Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

This book will creep you out. I mean seriously. I read Gone Girl a couple years back and when I saw that the movie was coming out this year, I decided to check out what else Gillian Flynn has been up to. Sharp Objects came onto my radar since it was available in audiobook from my library and I was in need of some new listening. So here it is:

Camille Preaker is a journalist who grew up in a small southern town. She is mostly estranged from her family, but her boss sends her home to cover story-girls keep going missing and when the bodies appear, they are missing teeth. Camille will stay with her overbearing, narcissistic mother and horribly spoiled half sister while she talks to community members and the police about the missing/dead girls.

Going home is never as simple as it seems to be, however. Things aren’t quite right in the small town, there are secrets and somehow Camille can’t help but feel they are somehow tied into her own past. And Camille may not be what she originally seemed, either. What is true and what is warped out of focus? Who is telling the truth and who is hiding something? Who would kill a young girl? Multiple young girls?

I like mysteries, and I LOVE unreliable narrators. If you liked The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry, or if you enjoyed Gone Girl as much as I did, let this book leave you sleepless and horrified. I’m pretty tough and I have to say, Gillian Flynn, you really know how to leave readers looking for psychopathic killers around every corner. If you think you can handle it, pick up Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn today.

Don’t Try to Find Me by Holly Brown

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When a 14-year-old girl disappears, her mother’s worst nightmare is realized. Rachel’s daughter, Marley, left her phone and computer sitting at home, but packed a backpack full of clothing and left a note for her mother which read “Don’t Try to Find Me”. At first, Rachel believes her daughter must have been kidnapped by someone who made her write the note, but the evidence piles high and she is forced to accept that her sweet, average, non-rebellious daughter is a runaway.

Marley is tired of being ignored, tired of being cast aside, tired of being unremarkable to everyone. She wants to start fresh, away from her neurotic mother, her domineering and detached father, her psychiatrist who rejected her when she asked for help, her cruel, self absorbed friends…She wants to be with someone who truly appreciates her. And she thinks she may have found that. Online.

Take a journey through the lives of a family torn apart by social media in every way…This novel is what I would call “Suspense” but it also has a lot of emotional depth as you get deeper and deeper into the very personal thoughts of very ordinary people, when things get very out-of-the-ordinary without any warning whatsoever. I would say that readers of Emily Arsenault and other similar novelists will enjoy Don’t Try to Find Me, by Holly Brown.

Find out if Marley will ever come home…Will she even have an option?

Starter House by Sonja Condit

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Lacey Miszlak wanted nothing more than a home of her own, where she and her husband would raise their unborn child and make memories to cherish-a home life that she never had, growing up with a mother who could never stay in one place for long. When she first sees the house, she knows it’s the one. Despite the subtle discouragement from her real estate agent, Lacey will not back down, and finally the house is theirs. But Lacey is starting to see a little boy in the yard, in the kitchen, all over the house. And no one else can see him.

When incidents start to frighten Lacey, and she ends up on bed rest, she calls upon her spiritualist mother to help her find out just what is happening in her house, before the worst happens to her, or her child….And events will take place that make any reader’s skin crawl….

Starter House, by Sonja Condit, is a thriller with supernatural elements. If you like haunted house stories, you won’t want to miss this one, which will surprise you with a climax that will blow your mind. If you need a good scare, be sure to check it out!

The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen

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Ruby Rousseau dropped out of her all-girls university less than a year ago, and thought she would never have to look back. But one day, a suitcase was delivered to her by mistake-a suitcase belonging to a girl from her old dormitory, Beth Richards. She finds herself pulled into the mystery of a missing person, and forced to deal with the ghosts from her recent past, including a love affair with a Professor that went terribly wrong.

The Butterfly Sister is a mystery novel with a distinctly feminine flair, and for those of you who love literature or poetry, the references to Sylvia Plath, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Virginia Woolf, and other notable female literary geniuses (who were deeply disturbed) is a refreshing and intellectual pleasure, especially for a mystery novel.

I will confess that I was probably the perfect reader for this novel, being interested in tragic literary figures, feminism, and also being an avid mystery reader. This novel may not be for readers who do not share my interests. But if you do, you do not want to miss The Butterfly Sister, by Amy Gail Hansen.

 

 

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

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Sylvie Mason does not live a normal life. Her parents are in the business of paranormal activity-they offer “Help for the Haunted” to those in need, offering prayer and peace to souls in torment. They call themselves demonologists. This, of course, means that Sylvie has never been able to hold onto friends, and she has a hard time fitting in. Critics constantly attack her and her family wherever they travel, and they travel regularly to do talks about the paranormal at conventions and events. Strange people are always seeking the help of the Masons for loved ones who are “haunted” or “possessed”. Sylvie accepts the life she has been born into, but her sister, Rose, is not only skeptical, but highly rebellious and confrontational. Life is strained in the Mason household, and on a night like many others, the Masons receive a phone call and tell Sylvie she is to load up into the family car, without much explanation. Her parents left that car, but they never returned. When Sylvie wakes up, she finds that her entire world is gone, and the mystery surrounding the deaths of her mother and father hangs over her heavily.

When the man originally cleared for the murder of her parents is suddenly cleared by an alibi, Sylvie goes on a mission to find out what truly happened to her mother and father that night, and what has been kept from her by everyone around her for her entire life. This takes her down a path with a conclusion so shocking, readers will be stunned. If you like the paranormal, you will be enthralled by Help for the Haunted, by John Searles, through to the very last page. Readers who love the mystery of Emily Arsenault (Miss Me When I’m Gone and In Search of the Rose Notes) will also enjoy this wonderfully eerie novel. Top marks from this reviewer.

