The Lying Game – Ruth Ware

I have not read Ruth Ware’s other two novels but when I went to Columbus Metropolitan Library I saw the title and I felt that I heard it or I have seen the cover somewhere so I took it and read. Honestly, I completed this book in a day just because I knew the reason and the secret I just wanted to know what else was there.

The lying game picture

About the book:

It is a story where women walking in a beach finds a human bone. That women texts her 3 friends three words “I NEED YOU”. Then the three leave everything and come to the “Mill House”. These four friends are Isa Wilde, Kate Atagon (who texted), Fatima and Thea. These four girls were a tight nit clique in a boarding hostel called Salten House”. Kate and Thea knew each other, and Isa and Fatima were new comers and roommates. Kate’s father is their arts teacher who mysteriously disappeared and for unknown reasons they left Salten house a year or two before their year ended. These four played a game called “The Lying Game”. It had four rules they are:

  • Tell a lie
  • Stick to your story
  • Don’t get caught
  • Never lie to each other
  • Know when to stop lying

The book is narrated by Isa Wild. After 15 years Isa is a mother of 6 months old baby and is living with her boyfriend. She lies to him the moment she gets the text and leaves to meet Kate. Fatima was a Muslim but never practiced the beliefs and not she is a devoted surgeon and practices her religion where she has left drinking and prays five times a day. She has two kids and as soon as she is out of surgery she leaves to meet Kate. Thea then troubled now has a gaming license and she comes to meet Kate as soon as her shift ends. Kate who is still in the same town although scorned by most villagers still lives in her old house and paints. They all meet and although love each other are not comfortable at first.

The story moves back and forth how Isa first met Fatima on the train and they became friends and then how they met Kate and Thea and how they all became friends. Then the story moves to today and how they know that the discovered body is of him. Isa had a crush on Kate’s brother Luc and how he had rejected her and how he is still in town. After attending their high school reunion, they come back and everyone leaves. But, once they leave back in few days’ time they get  a blackmail photo. Isa contacts Fatima and Thea and they meet and shocked to know that all three received it and they decide to go back and confront Kate. To their dismay they go back only to realize that Kate was being blackmailed since long time ago and she has been paying the blackmailer off. They come to know someone knows the truth. In the end there is a lot of twists and turns and the book comes to an end.

My Review:

It was an okay book. I found the plot weak and to why did the book was named The Lying Game? First thing is that the four best friends lying was a game. However, the incident that happened and how they lied and have buried inside them is not a lie. They lied to people around them for fun but the incident is not something that was a result of one of their lies it was a complete different thing.

Second when Kate found the body why did she call all her three friends? She could have just let that thing remain like that.

Third, I don’t know why Thea is there in the first place. Kate and Thea knew each other and they were friends but she did not have a strong storyline. Kate is one of the central character as it is about how everything is related to her house and her. Isa is the story teller and she had Luc. Fatima can be considered important as she has a special close relation with Isa. But, Thea stands out. She just had close relationship with the other three but except that losing a job and being like how she was it makes no difference. If you remove that character and just consider Isa and Fatima meeting Kate on the train the story still works.

Fourth, while reading few chapters you come to know about what the secret is and there is honestly only one twist and I just read the book to get it over with. While reading the book “The Passenger” I came to know the significance of the title but the title for this book makes no sense.

The End.

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Into The Water – Paula Hawkins

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The story:

There were once two sisters who were nothing alike in their mannerisms. The eldest one is called Danielle Abott or Nel Abott. The younger one is called Jules Abott. The elder one is care free slim and loved by all boys and is dating the hot one. While the younger one is fat and chubby and considers herself as the black sheep of the family. They both are estranged now. Jules gets a  call from the detective that her sister was found dead and she needs to come back to her home town.

In their home town there is a famous suicide spot a cliff. Nel has always loved waters and was obsessed with it since she was a child. She always felt that water speaks to her. The story is said from mainly three peoples view post Nel’s death. First is form her sister Jules who sometimes seems jealous and at times despises her sister and recalls events that happened in their parents house. Then there is Lena Abott who is Nel’s daughter. Then there is Lena’s best friends brother Josh who knows something about his sister’s death. Josh’s family mostly his mother is very happy over the news that Nel is dead as she blames Nel for Katie’s death.

The story revolves around the fact that who killed Nel at the same spot “the cliff” where teenagers party all summer and since 1679 there have been deaths of women where some were sacrificed because they were wrongly accused of being a witch, or people committing suicide to get rid of their fears. Some even say that the cliff is where you dump unwanted womens. What led to Libby Sleton’s death in 1679, Lauren (1983), Anne Ward (1920), Lauren (1983), Katie’s death and Nel’s murder.

