|Pub Date: 1-9-18|
Adult - Thriller
The Chalk Man- C.J. Tudor:
Like most kids in 1986, Eddie and his friends spent most of their days riding their bikes around their tiny English village hoping for some excitement. They even developed a little code, using stick figure chalk men to leave notes around town for one another. But when a mysterious trail of chalk men leads the group to a dismembered body in the woods, they get a lot more than they bargained for. In 2016, a grown Eddie has put his past behind him, for the most part. He doesn't like to linger on the memories of that traumatic time, but they come flooding back when he receives a letter in the mail containing a single chalk stick figure. Eddie thinks it's just his old friend's playing a prank until one of them ends up dead. To save himself and get to the bottom of what truly happened, Eddie will have to dig up the past he'd prefer to keep buried.
I've only recently gotten into Tudor but she's quickly becoming one of my favorite thriller authors. Her writing is gripping and always manages to keep me on the edge of my seat, and this was no exception. Right from the jump, I was pulled into this story and needed to know more. I thought the dual timeline POV was done well and never felt disjointed. I liked trying to uncover the clues along with Eddie in the present. You notice as you're going through the story, that not every character seems to be that reliable and there are a lot of secrets lurking about which makes it hard to suss out who to trust. This is definitely more of a slow-burn thriller, so there were parts where I was wishing it would speed up, but the payoff at the end was worth it. And that twist at the end! It was unexpected and throws you for a loop so you're left wondering how much of what you've been told is the truth or not. Overall, while maybe not the fastest page-turner, it's still completely compelling and will keep you guessing.
|Pub Date: 10-20-19|
YA - Fantasy
Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters- Emily Roberson: Sixteen-year-old Ariadne has spent her whole life begrudgingly in the spotlight. Not only is her family royal, but they've built an entertainment empire surrounding the bloodthirsty event called The Labyrinth Contest. Each year, fourteen teens are brought to Crete from Athens with hopes of beating the maze and slaying the Minotaur inside, bringing them fame and fortune. Out of the hundreds of players, not one has been successful. When the new competitors come, one stands out to Ariadne the most. Theseus is mysterious, charming, and just so happens to be the newly crowned prince of Athens. Ariadne knows she shouldn't be consorting with the enemy, but she can't deny the attraction she feels. When Theseus begs her to help him win the contest, she's more conflicted than ever. She's never been a fan of the competition and hates being forced to be a part of it, but if Theseus wins that would mean the Minotaur is dead, and that's the last thing Ariadne wants.
Ok, listen, did this have the greatest writing I've ever read? Not in the slightest. Did I have fun reading it? Absolutely. Roberson's writing felt very reminiscent of early 2000s YA that tended to skew more toward the younger side. It was a lot like if you were to take Percy Jackson, The Hunger Games, and a trashy reality show and mix it all in a blender. Ariadne was a young girl trying to make the most of a crummy situation. She seems to be the only one in her family with some sense. Her sisters are vapid and her parents are cold and manipulative, constantly making Ariadne do things she doesn't want to. The only sort of light in her life is her relationship with the Minotaur, and I loved how Roberson connected them. It added such a layer of vulnerability to this and made for some really sad, tender moments that I wasn't necessarily expecting. She and Theseus did have that insta-love connection, but seeing as how this is based on Greek mythology where people would fall in love with the first person who breathed on them, it didn't bother me as much. While the writing wasn't the strongest, it was a fresh and modern take on this story that was unique to itself and kept me entertained the whole time.
|Pub Date: 3-18-21|
YA - Fantasy
The Shadow in the Glass- JJA Harwood:
Ella has always wished for more out of her life. She has always dreamt of being a proper society lady, and after being taken in by the Pembroke's after the death of her parents, Ella believed she would one day achieve that goal. But then her beloved Mrs. Pembroke passed away, and Ella was forced into servitude by the same man she once called step-father. The only joy Ella has in life is sneaking into the library and reading books by candlelight. On one such night, Ella throws a plea out into the universe and she's shocked when a mysterious fairy godmother appears and tells Ella that she will grant her seven wishes. Eager to finally live the life she believes she's owed, Ella agrees, but she soon learns that each wish comes at a steep price.
If you've ever wondered what Cinderella would be like if Tim Burton directed it, here you go. This isn't your typical Disney fairy tale. It was dark, twisted, and more akin to a Gothic penny dreadful. Ella has gone through many hardships in her life and believes that she's entitled to a better life than the one that was given to her. This leads her to make a rash decision by entering into a bargain with a fairy godmother who's more like a devil in disguise. With each wish Ella makes, someone around her dies and as the story progresses, you see the guilt of that weighing on her yet she can't bring herself to stop. So much of this story is fueled by bitterness and desire, and the limits one would go to have the life they've dreamed of. My only issue with this was that it felt incredibly long and drawn out at times which lead to it feeling quite repetitive. Other than that, if you're a fan of darker retellings, this would be a good one to pick up.