Publisher: Mulholland Books

Book Review | In ‘Golden State’, Anything but the Truth is Illegal

February 22, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Audiobooks, Book Reviews 10 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review | In ‘Golden State’, Anything but the Truth is IllegalGolden State by Ben H. Winters
Narrator: Kiff VandenHeuvel
Published by Mulholland Books on January 22, 2019
Length: 10 hours and 26 minutes
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Countdown City, World of Trouble

three-stars

A shocking vision of our future that is one part Minority Report and one part Chinatown.

Lazlo Ratesic is 54, a 19-year veteran of the Speculative Service, from a family of law enforcement and in a strange alternate society that values law and truth above all else. This is how Laz must, by law, introduce himself, lest he fail to disclose his true purpose or nature, and by doing so, be guilty of a lie.

Laz is a resident of The Golden State, a nation resembling California, where like-minded Americans retreated after the erosion of truth and the spread of lies made public life, and governance, increasingly impossible. There, surrounded by the high walls of compulsory truth-telling, knowingly contradicting the truth--the Objectively So--is the greatest possible crime. Stopping those crimes, punishing them, is Laz's job. In its service, he is one of the few individuals permitted to harbor untruths--to "speculate" on what might have happened in the commission of a crime.

But the Golden State is far less a paradise than its name might suggest. To monitor, verify, and enforce the Objectively So requires a veritable panopticon of surveillance, recording, and record-keeping. And when those in control of the truth twist it for nefarious means, the Speculators may be the only ones with the power to fight back.

‘Each is an interesting fact, and each fact, each piece of truth, is valuable and precious in and of itself, every fact beloved in our good and golden world […]’

Golden State is set in a dystopian, and sovereign, California where cops possess the ability to detect lies and emitting falsehoods will earn you years in prison. Video cameras capture everything and it is all stored in the permanent record as a part of what is “Objectively So,” people greet one another with undeniable statements to vocalize their commitment to the truth, and at the end of each day, citizens are required to itemize their day in a journal (making sure to include any applicable receipts or documentation available). Laszlo Ratesic is a speculator in the Speculative Service and his job is to seek out lies which appear to him as a slight ripple; a dissonance in the air. His current case is investigating the irregularities surrounding the death of a construction worker that fell off a roof. Despite the seeming straightforwardness of the case, Laszlo’s investigation will lead him to the center of a grand conspiracy seeking to undermine the fundamentals of the Golden State.

‘[…] the preservation of reality’s integrity is the paramount duty of the good citizenry and of this government alike. Imagine what kind of mad society would be organized otherwise.’

Golden State reads like a blend of 1984Fahrenheit 451, and Minority Report but really played well on what Winters is becoming known for: well-written speculative futures + noir style mysteries that easily play on fears of possible futures to come. This plot is most definitely a play on the current administration’s continued insistence regarding “Fake News” and “alternative facts” and brings to life a world where the truth is absolute. Winters intent is obviously to show just how dangerous this concept is but for me, the plot got a little messy, the end goal really missed the mark, and the whole story strayed instead into predictable territory. What could have been a fascinating inside look at a corrupt government instead transformed into your standard corruption thriller.

‘…he has made his monstrous point about the rings of truth, about context and omission: he has illustrated that no matter how much we know, there are parts of the story that are missing.
There are elements unknown and unknowable, whether we know it or not.’

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam #1) by Margaret Atwood [Purchase|Review]
The Last One by Alexandra Oliva [Purchase|Review]
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker [Purchase|Review]

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Waiting on Wednesday – Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta

April 27, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 5 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina MarchettaTell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta
Published by Mulholland Books on October 11th 2016
Pages: 320
Genres: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
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In the wake of a devastating bombing, a father risks everything to find out who was responsible.

When Bish Ortley, a suspended cop, receives word that a bus carrying his daughter has been bombed, he rushes to be by her side. A suspect has already been singled out: a 17-year-old girl who has since disappeared from the scene.

The press has now revealed that she is the youngest member of one of London's most notorious families. Thirteen years earlier, her grandfather set off a suicide bomb in a grocery store, a bomb her mother confessed to building. Has the girl decided to follow in their footsteps?

