Review: With Malice

With MaliceWith Malice by Eileen Cook

Published June 7, 2016

HMH Books for Young Readers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

mal·ice

Simple Definition of malice

: a desire to cause harm to another person

Full Definition of malice

1 :desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another
2 :intent to commit an unlawful act or cause harm without legal justification or excuse

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up to what she thinks is the annoying sound of an alarm clock. However she quickly realizes she’s in the hospital and it’s the monitors she’s attached to that are beeping. She has absolutely no idea why she’s in the hospital. But she knows things must be bad as BOTH of her parents (divorced with no love lost between them) are there. When she tries to speak she has trouble expressing herself and remembering the correct words for certain things. She also can’t remember what happened.

She wants to talk to her best friend Simone but her mom says only family can visit. She’s told that she was in a car accident. One of her first thoughts is that she won’t be better in time for her trip to Italy. Shockingly, she finds out that the trip has already happened and that Italy is where the car accident took place. Jill is devastated to learn that Simone was killed in the same car accident and that Jill was driving the car.

Jill still has no recollection of her time in Italy or the accident. She is horrified to hear that people are suggesting that it was no accident and that Jill crashed the car on purpose. That the police may in fact even hold her responsible for Simone’s death, that she could have to go to court and possibly even to jail.

She loved Simone. She would never hurt her best friend, especially on purpose….
Would she?

Quite a bit of the story is told from Jill’s point of view. However, the author also included other things like interviews with police, newspaper articles, Facebook posts, emails, media statements and much more to give an idea of what happened. It also gave an idea of how Jill was being perceived in the media, by the public and by police. I loved the fact that the author included this other information to give the reader a better perspective of everything going on in the story.

I really enjoyed this book. Well written with a fantastic plot that had me gripped from beginning to end. I have not previously read any other books by Eileen Cook. However, after reading this book, I am really looking forward to more from this author.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and Eileen Cook for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Review: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

All the Ugly and Wonderful ThingsAll the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Published: August 9, 2016

Thomas Dunne Books

 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WOW! I don’t even know where to start!!  This book may NOT for everyone, but I was hooked from the moment I started reading.

This book made my head hurt at times as it made me question so many different things. Parts of this book made me very uncomfortable. I honestly felt many different emotions while reading it. Emotional actually doesn’t even begin to describe how this book make me feel but it’s the first word that comes to mind.

The story and the characters got in my head and under my skin and I don’t see them leaving anytime soon.

At first I wondered about the title but honestly, it’s perfect for this book.

****Possibly some very minor spoilers****

The book begins in March of 1975 told from Amy’s point of view. Amy is seven when her five year-old cousin Wavonna Quinn (nicknamed Vonnie then Wavy) first comes to live with them.

Amy learns a lot about “The Tragic and Edifying Story of Wavonna Quinn” by eavesdropping on her mother when she talks to her book club friends.

Wavy hasn’t had an easy life so far and seen things that no five-year old should ever have to see. She doesn’t talk very much but she’s smart as a whip.

Thanks to an old neighbor, Wavy can identify all of the stars and constellations. It’s one of her favorite things.

“Mr. Arsenikos said if you knew the constellations you would never get lost. You could always find your way home.”

Wavy has some strange habits that drives her Aunt Brenda crazy but endears her to Amy. About six months later, after a late night wandering incident it’s decided that Wavy is a danger to her cousins and is sent to live with their Grandmother. We learn more about Wavy’s mother Val from Grandma Helen. She explains that nowadays, Val would probably be diagnosed with something, but at the time, they just lived with what they called her “germ problem” along with her other issues.

When she first brings Wavy home she realizes how very different her granddaughter is, but she accepts Wavy for who she is and they start to forge a tight bond. I LOVED her grandmother. Sadly, Wavy isn’t with Grandma for very long.

When her mother is released from prison she tells eight-year-old Wavy that everything is going to be different this time. For two weeks she’s “Good Mama” doing the laundry, cooking dinner etc. Then two weeks later Wavy wakes up to “Scary Mama” and realizes that nothing is going to be different. Except now she is not only taking care of herself but also her new baby brother, Donal. Their father, Liam is no real help either. He mostly stays down the hill taking care of his “business” and when he is around Wavy knows to stay out of the way. With Good Mama, Scary Mama, Happy Mama, or Sad Mama we quickly learn why Wavy doesn’t talk very often, why she doesn’t eat and why she won’t let people touch her.

One day Wavy is out in the meadow when “A Giant” drives by on his motorcycle. As he turns to look at Wavy he startles and ends up wiping out on the gravel road. Wavy sees something kind in the giant’s eyes and tries to help him. He’s an ex-con and associate of her father’s and his name is Jesse Joe Kellen.

Jesse Joe Kellen quickly realizes that Wavy is all on her own with parents who don’t seem to give a thought to her care. He quickly becomes everything to Wavy. He buys food, takes her to school and keeps her safe. As time goes by the friendship between this unlikely pair grows into much more.

“He smelled good. Sweat and motorcycle and wintergreen. No stinking weed smoke. No perfume. No sadness. He smelled like love”

Now this is where many readers may become very uncomfortable. It may make you uneasy at times and horrified at others but at the same time you may not feel like you would normally in this situation. But many readers may find it very hard to wrap their brains around certain parts of this ….love story.

We read how Wavy and Kellen view their relationship. But we also get to see how other people feel about it. Not just Wavy’s Aunt Brenda and her cousins, but also school teachers, social workers, judges, lawyers, drug dealers, jewelers and many others.

This truly is a shocking and powerful book that is controversial and will likely be the topic of a lot of debates. Possibly some very heated debates.

Was it all completely realistic? Maybe not. But in the end this is a fiction book and by remembering that it helped me to relax and just appreciate the story. Are my beliefs changed by what I read? Not really. Maybe this sounds strange and I don’t really know how to explain what I mean, but I just feel a bit different after reading this.

I was so invested in this book, nothing could pull me away (except when my Kindle died and I couldn’t find the charger). I couldn’t possibly guess how it was going to end. I didn’t care that it was four in the morning. I HAD to know what was going to happen next.

I am so impressed by this author. There were quite a few characters in this book, and they were all interesting and well developed. I had no problem following the story-line and keeping all of the characters straight. In my opinion the story was fantastic and very well written.

So yes, this book may not be for everyone but I’m really glad that I read it and I can’t wait to read more from Bryn Greenwood.

Thank you to NetGalley, Thomas Dunne Books, and Bryn Greenwood for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

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