Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Book Review Club (March 2016)



Welcome to the March edition of The Book Review Club. You're in for a marvelous March treat as my critique partner, Kelly Hayes, is in charge of the review on my blog this month. Take it away, Kelly! And thank you bunches!




LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE 
by Jessica Knoll (debut, mystery/thriller)

This is a tricky book review to write without spoilers. I want to avoid spoilers as much as possible because the slow reveal is so important to the plot of this book. So here goes.

The first storyline starts in present day New York City where 28 year-old women's magazine writer, Ani, is gearing up for a big expensive wedding to her silver spoon fiancé, Luke. It isn't long before we realize that all is not right in Ani's rarefied world. For one thing, she's non too thrilled to be getting married, even as she obsessively plans every detail of the wedding. Not to mention her 700 calories per day diet and her manipulative, controlling, judgmental inner dialog. And what's with the name change from Tifani to Ani? It seems like way more trouble that it's worth to constantly correct people when they use her old name. That's when we realize this character has gone to great pains to reinvent herself and it's taking all her energy to keep up her new, sleek, engineered persona.

Enter the ticking clock. Ani has committed to being the main subject of a documentary about a traumatic event she was involved in at her upper crust prep school when she was fourteen, which made the headlines and gave her a strange sort of fame. Filming starts just two weeks before the wedding and her fiancé does not want her to participate.

This is where the second storyline creeps in. As the date of filming looms, Ani begins to relive the months leading up to the traumatic event. And this is when her carefully constructed life begins to crumble bit by bit, just as it did fifteen years ago when she was so desperate to fit in at the prestigious Bradley School.

The author skillfully feeds us intriguing details and yet holds back the crucial information. About halfway through the book, just as a major traumatic event is revealed, and we're reeling from the shocking details, we realize it's only the tip of the iceberg. There's way more to come, as TifAni spirals down into the depths of teen despair, and her precarious new social standing disintegrates.

I think Luckiest Girl Alive defies classification and genre parameters. I started reading it, thinking it was psychological suspense, and it does have some of those elements. But, ultimately, I think this is a story about how reinvention only works on a surface level. Because buried secrets don't stay buried forever. Eventually they will rise to the surface and demand your attention. And when they do, you'd better be ready.

(Dear FCC: I don't actually know where Kelly got her copy of this book. But I do know her well enough to say she wouldn't give a positive review if she didn't believe in it. So there.)

And now....onto the rest of our reviews. Please click through. You won't want to miss a single one!

YOUNG ADULT FICTION BOOK REVIEWS
Beth Bonini of TRAC: SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli

ADULT FICTION BOOK REVIEWS
Alyssa Goodnight: LOVE IN LOWERCASE by Francesc Miralles (romantic comedy)

Ellen Booraem: HONEYDEW by Edith Pearlman (short stories)

Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: DECEPTION ON HIS MIND by Elizabeth George (mystery)

Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: THE FOREST by Edward Rutherford (historical)

Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty (women's)

Ray Potthoff: STONE COLE by David Baldacci (thriller)

Scott Parker: BOUNTY ON A BARON by Robert J. Randisi (western)

NONFICTION REVIEW
Linda McLaughlin: YOU'RE NEVER WEIRD ON THE INTERNET (ALMOST) by Felicia Day
                                 (memoir)

Sarah Laurence: THE SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS by Sy Montgomery (adult)

Stacy of the Cat's Meow: MY LIFE ON THE ROAD by Gloria Steinem (memoir)


Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!



9 comments:

Ellen Booraem said...

Great review! I'm dying to know what the secrets are, so you did your job well. It's on the list. *sigh*

Bee said...

You have definitely intrigued me!

Linda McLaughlin said...

The book sounds quite intriguing! Great review.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

I second Ellen's and Bee's comments. I'm totally intrigued! Great review!

Sarah Laurence said...

Kelly, your review is pushing me toward reading this book out of curiosity. It has had a lot of hype.
Barrie, thanks for hosting!

Kelly Hayes said...

I'm glad everyone is intrigued. The main character is hard to like at first, but I think the pay off is worth it.

Barrie said...

I've read Luckiest Girl Alive, and Kelly really did do an excellent job of not giving away much of anything at all! All while still writing a great review! Yay! I can say that the way she described the reveal is exactly how it happened for me. When I first read (actually, heard, as I listened to this book driving home after dropping off my high schooler, at the gym, in the driveway, etc, etc). Anyway....when I "read" about the horrible incident that happened to Tifani at the Bradley School, I was shocked. But then it got even more intense. Which I didn't see coming. Thanks for reviewing, Kelly!

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

What fun to have a guest! I only get demands for free ads and guest posts! sigh.

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