Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Summary:
Who are the Sawkill Girls?
Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.
Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.
Val: the queen bee. Beautiful and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.
Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.
Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight…until now.
Sawkill GirlsReview:
I read this book because I’m Team Ketterdam for the BookTube Games this month. Sawkill Girls is the group book picked by the wonderful Katie and Liv. I was super excited because this is a book I’d heard some good things about, but hadn’t picked it up yet. I wish I had read this book back in October because it was the perfect spooky season book. It was so atmospheric and creepy and suspenseful.

“Nobody can change me without my  consent.”

I loved the girls. Marion was sweet and clearly so full of love for those around her. She’s had a tough time lately and she’s just hoping for life to calm down but sadly gets the opposite. Her whole life is turned upside down the minute she lands on Sawkill Rock. Despite the world seems to be against her, she stands up and fights over and over. I really liked her because when any normal person would have given up, she stood up, brushed herself off and kept on going. Then there’s Zoey, who was totally my favorite. She’s fierce and determined and unapologetic about who she is. She loves and she loves HARD. She’s determined to find out what happened to her best friend. Zoey is smart and clever. She’s the only one on the island that really figures out what’s going on in the world. I loved that she was able to put aside her feelings to do what she knew was the right thing. Last, there’s Val. She’s the Queen B in this story, the head Bitch. I didn’t like the girl on girl hate that happened here because this was a super feminist book so it just seemed out of place here. Val was a likable ‘villain’ she didn’t want to be involved in the horror that was happening on Sawkill Rock, but she was born into it. The horror was her legacy. She had no choice until she did. Val had the most character growth and I loved seeing her change.

“You must keep fighting. You must never stop fighting. You must light the path for others to find their footing. You must.”

The side characters were also good. I liked Zoey’s best friend Grayson. He was a really good friend to her. He accepted her no matter what she told him and I really loved that about him. He was a little over the top with the ‘anti-men’ stuff, but aside from that he really stuck by Zoey’s side and loved her even when she thought he shouldn’t. Then there’s Zoey’s dad. I didn’t know what was going on with him at some points, but it was all brought together at the end. I wouldn’t have liked to see a bit more of their relationship before all the craziness that happened in the book. Next is Marion’s mom, she was this fragile thing that’s lost half her family. But she really steps up at the end and she was a great part of the story. Finally, Val’s mother. I don’t even remember her name that’s how much I care about her. She was horrible and awful and seemed to have no feelings at all. Where Val wanted to stop what her family was doing, her mother had no problem and really believed that she was doing her duty to her family.

“Hope, she thought, breathing with the tide, was a choice that only those with resolute hearts dared to make.”

Overall, I liked this book. It was thrilling and exciting and I couldn’t put it down. The story was creative and suspenseful, surprising and compelling. The only thing I didn’t like about this book was that the feminist messages were a little too much here and there. There was a nice overall message of feminism but there were a few scenes that were more anti-men than feminist and I didn’t like that. I definitely recommend this for the spooky season or if you’re looking for a suspenseful book filled with girl power.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts

Summary: Sometimes, there is nowhere safe to hide.

It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived.

The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies’ room, hopelessly clutching her cell phone–until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art.

But one person wasn’t satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait–and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.

Review: This book was amazing, as all of Nora’s are. She’s been an auto-buy author of mine since the first time I picked up one of her books and I’ve never been disappointed. This book was suspenseful, heart-wrenching, funny, and romantic.
I especially loved that it followed these characters over a fourteen year period. It starts with the mall shooting, then shows glimpses of the survivors over the years as they learn to cope with what happened to them, until it reaches present day when most of the story takes place. It was amazing to see the way these characters grew over the years and the different ways they handled (or didn’t) the trauma.
Simone was an awesome character. She goes from a teenager who’s life is ruined because she got dumped to a strong-willed, confident woman who doesn’t take crap from anyone. She tried to bury her feelings after the shooting; if she kept it locked up, it didn’t happen. I enjoyed watching her slowly open up and actually confront what had happened to her. She definitely has flaws but that only made her more relatable. I also loved how she dealt with her emotions through her art. Being a sculptor, she had a unique perspective that I found very interesting.
Reed is the best kind of male MC; he’s sexy, funny, romantic, tough and not afraid of his sensitive side. He’s perfectly comfortable going from the badass cop to chatting about art with Simone and CiCi. I really hate the super macho guys who think if they’re sensitive that makes them less of a man. Reed doesn’t have that hold-up and it made me love him even more.
CiCi is my favorite. She’s Simone’s grandmother, also an artist, and she’s basically the grandma we all wish we could have. She doesn’t act her age and is unapologetic about who she is. She was so quirky and fun that her character was definitely the highlight of the book for me.
The plot was intricate without being confusing. Since we got to follow the villain, Patricia’s, POV as well, we got to see both sides of the conflict. I like when a story does this because I still get the mystery and suspense that I want without being confused because I only have one side of the story. Patricia made an excellent villain. She was cold, violent, intelligent and psychotic, the kind of villain I adore but who still keeps me up at night.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mystery or romance. Nora blends the different themes perfectly in this book to make an amazing rollercoaster of a read.
I’d love to know what you think in the comments. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia