The Great Animorphs Re-Read: #6 “The Capture”

125332Animorphs #6: “The Capture”

Publishing Info: Scholastic Paperbacks, January 1997

Where Did I Get this Book: own it!

Book Description: It was really bad when Jake found out his older brother was one of them. It was even worse when Tobias stayed in his morph too long. But nothing compares to the horror the Animorphs are about to face. Nothing.
Jake and the other Animorphs have a feeling they know where the Yeerks’ new base is located. And they’ve found out how to get in – how many people will really notice a few flies on the wall? But they never figured that they might get caught. Or that Jake could fall into the Yeerk pool. That Jake could become a human-Controller. A Yeerk. The enemy.

Narrator: Jake

Plot: I only have vague memories of some of the plots of these books. This one I did remember was about Jake being infested by a Yeerk, but, as always it seems, there was tons more going on in this book that I had completely forgotten! In my memory, Jake was taken over about a quarter of the book in and the rest was his struggles, but nope! That only happens about halfway through the story (and considering how short these things are, you do the math on how much page time that means this plot line actually gets!)

The story starts out with a Jake doing something the Animorphs NEVER seem to do! Practicing a morph! This time it’s a cockroach morph that leads to a short, madcap adventure through Jake’s kitchen that ends with him stuck in a roach motel. It’s a pretty humorous start to the story and Applegate even plays a bit with the narrative, having the scene cut and then finish as a story that Jake is telling his fellow Animorphs later. The crux of their larger mission revolves around some quick deductions (and a mini mission as roaches into a Yeerk meeting) that lead them to believe that the Yeerks have installed a mini Yeerk pool in a local hospital which they are using to infest patients who come in for procedures. While this is worrying enough, the fact that the state governor is scheduled for a minor surgery in the upcoming week is the real kick in the pants they need to investigate. And low and behold, there is a Yeerk pool and in the confusion of battle Jake ends up face first in said pool, only to emerge as a Controller. Luckily, the Yeerk in his head doesn’t have the best self-control and lets out a few major slips early on in his possession of Jake, alerting the others that something is up.

The rest of the book is basically an outwit/outlast scenario set in an abandoned cabin in the woods with the Animorphs trying to coral Yeerk!Jake for the three days it will take to starve the Yeerk in his brain. We get some really interesting looks into the Yeerk’s mind and this portion really serves to flesh out the Yeerks as a species and explain some of the questions about how they are able to mimic the person they are controlling. It’s also a very drawn out Yeerk torture scene, as Applegate doesn’t pull any punches about the reality of what is happening, the Yeerk slowly dying of starvation. In the end, of course, Jake is freed of the Yeerk and the game board is essentially re-set, if only now with a clearer understanding of the Yeerks  altogether.

Our Fearless Leader: There are a lot of interesting things going on in this book for Jake. First, he is having nightmares of being a tiger and hunting his brother and then even himself. It’s a bit heavy handed, but I applaud Applegate for trying to bring in the psychological struggle of it all so early on in the series. Through these dreams, we can see the ongoing mental exhaustion that comes from living a life so full of violence and moral dilemmas. And for Jake, the chosen leader of the group, it makes sense that this burden would weight more heavily. Second, a large part of the  book is understandably spent simply in Jake’s head and it is interesting hearing his thoughts on his fellow Animorphs as he basically roots for them against himself. Through his eyes, we see just how adept this team has come at managing unexpected and difficult situations as a united group with very few missteps.

After Jake is taken over, we learn a lot more about the Yeerks as a civilization. Particularly, just how entitled they are! We hear about a species called the Gedds, which were the first race of beings to be taken over by the Yeekrs, and through Jake’s Yeerk’s thoughts on the matter, we learn that since the Gedds were simple minded beings, the Yeerks essentially decided they were just made to be infested. And then this mindset just expanded out to the larger universe.

As I said earlier, it was also really interesting (and horrifying!) reading about the process of being controlled. Jake discusses feeling like his brain is being read like an open book. And being amazed and horrified by how completely the Yeerk slips into character, able to mimic not just the words that Jake would say but the way he would say them. It’s all super creepy and really highlights the hell that all the Controlled beings are living in constantly.

Towards the end, when the Yeerk in Jake’s head is dying, things get rather gruesome. But in it all, we get a brief vision of a great red eye. I can’t remember all of the details, but I do know that this is foreshadowing for another big bad who shows up later on. I had completely forgotten that these little bread crumbs were being sprinkled so early.

Xena, Warriar Princess: Rachel’s big moment is getting to be bait in some weird attempt to lure Yeerk!Jake into trying to escape into the woods. There are several problems with this plan, as I detail later in the “bad plans” portion. But another problem with it has to do with the Yeerk’s intimate knowledge of all of the Animorphs based on Jake’s own knowledge. I feel like Jake would know that, of all of them, Rachel would be the last one to sleep on the job and most likely to take the whole thing as a personal insult and just stare angrily at Yeerk!Jake for the entire time. So the fact that the Yeerk (and even Jake) is tricked by this, seems strange and out of character.

A Hawk’s Life: Tobias really doesn’t do much in this book. He helps guard Yeerk!Jake, but can’t participate in most of the action of the hospital mission. Very sad for me, as a major Tobias fan.

Peace, Love, and Animals: The Yeerk immediately narrows in on Cassie as the weak point of the group, misidentifying her caring nature for naivety and carelessness. It’s an easy mistake to make, and I know that as a reader, even I am likely to fall into the trap of underestimating Cassie. But here she proves that her sympathy is a strength. Her greater knowledge of Jake (and people in general) allows her to focus in on the differences early on, and she’s just as fierce as her teammates when it comes to patrolling the woods and containing Yeerk!Jake.

The Comic Relief: Marco proves yet again that he is probably the smartest one of the group. I’ve probably said it before, and I’ll say it again, the decision to make Marco the most canny of the characters was a really good choice that saves him from just being, as this section title implies, the comic relief character with all the one liners. Here, Marco gets the governor’s schedule all on his own by coming up with the direct, yet effective, plan of posing as a member of the press on the phone and simply requesting it. If left to themselves, the rest of the Animorphs would have probably come up with some stupidly complicated mission that involved infiltrating the governor’s mansion with no prior scouting using three morphs they’d never tried before. He also identifies the deeper tell that Yeerk!Jake gives away: the fact that if Jake weren’t controlled, he’d be trying to help them with this plan to hideout in the woods as a necessary precaution, rather than arguing against it.

E.T./Ax Phone Home: Ax plays some pretty important roles in this book, both on and off page. First, if he hadn’t been there in his Andalite form, it’s not a given that the Animorphs would have caught on to Jake’s situation. Apparently the Yeerks just can’t contain their hatred! I mean, it wasn’t even a minor slip. The Yeerk outright called Ax “Andalite filth.” There’s really no coming back from that. Jake being “stressed” is a ridiculous attempt at an out, and one that the Animorphs weren’t buying for a minute. But I feel like we were all greatly denied the three days that Ax had to impersonate Jake at home. The few references we got to it were Jake’s parents’ confusion about his suddenly increased appetite and weird vocabulary issues during this time (and their barely disguised relief that he was back to normal when he returns). But given the last time we saw Ax as a morphed human he was busily eating cigarette butts in a mall, one has to think we missed out on real comedy gold never getting these scenes.

Best (?) Body Horror Moment: I mean, the cockroaches are pretty bad. They’re made a bit better by the comedic introduction the morph gets in the beginning of the book with Jake’s roach motel escapade, but there’s no avoiding the simple fact that they all end up morphing roaches. And then they morph flies. It’s just a book full of bugs. And, like all the bug morphs that have come before and I’m sure will come later, there’s the rather gruesome descriptions of their skeleton and organs all essentially turning to goo…

Couples Watch!: Not a lot of couple action in this one, really. Yes, Cassie is one of the early ones to become suspicious of Jake, a testament to her knowledge of him. And the Yeerk does make a few comments about Jake caring for her, but other than that, this book is largely focused on other relationships in Jake’s life, primarily that between him and his brother Tom.

