Still Me by Jojo Moyes

If you haven’t read Me Before You or After You, then please do so or read my reviews of them before you proceed, because this review will include spoilers of them!

Alrighty, are we on the same page?

Okay, good, because in Still Me, the reader follows Louisa over the pond to New York City, with the blessings of Sam and her family to take such an opportunity. She’ll be assistant to the new Mrs. Gopnik, Agnes, a Polish immigrant who married a wealthy mogul with a fifth avenue home and vicious ex-wife. Louisa is to be a sort of companion and shield against the glares, stares, and gossip pointed at Agnes, but it proves to be a difficult task. Appearances must be kept up, which means Agnes is pushed to attend charity events, balls, and luncheons with the cronies of the ex-wife, and there are many family obligations that include Tabitha, the step-daughter who is only three years younger than Agnes and ferociously loyal to her mother. Louisa is shuttled off with Agnes, dubbed her friends in public, and thrown into the ring with the wolves as well.

Louisa knows this is part of the job and what she signed up for, and she has tough skin. She takes the retribution in stride, and tries to befriend Agnes while still maintaining her professionalism, knowing it is a fine line. She knows this is an opportunity of a lifetime, and she’s enjoying her time in the Big Apple. She’s made a few friends and learned a few local tricks, and has genuinely tried to make New York feel like home, but she still gets bouts of homesickness, especially for Sam.

Related image

Their long distance relationship has been more difficult to maintain than anticipated, and their visits are excruciatingly short, rushed, or tense. Sam has gotten a new work partner who appears awfully keen on Sam, irritating Louisa; Louisa’s friendship with Josh, a man who looks just like Will, has likewise gotten under Sam’s skin. The jealousy that has sprung up in their relationship has become detrimental.

(Photo Credit: Google Images)

She’s only been in New York for three months when things start hitting bottom for Louisa, but just as she’s done before, she finds a way to turn her luck around and pick herself up. Digging deep, she finds that she has to figure out what she wants- not what Will, Sam, or Josh want for her.

In Still Me, Moyes yet again takes her readers on the emotional roller coaster that is Louisa Clark’s life. I still found myself cheering her on, especially when a few moments reflected episodes in my own life. Louisa’s thoughts, reactions, and observations are just so honest and outright, and I’ve truly enjoyed her narration because it’s so relatable. I also love the way Moyes slowly reveals everything, throwing little plot twists here are there. Many times I was caught off guard, thinking that I had predicted an outcome only to be proven incorrect. And I have to say, I didn’t actually cry during this one, which is a nice change of pace!

Naturally, I highly recommend you give this book a read if you’ve read the previous Moyes books, and I hope you enjoy them all as much as I have!

Advertisements

After You by Jojo Moyes

The sequel to Jojo Moyes’ bestseller! If you haven’t already read Me Before You, you know what to do…

Image result for am waiting gif

(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Alright, are we on the same page now? Good.

Louisa is having a hard time dealing with the grief accompanying the loss of Will. She’s tried to live the life he wanted her to have- traveling, experiencing new things, going outside her comfort zone… but none of it seems to satisfy the ache in her heart. She returns to her flat in London, depressed and unsure how to cope. Then, she accidentally falls off the roof of her five story apartment complex, and somehow survives. Forced to return home, which proves uncomfortable, Louisa works on physically healing while trying to suss out how she can mentally and emotionally heal. On return to London, she decides to start attending grief counseling, but then she is confronted by a teenager named Lily, who is desperate to learn about her biological father…. Will.

Louisa isn’t sure how to proceed with this news, but she tries her best to tell Lily about the Will she knew and loved, as well as introduces Lily to her biological grandparents. But, Lily is a wild child and quite the handful for Louisa, and things don’t go as smoothly as she planned. She consults her family and her grief counseling circle, but finds the best advice coming from Ambulance Sam. They informally met after Louisa’s near-death fall, and then again when Jake, a teen Louisa befriends from the counsel circle, introduced them. Louisa keeps Sam at a distance because of the stories that Jake confides in the circle, but she can’t help but appreciate his honesty and patience with her. Yet between Lily’s chaotic moods, her micromanaging boss/ terrible work attire, and her lack of life direction, Louisa is overwhelmed and afraid to add a relationship with Sam into the mix. So, she bumbles along, trying to figure out how to arrive at a state of equilibrium and happiness.

