The Maidens by Alex Michaelides Book Review

Author Information

Alex Michaelides was born and raised in Cyprus. He has an M.A. in English literature from Trinity College, Cambridge University, and an M.A. in screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. The Silent Patient was his first novel and was the biggest-selling debut in the world in 2019. It spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list and sold in a record-breaking forty-nine countries. Alex lives in London.

Book Description

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life. 

Review

Thank you to Celadon Books, Netgalley and Macmillan Audio for the advanced reader and advanced listening copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thoughts and Themes: I rarely read mystery books and I haven’t read many since I was a teenager. I used to love this type of book so I’ve been trying to get into them again. I listened to this one on audiobook and I believe that I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had read the book.

I’m not a big fan of the way that the mystery unravels itself in the end of the book, I was really enjoying it until the last hour of listening. I found that this portion of the book sped up but it also was a little off to me. I found that the book kept speeding up while they were close to figuring things out only to slow back down with filler information. While I like twists and turns in the book, I would like the tension to remain in the story without it feeling like it was gone.

Something that I did enjoy about this book was the way that Greek Mythology was weaved into the murder mystery. While the beginning of this story was slow to start because it had to introduce the murder mystery and the Greek aspects, I found that the best part to read.

Characters: In this book you get to meet a few characters as they are interreacting with Mariana. I liked Mariana as a main character and found that she was easy to follow along with. I liked getting to learn a bit from her past and also see how that past informs the way she investigates this murder.

I also liked the short pieces that we get from the male perspective. I thought those pieces were just the right amount of creepy and the way they are written kind of deter you from figuring out who did it.

I wasn’t really invested in any of the characters throughout this book. I wanted to like Mariana but she was just the character we needed to tell the story to me. I did like Zoe though and really wanted to believe the best of her even as Mariana starts to doubt her. I like the relationship that Mariana has with Zoe and also the relationships we get to see that Mariana has with some of her patients.

Writing Style: This story is told in third person when it is about Mariana and then it switches to first person when it is the male perspective. I thought this was an interesting way to write this because it makes you feel like the male is our narrator for the rest of the story. I wondered if this was the case and someone was watching Mariana’s every move throughout the book. I really liked having the shift in point of view included because it throws you off and it also makes you question the reliability of our narrator.

I liked that the way this book is written makes you question who is believable. I was wondering the whole time if I should believe what Mariana thinks or what those around her are trying to tell her. I liked that Mariana is a therapist because that makes you think that she must be reliable. The way that the book sets up this story makes you believe that she is the only one who is reliable throughout this whole story. It really isn’t until the end of the book that you start to think about how reliable Mariana is.

Fat Chance Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado Book Tour Post

I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by HearOurVoicesBookTours . Make sure you check out the rest of the posts that are a part of this tour by looking at the schedule for the tour found here. 

Author Information

Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author with a lot of feelings. Her debut novel, FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA (Holiday House), will be released on Feb. 2, 2021.

By day, she is a social media manager working in higher ed, and by night, a writer who loves Beyoncé, shopping, the internet, and being extra.

She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog. 

You can find Crystal Maldonado at:

Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Website ~ Goodreads

Book Description

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Release Date: February 2, 2021

Genre: YA Fiction

Book Info:

Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard.

Harder when your whole life is on fire, though.

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

A sensitive, funny, and painful coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.

You Can Find this Book at:

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble  ~ Bookshop.org

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I normally write my reviews as I read the book so that I don’t forget anything about them. I did this one differently though because I didn’t want to put it down even to take notes. I just highlighted all the important things in my kindle and most of my notes are exclamation marks or emojis.

There are so many themes that are explored throughout this book, weight issues, anxiety, self-esteem, jealousy, and friendship. I really enjoyed the way that each of these themes are tackled and how we get each of these themes through multiple characters.

I liked that this book focuses on weight issues and we have a fat main character who isn’t trying to change herself. I like that rather than lose weight through the course of this story or give in to what society and her mother wants, Charlie learns to love herself and immerse herself in the body positivity community online.

I also like the conversations that Charlie has with Amelia, and with Brian. I think we get to see a lot of her in those conversations and this is where we see her insecurities. I liked how we see those insecurities and we see both Amelia and Brian try to lift her but also struggle with the way she talks about herself.

I just want and need more happy ending for Latinxs, and stories that are just full of joy for us.