To find her, Bish must earn the trust of her friends and family, including her infamous mother, now serving a life sentence in prison. But even as he delves into the deadly bus attack that claimed five lives, the ghosts of older crimes become impossible to ignore.

A gripping fusion of literary suspense and family drama, TELL THE TRUTH, SHAME THE DEVIL is a fast-paced puzzle of a novel that will keep readers feverishly turning pages.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Book Review – When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord

April 23, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015 4 Comments

I received this book free from a Giveaway in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – When We Were Animals by Joshua GaylordWhen We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord
Published by Mulholland Books on April 21st 2015
Pages: 336
Genres: Coming-of-Age, Gothic, Horror
Format: ARC
Source: a Giveaway
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four-stars

A small, quiet Midwestern town, which is unremarkable save for one fact: when the teenagers reach a certain age, they run wild.

When Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood, she wouldn't have guessed she would become a kind suburban wife, a devoted mother. In fact, she never thought she would escape her small and peculiar hometown. When We Were Animals is Lumen's confessional: as a well-behaved and over-achieving teenager, she fell beneath the sway of her community's darkest, strangest secret. For one year, beginning at puberty, every resident "breaches" during the full moon. On these nights, adolescents run wild, destroying everything in their path.

Lumen resists. Promising her father she will never breach, she investigates the mystery of her community's traditions and the stories erased from the town record. But the more we learn about the town's past, the more we realize that Lumen's memories are harboring secrets of their own.

A gothic coming-of-age tale for modern times, When We Were Animals is a dark, provocative journey into the American heartland.

‘We live our lives by measures of weeks, months, years, but the creatures we truly are, those are exposed in fractions of moments.’

Lumen Fowler recounts her childhood growing up in a small town in the Midwest that is anything but ordinary. Children in this town, once they hit puberty, they go through what is called “breaching” where they let go of all social constraints and literally run wild and naked in the streets at night when the moon is full. Lumen is a bit of a late bloomer and believes herself to be different from the other children until she inevitably succumbs with the need to feel the night air on her skin.

First and foremost, this is not a werewolf story despite how the summary seems to allude to it. There is no physical transformation that these children undergo, only a surrendering to the madness that we’ve all felt stirring inside us at one time or another. The fact that this all occurs beneath the light of the full moon seems to be pure happenstance. When We Were Animals brought to life the horrors of coming of age and learning to navigate the trickiness betwixt childhood and adulthood.

‘…she was some nightmarish inversion of the person who had played in the sprinklers with me years before. This girl was raw, viperous, glutted on nature and night. They all were. Like coyotes, they made mockery, with their bleating voices, of those who needed light in order to feel safe.
And yet they were all too human.’

This was one of the most exquisitely written books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Vibrant and completely full of (animalistic) life. It’s not a traditional horror story, however, it is a very simplistic horror that we’ve all suffered through in life. It details a savageness; a rawness. It was incredible. The plot itself is quite meandering, just as growing up seems to take forever to get through. Also, like a typical teenager that can’t wait to grow up and for life to finally happen (of which it never seems to meet your expectations), this story never amounted to anything. I kept anticipating something monumental that never came. Still, this story of growing up is well worth the effort.

‘In the daylight you scoff at the shadows you cowered from the night before.’

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Book Review – The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel (Sherlock Holmes #1) by Anthony Horowitz

December 18, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 3 Comments

Book Review – The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel (Sherlock Holmes #1) by Anthony HorowitzThe House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel by Anthony Horowitz
Series: Sherlock Holmes #1
Published by Mulholland Books on November 1, 2011
Pages: 304
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Sherlock
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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Also by this author: Moriarty

four-half-stars

For the first time in its one-hundred-and-twenty-five-year history, the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate has authorized a new Sherlock Holmes novel.

Once again, THE GAME'S AFOOT...

London, 1890. 221B Baker St. A fine art dealer named Edmund Carstairs visits Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson to beg for their help. He is being menaced by a strange man in a flat cap - a wanted criminal who seems to have followed him all the way from America. In the days that follow, his home is robbed, his family is threatened. And then the first murder takes place.

