Tag Archive | Penguin First Reads

REVIEW: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Read: May 30-June 11, 2017

Format: eBook ARC

My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars

Publisher: Dutton

Release Date: July 11, 2017

Genre: Mystery / Thriller

Pages: 352

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.


BOOK TRAILER


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from Penguin First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

 

Final Girls was a good page turning thriller that had me questioning all of the characters, including our heroine, Quincy. However, I went into this book with really high expectations, having been praised by Stephen King as “the first great thriller of 2017”, and was a little disappointed in the end.

Things I loved: The plot. I loved that Quincy couldn’t remember what happened to her the night her friends were all slaughtered. I loved the very idea of The Final Girls. I loved the depth of Quincy’s character, how she coped with the aftermath of the massacre. I really enjoyed getting to see the full story of what happened to Quincy and her friends at the cabin in pieces scattered throughout the story. It was all very solid.

Things I didn’t care for: The ending. I mean, the ending itself was pretty awesome. But I expected a bigger twist. I had a theory that would have been epic, but it didn’t happen that way. The ending is good, I see how it all tied up in the end, but I recently read Gone Girl and was expecting my mind to be blown. Unfortunately, it was not.

So, do I recommend this one? Yes, because it was an enjoyable ride, even if the ending was a little more predictable than I would have preferred.



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QUOTES

(From an advanced release eBook)

The closest he gets to showing affection is on my birthday, when he sends the same text: Another year you almost didn’t get. Live it.

 

I can’t help but wonder what might have happened if Lisa and I had stayed in touch. Maybe we would have eventually met in person. Maybe we could have become friends.


Maybe I could have saved her.

 

Usually he’s simply Jeff, the boyfriend who doesn’t mind cuddling. Who’s a far better cook than I and whose ass looks amazing in the suits he wears to court.

 

While I make the dough for the tarte, I keep checking my hands for signs of blood, certain I’ll find lingering crimson stains across my palms.

 

REVIEW: The Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn

The Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn

Read: July 27 – September 1, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Penguin First Reads)

My Book Rating: 2 Stars

Genre: YA Contemporary / Mystery / Thriller

ABOUT THE BOOK

Sometimes the greater good requires the smaller evil.

17-year-old Arman Dukoff is struggling with severe anxiety and a history of self-loathing when he arrives at an expensive self-help retreat in the remote hills of Big Sur. He’s taken a huge risk—and two-thousand dollars from his meth-head stepfather—for a chance to “evolve,” as Beau, the retreat leader, says.

Beau is complicated. A father figure? A cult leader? A con man? Arman’s not sure, but more than anyone he’s ever met, Beau makes Arman feel something other than what he usually feels—worthless.

The retreat compound is secluded in coastal California mountains among towering redwoods, and when the iron gates close behind him, Arman believes for a moment that he can get better. But the program is a blur of jargon, bizarre rituals, and incomprehensible encounters with a beautiful girl. Arman is certain he’s failing everything. But Beau disagrees; he thinks Arman has a bright future—though he never says at what.

And then, in an instant Arman can’t believe or totally recall, Beau is gone. Suicide? Or murder? Arman was the only witness and now the compound is getting tense. And maybe dangerous.

As the mysteries and paradoxes multiply and the hints become accusations, Arman must rely on the person he’s always trusted the least: himself.


REVIEW

I received an ARC of this book from Penguin First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

 

Basic premise: 17-year-old Arman has a crappy home life and is convinced that he screws everything up. He gets invited to go to this “retreat” by the groups leader, a charismatic father figure named Beau. Arman is led to believe he’s special, but then Beau is gone and Arman has holes in his memory. He’s been injured and doesn’t know how. He’s convinced Beau is dead, but the body is gone. Was it suicide? Did Arman kill him?

First things first, I wanted to read this book because I was convinced this “retreat” is really a cult. (It basically is.) I was intrigued. This is a step outside my normal reading box. And I enjoyed the journey. But this book did not leave me feeling satisfied. It left me wondering what I was supposed to take away. There was a conclusion in the end, we find out what really happened, but… I can’t figure out what the purpose of Arman’s journey was. There was a bunch of philosophical thoughts and ideas, and they just went over my head, I can’t imagine the average teenager taking away what the author meant, if she meant for them to take anything away.

