How To Make Friends With The Dark – Kathleen Glasgow Quick Review

How To Make Friends With The Dark - Kathleen Glasgow Quick Review
How To Make Friends With The Dark – Kathleen Glasgow Quick Review

How To Make Friends With The Dark – Kathleen Glasgow Quick Review

16 year old Tiger is concerned about normal teenage things. Her clothes, her best friend, a boy, a dance, a kiss. Then one day, her mother dies. And she is alone. And nothing that mattered before, mattered anymore. This book is a guide to grief. What you might go through, what others go through, how it will feel in the dark, how dark and isolated it can be. How one person came to terms with it and continued life not on the other side of it but beyond the beginning. Embracing the dark and the grief that remains after it enters your life.

How To Make Friends With The Dark is a wonderfully heartbreaking, tough and hopeful book. One that I could not read in one sitting. This book requires breaks. Tigers grief is hard to be pulled into for too long. The pacing converges into this, a bit strange, cyclical or unpredictable out of the blue, but in a way that makes sense and adds realness to the story. Tiger’s mother has died and with her Tiger has lost normalcy – routine, predictability. It gets slow. You’re afloat with Tiger, you’re close to her thoughts, and all at once something is happening that feels out of her control and the the pace hurtles forward.

Kathleen Glasgow seems to know how exactly to push all m emotional buttons. She goes in on issues – death, grief, depression, suicide, sickness, abuse, addiction. Tiger gets deep, down into the dark. The new lows she reaches dealing new perspective not just to her but for me as the reader.

Highlights:

  • Strong, complicated and varied forms of female relationships.
  • Some things aren’t resolved outright, as it tends to not in life.
  • While there was a budding romance, there is no push into pursuing the previous or new which I appreciated. Tiger didn’t need a romance to take over this story. She had enough on her plate.
  • Tiger’s mom, June, wasn’t depicted as perfect. Neither was the relationship between mother and daughter before her death. June was complicated and had lived with her own life and grief and had her own faults. She wasn’t the best mother but she was Tiger’s, and her loss was devastating nonetheless.
  • Told in an effective and engaging manner where I felt that even if I didn’t relate to or particularly like a character, I could still feel for them which really highlights the honesty and empathy embedded into the book.
  • Grief didn’t feel like isolation in the end. It felt like a community. Something no one goes through truly alone. Something you won’t get past but can pull yourself up from.

Lowlights:

  • It’s not a quick or easy read. The visceral and gut-wrenching nature of it takes time.
  • The pacing at times added to the difficulty getting through the book. Sometimes mundane and repetitive and too much into Tiger’s thoughts with few events for too long.

– 4/5 Raw, dark, messy and relatable. A guide to grief.

Buy it – How To Make Friends With The Dark

 

 

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The Night Before – Wendy Walker Quick Review

The Night Before - Wendy Walker Quick Review
The Night Before – Wendy Walker Quick Review

The Night Before – Wendy Walker Quick Review

When her relationship comes to a sudden end, Laura Lochner escapes city life for her sisters house in the suburbs. Despite the lack of luck she’s had in love, with the support of her sister Rosie, Laura pushes herself to try again. She’s met someone online. When she doesn’t return from her date the morning after, Rosie is left trying to piece together what could have happened to Laura… or what Laura could have done to her date.

The Night Before is separated between Laura’s past therapy sessions, Laura’s present POV, Laura’s POV from the night before and Rosie’s present POV. It sounds like a potentially clustered mess of chapters but I promise you, it is very easy to follow and the different POV’s worked well to serve the purpose of the book.

I could not stop reading this book. I flew through it all in one night, pulled in and consumed by the mystery. It was all the qualities I tend to fall in love with; emotionally resonant themes, characters and events, an unreliable narrator, intriguing twists and turns that had me changing my perception again and again and again.

Though I am new to Walker’s work, I could see her skill at evoking unease and dread, keeping the suspense and mystery building. Using carefully drawn out personal details and past events to color the characters and add to the way the readers view their actions. The subtle word choices that could be read as honesty or guilt or innocence or as a threat. The troubled girl who could be victim or predator just as easily. Who is the dangerous one? Laura? Jonathan Fielding, a stranger that Laura met online, who she’s alone with and vulnerable with, who she could potentially know nothing about? Are we being led to disregard Laura’s ability to be a victim because of how she and others perceive her?

There is no shortage of clever misdirection utilized. Honestly, I suspected several people, almost everyone, in turns which made the revelations at the end satisfying and the extent of it all surprising.

The two POV characters are convincingly their own voices. The rest felt mostly like background characters as the focus was for the most part on the two women and told in first person.

The one thing I had some trouble with (which I won’t go into much as I don’t want to give anything away) were some of the character decision making and opinions that felt kind of like odd leaps. There was also a lot of backstory, internal monologuey, telling but it was used well and definitely helped with some aspects of keeping up the story’s mystery.

