Many of you know Sue Vincent as a gifted writer and kind and caring fellow blogger. Yesterday she published what may be her final post as she comes to the end of her battle with cancer. Please click on the link to her post and join me in saying farewell to this courageous and inspirational lady.
Thanks to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: March 23rd, 2021
Synopsis: A pulse-pounding psychological thriller based on the popular Dutch tradition of blindfolding teens and pre-teens and dropping them in the middle of a forest—and what happens when it goes horribly wrong.
Twelve-year-old Karin is blindfolded and dropped into the Hoge Veluwe National Forest with three other children. With nothing but a few basic supplies and emergency food, the children are tasked with working together to navigate one of the Netherlands’ most beautiful and wild locations and return to where their families are anxiously waiting.
Karin quickly finds herself at odds with two of the older teens, and suddenly looks up to see that the other children have vanished. As Karin struggles against the elements to find her way back, she soon realizes that something far more sinister lurks in the woods.
Grace, Karin’s mother,and an American married to a Dutch husband, has been nervous about this practice from the start. At first she tells herself that the space is good for her daughter, but as the hours begin to tick by and the children fail to arrive at their designated campsite, she becomes certain that something has gone horribly wrong.
As Karin fights for survival, and Grace hastens to find her daughter, the night culminates in the reveal of a deadly secret—and a shocking confrontation—that will push each of them to her edge. (Goodreads)
As you can see in the synopsis, You’ll Thank Me Later is based on the Dutch tradition of “dropping,” in which groups of pre-teens are left in the woods, where they have to work together to find their way out. Here’s a 2019 New York Times article which tells more about it.
Admittedly my first reaction was: “Are they crazy? Oh my God! How can they blindfold their babies and desert them in the woods? What kind of horrible parents would do that?” However, that reaction is coming from my deep belief in Murphy’s Law, and the pretty much irrefutable fact that if anything can go wrong, it will. Then I started reading more about it and learned that the UK has a right of passage called the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and even the Boy Scouts of America have sponsored similar outings. And I do understand the purpose behind these: Cooperation, self reliance, etc.
After finishing this book though, I say again Murphy’s Law people! The story itself is a quick one at a little over 256 pages. I liked the main characters Karin and her mother, Grace, and the chapters alternate between the two of them. The mystery certainly kept me guessing almost right up until the end. My biggest issue concerns the dialogue which often comes across as stilted and rather awkward, which is surprising as the author is American. Overall though, I found You’ll Thank Me For This an entertaining read that I easily finished in under two hours.
Tomorrow, the much buzzed about The United States vs Billie Holiday, starring Andra Day, is dropping on Hulu here in the U.S. and it’ll be on Sky Cinema in the UK on Saturday. Here’s the trailer:
And here are both Bille Holiday and Andra Day singing the heart wrenching anti-lynching song, Strange Fruit.
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martins Press/Wednesday Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: March 16th, 2021
Synopsis: Four days…
Trapped in a well, surrounded by dirt, scratching at the walls, trying to find a way out. Four days of a thirst so strong, that when it finally rains, I drink as much as possible from the dripping walls, not even caring how much dirt comes with it.
Since my escape. Since no on believed I was taken to begin with—from my own bed, after a party, when no one else was home…Six months of trying to find answers and being told instead that I made the whole incident up.
Since I logged on to the Jane Anonymous site for the first time and found a community of survivors who listen without judgement, provide advice, and console each other when needed. A month of chatting with a survivor whose story eerily mirrors my own: a girl who’s been receiving triggering clues, just like me, and who could help me find the answers I’m looking for.
Since she mysteriously disappears, and since I’m forced to ask the questions: will my chance to find out what happened to me vanish with her? And will I be next?