There were also sections of text (un-numbered chapters if you will) in all italics, and I don’t know what it was. I think it was Beau talking to… someone? Maybe Arman? But maybe not? I didn’t get the purpose of it. I need someone to explain it to me!

In the end, this was a very strange book. It was mostly enjoyable, especially when I started to question EVERYTHING, including Arman’s sanity. I can’t give it more than 2 stars though because while the writing was very good, I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, and as I mentioned above, I just can’t figure out what I was supposed to take away from this book.

I’ve read other reviews of this book mention this being the authors strangest book yet, so I would consider checking out one of her other books, because she does have a compelling writing style.


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QUOTES

Faith is an investment, you tell her, when you see she doesn’t understand. You bargain now for what you hope matters later.

“You know what my father used to tell me about fear?”
“What’s that?”
“‘You only fear what you believe will kill you, never what will.’”
Dale stared at him. Then: “Your dad sounds like a dick.”

“Because always taking the easy route means forgetting there could be others. Maybe better ones. You can’t know unless you try.”

“What’s the doctrine of double effect?”

“It’s a philosophical principle that states an immoral act can sometimes be considered moral if the greater good outweighs the smaller evil.”

“Which would you rather believe in: a bad truth or a good lie?”

REVIEW: The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer & Stephen Dyer

The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer & Stephen Dyer

Read: June 9-13, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Genre: New Adult – Modern Pride & Prejudice

 

I received an ARC of this book from Penguin First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

 

When I saw this book up for grabs on Penguin First Reads, I had to have it. Pretty girl in a dress? Debutantes? Yes and YES!

And then I received the book and started reading. Wait a minute…. She’s in college? Wait… How could her parents FORCE her to do this whole debutante thing if she’s a legal adult no longer living under their roof? I was confused.

Early on there is a legitimate reason for Megan going along with her mothers desire for her to make her debut among Texas society, but it still felt like sort of a stretch.

As I read in another review on Goodreads, the targeted audience for this book is confusing. It’s listed as a young adult novel, but it deals with a lot of adult themes that I don’t think most high school kids would identify with. There’s also a lot of sex talk, nothing too graphic, but also really not something all that appropriate for teen books. (Yes, I believe in clean teen reads! I don’t like casual sex in books at all, especially teen books!)

Anyway, once I was able to get past the whole NOT REALLY A TEEN BOOK thing, I started to enjoyed the book. It’s not one that’s going to stay with me forever, but I certainly enjoyed looking for the parallels between this book and Pride & Prejudice. I thought the chapter headings were the best part of the book, witty little one liners such as, “In Which Megan Takes a Long Look in the Mirror” and, “In Which Megan Puts Away Serious Groceries.”

I did appreciate that Megan, who was incredibly prejudiced in the beginning, looking down on the debutante society and all they stand for, was able to gain a new perspective in the end. As I said before, this story won’t stay with me forever, but I always appreciate when the protagonist of the story grows into a better person, and that was very much the case here.

The other thing that bothered me was the lack of interaction between the “Elizabeth” and “Darcy” characters. I wanted more interaction between them, especially earlier on, to really base their relationship/interactions on.

So, would I recommend this book? Yes and No.

I would not recommend The Season to younger teens, but those nearing 18 and through their early 20’s would probably enjoy this book.

Special thanks to Penguin Publishing for the chance to read an advanced e-galley for review.


The Season goes on sale July 12, 2016

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QUOTES

 

Several girls used this pause for a dainty sip of tea. Prissy bitches.

 

If I had to put myself in someone’s hands, better this French lunatic than my mother.

 

I ran for hours, lifted weights, rode my bike everywhere, and now this broad was threatening me with standing for five minutes? Bring it on!

 

“NO! I AM NOT OKAY!” Was I shouting? I couldn’t hear very well because my ears were frozen, but my voice sounded really loud. “I am cold and wet and I look like road kill!”

The douche bag laughed.