Almost unwillingly, Holmes and Watson find themselves being drawn ever deeper into an international conspiracy connected to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston, the gaslit streets of London, opium dens and much, much more. And as they dig, they begin to hear the whispered phrase-the House of Silk-a mysterious entity that connects the highest levels of government to the deepest depths of criminality. Holmes begins to fear that he has uncovered a conspiracy that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of society.

The Arthur Conan Doyle Estate chose the celebrated, #1 New York Times bestselling author Anthony Horowitz to write The House of Silk because of his proven ability to tell a transfixing story and for his passion for all things Holmes. Destined to become an instant classic, The House of Silk brings Sherlock Holmes back with all the nuance, pacing, and almost superhuman powers of analysis and deduction that made him the world's greatest detective, in a case depicting events too shocking, too monstrous to ever appear in print...until now.

‘Show Holmes a drop of water and he would deduce the existence of the Atlantic. Show it to me and I would look for a tap. That was the difference between us.’

In London, during the Autumn of 1890, Holmes and Watson are investigating a seemingly ordinary crime involving rare art and of course murder. Their investigation manages to take them far from the beaten path and propels them straight into a most horrific ongoing crime involving The House of Silk. They hit a brick wall being unable to find any useful information about it but both Holmes and Watson are unable to stop investigating, of course, even with the obvious danger they are putting themselves in by continuing to do so. Watson narrates the tale wonderfully, giving us insight into the quirks of Sherlock and the sheer brilliance of his mind. There are mysteries within mysteries in this story and the inevitable unraveling is truly the best part.

The House of Silk is the first installment in a new Holmes series written by Anthony Horowitz that has been sanctioned and commissioned by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Horowitz definitely has some big shoes to fill but his writing skills shine and Holmes and Watson feel as if they were never gone. I’m a huge fan of the original Conan Doyle stories and have always been leery of picking up the various pastiches out there; I’d much rather just read the originals. I took the risk once with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and it quickly became one of my all-time favorites. The House of Silk was my second foray into Holmes pastiches and my luck continued. This was a fantastically faithful representation of everything I love about the originals, yet managed to add a level of excitement that I feel is sometimes missing from the classics. Horowitz did an honorable job of continuing the Sherlock legacy and these are well worth the read to all you Sherlock fans out there.

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Book Review – Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

September 30, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 2 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – Broken Monsters by Lauren BeukesBroken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Published by Mulholland Books on September 16th 2014
Pages: 448
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: The Shining Girls, Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing

three-half-stars

A criminal mastermind creates violent tableaus in abandoned Detroit warehouses in Lauren Beukes's new genre-bending novel of suspense.

Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies. But this one is unique even by Detroit's standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused together. As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams?

If you're Detective Versado's geeky teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you're desperate freelance journalist Jonno, you do whatever it takes to get the exclusive on a horrific story. If you're Thomas Keen, known on the street as TK, you'll do what you can to keep your homeless family safe--and find the monster who is possessed by the dream of violently remaking the world.

If Lauren Beukes's internationally bestselling The Shining Girls was a time-jumping thrill ride through the past, her Broken Monsters is a genre-redefining thriller about broken cities, broken dreams, and broken people trying to put themselves back together again.

“…everyone will see what they are supposed to see.
They will bring all their eyeballs, and all their minds will open like doors, and then maybe they will all be free too.”

Detective Gabriella Versado’s new case takes priority over all: the top half of a young boy is found fused together with the bottom half of a young deer. This is not the only strangely mutilated body found but what is also found are doorways drawn in chalk that seems to have some connection with the deaths. Broken Monsters alternates the story-lines of Detective Versado, Layla, her 15-year-old daughter, Jonno Haim, a new to Detroit journalist, Thomas Keen “TK”, a homeless man and Clayton Broom, the man responsible for the atrocities appearing around Detroit. Each of these individuals will each play their own important role in bringing a stop to the darkness that threatens to consume the city.

