#5Books: Book recs and giving characters a chance

#5Books for the week ending 9 February 2020: Fity-Fifty, Robin Hood, The Prized Girl, the Body Double, and Death in the Family

Some days, I feel like the most judgemental person in the world, especially when it comes to books — because I either have too little patience for characters to redeem themselves, or I am perhaps a stick in the mud. Or old. Or I might be one of those people who are Boomers (Yes, I am Ok-Boomer-ing myself here)…

… but seriously, some characters just rub me the wrong way.

So there’s a great premise to a thriller that shall remain nameless — involving a wannabe journalist, her determination to get a paying job as a journalist and the lengths she will go to to get the job — because that includes sneaking into a police crime scene, risking the job of every person she lied to to get to the murder and then when a former friend rescues her and gets her out the crime scene unscathed.

Every person whose career she risked; who was innocent and didn’t know she was a journalist — she just doesn’t care about them. If she had shown some sort of remorse, I might have continued reading, but my heart kind of sunk when she did that. She pretty much just brushes away her former friend pointing all that out to her, and tries to figure out how to get home.

There could very well be redemption for her, but I know these are just characters in a book, but why would I give my time and energy to someone to a character like this? She just rubbed me the wrong way completely and I couldn’t bring myself to continue. Maybe if I forget how much I hated her, I’ll go back to this book some day.

Here’s hoping these characters don’t make me grind my teeth in frustration!

Death in the Family

A storm-struck island. A blood-soaked bed. A missing man. Senior Investigator Shana Merchant believes it all adds up to a killer in their midst—and that murder is a family affair.

Thirteen months ago, former NYPD detective Shana Merchant barely survived being abducted by a serial killer. Now hoping to leave grisly murder cases behind, she’s taken a job in her fiancé’s sleepy hometown in the Thousand Islands region of Upstate New York.

But as a nor’easter bears down on her new territory, Shana and fellow investigator Tim Wellington receive a call about a man missing on a private island. Shana and Tim travel to the isolated island owned by the wealthy Sinclair family to question the witnesses. They arrive to find blood on the scene and a house full of Sinclair family and friends on edge.

While Tim guesses they’re dealing with a runaway case, Shana is convinced that they have a murder on their hands. As the gale intensifies outside, she starts conducting interviews and discovers the Sinclairs and their guests are crawling with dark and dangerous secrets.

Trapped on the island by the raging storm with only Tim whose reliability is thrown into question, the increasingly restless suspects, and her own trauma-fueled flashbacks for company, Shana will have to trust the one person her abduction destroyed her faith in—herself. But time is ticking down, because if Shana’s right, a killer is in their midst and as the pressure mounts, so do the odds that they’ll strike again.

The idea of Shana and Tim trapped on the island is sooo claustrophobic AND with a killer in their midst? I want more details about Shana’s experience, and why she doesn’t trust herself anymore.

The Body Double 

A dark, glittering debut novel, The Body Double is the suspenseful story of a young woman who is recruited by a stranger to give up her old life and identity to impersonate a reclusive Hollywood star.

A strange man discovers our nameless narrator selling popcorn at a decrepit small-town movie theater and offers her an odd and lucrative position: she will forget her job, her acquaintances, even her name, and move to Los Angeles, where she will become the body double of the famous and troubled celebrity Rosanna Feld. A nervous breakdown has forced Rosanna out of the public eye, and she needs a look-alike to take her place in the tabloid media circus of Hollywood. Overseen by Max, who hired her for the job, our narrator spends her days locked up in a small apartment in the hills watching hidden camera footage of Rosanna, wearing Rosanna’s clothes, eating the food Rosanna likes, practicing her mannerisms, learning to become Rosanna in every way. But as she makes her public debut as Rosanna, dining at elegant restaurants, shopping in stylish boutiques, and finally risking a dinner party with Rosanna’s true inner circle, alarming questions begin to arise. What really caused Rosanna’s mental collapse? Will she ever return? And is Max truly her ally, or something more sinister? With echoes of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, The Body Double is a fabulously plotted noir about fame, beauty, and the darkness of Hollywood

The idea of a body double and the what seemed like a quirky idea takes becomes something utterly sinister in this blurb — even more so when you realise the narrator has no name. She’s only there to be Rosanna’s double. And Max — I don’t think the narrator ever meets Rosanna, so all she has to go on is what Max tells her… which why should he be believed?

See, creepy!

Robin Hood

A town. A forest. A hero.

