The Stranger by Harlan Coben

Wow, just wow. I just finished reading The Stranger and I felt like I immediately needed to put down my thoughts.

What a story. Seriously. There were little things at first that I thought were kind of lazy writing. I won’t spoil it, but the names of the websites that the stranger was getting their information from just seemed too obvious for me. I actually think I rolled my eyes when Adam found out the web address for the website his wife used.

Once I got past that though, the story was so could. I honestly felt like I couldn’t put it down. Each chapter ended so well that I needed to keep reading. It had so many unexpected twists and turns. I loved it. It kind of reminded me of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Not the story exactly, but the mystery and how it was solved. I wonder if Harlan Coben is a fan.

The ending was good, but wasn’t what I wanted. I guess I always kind of want happy endings, but we don’t always get what we want. I really can’t wait to watch the show on Netflix. I’ve heard that it’s British, which is interesting. I wonder why they made that change.

Anyway…I absolutely loved this. Has Harlan Coben written anything else? I may need to check him out.

After by Anna Todd

I’m really not sure where to begin with this one. I guess I’ll start with a little explanation.

My mom told me a few months ago that she had watched a movie called After on Netflix and she thought I would like it. Honestly it didn’t sound that great from the description, but after spending an hour trying to find something to watch I decided to give it a shot.

Honestly I was surprised at how much I actually liked the movie. I guess I think that since I’m an adult I won’t like these teen love stories anymore, but really I should just admit to myself that they get me every time.

Obviously, I was excited when I found out that it was originally a book series and that there were multiple books in the series. UNTIL I stumbled across the Wikipedia page where I found out that this was originally written as Harry Styles fan-fiction.

I will say, I’m a big Harry Styles fan and definitely had a crush on him when he was in One Direction. I’m just not really usually impressed by fan-fiction and honestly would never have put two and two together that Hardin Scott was modeled after Harry Styles.

Even after reading the book, it’s hard for me to understand why Anna Todd would turn Harry Styles into this horrible, manipulative character. I mean, are we really supposed to believe that the guy who wears flowery suits would act this way towards a woman that he truly loves? I definitely had to disassociate my idea of Harry Styles from the character of Hardin Scott when reading this book.

That being said, I actually really enjoyed reading it. Hardin is horrible and Tessa definitely shouldn’t have stayed with him this long. He’s crazy manipulative and controlling, and the way he is with her is borderline abuse, but I found myself unable to put this book down. Honestly Tessa isn’t much better. They both overreact whenever they argue and even though she tries to see things from his point of view, she still seems to be unwilling to change for the relationship even though she asks him multiple times to change for her.

This really isn’t some great work of literature, but it is entertaining. I’m definitely going to read the next book. Since there are 5 of them, I’m assuming she forgives Hardin again and takes him back. I’m sure they’ll fight more and break up about a million more times, but I do kind of need to know what comes next.

So even though I’m conflicted about the inspiration for the story, I have to say Anna Todd does really know how to keep someone interested with her writing. Maybe it’s sort of like a car crash you can’t look away from? Anyone else feel this way reading it?

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

After reading You, I absolutely had to know where the story would go.

I thought that it would be more about what happened to Joe after he killed Beck, how he was worried about the mug, the therapist, etc. There was a little about that and it was sort of interested, but for the most part it felt like this story wasn’t going anywhere.

After Beck, Joe dated Amy. Again there were obvious red flags with her, but he thought he was in love. She, of course, left him and stole from him. It made him feel like an idiot, so he decided to hunt her down.

I honestly would have preferred that the story just be about getting back at Amy. Instead he meets a woman named Love (completely ridiculous to literally name a character in this story love). I really have no idea why the author felt the need to distract him from everything else going on by having him fall in love with a character literally named Love. Then there’s a whole side story with her brother that I’m not even going to get into. It all just felt like a distraction.

The only purpose of Love is that Joe ends up confessing his crimes to her and she goes and gets the mug from the Salinger house. Honestly, I feel like there had to be a better way to get Joe in there to get that mug. It’s a bit of a stretch honestly.

It’s crazy too that she was just cool with his entire confession, all because she has a crazy brother. It was incredibly dumb and made me hate it honestly.

Eventually Joe runs into Amy, but it’s very anticlimactic. He just sees her and decides not to kill her because he’s in love with Love.

Joe finally gets caught at the end, but it doesn’t really come together well. There were just little things here and there, no real evidence was found against him. The part about Joe and Love having to figure out the answer to the police officer’s question was dumb.

Just overall, I wasn’t very happy with the storyline. It doesn’t feel like it was well thought out and it’s too complicated. There were also way too many celebrity name drops. It was almost like the author thought that the first season would get picked up as a tv show or movie so she wrote the second novel to see how many celebrities she could actually get into it.

I actually would not recommend this to anyone that liked the first book. I’m interested to see how true to the storyline the show will be in it’s second season. I hope they simplify it some.

You by Caroline Kepnes

Yet another Netflix inspired read! I promise I’ll start reading books that haven’t been made into movies or tv series eventually.

I’m so glad I read this one though. The book was 100% creepier than the show. Joe was so creepy and the worst kind of stalker. Watching Beck from outside her apartment, stealing her phone, reading her emails. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to find out someone was doing that to me.