Characters: Throughout this story you are introduced to a wide range of characters who I really enjoyed. There is just one character that is really hard to love but in the end I like what they did with the character.

I really liked the complexity of Charlie and Amelia’s friendship and how Charlie waited so long to tell Amelia how she felt. I also like the way Charlie just assumed that Amelia had no problems because everyone thinks she’s beautiful. Their relationship reminded me of the relationship that I have with my best friend but thankfully we were never into the same people.

I had a hard time with Charlie’s mother because of how she treated Charlie due to the way she saw herself and the internalized fatphobia. It was hard to like her even at the closing of the story but what I did enjoy is that things didn’t magically get fixed between them. I liked that the mother and daughter relationship was complicated from start to finish because it felt real.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Charlie and Brian, with my favorite part being that the whole story wasn’t revolving around this. I loved that the book points out how important it is to find ways to love yourself and not only because someone else loves you. I thought it was nice to see the progression of their relationship and see the difficulties that they face due to Charlie’s insecurities.

Writing Style: This story is told in the first person through Charlie’s perspective which I love. I liked that through this whole story we are in Charlie’s mind and seeing what she thinks about everything happening around her and to her. I thought it was great that we didn’t get to know how Brian felt about Charlie’s actions or even how Amelia felt unless they shared with Charlie. I think because you are only getting her perspective it allows you to feel for her each time something goes wrong.

Grown Ups Book Review

Summary: Jenny McLaine is an adult. Supposedly. At thirty-five she owns her own house, writes for a cool magazine and has hilarious friends just a message away.

But the thing is:

• She can’t actually afford her house since her criminally sexy ex-boyfriend Art left,

• her best friend Kelly is clearly trying to break up with her,

• she’s so frazzled trying to keep up with everything you can practically hear her nerves jangling,

• she spends all day online-stalking women with beautiful lives as her career goes down the drain.

And now her mother has appeared on her doorstep, unbidden, to save the day…

Is Jenny ready to grow up and save herself this time?

Deliciously candid and gloriously heartfelt, ADULTS is the story of one woman learning how to fall back in love with her life. It will remind you that when the world throws you a curve ball (or nine), it may take friendship, gin & tonics or even your mother to bring you back…

Thoughts: Thanks to scout press for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my review.

The book starts off a bit slow and its just a woman’s daily life. Jenny is very immature and you can tell in the way she thinks and her actions. You also get a glimpse of how self-absorbed she is through her obsession with social media. Jenny wants her life to look a certain way to others and when she can no longer fake that ideal life, she starts breaking down.

It feels like your in her head with her and she’s a very nervous person so you feel all of her feelings. By giving you Jenny’s every thought with no filter, its as if you are there with her. This was something that I actually did enjoy. Reading through Jenny’s perspective made other characters stand out and I felt bad that they had to deal with her.

My favorite part of this book was the other characters that are introduced throughout. I love the way that Jenny paints each of the people in her life and how frustrated they all are with her. I like how they all try to please her but at one point they realize that she’s too much and she needs to grow up.

The way she treated others and the things she does and say really made me dislike Jenny as a character. She was very childish and way too self absorbed. I found that a lot of the things she did were just bothersome and her life was very mundane. The main reason as to why I didn’t like this book was because we got way too much of Jenny.

I think that people who enjoy reading books about social media, woman having mid life crisis, and books with no real plot would enjoy this book. You can get this book at Eso Won Books or look for it at your local library.

Layover Book Review

Goodreads Summary: Joshua Fields takes the same flights every week for work. His life is a series of departures and arrivals, hotels and airports. During yet another layover, Joshua meets Morgan, a beautiful stranger with whom he feels an immediate connection. When it’s time for their flights, Morgan gets up to leave, leans over and passionately kisses Joshua, lamenting that they’ll never see each other again.

As Morgan slips away, Joshua is left feeling confused by what just happened between them. That’s when he looks up and is shocked to see Morgan’s face flashing on a nearby TV screen. He’s even more shocked when he learns the reason why–Morgan is a missing person.

What follows is a whirlwind, fast-paced journey filled with lies, deceit, and secrets to discover the truth about why Morgan is on the run. But when he finally thinks every mystery is solved, another rears its head, and Joshua’s worst enemy may be his own assumptions about those around him…

Thoughts: This was another book that I followed along with the book while listening to on audio which I found was a great way to read this book. There were so many moving parts in this book that I found it great to pause the audio and re-read certain portions in the book.

