This is the story of Eliza, who has two kids and a good husband and a place for herself in the world, quiet and unassuming; she also has a history sheThis is the story of Eliza, who has two kids and a good husband and a place for herself in the world, quiet and unassuming; she also has a history she would like to keep quiet. At age 15 she was abducted by a serial killer -- she was not chosen by him, an important point to keep in mind; she just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. For the time Eliza is Walter's captive, they drive endless circles through Virginia and talk. This part of the story is told in flashback, and it is remarkable for its clarity and finesse.
This is the story of Walter, during the six weeks he holds Eliza captive and also in the last days of his life, twenty years later, on death row.
Evil is a word that is overused; most of the awful stuff that happens in the world is more like this: mundane in the details. Not boring, mind you. Walter's mind and reasoning, his view of the world, these are subtle and because of that, all the more disturbing.
The characterizations are masterfully done. A woman who has fought her way back to a normal life after an experience that would break many; a man who has spent twenty years both acknowledging his crimes and rationalizing them.
There is not a lot of plot here: Eliza's abduction, the psychological play that Walter uses to bind her to hi; the uncomplicated rescue, the trial, and then twenty years later, the events leading up to Walter's execution by lethal injection.
With such fraught material most authors would have strayed into the melodramatic, but Lippman has characters to look after and she spends no time trying to put the horrific into easily accessible terms.
I will be thinking about this novel for a long time to come....more
This is an amusing, airy romance. The plot is utterly improbable, but that's part of the charm in a fairy tale. Also to be expected: the characters arThis is an amusing, airy romance. The plot is utterly improbable, but that's part of the charm in a fairy tale. Also to be expected: the characters are not complex or well developed (What do you know about Cinderella or Prince Charming, really? Is Cinderella a conservative? Is Prince Charming devoted to dogs? Not relevant in a fairy tale.) In this case, the Crown Prince of Austria falls quickly and absolutely in love with Leigh, an average American girl, for no obvious reason, beyond the fact that she's beautiful. This story is all about a simple question: who or what stands between the main character and romantic fulfillment and happiness? A lot, in this case.
I haven't read anything about the way this novel came into being beyond the fact that is was self-published. There are a few irritations (and most of them very minor) that a good editor would have stepped on. For example: why use italics for conversations on the phone? Very distracting. More irritating: a lot of this story takes place in Austria, and thus German is spoken. And the German is pretty poorly put together. Lothlorien could have got a native speaker to go over the German bits and correct them, but for some reason she did not. The result is an amateurish tone. There's really no excuse for skipping this basic step of making sure the language you're writing is really the language you're writing. In fact, one of the advantages of ebooks and self publishing is the ability to correct errors. If she took the trouble, she could get this issue straightened out tomorrow and post the corrected e-version.
Finally, I lived in Austria for three years and the Austria in this novel is nothing like the Austria I know. But again, if you accept the premise that this is a fairy-tale, it's possible to overlook that.
The good working class girl who stumbles upon a handsome, wealthy, devoted romantic interest is a favorite fantasy for many women. This is one more example of that genre with the added attraction of a crown prince and a palace, the story told with some flair and (in part) in poorly constructed German. ...more
Edited to add: I listened to the audiobook version of this novel, and I should have said this: what a great narrator. Good differentiation of one charEdited to add: I listened to the audiobook version of this novel, and I should have said this: what a great narrator. Good differentiation of one character from another, and no straining to sound male -- she just pulls it off.
I've read a lot of Nora Roberts' novels -- with the exception of the fantasy and paranormal titles, which just are not my proverbial cup of tea. A lot of her books blend together for me, which means that they were less than compelling or memorable. Not bad, mind you. Just not exceptional in any way.
This is, I think, my favorite of her books. I certainly admire Roberts' ability to make the perilous world of fire jumpers come into focus. A lot of research went into this, but (and this is the hard part) she never indulges the temptation to simply show off what she learned -- Roberts provides just enough detail to get a real sense of how physically and mentally challenging fire jumping is. I got a good idea of the current technology and how it's used, and maybe most important, I began to understand the mindset and priorities that would drive an otherwise sensible and intelligent human being to jump out of a plane into a raging fire.
That aspect of the novel is so well done that I've talked the Mathematician into reading it, because I know he will like it enough to overlook the fact that there is a love story here. Two of them, in fact.