This was a great read. I really recommend it. It’s short, it’s compelling and it’s psychologically dark.

*I have received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

– 4/5 The Night Before checks all of my psychological thriller boxes. It’s twisty, tense and the writing pulls you in and makes you question everything.

Buy it – The Night Before

 

 

I’ll Be Watching You – Courtney Evan Tate Quick Review

I’ll Be Watching You - Courtney Evan Tate Quick Review
I’ll Be Watching You – Courtney Evan Tate Quick Review

I’ll Be Watching You – Courtney Evan Tate Quick Review

Emmy Fisher lives with her 15 year old daughter Leah in a small Florida town where she owns and runs a beach-side inn. They live quiet and idyllic, uneventful lives. Mother and daughter sharing a close bond. When one day Leah goes out into the water and never returns, Police rule her death a drowning despite not finding a body. But Emmy finds that, despite their closeness, Leah did not share everything with her and her dark secrets might be the reason she’s disappeared.

I’ll Be Watching You is told between mother and daughter in present and past. The story is easy to follow despite the frequent POV shifts and time jumps. Tate’s writing really pulls through what is a pretty saturated story and genre. This standard light mystery has a fast paced, to the point, tight plot and gets dark and twisted in a hurry. It turned out to be another of the few books I’ve devoured in one sitting this year.

Both POV’s build tension. The mother’s POV emotionally touching and gut wrenching at times as she deals with grief and the motherly instincts to protect her daughter. The daughters piles questions for the reader and though she makes some infuriating decisions is rounded off with a good dose of growth by the end of the book. Both experiences are told and felt with a level of authenticity and relatability.

The end reveal was not super surprising but was satisfying. There are so many adult males in Leah’s life that the suspect list is lengthy but there are clever tells and diversions throughout. The ending itself was warm and satisfying despite the delve into a few hard to believe places. Did I need the forced relationship in the end? Probably not – but I did kind of like the fuzzy, sweet, everything worked out note the story closed on.

– 3/5 A quick and simple missing child mystery with a tight plot and satisfying reveal.

Buy it – I’ll Be Watching You

The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon Quick Review

The Priory of the Orange Tree - Samantha Shannon Quick Review
The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon Quick Review

The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon Quick Review

The world of The Priory of the Orange Tree holds its breath for the return of an ancient enemy. Divided, the different lands hold tense and tenuous relationships. Something is stirring, the likes of which the world has not faced in a thousand years. Ead, Tané and Queen Sabran each must play a part to save civilization from falling into the clutches of the Nameless One.

Dragons, magic, politics, pirates and battles. The Priory of the Orange Tree was exactly the kind of epic fantasy world I was craving to sink into. I devoured the sizeable book (which literally hurt to hold up for extended periods of time) as quickly as I could read. Notes in tow. Pages of notes. It had been so long since I’d delved into a complicated world that I had to make notes to avoid constant confusion during the first third of the book.

Packed full of interesting depth and detailed world building, it certainly delivered. The magic was interesting. The history rich and the scope of the plot spanned across several characters, cultures and objectives, throughout a whole continent.

It was evident Shannon mixed and diverted from the classics with modern ideals.The characters were diverse, not just in appearance but in complexities of their personal lives, relationships and dilemmas. There was no shortage of strong capable characters with lots of girl power packed in which was a nice change to the typical setting. People didn’t feel constrained due to gender rather, if they were held back it was because of circumstance.

The characters were also quite well into adulthood which was another nice shift from other stories of the same kind. The roles typically kept for coming of age characters as if teenage years are the only point in time in which you experience significant growth. I appreciated the youthfulness displayed in these late 20 – early 30 somethings.

Ead and Sabran’s love story was an appreciated natural and complicated romance. Tané and Ead were favorites of mine in particular. I really rooted for their personal journeys.

The downsides? The pacing felt a little off at times. Too drawn out due to the scope of the plot which resulted in some lukewarm feelings about major events at times. Character deaths felt sudden, almost quickly brushed away which left me feeling unmoved by them though the impacts on connected characters were supposed to be deeply altering. It felt a bit like a culling of no longer plot necessary characters in a large cast.

I think perhaps the battles suffered a little from similar pacing issues. This resulted in the ending battle falling a little flat as it felt short and small compared to some other scenes.

Some of the plot twists unfortunately seemed not very well planned or perhaps given little setup in order for them to be surprising which, to me, felt a bit like cheating. Then came the lengthy explanations post big reveal. I personally prefer when twists are entwined and embedded through the story. When done well, even if they aren’t totally surprising, they’re satisfying.

The ending of the book was satisfying enough but left me with some lingering questions. I hope this world will be revisited. I’m not sure if this book will be serialized or extended but I would definitely love to read about it again.

– 4/5 To make short of a massive book, it was worth the read and time. Though lacking in some areas, the world building and detail was enough to mostly overlook its shortcomings.

Buy it – The Priory of the Orange Tree