Book Review: No Exit

No Exit pictureNo Exit by Taylor Adams

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside, are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

Review:
I loved the premise of this book. Darby sees a girl trapped in the back of a van during a snowstorm. There are 4 other people trapped with her in a rest stop. She doesn’t know who to trust or what she should do. Will she put herself in danger to save this girl?
There are some typical tropes, such as a timeline, a dying cell phone, isolation, etc. Still, there are some great twists that keep Darby, and the reader, on our toes.
Darby was an interesting character. She’s got her guilt and her flaws — she’s trying to rush home to mend fences with her ill mother. She says herself how selfish she is. I enjoyed the way she talked to herself and decided what she would do. I also liked how smart and creative she was (though she did have moments of being not so smart too).
The counting down timeline and the tension made for a great read and had me racing through this book. If you are looking for a fun thriller, this is a good one.
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Book Review: The Girl with the Louding Voice

Book Review: The Girl with the Louding Voice

The Girl with the Louding VoiceThe Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

A powerful, emotional debut novel told in the unforgettable voice of a young Nigerian woman who is trapped in a life of servitude but determined to get an education so that she can escape and choose her own future.

Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. This, her mother has told her, is the only way to get a “louding voice”–the ability to speak for herself and decide her own future. But instead, Adunni’s father sells her to be the third wife of a local man who is eager for her to bear him a son and heir.

When Adunni runs away to the city, hoping to make a better life, she finds that the only other option before her is servitude to a wealthy family. As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless slave, Adunni is told, by words and deeds, that she is nothing.

But while misfortunes might muffle her voice for a time, they cannot mute it. And when she realizes that she must stand up not only for herself, but for other girls, for the ones who came before her and were lost, and for the next girls, who will inevitably follow; she finds the resolve to speak, however she can–in a whisper, in song, in broken English–until she is heard.

Review:
Adunni has a great voice — she wants to get educated, become a teacher, and help others. She knows she has value and has an interesting, curious attitude toward life, believing that tomorrow will be a better day, despite what has happened today.
And horrible things do happen to Adunni. It is so difficult to read a book with so much abuse and mistreatment of others, especially when it is juxtaposed against affluence and prosperity. The author does an interesting job of explaining what it is like in Nigeria — the poverty, wealth, abuse, rich culture, the politics…
I liked Adunni, but, despite her louding voice, I found she was often pushed into standing up for herself and moving forward. It is a strange combination of ambition and circumstance. Other people really have to make her see opportunities, but perhaps that’s realistic.
Then there was the language in the book. Adunni is uneducated and the book is narrated in her broken English to highlight this fact. It was challenging to read because of this. I appreciate the author trying to show us something about Adunni but felt that because her thoughts wouldn’t have been in English but her native language in the first place, that this was strange. Just my opinion. Maybe we needed the language as a symbolic barrier?
Overall, though, this is a good book, full of inspiration and hope despite the often terrible events and subject matter.
Thank you to Netgalley and Dutton Books for the review copy.
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Book Review: Followers

FollowersFollowers by Megan Angelo

An electrifying story of two ambitious friends, the dark choices they make and the profound moment that changes the meaning of privacy forever.

Orla Cadden dreams of literary success, but she’s stuck writing about movie-star hookups and influencer yoga moves. Orla has no idea how to change her life until her new roommate, Floss―a striving, wannabe A-lister―comes up with a plan for launching them both into the high-profile lives they so desperately crave. But it’s only when Orla and Floss abandon all pretense of ethics that social media responds with the most terrifying feedback of all: overwhelming success.

Thirty-five years later, in a closed California village where government-appointed celebrities live every moment of the day on camera, a woman named Marlow discovers a shattering secret about her past. Despite her massive popularity―twelve million loyal followers―Marlow dreams of fleeing the corporate sponsors who would do anything, even horrible things, to keep her on-screen. When she learns that her whole family history is a lie, Marlow finally summons the courage to run in search of the truth, no matter the risks.

Followers traces the paths of Orla, Floss and Marlow as they wind through time toward each other, and toward a cataclysmic event that sends America into lasting upheaval. At turns wry and tender, bleak and hopeful, this darkly funny story reminds us that even if we obsess over famous people we’ll never meet, what we really crave is genuine human connection.

Review:
This is such a timely novel with a great premise — about how social media influencers are made and maintained, how social media could be in the future, and how it would be different if it were controlled by the government.
I love books that speculate on our future by making one change, and this book does that. What if the internet were hacked and the government took it over?
The book follows Orla, a blog type reporter, and her roommate Floss, who becomes a social media influencer in the present. It also follows Marlow in the near future who lives live-streamed in a constructed town in California.
I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the present and the future in this book and the exploration of the “what ifs”. I also liked how the story lines converged. However, something was a bit off for me. Perhaps it was because, although I found the characters fine, I had a hard time actually liking any of them. I’m not quite sure. Maybe it was the pacing of the book. However, I did find it thought provoking and find myself thinking about it still.
Thank you to Netgalley and Graydon House Books for the review copy.
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Book Review: Trace of Evil

Trace of EvilTrace of Evil (Natalie Lockhart #1) by Alice Blanchard

A riveting mystery that introduces a bold and audacious rookie detective assigned to hunt for a killer who is haunted by the past in this gripping murder case…

Natalie Lockhart always knew she was going to be a cop. A rookie detective on the Burning Lake police force, she was raised on the wisdom of her chief-of-police father. These cases will haunt you if you let them. Grief doesn’t come with instructions.

But the one thing her father couldn’t teach her was how to handle loss. Natalie’s beloved sister was viciously murdered as a teenager, and she carries the scars deep in her heart. Although the killer was locked up, the trace evidence never added up, and Natalie can’t help wondering―is the past really behind her?

As the newest member on the force, Natalie is tasked with finding nine missing persons who’ve vanished off the face of the earth, dubbed “the Missing Nine.” One night, while following up on a new lead, she comes across a savage crime that will change everything.

Daisy Buckner―a popular schoolteacher, wife to a cop, and newly pregnant―lies dead on her kitchen floor. As Natalie hunts for Daisy’s killer in the wake of the town’s shock, her search leads to a string of strange clues―about the Missing Nine, about Daisy’s secret life, and reviving fresh doubts about her sister’s murder.

As the investigation deepens, Natalie’s every move risks far-reaching consequences―for the victims, for the town of Burning Lake, and for herself.

Spellbinding and gripping, Trace of Evil is a novel of twisting suspense that will leave you breathless.

Review:
The premise of this book was great and there was a lot that was interesting about it. However, I also found that for some reason, the book dragged a bit for me. There were a lot of story lines and they were interesting and the author wove it all together really well.
I even liked the characters. Natalie is interesting and tenacious. I loved her niece.
I think there was just a lot of “info dumping”. There were lots of long passages of telling background, instead of weaving it in. Also, there was a lot of repetition.
Still, this is a promising start to a detective series.
Thank you to Netgalley and Minotaur Books for the review copy.
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