Will Lena and Jules come in good terms? Will Nel’s uncompleted draft book explain all of the question surrounding Jules. Will Jules come to know that during their childhood there were many misunderstandings? Finally will she understand Nel’s love and fascination with water?

Throughout the book you will meet many characters like Sean Townsend, Patrick Townsend, detective Erin Morgan Beckford form London, teacher Mark, Nickie Sage a local washed out Psychic and Mark Henderson. Someone or the other is somehow related to the whole story.

My View:

I liked this book more than the Girl on the Train. It has more flow to it and a reasonable explanation to things. I liked how each character mentioned has a personality and it fits well unlike Girl on the Train where the main character was not relatable at all for me. Better than the other book. You should give it a read.

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The Passenger – Lisa Lutz

Lisa Lutz is famous for her Spellman series. (which I have not read).  This is her stand-alone novel.

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The story starts with a 28 year or 27 year old women named Tanya Dubois. She just found her husband dead at the bottom of her stairs unknown to us how he died. She claims that she did not commit the crime and she thinks of disposing the body not because she is guilty but because if police gets involved then they will find out who she really is. She is not saddened by the death of her husband however she is thinking of future plans and how to survive. She drinks and leaves the place to meet her chiropractor lover and he knows that he will not see her again. She is on the run.

From here the story starts of how she keeps on changing her name and we keep on guessing why is she doing this. Throughout the course of her run she constantly receives email and replies back to a guy named Ryan who knows about her past and it seems that they were once in love and she left him or he left her. They keep on talking about people in her old town and wrong and right that people are doing. When she is on the run she calls a guy named Oliver and demands for new identity and $5000 cash so that she can sustain. He agrees and warns her this is the last time he is doing so. She changes her name to Amelia. There she meets a bartender named Blue who can look right into her soul and say things like she is running away from her past. They become friends and part ways where Blue kills two men who came after Amelia. They get new identity for themselves and they move on. Tanya/Amelia/Debra/Emma/Sonia/Paige/Jo are her names. Here she goes back and lives in camp (closed), breaks into someone’s home and confronts the owner and they have a talk, she gains few pounds cuts and dyes her hair to change her identity many times. She even kills an arsonist. She decides to become a teacher and she loves the job and there she is confronted by Blue’s husband. She likes a sheriff but is one the run.

Slowly everything starts catching up to her. The sheriff who liked her, the reporter who is back in her hometown digging up her past and she has nowhere to go. She decides to end this all and go back to her town which thought she has been dead for long. Then the mystery unfolds of what happened, how did she end up leaving the town, who is Oliver and Ryan and the biggest mystery with her mother’s decision to make her leave the town. (please read the book for that). This will clear the title of the book and its meaning.

What I disliked is her on the run part. There is a section on the book where she is on the run and nothing happens but it is very annoying because you want to say, “Cut to the chase leave all this crap I want to know what actually happened”.  IS Blue and Angel or Devil in disguise of an Angel.

Everyone has a past some small and some very grave that makes us change who we are. We all are running away from our past. Life is a journey and a harsh reality but what a human can do best is survive at any cost. Life is too precious. But at times you must end where it all started. One more thing I liked about this book is the fact that in US you cannot survive without an ID.

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SULA – Toni Morrison

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I am not going to go on and on about the author as I presume everyone know who The Toni Morrison is. I was a little skeptical in reading this book as I had bought beloved and I did not get a chance to read it. I read this book and fell asleep in few pages twice. Then I read the book during the day and I could not put the book down and I finished the book in one go.

It is a sad yet beautiful novel. It touches you in such a way that it is hard to describe. It is a very well written book and everyone should read this at least once. It is a black feminist literary. It was published in November 1973. The writing style and the hidden messages make the book powerful. It deals with motherhood, freedom, friendship, societal stigma and notion, murder, love, resentment and many more. The main theme is friendship and freedom. The friendship of Sula and nel just brings tears to my eyes.

My view:

I loved the books portrayal of friendship supersedes marriage. As in the foreword the author mentions how this book will give light to different meaning of freedom to different people. All these women were trying to protect their vulnerability at that age at that time. They were shaped differently as per their experiences in life.

To Eva Peace it was taking control of her life after her husband left her. She becomes the matriarch and lives her life. This was her freedom.

