Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Book Description:

Published; July 9, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

Review –

Rory Power’s Wilder Girls is an unearthly read that takes a hard and disturbing look at what happens when a mysterious plague-like disease called the Tox infects the entire population of an all-girls boarding school off the coast of Maine.

When Wilder Girls opens, many are already dead, both teachers and students, and the entire island has been in quarantine for eighteen months.  Boats periodically come and drop off supplies for the quarantined survivors, but aside from that and the occasional promise that the CDC is doing everything they can to find a cure, there is no contact with the outside world.

The author does a wonderful job of creating an eerie and terrifying atmosphere by plunging her readers right into the action and showing us what the Tox has done to the girls.  Even with our first glance around the school, we see a girl whose arm has suddenly grown reptilian-like scales on it, another girl whose eye has sealed shut and now appears to be growing something beneath the seal, and even a girl who appears to have grown a second spine that protrudes out of her back. And that’s just scratching the surface of ways this disease is manifesting itself.  The mood is dark and desperate, there aren’t nearly enough supplies being sent, and most social conventions have flown out the window as the name of the game is survival.  I read somewhere that this book is considered a feminist retelling of Lord of the Flies, and from those first moments, I definitely felt a similar vibe between the two books.

The opening scenes caused me to ask  question after question and even got my inner conspiracy theorist humming.  What the heck is the Tox?  Why are everyone’s physical symptoms so different?  Why the total isolation, without even radio contact? Is the government responsible for the tox?  If not, is it something alien?   And on and on, you get the idea. This is a book that will definitely make you think and it’s also a quick read because you’ll find yourself just dying to get all of your questions answered.

I enjoyed the friendship of the three main characters, Hetty, Byatt, and Reese.  These three girls are very loyal to each other and do everything they can to make sure all three of them have the best chance of survival.  When Byatt unexpectedly disappears. Hetty and Reese make it their mission to find out what has happened to her.  What they find as they search for her is every bit as disturbing as the Tox itself and adds tremendous tension and suspense to what is already a book that you won’t want to put down.

I only gave the book 3 stars because I had a  a few issues with it.  The first is that I didn’t find the explanation for the Tox to be thorough enough for my liking.  As interesting as it was, I felt like it was explained in a very vague way.  Also, even though I liked the dynamic of their friendship, I didn’t feel emotionally invested in the three main characters.  I don’t want to say that I didn’t care about what happened to them because that’s not true, but I just felt like they were at arm’s length and would have preferred getting to know a little more about each of them.  One final issue I had was the ending, which was just way too open-ended for my liking.

There were just too many unanswered questions and I felted cheated.

BUT, I did LOVE the cover! (5 stars for the cover)

 

 

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Book Description:

Published: July 2, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

Review –

Sager’s debut novel, Final Girls, wasn’t so much a horror novel as a commentary about horror movies in novel form. It was clever but also very well-crafted. The author tried to do something similar with The Last Time I Lie, which came out a year later and with significantly less satisfying results. This new novel is another attempt to make the model work. Whether or not it does depends on how invested one is in formula for the sake of formula.

Jules Larsen is getting over a breakup and the loss of her job when she finds a gig that seems too good to be true: The Bartholomew, a storied Manhattan building, wants to pay her thousands of dollars to simply occupy a vacant—and luxurious—apartment. Jules soon gets the feeling that all is not as it seems at the Bartholomew, which is, of course, a perfect setup for some psychological suspense, but the problem is that there is little in the way of narrative tension because Jules’ situation is so obviously not right from the very beginning. While interviewing for the job, she’s asked about her health history. She’s informed that she is not allowed to have guests in the apartment. She’s warned that she must not interact with or talk to anyone else about the building’s wealthy and famous inhabitants. And she learns that she will be paid under the table. While this might not be enough to deter someone who is broke and desperate, it does mean that Jules should be a bit more concerned than she is when the really scary stuff starts happening. 

Once the reader/listener discovers the secret of The Bartholomew, things start happening at a faster pace and the ending appears in hyper speed, almost too fast for me, but still very satisfying.

As I was listening I couldn’t help being reminded of Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, The Sentinel by Jeffery Konvitz and The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike.

The paranoia and tension will make this a great book to take on vacation this summer, but perhaps reading it alone at night would be second guessed.

 

 

Comfort Food by Kitty Thomas

Book Description:

Published: March 21, 2010

Emily Vargas has been taken captive. As part of his conditioning methods, her captor refuses to speak to her, knowing how much she craves human contact. He’s far too beautiful to be a monster. Combined with his lack of violence toward her, this has her walking a fine line at the edge of sanity.

Told in the first person from Emily’s perspective, Comfort Food explores what happens when all expectations of pleasure and pain are turned upside down, as whips become comfort and chicken soup becomes punishment.

DISCLAIMER: This is not a story about consensual BDSM. This is a story about “actual” slavery. If reading an erotic story without safewords makes you uncomfortable, this is not the book for you. This is a work of fiction, and the author does not endorse or condone any behavior done to another human being without their consent. 

Review –

This was a horribly disturbing book but I could not put it down.  I kept thinking in the back of my mind that the captor would soften and at one point he did seem to but then you find out it was all part of his manipulative plan to keep her forever in his control. This story will haunt you.

Very dark.   Adult.

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Plague – A Medical Thriller by Victor Methos

Book Description

August 14, 2012
THE DEADLIEST DISEASE IN HISTORY . . .A lethal pathogen appears on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Dr. Samantha Bower of the Centers for Disease Control is handed the case and assigned to investigate its containment and origins.

A MYSTERIOUS FIGURE WHO ISN’T WHAT HE APPEARS TO BE . . .

Dr. Bower finds a microorganism unlike any she has run across in her lifetime. The symptomology points her to the most destructive disease in human history. One man has offered her help. A man with insight into the disease who reveals nothing about himself or his past.

THE WORLD ON THE EDGE OF A CLIFF . . .

Dr. Bower discovers that there are forces at work she can’t understand. All applying pressure to use the chaos of an epidemic to their advantage. But there is one thing she is certain of: humanity may soon be an endangered species . . .

Review –
Okay, I will start out by saying that I read this before the Ebola outbreak came to the United States, but having said that, what happens in this story could all be coming true. It’s very scary. If you can handle doom and gloom and gore then read this series and see what may lay ahead of us.
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Abandon by Blake Crouch

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Book Description

Release date: July 7, 2009
On Christmas Day in 1893, every man, woman and child in a remote gold mining town disappeared, belongings forsaken, meals left to freeze in vacant cabins; and not a single bone was ever found. One hundred thirteen years later, two backcountry guides are hired by a history professor and his journalist daughter to lead them into the abandoned mining town so that they can learn what happened. With them is a psychic, and a paranormal photographer—as the town is rumored to be haunted. A party that tried to explore the town years ago was never heard from again. What this crew is about to discover is that twenty miles from civilization, with a blizzard bearing down, they are not alone, and the past is very much alive.
Review –
This was a spooky story,best read at night, but even great during the day. The author weaves a tapestry of the past and present in Colorado history and adds murders, greed, and revenge to complete the narrative. I could not put this book down and highly recommend it.