Special thanks to Penguin and theWriteReads for providing me with an ARC and allowing me to participate in this book tour.
One minute you’re walking in the park, hiding from a party. Then you discover that the next nine months will probably be your last. Everyone’s last. You realise that you happen to be alive at the time when your species becomes extinct.
You have to decide whether to go with it meekly like you usually do, or to do something brave, to live your last months with all the energy and bravery you can muster, to rage against the dying of the light.
Olivia struggles to live her real life as fully as she wants to. She plans out conversations and events in her head but actually doing them and interacting with other people is hard. When the news breaks that humans have done such damage to the earth that there’s only nine months of safe air left everybody makes bucket lists and starts living their best lives – everyone, that is, but Olivia who is still struggling to figure out who she wants to be.
Then out of the blue comes contact from a long-lost cousin Olivia didn’t even know exsisted. Natasha is everything Olivia wants to be and more. And as the girls meet up for their last summer on earth Olivia finds Natasha’s ease and self-confidence having a effect on her. But what if Natasha isn’t everything she first appears to be . . . ? (Goodreads)
Things to Do Before the End of the World is a truly unexpected read that manages to exceed expectations by breaking out of genre norms. Barr manages to fit a coming-of-age story and thriller all into a book about the end of the world. All of which the author manages to do very well.
It’s evident from the beginning that this book’s primary themes revolve around the main character growing into herself under the most unique of circumstances. One concept repeated throughout this book is that going outside your comfort can sometimes help you live your best life. And, while doing so, you can manage to become more of the person you’re meant to be.
Taking that into consideration, and with the context of the world ending, this book was definitely in danger of falling into the realm of cliche. About one third of the way through the book though, you discover the secondary plot that sort of seems to come out of nowhere. This storyline is truly what adds the flavour to this book, pulling it out of genre-specific expectations set up by the prevailing circumstances of the story.
While this does prove to work in this book’s favour, it can be off-putting to some. At times it feels as though the book isn’t quite sure what it wants to be, which can detract from the intentions and layers of the story. It was a risky decision on behalf of the author, one with the potential to have a great pay off for unexpecting readers.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book and for those who may want something a little different, this is the book for you. This is one of those classic situations of don’t judge a book by it’s cover (or title).
In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.
When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.
As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding… (Goodreads)
My interest was immediately piqued when I read the description of this book. And, let me tell you, this book delivers! It’s a unique concept that’s well-executed. I couldn’t put this book down because I needed to know what happened next. Hutchinson does a masterful job revealing just enough to keep you interested but not too much as to alienate and overwhelm the reader. And while this book deals with some serious crimes and does not shy away from being descriptive, it’s not a very hard book to read. It reads quickly and easily without being unbearably upsetting.
There is a certain amount of cinematic nature to the way this book is written. I could see this being an episode on a crime series or a whole series on its own.
The only issues I had with this book is the “big reveal.” It was predictable and somewhat lacklustre. I found myself looking forward to a more scandalous ending. Of course, the ending still delivers something, but it felt incomplete. This is only the first book in a series though, and while the titular “butterflies” are not the focus of the subsequent books, they’re story continues in the background.
Regardless I definitely recommend this book, especially for the price. It’s an entertaining read with a lot of spooky vibes, and even if you agree with my assessment of the final twist, the book is still overall entertaining as heck.
They say everything is fun and games until someone gets hurt. Well, someone did—and now the game has changed…
Emily Bennett works as a therapist in Pennsylvania, helping children overcome their troubled pasts—even as she struggles to forget her own. Once upon a time, Emily was part of a middle school clique called the Harpies—six popular girls who bullied the new girl to her breaking point.
The Harpies took a blood oath: never tell a soul what they did to Grace Farmer.
Now, fourteen years later, it seems karma has caught up to them when one member of that vicious circle commits suicide. But when a second Harpy is discovered dead shortly after, also from apparent suicide, the deaths start to look suspicious. And when Emily starts seeing a woman who looks a lot like Grace Farmer lurking in the shadows, she’s forced to wonder: Is Grace back for revenge? Or is Emily’s guilt driving her mad?
Sticks and stones may break your bones, but the Harpies are about to find out just how much words can hurt you. (Goodreads)
I don’t often read thriller because the ones I have read this far have been guilty of a writing faux-pas (in my opinion). I absolutely hate it when the final twist is revealed at the very end of the book, as in the final chapter. At least give me a few chapters to watch things unfold, and please, please, have the final twist make sense. It’s frustrating when the book spends so much time setting up possibilities only for the reality to come out of the far left field. (Think Arya killing the Night King in the final season of Game of Thrones.) In saying all this, I’m glad to say, that even if this book sort of did that, it did it in a way that made sense. This book was good. I couldn’t put it down.
I appreciate that the protagonist was a pretty reliable narrator and a pretty smart narrator. While reading it was refreshing to come to important realizations at the same time she did or only shortly before. The characters, while some terrifying, were all relatable in some way. This book definitely plays on many victim’s dreams of vengeance on their bullies while showing that people are able to change. At the same time, it shows that who you truly are can come to light under the right circumstances. And with subtle character development peppered throughout the book, details that at the time seemed like throwaway lines for setting the tone actually turned out to be hinting that culminates into this powerful realization.
Honestly, this book deserves five stars, but I reserve that rating for books I love so much I can reread them. While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, at the end of the day I don’t feel like I can read it again. Not because of the whole “well, I already know what’s going to happen” reasoning, but because this was a stressful read. Stressful in a way that I would compare to Gone Girl. Phenomenal, well worth it read, but something that can only be experienced once.