If Only Visser Three had  Mustache to Twirl: Visser Three shows up in a human morph for the first time in this book. And it speaks to his truly evil nature that somehow all of the Animorphs sense that something is wrong about this particular human right from the get go. Visser Three is so evil that it leaks through his morph! Also, after the cockroach infestation is discovered at the super secret Controller meeting, there’s a pretty funny visual image of a bunch of human Controllers all frantically stomping around the room trying to crush bugs. This is what the mighty Yeerk empire has been reduced to…

Adult Ugly Crying at a Middle Grade Book: All of the Tom drama. Through the Yeerk’s inner monologues to Jake, we get a real look into Tom’s deteriorating mindset through this prolonged time as a Controller (the Yeerk just happens to be the one who had controlled Tom). We saw him rebelling in the first book, but since then, things have gone down hill and Tom has pretty much given up. At the end of the story, Jake disguises his voice and calls Tom and tells him not to give up, knowing that his brother will hear him even through the Controller’s ears. It’s all very sad, especially knowing how long the journey ahead still is.

What  a Terrible Plan, Guys!:  Most of their plans are pretty good in this book, actually, especially given their success rate at both their original mission and the fallout that comes from it with Yeark!Jake. It doesn’t take them long to figure out how to deal with what has to have been a completely unexpected situation, and they pull off the whole thing fairly smoothly. The one part I really didn’t understand was why they felt the need to set up the Yeerk to try to escape in the first place. Rachel pretends to fall asleep, and Yeerk!Jake sneaks out, and then they capture him again. But why?? There’s no real benefit to be gained from this. First, just try to discourage him to begin with by highlighting all the fail safes you’ve put in place. And then, worst case scenario, if he still tries it, you can capture him anyways. But there’s no benefit to risking anything going wrong with a fake out attempt. What if the Yeerk had tried to kill fake-sleeping-Rachel? She was pretty exposed as her human self just “sleeping” there. (The reader in me knows that this was just for dramatic effect, but that really just proves how bad of a plan it would have been in actual life).

Favorite Quote:

This is what I’ve been saying!!

“I can’t believe we are actually going to practice a morph,” Marco said. “We never practice. We just do it, and when it’s a huge disaster we try and deal with it then.”

Scorecard: Yeerks 1, Animorphs 3

Not only do the Yeerks miss out on the best opportunity to completely wipe out the Animorphs that they’ve had yet (if the Yeerk in Jake’s head had had a bit more self-control and successfully pulled the wool over the others’ eyes long enough to sneak back to base and report on them all, the Animorphs would have been completely done for), but the Animorphs were also successful in their mission to sabotage the hospital Yeerk pool plan. They prevented the governor from being taken over and they boiled a bunch of Yeerks in the process. So a pretty solid win!

Rating:

Note: I’m not going to rate these books since I can’t be objective at all! But I’ll give a one sentence conclusion and you can take from that what you will!

Kate’s Review: “To Catch a Killer”

29939266Book: “To Catch a Killer” by Sheryl Scarborough

Publishing Info: Tor Teen, February 2017

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father’s identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother’s best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother’s killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she’s secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she’s close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it’s too late.

Review: Back in the mid 2000s, the world was introduced to the character of Dexter Morgan in the book “Darkly Dreaming Dexter”, which in turn became a hit television series. In this book/TV series, the premise is that Dexter, a forensics lab employee in Miami, is a murderous psychopath, his psychopathy put into place when he witnessed his mother brutally murdered when he was a toddler and was left in a storage locker with her body for a couple of days. In “To Catch A Killer” similar circumstances just leaves Erin with some mild PTSD and a deep interest in forensics. Now I don’t know which situation is more true to life, and my guess is that for a lot of people it would be more a happy medium between the two. But that said, I’m less inclined to believe Scarborough’s scenario than Dexter’s.

Honestly, there were a few things in “To Catch A Killer” that I had a hard time stomaching. For one thing, it felt to me like many of the characters weren’t terribly well thought out. First of all, there’s Erin. I liked Erin enough, actually, she had a solid voice and some pretty fun snappy moments. But like I mentioned above, I just have a hard time thinking that a person who went through that kind of trauma would have more issues than a fascination with forensics and some pretty remote and just mentioned in passing PTSD symptoms. Oh, and a hard time trusting boys, leading to a dating drought in her life. While I did appreciate her quirks and her interests (as I too was a fan of “Natural Born Killers” when I was a teenager), I was never quite buying how together she was, especially since it made it sound like Rachel, her guardian, never really wanted to discuss the murder with her, or even talk about her mother at all. Along with Erin feeling a bit unrealistic, her friends were broad templates of the ‘awesome best friends’ without ever really having much depth added to them. Spam especially, who is the ‘cool gamer girl with the funky sense of style’ trope, and never really moves beyond it. Lysa also functions as a loyal but pragmatic sidekick, there to be a voice of reason and to temper down Spam’s spitfire. I did enjoy that the three of them have their own “Cheater Check” service, where they offer up their forensic investigative services to catch cheating boyfriends and girlfriends, so it wasn’t just Erin who was a science minded lady. I’ll always support girls having science minded role models in fiction. And then there’s Journey, the love interest/potential suspect. Erin knows that he couldn’t have done it, which takes on an interesting angle that could have been explored. While it may be a sort of trite angle, without it Journey is a bit watered down. He has a tragic backstory as well involving his father, but it never really elicited much emotion from me. These teens never felt like they were real teens, but a broad idea of what teenagers act like.

