Dangerous Lies

20909906First Lines: An angry rap shook the motel room door.  I lay perfectly still on the mattress, my skin hot and clammy.

Oh my gosh, it’s a book review!  The odds of seeing one of those on here anymore is like trying to spot a unicorn.  I picked this up at the library a while ago when I got nostalgic for the suspense in Black Ice, Becca Fitzpatrick’s first foray into suspense thrillers.  I thought this would be worth it.

After witnessing a horrific crime, a girl is given a new identity and a new home.  She becomes Stella Gordon and moves to Thunder Basin, Nebraska.  But Stella isn’t ready to give up her life just yet.  Why should she give up her boyfriend, her high school career, her life–because someone else committed a crime and she needs to testify against them?  How can she be expected to start a life in Nebraska, of all places?  Stella begins to count the days until she turns 18 and can legally set out on her own…but things change when she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder for her to keep her distance.  She knows she can’t tell Chet about her past, but the guilt of constantly lying to him is starting to eat her alive.  And just when Stella begins to feel safe in her new home, she’ll realize that her enemies are much closer than she believed…

While this had moments of feeling like a thriller/suspense story, it’s way more mellow than Black Ice. Basically, this is the story of Stella as she struggles to feel normal in the middle of Nebraska after being relocated there by the witness protection program. Yes, there’s quite a bit of stuff about how she landed in witness protection, but this book is equally about her culture shock, coming from Philly.  So it’s not much about the suspense as it is about her learning about life, love, and forgiveness.

Stella is a good protagonist for this story because she’s stubborn and strong, even though sometimes she’s too stubborn for her own good. I kind of like that, though. And I also liked that she had moments of weakness that made her seem more flawed. She’s more annoying at the beginning than she is later.  And I only say that in retrospect because I don’t remember finding her annoying in the beginning at all.

The plot was good as well, though I felt like it tended to jump around a lot. There are quite a few loose ends in this story that never fully get answered. They are left vague, perhaps to force you to make your own conclusions. That wasn’t really a tactic I liked, but I’ll freely admit that I had a hard time putting this book down. I read most of it in one sitting.

Mostly, I enjoyed the characters in this book and how they all interact. I like trying to figure people out, so to watch Stella do that in a town she doesn’t know or truly understand was fun. And there are definitely some interesting characters, as you would expect in any small town. There are secrets, gossips, corruption, and cover-ups. It’s always interesting.

Overall, I found this to be an interesting cast of characters and a serious look at the problems in life from addiction to teenage pregnancy.  But if you’re looking for a hardcore thriller, this probably isn’t your book.

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)

First Lines: My name is not Mara Dyer, but my lawyer told me I had to choose something.  A pseudonym.  A nom de plume, for all of us studying for the SATs.  I know that having a fake name is strange, but trust me–it’s the most normal thing about my life right now.

If you remember my post a week or slightly more ago, I referred to this book as the unknown.  The book jacket is so completely vague that I had no idea what it was going to involve.  Was it going to be supernatural or more realistic fiction?  The only way to find out (without ruining the story) was to read it.

Mara doesn’t think things can get worse than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.  Somehow, in that time she can’t remember, she was involved in an accident that killed her friends yet left her mostly unharmed.  How could this have happened?  Why can’t she remember any of it?  And, after everything that’s happened to her, can she possibly fall in love with someone?

Yes, I did just keep in the spirit of the book jacket and tell you practically nothing.  🙂  I can’t ruin all the fun, now, can I?

Alright.  So when I started, I had a little trouble sinking into Mara’s world.  It begins just after her accident when she’s three shades of confused, upset, and frustrated.  It’s hard to jump right into a book when all these negative emotions are being flung your way.  But by page 50, Mara has settled down and it’s much easier to get a feel for her and her family.

Mara is a brutally candid character and I admit, I ate that up.  She curses like a sailor when she’s angry and she invents quite colorful descriptions for people she doesn’t like.  I found that honesty refreshing.  I just think it’s so silly when authors create fake curse words for their characters because there are so few teens who will take the effort to do that.  I know that language offends some people, so this doubles as a warning to you if you are one of those people.

There is a boy in this story named Noah who I came to like.  He, like Mara, has some issues.  I just really liked that he had a sexy English accent.  And the way he and Mara act together…let’s just say that I stayed up 1:30 to finish reading this last night.

This is probably classified as something similar to “psychological suspense” or something.  A lot of the story is Mara trying to figure out what’s real, since she can’t really trust her memory anymore and her nightmares almost feel more real than her waking life.  So a lot of it took place in her head.  But there’s also a lot of suspense flying around as Noah and Mara unravel some of her mysteries.

Very enthralling.  I was pretty well glued to it all yesterday.  Reading 450 pages in a day is a lot, even for me.

Man on a Ledge

If you do the time, you may as well do the crime.

For honesty’s sake, I’ll fess up to why this was even on my to-watch list: Elizabeth Banks.  After seeing her as J.D.’s girlfriend in Scrubs and Effie in The Hunger Games, I’m starting to develop a girl-crush on her.  She just gets so into her roles.  I love it.  She probably made up about 90% of my interest.  The other 10% was the plot line.

Nick (Sam Worthington), an ex-cop and current-felon, maintains his innocence in the robbery that got him sent to jail for 25 years…a robbery of a $40 million diamond.  Now three years into his sentence, Nick manages to break out of prison and hide from the cops.  That is, until television cameras find him on the ledge outside the Roosevelt Hotel in New York, 21 stories above the street and ready to jump.  Nick asks specifically for police negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks).  He’s trying to prove his innocence and she’s his only chance at bringing it to light.

The acting was pretty freaking terrific.  Such a suspenseful story to work with.  Nick was a desperate, yet insanely clever man.  He was at that point where he had nothing to lose anymore, and everything to gain if everything worked.  Lydia was desperate in her own way–to keep Nick from jumping.  Other characters were also carefully crafted, from Joey (Nick’s brother) to Jack Dougherty (Lydia’s boss).  You could never really get a hold on which characters were the shifty ones and which ones were the good guys.

The plot is intricate and exciting.  Everything unravels perfectly and it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen because it’s just all so entwined.  You really have to pay attention to details.

I thought the really small roles, those of the spectators on the street, were some of the best, actually.  They were realistic, if in a slightly mortifying way.  Hundreds of people are on the ground watching Nick and chanting, “Jump!”  As startling as it seems when you’re watching it, there’s that nagging thought in the back of your mind that says this isn’t as fictionalized as you would like it to be.  And there’s a really charming/crazy hobo that pops up a few times.  He made things funny.

It was a very intense movie.  I think I sat on the end up my seat for pretty much the whole movie.  Great action and chases, but also witty and intrinsic.  Probably more skewed to male audiences, but girls seriously, don’t rule it out.  If anything, there are quite a few hot guys to look at.  Ed Burns (who plays Jack Dougherty in this) is from 27 Dresses, for example (he played George, Jane’s boss).