Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land *TRIGGER WARNING*

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THIS. BOOK. IS. DISTURBING. Let's just start there shall we. Check the synopsis below.


SYNOPSIS:

Milly's mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother's trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother's daughter.


You know what it feels like to have butterflies in your stomach. Your anxiety level is high and you can feel every emotion welling up inside of you. With every turn of every page in this book I felt that. I wasn't sure I would make it through this book because it deals with the death of children and I have DNF'd {Did Not Finish} books for this very reason. As I kept reading I became to curious to know the consequences of these horrendous acts and if Milly, the main character, was in fact a product of her environment; if she shared a desire to take lives like her murderous mother who raised her. Milly watched her mom commit heinous acts growing all the while being abused her self. How could she escape that which is in instilled in her?

Milly had a brother that happily got away from their abominable childhood. Milly, however, was sent to live with a well to do, but subtly dysfunctional, foster family. It is with this family that Milly's true nature begins to show itself. I think the premise of this book is simply nature versus nurture and in Milly's case I felt like it was both. Milly's mom has to stand trial for her crimes and Milly is the key witness. Throughout the story Milly keeps hearing her mom's voice in her head and having imaginary conversations with her while preparing for the trial. She keeps hearing all the controlling and vile things she said to her as a child. Milly was trying to convince herself that she was nothing like her mother when in fact she was exactly like her mother. Her mother, in all of her psychopathic behavior, justified the killings by saying she "loved" her victims.

One of the most telling parts of the story was the case of Daniel, one of Milly's mom's young victims. Milly entered the room where her mother had just tortured Daniel to near death, but she found him alive barely breathing and rather than help him she took his last breath, later stating that she did so to "protect" him. Milly also befriended a girl named MK, who was considered an outcast in the neighborhood. MK and Milly both were bullied by Milly's foster sister, Phoebe and as much MK and Milly had in common, Milly's relationship with her was quite strange. She felt a closeness to MK, but also wanted to do her harm. I thought the way Land developed Milly's character was perfect. I could see her taking on the characteristics of her mother and unraveling from beginning to end. 

Case in point, MK ran to Milly's house one rainy night because MK's uncle was abusing her and although Milly provided her some comfort by tucking her in bed there was this unspoken desire she had to smother MK with a pillow. She was methodical and calculated. In the end she spared MK, but not Phoebe.


I'm not trying not to be bad. I'm trying not to get caught."


This one of the most intense psychological thrillers I have read in a very long time. Land pushes every possible boundary. She wrote this story ferociously. That's the only way I can describe it. When I got to the very end I tilted my head back and took a deep breath. Land wrote a perfect sociopathic character in Milly. Even when Milly's father began to piece two and two together, Milly was stoic when telling him to be calm and take a drink as if she hadn't murdered his daughter. This book would almost be perfect if it were not for Sas, Milly's foster mother. She was extremely disconnected, medicated most of the time and having an affair, but her background was never explained. She didn't have a close relationship with her daughter, Phoebe, but it was just unclear to me WHY their relationship was so strained. There was also a rape scene with MK in this book and honestly it made angry because MK insisted on keeping it on a secret, but the harsh reality is that this happens with young girls and women. The ridicule and feelings of embarrassment trump the crime. If you can tolerate the shocking premise of this book, I HIGHLY recommend it. This is quite a mind bender and extraordinaryfor Land's debut novel. She takes the reader effortlessly through the recesses of a fifteen year old girl's mind who has no social or moral conscience.  It was fast paced and I finished this novel in one sitting. 

My Rating 4/5

     Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land   Hardcover, Imprint: Michael Joseph Ltd, 338 pages  Published January 12th 2017 by Penguin Books Ltd  Sent from Flatiron Books  Pacing 5/5  photo cred; Cici Ford

 

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

Hardcover, Imprint: Michael Joseph Ltd, 338 pages

Published January 12th 2017 by Penguin Books Ltd

Sent from Flatiron Books

Pacing 5/5

photo cred; Cici Ford

The Grip of It by Jac Jemc

 photo credit: cici ford

photo credit: cici ford

Look at this book in the photo. The grip of it ironically. It wouldn't even stay closed flat which may have been more appealing for the photograph. The cover page is completely ajar because I carried this book everywhere with me. It captivated me and had my complete attention where I cracked the spine, folded it back so many times as a way to seek reader-comfort from this twisty and terrifying narrative. As the last page was closed, I am still thinking about what I just read.  