As much as Joe creeped me out, Beck was honestly worse. She was a terrible person, so I didn’t care that Joe was so creepy toward her. I felt like she deserved it, or like it’s what she actually wanted.

I don’t want to victim blame, but Beck really didn’t care about anyone other than herself. She was miserable and wanted to make people around her miserable, and she expected these people to worship the ground she walks on.

I do really hate to say it, but I feel like she was just asking for something like this to happen to her and I think she actually enjoyed the drama of it all. She even mentions that she knew he had followed her, like she didn’t mind that he was stalking her from the beginning. It’s all pretty messed up honestly. As much as I didn’t like Joe I felt like he deserved better than Beck.

Beck definitely needed a better therapist because she clearly had a lot of issues that she needed to deal with.

The craziest thing is how relatable the story actually is. I thought to myself “how many times have I looked up someone I just met and stalked their social media accounts?”. We all do it.

You look at someone’s profile online and immediately make up your mind on if this is someone that you want to get to know better or not. I can definitely understand creating this image of someone in your head and what your future would look like together. I can understand the willingness to look past the bad stuff about them because you have this perfect future planned out.

It’s so crazy dating in a world with social media, especially with the jealousy and insecurity that it creates. I’ve been here. I spent two years trying to date someone who never gave me the attention that I craved from him. I would see him like other girls’ pictures when he never liked mine. It made me feel like shit about myself, but then also made me feel like it was a challenge. Like maybe if I did something differently it would get his attention. Why do we hold on to people who don’t want us?

This book definitely does a good job portraying how bad it can really get. I’m going to have to read the next book in the series now.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

I remember being little and watching The Haunting when it first came out in 1999. I’ve seen the movie about a million times since then and honestly can’t believe that I never knew it was a book.

It wasn’t until Netflix adapted it into a series that I realized it was based on the novel of the same name and absolutely decided that I had to read it. (Side note: Netflix is becoming a bit of a theme here isn’t it?)

The movie is definitely a closer adaptation of the book than the show was, but I feel like all three were done really well and told the story of Hill House.

I actually don’t think I’ve ever read a “horror” novel before, so this was a first. It was really creepy and I really liked the little scenes here and there that showed the house was haunted.

All of the characters had very strange, very different personalities. It was interesting to see how their personalities meshed together. It was obvious from the beginning that Nell was being affected by the house the most. I honestly was absolutely positive she was going to jump off that tower (probably because of Nell’s fate in the series).

The crash at the end happened pretty quickly, so I wasn’t sure that Nell had actually died. I hoped that she didn’t, or that if she did there would be a little bit about her ghost.

It’s super creepy how the house seems to consume the people in it. The series did a really good job showing that too.

I’m interested in seeing what the next season will be about since they’ve stated that it’ll be an entirely different storyline. It’s kind of sad honestly because I really fell in love with those characters, but it did have a good ending.

I did really like how there were subtle nods to things in the book in the series like the cup of stars, throwing rocks at the glass greenhouse, and the poem that the flapper woman recites.

Highly recommend the book if you’re a fan of the show. It was definitely worth the read.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

I definitely jumped on the Bird Box bandwagon when this movie first came out on Netflix. It was crazy how much it blew up on social media and how popular it became so quickly.

I really enjoyed the movie but there were a few things I had questions about, so I hoped that reading the book would explain everything better.

There were a lot of differences right off the bat. The story starts a lot slower, Malorie is living with her sister for awhile when it all starts happening around them and she saw an ad in the paper that mentioned a safe house. Definitely understand why they sped things up in the movie. I’m not sure it’s very believable that with all this panic going on someone took the time to go out and pay for an add in the newspaper.

The whole thing with Gary was really crazy, both in the movie and the book. I definitely liked how it was written better than how it was portrayed in the movie. It just didn’t make sense that he seemed normal and then was crazy out of nowhere. The book explains that he’s sort of immune to whatever is going on outside and believes that others can be immune too. That just makes more sense to me.

I can’t believe that after they kicked him out he was hiding in the attic and that Don was the one that pulled down all the curtains and blankets. I also can’t believe that everyone died and Malorie had the patience to wait that long by herself with babies before attempting to go down the river.

Ending at the school for the blind is definitely interesting. I’m curious why the author  chose to have people there who blinded themselves. It’s definitely understandable given the situation, and she understood because she almost blinded the babies. Maybe it makes her trust them because she could relate and they’re honest about it? Just felt like a weird detail to throw in at the end.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (Series) by Jenny Han

After hearing a lot about the movie, I finally sat down one day and watched To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix. I absolutely loved it. It was so cute and relatable. It made me laugh and cry. I just really loved it.

Of course I had to read the books. They were so good, I could seriously read about Lara Jean and Peter all day long. I actually wish that was an option in life.

I read the three books in this series so quickly that it doesn’t make sense for me to make three separate posts about how great they were and how much I loved each one. Definitely light reading compared to some of the other books I’ve read, but they were all so so enjoyable to read.

I was actually pretty upset after reading them all that Jenny Han said she wouldn’t be writing any more books about Lara Jean. I want to know about Korea, college with Peter, the rest of their lives, etc.!

I’m so glad that Netflix announced they’d be making the second movie and the cast looks really great. Definitely looking forward to it’s release!