The mystery of ‘who killed Miss P/Erin’s Mom’ is the bigger theme of this book, and the smaller one is ‘who is Erin’s Dad’. Within the first few chapters I had pretty clearly figured out the answers to both questions, and while many red herrings were thrown at me, I ended up being right in the end. I think that had I enjoyed the journey of getting to the conclusion, had I enjoyed the characters and enjoyed how they pieced things together, I would have liked this book more overall. I don’t necessarily read books like this just for the mystery, but for the detection and the investigation. The only parts that I really enjoyed involved Erin’s uncle Victor, Rachel’s brother. He’s an FBI Agent who has written a number of books about crime investigations, and I did enjoy it when he and Erin interacted and geeked out over forensics. These scenes were both fun because of the well researched science that was involved, and because the chemistry between Erin and Victor did feel genuine. Their moments of science and tech geekery were really fun ways to introduce this kind of stuff to the reader, and I really can appreciate that.

I think that overall “To Catch A Killer” had promise, but it just wasn’t the book for me. Perhaps someone super into forensics would enjoy it more, but it didn’t quite stand on it’s own when it wasn’t talking about that stuff.

Rating 4: While it had scenes and moments of cool science and a pretty solid (if not at times unrealistic) main character, “To Catch A Killer” didn’t stand up underneath all it wanted to do.

Reader’s Advisory:

“To Catch a Killer” is fairly new and not on many specific lists, but I think that it would fit in on “Forensics: If It Doesn’t Walk, We Bring Out The Chalk”, and  “Forensic Fiction”.

Find “To Catch a Killer” at your library using WorldCat!

Serena’s Review: “The FitzOsbornes at War”

13414810Book: “The Fitzosbornes at War” by Michelle Cooper

Publishing Info: Knopf Books for Young Readers, October 2012

Where Did I Get this Book: the library!

Book Description: Sophie FitzOsborne and the royal family of Montmaray escaped their remote island home when the Nazis attacked. But as war breaks out in England and around the world, nowhere is safe. Sophie fills her journal with tales of a life during wartime. Blackouts and the Blitz. Dancing in nightclubs with soliders on leave. And endlessly waiting for news of her brother Toby, whose plane was shot down over enemy territory.

But even as bombs rain down on London, hope springs up, and love blooms for this most endearing princess. And when the Allies begin to drive their way across Europe, the FitzOsbornes take heart—maybe, just maybe, there will be a way to liberate Montmaray as well.

Review: I’m back for the final book in the Montmaray trilogy, and boy, am I sad to see it go! And sad for tons of other reasons cuz the story has now progressed to the point where this book is pretty much entirely made up of World War II. But, while it’s not the most perky of the series, it is definitely my favorite, so let’s get down to it!

As this series has progressed, so has the stakes. Looking back on the first book, it now seems like such a fluff pot (though of the very good variety) full of oddball characters, a bizarre little island country, and a madcap adventure at the end. The second book, with the FitzOsbornes forced away from their Nazi-invaded home, raised the stakes, though was still largely comprised of social outings and kerfuffles with their strict Aunt whose primary goal in life was marrying off her young relatives. But here, in the last book in the series, the tone is very different.

This book takes place over the longest segment of time of the three stories, covering 1939-1944. And it’s a haul for our main characters with one challenge after another. Even more so than the previous two books, it is clear just how much research Cooper put into this story. Beyond our fictional main characters and a few of their associates, most of the happenings in this book are lifted directly from the history books. And where many other authors have focused on the more dramatic events of this time period, Cooper focuses Sophie’s story on the day-to-day struggle of surviving in a war-torn country for so many years.

