Into The Water by Paula Hawkins – Review

It’s Monday guys! I hope you are having a fantastic start to your week. Today, I’m reviewing Into The Water by Paula Hawkins. This was a confusing, twisted, and messed up book. I thought there were too many characters and that the plot was messy, but the ending was great and explained a lot of things.

Book: Into The Water

Author: Paula Hawkins

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Summary: In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help. Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind. But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped. And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool . . .


Quote: “Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.”

*Jules. Usually, the first character that is introduced in any book is the character that I grow to trust, support, and feel the most for, even if they are bad (minus those in which we read from the killer’s perspective first!). Jules was that character in this book and even though she wasn’t a great character, I was her biggest champion and felt defensive of her whenever people judged her without knowing what she was really like. She also provided a lot of insight into the other side of Nel when they were both kids and what happened for their relationship to deteriorate so badly. She, unfortunately, was the only character that I liked in this book.

*Dark. For some reason, I like really dark themed books, but not anything too heavy. I like books with messed up characters, terrible secrets coming to light, pasts coming back to haunt characters, morally grey characters, etc. This book was very full of secrets, terrible pasts, and messed up characters. It was one of the reasons why I still enjoyed the book.

*Ending. The ending made so much sense and I understood everything that was going on. It explained the twisted up plot and characters and was not very shocking (except for one part) but it was still good.


Quote: “The things I want to remember I can’t, and the things I try so hard to forget just keep coming.”

*What is going on here? I was confused throughout this story until the end, and even then there were times when I was utterly lost. The plot was so complex and it would have really helped to know whether Nel had committed suicide or had been murdered. Just when I’d decided that maybe she’d committed suicide, somebody would pop up and tell us something new which would make me erase my theory. The same happened when I thought that she might have been murdered.

*Too many characters. Someone else mentioned that they felt very sorry for anyone who happened to listen to an audio-book of this, and I agree. There were waaayyy too many POVs going on. It was hard to keep track of how each person fits into the story. Every time I started a new chapter, I had to go back to check who and when this person was narrating. It was frustrating and added to my confusion.

*Slow. The first around 50 to 60% was slow. Nothing was happening, we were getting background information, getting introduced to the many characters, and I just wasn’t feeling it. I put it down for a day, and then picked it up and forced myself to finish it. The last third was thankfully a lot more quick paced and was more of a thriller than the rest of the book.


Quote: “Anything was possible. When you hear hooves you look for horses, but you can’t discount zebras.”

In the end, I was kind of relieved to finish this, and to find out what exactly was going on and who was responsible. It was a confusing, yet interesting read, and I would recommend it, but with the warnings mentioned above. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it!

One sentence summary: A confusing, yet interesting book with a satisfying ending.

Overall, 3 stars.

★★★☆☆

Have you read Into The Water? What did you think? I’ve been contemplating giving The Girl On The Train a second chance. Do you think it’s worth it? Let’s chat in the comments below!

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson – Review

Welcome to another book review! I hope you are having a fantastic start to this new and wonderful month. Today’s review is of Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. This book was okay. I liked the mystery and there is diversity and representation, but I felt like the new mystery overshadowed the Ellingham kidnappings and murder.

Book: Truly Devious

Author: Maureen Johnson

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Summary: Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

Quote: “When you have enough power and money, you can dictate the meanings of words.”

The Good:

*Mystery. If ya’ll haven’t realized it yet, I love a good murder mystery. Especially ones that are cold cases and the killer has come back to commit more murders. And this story delivers that. I loved the idea of the Ellingham Murders and I was super excited to join Stevie on the quest to solve them. Tiny hints were given through-out the story and I was engrossed by the two timelines, one from 1936 when the kidnappings happened, and the present day. I loved it, and I was super disappointed that this ended up more about the new death than the Ellingham mystery, but I was still super intrigued and immediately picked up the second book.

*Representation. You do not know how happy I was to see some diversity/representation in this book. Janelle, Stevie’s best friend, is described as a person of color and is also a lesbian. During their initial tour of Ellingham, we also meet a girl who’s in a wheelchair and a hijabi. Stevie suffers anxiety and has panic attacks. It was just so nice to see a group of people who aren’t perfect, who are from different backgrounds, and who are still awesome amazing people.

*Characters. I liked Ellie. She was so vibrant, confident, and cool, but beware of being in her company for too long. Janelle is perfect. She’s a builder and super handy with tools, yet she dresses up and wears make-up and perfume. It’s nice to see her not being a stereotypical female mechanic character who wears overalls and doesn’t even know that makeup exists etc. Nate is probably my favorite. I loved the fact that he’s socially awkward, pale as a ghost, and loves to write. The way he doesn’t know how to communicate, is forever grumpy and pessimistic, and who would do anything to help Stevie even though it goes against his better judgement just made him an amazing character and a super loyal friend.

*Setting. To be honest, I liked the setting of the story. Ellingham Academy is located on top of a mountain in Vermont. There is only one road in and it is very very rough. The remoteness of the place made it seem more surreal and also narrowed the cast of suspects down to whoever was staying there. The description of mountain air and the beauty of the woods was amazing and I loved it.

