That Night by Chevy Stevens: My Spoiler-Safe Review!

Book Cover That Night, by Chevy Stevens

I hate spoilers so much that I systematically stay clear of all fiction book reviews. I like going in totally blind and usually just rely on friend’s recommendations. Expectations are a pleasure killer.

So let me just say this: one chapter in, I couldn’t put the book down. Seriously. I was in Mexico and I was supposed to be looking after my kids. By chapter two, I knew a small sacrifice had to be made to ensure I could lay in bed reading all day. I did the unthinkable for a gringa and brushed my teeth with tap water. BINGO! Totally sanctioned bed rest for two days. Had I not been ill, I probably would have finished the book in a day.

That Night is about a young woman named Toni and her boyfriend Ryan who are locked away for 15-20 years for killing Toni’s sister. The book travels between the past and the present, retelling the story of her youth, along with her release from prison and what comes next after losing half her life for a crime she claims she hasn’t committed.

The writer captures the horrors of high school clicks so familiar for those of us who never really fit it. She also skillfully portrays the misunderstanding between the protagonist and her mother; how the mother can only see a young girl spinning out of control under the perceived bad influence of her  boyfriend. The daughter is frustrated of being seen as the black sheep vs. her angelic sister. As a former rebellious daughter and a mother of two little girls, my heart simultaneously ached for both mother and daughter.

I won’t say much more except that this is a thriller which is more than just a page turner. This book does tells a rich story with engaging and often infuriating characters. And it has an ending I am willing to bet you won’t guess!

I am relieved to be done with the Aztec two-step. It’s a dance I must partake in every time I come to Mexico. If you are coming here soon, I highly recommend you pack a copy of Chevy Steven’s That Night. It will make an otherwise difficult time fly by!

A huge thanks to Raincoast books for sending me a copy of  That Night to review. If you want to know more about the author, the book, and what other readers are saying, check out the #thatnight on twitter!

Love Letters to the Dead — Good Luck Keeping Nostalgia at Bay.

Book Cover via USA today site
One of the perks of writing a blog for a bibliophile like myself is being asked to review books.  For a long time, I dreamt of being asked; it turns out that Disney is occasionally right: dreams do come true so welcome to my first review!

Before we start, I’d like to come clean about the fact that I’ve never written a review before. The closest things I’ve done were book reports, back in the dark ages, pre-google, pre-internet, pre-home computers, and cordless phones! The other odd thing is that I hated book reports and I still stay away from reviews. I like going in blind. So here I go, clueless, but attempting to write the sort of review I’d like to read.

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira is the story of a young girl, Laurel, who has lost her sister. She processes both her grief and coming of age by confiding in people long gone through a series of letters. There’s a nice and sometimes surprising selection of recipients and you’ll likely find yourself overflowing with nostalgia and dusting off some Nirvana CDs.

The novelty of the letters wears off fairly quickly and at first I thought this made a nice YA –aka Young Adult– novel. But, like any glass of young red wine, you need to give it time to breath. As you move through the book, the depth of the story reveals itself and some real gems surface. Possibly my favorite line, one that will likely live with me for years to come is:

The thing about traditions is that they hold up the shape of your memory

Love Letters to the Dead beautifully captures the idealism and naïvety of childhood coupled with the untainted and often profound realisations we make through our metamorphosis to adulthood. I was able to travel back to a state of mind I thought lost forever.

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