White Bodies by Jane Robins *trigger warning*

photo cred: cici ford White Bodies by Jane Robins Hardcover, 297 pages Purchased Published September 19th 2017 by Touchstone

photo cred: cici ford

White Bodies by Jane Robins

Hardcover, 297 pages

Purchased

Published September 19th 2017 by Touchstone

Two genres I've become completely enamored with this year is crime fiction and psychological thrillers mostly because of Abby @crimebythebook on Instagram. To say she is inspiring would be a complete understatement. After she, and my good friend Patience,  @inkandfable ,said they enjoyed White Bodies by Jane Robins I decided to give it a go.

I have such a range of emotions about this book. It began with a really great pace and had me intrigued enough where I turned each page eyes wide and mouth open with anticipation of getting even a sentence closer to what was actually happening in this story. Somewhere in the middle towards the very end it got EXTREMELY EXTREMELY slow. Yes I had to type that twice. I found myself huffing breaths of frustration reading unnecessary details that seemed to be there to stretch a not so strong plot.

I feel that this is one of those "has so much potential" books. I cry. A story encompassing the lives of two sociopathic twins could be epic, but it just fell short for me.   


SYNOPSIS:

Felix and Tilda seem like the perfect couple: young and in love, a financier and a beautiful up-and-coming starlet. But behind their flawless façade, not everything is as it seems.

Callie, Tilda’s unassuming twin, has watched her sister visibly shrink under Felix’s domineering love. She has looked on silently as Tilda stopped working, nearly stopped eating, and turned into a neat freak, with mugs wrapped in Saran Wrap and suspicious syringes hidden in the bathroom trash. She knows about Felix’s uncontrollable rages, and has seen the bruises on the white skin of her sister’s arms.

Worried about the psychological hold that Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an internet support group for victims of abuse and their friends. However, things spiral out of control and she starts to doubt her own judgment when one of her new acquaintances is killed by an abusive man. And then suddenly Felix dies—or was he murdered?


Where do I begin? Twin sisters Tilda and Callie's dysfunctional relationship is obvious from the very beginning. Throughout the story Robins injects flashbacks from their childhood that indicate their narcissistic, obsessive and compulsive behavior. Callie was insanely obsessed with her sister. She saw, in Tilda, something that she did not see in herself; beauty, confidence, star quality and the adoration of others. When they were young girls Callie would try to eat Tilda's things almost as if she consumed them so she, too, could be like her sister; to embody her seemingly redeemable qualities.  Tilda in all of her self absorbed glory basks in her sisters obsession through their younger years and into adulthood.

Tilda is an actress; a fitting career for her personality type. She is married to Felix and not realizing the manipulative and conniving behavior of Tilda until later in the story, Felix is presented as controlling, short tempered and physically abusive to Tilda. Subsequently, Callie spends the majority of the story desperately wanting to discover the truth about her sister's relationship with Felix and protect her from him. She begins to frequent a website dedicated to supporting women who are in physically abusive relationships  and befriends a shady character by the name of "Scarlet". Scarlet convinces Callie that Felix should be murdered after Calleie shares her sister's story on the site. She'll murder Felix if Callie murders her "abusive" and "drug addict" boyfriend Luke, an idea birthed from the film Strangers On the Train. Felix dies mysteriously in a hotel room and Scarlet convinces Callie that she did it and that Callie needs to return the favor.

photo cred: cici ford 

photo cred: cici ford 

The plot twist, which I didn't think was strong at all, is that Tilda was the mass manipulator. She manipulated Callie by leaving her cryptic letters as clues to make her think she was being abused by Felix. Tilda also connected with Scarlet at some point and here's where I honestly felt a bit lost. I was uncertain if Felix had met Scarlet on a "sex specialty" website and Tilda found out about it. Callie did not hold up her end of the bargain with Scarlet so "Scarlet" may or may not have murdered Luke herself. Fast forward, Scarlet ends up drowned in an LA pool where Tilda was but all in all, Tilda could be tied to the deaths of Scarlet, Luke and Felix's. She couldn't be directly connected through physical evidence but she was a socio-path void of human emotion and had manipulated her way to stardom by being connected to these murders which, in turn, made her more famous. This is what she was after all along because she lied about her failing career to her sister and to everyone. Tilda eventually confesses to Callie and Callie still obsessed and protective, lies naked with her in her hotel room as she prepares to film a movie in LA and listens to Tilda blueprint how diabolical she really is. She accepts her sister as the selfish and emotionally vacant human being she is vowing to never tell anyone the truth.