Part One: In this section of the book you are introduced to all of the characters that are going to play a significant role in the search for this missing person. You get to meet Joshua, a guy in his mid twenties who typically keeps to himself and hates his life, Kimberly, a detective who is a single mother that works on missing people cases, and Morgan who has been claimed as a missing person. Joshua and Morgan meet at a random encounter at the airport and Joshua does something completely out of character and follows her onto her flight. It isn’t until later that he is concerned and obsesses over her case as he finds out that she has been reported as a missing person.

I like how the characters are introduced to you slowly and you get to see them interact with other people before they interact with each other. I like how you get to see Joshua interact with others and his thought process and how that differs drastically from the actions he takes with Morgan. I also really enjoy how you are hearing Morgan’s story through her interactions with Joshua and you can begin to guess why she has taken the actions that she has.

So far this book has just confused me and I am unsure of what is really going on. I am unsure if Morgan is a real person that Joshua is interacting with or if this is a figment of his imagination. Maybe Joshua creates Morgan so that his life is more interesting and everyone around him is just going along with him or ignoring his strange actions.

I really enjoy the parts that you learn more about Morgan and about why she is a missing person. I like the circumstances that lead to her actions and to her responses to Joshua. I think it is interesting to try and figure out what Joshua is thinking as he continues following the story of this woman.

Part two: In this section of the book another mystery is revealed and you start to find out that the mystery of Morgan being a missing person is a lot more complicated than you originally thought. This part makes the book really pick up and takes you through a roller coaster ride of feelings and thoughts.

I really enjoy the way things stack onto each other and how the mystery becomes more complicated before it gets anywhere near being solved. I love that you think that the book is almost done to only find out that you are just halfway through this book.

Part three: This portion of the book wraps up the story as everyone gets involved in the story of two missing people. I don’t want to put any spoilers so I won’t say how this ends. It does have a great closure and the story does come together quite well. I think they did a good job explaining the whole thing and I liked how characters explained their actions.

Overall: I like that the pace of this book is very slow and easy to follow along. The narrator was great to listen to and their voice was smooth and easy going. The way that characters were slowly introduced into the story was well done and smooth.

I like how each scene gets its own chapter and there is space to take each of these scenes in. I really enjoy how you can get through the chapters quickly and it makes you feel like you are reading this book quickly. I also like how it transitions smoothly between a chapter of Joshua and Morgan, Joshua on his own, and Kimberly.

I really like how the book goes back and forth between the story from Joshua’s perspective and Kimberly’s perspective. I like how you get to know not just their ties to the story of Morgan but also their lives beyond that. I really enjoy the moment that their two lives get wrapped up with each other because of the mystery. I liked how the two stories came together and the reasons why Kimberly was searching not just for Morgon but also for Joshua now.

You can get this book at Eso Won Books or look for it at your local library.

The Big Finish Book Review

GoodReads Summary: For Duffy Sinclair, life boils down to one simple thing: maintaining his residence at the idyllic Centennial Assisted Living. Without it, he’s destined for the roach-infested nursing home down the road—and after wasting the first eighty-eight years of his life, he refuses to waste away for the rest. So, he keeps his shenanigans to the bare minimum with the help of his straight-laced best friend and roommate, Carl Upton.

But when Carl’s granddaughter Josie climbs through their bedroom window with booze on her breath and a black eye, Duffy’s faced with trouble that’s sticking around and hard to hide—from Centennial’s management and Josie’s toxic boyfriend. Before he knows it, he’s running a covert operation that includes hitchhiking and barhopping.

He might as well write himself a one-way ticket to the nursing home…or the morgue. Yet Duffy’s all in. Because thanks to an unlikely friendship that becomes fast family—his life doesn’t boil down the same anymore. Not when he finally has a chance to leave a legacy.

Have the tissues ready when you read this book

Thoughts: Thank you to Berkley Books and Penguin Random House for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review.

I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t enjoy this book since it started off pretty slow but was pleased to find how attached I was to each of the characters at the half way point. I was also worried because at one point it seems like the days would be repeating themselves and I cant stand that. I was pleased to find each day brought something new for everyone.