The Last Secret You’ll Ever Keep has a few issues, but somehow still wound up a winner for me. The problems included: underdeveloped secondary characters, police being portrayed in a negative light (which happens far too often in YA novels), certain character’s actions not making sense, and a few predictable elements. However, what saved this for me was Terra, who I really connected with despite some of her appalling decision making. She’s an unreliable narrator who tells her story from the past when she was taken, as well as the present. To say my heart broke for her, doesn’t quite describe my feelings. I was infuriated by the callous and unfeeling way she was treated by her aunt, the police, former friends, and even her therapist, all who decided she made up this story about being taken to cope with an earlier trauma. Terra finds comfort in the online chat rooms of Jane Anonymous which was created as a safe space for victims of similar crimes. I felt the dialogue between the girls in the forum did slow things down a little, but there was also a direct tie-in from the previous book, so this is a minor complaint. Terra is so lost and confused for the majority of the story that it was a relief when a love interest named Garrett was introduced, who actually supported her and was determined to discover what actually happened. This poor girl desperately needed someone in her corner and Garrett filled that purpose. The ending took a truly bizarre twist, which I both liked and disliked. It came out of nowhere, yet was creative and memorable. Overall, while I don’t think The Last Secret You’ll Ever Keep is as tightly written as Jane Anonymous, thanks to a strongly written and sympathetic main character, I was engrossed from the first chapter. I believe fans of the previous book will enjoy this, and you needn’t have read Jane Anonymous, to read this as the characters are new here.
No doubt most of my fellow citizens here in the U.S. have learned that we have reached the unimaginable milestone of having lost 500,000 people to Covid-19. 500,000 people. It’s difficult to wrap your brain around that figure isn’t it? That just about matches the number of Americans who gave their lives in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam combined. The U.S. death toll is the highest in the world and accounts for over 20% of the 2.5 worldwide coronavirus deaths. Were some of these deaths preventable? Absolutely. Just last week the respected medical journal The Lancet found that 40% of the deaths could have been avoided. It compared the pandemic in the U.S. to other high income nations and discovered much of the blame attributable to Mr. Trump’s “inept and insufficient” response to COVID-19, as well as decades of harmful public healthcare policy decisions. But meanwhile, while most of us are waiting for vaccines to become more widely available, we’re still politicizing mask wearing, social distancing and the vaccines themselves. And to top things off, there are about 31 million people who are uninsured. It’s unfathomable that a country who likes to think of itself as the “greatest nation on Earth” can’t take care of its citizens. If I sound angry and frustrated it’s because I am. For the most part, except for people like our frontline workers, and some instances of heroism and basic human kindness, this pandemic has brought out the worst in us. Selfishness, violence, and callousness that was breathtaking in its scope. And the continuing willingness to use simple lifesaving measures for political expediency is the height of stupidity. If we had any brains at all we’d take a long, hard look at ourselves and our reactions to the pandemic over the last year and change our behaviors and attitudes. Obviously that’s not going to happen. Anyway, you’ll be relieved that I’m stopping my rant now. I apologize, but I’ve been stewing about this all day. Just think though: 500,000 lives gone. People who had family, and friends. People who died horribly, afraid and alone. Many of them needn’t have, and it’s not over yet. If any of you missed it, here is President Biden’s Memorial which aired a few hours ago.
Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: March 2nd, 2021
Synopsis: Esme and Kayla one were campers at Camp Pine Lake. They’re excited to be back this year as CITs (counselors in training). Esme loves the little girls in her cabin and thinks it’s funny how scared they are of everything—spiders, the surly head counselor, the dark, boys…even swimming in the lake! It reminds her of how she and Kayla used to be, once. Before…it happened.
Because Esme and Kayla did something bad when they were campers. Afterwards, the girls agreed to keep it secret. They’ve moved on—or so they say—and this summer is going to be great. Two months of sun, s’mores, and flirting with the cute boy counselors. But then they get a note. THE LAKE NEVER FORGETS. And the secret they kept buried for so many years is about to resurface. (Goodreads)
I have to be honest and say I haven’t had the best luck with Natasha Preston. I keep trying her books though because the premises always suck me in, which was exactly the case with The Lake. Unfortunately, the best I can say is it was marginally better than the previous books I tried. The “Killer at summer camp” has obviously been done before, but I’m always interested in seeing new takes on it, which brings me to my first issue. Preston really brings nothing original to the table. It’s the same exact trope that’s already been done in so many books, and movies, only the villain has a slightly different backstory. The characters are so wooden that they all blend into one another, and most of their actions made no sense to me. The majority of the action is saved for the last few chapters which may have been alright as a slow burn if I had cared about any of the characters, but I didn’t. I did like the twist at the end, but it was too little, too late. I reviewed Preston’s Awake (1 star) and The Cabin (1.5 stars), so The Lake is definitely an improvement. But for me, while it wasn’t a horrid read, it was an apathetic “meh,” and again left me unimpressed.