The story of twins is what really intrigued me to read this book. I knew there would be some obsessive behavior and an unconventional sister relationship. I like the idea of this bizarre and unhealthy relationship between them. I loved the overall tone and atmosphere of the story as well. This, for me, is a story of obsession; obsession with what is seen as perfection whether it's within another human being or an obsession with self, success and fame in addition to the lengths people will go to gain it. I thought that Tilda and Callie were very well developed characters, but this book just got way too slow for me to give a high rating. 

My Rating 3/5

 

 

The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam

photo cred: cici ford

photo cred: cici ford

 

Quiet quaint cafe's make the perfect atmosphere for heart wrenching, beautifully written reads. I was sent The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam  from the lovely folks over at Flatiron Books . At first when I received the email about being sent this book, I was hesitant. I thought, from the title, that it would be some sort of adult contemporary romance novel, but after reading the synopsis, I realized the profundity of this story and I was right. (never judge a book by its cover haa haaa)


SYNOPSIS:

Two and a half decades into a devastating civil war, Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority is pushed inexorably towards the coast by the advancing army. Amongst the evacuees is Dinesh, whose world has contracted to a makeshift camp where time is measured by the shells that fall around him like clockwork. Alienated from family, home, language, and body, he exists in a state of mute acceptance, numb to the violence around him, till he is approached one morning by an old man who makes an unexpected proposal: that Dinesh marry his daughter, Ganga. Marriage, in this world, is an attempt at safety, like the beached fishing boat under which Dinesh huddles during the bombings. As a couple, they would be less likely to be conscripted to fight for the rebels, and less likely to be abused in the case of an army victory. Thrust into this situation of strange intimacy and dependence, Dinesh and Ganga try to come to terms with everything that has happened, hesitantly attempting to awaken to themselves and to one another before the war closes over them once more.

 


Although this book takes place during the ongoing civil war in Sri Lanka, it is vastly different from any book I've read that attempts to capture the viciousness of war. In fact it is the opposite. It captures a more personal account of what it's like to survive the night and live one more day. Arudpragasam wrote, exquisitely, what the main character, Dinesh, was feeling on the day he fled from government forces and a violent Liberation. My heart bled for him. This story made me reflect on how we take so many things for granted like breathing, eating, bathing, moving about freely without hinderances and basking in the presence of those around us everyday.

As the story progresses, Dinesh eventually marries a girl named Ganga. The marriage is arranged. Ganga was offered to Dinesh because her father could no longer care for her. I understand that arranged marriages are an important aspect of certain cultures, but I cannot fathom being thrusted into a marriage with someone I don't know and that I have to learn to love or possibly even like. The most interesting particular about their marriage is that it was incredibly brief, but during this brief time Dinesh develops all the feelings of emotional responsibility to Ganga even though she treated their marriage in a desultory way.

He wanted his wife's approval even through their silence and awkward interactions. I got the sense that Dinesh needed her approval and he needed to feel that he could reach her in some way; that he could connect with someone. His work consisted of burying the dead at a camp so I can only imagine that he felt numb inside, desensitized to death and had a longing for life and all that it meant. He was going to put in every effort to have a life with Ganga regardless of how she became his wife.  

photo cred: cici ford Paperback 208 pages Published September 6th 2016 by Flatiron Books Sent from Flatiron Books

photo cred: cici ford

Paperback

208 pages

Published September 6th 2016 by Flatiron Books

Sent from Flatiron Books

“What it would be like to be separated from all these things he did not know, he could not envision, but the more he dwelled on it the more he understood that it was not so much fear of being separated that he felt as sadness at the idea of parting.” 

Arudpragasam's writing is incredibly poetic and Denish is such an impassioned character. I felt everything he felt. The author wrote, in an evocative way, the act of breathing as a way to note how even in the heart of chaos and unrest to try to take a moment and inhale the smallest moments that matter. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I have been vocal about searching for equanimity when there seems to be none so Dinesh's need for self reflection, compassion and understanding while experiencing and being surrounded by heinous conditions touched me personally.

 This book would almost be a five star rating for me if it were not for what I thought to be extremely overly detailed parts of the story. I think because this book focuses on one day the author had to stretch Denish's every emotion and thought. There is Denish's repeated acknowledgment of feces and towards the end he is obsessing over a dead crow for almost an entire chapter. I recognize the symbolism in both - Denish's connection to the morbid and vile - but I feel it took away from the overall narrative.