Quote: “You have to take things as they are, not how you hear they’re supposed to be.” 

The Bad:

*Writing style. The beginning of the book and I aren’t best friends. I just thought it felt a little off and a little bit more telling than showing. But it got much better and I ended up enjoying it.

*Character voice. I didn’t feel like Stevie was a teenager. She sounded a bit childish. I didn’t feel like the characters in general were teenagers but more like fourteen/fifteen than seventeen.

*New Mystery. I was honestly disappointed that this was more about the new mystery than the Ellingham case. The only reason I probably finished this was because of the new secrets being revealed about the Ellingham mystery throughout the story and maybe because I needed more Nate, Ellie, and Janelle.

Quote: “Where her books were, she was. Get the books right and the rest will follow.”

The Wrap:

All in all, I liked this, I would recommend it, and I hope you enjoy it if you read it.

One sentence summary: An okay book with an intriguing mystery, and great characters.

Overall, 3 stars

Have you read Truly Devious? What did you think? Am I the only one that was a little disappointed that the mystery wasn’t that focused on the Ellingham murders? Let’s chat in the comments!

The Sacrifice by Indrajit Garai – Review

Hello everyone and welcome to another book review! Today’s review is of The Sacrifice: A Collection of Short Stories by Indrajit Garai. I was given a copy of this book by Estelle, a friend of the author, in exchange for an honest review! This was a three star read.

Book: The Sacrifice

Author: Indrajit Garai

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Summary: In this collection, meet: Guillaume, who gives up everything to protect his child; young Matthew, who stakes his life to save his home; and François, who makes the biggest sacrifice to rescue his grandson.

I was given a copy of this book by a friend of the author.

The Move

The Good:

*Characters. Guillaume is an okay character. His anger, struggles, and fight to keep his farm are relate-able. Hugo was furiously protective and in love with the animals on the farm and I felt for him at the end.

*Plot. The plot was okay. The ending left me a little confused though.

The Bad:

*Anaïs. Through-out the story, I picked up bits and pieces about Anaïs and Guillaume’s past. She still mystified me and I would have liked to know more about her.

*Continuation. At some points in the story, things happened without continuation. On page 13, Guillaume was heading home, on page 15, he was swimming in a lake?? It left me confused as to the setting and where this lake was.

*Ending. That ending left some questions for me. There are spoilers on my Goodreads review if you want to know more.

*Dialogue. There wasn’t a whole ton of dialogue, and I personally like dialogue, so…

*Grammatical. A few grammatical mistakes and the writing was a little formal at times.

Overall:

2 stars

The Listener

The Good:

*Characters. Mathew’s fight to save his trees showed his true personality. He was willing to fight for what he saw was right and in the process, he found himself and strengthened his relationship with his mother.

*Plot. A forest by Mathew’s house was being cut down. Mathew hadn’t really paid any attention to it because he’s favorite tree had been left unharmed. But as the Forest Office tries to chop down his tree, he stands up and refuses to let it be cut down. I really liked the plot.

*Dialogue. The dialogue was a little better in this book.

The Bad:

*Relationships. Mathew’s relationship with his mother changed abruptly for the better after several months and years of them co-existing without much love towards one another. I would have liked to know what was behind this frostiness. I also would have liked to know more about Thierry and Mathew’s mothers relationship.

Overall:

3 stars

The Sacrifice

The Good:

*Characters. I really liked this story and felt for François so much. An author with books that don’t sell well, he’s desperate to make money to keep his grandson in school, pay his bills, and get rid of his late daughter’s debt. Arthur was such a sweet and mature young boy who understood his situation and did his best to be helpful. I loved him very much.

*Selflessness. Even when François was trying to find out how to save himself and Arthur, he still managed to be optimistic and think the best of people. It showed me how selfless he was and made me ponder how if someone was upsetting me, I’d never try to see things from his/her perspective. This book shows the power of realizing and enjoying the small things in life.

*Plot. The plot was realistic, and the ending made me emotional. François sacrificed everything to do his best for his grandson. I’m just glad that in the end, Arthur would still be given a chance at life.

*Dialogue. This story was much better from a grammatical point of view. And even though there wasn’t a whole ton of dialogue, I really didn’t care because I was more worried about Arthur and François.

The Bad:

*The ending. It was slightly abrupt and I’d have liked to know more about what happened to Arthur (an epilogue would have done the trick). Otherwise, great story!

Overall:

4 stars

Overall:

This was an okay book and I liked the last two stories better than the first. While there were some technical errors, there was a great amount of effort put in to the story. The stories are thought-provoking and I’m glad that I read this. Overall, 3 shining stars.

About the Author:

Indrajit Garai, an American citizen now, was born in India in 1965. After his Bachelors degree from Indian Institute of Technology and Masters from Harvard, he worked as a corporate strategy consultant and as an investment banker in America, Spain, and England, while studying parallelly Ayurveda (ancient medicine of India) for stress management. In 2001, after the birth of his daughter, he moved to Paris, opened his private practice of stress management, and then authored six books in this field (five in French and one in English).

Website | Goodreads | Amazon


**I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.