A Good Marriage
Author: Kimberly McCreight
Published: May 5, 2020
Reviewed By: Jessica
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars
Dates Read: July 17-27, 2020
Big Little Lies meets Presumed Innocent in this riveting novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia, in which a woman’s brutal murder reveals the perilous compromises some couples make—and the secrets they keep—in order to stay together.
Lizzie Kitsakis is working late when she gets the call. Grueling hours are standard at elite law firms like Young & Crane, but they’d be easier to swallow if Lizzie was there voluntarily. Until recently, she’d been a happily underpaid federal prosecutor. That job and her brilliant, devoted husband Sam—she had everything she’d ever wanted. And then, suddenly, it all fell apart.
No. That’s a lie. It wasn’t sudden, was it? Long ago the cracks in Lizzie’s marriage had started to show. She was just good at averting her eyes.
The last thing Lizzie needs right now is a call from an inmate at Rikers asking for help—even if Zach Grayson is an old friend. But Zach is desperate: his wife, Amanda, has been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their Brooklyn brownstone. And Zach’s the primary suspect.
As Lizzie is drawn into the dark heart of idyllic Park Slope, she learns that Zach and Amanda weren’t what they seemed—and that their friends, a close-knit group of fellow parents at the exclusive Grace Hall private school, might be protecting troubling secrets of their own. In the end, she’s left wondering not only whether her own marriage can be saved, but what it means to have a good marriage in the first place.
This was another so-so thriller that had promise. The description is intriguing, but it did not totally deliver for me. It does show one thing that people do their best to hide: Things are not always how they appear. You think your friend has a great marriage? You better think otherwise!
We have multiple points of views for this novel: Lizzie who is an attorney, Amanda the murder victim, grand jury testimonies from the night of the murder, and confidential memos. They normally would all be interesting for me, especially the testimonies where people HAD to be there because they were subpoenaed. It’s all about the secrets people have!
Amanda was murdered after she attended a ‘special party’ of the wealthy in the area. This is where secrets are known and what happens upstairs stays there. Amanda’s husband Zach is arrested for assaulting a police officer after finding her dead, and he is being held under suspicion of Amanda’s murder. He contacts Lizzie as they were old law school buddies: He wants her only her- and only her- to defend him.
Things are far from what they seem and everyone has many secrets. There is even a little side story of cyber-crime where certain people’s (even their teenager’s) secrets may be exposed.
I honestly don’t know what this one did not totally intrigue me, as it has everything that usually does work for me. Maybe I am in a ‘thriller slump’ as the last few I read have not worked for me. I do have several more thrillers upcoming that need to be read, and I am hoping maybe one of those will ‘bring me back’ to really enjoying them again. Maybe it was because this was an audiobook and it just didn’t work well in that format; perhaps this is one that should actually be read. It’s not the book’s fault, it is me in this case. I would definitely give the author another try.
Today Kim and I bring you a double review of Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. Kim enjoyed it while it wasn’t really for me. But this is exactly why we like doing double reviews: Two readers with two very different feelings on a novel!
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires
Author: Grady Hendrix
Published: April 7, 2020
Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.
Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.
But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars
I have really enjoyed every book that I’ve read by Hendrix. He speaks to the darkness in my soul and I just want to embrace it! The Book Club’s Guide is no different. My only real criticism is more personal than it is objective. I know that Hendrix loves a good metaphor and considering how literal and shallow I am, I’m actually pretty good at deciphering them. I honestly have no idea what his metaphor is in this book. I feel really stupid but it’s true. But I’m still pondering so maybe I’ll figure it out. But other than that, I couldn’t put this book down. I read through it very quickly. I felt Patricia’s frustration and anger and desperation come through from every page. I liked how Hendrix didn’t shy away from the more subtle problems that seem to plague the older male generations. They saw women as fragile creatures put on this earth to serve and nurture, not to think or significantly contribute. I personally hate to think that anyone would see me as incompetent or stupid, but I have my own sense of self to fall back on. I made very good grades in school, I have a college degree, I know I have a brain and a relatively high level of intelligence. I also have a husband who would never treat me like and idiot emotional female whose only job is to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Patricia doesn’t seem to have any of that so when even her friends turn on her … dang I felt bad!
This book was intensely written with some crazy parts that made me physically uncomfortable! It also put me in the mood to go back and read My Best Friend’s Exorcism and We Sold Our Souls all over again. This is definitely not a YA book so I’d say keep it away from the teens. But I’d absolutely recommend this book to all my reader friends. There’s something so relatable about an honest, Southern book club filled with true crime and romance novels. Throw in a vampire? Oh yeah, I do need more info on who exactly this vampire is. Where did he come from? How did he become a vampire? Who is he??? Well, I guess Hendrix will have to write another book!
Jessica’s Rating: 2.5 Stars
Dates Read: June 28- July 15, 2020
Format Read: Audiobook
This is a novel that just did not work for me. It is about a group of ladies in a book club which intrigued me and also takes place in the 1990s, so I was looking forward to seeing references to that. But I should have been leery as the book description mentions Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias and I am not really a fan of those types of films. I guess the whole typical/expected southern stereotype just doesn’t work for me.
Patricia’s book club reads all kinds of true crime novels, so her suspicions of newcomer James are a bit out there, but her expectations are proved true. This is a dark and gory novel which did not pick up for me until about 30% was left. That 30% was good, but if you are sensitive about your ears there is one part that was just painful for me to listen to in that last 30%: The author really did his job with his descriptions. I kept touching my ear as if I was in pain!
There are other themes touched on throughout the novel: classism, racism, sexism, but also the closeness of female friendship through a shared love of reading. Though it wasn’t for me, I predict that this would be a fun book to discuss at your monthly book club if you have one.
Engines of the Broken World
Author: Jason Vanhee
Published: November 5, 2013
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 2 stars
Merciful Truth and her brother, Gospel, have just pulled their dead mother into the kitchen and stowed her under the table. It was a long illness, and they wanted to bury her—they did—but it’s far too cold outside, and they know they won’t be able to dig into the frozen ground. The Minister who lives with them, who preaches through his animal form, doesn’t make them feel any better about what they’ve done. Merciful calms her guilty feelings but only until, from the other room, she hears a voice she thought she’d never hear again. It’s her mother’s voice, and it’s singing a lullaby. . . .
What a weird book. The whole time, I just sat, puzzled. This animal that wasn’t an animal, but looked like an animal, but kept changing its appearance to different animals . . . What?? I thought maybe, once the mother started moving and talking even though she was dead, things were gonna get good. Not really at all. I had such high hopes with the cover and the description. But by the end, I was more confused than when I started!
I’m not even sure how to describe what I read. I think it was supposed to be some kind of post apocalyptic tale, but even then, I’m not sure. Different worlds that can communicate with each other, ministers that look like animals but aren’t, snowstorm that shrinks the world. But then it just ends with no resolution. I just didn’t like it. I don’t get what happened. I don’t understand what the author was trying to say. I just don’t know. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this book to anybody.