Book Title and Author: The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
Publication date and Publisher: May 9th, 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 328 pages
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Date Read: May 31, 2017
Me Before You meets One Day in this devastatingly romantic debut novel about the enduring power of first love with a shocking, unforgettable ending. A Love Story for a new generation.
He was the first person to inspire her, to move her, to truly understand her. Was he meant to be the last?
Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning.
Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.
I was excited about The Light We Lost, so excited that I went and bought the audiobook because I thought listening to a romance while I went on my daily walk would be a nice change than all the thrills and chills of the suspense books I’d been reading so much lately. A nice palate cleanser. Oh, I wish I’d gotten a nice murder mystery instead. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, but I didn’t love it.
What captured my attention for this book wasn’t its reviews but its comparison to Me Before You, which I absolutely adored. It’s nothing like Me Before You. Not in writing style, not in similarities to the characters, and not even in the love story. Where the relationship between Louisa and Will actually shows maturity and complexity, all of that is missing from the relationship between Lucy and Gabe even though they are in and out of each other’s lives for thirteen years, either as a couple, as just friends, or as lovers. There is even an immaturity in the relationship between Lucy and her husband Darren that seems out of place somehow considering how long they have been married, and they have two children together.
Still, the premise of the story was a lovely one of two people who fell in love during a horrific time period (9/11) and were each other’s soul mates although fate pulled them in different directions even if that particular plot has been done and maybe overdone. Yet, Santopolo is a beautiful, eloquent writer, and she could have done more with the story if her characters had been better developed and if she’d executed her ideas a bit differently. I’m someone who cries at the drop of a hat, and I think there were moments in the book that I was supposed to cry but didn’t. It wasn’t until the very end that I finally cried but not in the sobbing way that I would have expected that I normally would have based on the situation.
I’m glad that I at least read it because it was a quick, interesting read that I did like. I will definitely read something else by Santopolo but no, I wouldn’t read The Light We Lost again. If you really enjoy a romance novel, then you will probably enjoy this more than I did!
Book Title and Author: The Night Bird by Brian Freeman
Publication date and Publisher: February 1st 2017 by Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 362 pages
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Date Read: 6/8/2017
2.5 to 3 stars
Homicide detective Frost Easton doesn’t like coincidences. When a series of bizarre deaths rock San Francisco—as seemingly random women suffer violent psychotic breaks—Frost looks for a connection that leads him to psychiatrist Francesca Stein. Frankie’s controversial therapy helps people erase their most terrifying memories…and all the victims were her patients.
As Frost and Frankie carry out their own investigations, the case becomes increasingly personal—and dangerous. Long-submerged secrets surface as someone called the Night Bird taunts the pair with cryptic messages pertaining to the deaths. Soon Frankie is forced to confront strange gaps in her own memory, and Frost faces a killer who knows the detective’s worst fears.
As the body count rises and the Night Bird circles ever closer, a dedicated cop and a brilliant doctor race to solve the puzzle before a cunning killer claims another victim.
I almost did not finish The Night Bird, which I never do with a book. Then why did I give it almost 3 stars, you ask? Because I did finish it, and it wasn’t that bad. It just wasn’t the great, suspenseful thriller that I had hoped that it would be, but it was still a decent read. Will I read the sequel though? No! Not unless I see a large number of 4 and 5-star reviews.
Frost Easton, the homicide detective who is investigating the deaths in the book is an interesting character. I liked him and thought he was quirky, although I think he could have been better developed. And, I thought it a little unbelievable some of the things that he did as a cop. No detective would actually do those things in real life and be allowed to keep their badge, so that made it annoying.
Then there is the psychiatrist, Frankie Stein. She honestly just made me grimace. I couldn’t get over her name. Seriously, a psychiatrist named Frankie Stein. I’m not sure what Freeman was trying to accomplish there, but all I could think of was Frankenstein. Ugh. It was probably unrelated, but I would have thought a publisher would have caught that the name was very distracting with the Dr. Frankenstien association. And another thing, for a supposedly intelligent psychiatrist, she is not very smart at all. She goes chasing after known killers on her own and just doesn’t see glaringly obvious things around here!
Where Freeman fails at making The Night Bird a great book is in the execution of his premise. A book about unwanted memories, mind manipulation, psychotic breaks, and crazy deaths makes for a good story, or you would think. And, there are many places that it does work but in others, it falls flat. It is not only redundant, but it is as if Freeman added useless information just to take up space, which was boring and made me skip ahead in places. Trust me, I didn’t miss anything in a page or two. It’s a story that promises to be excellent but fails somewhere along the way, especially since I figured out just who the Night Bird was almost immediately. It was just too contrived and ill-conceived to be thoroughly enjoyable.