Broken Monsters was one of my most anticipated of the year after The Shining Girls was a favorite of mine from 2013. Her writing style continues to impress and captivate and her ability to come up with unique (albeit twisted) stories will keep me picking up her novels. Broken Monsters easily takes your typical crime thriller beyond your preconceived notions and injects it with a horrid deformity. It’d normally be brutal enough, a story dealing with the murder of a young child, but Beukes gives her serial killer an alter-ego/dream that is consumed with the intent to change the world by making his presence known by creating these ‘monsters’. In an attempt to explain this dream, the story took an unexpected supernatural turn that inevitably provided no explanation at all leaving me unsettled and with an overabundance of questions. A horrific yet well-written crime thriller, Broken Monsters will undoubtedly leave you disturbed.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

April 9, 2014 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Broken Monsters by Lauren BeukesBroken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Published by Mulholland Books on September 16th 2014
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Shining Girls, Broken Monsters, Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing
New York Times bestselling author Lauren Beukes returns with her next smash crossover thriller.

Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies. But this one is unique even by Detroit's standards; half-boy, half-deer, somehow fused. The cops nickname him "Bambi," but as stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams?

If you're Detective Versado's over-achieving teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you are the disgraced journalist, Jonno, you do whatever it takes to investigate what may become the most heinous crime story in memory. If you're Thomas Keen, you'll do what you can to keep clean, keep your head down, and try to help the broken and possibly visionary artist obsessed with setting loose The Dream, tearing reality, assembling the city anew.

If Lauren Beukes' internationally bestselling The Shining Girls was a time-jumping thrill ride through the past, her BROKEN MONSTERS is the genre-redefining thriller about the horror of our city's future.

About Lauren Beukes

Lauren Beukes is a novelist, scriptwriter, comics writer, TV writer and occasional documentary maker and former journalist.

She won the Arthur C Clarke Award and the Kitschies Red Tentacle for her phantamagorical noir, Zoo City, set in a re-imagined Johannesburg.

In 2006, she graduated with her MA in Creative Writing from UCT, but she got her real education in ten years of freelance journalism, which gave her the best possible excuse to meet interesting people and indulge in extraordinary experiences from diving with sharks to hanging out with wannabe teen vampires and township vigilantes.

She lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa, with her husband and daughter.

The Shining Girls was a favorite of mine last year and I’ve been anticipating reading more from this author!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Book Review – The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert Galbraith

October 26, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 6 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert GalbraithThe Cuckoo's Calling by J.K. Rowling, Robert Galbraith
Series: Cormoran Strike #1
Published by Mulholland Books on April 30th 2013
Pages: 465
Genres: Detective, Mystery-Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

two-stars

A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide. After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.


Detective Cormoran Strike life has seen better days. He recently broke up with his girlfriend and is sleeping on a camp bed in his office, he’s got a single client that isn’t paying their bill and a whole slew of creditors that are demanding money yesterday. He’s fortunately hired to investigate the much publicized death of Lula Landry, a supermodel who fell to her death from her penthouse balcony. Her brother, John Bristow, is convinced that someone is to blame.

Okay, so the whole world knows by now that this is the work of J.K. Rowling. She first delved into Contemporary Adult Fiction last year with ‘The Casual Vacancy’. I had several of the same issues with TCV (which I put on hold about halfway through and have yet to make it back to it.) Even setting aside your ‘Harry Potter’ sized expectations, there really isn’t anything spectacular about The Cuckoo’s Calling. I applaud J.K. Rowling for having the gumption to take a leap into adult fiction because it’s such a far cry from what we’ve come to expect from her. Unfortunately, her Contemporary novels are just not my cup of tea.

Cormoran Strike has been praised in publications for his intriguing personality but I found him to be no different than any other detective/cop/investigator and he clearly dreamed about being Sherlock when he was a kid. Yes, he was a war veteran and he lost his leg and there’s a whole backstory there that is delved into but still didn’t manage to add anything super intriguing to the mix. Publications have also commented on the ‘brilliant mystery’ but honestly? It’s been done before and I didn’t find myself gasping in shock when the big reveal happens. It felt very much like a Sherlock Holmes tale where he’s about to piece together evidence from seemingly nothing and it’s all eluded to until the very end when he reveals all to the bad guy. It was all very yawn-inducing and worthy of a few eye-rolls to be quite honest.

