I Found You by Lisa Jewell

I Found You

Title: I Found You
Author: Lisa Jewell
Genre: thriller
Release: 2017
Content warnings: sexual assault, attempted rape, violence, harassment
Blurb (Goodreads): In the windswept British seaside town of Ridinghouse Bay, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on a beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.

Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, newlywed Lily Monrose grows anxious when her husband fails to return home from work one night. Soon, she receives even worse news: according to the police, the man she married never even existed.

Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty Ross are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. The annual trip to Ridinghouse Bay is uneventful, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just because he’s a protective older brother.

Who is the man on the beach? Where is Lily’s missing husband? And what ever happened to the man who made such a lasting and disturbing impression on Gray?

4 out of 5 topazes

I’ll be honest: I don’t really care about the amnesia trope. I neither hate it nor love it; it’s just there, and if the author does it well, then I’m set. Thankfully, Jewell does it well in that it makes sense. The fugue state happens when the afflicted undergoes unspeakable trauma, and Gray undergoes such trauma.

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Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik

Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World

Title: Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World
Author: Mark Miodownik
Genre: science, nonfiction
Release: 2014
Blurb (Goodreads): An adventure deep inside the everyday materials that surround us, packed with surprising stories and fascinating science. Why is glass see-through? What makes elastic stretchy? Why does a paper clip bend? Why does any material look and behave the way it does? These are the sorts of questions that Mark Miodownik a globally-renowned materials scientist has spent his life exploring In this book he examines the materials he encounters in a typical morning, from the steel in his razor and the graphite in his pencil to the foam in his sneakers and the concrete in a nearby skyscraper.

5 out of 5 topazes

One of my New Year’s reading resolutions is to read more nonfiction. I actually love nonfiction, but I just don’t read enough of it. I got this book around, oh, 2015, maybe even 2014 – not for myself, but for my sister. She never read it, and I haven’t either…until now as part of my regimen to read more broadly this year.

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The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon

The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon

Title: The Incendiaries
Author: R.O. Kwon
Genre: literary
Release: 2018
Content warnings: loss, grief, obsession, rape
Blurb (Goodreads): Phoebe Lin and Will Kendall meet their first month at prestigious Edwards University. Phoebe is a glamorous girl who doesn’t tell anyone she blames herself for her mother’s recent death. Will is a misfit scholarship boy who transfers to Edwards from Bible college, waiting tables to get by. What he knows for sure is that he loves Phoebe.

Grieving and guilt-ridden, Phoebe is increasingly drawn into a religious group–a secretive extremist cult–founded by a charismatic former student, John Leal. He has an enigmatic past that involves North Korea and Phoebe’s Korean American family. Meanwhile, Will struggles to confront the fundamentalism he’s tried to escape, and the obsession consuming the one he loves. When the group bombs several buildings in the name of faith, killing five people, Phoebe disappears. Will devotes himself to finding her, tilting into obsession himself, seeking answers to what happened to Phoebe and if she could have been responsible for this violent act.

The Incendiaries is a fractured love story and a brilliant examination of the minds of extremist terrorists, and of what can happen to people who lose what they love most.

3 out of 5 topazes

The Incendiaries is an angstier, grown-up version of Paper Towns, except with an actual criminal for the main protagonist. Even so, this book averages out to 3 stars because while the characters and plot left much to be desired, the themes and their execution made me reflect in a way that I never had before.

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Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

Title: Fevre Dream
Author: George R.R. Martin
Genre: Vampire, horror
Release: 1982
Content warnings: violence, slavery, gore, racism, assault, offensive language (i.e. n-word)
Blurb (Goodreads): Abner Marsh, a struggling riverboat captain, suspects that something’s amiss when he is approached by a wealthy aristocrat with a lucrative offer. The hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York doesn’t care that the icy winter of 1857 has wiped out all but one of Marsh’s dilapidated fleet; nor does he care that he won’t earn back his investment in a decade. York’s reasons for traversing the powerful Mississippi are to be none of Marsh’s concern—no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious York’s actions may prove. Not until the maiden voyage of Fevre Dream does Marsh realize that he has joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare—and humankind’s most impossible dream.

5 out of 5 topazes

I understand the cover is ugly, but please ignore it because it does not give this story justice. And when I say “story,” I mean a goddamn journey because I feel like I have aged twenty years after reading this book. 

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