As an American, we have a tendency to view WWII through our own lens: one that is viewed from a more comfortable oceans-apart distance and one that is much shorter, as was our involvement. So it is a stark reminder to read a book like this that truly focuses in on life in London and just how long British citizens were living in this horrible reality. Through Sophie’s eyes we see her initial terror when the bombing starts, but then as the years go by, we see how, overtime, even the most horrific things can become one’s norm and how this change in oneself can affect  day-to-day decision making as well as one’s larger world view. This is the quieter side of the war: the hours spent in shelters every day, the constant change to the city with whole blocks disappearing over night, the sense of never knowing whether one will make it to the next day, the long lines for food, and the struggle to remain connected to the regular parts of life throughout it all.

Cooper doesn’t take any easy outs to the harsh truths of what it would be like to live through this time period. This book is fully of tragedy and hopelessness, but through it all, Sophie and Veronica still find moments of strength, beauty and even romance. Sophie truly grows up through this book, and her maturation is handled so subtly, that by the end of the book, you can’t pinpoint any one moment where this change was obvious.

I greatly enjoyed this book and series as a whole. It’s always exciting to find a series that grows in strength as it continues. For a series that started out with what could have been a rather ridiculous premise (a fictional island country with a family growing up in a crumbling castle), I would strongly recommend these books for any history buffs. The books provide a unique view on a very well-known time period (focusing on the daily life of those at home rather than the more common stories of those fighting in the war itself) and touch on many small details that you may or may not be aware of (for example, there’s even discussion of a spy scandal that went on in the American Embassy in the early part of the war). The author’s note truly hits home just how many historical facts are crammed into this novel. While the book is listed as young adult, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to adult historical fiction fans either!

Rating 9: An excellent end to an excellent series.

Reader’s Advisory:

“The FitzOsbornes at War” is included in these Goodreads lists: “World War II England”  and “YA set in the 1940s.”

Find “The FitzOsbornes at War” at your library using WorldCat!

Previously Reviewed: “A Brief History of Montmaray” and “The FitzOsbornes in Exile”

 

 

 

A Blog’s Birthday Bonanza and Giveaway!!!

So last year, the two of us got together with the idea that we should do a book blog. And now it’s, amazingly, a year later, and we are celebrating our Bloggaversary (is that right?)! And with that comes our warmest, deepest gratitude to you guys who have been following us and supporting us and reading our reviews and lists. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And because of this, we wanted to host a huge and special giveaway! Like mentioned yesterday, it’s not just one book, but four books! Each of us picked two to pass on, and we think that you will love them too! So what are these books? We’re glad you asked.

7234875Book: “The Little Stranger” by Sarah Waters

Publishing Info: Riverhead Books, May 2010

In post-war England, Dr. Faraday goes to the countryside to tend to the someone who lives at the sprawling and glamorous Hundreds Hall. Though the Ayres family still lives there, changing times, changing economic circumstances, and changing ways have pushed the family closer and closer to losing everything. But along with a changing way of life, there may be something else in these halls that is haunting this family. Dr. Faraday soon finds himself twisted up with this family and whatever else comes with them. This is a haunting and sweeping book, that is a must for fans of “Downton Abbey,” as well of fans of old school haunted house stories.

13132403Book: “17 & Gone” by Nova Ren Suma

Publishing Info: Dutton Books, March 2017

Lauren is a seventeen year old girl who is haunted by disturbing visions. Visions of girls who have gone missing, and also seventeen. She doesn’t know why these girls are reaching out to her, or what it means. But she feels a need to figure out what has happened to them, just in case she is potentially next. After all, she, too, is seventeen. This suspenseful YA book is a tense and interesting rumination on how there are many different ways that a person can be lost, and Nova Ren Suma writes about difficult subjects with lots of care.

18490585 Book: “Mistborn” by Brandon Sanderson

Publishing Info: Tor, July 2006

Brandon Sanderson is one of my all time favorite authors, so I had to include a book from him in this giveway, and what is more fitting than “Mistborn” the first book of his I read that served as a gateway drug to the long, loooong list of books this author regularly pumps out. “Mistborn” tackles the question of what a fantasy hero journey would look like if the hero fails. Long ago, instead of saving the world, its hero died, leaving the land to sink into desolation under the heavy hand of its cruel king the Lord Ruler. A ragtag group, featuring our lead character, a spunky street rat teenage girl named Vin, hope to now succeed where this previous hero failed. Kate knows my love of this book as I literally shoved it at her a few years ago, so now I’m shoving it at you all as well!

