Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Mind Games: "Survive the Night" by Riley Sager


Wow! I  didn't expect to love this book as much as I did! Riley Sager has written some great books, books that I've thought about long after the final page. I really enjoyed Final Girls and The Last Time I Lied and Survive the Night is maybe my new favorite!

Charlie, named after Teresa Wright's character in Hitchcock's classic Shadow of a Doubt, is looking to take a break from college. Her best friend and roommate, Maddie, was murdered by someone known as the Campus Killer. Charlie feels like it is her fault. An introvert, Maddie helped entice Charlie out of their dorm room, where otherwise, she could happily have spent all her time watching classic movies on VHS. One night, Maddie wants to go out to a bar. Charlie doesn't feel like going out, but finally relents and goes with her. When Maddie leaves her alone to flirt, Charlie storms off. When Maddie tries to persuade her to stay, Charlie calls her a bad friend and walks away, glancing back to see a shadowy male figure lighting a cigarette for Maddie.

Charlie sometimes has spells, where she can't tell if what she's seeing is reality, or a movie scene in her head. So when she's questioned as the last person to see Maddie alive, she can't describe the man she saw, because he may not have been real.

Maddie's boyfriend, Robbie, doesn't understand why she needs to leave. ASAP. He offers to drive her home, to her grandmother, her only family, when the semester ended, but Maddie goes to put an ad on the rideboard at school. There's a guy there, handsome, a slightly older student in a campus hoodie. 
Turns out, he's looking for someone to keep him company on a long drive and he will be going right past where Charlie needs to go, Youngstown, Ohio. He needs to leave that night.
"I can be that someone" she says.
So begins the journey that will take place over the course of a long night. From the moment Charlie gets in the car with Josh, we begin to wonder, along with Charlie, if this was the smartest move she has taken.
This is such a twisty, surprising thrill ride, and we are there, beside Charlie, following that long dark road with a complete stranger, as well as those movie stars also along for the ride, care of Charlie's imagination! This is a perfect book for film lovers who also enjoy a suspenseful thriller that will keep you guessing right up to the end!

Highly recommended! Thanks to NetGalley for the DRC!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Out of the Past: "The Day I Disappeared" by Brandi Reeds


Years before the story begins, there was an accident. A young boy, babysitting his little sister, goes fishing. His sister is asleep, and his parents will never know. He keeps going a little further out, until he realizes he can't hear his sister if she wakes up. Rushing back, he finds her gone. His parents return and blame him, as they search for the missing girl. She is eventually found, drowned in the lake.

Flash ahead to the present. Holly was kidnapped when she was four years old. She was returned, and the man responsible has been behind bars ever since. She had no memory of the 94 days she was missing. Now in her mid-20's, and a carpenter for her father's construction company, she has an on again/off again relationship with her boyfriend, and her mother is in a coma, the result of a possible drunk driving accident. Besides that, her best friend, Kitten, is getting married and Holly is the Maid of Honor. 

In the midst of all this, Holly is contacted by a detective. He is investigating the disappearance of a little girl. In fact, there has been a string of missing girls over the past few years. He wonders if Holly had any memories that could help his investigation. She doesn't remember anything from her kidnapping... or does she? She has flashes of things. Is there any way for her to help? And then there's Kitten's brother, Matt, home from his time in the service. He was older than Holly and Kitten and helped in the search. So did Sterling, Holly's sometime boyfriend. Will Holly remember anything? What about the man in jail? Is there a copycat on the loose? This is such a riveting story I had to keep reading until the very end! This is the first book by Ms. Reeds that I've read, and she is a fantastic writer, drawing you into the world she's created, and keeping you guessing about what happened.
Thanks to NetGalley for the DRC!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Secret Love: "If You, Then Me" by Yvonne Woon


16 year old Xia Chang is something of a computer prodigy. She has created an AI program called "Wiser" that replies to your questions with the advice you might give yourself  when you're older. She lives in Massachusetts with her Mom, a political science professor, who is hardly home, as she works at 4 different colleges.

Except for her neighbor, Gina, Xia is pretty lonely and created Wiser to keep her company. Knowing Wiser is a unique creation, Xia has applied to a school for tech prodigies called "The Foundry". The unthinkable happens and Xia gets a call from the Foundry's director inviting her to join them in California's Silicon Valley at the institute, where all her expenses will be paid as she works on further developing Wiser.

While she waits to break the news to her mother who is going to be a tough sell, she has someone else to share her good news with. ObjectPermanence, her online soulmate, someone whom she's shared her secrets and hopes with, well, while using her own online persona U/ARRAYofLIGHT.

Once her mother finally agrees and Xia is off to the Foundry, we'll share her adventures as she joins the other 19 teens from around the country as they work to build their creations in hopes of startup money and becoming coding rockstars.

I loved this book!  You felt you were part of the new world Xia has entered, and were cheering her on from the sidelines. Xia experiences so much in her new school, and is stronger than she thinks, as she faces the sexism of the largely male tech world and works at trying to fit in and make friends with classmates who are also competitors. There's also the verbal bullying from a couple of entitled white boys who delight in humiliating her right from the start. And there may be a boy, who seems to be someone who "gets" her. Could there be more to him than he seems? Does he like her... or is he just trying to find out the secrets behind her AI?
Then, something happens that takes her in an unexpected direction, at a party,  Xia has a casual meeting  with a young woman, famous for the apps she created, and whom Xia had idolized. What happens next and throughout the rest of Xia's whirlwind trajectory from nonentity to notoriety in this unputdownable story is something you've got to find out yourself!

I haven't read Ms. Woon's previous books, but she has created one of my favorite characters ever in Xia, a young woman so smart and resilient and quick and funny that you'll find yourself wondering about her and her future long after you've turned that last page. This is highly recommended, and one I'll be Militantly Recommending! Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for the DRC!