First up, The Bear, by Clair Cameron. As with most of the books I love and cherish I can't put down, I first heard about this from Meredith, then forgot about it for years (years?!?! Dramatic much Engelbrecht?) until I randomly saw a copy laying right by the checkout desk at the tiny branch of the library right down the road!! Stars aligned.
Anyway, here were my initial thoughts: Oh my. This was intense. Not as good as Room, but still REALLY good. My heart just broke for Anna. And Stick. And the parents. And the grandpa. And the warden. Just everyone!! It was so intense that I had to read the end first, but then when I got to the end again for reals I was just a blubbery weeping mess. For anyone interested in reading this, it's narrated by a five year old and written accordingly, so if you can't get over the run on sentences and jumping around nonsense, it's not for you. And that's a shame bc this was REALLY good. Oh poor Anna!!
From the back of the book: "The black dog is not scratching. He goes back to his sniffing and huffing and then he starts cracking his bone. Stick and I are huddled tight. . . . It is dark and no Daddy or Mommy and after a while I watch the lids of my eyes close down like jaws."
Told from the point of view of a six-year-old child, The Bear is the story of Anna and her little brother, Stick--two young children forced to fend for themselves in Algonquin Park after a black bear attacks their parents. A gripping and mesmerizing exploration of the child psyche, this is a survival story unlike any other, one that asks what it takes to survive in the wilderness and what happens when predation comes from within.
Two VERY enthusiastic thumbs up.
Next, let's do Shadow and Bone, book one of the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I liked it enough while I was reading it, but it's quickly faded from my mind and I have zero desire to read the other two. If they had them at the library, sure, I might grab it if I was bored, but I won't pay for them on Amazon.
My initial review still holds, although maybe in hindsight I like it a smidge less: Three and a half stars. Decent writing, interesting enough plot, that's really all I'm looking for in a book. It's nothing new or mind blowing, but it was quite fun to lose myself in Alina's story for a few days. Reminded me a little of Queen of the Tearling and made me that much more furious that my damn library STILL doesn't have a copy of Invasion, bc Tearling was WAY better than this. But this was way better than the Never Sky trilogy that I just read. Although I liked that one enough too. What's up with the addiction to young adult trilogy? Thought I'd be over it by now! This one didn't have as much 'love' bullshit as Never Sky, but it was still too much. But again, it was good!! Promise!
From the back of the book: Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life--a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
And lastly, another dud, The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. I don't have much to say besides my goodreads review: Meh. Two stars. Made me feel gross bc I was rooting for an obvious psychopath. Kind of like Dexter. But Dexter never made me feel gross. Well until he killed the lieutenant.
The writing was decent, and I tore thru it- I literally couldn't turn the pages fast enough. But I just don't really love it when all the characters are so awful. And it sort of freaked me out that EVERYONE was a psychopath. I saw this documentary once where they talked about how so many people really are psychos- no empathy or whatever? Guessing maybe they were on to something. Anyway. I wouldn't race to the store to buy this, but it might be fun to see if your library has a copy.
On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing very intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage that’s going stale and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. Ted and his wife were a mismatch from the start—he the rich businessman, she the artistic free spirit—a contrast that once inflamed their passion, but has now become a cliché.
But their game turns a little darker when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.” After all, some people are the kind worth killing, like a lying, stinking, cheating spouse. . . .
Back in Boston, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they begin to plot Miranda's demise. But there are a few things about Lily’s past that she hasn’t shared with Ted, namely her experience in the art and craft of murder, a journey that began in her very precocious youth.
Suddenly these co-conspirators are embroiled in a chilling game of cat-and-mouse, one they both cannot survive . . . with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.
So there you go. I don't regret reading the last two, but with all the fabulous books in the world, I wouldn't actually recommend either one of them.