A Half Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb

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A newly divorced art dealer has been commissioned to write a book about renowned artist Charles Aubrey, and he decides to travel to the town where the artist spent summers with his exotic mistress and two daughters, to see if he can find information that will set his book apart from all others. He finds Mitzy Hatcher, who claims to have been in a relationship with Charles Aubrey one summer before tragedy struck and he went off to fight in the war.

The quaint little fishing village seems to be full of secrets, however, and the locals are less than welcoming towards outsiders, especially outsiders who ask a lot of very personal questions about long-standing residents.

Traveling between the present and the past, lacing together the generations, A Half Forgotten Song, by Katherine Webb, is full of mystery and suspense, and just enough historical fiction to be perfection. If you loved The Unseen, by the same author, or you adore pretty much any of Kate Morton’s novels (The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, The House at Riverton, The Secret Keeper), you will NOT want to miss this author or her works.

The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox

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Edward Glyver grew up believing himself to be the son of an authoress and a drunkard, living in near poverty, with no title or status in society. Upon the death of his mother, however, he discovers in her diary that his origins are actually much more scandalous and that he may actually be entitled to much more in life. Before he can claim his status in the world, especially with his true-blood family, he is going to need proof to back up his (and his dead mother’s) claims. So Edward sets out to find solid evidence of his birth and birthright for once and for all, leaving behind his entire life and following leads obsessively. He learns that an old schoolmate-turned-enemy is standing between him and what is rightfully his, and he realizes that by whatever means necessary, his arch-nemesis must be “removed” from the equation.

The Meaning of Night, by Michael Cox,  is a novel of obsession turned psychosis, set in Victorian London. If you love fiction set in the Victorian period, especially of the mystery variety, you will enjoy this novel, but don’t expect the hero to be what you generally expect…This is a tale that smudges the line between protagonist and antagonist, turning the best of men into criminals and making light of serious crimes throughout. The reader will end this book shaking his head and blinking, trying to figure out the puzzle that is this novel, which plays with your sympathies and confuses your sensibilities. Can you feel sorry for a murderer?

 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

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Two women decided to risk their lives to serve Great Britain in effort to end World War II. One is a pilot, the other is an agent specializing in espionage. Proving themselves in a man’s world is the least of the problems these ladies face: one night, during a mission, the plane is shot down and the women are separated beyond enemy lines. One of them is brought into SS custody and placed in a makeshift prison to be tortured for information and held until she can be “dealt with”. The other goes into hiding with a solid plan : find her friend, rescue her, and get the hell out of France.

The situation is very, very dire…But the operation is not hopeless. These amazing women cannot be stopped, and the power of friendship is an impenetrable force. Secret codes, secret operations, espionage, targeting rogue enemy operators, and the strength of two remarkable women fill the pages of Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein.

If you liked reading The Hunger Games trilogy, you are likely to enjoy this novel. Reality is harsh, but inner strength and the power of love drive the heroines through the wreckage. If you can’t handle some allusion to POW torture techniques, however, I recommend you avoid this one. Code Name Verity is considered a Teen novel, but is very adult in nature. If you love espionage, especially with strong heroines, you won’t want to miss this one.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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Nick and Amy Dunne are celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. The day starts out like every other anniversary day…But things go sour fast. Nick comes home to find Amy missing, the furniture in disarray. Amy has disappeared.

The police seem to feel like Nick is the prime suspect, and Nick is cooperating with them as best he can…But he can’t shake the feeling that he’s missing a clue somewhere about what really happened to Amy. Did Nick kill Amy? If not, who did? Or is she alive somewhere? Nick looks for clues as to who is wife really is all around…Who did she talk with recently? Who might have wanted to harm her or take her? What did she do before she disappeared? As Nick begins to examine the truth about his wife’s life, he realizes she may not even be the person he thought she was…An Nick has a few secrets of his own.

This novel is a psychological thriller with emphasis on male/female relationships that will give any reader the creeps. Difficult to find novels to compare with this one because psychological thrillers rarely delve into the minds of husbands and wives so deeply, creating a chilling atmosphere that will leave readers mortified. In other words, an excellent psychological thriller for those of you who enjoy the genre, but be prepared to find something unlike any novel you have ever read.

The Girl Below by Bianca Zander

Suki returns to London after living in New Zealand for a decade, and nothing is as it seems…Which is exactly how Suki remembers it. Shadows aren’t just shadows, statues move around in apartments, and something is hiding in the closets wherever she goes. Suki searches out her old friends, only to find that they have lives that don’t include her. The only truly friendly face is Peggy, who was once Suki’s babysitter and who generously offers her a place to stay, with her mother, Pippa, who is dying from the long-term effects of alcoholism and who needs company once in a while. Suki finds herself being included in the dysfunctional family, and even ends up spending a great deal of time with the very surly teenage son at Peggy’s request.

The past comes back to haunt her, however, and as she finds herself in the same building where her own family fell apart when her father disappeared to another continent to start a new family, she also finds herself remembering events that happened there. A party one night when she was just a girl, an air raid shelter where she nearly died, a locket holding a secret. She can’t seem to put the pieces together all at once, but she is assaulted by the tiniest details.

This novel cannot be placed in any one genre, which makes it remarkably difficult to describe. A touch of the supernatural, a touch of psychological thriller, a touch of women’s literature, all mixed together to keep you turning those pages and trying to put the puzzle pieces together. Is Suki crazy? Is there an explanation for the things that keep happening around her? Whatever happened to the creepy neighbor guy who disappeared? What happened the night of the party she keeps remembering?

If you love literature like Brunonia Barry’s The Lace Reader, you won’t want to miss The Girl Below by Bianca Zander.