Written by Lauryn Smith
Imagine experiencing another version of your life, one in which you made different, potentially life-altering decisions. Some aspects might be better, others worse. Perhaps you do not notice much of a change. Maybe your life is catastrophically altered. Black Crouch lays the groundwork for this thought experiment in his alternate universe book, “Dark Matter.” For me, reading science fiction has never been so much fun. This book is un-put-down-able. You know those books that you cannot wait to get back to, even while enjoying other activities? “Dark Matter” is one of those.
Crouch details the story of Jason Dessen, a physics teacher at a Chicago college. I mean, a renowned theoretical physicist. Wait. Dessen is actually both, and each persona lives in a different dimension. Crouch establishes the former as the story’s protagonist. This Dessen, AKA Jason 1, lives a quiet, blissful, content life with his wife and son. One day while walking home from a local bar, he is abducted and taken to an enigmatic warehouse, where, amidst the confusion of events, he loses consciousness. He wakes to praise from a handful of individuals he does not recognize yet who somehow know him. In fact, he comes to realize that there is a lot about this place, this life, he does not recognize, and much of what he does find familiar is distorted in some way, shape or form.
Written by Lauryn Smith
Immediately after finishing Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch” earlier this year, I thought “this-author-and-her-books-are-so-good-I-need-more-like-now.” Luckily, I own a copy of “The Secret History,” which I first read back in high school. Reading it again, my conviction that this woman will forever be one of my favorite authors is even stronger.
“The Secret History” is Tartt’s debut novel. In it, she tells the fictional tale of a tightly knit, isolated group of six students who study Greek at an elite New England college. Yawn? I think not.
Tartt presents the novel’s entire premise from the get-go, so I am not giving away a major plot point when I tell you that one member of the group is murdered by the others. “The Secret History” is commonly referred to as a “murder mystery in reverse.” Once readers are alerted of the murder, the remainder of the book explores the execution and consequences of the crime, as well as the reason behind it.
The narrative is presented as a years-later reflection from the perspective of one of the students, Richard Papen. As he details his college experience, he focuses on the peculiarities of his Greek classmates and Julian, the group’s eccentric, highly revered professor, who is also, unconventionally, the group's only professor. Richard relates the nuanced elements of the many and varied interactions he has with each member of the clique, and these elements incessantly compound until they explode into one of the best twist endings you will ever encounter.
Written by Lauryn Smith
One book, two authors. I must have been living under a rock, because apparently stories written by multiple authors are relatively common.
Case in point: "Nightfall" by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski. (Shout out to G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers for introducing me to "Nightfall," my first dual-authored novel. Thank you for the free copy!)
“Nightfall” is a piece of young adult fiction that portrays the peculiarities of the remote, forested island of Bliss. On the island, Sunrise comes only every 28 years, resulting in 14 years of Day and 14 years of Night. The island's residents spend weeks preparing for Nightfall, completing a number of odd rituals, such as removing locks from houses, leaving doors partially open and strategically rearranging furniture. Come Nightfall, they hitch rides on furrier ships in order to flee to the Desert Lands, where they will live for the 14-year interim.
That is just how things work on Bliss, no questions asked. Any and all reasoning is shrouded in mystery. No one understands or speaks of what happens on the island during the cold years of Night, but everyone knows that the place should be avoided. This Nightfall, however, an unfortunate few are left behind. Once the furrier boats take off, three teens—Marin, her twin brother Kana and their mutual friend Line—are left to their own devices, and they come to understand the mysteries of the island uncomfortably well.
Written by Lauryn Smith and Beth Winters
Paula Hawkins’s recently released novel "The Girl on the Train" has taken the literary world by storm. In fact, it has been dubbed the new "Gone Girl." The story follows Rachel, an alcoholic who spends more time focusing on the lives of others, specifically a couple she sees every day from the train, her ex-husband and her ex-husband’s new wife and child, than dealing with the reality of her own. More than one Reviewer wanted to to see what all the hype is about. Check out our thoughts below.
Did you like the book? Why or why not?
LS I quite enjoyed the book… at least until the story’s conclusion, which I found a little Scooby-Doo-esque. You know, the villain reveals his or her master plan to an audience after getting found out. Until that point though, "The Girl on the Train" is a true page-turner in two regards. Firstly, at the end of each section, I just had to know what happened next, and secondly, the writing style facilitates quick reading. A worthy beach read in every sense of the phrase.
BW I was not a huge fan of this book. I do not think the story was planned as well as the book jacket makes it seem. There seems to be times when writing that Hawkins was simply going, "Oh shoot, forgot to wrap this part up, I should probably do that,” and rushed to conclusions. I had such high hopes for this book but was not impressed. Hawkins uses many cliches and ideas from other books, so the story does not feel original. My opinion might be different had I not read "Gone Girl" prior to "The Girl on the Train."
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