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11 / 30 books. 37% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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My Progress:


23 / 51 states. 45% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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16 / 50 books. 32% done!

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21 / 50 books. 42% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

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43 / 50 books. 86% done!

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38 / 52 books. 73% done!

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25 / 40 books. 63% done!

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15 / 40 books. 38% done!

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9 / 25 books. 36% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

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6 / 26.2 miles (second lap). 23% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

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21 / 100 books. 21% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

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58 / 104 books. 56% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

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42 / 52 books. 81% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

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59 / 165 books. 36% done!
Saturday, December 10, 2016

Much-Hyped Psychological Thriller Compelling, But Hardly 'Amazing' or 'Brilliant'

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Newlyweds Jack and Grace Angel have what looks like the perfect marriage.  Their luxurious Spring Eaton home is one of the finest in Surrey.  Wealthy, successful, and beautiful, they're the perfect couple.  Except that their gleaming facade is a gilded lie.  Jack is a sadistic psychopath, Grace his terrified prisoner.  Desperate to save her sister—a 17-year-old with Down Syndrome—from Jack's clutches, Grace must find a way to break free.  But, how can she escape her personal Fort Knox?  Will anyone believe her incredible claims about her refined lawyer husband?  How can she save her sister when she can't even protect herself?

Behind Closed Doors, a debut novel by B.A. Paris, has been touted as "2016's Answer to Gone Girl" (Women's Health), a chilling psychological thriller that is "Amazing!", "Brilliant!", and "Unputdownable!"  I agree that it's compelling; I had to keep reading just to find out how it would end.  But amazing and brilliant?  Meh.  Not only does the plot lack depth and complexity, but it also gets a little absurd.  Far-fetched.  I prefer my psychological thrillers to take a subtler approach, surprising me with clever twists.  Behind Closed Doors does not do this.  The story is engrossing, there's no denying that.  It's just not very original or satisfying overall.  For me, it didn't live up to the hype it's been receiving.  Not at all.  Bummer, that.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs); violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Behind Closed Doors from the generous folks at St. Martin's Press.  Thank you!

Depressing, Disconnected Novel a Disappointing Delve Into a Fascinating Subject

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After her mother dies, 32-year-old Samantha receives a box filled with the dead woman's keepsakes.  Sam is stunned to find, among them, evidence that her mother's childhood was much different than her mother ever let on.  In fact, a young Violet White was placed on an orphan train in 1900.  Stunned by this news, Sam longs to know her mother's real story.

In alternating chapters, the dead woman's tale is told.  It's a sad one, a story of poverty and abandonment sent against a grimy New York City background.  As Sam contrasts her own rocky relationship with motherhood with her mother's experience, she comes to understand some truths about herself and her family.

It's difficult to describe Mercy Train by Rae Meadows because it's a very episodic novel, without a lot of connectivity between elements.  Except for the orphan children, the characters are not very sympathetic.  I didn't feel connected to any of them, which made the whole story seem distant.  Perhaps this was done on purpose to reinforce the book's disconnection theme?  If so, it's not a storytelling device I enjoy.  The book also ended oddly, not pulling things together in a satisfying way.  All of this combined with the overall depressing nature of the novel just made it a difficult read for me.  I find the subject of orphan trains fascinating, but Mercy Train simply did not do it justice.  In the end, I found the book a depressing slog.  Ah, well.


Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a dozen or so F-bombs plus milder expletives), violence, and mature subject matter 

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
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Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson

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The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain



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