I love how with each turn of the page, it's like following a spiritual road map into the recesses of Dinesh's mind. Arudpragasam writes an up close and personal account of one man and peeled back his layers perfectly. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. 

My Rating 4/5

Behold the Dreamers by Ibolo Mbue

“But the Universe gives us different sources of Love to unite us all as One. Who are we to decide what the source of our Love should be at any given time? Love is Love, and at any given point we have everything we need.” ~ Behold the Dreamers

Photo cred: cici ford Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue Paperback PUBLISHED March 15, 2016 Random House Trade PACING 3/5

Photo cred: cici ford

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Paperback

PUBLISHED March 15, 2016 Random House Trade

PACING 3/5

Honestly. I had super high expectations for this book because this is a diverse story written by a woman of color. I REALLY wanted to love it but it has come down to being just a satisfactory read for me. Although I appreciate the advocacy in the book community for more diverse stories, I still feel there is a lack of representation of it. Not only a lack of representation, but the hype is not there as well. There's definitely a push for more diverse stories, but there also needs to be a push for stories written by diverse authors which is why I was excited for this. Imbolo's writing is vivid and heartfelt, but overall the pacing was incredibly slow.

I kept noting the similarities between this and Americanah by Ndichie Not that they are similar tales in context, but they both encapsulated, very well, the struggle immigrants face when assimilating to a new environment unfamiliar to them. There's the adjustment to learning a new way of life, a new way of thinking, habits and language that are not embedded in their consciousness. It is a complete shift. Check the synopsis below.


The story is focuses on Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.


 

 

“People in this country, always

worrying about how to eat, they pay

someone good money to tell them:

Eat this, don’t eat that. If you don’t

know how to eat, what else can you

know how to do in this world?” 

~ Behold the Dreamer

photo cred: cici ford

photo cred: cici ford


This story focuses on Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian native attempting to gain permanent citizenship in America. He leaves his homeland in order to make a better life for his wife, Neni, and his son Liomi. He secures a job with a wealthy executive, Clark Edwards, in Harlem, New York and after two years sends for his family.  What I liked most about the way Mbue wrote the two main characters is that she kept them both sort of balanced about family even in the midst of chaos. The underlying idea is always family enrichment. Neni had dreams of becoming a pharmacist all while being the matriarch and on her own journey of self discovery. Jende, although frustrated, with not being able to easily reach the American socio-economic status that he desired, he mostly kept a level head and always kept his family first in mind.  

Considering the current political and racial climate, what I also loved about Mbue's writing is that she was unafraid to tackle the topic of men of color and their relationship with law enforcement. I tabbed the page where Jende’s immigration lawyer says, “The police is for the protection of white people. . . . but not black men.” I think African American males have a full understanding as well as acute situational awareness when it comes to engaging with law enforcement. This made me ponder about men of color who immigrate here, particularly those of African descent, who may not be familiar with or have knowledge of this particular fiber of America. 

I actually had difficulty identifying the plot or maybe I did and was just underwhelmed by it. Jende  finds out that his boss Mr. Edwards, whom he chauffeurs for, mishandles finances and  filed for bankruptcy (If I'm remembering correctly) which left Jende wondering about unemployment in his future. I think the sequence of circumstances that Jende and Neni faced were natural consequences of acculturating themselves in America. The minutiae's of Jende's job put strain on their marriage. Neni who eventually worked for the Edwards, as well, in the Hamptons also added more stress and the anxiousness felt by Liomi because he didn't understand why he couldn't have the simplest thing like a toy truck.  It reads more like an overarching theme of dealing with life's hardships so some grand climactic plot/plots weren't present. No matter the genre of book I'm reading, I enjoy that. 

In addition, I felt Mbue could have expounded more on the things her characters were encountering. This probably would have made for a more a thrilling plot in my opinion. What could Jende have done when Mr. Edwards filed bankruptcy? What could have been his course of action or something that could have put fire under his belt? I wanted more from him, not just the notion of taking what life throws at you and accepting the destiny of trouble, but doing something with it. Mbue doesn't necessarily detail this in the story, but I love the subtle way these characters represent class in the American ethos - those that have and those that have not.

I still would recommend this book even with some of my displeasures. I love Mbue's writing, but I wish the pace of it was better.