Image result for After you jojo moyes

(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Moyes has created a sequel with Louisa in a way that seems completely fitting to where the story left off in Me Before You. I adore Louisa, being a perfectly flawed protagonist, and relate to her in many ways. The way she handles the loss of Will absolutely breaks my heart, but every time she picks up a broken piece of herself,  the reader can’t help but cheer. Moyes writes so conversationally that sometimes I feel as if Louisa’s thoughts were my own, and yet she manages to provide plot twists so emotionally charged and unexpected that it leaves me agape. I loved where the book ending left off as well, and am eager to get started on Still Me. I don’t want to give away the ending here, so make sure you read this book before you check out my next review!

Saratoga Payback by Stephen Dobyns

When I checked this out of the library, I thought there was something familiar about it. Turns out, I’ve read another of Dobyns’ books, called Saratoga Backtalk. Both are ‘Charlie Bradshaw’ mysteries, where we follow private investigator Charlie as he tries to solve crimes in the horse industry. I know that the horse connection had a lot to do with picking them both out, but in all honesty, while reading these novels, you don’t care much about the horses. The reader is too wrapped up in the suspense of the mystery!

Image result for Saratoga Payback book

(Photo Credit: Google Images)

In Saratoga Payback, Charlie is officially a retired PI (something tells me there is more to that story but it isn’t discussed in depth in this novel), yet he can’t help getting involved in the murder mystery that actually drops on his doorstep. Mickey Martin is found dead on Charlie’s sidewalk outside his home with his throat slashed and his tongue cut out. Charlie can’t quite figure out why, but he has a hunch that someone wanted Mickey to stop running his mouth, and wanted Charlie to know it too. So, trying his hardest to not meddle in police business, being that he no longer has his PI license and could go to jail for investigating, he takes on the “concerned citizen” role and tries to figure out why Mickey was brutally murdered.

Image result for Saratoga racetrack

(Photo Credit: Don Nieman, Google Images)

It’s a quick paced novel, and very funny despite the scary situation, what with all the vicious slashing going on. As I was reading Payback, it made me recall why I liked Backtalk. Dobyns’ character driven plots make it easy to follow along but leave enough mystery to keep you turning the page. Charlie’s easy going personality and witty banter with his clients, friends, family, and informants make these novels an enjoyable read.

 

House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy

I was pleasantly surprised as to how much I liked this book at the end, since I wasn’t very intrigued  at the beginning. The suspenseful thriller started slow, and though it left believable characters, I kept trying to guess when the action would happen, slightly bored and expecting your typical “boogeyman” story. I’m glad I hung in there until the end, however.

Image result for House of Echoes

(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Duffy introduces the Tierney family- Ben, Caroline, and their sons Charlie and Robert (Bub for short). After some trying times while living in the city, fate appears to give them a chance to start over , reviving an old mansion in upstate New York into an inn. The couple try to adjust to life in a small village, and attempt to mingle with the locals to gain their support of the mansion renovation. Many are intrigued, but others seems distant, even hostile, in their welcome. Undaunted, the couple press on in their efforts, despite the creepy feeling emitted from the old mansion and surrounding forest. Their son Charlie, however, can’t seem to stay out of the forest, and starts playing a “game” with its unofficial occupant dubbed “the Watcher” until one night when the game goes to far.

While reading the first 250 pages of this book, I was really expecting the stereotypical  horror thriller-  after all, Duffy had plotted many of the elements. The remote village location, the creepy old house, the “thing” living in the forest nearby, the odd village behaviors… all elements carefully placed to keep you expecting a scare. But Duffy did well on the delivery of the scare, and that was the twist I didn’t see coming. By the 300 page mark, I was flipping through the pages, reading as fast as I could to see what happened next. It was so gripping, but paced out so that not everything was exposed until almost the very end of the book. And then, the very last chapter, Duffy changes the point of view to where you think he’s talking to the reader, and all I could do was shout in my head “Wait, what happened?!”He’s good, ladies and gentlemen.

Image result for House of Echoes

(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Since I don’t want to give anything away that I haven’t already, all I’m going to say is this: If you’re curious, pick up the book and get to reading.