The Perfect Girl

The Perfect Girl by Gilly MacMillan

This book is the second book by the author Gilly Macmillan and while it is the first one that I have read, I will try her other book soon.

This book follows Zoe upon her release and chance to being again with her “Second Chance Life” with her mom, new step-dad, Chris, step-brother, Lucas, and new sister, Grace.

Zoe was convicted of killing three of her high school classmates after events at a party turned drastically wrong and her trial didn’t go as well as planned. But, all that aside, Zoe is ready to begin a new life in what her mother has dubbed her “Second Chance Life.” They have moved and started anew. They have to appear perfect.

On the night of her revival, Zoe and Lucas hold a piano performance. Both are piano prodigies. Before the performance has truly begun, Thomas Barlow has burst through the doors and caused a scene, leaving Zoe running for the doors and everyone else aghast. This begins a long night of secrets being revealed, secrets that Zoe and her mother kept hidden from Chris and Lucas to preserve Zoe and allow her to fully move on with a new life. By the end of the night, Zoe’s mother is dead. She is found in the shed and the police cycle starts over again.

All is not as it seems as each person is interviewed the following morning and everyone has secrets to hide. This book is told from multiple viewpoints including Zoe, Lucas, Tessa (Zoe’s aunt), Sam (Zoe’s lawyer from before and the man Tessa is cheating on her husband with), and Richard (Tessa’s self-hating, alcoholic husband).

When I first started reading and each character was introduced in his or her own section it sounded very much like a diary entry because of the groundwork that was working so hard at being laid. The descriptions of oneself and others sounded to contrite and awkward because it isn’t how we talk about ourselves. It sounded like the speaker was speaking straight to the reader,even though that isn’t the way the book was set up. It was set up to tell the story from the various viewpoints so that you saw the entire picture.

The story doesn’t end when you find out who didn’t because at that point there are still other loose ends of the other story versions that need to be tied up. It only gets confusing if you do not pay attention to the name at the top of the page of each new section. It is never the same character twice in a row, but it does pick up the story right where the last one left off, so nothing is missed.

Overall the story was an interesting one and I look forward to reading her other book.

What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

This book is definitely an interesting read. It begs the question: What would you do if you forgot the last ten years of your life? Would you be the same person? Would you change who you are? Would you become someone knew? What would the 10-years-younger you say about the choices you are making today? What would you think about who you have become and what you are doing with your life?

Alice Love doesn’t have to ask these questions; she is living it. She falls during a spin class at her gym and bumps her head. When she comes to, moments later, she has no recollection of where she is, who the people around her are, nor does she realize it is 10 years later than what she remembers. Her bump caused 10 years of memories to disappear. She comes into a world where she is on the edge of a divorce with the love of her life, she has three kids, her relationship with her sister has gone astray, she has different priorities which includes a pesky, bossy voice in her head, and for once in her life, she is skinny. None of this seems normal to her and she has to navigate her way through her new life to try and find her old self, while still being true to her actual self. This gives Alice a second chance at life, relationships, as well as how she does things. With each day, more memories are revealed to her and she realizes more and more of why she acts the way she does/did or why people act certain ways around her. She realizes she is a busy mother who never slows down to enjoy life. Her 10-years-younger self finds it hard to keep up, but does her best to make a new way in her already set-in-stone life.

As books would have it, she has another massive fall ending with a bump on the head towards the end of the book, and after that bump it seals the fate of how she will act and what she will do with the rest of her life.

This book did switch back and forth between Alice, Frannie’s letters (family friend), and Elizabeth’s (Alice’s sister) homework. This switching back and forth takes a while to get accustomed to, but the more I read, the more I realized why their letters were so important to the rest of the story. It gave a more unbiased view to all the situations and it helped the reader to understand why certain characters acted in certain ways. It gave the reader information that sometimes Alice might not, and cannot know because of her memory loss, but it leads to a deeper understanding.

For the most part we as the reader are on the same journey with Alice, trying to recover her memory and figure out who she is, was, and wants to be going on into the future.

Another great book from Liane Moriarty!

Three Wishes

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty 

This book follows the travels of three sisters for roughly a year of their life.  The first introduction to the sisters is a scene from an outside perspective watching them at a restaurant when they seem to have an explosive argument. We hear nothing in this snippet from any of the sisters. From there we switch back in time and start hearing their story, switching between the three: Lyn, Cat, and Gemma Kettle. Each sister has an issue to deal with it, be it family, or love life related. All have a mirage built up that is bound to be broken soon. They have secrets they don’t even tell each other. Their relationships strain, together and with others. But, through this one year in their life they also grow stronger and closer. I did enjoy the outside snippets that show various parts of their lives. Though at first it didn’t seem as if they had any correlation to the current story, the more I read, the more clear it became how they interacted and impacted the story. It impacted my viewpoint on the girls too, as it gave another glimpse into them that I would otherwise never have seen. These girls resemble a family, like any other, except they are triplets and that makes them unique to everyone else around them.

Overall this book was a decent read. I liked it enough to keep reading .ore of this author’s books. It is also this author’s first book and that can account for some of the writing not being as grand. It took me a long time to read this one between other obligations and I can’t fully tell if it is because of the lack of a total hook to these characters, because I didn’t care for them as much as I usually do for other characters, or if it took me a long time to read for other reasons. 

Overall the book is a decent read and I am going to give this author another go by reading her next book. 

Dear Mr. Knightley

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Samantha Moore is the down-on-her-luck character that many of us are all too familiar with. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Sam hides behind the facade of her favorite books, namely Jane Austen and other similar classics. She has been in and out of foster homes and lives with Father John now. An orphan, at the age of 23, and all attempts at a normal life failed, for another “failed to connect.” She gets the opportunity of a life-time to go to college, all under the donation of an illustrious Mr. Knightley, the benefactor who will pay for all of her educational costs, as long as she gets her graduate degree in journalism. Sam begins by not being too fond of this prospect, but it grows on her and transforms her in ways she never imagined possible. Through the help of Mr. Knightley and journalism, along with new friends that she meets in the most unlikely places, she is able to start overcoming her past and put the book front behind her. She begins to be more courageous. During the book she meets the famous Alex Powell, who she finds herself enjoying more and more time with, but with no basis as to what relationships should be like, she has no basis for what she feels like. Throughout her journey, Mr. Knightley provides her with clothes, an apartment, and a confidant as Sam, to get her education paid for, must chronicle her adventures through school (and life as she deems fit) to him through letters to which he never replies. Sam finds safety and refuge in the letters and is able to open up to her true self, closing doors on her past and opening doors to things she never imagined possible. She finds love, friends, and family, but when she questions the relationship of Mr. Knightley and demands a meeting, does everything crumble?

I enjoyed this book. I was an easy read, though I must digress that I guessed the identity of Mr. Knightley almost immediately. I won’t say when, as that would give it away, but I will say, if you pay attention to the book, it will be easy to figure out who the mysterious benefactor is, and when you do, the story takes a different light.

It is a light-hearted romance in the underlying tones with some references to a dark past for Sam, but it is mixed in with what would be normal college/friend troubles. It seems young and trivial as a reader that she would be thinking that way, but with her lack of knowledge of anything solid and real in the world, I could shrug it off as her learning her way in the world.

Katherine Reay has other books out as well, all with titles that lend to Jane Austen and other similar female authors. Enjoy this book for a light read and don’t look into it for too much of a deeper meaning. It was definitely a cozy read.