To Hannah Peace (Sula’s mother and Eva’s daughter) death of her husband being a widow she explores sexual aspect as part of her freedom. For Hannah freedom meant being sexually promiscuous and enjoying it.

To Sula Peace freedom was going against societal established norms her own choice which she never regretted. She showed courage by cutting her finger and hurting herself so that she can be free. Her freedom lied in the fact she was her own master.

To Helen Wright (Nel’s mother) it was getting away from her mother’s life as a prostitute and becoming something exactly opposite of her mother and being a leader of church and following societal norms as against her mother’s choice which society despised.

To Nel Wright her freedom was not letting fear of being black and the way her mother felt at bus get her. She follows her mother’s footstep of seeking religious and social respectability.

 

The Story: (Spoiler ahead)

The book is divided into two parts. First part of the story revolves around Sula and till she completes her high school. The second part of the book is after 10 years when Sula has completed her college and is back to her old town. The story depicts the typical 1920’s of race and society, world war PTSD, racism and how many things changes people. In a fictional Ohio valley the whites live at the bottom and the Blacks live on the hills which is ironically called “The Bottom”. This is a story about two girls and how they are brought up in same atmosphere yet different atmosphere. Sula lives in a big house ruled by her matriarch grandmother. She has seen the cruelty and the power that can change things. She meets Nel who becomes her best friend.

On the other hand, Nel is the granddaughter of a prostitute in New Orleans and has seen how her mother was racially harassed while visiting her sick grandmother. Nel’s mother Eva Peace is completely opposite of her mother and Nel has seen her mother become the pillar of the community. Nel has vowed never to feel the same way her mother did in the bus ever.

Their friendship is described in detail in the first part of the book where while being harassed by white Irish Catholic boys and Sula cutting her own finger in defense and scaring the boys. They are two bodies and one soul. Their conversation is described as talking to oneself. They put each other first. Then there is the Chicken incident where a little boy is drowned and they keep it a secret.

The post world war PTSD leads to Sula’s mothers brother to get into drugs and alcohol which cannot be tolerated by her grandmother and she sets her son on fire after hugging him like a baby. Sula also witnesses her mother being sexually active and later catching a fire in her clothes and getting burned where she was shocked and is motionless. This incident is seen by her grandmother who thinks Sula as cold hearted. Then post high school Nel gets married and Sula leaves town.

Sula returns to Medallion (the bottom) after 10 years where Eva is still the matriarch and Nel has two children. Then catching her best friend and her husband naked she ends her friendship with Sula and her husband abandons her. They start living a different life where Sula experiences societal disgrace and is ostracized by the society. She becomes the society’s evil where having promiscuity, destroying her best friends marriage, coming to church with no underwear on, and sending Eva to a mental asylum and taking the victim money (her grandmothers disabled money). They lead a different life. They again meet just before Sula passes away. They converse and Nel leaves telling Sula she will never come back to visit her again. When Sula dies she realizes death is painless, something she must tell Nel.

After 25 years when Nel is volunteering at the mental asylum she meets Eva who tells her she saw Nel witness boy who was called Chicken drown and do nothing about it. The book ends where she realizes all these years she thought she missed her husband and felt alone. It was not that in reality she missed Sula her best friend her counterpart. It was Sula all along.

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The Forgotten Girls – Sara Blaedel

Here I go again reading a novel without knowing its a series. So somehow even though i read The Forgotten girls by Owen Laukkanen instead of this i failed to check again if this novel is part of a series. However it was an easy read and very smooth and not so complicatedly detailed like Owen Laukkanen’s novel The forgotten Girls I actually might read the whole series in the future.

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This novel is also famously known as Louise Rick series. This novel is 4th in the series and it is by a Sara Blædel who is also known as Denmark’s “Queen of Crime”. 

Louise wanting to join a new task force leaving the homicide department she is brought back to her home town. Where a women is found who has a scarred face. The scar is so distinct that they have no time in identifying who she is however things get complicated when they find out that she was a mental patient about 30 years ago and was declared dead along with her twin sister the same day with just a minute difference. Although previously identified her as Lisemette they come to know she is Lise and her inseparable twin sister is Mette who they hope is still alive. She has a new partner called Eik. Who at first seems lazy and incapable or that’s what Louise’s first impression is. She also comes across her recent ex boyfriend who is leading another case that might be a connection to her case. It seems they both are at ease and have no hard feelings about their breakup.

