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The Book of Illumination

3.32  ·  Rating Details ·  177 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
The criminal underworld meets the spiritual otherworld in this thrilling debut collaboration between the inspiration for television’s The Ghost Whisperer and an award-winning writer/director.

Anza O’Malley is in most ways a typical single mom. She lives a happy, busy life with her five-year-old son in Cambridge, Massachusetts, juggling the joys and challenges of life as a d
Paperback, 308 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Three Rivers Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30)
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Cindi Moss
There are about 10 pages of actual story in this book. The remaining 300 (!!!!) are all silly, unnecessary filler details about how it's oh so hard to be a single working mom with amazing, trustworthy neighbors that are basically unpaid babysitters when your abundance of best friends in town aren't able to drop everything at a moment's notice and are more than thrilled to take care of your 5 year old, clean your house and feed everyone - on their dime. And how difficult it is to see the father o ...more
Anna Engel
Mar 04, 2014 Anna Engel rated it it was ok
[2.5 stars]

My question is this: Was this book intended to be a family drama with ghosts in it or a ghost story with a background of family life?

This book could have been so much better. Rather than focus on the mystery at hand – the disappearance of the illuminated manuscript – Anza describes the minutiae of her life in Boston, such as riding the T, going to iconic restaurants (Charlie's Kitchen, Café Algiers), visiting the Charles Hotel, and high rents in the city. And I really don't care abou
Mar 19, 2010 Diana rated it did not like it
Can I give this a half a star for trying? This book was a last minute add-on in Barnes & Noble and a moment I regret. I thought it might contain a bit of history about monks in the 12th century, you know, something that took a little research on the authors' parts (otherwise, why else have two authors--was one really that bad that the other had to help?), but instead, it was more on the surface mommy-lit with a very basic mystery plot. Predicable. No wonder one of these authors creates for t ...more
Jul 27, 2012 Jeanne rated it did not like it
Written by a consultant for the TV show The Ghost Whisperer, this is a supernatural mystery that reads like a cozy. Because of that I didn't care for it. There was also way too much detail written in. I don't care how the protagonist takes her coffee, or about all the neighbors in a building. Too much detail, not enough action.
May 17, 2011 Siobhan rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I think the TV show it's kind of associated with made me question how much I'd like it. I would give it 3.5 stars--the extra .5 star is for having a lot of Irish stuff in it without making the characters sound like they're advertising "Lucky Charms". I would love it if this was the start of a series--I'd definitely read the next book!
Nov 14, 2009 Becca rated it it was ok
My review is colored by the fact that I thought this was going to be a non-fiction book about ghosts. We read it for book club and it lead to good discussion on whether we believed in ghosts. However, this book did not have enough ghosts and their history and too much of the marriage of Q to U (the single mom subplot), which made it fall a little flat.
The Ol' Rattlesnake
Mar 29, 2016 The Ol' Rattlesnake rated it liked it
I likes the whole supernatural aspect of this book. As well at the book binding twist etc.
Everything else; son, family, and her 'what seems like some school girl crush on her son's married father' is all VERY BORING.
Debbie Hardy
Oct 25, 2016 Debbie Hardy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

There are some very gifted storytellers out there. O,so gifted. And then there are not,and that can be the like the difference between enthrallment, and entrapment. Between spoken word, and that one person who loves to hear themselves talk.
Jun 12, 2010 C. rated it it was ok
Wow. Sure am glad to finally get this finished. This is 300 pages of my life I will never get back again.
Nicole Spoor
Apr 14, 2010 Nicole Spoor rated it it was ok
The story started out really well and the ending was okay. It was the many not so interesting pages in between that almost made me not finish this book.
Jul 02, 2015 Mimi rated it really liked it
Nice little story. Developed well. Really did not need so much writing about her very busy family life. Did not add to the main story.
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
This book is written by Maureen Foley and Mary Ann Winkowski (the real life inspiration behind the tv show 'The Ghost Whisperer'). I loved Mary Ann Winkowski's first book 'When Ghosts Speak' which is an autobiographical account of her life as a medium. I was so excited to hear she had teamed up with another writer to publish a novel that I had to buy it right away. I savoured the sight of it on my bookshelf until I couldn't wait any longer and I dove right in.

The novel has so many cool elements:
Aug 05, 2012 Kristen rated it liked it
I enjoyed this story, which combinded books, ghosts, family angst, and history into one clever, interesting plot.

Anza O'Malley is a single mom, who makes her living as a book-binder. Oh, also, she sees and can talk to ghosts.

When a family friend asks Anza to help an acquaintance who thinks she's being haunted at the famous Boston Athanaeum, Anza would prefer to not get involved. But she feels a responsibility to use her gift to help when she can, so she visits the Athanaeum, and finds the ghosts
Bianca van Willigenburg
From the description I expected this to be a ghost story. Instead it's a story with ghosts in it, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The story was okay, although some of the characters could have been developed a bit better. Although the story in itself is good I think it isn't worked out to it's full potential. There is so much happening in the main character's life (that hasn't got anything to do with the story) that the main plot gets snowed under. The ending also feels hastened.

