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Recently Read: Reviews (August 2018)

Recently Read: Reviews

I’ve been trying to read more novels this year, get myself away from all the nonfiction/business books that have invaded my life. I love being pulled into a story, into a world, into a character’s life, and emerging a different person. That’s the beauty of all books, be it fiction or nonfiction.

Two Steps Forward, by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist

Two Steps Forward, by Graeme Simsion
I loved The Rosie Project. LOVED. I was recommending it to everyone, I loved it so much. So when I saw the author had a new book out, I definitely had to read it. (And the title? Don’t you just love a good play on words?)

Two Steps Forward is told from the points of view of Zoe, an artist from California, and Martin, an engineer from England, as they both set off from the same town in France to walk the Chemin/Camino de Santiago. In February. It’s a rather impulsive decision for both of them. Along the way, we meet a cast of characters, everyone walking for their own reasons.

I had never heard of the Camino de Santiago, but being someone who’s easily influenced, this book definitely made me want to go backpacking somewhere, and maybe do the Camino one day.

Story-wise, it doesn’t pack the same punch for me as The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect did. Currently, I’m in a place where I feel like I’m taking two steps forward, one step back. I was expecting it to resonate more profoundly, to inspire me in my soul-searching. What I got was a decently enjoyable story about other people discovering themselves and getting their shit together. The characters didn’t pull me in as much as I would’ve liked, but the descriptions of the route and little towns made up for that. 4 stars.

The Coincidence Makers, by Yoav Blum

The Coincidence Makers, by Yoav Blum
The premise of this book drew me in immediately. This is a world where all coincidences are carefully orchestrated events designed to keep you on the path to your destiny, where coincidence makers work hard to ensure you are at the right place at the right time. I love the concept so much. It’s ripe for debate and contemplation about free will versus the Universe/God’s plan.

I enjoyed the world the author created in The Coincidence Makers much more than I cared for the characters. That’s not to say I didn’t like the characters, but as with Two Steps Forward, the characters didn’t draw me in and hold me tight. I wasn’t emotionally invested through the whole story; the scenes where I became emotionally invested almost seemed out of the blue, definitely not built up to it.

I love any book that makes me rethink how I view the world, and this is definitely one of them. And it’ll always hold a special place in my heart because there was a scene in it that inspired me to finally start writing my book (!).

The Last Time I Lied, by Riley Sager

The Last Time I Lied, by Riley Sager
I picked up this book on a whim. I had been disappointed by the last psychological thriller I read that I wasn’t sure I was ready to do this again. And I don’t really like stories written in the first person; I believe truth and reality are relative, so only seeing one side of the story makes me question everything because I can’t fully trust the narrator. Regardless, I’m pretty happy with the book.

The Last Time I Lied is about Emma, an artist who was involved in a horrific incident at summer camp 15 years ago, and returns to the same camp again, to solve the mystery of all her bunk mates disappearing on the Fourth of July. She doesn’t know who to trust, and she also has secrets of her own. When things start happening again, can she even trust herself?

I’m not a big fan of thrillers where the main character has a mental illness (especially female characters) that might mean she’s hallucinating events. It seems like a cop-out, such a trite way to build suspense and uncertainty. Also, I thought there were a few too many characters. Most of the characters presented as possible suspects didn’t seem suspect at all. They also seemed sort of irrelevant to the plot, except for maybe at one or two points, but those points weren’t even pivotal ones. The ending was more plausible than Woman in the Window, so it at least has that going for it. I did love the imagery and the description of the camp; it was vivid and made me feel like I was there in the woods with them.

Thoughts

I liked all three! I’m considering getting myself a copy of The Coincidence Makers, to have as a keepsake. And also as a reminder of my inspiration to write my own book :). I can’t believe I’ve been reading nonfiction for years, forgetting how amazing fiction can be. Now more than ever, I need to read more novels. How else am I going to write a good book?

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Do you have any recommendations?

 

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Comments (2)

  • Lyn 4 weeks ago Reply

    Thanks for these reviews, Lily. It’s always good to hear other people’s opinions about books and to be alerted to new possibilities. I love reading fiction books which take me out of my own life for a while so I’ve made a note your first two books. My eldest daughter did the Camino a few years ago and her tales certainly made me want to try it too. We were lucky enough to hear little snippets from her quite regularly during the walk. One day she said “the only decision I had to make today was whether or not to buy a tomato” (from a roadside stall.) A bit later she added “I didn’t buy it.”

    Lily 4 weeks ago Reply

    Hi Lyn! I love reviews for the exact same reasons; I find so many great books from other people’s reviews. Enjoy those books! And what a lovely story about your daughter, I hope you get to walk the Camino soon and share your experience! I’m not sure I’ll be able to fit it in for a while, but it’s definitely on my radar now.

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