Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

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What. A. Book.

Spoonbenders is one of the craziest rides I’ve been on in a while. This novel took me a while to get hooked, but when I did, I couldn’t put the book down. I actually had to pace myself because I was taking notes, being that this book was chosen by the members of “Not Your Mama’s Book Club” for the January read. It won in a close vote, and I didn’t think it would be something I’d enjoy, but I was so wrong.

There’s a lot going on. In the beginning of the novel, it’s like picking up breadcrumbs and you have no idea where they are taking you. We are introduced to Matty and the Telemachus family, who used to be famous for their Amazing (with a capital A) abilities but the loss of the matriarch made the act fall apart. Maureen Telemachus had true psychic abilities, and passed them down to her children. Teddy, Maureen’s husband, had always been in the game for the money, but when he met Maureen in an experimental group, he knew she was the real psychic thing. Unfortunately, he couldn’t save her from her fate, and it left everyone downtrodden… until Matty learned about his secret powers.

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While Teddy is off on his daily search for love, Matty and his uncle Frankie are developing Matty’s powers… mostly for Frankie’s own selfish needs. And while they’re palling around, Matty’s mother Irene is trying to get her life back together and attempting a long distance relationship. Then, there’s Buddy, whose precognitive powers have him hustling to complete a series of tasks that he knows are necessary, but unsure of how they will all turn out in the end.

It’s a complicated plot, but comes together so well. About 100 pages in, you’re hooked because there are all these you have no idea where this book is going. So, just to get you interested, here’s a little chart I made that may help clarify a few things! Although- if you don’t want any spoilers, STOP HERE!

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So now that the main characters and their connections to each other are summarized, I have a couple of things I just wanted to state. First off, Buddy is the most underappreciated hero of this story. Having the ability to detect the future and see everything coming his way from such a young age…it broke my heart that he had to carry that burden. I mean, the letters in crayon, drawing his mother’s grave, knowing that he could accidentally change the future if he didn’t do something correctly or say something. Gregory had me completely empathetic towards him. Then, there was Maureen, who also knew of the future, thanks to Buddy, and wrote all those letters to Teddy. Very PS I Love You, but also abstract enough to not reveal all the plot twists. With Teddy, it was a love/hate relationship, how he could con someone one minute, charm them the next. By the end of the novel, all I could do was shake my head and smile.

So, in summary, Gregory’s characters are wonderfully complex and dynamic, and the way he weaves the plot together is like his very own magic trick. I happen to be a sucker for a good magic trick, and Gregory left me dazed, wondering how he did it all. My only explanation is to go get yourself a copy, and see what you make of it!

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The Host by Stephanie Meyer

Not quite back to back Meyer action this month! I’ve had this on my TBR for two months now, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read it before but it’s been a long time.

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In a futuristic, dystopian type setting, we are introduced to Wanderer, a soul that has been implanted into the body of a young woman named Melanie, a captured human host. This is all considered perfectly normal to the Healer and Seeker whom matched the two together, but things aren’t going to plan post-surgery. Often, according to the Healer, it is easy for the soul to overtake control of the mind and body of the host- but Wanderer is having  a very difficult time keeping Melanie submissive, and this doesn’t bode well with her assigned Seeker, who is trying to gain information from Melanie’s human experiences to capture the remaining humans in hiding.

Wanderer doesn’t know what to do. As a soul, she never lies and doesn’t believe in violence or conflict, yet this Seeker is determined to get answers from her. Melanie, on the other hand, is desperately trying to conceal all the information she can from Wanderer in regards to her brother, Jamie, and the man she loves, Jared. She wants to keep them safe from the Seeker, and her emotions and memories that are unveiled are stronger than anything Wanderer has ever felt. Soon, Wanderer starts to share the same feelings with Melanie, and realizes that she loves Jamie and Jared just as much as Melanie. This puts them all in danger- since the Seeker isn’t getting the information from Wanderer, she’s volunteered to take over Melanie’s body instead, which would essentially kill Melanie, once the Seeker has gotten the information she needs. Melanie gives Wanderer the push she needs, and before they know it, they are off the beaten path, trying to find their way back to Jamie and Jared, and ensuring their safety before they are either caught or killed.

Little did they know, they would not only find the boys again, but a colony of humans and new motivation to keep them all alive.

It took me a while to get into the story- I think I have a hard time with the dystopian, futuristic fantasy books because it’s completely unknown, and my imagination has to actually work! However, once I got into the story, it was hard to put down. I loved the imagery the Meyer created, and the dialogue between Wanderer and Melanie. I did remember a few things as I was rereading, but not enough to spoil any of Meyer’s plot twists. It took me over a week to finish it because I’ve been preoccupied with a bunch of work-related and family-related stuff, but it provided a nice mental break from everything when I did have the chance read.

Overall, I would definitely recommend, especially for those who love the dystopian settings.

 

 

 

 

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

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I took a trip to the library, checked out The Chemist, and then left it sitting around, waiting for it’s turn on the TBR pile. I finally got around to reading it, and it took me four days to devour the 500+ page book. I shouldn’t have waited to read it, because it has quickly become one of my top books that I’ve read this year!

