Book Review: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Science-Fiction

Publishing Info: April 2013 by Harper (first published 2012)

Pages: 391

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

The girl who wouldn’t die, hunting a killer who shouldn’t exist…
A terrifying and original serial-killer thriller from award-winning author, Lauren Beukes.

1930’s America: Lee Curtis Harper is a delusional, violent drifter who stumbles on a house that opens onto other times.

Driven by visions, he begins a killing spree over the next 60 years, using an undetectable MO and leaving anachronistic clues on his victims’ bodies.

But when one of his intended ‘shining girls’, Kirby Mazrachi, survives a brutal stabbing, she becomes determined to unravel the mystery behind her would-be killer. While the authorities are trying to discredit her, Kirby is getting closer to the truth, as Harper returns again and again…

The premise of The Shining Girls excited me when I first read the blurb: a time travelling serial killer? Sounds interesting. Perhaps I set my expectations too high. It was a bit of a let-down for me, and not as good as I was hoping. I felt the author could have done so much more with this interesting, creepy idea.

The structure didn’t do anything for me. It switches back and forth with lots of different points of view in lots of different time frames which left me feeling rather confused. Most elements of mystery/suspense were taken out by the fact that we know the ‘answer’ to the mystery Kirby is trying to solve because the first person point of view of the serial killer is included. I didn’t feel motivated to keep reading and wasn’t intrigued like I like to feel when reading mystery/thriller. It was just lacking in tension and suspense.

The characters could have been developed more. They felt quite flat, their personalities not really showing through, particularly in the main characters.

It was quite repetitive, with lots of time given to each of the murders Harper committed. The only thing I liked about this part was that the author gave some details about each of the victims that made them like real people rather than just unfortunate victims.

The ending was a bit abrupt and I personally would liked to have seen more resolution. The little epilogue at the end was quite clever though and brought the end in a loop back to the beginning.

This concept had so much potential but I just wasn’t a fan of the way it was executed and found myself checking frequently how much longer it was before I finished it. Ironically, it lacked shine, it lacked the spark of something special to me.

Book Review: Moment(s) by Lisa Terry

Moment(s) by Lisa Terry

Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, New Adult

Publishing Info: Self-published January 10th 2015

Pages: 218

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

Scottish rocker Julian McLane lives life as normally as possible. But fame can be lonely, which might be why he’d spent a year looking for the girl he caught making a wish behind the concert arena. His fans aren’t happy to share him now that he has found Emilie—too bad their violent displeasure only pushes the couple together.

Emilie needs protection from rabid fans, so Julian convinces her to tour with him and his prank-loving bandmates so his security team can watch over her too. Julian thinks their coupledom is as right as a love song. But something’s very wrong about murder victims wearing the band’s concert bracelets. Someone seems intent on downsizing the fandom.

Julian holds a twisted mess of clues about the killer’s identity, with every day bringing a different theory, and he’s beginning to think finding the killer means losing Emilie forever.

Moment(s) is a mix of romance and mystery, with a string of murders in the background of the romantic dealings between Julian and Emilie. Despite there being some issues with the book I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I’m going to deal with that issue at the start so we can get it over and done with. Basically, the book needed more proofreading. Reading a self-published book I’m expecting there will be some typos and things as the writer doesn’t have access to the editing team as someone publishing under a publisher. However, there were a few too many obvious typos in almost every chapter that could have easily been ironed out through a proofread. The last couple of chapters before the epilogue also needed more work as it was just very confusing and was nowhere near as polished as the first half of the book.

Now we’ve got that out of the way let’s talk about the actual story. I thought the plot was good and there were plenty of twists that I didn’t see coming. I also liked the mix of romance and mystery, I thought that combination of genre worked really well in this book.

The characters were great and all very likable. The interactions between the band members was realistic and humorous and just so well written. I also liked the slow build of the relationship between Julian and Emilie and thought their relationship was written very well. It was a bit predictable that they would end up together but the mystery going on in the background meant there was something to keep me reading.

I had some issues with the gymnastics described in the first half of the book. In addition to performing their songs the band also do some gymnastics on stage. I get that they are doing things that gymnasts wouldn’t normally do as they are outside the competition environment but some of it just seemed unrealistic. It was hard to visualise but at one point they were going directly from one piece of equipment to the next but given the structure of the equipment I don’t see how they could be placed close enough together for them to be able to swing from one to the other.

Overall I feel like the story had the potential to be a better novel than this. It perhaps needed a little more time to be edited before it was published. However I did thoroughly enjoy reading it and would definitely recommend it. I will be reading more books by Lisa Terry.