Posted in Julie Clark

The Last Flight by Julie Clark

I just turned the last page of The Last Flight and I’m at a loss for words. I here declare my forever loyalty to this writer and promise to read every single book that she releases 🤩

10 pages into this book and my heart was already in my throat! Whaaaat a ride it has been! The whole book, every single page, every phrase buzzes with electricity, keeping your heart pounding and giving you permanent goosebumps. Even the recollections from the past, the side stories that should throw a wave of calmness and nostalgia don’t manage to dissolve for a second the tension and suspense.

And compared to most of the thrillers published in the last few years, the character’s portraits are anything but bland or stereotypical. I’m absolutely mesmerized by the depth of the two heroines’ personalities and how the author managed to merge the incredible tension with such profound backgrounds, detailed psychological features and intense and relevant message for the present days.

There is absolutely nothing missing from this book, nothing that feels missmatched or inaccurate. Every action, every trait, every step that either Claire or Eva take are deeply rooted in their past, from their childhoods to their recent years. I’m not even sure if some other readers will feel like some parts of the protagonists’ personalities have negative sides. Perhaps Eva might look too dark and too cold or Claire too paranoid and weak. But for me, the background given to them was so well depicted that makes it impossible to judge them even for a second or to feel like they would have had any other choices at any given time.

And over everything else, you can’t stop feeling their fear constantly, like a heavy blanket that covers everything they do, think or feel. Both Claire’s and Eva’s fear feels like a drowning moment on a loop, over and over again. Impossible to forget for even a moment, impossible to be completely free or relaxed even during the simplest activities. Whatever actions they take, whatever thoughts they have, they feel like gulps of air taken between desperate attempts to move, to survive. And yet, both of them find enough strength to fight, to find ways, to give themselves a chance to calculate the difference between reality and the paranoid thoughts seeded inside their minds by the constant terror.

I loved the side characters as well, how colorful they were sketched and how well the writer illustrates the impact of their choices over the lives of Claire and Eva. How a small gesture for someone can mean the world for someone else.

I don’t even know how to end this review, other than highly recommending it. I feel like nothing I could say gives enough justice to how intense the book is or to the way it will throw you on a roller coaster of emotions from the first to the last page.

Posted in Liane Moriarty

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Some books just don’t give you that addiction feeling that doesn’t let you to put the book down until you don’t find out what happens next or until you’ve finished one more chapter. But in the same time, they are so cozy and comfortable to read that you wouldn’t mind if they would last forever.

This was the case for me with Nine Perfect Strangers. The book doesn’t have any wow factor, it’s not mind blowing in any way. Everything is balanced and mild: the drama, the characters, the mystery. But in the same time, slowly, with every page you read, you get attached to each one of the completely normal and non-spectacular characters, you want to find out more about their boring lives and just dive deeper into their minds. They’re all absolutely normal people, but they’re all nice and funny and the connection that forms between them creates the same pleasant atmosphere.

I’ve read other books from the same author and until now, Nine Perfect Strangers was the most superficial of them all. You know those thin commercial books that used to come when you were buying women magazines in the 90’s? This novel has the exact same vibe. Light, summer read that keeps you entertained enough but without leaving any marks in your memory once you’ve finished it. I wasn’t disappointed by reading it but it’s clearly not the book that I would enthusiastically talk about.

Posted in Trish Harnetiaux

The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux

This book felt very much like a shot of alcohol: super fast and surprisingly intense, you’re finishing it before you even know it and it gives you no time to get bored or lose your interest.

Yes, the story doesn’t go super deep and it might feel more like a short story or novella instead of a full length novel despite the decent number of pages. However, it definitely doesn’t feel rushed or incomplete. Perhaps it’s not offering a lot when it comes to people’ motivations or complex descriptions, but it brings a clear view of the actions happening and colorful enough portraits of the main characters. And by colorful I believe it is the best way to describe the individuals that we’re encountering in The Secret Santa. Nobody could argue that their personalities are the most genuine, but in the same time, they’re not annoyingly unbelievable also. It feels like the author took some very normal features and just exaggerated them enough to make a statement, but not to the point where the characters turn to caricatures. I encountered this technique before with other authors and always loved it. It’s like the characters themselves become the definition of certain traits: ambition, platitude, stubbornness, revenge, etc. But in the same time, they are portrayed with enough colors to give them full personalities. Frankly, you’ll never meet in real life such unidirectional personalities but for sure you won’t mind loving them or hating them when you’re reading about them.