28220899Book: “Freeks” by Amanda Hocking

Publishing Info: St. Martin’s Griffin, January 2017

Mara has grown up in the circus surrounded by the odd and the extraordinary. But so far, she herself seems fairly…normal. When the circus stops at a new town, Mara jumps at the opportunity to blend with the locals where her normalcy is a boon and she can pretend, just for a little while, that she too is leading an ordinary life. That is until members of the circus begin to disappear, starting with the most powerful among them. Mara, along with a dreamy local boy named Gabe, must now rush to untangle the truth before all of her strange family, including her clairvoyant mother, are lost forever. This book hits many of the standard tropes of YA fantasy, but I’m always a sucker for a circus story, so I had to include it in this giveaway!

Enter the giveaway!

 

 

Kate’s Review: “Her Every Fear”

29938032Book: “Her Every Fear” by Peter Swanson

Publishing Info: William Morrow, January 2017

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full-blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.

Soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.

When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves–until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment and accidentally learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? What about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jet-lagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself, so how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?

Review: In February of 2016, I was on a lovely family vacation in Hawai’i. On this trip I brought a number of books, one of which was Peter Swanson’s “The Kind Worth Killing” (I reviewed it on this blog here). I read that book in the span of about one day, sitting on a Lanai on Kauai and devouring it ravenously. In February of 2017, I was in St. Cloud, Minnesota, sitting in the Stearns County Courthouse and waiting for my husband to finish up judging a Mock Trial competition. Perhaps not as glamorous of a setting, but I brought Peter Swanson’s book “Her Every Fear”. It was almost a year to the day later. And boy, did I devour this one as well.

The thing about Peter Swanson’s thrillers is that he has a knack for completely making you question everything, and taking the reader by complete surprise. Much like in “The Kind Worth Killing”, there is a moment in “Her Every Fear” where the game completely changes, and I had to set the book down for a moment and try and regroup after the big reveal. But before I talk more about the plot, I want to talk about the characters in this book, specifically Kate and Alan. I really, really appreciated how Swanson portrayed Kate and her anxiety disorder/PTSD. As someone who also has an anxiety disorder, I thought that he captured the constant, if not usually mild, fears that just kind of plague you in your day to day life, be it intrusive thoughts, or the feeling that something awful is going to happen even if there is no reason to believe so. In a lot of books like this this could be used as a character flaw to show just how broken she is, but with Kate there is nothing but sympathy for her and what she went through in her past. Alan is a character I had a harder time wrapping my head around, as he’s someone who is definitely a little bit off, mentally. I don’t want to spoil anything because there are so many reveals that are masterfully executed, but I will say that there is lots of sympathy for Alan as well in his own crippling oddness. He could have easily been painted one way, but I ended up kind of understanding him, and like that Swanson put him together the way that he did.

The mystery itself is very well done, with twists and turns that come slowly to the surface. It’s a slow burn, and you think that you may have something figured out, but then things will completely change on you. He also does a very good job of slowly turning the screws of suspense, and wrote moments that really messed with my memory and consciousness. There was a moment involving a cat being let out of Kate’s apartment, only to be found in the apartment again in the middle of the night. Not only did she question if she had let him out in the first place, I TOO QUESTIONED IT, and had to prevent myself from flipping back and checking. It’s this kind of uncanny and upsetting horror that really gets me, and makes me super squeamish (so much so that I had to set the book down and go watch “Frasier” for a couple of hours). Swanson is also deft at skillfully switching perspectives, be it Kate, or Alan, or one of the other perspective chapters of other characters (whom I shan’t spoil here). All of them had complete and well rounded voices, and I feel like he really lets the reader get into all of their heads. The puzzle pieces are laid out for the taking, and gosh did I enjoy picking them up and putting them together. While I managed to figure it out eventually, it wasn’t long before the reveal, and I was still pretty blown away by it all.

