Sahara Africa are suffering from HIV.
In Soviet-controlled Georgia, churches were banned. Some villages are only just seeing their first church in over 400 years.
20 thousand children under the age of 5 die every day.
Every 4 seconds a child under 5 dies.
Over 2 billion people in the world are living on $2 or less a day.
1 billion people have no access to clean drinking water.
41% of the population in Niger have no clean water.

<b>Citations</b>
Helen Keller: "So much has been given to me, I have no time to ponder over that which is denied."
Oswald Chambers: "The great hindrance in spiritual life is that we will look for big things to do. Jesus took a towel ... and began to wash the disciples' feet."
Mother Theresa: "I am a pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world."
C.S. Lewis: "Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less."

<b>Other Mentions</b>
Hymn - Frances R. Havergal, <i>Take my Life and let it be.</i>
Film - <i>Pushing the Elephant</i>
  
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Kristy H (629 KP) rated That Night in Books

Apr 8, 2019  
That Night
That Night
Amy Giles | 2018 | Fiction & Poetry, Young Adult (YA)
9
9.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
I cannot recommend this book enough, for teens and adults alike
It's been a year since the shooting in their town changed everything, and Jessica Nolan and Lucas Rossi are each trying to manage in their own way. Jess is trying to care for her severely depressed mom, who can barely get out of bed. That means helping pay the bills, cook the meals, and generally take care of everything. She misses her best friend desperately, but Marissa is across the country at a school for those suffering post traumatic stress. Meanwhile, Lucas is coping by taking up boxing. It helps relieve some of his stress and anxiety--and get him away from the watchful eye of his newly overprotective mom. When Jess and Lucas meet at their after-school job, they realize they have one big thing in common: their shared tragedy. It's not exactly something they want to share. But slowly the two become friends. Can they help each other move forward from some of the horrors they've been through?

Oh this book. This beautiful, sad, lovely book. It's such an immersive, amazing read. Giles gives such a great voice to her characters; even though the book has a sad topic at its core, it's also hopeful and touching, and you want to keep reading it. You know how some books seem to go out of their way to have unlikeable characters and you have to like the book in spite of them? This book is the opposite. I dare you to not fall in love with Jess and Lucas. And, oh my goodness, my heart just went out to these kids. Poor Jess. She has so much to deal with it, and so does Lucas, too. The guilt these kids feel at being alive--Giles does such an amazing job at portraying their feelings and emotions. They come across so realistically and starkly. It also portrays mental illness very well: real, without embarrassment and shame; I was impressed and heartened. What a great thing for teens to read.

I really enjoyed the fact that this novel featured a sweet romance, but not a typical one. Jess and Lucas clearly like each other, but don't immediately "meet cute" or fall for each other the second they meet. You can see they need each other, but it takes them time to get there, which I appreciated. Their relationship is really well-done, and it was lovely to read about.

As you've probably read, Giles made the deliberate decision not to write about the actual shooting in the book--it's just the background event that has shaped so much of our characters' lives. We don't even hear about who the shooter was. I really like this decision, because we get to see the horror that a mass shooting can leave behind, without going into the sensational details. Instead we see, close-up, the humanity behind it--the real people affected and how much their lives have changed. There are sad moments mixed in with sweet and funny in such a beautiful way. It's incredibly well-written and I thought it was a very smart way to frame a shooting: it's almost more profound this way, honestly.

The depth of emotion in this book--the sadness, the unhappiness--and even sometimes the hope--is staggering. Honestly, this book left me in tears, and I don't cry easily when I read. As I said, I fell in love with Jess and Lucas. They were real people to me, and it takes an excellent writer to bring your characters to such detailed life as Giles did in this novel. I waited to read this book--after absolutely loving Giles' novel NOW IS EVERYTHING (which also made me cry!)--until my library got in my copy, which I had them order. I'm proud to say my lovely library system now has three copies of this book now, but I'll also be purchasing my own copy, because it's that good.

Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough, for teens and adults alike. This novel made me cry, and it made me laugh. I loved its characters and their supporting cast. It offers such a powerful way to look at the aftermath of a mass shooting. It's profound and poignant, and the way it conveys the terror, sadness, and hope of its characters cannot be praised enough. 4.5+ stars.

(Also, this book is full of Young Frankenstein references, as if I could not love Giles or her characters more.)
  
Now Is Everything
Now Is Everything
Amy Giles | 2017 | Young Adult (YA)
9
9.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
breathtaking (3 more)
powerful
suspenseful
heartbreaking
Hadley's life looks perfect from the outside. Her family is wealthy, and she's a successful athlete and student. What you don't see is that Hadley's father works at breaking her down, day after day, forcing her into playing lacrosse and taking flying lessons (his two passions), monitoring her whereabouts and food intake, berating and belittling her constantly, and much worse. Hadley endures it all though, if it keeps the spotlight off her beloved spitfire of a little sister, Lila. Hadley would do anything to keep her father's focus off of Lila. Lila's only ten--the age her father targeted his laser beam on her. Hadley's life improves, however, when she secretly starts dating Charlie Simmons. On the surface, Charlie's life isn't anything like hers--he's the son of a poor single mom, but the two quickly find they have more in common than they realize. Even better, Charlie gives Hadley something she hasn't had in a long time: hope. Then, Hadley is in a plane crash, which tragically leaves her family is dead. Only Hadley can tell everyone what happened, but she isn't divulging the details. What happened that day in the plane? And why would it cause Hadley--the only survivor--to want to take her own life?

This book. Oh this book. Wow. I completely overlooked this one on my ARC shelf, and for that, I deeply apologize. But, I'm so, so, so glad I did pick it up! This is an amazing, powerful, and heartbreaking book and easily one of my favorite books I've read this year.