The reader is immediately thrown into the action that is Dr. Juliana Fortis’ life. On the run for the past three years, she has shed her old name for unisex names like Chris, Casey, and Alex; lived in booby trapped hideaways; and driven in circles for hours in cars bought off Craigslist with cash. She’s extremely intelligent, and has successfully outsmarted the government officials that are determined to assassinate the escaped asset. What she never expected was the email she received- a plea from her old boss to help them solve a case, in exchange for her freedom.

Tempted at the thought of freedom but knowing what her old boss, Carston, is capable off, she decides to take his bait- her way. When she pops in for a surprise visit, they agree to work together this one last time. He sends her the information, and she gets to work. Kidnapping her new target, Daniel, is relatively easy. In fact, it’s almost like he wanted to go with her. When they make it to her newest designated hideout, she gets to work. Enter, the Chemist.

But of course, things don’t go as planned. Just as soon as she’s almost gotten the information she needs- though not exactly what she expects- from Daniel, someone literally drops in on their party. As “Alex” prepares to fight off another government lackey, she instead is surprised by her new guest… who just happens to be in the same boat as she.

Teaming up, Alex, Daniel, and their new guest decide to change the game and take out their pursuers in the hopes of finally being free from their previous lives. It’s absolutely thrilling, gripping, and full of plot twists. I also loved the sense of humor in the book- even in some of the most terrifying situations, there would be a line that would crack me up and give me a second to breathe. I may be a bit behind the curve on this one because it was published in 2016, but if you haven’t read this one, I give it a 100% recommendation!

 

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

“Put the things you can put right today, and let the ones from back then go. Leave the rest to the angels, or the devil or whoever’s in charge of it.”

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What would you do if you had to choose between your moral compass and your heart’s desire? From the moment that Tom Sherbourne finds the tiny baby ashore on Janus Island, something felt wrong. Not just the circumstance- the lone floating dingy with a dead man and screaming baby inside it- but the decision made to delay reporting the incident on a plea from his wife, Isabel, who sweeps the poor child into her arms. Yet despite the unease, the childless couple that had tried and failed to expand their family accepted this little girl like gift from God.

It was, at first, easy enough to cover up the arrival of the baby they named Lucy. Being the lighthouse keeper and only residents on Janus Island, the couple were miles away from civilization, with no one but themselves to question the incident. Those in the know knew that Isabel had been expecting- and the couple felt no hurry to report the miscarriage that occurred two weeks prior to Lucy’s arrival. But after two years of heaven on Janus, the family was granted leave to the mainland, and their fantasy world collides with reality. Lucy’s real mother is still searching for her, desperately believing her daughter, Grace, is still alive. When the Sherbournes find this out, the couple have to choose- out the truth, or continue the lie for the sake of love? Isabel takes camp in continued secrecy, but Tom can’t help but feel conflicted for not telling the truth- and therefore pitting himself against his wife.

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It’s heart wrenching story, and only devastates the reader the further they read. Stedman does a beautiful job of describing everything, from the fictional setting that had me looking for it on Google Maps despite, to the emotional feelings from all the parties involved in Lucy-Grace’s life.

The only thing I could fault is the slow pace- it’s not a very long novel, but it took me quite a while to read it. However I see it fitting for this story anyways, because you DO have to read it slowly, and absorb the many facets of the setting, the characters, and the conflicts in between the two.

The book was published in 2012, became a bestseller, and then produced into a film last September (which I’m now going to have to watch!). I’d recommend giving The Light Between Oceans a chance to steal your heart too.

Burn Town by Jennifer McMahon

“There is no someday. We spend so much of our lives waiting for someday, don’t we? There is only right now. This is our someday.”

Burn Town just made one of my top favorite books of the year so far. When I read Winter People, I remember liking it but not enthralled, but I’m glad I decided to try again with McMahon, because WOW.

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Burn Town had me hooked in the first 10 pages. HOOKED. By page 35, I had a running list of questions, and by page 50, I couldn’t take my eyes off the page. There are very few books that I’ve read in one day, yet here I am, adding this suspense thriller to the list. I could not put it down.

The whole story starts with the murder of Elizabeth Sandeski, the grandmother of the main character, Necco (Eva). Necco’s father, Miles, witnesses the murderer take his mother’s life, and years down the road attempts revenge. Thanks to a machine that links the living with the dead, Elizabeth reveals who killed her, and Miles takes matters into his own hands- or so he thinks. Years after that, Necco’s mother has a sort of premonition that the family is in danger again, and Necco learns that she’s in danger just before things get foggy and her memories fade to black.

Now, Necco is on the run again with the help of a high school drug dealer, a circus-crazed cafeteria lady, and a part-time private investigator, trying to figure out who is after her and what happened to her family after “the Great Flood”. Everything Necco thought she knew is nothing compared to the truth she uncovers.

Absolutely recommend the read, as long as you can handle the thrill of it!