As long as you don’t start the book expecting a deep dive, but instead, a light and catchy story, I’m sure you’ll be enjoying it a lot and find very little things to judge or to dislike.

Posted in Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I was not intending to read this book, but after watching the TV series, what eventually convinced me otherwise was the fact that… it seemed like my sympathies laid on the wrong side. Between the readers, there will always be Team A or Team B (remember Twilight?) but usually this happens when both options are reasonable and do not fall under the “villain” category. After watching the TV series, completely empathizing with Elena Richardson and almost hating Mia Warren, I discovered with shock that most of the people had a complete opposite opinion. Like.. Elena was the bad one?! Did we really watch the same thing?
So I started the book just to see if it will leave me with the same perspective or offer some additional details that might explain why most of the people had a different point of view.

Although you might expect the opposite when it comes to a book versus its adaptation, I felt like this time, the screenplay offered somehow an ampler spectrum of the main characters’ colors. In the book, Elena’s actions are clearly throwing her in the villain’s role, without giving too much depth to her reasons. By comparison, Mia’s lack of color makes you sympathetic to her cause without the justification of any actions, but simply because of the role she’s playing: the single, poor, but dignified mother that’s just trying to raise her daughter in the best way and… doesn’t really do much else.

In the TV series, my perception was different. Mia is selfish, sacrificing her daughter’s happiness and stability on the altar of her own career dreams. She stabs Elena in the back, she sets off a custody battle because of her own past trauma and without actually thinking about the well-being of the baby, she subtly manipulates and uses people around her. Yes, some of Elena’s actions are questionable as well, but only after she’s been provoked by Mia and usually have a “the end justifies the means” vibe. But overall, Elena just fights in a fairer way, with more direct hits. And even though her portrait might be simpler than Mia’s, who is this hipster-ish, gipsy-at-heart, mysterious and misunderstood artist, I stand by Elena’s cause. Although she sacrificed her own dreams for the sake of the family, I did love the fact that she had a strong attitude and turned the situation in the best way, without victimizing herself, despite having some regrets at an unconscious level. Meanwhile, Mia sacrifices everyone around her (her parents, the Ryan couple, Bebe Chow, the disputed baby, her own daugheter) for the sake of her own dreams and beliefs, without any doubts or remorse.

I also loved the portrayal of the other characters more in the TV series than in the book. All of the side characters and all of the kids’ experiences (both Pearl’s and the Richardsons’) are more lively and intense, you get to know them deeper and overall, the TV series just does it better. I feel like the book is covered by a veil that makes everything and everyone faded and blury, while the screenplay removed that veil and allowed the action to shine bright and colorful.

Posted in Jackie Morrissey

Before I Die by Jackie Morrissey

What a delightful read this was! Before I Die offers such a fresh and original perspective, bringing a very unexpected character as a protagonist. Most of the times, when an old person is the main character of a book, the action takes place somewhere in the past, developing mostly from the memories, when that character was young, strong and adventurous. That’s not the case in Before I Die, where Maureen is an old teacher with zero special detective abilities, with no special training to deal with crazy or wicked people and with nothing more than an ordinary life for a person of her age.

Moreover, her age starts becoming a disadvantage since people around her are beginning to doubt her mental capacity. So much actually, that at some point, Maureen herself begins to wonder if her intuition is correct or if she’s imagining everything. So when Maureen gets tangled in the spiderweb of what seems to be an absolute evil caretaker, she’s clearly completely unprepared for such a fight. And her one and only ally? A homeless drug addict…

The mystery/crime fiction has brought before older characters that play the role of the detective. Mostly amateurs with some kind of experience or retired police officers or private investigators. But it’s the first time when I’m encountering such an innocent and “unqualified” protagonist for such a story. And the author does an amazing job on illustrating how difficult it is for an absolutely common person to be put in a situation where she has to deal with a diabolical villain. 

I’m also in an awe regarding Maureen’s new friend, Michael. A typical drug addict: zero self control, questionable morality, falling for every impulsive need, totally unreliable. There’s little to nothing to like about him. But somehow, his devotion for the old, kind Maureen, mixed with his own survival instinct is enough to start pushing him to the right path and to make the reader grow more and more sympathy towards him. The blooming friendship between such opposite personalities is contoured in realistic shades, with ups and downs, with doubts, fears and disappointments, but ends up being one of the sweetest aspects of the book. 

The action is well balanced, with enough suspense to keep you hooked but without being rushed. Perhaps not completely surprising, but definitely well enough written and entertaining.

I enjoyed each page, each turn of the action and can’t wait to try some other books of Jackie Morrissey.