You get introduced to the characters slowly throughout the events of one day and this is where you start to get to know who Duffy was before he lived in the assisted living facility. As you get to know Duffy you begin to understand the connection that he is going to have with Josie, whom is Carl’s Granddaughter. It is during these moments in which I got invested in the story as I wanted to know if these two would wind up saving each other.

I really loved all the characters that are introduced throughout the book whether the story revolves around them or not. I like the way that the relationship that Duffy has with Carl is played out and how it informs the relationship he feels the need to have with Josie. I really enjoy how Duffy forms a team to save Josie from herself and its so sweet watching as how each person on that team has a different role to play in Josie’s life.

I really enjoyed the writing style of this book as I felt that I was in the room as Duffy was telling me the story of when he met Josie. It’s a nice, slow read that reminds me of the stories my grandma tells me sometimes. There’s some funny moments throughout this book and then there are some more serious moments yet both of these make the book a pleasure to read.

I recommend this to those of you who enjoy books with little to no action scenes, books with characters to love, or books that feel like home .

Starting today you can get this book at Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, or look for it at your local library.

Long Bright River Book Review

Summary: In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don’t speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling.

Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey’s district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit–and her sister–before it’s too late.

Alternating its present-day mystery with the story of the sisters’ childhood and adolescence, Long Bright River is at once heart-pounding and heart-wrenching: a gripping suspense novel that is also a moving story of sisters, addiction, and the formidable ties that persist between place, family, and fate.

Thoughts: I won this book in a giveaway by Riverhasd books and was a bit concerned I wouldn’t like it. The description on the back didn’t catch my attention but bookstagram was raving about it so I had to read it. I’m very glad that I did, there’s something about the writing style that I find beautiful.

I love how this story goes back and forth between then and now. It’s nice to watch as Kacey grows up and to see how she became the person she is now. Its interesting to see how people and events from her past impact her current life and I love seeing the mystery of Simon.

I like how the style of writing lends itself to the shorter chapters. The story flows well and the shorter chapters make you feel like the story is going quickly. While this is a longer book th re shoft chapters and the back and forth between then and now make it feel a lot shorter.

I really enjoyed getting to know each character throughout the novel even if it’s all through Kacey’s perspective. I think so much of the characters get vilanized through Kacey that its fascinating to watch as they each get introduced into the story.

The twists that occur throughout the book were unexpected and kept me interested. I loved the anticipation of what was going to happen next and trying to solve the mystery.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library very soon. This book publishes on January 7th.

I’m a Gay Wizard

Thank You to Netgalley for the chance to read and review this book.

Summary: (Borrowed from NetGalley) When Johnny and his best friend, Alison, pass their summer holidays dabbling in magic, they never expect it to have consequences. Sure, it’d be great if they could banish bullies or change their lives for the better, and what harm could come from lighting a few candles and chanting a few spells? They get their answer in the form of an earthquake unleashed at their behest, which draws the attention of the Marduk Institute, an age-old organization dedicated to fostering the talents of young wizards.

Whisked away to the institute and told they can never return to their old lives, Johnny and Alison must quickly adapt to a new world shimmering with monsters, fraternities, and cute boys like Hunter and Blake. But when they’re pulled into a dark, supernatural fight that could cost them their lives, they’ll have to find strength they never knew they had as they battle for love, acceptance, and their own happy endings―all with the help of a little bit of magic

Thoughts: I really wanted to love this book when I saw that it was own voices and I pushed hard to find some things that I enjoyed. There were aspects that I found were funny and memorable but there was too much parts that I just disliked.

For me it’s really important to like at least one of the characters or to at least build a connection to one and from the start that was something I liked. It was easy to like Hunter and want him to develop as a character and hope for the best for him. What I didn’t like was the sudden change in character for him, I thought okay maybe it’ll turn out that he’s a bad guy so I kept reading and was disappointed. I just thought it was too quick to go from angry, I’m definitely not gay to OMG I love johnny and want everyone to know.

Something else I didn’t really like was how drawn out everything was. Like the whole story just kept going on when it didn’t have to and I felt things were left unanswered or didn’t add up. I liked when we got a bit of action scenes at the beginning or if Hunter and Johnny were not in the same room. I felt that those scenes were a lot more impactful and through since they didn’t stop to love each other every few words.

