In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

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Unexpected Invitation

Reclusive crime writer Leonora (“Nora”) receives an unexpected invitation to a bachelorette party weekend out in the woods. It is for Claire, a childhood friend that she used to be close to, but she has not seen or spoken to in ten years, and she has not been invited to the wedding. She is hesitant to go, but she makes a deal with another friend and they both decide to go.

Something terrible happens and Nora finds herself in the hospital, but without any recollection how she ended up there. She hears people outside her door mentioning a murder, but no one will tell her anything. Her fragmented memories from the weekend are mixed with events from the time before and after the party.

Twisted Psychological Thriller

This is the first novel by Ware and an excellent debut! It is a twisted psychological thriller that has that unreliable narrator we have come to love thanks to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. It is an easy read and you keep questioning who you can really trust. Rumor has it that Reese Witherspoon will produce a movie based on this novel. I would love to see that!

Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies is an HBO miniseries based on the bestselling novel by Liane Moriarty. It is creepy and good. If you are not watching it already, you should check it out. It has a stellar cast: Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Scott, James Tupper, and Zoë Kravitz.

Trailer

Screen or Paper?

Of course I could not help myself and read the novel after watching the first episode, and this is one of the few cases where I think the screen version is better than the paper version. Of course you get more insight into the characters and their history in the novel, but that is understandable. There have only been a few obvious differences between the two so far, and it will be interesting to see how the rest unfolds on the screen.

Choosing a Book

 

Most of the time I already know what I want to read next, but sometimes I find myself browsing, and then these are the things that influence me the most:

 

1. Genre – I rarely consider books outside the mystery/thriller genre (I read 89% crime fiction last year), unless someone has recommended a specific book or it has caught my attention in some other way.

2. Author – When I have found an author I like, I usually read all of his/her books. If an author is already a favorite I have to wait until new ones are published, but sometimes I find a new favorite with several published books that I have not read = jackpot.

3. Recommendations – Recommendations matter, especially when they come from someone with similar taste. And if I consider an unknown book I always glance at its reviews/ratings.

4. Publisher – I must admit that some publishers give books a stamp of quality I trust. I am still somewhat skeptic of self-published books (I have read too many bad ones), but once in a while I come across a really good one and I am trying to be more open (I know there are more gems out there).

5. Title/cover – Title and/or cover rarely makes me choose a book, but it can definitely influence me not to choose one.

 

How do you choose? Do you always know or do you browse? Maybe you always have a large to-be-read pile? If so, how do books end up there?

The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer

THE-CHEMIST

 

Known for Twilight

Stephanie Meyer is mainly known for the incredibly popular Twilight series (vampire-themed novels). I was both skeptic and curious when I started reading. I didn’t like the Twilight movies, but have to admit I haven’t read the novels.

Ex-Agent

A young woman and former agent is on the run with rigorous safety measures in place, e.g. sleeping with a gasmask on, different disguises, keeping poison in her earrings, etc. As a chemist and expert in “concoctions” she became a liability instead of a resource when she found out too much information. One day she gets an offer from her former employer that she cannot resist, i.e. helping them to “interview” a guy and in return she would clear her name and get her old life back. The question is if she can/should trust them.

Too Much Romance

This was not my cup of tea. There was too much romance and too little suspense. The main rule for a conspiracy thriller, which you have to categorize this as, is that there has to be a constant looming threat, preferably against humanity and a feeling of “could this be real?” That didn’t happen here. It reminds me of Nora Roberts’ novels, which also feel a bit more romantic, even though I’m guessing that the author maybe thought that the main character’s job as a chemist with macabre job duties, plus a few pretty brutal scenes would give it an edge. If you like the Twilight series and/or Nora Roberts you can disregard my opinions, because you will probably like this novel.

translatedbylinda

Good Behavior

good-behavior

Good Behavior is a TNT show that I stumbled upon while looking for a new show to stream. I am happy I found it because it is quite good, and fans of crime fiction will appreciate it. It is a throwback, crime noir type show, with a flawed main character–except this time it is a female character, which is a nice change of pace.

Michelle Dockery

I never watched Downton Abbey and was not familiar with Michelle Dockery, but you cannot take your eyes off her, and her performance carries the show. She is paired with an Argentinian actor, who I have also never seen before, but his performance is also outstanding and complements hers perfectly–the chemistry is undeniable. She plays a burglar/con artist, struggling with addiction, just released from prison, and her path becomes intertwined with his character, a mysterious hit-man.

A Rainy Day Show

A TV critic I used to read, Andy Greenwald, complained that most new shows took place in Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, or maybe Chicago, but this one is a refreshing departure from that usual path and takes place mostly in small town North Carolina and some of the surrounding states, and the creators use this setting to enhance the look and feel of the show. It is a good rainy day/snowy day show to make it through this winter, and I recommend it if you are able to get access on TNT or other streaming services.

My Year in Books – 2016

goodreads-linda

2015 was not a year where I focused on reading, but like the booknerd I am I decided to change that in 2016. I created a goodreads account to track my progress, and set the goal to 50 books, which I figured a toddler mom with a fulltime job should be able to do. It is after all less than one book a week.

The result…

– 57 read books (goal met!)

– 89% crime fiction

– 63% Swedish authors

– 58% female authors

It is hardly a surprise that I mostly read Swedish crime fiction, but I had no idea if I had read books mostly by male or female authors, so 58% female authors was a pleasant surprise.

Amanda Knox

amanda

I watched the crime documentary Amanda Knox on Netflix a while back. The case received a lot of attention in the U.S. A young, beautiful, American exchange student is convicted and eventually acquitted for the murder on her British roommate in Italy.

It is an interesting film, no matter what the truth is. It shows how much influence media has on people’s opinions and I don’t know what to believe; the only certain thing is that when crimes like these are committed there are no winners.

 

“There are those who believe my innocence and there are those who believe in my guilt. There’s no in between – either I’m a psychopath in sheep’s clothing or I am you.” (Amanda Knox)