Monica’s Musings: A Flicker in the Dark

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

“It made me realize that monsters don’t hide in the woods; they aren’t shadows in the trees or invisible things lurking in darkened corners. No, the real monsters move in plain sight.”

― Stacy Willingham, A Flicker in the Dark

Summary: When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, Chloe’s father had been arrested as the serial killer and promptly put in prison. Chloe and the rest of her family were left to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath.

Now 20 years later, Chloe is a psychologist in private practice in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. She finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she worked so hard to get.

And then a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, and that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid and seeing parallels that are not really there, or for the second time in her life, is she about to unmask a killer?

My Thoughts: I have never had so many guesses for how a book would end. It was fun to keep up with because I kept switching my prediction on who was guilty. The story is solid and structured in an interesting way, integrating Chloe’s past memories seamlessly into the current narrative, where she is either lost in thought, dreaming, or having flashbacks, rather than using the format of the past/present chapters.

I really liked all the characters. They were interesting, and each had something to hide. That helped add extra twists and turns. They all had a purpose, whether to confuse us or reveal more about Chloe’s past, traits, and fears.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Home Buying 101

Home Buying 101 by John Gorey

First line: Buying your first home is a big deal.

Summary: This little book will help teach you the lingo, provide tips and explore the process of the home buying experience. It can be exciting as well as anxiety inducing. But with this guide you can be a little more prepared for what is involved in this life changing event.

My Thoughts: I picked this up because the idea of buying a house seems like the next move in my life. I have spent years renting but I feel like I am ready for something more permanent. I found this book to be very informative. I learned new jargon or meanings behind the words you hear on the home buying shows. It was easily broken up into sections that follow the course of the house hunting experience. There are links, scenarios and helpful tips for how to navigate this confusing world of real estate.

If you are looking into buying a home, remodeling or find books on floor plans for a new home then the library is the place to check out.  We have many books on these subjects.  And if you cannot find what you are looking for then ask one of our staff for help or to do an interlibrary loan for a book we do not carry in our collection.

Monica’s Musings: Maame

Maame by Jessica George

“Accept that your life is different now because of this monumental, irreversible change and that it’s okay to feel guilty one day and indescribable happiness another. This is life now. This is how you live.”
― Jessica George, Maame

Summary: Maame (ma-meh) has many meanings in Twi but in my case, it means woman.

It is fair to say that Maddie’s life in London is far from rewarding. With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana (yet still somehow manages to be overbearing), Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced-stage Parkinson’s. At work, her boss is a nightmare, and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting.

When her mom returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living. She finds a flatshare, says yes to after-work drinks, pushes for more recognition in her career, and throws herself into the bewildering world of internet dating. But it is not long before tragedy strikes, forcing Maddie to face the true nature of her unconventional family.

Smart, funny, and deeply affecting, Jessica George’s Maame deals with the themes of our time with humor and poignancy: from familial duty and racism to the complexity of love. Most importantly, it explores what it feels like to be torn between two homes and cultures, and it celebrates finally finding where you belong.

My Thoughts: Maddie is a very naive 25-year-old navigating the world as she has just moved out. Throughout the book, she is asking Google how she should handle all of these situations coming up in her life, and it is pretty hilarious. The author did a fantastic job portraying Maddie’s emotions because it feels like you are experiencing this new world right along with her!

I was fully immersed and engaged in her life as she faced all her ups and downs. It is sad sometimes and sweet at others. The relationship between Maddie and her father is very moving and is written with empathy and love. You will want to yell at her mother and brother, whose selfish use of Maddie makes you so angry. 

This is a book that takes you on a journey. It includes some difficult topics such as; grief, microaggressions, and depression, but does so really well and with sensitivity. I love the ending, or better yet, I love the whole book!

What’s Ashley Reading?: Shadow on the Crown

Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell

First line: She made a circuit of the clearing among the oaks, three times round and three times back, whispering spells of protection.

Summary: When Emma of Normandy is sent as the bride to the king of England it is with the hope that she will create an alliance between the two nations against the Viking lord, Swein Forkbeard. Upon meeting her husband, Aethelred, there is mistrust and anger from the king, his elder sons and their nobles. With enemies all around, Emma knows that the only thing that will secure her future is a son. As Emma builds support around her, she allows her heart to be given to someone other than her husband putting her in danger of her life and her crown.

My Thoughts: The time of the Anglo-Saxons is a period I have heard or read little about. After starting this I want to know so much more but unfortunately it is during the era that used to be known as the Dark Ages. There is little written record or much archeology available to study from the 600 years of the Saxons in England. Historians have to rely on the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the little information available to us and the few hoards found, including the one at Sutton Hoo.

Sutton Hoo helmet at the
British Museum

Emma and the life in Anglo-Saxon England fascinated me from the very beginning. Life was much less glamorous and a lot more dangerous. Threats from invaders, disease and deprivation are very real possibilities for many of the people of the realm. And women particularly were not treated well. I felt that the author did a great job bringing the terror of a Viking invasion to the page. There is the ever present threat but little knowledge of when or where they will strike. The chaos that is reigned down upon the people is something that is impossible to imagine today. Fear of death, rape and slavery were everyday worries for the people of England at this time.

As I read I was constantly referencing Wikipedia for the relationships and line of succession at this time. I have learned much through the reading of Bracewell’s first novel in the trilogy. Shadow on the Crown only covers the first several years of Emma’s marriage with two more books to follow. Having looked into the history I have a vague idea of where the story is headed but I cannot wait to see how the author weaves the story together. I am excited to see how Emma becomes the strong queen she is destined to be!

Monica’s Musings: The Soulmate

The Soulmate by Sally Hepworth

“The line between normal and not normal had always been so thin for Gabe; sometimes I didn’t know if I was talking to a genius or a madman.”

― Sally Hepworth, The Soulmate

Summary: There is a cottage on a cliff. It is Gabe and Pippa’s dream home in a sleepy coastal town. But their perfect house hides something sinister. The tall cliffs have become a popular spot for people to end their lives. Night after night Gabe comes to their rescue, literally talking them off the ledge. Until he doesn’t.

When Pippa discovers Gabe knew the victim, the questions spiral…Did the victim jump? Was she pushed?

And would Gabe, the love of Pippa’s life, her soulmate…lie? As the perfect facade of their marriage begins to crack, the deepest and darkest secrets begin to unravel.

My Thoughts: To describe this book, I would say it is twisty. Sally Hepworth structures the story so that the character’s secrets slowly unravel. Gabe has a complicated past, and their marriage is recovering from an affair. The police have mounting questions as they uncover more details about the situation.

I loved the original concept and the ominous feel of the first half. And there were some cliffhangers that kept me intrigued. However, I felt the last half dragged on, and it became a bit repetitive. The final twists were decent but not amazing. Overall I enjoyed this, but it was not my favorite kind of suspense.