Book Review: The Anatomy of Desire by L.R. Dorn

Book Review: The Anatomy of Desire by L.R. Dorn

Synopsis:

Claire Griffith has it all, a thriving career, a gorgeous boyfriend, glamorous friends. She always knew she was destined for more than the life her conservative parents preached to her. Arriving in Los Angeles flat broke, she has risen to become a popular fitness coach and social media influencer. Having rebranded herself as Cleo Ray, she stands at the threshold of realizing her biggest dreams.

One summer day, Cleo and a woman named Beck Alden set off in a canoe on a serene mountain lake. An hour later, Beck is found dead in the water and Cleo is missing. Authorities suspect foul play, and news of Cleo’s involvement goes viral. Who was Beck? An infatuated follower? Were she and Cleo friends or lovers? Was Beck’s death an accident . . . or murder?

Told in the form of an immersive investigative docuseries, L. R. Dorn’s brilliant reimagining of Theodore Dreiser’s classic crime drama, An American Tragedy, captures the urgency and poignance of the original and rekindles it as a very contemporary and utterly mesmerizing page-turner.

My Review:

Thank you to Libro.fm and Harper Audio for the gifted audio copy, all opinions are my own.

I didn’t learn until the author’s note at the end of the book that this is a retelling of An American Tragedy, which is a story I am not familiar with, but that I think is worth mentioning in case you are. I can’t compare the original and the retelling since I have never read the original, but Anatomy of Desire had a very modern feel to it. The novel is told as a podcast style docu-series for starters, which made the full cast audio narration feel extra important. It also focuses a lot on social media and how it became such a large part of the lives of several characters.  Social media was referred to as an addiction at one point and it altered the choices and directions the character’s lives took, which is ulta reflective of our current culture in America right now. 

Of course I  enjoyed the full cast narration, but I also found the novel very reflective and an interesting examination of the effects of trauma on how people make choices in their lives and move forward. The main character made some unusual decisions that made her appear in a negative light, but then getting to learn about the trauma in her past, it started to make sense. In the end, she was able to start to make these connections for herself and it was very inspiring. 

This was easily a five star read for me, one of those kind of books that you think about when you aren’t reading it and can’t wait to get back to! And while it seems to be marketed as a thriller, and a crime is the central plot point, I do think that a variety of readers would enjoy this one!

Book Review: The Dead Husband by Carter Wilson

Book Review: The Dead Husband by Carter Wilson

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press and Kaye Publicity for sending me a free copy of The Dead Husband in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Twenty years ago an unspeakable tragedy rocked Rose Yates’s small, affluent hometown… and only Rose and her family know the truth about what happened.

Haunted by guilt, Rose escaped into a new life. Now she seems to have it all: a marriage, a son, a career. And then her husband is found dead.

As far as Detective Colin Pearson is concerned, Rose is guilty. Her marriage wasn’t as happy as she’d led everyone to believe, and worse, she’s connected to a twenty-year-old cold case. She can play the part of the victim, but he won’t let her or her family escape justice this time around.

Grieving her husband and struggling to make ends meet, Rose returns home, hoping to finally confront her domineering father and unstable sister. But memories of a horrific crime echo through the house, and Rose soon learns that she can’t trust anyone, especially not the people closest to her.

My Review:

The Dead Husband started out strong. It has a lot of mystery build up, with plenty of history the characters are trying to keep hidden in the past. I was really enjoying the book and was eager to find out everyone’s secrets. There is more than one piece of the past being hidden and I was curious to see how everything would fit together in the end.

However, the ending of this one really let me down. First of all, it felt rushed. After all that build up, and at almost 400 pages, everything came crashing down all at once, and there wasn’t a sense of closure, either positive or negative. Also, the big twist at the end felt a little on the unrealistic side, which is something that really bothers me. I was left feeling really disappointed, because I liked the book up until the last 30 pages, so I guess I will go right down the middle with this one and rate it at 2.5 stars.

Eventide by Sarah Goodman

Eventide by Sarah Goodman

Thank you Tor Books for sending me a free copy of Eventide in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

I don’t read much YA, I usually just mix it in as a palette cleanser. I guess I don’t expect much from YA, the stories are pretty linear and the writing can be simplistic, but that’s ok. It really is! However, Eventide did not fall prey to the typical traits of a YA novel. It was much more sophisticated and I really enjoyed it!

The plot follows two orphaned sisters as they step off the orphan train in a small town and are unexpectedly split up, being taken by different families. That alone was enough for me to want to keep reading. But as their lives go in different directions, a mystery surrounding the girls’ parents arrises, making the book even more compelling. Some witch craft makes an appearance towards the end to tie everything together, and the result is a very well done historical fiction novel!

I really like the witch crafts elements, which were well done. If you’re instantly thinking of the typical fantasy tropes common in YA, think again. Eventide’s magic is more of the folklore variety and fit in perfectly with the time and setting. Oh, and it’s not scary, so it would make a perfect spooky fall book for anyone who doesn’t like scary! I do, but was still able to enjoy this book!

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

FBC0C8D2-E848-4CDE-A0B2-038157539AAAThank you to Ecco books for sending me a free copy of Leave The World Behind in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one other?

My Review:

It’s hard to squeeze this unique little book into one category: Leave the World Behind is part family drama, part suspense thriller, a teensy part horror, and at the end, an apocalyptic story that leaves your head spinning. This powerful book led me through all kinds of emotions while reading. It starts off as a posh little vacation read, but quickly spins a 180 into something else entirely.

I really enjoyed the writing style, it’s definitely more of a literary style, which isn’t always my favorite, but in this novel it works. And considering what is happening to this family, the eloquence in the phrasing is almost macabre in it’s juxtaposition. I do feel the need to warn, however, that the ending is abrupt. There isn’t any closure, and while I actually really like those kind of endings, I can see how it might not work for everyone.

I really enjoyed this one a lot! It packed quite a punch in it’s 240 pages and left me with some deep thinking, which I love! If you’re looking for  something a little different, a little unexpected, this is the book for you!

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

C2464F78-01DA-410E-A137-1DA3DBC1497EThank you to Dutton books for sending me a free copy of The Familiar Dark in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Set in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks, in a small town with big secrets, The Familiar Dark opens with a murder. Eve Taggert, desperate with grief over losing her daughter, takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened. Eve is no stranger to the dark side of life, having been raised by a hard-edged mother whose lessons Eve tried not to pass on to her own daughter. But Eve may need her mother’s cruel brand of strength if she’s going to face the reality about her daughter’s death and about her own true nature. Her quest for justice takes her from the seedy underbelly of town to the quiet woods and, most frighteningly, back to her mother’s trailer for a final lesson.

My Review:

This book set it’s hooks in me from the very first page and the reading experience of The Familiar Dark was so visceral that I know I will be thinking about it for a very long time. I found the main character Eve to be so realistic, it was harrowing to see the way she changed after the death of her daughter.  I could so clearly picture Eve, her mother, and the run down town they lived in.  What surprised me was the level of depth into Eve’s relationships that Engel was able to slip into the pages. Even though I am not in a situation like Eve’s, I found I was able to relate with her quite a bit, and I think many readers who are mothers will also.

This is definitely what you call a slow burn but it really smoldered the whole way through. With just enough back story to build to plot, The Familiar Dark is an engrossing read with a very big surprise ending!  This book is dark, gritty, raw and heavy but oh so worth it! I highly recommend this book to just about anyone.  Easily a five star read for me!