“My Life Next Door”—A Book Review

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My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick is a great novel to enjoy any time of the year, regardless of its summertime setting.

Samantha Reed’s life is perfect…or at least it should be. Her life has basically been mapped out for her since birth. With rich, High Society, grandparents and mother, Samantha has always had the best of the best: the perfect modest wardrobe, attendance at the best private schools, and weekly dinners at the country club.

But perfect isn’t always as good as it seems. Samantha’s father left when she and her older sister, Tracy, were very young, and her politician mother is a bit OCD. Everything always has to be perfect. There is no room for error in Samantha and Tracy’s lives. Smoothies for breakfast, Cardigans for dress, homework completed exactly on time (if not early). Oh, and the carpet must be vacuumed in perfect rows, like, five times a day.

And the Reeds do NOT associate with the next door neighbors, the Garretts. But Samantha has a secret: she has been watching the Garretts with fascination for years from her rooftop balcony perch. With eight children, the Garretts’ household is completely chaotic, loud, messy, and wild. And Samantha is simply entranced.

Then, one fateful summer night, Jase, one of the oldest Garrett boys, climbs the terrace to Samantha’s window and changes everything. Samantha and Jase quickly embark on a whirlwind romance that with have your heart thumping and your breath catching.

The Garrett family quickly welcomes Samantha as one of their own, and she can’t get enough of the pandemonium. Each of the Garrett children captures Sam’s heart, and she finds herself voluntarily babysitting for the family any chance she can.

Throughout the summer, Samantha comes to the realization that no matter how hard we would like to believe they are, our parents aren’t always right. While her mother sneers at the size and behavior of the Garrett family, Samantha continually witnesses the unyielding love and passion, in spite of the financial hardships having such a big family causes.

And of course, just how it always goes, right when everything in life seems to be perfect, the bottom falls out, turning Sam’s life upside down in the worst possible way. Samantha must make the difficult decision of choosing which family to protect: her own or the Garretts’, who have basically become like her own family.  

 

Tantalizing quotes to enjoy:

“I’m not sure I can pull off being friends with someone whose clothes I want to rip off. Oh God. Did I actually just think that? I steal another look at Jase in his jeans. Yes. Yes, I did.”

No, because of instinct. You can tell who to trust. People can, just like animals. We don’t listen as well as they do, always, but it’s still there. That prickling feeling when something’s not right. That calm feeling when it is.” His voice is low and husky in the darkness.

“Jase?”

“Mmm-hmm?” He lifts up on one elbow, his face barely visible in the twilight.

“You have to kiss me,” I find myself saying.

“Yeah.” He leans closer. “I do.” –My Life Next Door.

“The Diviners”—A Book Review/Sort-of-Rant

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The Diviners by Libba Bray received some pretty awesome reviews, so I decided to check it out. I gotta say, I just wasn’t feeling it. It appears the whole ghost-serial-killer thing is pretty popular right now, but this book just didn’t quite deliver as well as Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star (which I also didn’t find to be fantastic, but was definitely better than The Diviners).

Evie O’Neill has a gift: By holding someone’s personal possession, she can sort of enter a person’s mind and tell them anything having to do with the object—including any thoughts or emotions a person may have ever had while holding the object. When Evie was drunk at a party in her hometown in Ohio, she got pissed off at a big-to-do rich kid and held an object of his to discover that he had cheated on his fiancé and gotten a girl knocked up. Refusing to issue an official apology, her parents shipped her off to New York City to live with her uncle, the curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult. That’s the official name, anyway—Evie and her friends refer to it as The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies. 

This story takes place during the flapper era, a time when bobbed hair, rhinestones, and feathers are the fashion. Evie is posi-toot-ly thrilled to be in the glamorous city of New York. She cannot wait to go to speak easies and drink large quantities of gin with her starlet friend.

During this time, though, a string of super strange killings are occurring in the area. Because of the bizarre nature in which the bodies are found, the police have called upon Evie’s uncle to help with the investigation, seeing as he specializes in the weird and paranormal.

That’s pretty much the whole premise of the book. Being completely honest with you, I couldn’t even finish it. The main character, Evie, got on my nerves like crazy. She is completely self-centered and spoiled. To her, life is just one big game and anyone that doesn’t go along with her childish whims is basically considered an asshole.

That’s basically all that has happened in the 335 pages that I did manage to stomach, nothing else happens except a small side story of a few other “diviners” (people with special abilities, such as healing and prophesying) a nerdy friend in Evie’s uncle’s apartment building having a crush on Evie’s Uncle’s assistant, and her uncle hiring a charming young thief that pick pocketed Evie upon her arrival in New York.

The only plus I would say this book had going for it was the song that the serial killer sang as he prepared to kill his victims: Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on, cuts your throat and takes your bones, sells ‘em off for a coupla stones.”

I’m sad to say that, despite the great reviews others gave, I can only give this book two out of three stars.

I don’t even have any fabulous quotes to share with you…the creepy song was the only part I liked enough to note.