My Rating 3/5

 

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green ~ TRIGGERS

“Anybody can look at you. It's quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.” 
― John Green, Turtles All the Way Down

photo cred: cici ford 

photo cred: cici ford 

When I first joined the digital book community, one author that I saw floating around A LOT was John Green. My Instagram timeline was inundated with John Green books. Honestly I never got into the fandom of Green and never felt an urgency to read any of his books. I saw the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars on cable TV which was good as well as Papertowns which I disliked immensely. If you are a part of the wonderful world of bookstagram then you already know how contagious other people's excitement can be.

I saw Turtles All the Way Down making its rounds in the community and the subsequent accolades for this book so I decided to give it a go! I read it with my good friend @elathebookworm which made it all the more enjoyable, but both of us agreed that we didn't love it. Peep the synopsis below!


SYNOPSIS: 

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. 


Right from the beginning, what I love about this story is the way Green details, so vividly, the mental illness of the main character, Aza. She is diagnosed with anxiety and OCD and throughout the story her thoughts constantly spiral hence the title. The way Green writes her disorder is completely raw and honest. No where in this book does he tip toe around it. I feel I learned more about OCD or at least a different form of it from the main character. Obviously a YA book is not going to inform me as well as other sources, but it's still eye opening. I remember watching TV segments about people with OCD and it always seemed to focus on excessive and repetitive behaviors, for sensationalism I'm sure, and never really delved deeply into the thoughts of a person suffering from this disorder.

Aza's relationship with Daisy, her very outspoken best friend, is interesting. They both seem to be very mature teens which I greatly appreciate in a YA book. Green wrote both characters with the right amount of edginess and angst to balance them out and not make them annoying. I love the connection between the two of them. Daisy kept me laughing the whole time because she is such a feminist and very blunt. She's a free spirit and Aza's antithesis. Daisy even called Aza "exhausting". As I was reading I kept imagining having a friend with this severe disorder and I can completely understand where it could be exhausting. Not having an understanding of it or what Aza was going through frustrated Daisy and it came out in the things she said. Aza was constantly in her head so it made her appear self absorbed.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green HARDCOVER PUBLISHED OCTOBER 10, 2017 DUTTON BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS SENT FROM BOOK OF THE MONTH PACING 4/5 PHOTO CRED; CICI FORD

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

HARDCOVER

PUBLISHED OCTOBER 10, 2017 DUTTON BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS

SENT FROM BOOK OF THE MONTH

PACING 4/5

PHOTO CRED; CICI FORD

One of the most riveting facts about Daisy is that she writes Star Wars fanfic which she blabs about incessantly, but she also inadvertently attaches how she REALLY feels about Aza to one of her characters. This causes a strain in their relationship later in the story. 

Daisy and Aza decide that they want to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Russel Picket. He happens to be the father of Davis Pickett, a guy Aza grew up and went to school with. I found this plot to be a bit weak. I really feel this entire story could have been about this young girl, with OCD and how it affected the people around her. Green writes her disorder in a way in which that alone could have been the story with a different plot possibly. There isn't a connection for me between the mysterious death of Russel Picket and Aza'a disorder. 


“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.” ~ John Green, Turtles All The Way Down

Davis pays Aza and Daisy $50,000 each to not continue their investigation. Even after receiving the reward, they continued to explore and dive into details surrounding the case and they eventually discovered where Davis's father was based on clues and hints from Davis's old blog posts. I am left with lingering thoughts about the details of Mr. Picket's disappearance. He left everything to a tuatara in his will based on some kind of research that suggests it is the answer to immortality.  He left nothing to Davis and his brother which made me wonder where Davis got $100,000 to pay Aza and Daisy *scratches chin*.

In the end the police discovered Mr. Picket's body because Aza reluctantly tells Davis where he is and Davis calls the police himself. The police report says Mr. Picket died of exposure, but there are no further details about what exactly happened to him or how his body ended up where it was. I would have liked a back story. I am torn between this book being about a possible murder or suicide and the two teen girls who are determined to discover the truth or a girl with OCD and how she copes with it. There seems to be so much missing from this story.

I did love Davis who was very laid back and I fell in love with the writing from his blog which was the highlight of the book for me. I am happy that there wasn't a sappy happy ending with Aza and Davis, but because of the very weak plot I can't say I loved it. 

My Rating 3/5

 

 

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land *TRIGGER WARNING*

vsco-photo-1 (11).jpg

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