Part of the power comes via its format, which seems simple on the surface. The novel and its details are all a slow build via a "then" and "now" format plus transcripts and bits of evidence from the crash investigator. All of our "then" and "now" portions come from Hadley's point of view and leave us constantly wondering. Why is her dad all over her? What makes him so evil? You are also left in utter confusion and suspense over exactly what happened during the crash (and why it happened). I read the second half in one sitting, staying up late to finish it. I simply had to know what happened to Hadley.

I credit this to Giles' writing, which is superb. You will get sucked in by Hadley extremely early. She's a well-written, compelling character, and it's nearly impossible not to become part of her life. In fact, rarely have I felt so strongly for characters in a novel in a long time. If I could have, I would have gone and rescued those children myself! I simply loved Hadley and her wonderful, feisty sister, Lila. The hate I felt for their horrible, abusive father--and, sometimes, their apathetic, passive mother, was insane. They felt like real people. I was completely involved.

In fact, those poor kids. The book actually made me feel tense just reading about their lives. It was so well-done that I read portions of it with a knot in my stomach. (As a note, there's definitely a trigger for abuse.) Watching Hadley try to protect her sister and live up to adult expectations far beyond her teen years--seriously, guys, it was heartbreaking and yet amazing to read. You will find yourself rooting for Hadley and Lila in an inexplicable way.

The ending on this one is interesting. I'm still pondering it. The fascinating thing about this book is that you know *something* has to have happened up in that plane, but you don't know exactly what, or how it all goes down. The ending made me go "wow." I'm not exactly sure it's what I would have chosen, but it still felt right somehow. Although I was so attached to Hadley, that I wish there was a sequel of sorts, because I still feel bonded to the girl. That's how well-done this novel was!

Overall, this is just a lovely book. Very, very rarely does a book make me cry. This one did. This is not a light read, no, but there are still funny moments, beautiful moments, and heartwarming moments among all the dark ones. You will not regret reading this book. Huge kudos to Amy Giles for writing such a powerful and wonderful novel that so deftly deals with abuse and aspects of mental illness. I feel like Hadley and Lila will stay with me for a long time. 4.5 stars.
  
Emily, Gone
Emily, Gone
Bette Lee Crosby | 2019 | Mystery
9
9.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
I have been a fan of author Bette Lee Crosby since reading her book The Summer of New Beginnings. When I heard of her latest book, Emily, Gone, I knew I would have to read it sooner rather than later. Miss Crosby did not disappoint at all with this one.

Six month old Emily's parents are beyond exhausted due to a music festival very close to their house during 1971. After laying Emily down in her crib in her room, Emily's parents, Rachel and George Dixon, go to their room and finally have a good night's sleep. In the morning when Rachel checks on baby Emily, she is missing from her crib. Vicki gave birth to a stillborn baby girl about a month before Emily was born. When Vicki and her boyfriend decide to stop at a random house to get some food after the festival late one night, it's the perfect opportunity for her to steal baby Emily. What follows is a years long search for Emily all the while Emily is being raised by Vicki and her family. Will Rachel and George ever be united with their Emily?

I enjoyed the plot for Emily, Gone immensely. There are no plot holes or cliffhangers, and Bette Lee Crosby writes about 1971 and the subsequent years very well. It's as if I was transported back in time to that era. Everything flows together smoothly. I found myself wanting Rachel and George to be reunited with Emily quickly, but that wasn't the case. Back in 1971, things like the internet and Amber Alerts weren't a thing, so as frustrating as it was, I could see how hard it would be to recover a kidnapped child. I wish the story would have involved Murph, Vicki's boyfriend, a bit more. He's in the story for about halfway and that's about it. I would have liked to know about him in the epilogue at least. Also, I did find the ending a bit far fetched albeit it probable. It just seems like it would have been highly unlikely. Bette Lee Crosby does touch on the Christian faith lightly throughout this book which could explain the ending.

I found the characters in Emily, Gone to be written superbly. All of them were fleshed out enough to feel like a real person instead of a character in a book. My heart went out to Rachel throughout the years without her Emily. George, Emily's father, had better coping mechanisms, but I still felt bad to him. I can't imagine, and I don't even want to imagine what it would be like if someone kidnapped one of my kids. Mama Dixon was my favorite character in the book. I loved what a warm presence she was throughout the novel to her family. I felt like she was part of my family as well! Although Vicki was written well, I just did not like her. I found her to be very selfish, and I suppose that's because she was mentally ill after the stillborn birth of her baby girl. I kept silently pleading with her to do the right thing and return Emily. I kept wanting her to get caught so she could get the help she needed and the Dixons could have their baby back. I liked Murph, Vicki's boyfriend, but I wish he would have done the right thing and told someone what Vicki had done. In a way, I understand why he didn't turn Vicki in, but it would have been better for everyone in the long run. In a way, my heart also went out to Angela and Kenny for being pulled into Vicki's mess. They were also completely innocent of everything.

I found the pacing to be perfect from the very first page to the very last page. Every time I had to stop reading Emily, Gone I felt like I was leaving a long lost friend, and I couldn't wait to return.

Trigger warnings for Emily, Gone include some drug references, kidnapping, stillborn birth, mental illness, death, some alcohol use, slight references to child molestation, incest, and other sexual references (such as couples making love, nothing graphic).

Overall, Emily, Gone is a highly interesting read with an entertaining plot that will hold you tight and not let go of you until you're done reading! This is one of those stories that will tug at your heartstrings. I would definitely recommend Emily, Gone by Bette Lee Crosby to everyone aged 17+ who would love a fantastically written emotional story.