Despite this
Nov 28, 2009 Maurabee rated it liked it
If you enjoyed Geraldine Brook's People of the Book you might want to try this light read involving an illustrated text (along the lines of the Book of Kells) that has disappeared in 21st century Boston. The best part of the story is the setting - Greater Boston comes to life in the descriptions of the neighborhoods and landmarks. I am normally not into "spectral" storylines (this was my first) and while necessary to the plot the characters from the past here were believable enough ...I focussed ...more
Darlene Ferland
Jun 25, 2012 Darlene Ferland rated it it was amazing
I read the second book in this new series first and it really didn't bother me as it had with other series. The authors have given us an excellent read. Anza, the main character, has the ability to see, hear and speak with spirits who are earth bound. She is also the single mother of a five year old boy. Her main occupation is as a book binder and her vocation is helping the spirits to cross the threshold into the light. Set in the Boston area, it is an enjoyable book that allows the reader to o ...more
Nov 11, 2009 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I kept going back and forth with this one. Whenever it dealt with the ghost's stories I kept going briskly along, but as soon as it got back to the character's crush on her kid's father I felt it lost momentum. I did find myself loathing the villain with a hatred I only reserve for those who cut up books. Horrible! Terrible! You disrespect an 11th century illuminated manuscript, you feel my wrath!
Apr 04, 2011 K.C. rated it really liked it
Move over Ghost whisperer, as a matter of fact the author consulted on the show! The main character Anza O'Malley searches for the lost manuscript through the streets of rich historical Boston. She works as a book binder & has been able to see ghosts all her life. The mystery is further afoot with the ghosts of the monks who created the lost manuscript. The characters are well thought out. A light and enjoyable read.
Nov 15, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
I was skeptical of the ghost aspect of this book, but it turns out I'm perfectly fine with ghosts in fiction. I liked the two ghost story lines, but I expected/wanted them to be more intertwined than they were. In fact, that's maybe my one complaint about this book -- there were so many little stories and details going on, but in the end they all seemed kind of random. Nothing was tied together as well as I'd hoped. But overall I liked the book. It was a quick and entertaining read.
Mar 05, 2012 Jo rated it liked it
the first half of the book was pretty hard to muddle through. i found the last half to be more interesting. there were alot of characters to keep straight in my mind, so that made the read alot more tedious. but the story was good and i am glad that i stuck with it and didnt give up, and trust me, there were a few times when i wanted to close the book and not finish it.
Jan 01, 2010 Karen rated it really liked it
I rarely read books by two authors, but this was great. I read it New Years Day while "watching" football. I enjoyed the premises of the book, a person who can see and communicate with ghosts, the search for a lost manuscript, and the extended family concept. I look forward to other books in the series.
May 28, 2013 Kylie rated it it was amazing
I've read Mary Ann's When Ghosts Speak, about her real life as a psychic and I can see how much inspiration she pulled from her own life to create this story. But despite the similarities, it's a beautifully unique work and I felt completely connected to Anza the whole time.
Suzan Alteri
Sep 27, 2014 Suzan Alteri rated it liked it
I gave this three stars because it was a fun read even if the character development for the supporting characters was a bit uneven. Actually the best part of the story isn't about the missing book at all, but instead about one of the other ghosts - the old butler.
Craig Thomson
Nov 03, 2009 Craig Thomson rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
If you enjoy the Ghost Whisperer on TV then I think you will really enjoy this book. There are several different stories going on at once but by the end of the book all have been resolved and its great the way they all interlocked.
May 13, 2011 JoDee rated it liked it
I enjoyed it enough to consider getting the next book, "Ice Cradle" another novel with the same characters. It is very much like an episode of the show "Ghost Whisper",light entertainment with neither the mystery or the ghosts being too complicated.
Nov 20, 2009 Anne rated it liked it
An enjoyable little mystery involving a woman who sees ghosts, a rare manuscript that has been stolen, and bookbinders. A very enjoyable read.
Amanda Kay
Apr 17, 2011 Amanda Kay rated it really liked it
pretty good read. loved how the main character was protraited as a working mom who still made time for her child.
Shawn Oetzel
Mar 12, 2010 Shawn Oetzel rated it it was ok
I did not find this book that entertaining. It was kind of all over the place and never settled on one plotline. It was a disappointment.
Sep 07, 2011 Laurel rated it liked it
Shelves: books-read-2011
I enjoyed reading the book and meeting the ghosts. Somehow I expected it to be a little hokey, but I found it an interesting and pleasant read.
Jen Mendeck
Nov 20, 2009 Jen Mendeck rated it liked it
An entertaining, but not very deep read.
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A happily married, devout Catholic, suburban mother and full-time paranormal investigator, Mary Ann Winkowski has been able to see earthbound spirits, spirits that are trapped on earth and haven't "crossed over," since she was a little girl. Mary Ann works with these spirits to help them make peace with what keeps them here - whether it be people they can't let go of or homes they love. "
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