I think that if you’re looking for a quick magic read with an LGBTQ+ protagonist you might enjoy this. It is a Wattpad book so I also kept that part in mind.

This book comes out tomorrow, October 29, 2019. You can get it at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

Best State Ever Book Review

Summary: Dave Barry discusses all things Florida and defends his state against people who talk poorly about it. He includes different attractions in Florida and why they add to the beauty of that state.

Thoughts: This was the library club’s pick for this month and to be honest I was worried that I just wouldn’t get the humor. The whole book is satirical, ironic, and sarcastic which usually goes right over my head. You know that just isn’t my type of humor but I loved this book. There were parts that I found hilarious and others while I didn’t find them laugh out loud funny I still found them interesting.

There is one picture included in this book that I found hilarious, it was of an alligator and he put an image of a tiny UPS truck next to it for comparison. Now I understand the real comparison but I just thought that this was so funny for some reason. I think you just have to see it to understand.

You know sometimes you just get through a book quickly and don’t remember anything about it. Well this is not one of those, there are things in here that i’ll remember for a long time. There’s also things that I definitely want to ask my Florida friends about to confirm that these strange things do occur or maybe I’ll go check them out for myself.

If you are a fan of satirical books then this is the book for you, even if you currently know nothing about Florida.

You can purchase this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

Horseman, Pass By Book Review


2 out of 5 stars

Horseman, Pass by with a quote box

“Things are just put together wrong. There’s so much shit in the world a man’s gonna get in it sooner or later, whether he’s careful or not.” 

You ever read a book recommended by others or just because its the book club pick of the month? This is how I came across Horseman, Pass By by Larry McMurtry. Western Fiction is a genre I never knew existed and would have never come across had it not been for the Cahuenga Library’s Book Club.

I read this alongside other books that I was reading and decided to read it a chapter a day just to get through it. The beginning was great and I loved how the cattle disease was inserted into the book. When I read the excerpt of the book it mentions a terrible cattle disease and instantly I was excited about reading this book. You see I love anything about viruses and diseases and when authors seamlessly use one to add to their plot I need to read it.

Larry McMurtry does a great job of giving you a picture of life on a Texas ranch back in the Old West. I loved how descriptive every paragraph was and how elaborate each scene was. Even though the chapters were short and the book is short it has a lot packed in.

What I failed to do was really connect with any of the characters. I was waiting for the moment that I would care for characters the way that I always have with everything that I read but that moment never came for me. In fact I wasn’t even able to hate the character that did a lot of bad stuff because I didn’t feel for the characters that his actions were affecting.

Not being able to connect with the characters made this a hard book to get through. I wish that there was some character development or a plot that I could follow past the cattle disease which is resolved half way through the book. It could also be that I wasn’t able to relate to it and maybe people who grew up in Texas or on a ranch might have more of a connection to this book.

I do think that this was a good read when you take into consideration that this his McMurtry’s first book and that the things he writes after this get better. I now need to get my hands on the film Hud so I can see if that might make me appreciate this book a little more.

About the Book:

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of LonesomeDovecomes the novel that became the basis for the film Hud, starring Paul Newman. In classic Western style Larry McMurtry illustrates the timeless conflict between the modernity and the Old West through the eyes of Texas cattlemen.

Horseman, Pass By tells the story of Homer Bannon, an old-time cattleman who epitomizes the frontier values of honesty and decency, and Hud, his unscrupulous stepson. Caught in the middle is the narrator, Homer’s young grandson Lonnie, who is as much drawn to his grandfather’s strength of character as he is to Hud’s hedonism and materialism. 

When first published in 1961, Horseman, Pass By caused a sensation in Texas literary circles for its stark, realistic portrayal of the struggles of a changing West in the years following World War II. Never before had a writer managed to encapsulate its environment with such unsentimental realism. Today, memorable characters, powerful themes, and illuminating detail make Horseman, Pass By vintage McMurtry. 

About Larry McMurtry:

Larry McMurtry was born in Wichita Falls, Texas on June 3, 1936. He is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize- winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two essay collections, and more than thirty screenplays. 

His first published book, Horseman, Pass By, was adapted into the film “Hud.” A number of his other novels also were adapted into movies as well as a television mini-series.

Among many other accolades, in 2006 he was the co-winner of both the Best Screenplay Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain.” 

What is something you have read and finished because you felt obligated to?