In addition to the mediocre storyline and characters, the writing style is what ultimately caused my massive disappointment over this novel (and this is another issue I had with The Casual Vacancy). There are some truly fabulous lines that showcase her brilliance, but more often than not she tries far too hard to make it even more evident that THIS IS AN ADULT NOVEL. As if we weren’t aware of that fact already. Towards the end of the novel there was a line which caused the cringe of a lifetime:

‘She looked away from him, drawing hard on her Rothman’s; when her mouth puckered into hard little lines around the cigarette, it looked like a cat’s anus.’

Disgusting and totally unnecessary. Bottom line, her writing is just too crude and unrefined for my liking. I doubt I’ll give up on future novels of Rowling, but I won’t likely be continuing this particular series. I would so love to see more fantasy from her though.

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Early Review – The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

May 7, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 19 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Shining Girls by Lauren BeukesThe Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Published by Mulholland Books on June 4th 2013
Pages: 384
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Time Travel
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Broken Monsters, Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing

five-stars

The girl who wouldn’t die. Hunting a killer who shouldn’t exist.

Chicago 1931. Violent drifter Harper Curtis stumbles upon a house that hides a secret as shocking as his own twisted nature: it opens onto other times.

Harper uses it to stalk his ‘shining girls’ across decades – and cut the fire out of them.

He’s the perfect killer. Unstoppable. Untraceable. Until one of his victims survives and turns the hunt around.

Chicago, 1992. Kirby Mazrachi’s determination to find the man who tried to kill her has taken over her life.

The cops no longer return her calls. Her mother copes by writing morbid children’s books. Her only ally is Dan, the burnt-out ex-homicide reporter who covered her case.

As Kirby closes in on her would-be killer, what she finds is ... impossible. Murders scattered across the decades along with evidence that makes no sense. Meanwhile, Harper is closing in on her, too.

‘Everything happens for a reason. He should be grateful. It’s because he is forced to leave that he finds the House. It is because he took the coat that he has the key.’

Harper stalks his Shining Girls through time and the House helps him. He visits the girls when they are children, takes mementos from them and tells them he’ll be back for them when it’s time. When that time comes, he leaves their bodies with a new memento, one taken from a different Shining Girl. His goal is to kill them all, all who Shine, and his mission is complete. Except one survived. And now she’s the one looking for him.

The writing style is extremely explicit. The murders are terribly graphic and incredibly detailed so if you can’t stomach ‘Dexter’ you’re definitely not going to be able to manage this one. I have quite the stomach for gruesome tales but even this one came close to pushing my boundaries. Added to the gruesome details is the heartbreaking bits. There’s this one scene in particular where one of the women is trying to stop the killer and in the process is telling him about her kids and how she has to be there for them because they’re going to be waking up soon… I’m not much of a softie for sad times but even that got to me pretty bad. Plus, I think it should be mentioned there’s also a gruesome scene involving a dog that may or may not have caused a tear or two.

‘He only has to think of a time and it will open onto it, although he can’t always tell if his thoughts are his own or if the House is deciding for him.’

Much like what karen says in her review of The Shining Girls, this book reminds me very much of Life After Life despite it’s obvious differences. Life After Life isn’t technically time-travel but the transitions through time are quite similar, also both novels lack the scientific backing to support the time-traveling, it’s either believable or it’s not. Both novels had similar writing styles with bouncing back and forth to different times. It shouldn’t make sense and it should be terribly confusing and hard to follow but somehow it manages to make complete and utter sense. Lauren Beukes writes with such confidence though that it really leaves no room for questioning. I never had a doubt.

‘It’s the same tug in his stomach that brought him to the House. That jolt of recognition when he walks into someplace he’s meant to be. He knows it when he sees the tokens that match the ones in the room. It is a game. It’s a destiny he’s writing for them. Inevitably, they’re waiting for him.’

This book blew my mind. I finished it late one night and ended up unable to fall asleep because I simply could not stop thinking about it. There were a few questions that went unanswered that I wish had been but my overall opinion of the book remained bright and shiny. (ha, pun intended) The two things I had issue with her major spoilers but I had to include them. Please do not click if you have any intention of reading this!
View Spoiler »
View Spoiler »

The Shining Girls is a horrid and nightmarish tale but so completely intense and unforgettable that it’s certain to leave a lasting impression. It’s a story possessing such vehemence you practically need a good, strong drink to aid you through it. In honor of the drink the House never failed to provide I recommend a whisky straight-up, no ice.

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