You can’t go far without a quick brain and some rule-bending in a place like Locksley. After its vast car plants shut down, the prosperous town has become a wasteland of empty homes, toxic land and families on the brink. And it doesn’t help that the authorities are in the clutches of profit-obsessed Sheriff of Nottingham, in cahoots with underworld boss Guy Gisborne.

When his dad is framed for a robbery, Robin and his brother Little John are hounded out of Locksley and must learn to survive in the Sherwood forest, stretching three hundred kilometres and sheltering the free spirits and outlaws. But Robin is determined to do more than survive. Small, fast and deadly with a bow, he hatches a plan to join forces with Marion Maid, harness his inimitable tech skills and strike a blow against Gisborne and the Sheriff.

Why hasn’t Robin Hood been upgraded and retold like this before? (And no, Green Arrow doesn’t count! ) Yes, it’s for ages 10-14, but really, it’s Robin Hood. I’m not going to even pretend not to be curious.

The Prized Girl

From debut author Amy K. Green comes a devastating tale of psychological suspense: a teen pageant queen is found murdered in a small New England town, and her sister’s search for answers unearths more than she bargained for.

Days after a young teenager named Jenny is found murdered, her small town grieves the loss alongside her picture-perfect parents. At first glance, Jenny’s tragic death appears clear-cut for investigators. In the murder of a former pageant queen from a safe and loving family, the most obvious suspect is a fan who got too close for comfort. But Jenny’s sarcastic, older half-sister Virginia isn’t so sure of his guilt and takes matters into her own hands to find the killer.

But for Jenny’s case and and Virginia’s investigation, there’s more to the story. Virginia, still living in town and haunted by her own troubled teenage years, suspects that a similar darkness lay beneath the sparkling veneer of Jenny’s life. Alternating between Jenny’s final days and Virginia’s determined search for the truth, the sisters’ dual narratives follow a harrowing trail of suspects, with surprising turns that race toward a shocking finale.

Jenny, it seems, is more complex than I first thought and rightaway, I wanted to know about her and what lies beneath her veneer. I am also curious about her voice in this book, considering the differences between the girls, and the fact that Virgina really doesn’t know her sister. Gut feeling: got to have it! Also the crown on the branch? Nice touch!

Fifty-Fifty

Two sisters on trial for murder. Both accuse each other.
Who do YOU believe?

Alexandra Avellino has just found her father’s mutilated body, and needs the police right away. She believes her sister killed him, and that she is still in the house with a knife.

Sofia Avellino has just found her father’s mutilated body and needs the police right away. She believes her sister, Alexandra did it, and that she is still in the house, locked in the bathroom.

Both women are to go on trial at the same time. A joint trial in front of one jury.

But one of these women is lying. One of them is a murderer. Sitting in a jail cell, about to go on trial with her sister for murder, you might think that this is the last place she expected to be.

You’d be wrong.

Oh hell, this sounds fantastic. Talk about the unreliable narrator (both sisters) and then the end of the blurb — what on earth? Did the killer plan to be caught? I need this so much. Utterly utterly compelling blurb!

13 Comments

  • Sam@wlabb says:

    I never thought about if they try my patience, but I know I am always very satisfied, when an author allows a character to redeem themselves, and in the end, I am very forgiving. Body Double sounds really interesting. The whole concept of stepping into someone’s life in their place has so many great possibilities.

    • Verushka says:

      I was trying to find something to hold on to, but she genuinely didn’t care and just walked off scrolling through the murder victims’ Twitter. That was it for me. I couldn’t continue. Body Double is interesting and also creepy too. I’m dying to know what’s what in that!

  • Angela says:

    Sometimes I just hate characters, too, and it can really affect my enjoyment of the whole book.

    OMG, The Body Double sounds incredible! Are we sure Rosanna just had a mental breakdown and isn’t actually… dead?

  • Ok-Boomer-ing yourself hahahaha that make me laugh, sorry 😀

  • I’m super curious about Death in the Family and Robin Hood – and I won’t lie, the cover of Robin Hood won me over. So the book you described sounds familiar but I’m pretty sure I don’t know which one it is. I love “if I can forget how much I hate her maybe I can finish.” Perfect! Life’s too short – move on 🙂

  • Jen Mullen says:

    If I dislike a character and fail to believe in him or her, I often DNF the book. I recently finished one in which the character felt unbelievable, but made caustic comments to myself all the way through to the disappointing conclusion.

    I think I’d like a modern day Robin with tech skills!

    • Verushka says:

      I think in all her self-absorbed nature in the beginning, I needed to find something to hold on to, but nothing was there. YES to a modern Robin!

  • Lark says:

    I think there’s way too many good books out there waiting to be read to waste time going back to one where the character completely frustrated you. I’d just move on. 🙂

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