Dare Me by Megan Abbott – Book Review

Dare Me by Megan Abbott
Published by Reagan Arthur Books, an imprint of Hachette

Beth Cassidy was captain of the cheer squad, queen bee, and Addy Hanlon’s best friend. Everything changes for the girls when their old cheer coach leaves and a new, younger, more competitive woman takes over the position. When Coach Collette French removes Beth from her position as captain, the two are set at odds, even more so once Addy falls under the coach’s sway. All is not well in Coach French’s life, though. There is definitely something not right between the coach and her husband and before long Collette and Addy are drawn into an investigation of the alleged suicide of the coach’s lover. Now Addy needs to figure out whether the suicide is really what it seems, or whether she’s gotten into something she never expected to be a part of.

Abbott is gifted at creating realistic and life-like characters and situations. I spent much of Dare Me feeling disgust and fury at Coach French and the way she interacted with the girls. She had a completely inappropriate relationship with them, but given the circumstances it did not seem completely unrealistic. Once my annoyance with the coach subsided somewhat, I realized that for me to have been that bothered by Collette’s actions meant that Abbott created in Dare Me a world that I believed completely and had invested in to some extent.

While this is not my favorite of the three of Abbott’s books I have read – that distinction probably goes to the only one I haven’t reviewed, Bury Me Deep, she does continue to be very successful in engaging me in the worlds she creates, which means I have every intention of continuing to read her.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher, for BOOK CLUB.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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So Cold The River by Michael Kortya – Audiobook Review

So Cold the River by Michael Kortya, narrated by Robert Petkoff

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Synopsis:

After his attempt to be a famous Hollywood filmmaker fizzles out, Eric Shaw finds himself in Chicago, making films – essentially slide shows – for events like weddings and funerals. Based on his work for one funeral – in which he includes a seemingly-insignificant picture that turns out to have been extremely significant for the deceased – he is approached by a woman who wants him to do a documentary about the early life of her husband’s dying grandfather.

Eric travels to French Lick, Indiana, home of the newly restored resort hotel, carrying with him a bottle of the region’s famous Pluto water. Strange things begin happening, however, and what seemed to be a simple documentary is now a mystery that Eric must unravel for his own safety.

Thoughts on the story:

This was my first Michael Kortya, but I doubt it will be my last. Eric’s character was complex and relate-able and truly human. The story built slowly enough that events seemed to happen naturally, but not so slowly that I was every bored. I love the pitch that he built to, and I was rapt by the story that Kortya created; he balanced the supernatural aspects perfectly as well.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Let’s add Robert Petkoff to my list of narrators on whom I have an audio crush. He has an amazing voice that makes you just want to melt, for one thing. For another, he does a fabulous job differentiating between the voices of different characters without making it sound unnatural, as if he is trying to hard. I don’t always appreciate sound effects other than the narrator’s voice in my audiobooks, but there are a couple of scenes where Eric hears wind or a violin, and Hachette Audio did a fabulous job weaving those sounds into Petkoff’s narration so that as the listener I felt I was in Eric’s head, hearing the things that he was hearing.

Overall:

“So Cold The River” was sort of a suspense-y, mystery, not-quite-thriller sort of book. Those don’t always make for my favorite reads, but this one was both beautifully and artfully written and expertly narrated, and I definitely recommend it.

Buy this book from:
Audible.com: Audio
Powells: Print*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound: Print*
Amazon: Print*

This review was done with a book received as an audio download from Hachette.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky – Book Review

Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky, translated by Tim Mohr

Sascha’s life is…complicated.

She is a teenage Russian girl living in the slum Broken Glass Park in Germany with her little sister and brother and her ex-stepfather’s cousin. Saschas’s mother is no longer around because Sascha’s ex-stepfather brutally murdered her and her boyfriend.

Despite the fact that her family is now shunned by neighbors superstitious that Sascha’s family tragedy might rub off on them, Sascha has big plans for her life. She believes these plans make her unique in Broken Glass Park, where most people’s dreams are either shallow or non-existent.

The opening lines of “Broken Glass Park” both summed up Sascha’s character perfectly and sucked me immediately into the book:

Sometimes I think I’m the only one in our neighborhood with any worthwhile dreams. I have two, and there’s no reason to be ashamed of either one. I want to kill Vadim. And I want to write a book about my mother. I already have a title: The Story of an Idiotic Redheaded Woman Who Would Still Be Alive If Only She Had Listened to Her Smart Oldest Daughter.

I loved “Broken Glass Park.” Translations can be awkward at times, if the translator isn’t well versed in idioms and nuances of both languages. Happily, that was not the case here. “Broken Glass Park” was both beautifully written and beautifully translated. Sascha was a compelling character, her murderous dreams not withstanding. Although she and I have very different backgrounds (and I have no plans to murder anyone), Bronsky and Mohr made Sascha absolutely real to me, and I empathized with her completely.

Sascha’s world was a difficult one, which meant that this was not always an easy book to read in terms of subject matter, but I also wasn’t able to put it down. This is my first book from Europa Editions and if they are all nearly this good, I can’t wait to read more. Highly recommended.

Note: There is some sex, drug use, and domestic violence.

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound
.*
Amazon
.*

This review was done with a book received from Regal Literary.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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