The story unfolds and it is like watching or you binge on your favorite crime show that gets solved and you are satisfied. the story slowly starts to unfold from 1970 to present day what happened that led to the girls being declared as dead or what is the story behind it. It is a beautiful read. Along with this there is Camilla Lind Louise best friend and who was a journalist and is busy preparing for her wedding and just having a fit with her fiance her journalist string kicks in and she starts her own investigation and finds new clues or stories. Along with this her past comes to haunt her. Her ex dead boy friend’s friends and the whole gang comes to the view.

I really want to know why did her ex boyfriend commit suicide by hanging himself? While reading towards the end one of his friends tell her he did not even have the guts to tie a rope around his neck. I want this mystery solved!!! Why someone who just moved in with her and were planning a future together commit suicide when they have not even opened all the boxes in their new house/home?

If you love crime fiction with a back story you should definitely go for this. You can actually read this as stand alone novel too.

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Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll

This book has also been compared to Gone Girl. What I don’t understand is the fact that girl on the train and this book they may have the same genre however in my opinion none of these stories can remotely be compared to awesome gone girl. All of these books have their own specific characteristics. I was hugely disappointed with Girl on the Train but I liked this novel a little bit better than that.

luckiest girl alive book cover

Synopsis:

Ani FaNelli who is 28 years old has a perfect life. She has a perfect fiancé (rich) and has a glamorous job and is in a perfect body shape that people envy. However, she has a dark past. She was originally called Tiffani.

Tiffani gets thrown out of her old school just over the fact that some girls are caught smoking and her appearance was more of a mature girl (thanks to her breasts which developed early) she gets thrown out. Then determined to leave her past and have a new start she joins another school. There she makes friends and things happen. Not only to her but also to the entire school. She makes friends and enemies along the way. This leads to the story title I think luckiest girl alive because she survives. Why? And under what circumstances? Go ahead and read the book. Then there is this film/documentary maker who wants to personally interview her and one other survivor just prior to her wedding. She realizes it will open up her dark secrets and one of the film makers is none other than her new schools teacher who was young at that time and she had a crush on. She also learns that he is engaged to the other film maker. Furthermore she comes to know that the other person being interviewed is her classmate who has a dark secret of his own with Tiffani.

My review:

I liked the book. It was an easy read and although always wanting the book to take its pace I liked this novel. The author Jessica Knoll also mentioned in an interview that the she was also gang raped and that is how she incorporated this into the book. However, there are lots of incident in this book not only this. It is not so dark but it tells a story of a girl who due to some bad experience learns how to survive in this world. The book goes back and forth where what happened in the past and what is happening in the present come together. She finally puts her demons to sleep in a cunning manner. She does this to gain more attention or just to feel at ease after all these years is unknown. In my opinion she does it to gain more attention. It is not a bad read.

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The Forgotten Girls – Owen Laukkanen

the forgotten girls

First of all I would like to say that I enjoyed this book however I accidentally read this book due to confusion with the book that I intended to read having the same title. I was supposed to read the book The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel however both having same name I picked this book instead.

I finished this book and I am currently reading the book by Sara Blaedel.

After finishing the book and after realizing that it is a different one I searched the internet and came to know it’s the sixth book in the series.

My Synopsis of the Book:

The book starts with a girl named Ash getting off a train and meeting a man who talks and then kills her. After finishing a case Kirk Stevens and Carla Wildermere who are Minnesota based FBI agents who work for Criminal Apprehension Violent Task Force get a case of a girl found along the train lines dead for some time. While investigating the case they realize same Modus Operandi (MO) found among various cases (unsolved) dating back to years and years. They come to a conclusion that it is a case of a serial killer who kills along the high line trains and the victims are usually runaways who are not sought after when they vanish (forgotten). Ash has a friend named Mila who was train hopping with her and considered her a good friend. She and Mila get high on trains and at a place where train stopped she vanished and Mila assumed that she must have changed her route. Mila accidentally sees a man carrying the same knife that Ash owned (given to her by her grandma). She knows it her knife because using that knife she once saved Mila and that is how they became friends. To justify Ash’s death she goes on a hunt to kill the man who killed Ash. The story goes parallel where on one hand Mila is getting closer and on the other hand the FBI agents are learning more things and getting to know who the killer is and also Mila going on her own.

My Review:

Overall I liked the book. Although as I mentioned earlier that I accidentally read this book I enjoyed it. It is by a Canadian mystery author Owen Laukkanen and the book is Stevens and Wildermere series. It gets a little bit lengthy because I love watching crime shows and they end in less than an hour but the detailing and the description is spot on. Thank god it can also be read as a standalone novel. I like how the story starts out having two distinct situations and both going to find the same culprit and how in the end everything comes together and the story ends.

 

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