"The blankness of her eyes has filled her entire face. The Julie I know is nowhere to be found. A fire is lit inside her. I try to take her hand again. She rips it back. She shoves my shoulder, I stand and step away from her. Her strength startles me."


SYNOPSIS:

Julie and James settle into a house in a small town outside the city where they met. The move—prompted by James’s penchant for gambling, his inability to keep his impulses in check—is quick and seamless; both Julie and James are happy to leave behind their usual haunts and start afresh. But this house, which sits between ocean and forest, has plans for the unsuspecting couple. As Julie and James try to settle into their home and their relationship, the house and its surrounding terrain become the locus of increasingly strange happenings. The architecture—claustrophobic, riddled with hidden rooms within rooms—becomes unrecognizable, decaying before their eyes. Stains are animated on the wall—contracting, expanding—and map themselves onto Julie’s body in the form of bruises; mold spores taint the water that James pours from the sink. Together the couple embark on a panicked search for the source of their mutual torment, a journey that mires them in the history of their peculiar neighbors and the mysterious residents who lived in the house before Julia and James.


 photo cred: cici ford  cC Ferns coffee shop

photo cred: cici ford

cC Ferns coffee shop

This is an incredibly well written book. What I thought, in the beginning, was the story of a house haunting turned out to be something far more deeper in context. What I found most interesting about the two main characters, James and Julie, is the way in which pieces of their personality; of who they are begin to take shape in this house in the form of a dark entity. Julie - who has a type A personality; very controlling, and James who is polar opposite of her - a loose cannon with a gambling problem see the worst part of themselves by way of what the house reveals to them.   

They are trying to make sense of a new life which I think makes this story so unique. Jemc seems to delve more into their emotional instability accompanied by some sort of haunting rather than a haunting causing it which makes this such an ambiguous story. During James and Julie's descension into "madness", I liked the relationship maintained between her and Connie, Julie's oldest friend and college roommate. She is snarky and a bit sarcastic and tries to understand and help Julie make sense of her "delusions". Connie's voice in the story was subtle but powerful at the same time. She's the friend every woman needs to have; open and honest. She knows there is something amiss but needs Julie to get a grip on reality which neither James or Julie could do with ease.

One of the more interesting characters in the story was Rolf the very creepy neighbor who stares at James and Julie often from the window of his home. He disappears for awhile and returns in the later half of the story. I had difficulty figuring out exactly what he represented in the story, but I feel like that is what Jemc wants for the reader; to interpret these events and characters in a number of ways. Something tragic happened in that home before James and Julie moved in and Rolf is aware that the same darkness that plagues James and Julie, plagued the previous family. I think Rolf, although I didn't find much explanation about him, is plagued himself with the same darkness that blankets the woods and lake where they live. He's a watcher.

In reading several reviews after finishing this book, it seems a lot of readers were not pleased with the open ended aspect of it, but that is why I enjoyed it. A quarter of the way through the story there is mention of asbestos in the house which I thought maybe made Julie extremely sick and causes some sort ofneurological dysfunction. Therefore causing her delusions, but as I kept reading I realized that there were still drawings on the wall of the house that were unexplained. Most likely drawn by the children of the family that once lived there. I still can't figure out if it is a combination of both. This is what makes this story intriguing. There seems to be quite a few unanswered questions about this couples grip on reality or lack thereof.

  The Grip of It by Jac Jemc   Published August 1st 2017 by FSG Originals, 272 pages, purchased paperback, pacing 3.8  photo cred: cici ford   

The Grip of It by Jac Jemc

Published August 1st 2017 by FSG Originals, 272 pages, purchased paperback, pacing 3.8

photo cred: cici ford

 


"There is still a chance that everything might be true, that we both might be filled with scars and substances that cause our synapses to fire inefficiently, that cause us to make decisions that are unwise and fantastic, and believed, but that is not to say that the world outside our minds is reasonable."

I definitely recommend this book especially if you are seeking a non traditional psychological thriller. The only factor stopping me from giving this book a full five stars is the that is was a bit slow for me in the beginning.

My rating: 4/5

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