“Her Every Fear” is a great thriller, one that I tore through and highly recommend to fans of the genre. And if you haven’t already, go back and pick up “The Kind Worth Killing” as well, and treat yourself to a double header of awesome twisty thrills!

Rating 9: Another home run by Peter Swanson! I devoured this book and it had me on the edge of my seat the entire time!

Reader’s Advisory:

“Her Every Fear” is included on the Goodreads lists “Twisty Page Turners”, and “2017 Crime Novels You’re Excited For”.

Find “Her Every Fear” at your library using WorldCat!

Not Just Books: March 2017 (Plus exciting news!)

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Joint Pick

mv5bmtuwnjuxmtm4nv5bml5banbnxkftztgwodexmdqzmti-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Movie: “Beauty and the Beast”

As you all know, we have been looking forward to this movie, and our book club went together opening weekend. And boy, was it everything we were hoping it would be. The visuals were stunning, the character additions were mostly perfect (specifically Stanley Tucci’s harpsichord Maestro, who is the husband of Audra McDonald’s Madame Garderobe), and they fixed some pesky little plot holes from the original. Some of the new songs were hit and miss, but Dan Steven’s “Evermore” was a worthy addition to an already amazing soundtrack. Emma Watson is as charming as ever, but Luke Evan’s Gaston was the real surprise performance, adding a deeper level of cunning malevolence to the character.  For those who are nervous, this movie doesn’t disappoint and it is best served if seen on the big screen where the sweeping sets and large musical numbers can be fully appreciated.

Serena’s Picks:

cuaiczwueaaid_w-jpg-large Movie: “Logan”

Can I just cry instead of type? Does unabashed raw emotion count as a blurb? Look, I knew what I was getting into with this movie. The previews themselves set us up for a more tonally dark movie, it has an “R” rating, and we’ve all heard by now that this was likely going to be Hugh Jackman’s and Patrick Stewart’s final hurrah as these characters. But I was not prepared! Not for all the feelings! And not for all great the movie itself was going to be. I didn’t dislike the previous two Wolverine movies (though…that first one..), but this was in a category of its own. Not only as an X-Men movie, but as a superhero movie all together. I won’t say it was the best one ever (though it may be), but I do think it is a gamechanger for what superhero movies can be going forward. This proves a very important point: they can simply be good movies, superheros and abilities aside, with real characters, real stakes, and real drama. Ok, I got some words out. Now back to crying.

Movie: “Kong: Skull Island” 

mv5bmtuwmzi5odewnf5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjaznji2mdi-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_ For a complete switch of tone, the same week I went to “Logan,” I also squeezed in “Kong: Skull Island.” Which, as much as I loved “Logan” was a bit cathartic really. This movie is unadulterated fun. While I haven’t jumped on the hate train for Peter Jackson’s re-make a decade ago, this movie approaches the classic tale with stronger eye on monster-bashing good times and less on heart-wrenching tragedy. Kong is the king of this movie in every way. As the second movie to be released in this rebooted “monster world” (“Godzilla” from a few years ago was the first), “Kong” continues to set the stage of a world where amazing creatures exist beneath our world. I particularly enjoyed how much screen time Kong himself got. One of my bigger criticisms of “Godzilla” was how long it takes to see him and then how little there really is in total. Here, the human characters are probably the least fleshed out, but that feels more correct for the type of story this is setting out to tell. All in all, if you love blockbuster action flicks, this one is definitely worth checking out on a larger screen.

Kate’s Picks:

the-black-tapes-podcast-2016-iconPodcast: “The Black Tapes”

For the record, “Kong: Skull Island” is fabulous. But I have something else. As someone who enjoys a good horror story, and who also really enjoys the podcast “Serial”, when I discovered that a horror, “Serial”-esque podcast existed I was STOKED! “The Black Tapes” is a docudrama (fictional) hosted by a woman named Alex Regan, whose focus is on “Evangelical Skeptic” Dr. Richard Strand. Though he’s debunked a number of ‘supernatural’ events, there are a few cases he can’t explain, those he calls ‘the black tapes’. This show starts out like a “This American Life” episode, but turns into a conspiracy laden, “X-Files” echoing, demon and ghost fest! It’s well researched, addictive, and incredibly scary at times. I LOVE it, but I can’t listen to it at night, especially if my house is empty…

3079403-resident_evil_7_biohazard_-_ps4_boxart_png_jpgcopyVideo Game: “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard”

Speaking of things that I can’t do after dark when I’m home alone, I bring you the scariest video game I’ve played in a long time: “Resident Evil 7”. Unlike the notorious plot of many of its predecessors, Raccoon City, Umbrella Corps, and their zombie virus aren’t really in the forefront. Instead, you find yourself in a backwoods bayou setting when you start the game as Ethan, a man looking for his lost wife. It’s also first person now, which is incredibly immersive. Which means it’s both awesome and horrifying. I got through the first board, my husband laughing at me as I screamed my head off throughout the whole thing, and then had to turn it off and turn to happier things. So make no mistake, this game is awesome and a GREAT addition to the “Resident Evil” franchise. It’s just really, really scary.

Also! March means that our  blog has been online for one year! In celebration of this, we are going to be having a HUGE giveaway this week!!! You will have the chance to win not one, not two, but FOUR BOOKS! Because it’s our blog’s birthday, and we want to give YOU gifts! So tune in tomorrow, because all the deets will be revealed then!

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Announcement: We’re Blogger Award Winners!

So imagine our surprise and flattery when Steve D. from Redstring Paper Cuts gave us the Blogger Recognition Award (which we presume is a recognition of badassery and awesomeness).

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Our blog is a year old and it’s really something we’re quite proud of, so to receive an award for it is so incredibly humbling and gratifying. Major, major thanks to Steve D. We’re truly honored.

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But unlike Frank Cross, we mean it. (source)

So to officially accept this award there are certain steps that we have to go through. We’ve covered thanking the person who nominated us. The next is to write a post showing the award. And the rest are as follows:

How Did This Blog Get Started?

We have been friends since we met at our graduate program for Library and Information Sciences, and as one would imagine, we both love to read. Serena had the idea that we should put together a blog of book reviews, reader’s advisory, lists, and various other booky things, and Kate agreed. For a year now we’ve been doing this and have really enjoyed the collaboration and the fun that it has brought, as well as all the reading it’s encouraged us to do.

Two Pieces of Advice for New Bloggers

  1. Blog about things you are passionate about. Reading is a huge part of our jobs, but it’s also one of our favorite hobbies in our spare time, so I look forward to writing reviews and lists and posts about reading, books, and librarianship. And make sure to set time for it at designated times a week, because it’s easy to get frazzled and behind if you’re hoping to post consistently. If you make time, it will happen. – Kate
  2. Don’t fret too much about having a unique “voice” in your writing. As a reader of other book blogs, I was always very impressed by the creative and entertaining styles of other reviewers. This, in turn, intimidated me when I began reviewing books myself. I felt pressured to come up with some clever “take” on things. As it turns out, if you write enough, your own natural voice/style will emerge. Be patient with this process. Writing is like any other hobby/skill: with practice comes results. And there is always room to continue growing (which is a relief for those times that writer’s block sets in and you begin questioning how you ever managed to write anything before). – Serena

We Nominate…

Kristen Twardowski : She’s not only one of our favorite fellow bloggers,  she’s a very insightful writer with a well written blog about writing and literature. Kristen is great and you should check her out!

The Untitled Book Blog: Donna is a passionate reader who reviews the books in her TBR pile on this site. Solidarity with fellow book bloggers!

Bookish Feminist: Kate’s friend Sarah has a blog that follows the feminist books she and her book club have been reading. There’s a social justice bent to her list and it has lots of great recommendations.

YAPS!: This YA blogger and fellow librarian covers a wide breadth of YA books. This blog is fun to read for a couple of YA nuts like us, and has some great insights into YA fiction.

Storyscope: Marianne is another relatively new blogger on the scene, but her great writing voice and similar taste in reading material (shout out to “Anna Dressed in Blood” and “The Name of the Wind”) makes her blog one of the many that we check out.

Escape Into a Book Site: This blog covers romance fiction more than anything, and as a genre that we don’t cover here but do read occasionally, it’s a good one to check out!

Bec’s Books: This blog is fairly new too, but Bec is a passionate book blogger who reviews stacks of books on this blog, as well as talking about books she wants to read and books she has in her possession.

Book V Book: Another new site, but this one is very fun and spunky. The two bloggers who run it each pick a book from a similar genre, and each make the case as to why their book would win the book fight. It’s funny and well thought out.