The primary romance is exceptionally good. Rowan, a veteran fire jumper, and Gulliver, a rookie. I find I can't resist the urge to use the totally predictable descriptive phrase: they generate tremendous heat. ...more
I listened to this novel in unabridged audio format (recorded by Rebecca Lowman, a reader I really like). That was a couple months ago. Then more receI listened to this novel in unabridged audio format (recorded by Rebecca Lowman, a reader I really like). That was a couple months ago. Then more recently I read it because I was still thinking about it.
At age thirteen Sicily Coyne gets caught up in a tragic fire in which many die; her father is killed, and she is terribly disfigured. Many surgeries give her back a face, but it is barely recognizable as such, and strangers gasp out loud when they see her. Raised by a smart and loving aunt, Sicily finds her way in the world, slowly, dealing with the curious and unkind, and even finding love with a childhood friend. She sees no reason to pursue any more plastic surgery -- she's spent way too much time in hospitals as it is -- when the possibility of a full face transplant comes her way. The story begins not so much with this possibility but with her fiance's reaction, which is a little too enthusiastic. Then everything changes with the unveiling of a devastating secret. Her engagement over, her life on hold, she decides to go ahead with the face transplant.
The process is recorded by a photographer, a character we have come to know in other novels written by Mitchard. The public exposure forces changes on Sicily at a pace that is overwhelming as she discovers who she is and who she wants to be. Another man comes into the picture, bringing with him a whole set of complications that compromise her heart and health both.
Many of the reviews here are highly critical of Sicily's character in ways I just don't get (she's 'selfish, annoying, flighty, indecisive, whiny'). I'm wondering how these reviewers would cope with a tragedy of this magnitude, the physical destruction and pain, the sudden stranger in the mirror, the challenge of making a place for herself in a world so focused on the physical. I loved her for her courage and wit, for her stubborn streak which causes her problems but also facilitates solutions, for her fierce determination to pull herself together again and again when someone she loves fails her.
This is not a light or easy story; it's gritty and sometimes graphic, and Sicily is not an easy character. But she is rewarding and very much worth spending some time with....more
There's a great premise here: imagine a time hole (for lack of a better word) you can walk through, but you'll always find yourself on a particular daThere's a great premise here: imagine a time hole (for lack of a better word) you can walk through, but you'll always find yourself on a particular day in 1958. The friend who introduces high school teacher Jake Epping to this possibility does so because he wants him to go back in time to stop the Kennedy Assassination. Al is convinced that everything went wrong starting with that loss, and that the world will be a better place if it had never happened. Jake lets himself be talked into this, and steps into 1958.
Kennedy was killed in 1963, which means that Jake has five years to live through until 11/22/63. The bulk of the novel is about these five years, in which he keeps himself busy trying to stop other tragedies from happening, finds a job teaching high school to a very different kind of student, and falls in love.
He can go back to his own time, but then he'll have to start all over from that same day in 1958. And he continues to age at the normal pace.
Here's the problem. King almost always goes too far in the final scenes of his novels. Spielberg does the same thing with his movies -- he can't resist a final, or almost final, highly melodramatic scene. Think the cemetery scene in Saving Private Ryan or the farewell scene in Schindler's List.
In this novel, King is setting up an alternate reality to come home to and he overshoots the mark by a scale of at least three. Too much and too extreme. I willingly suspended disbelief for the entire novel -- time travel? OK -- but in the final chapters after Jake has returned to his own time, King lost me. Sometimes his imagination is too big for its own britches, and needs to be swaddled. This was one of those times.
Overall it is a very good novel, beautifully researched and plotted; the past only slightly romanticized. For example, why would root beer taste better in 1958 -- and why focus on this odd and less than compelling observation? I am reminded of my Italian aunts remembering the grapes in the arbor behind the house they grew up in, which has never had and will never have an equal in today's pale world. Some characters and subplots that still haunt me, some images I won't be able to let go of for a good while. But the highly overdone setting which is the result of Jake's actions in 1963 warp the whole experience for me. ...more
This is really awkward, because I am a die-hard Troubleshooters fan and I like and admire many things about Brockmann's writing. I also understand thaThis is really awkward, because I am a die-hard Troubleshooters fan and I like and admire many things about Brockmann's writing. I also understand that she's been writing TS for a long time and she needed to get away from it, although I will confess that I hope she eventually goes back because there are still a few of Izzy's team mates who are solo, and I would really like to see how those relationships develop.
But Born to Darkness: ok. I meant to like this. I hoped to love it. Part of the problem is that paranormal is just not my thing. It's very rare that I can get into a paranormal novel. I hoped this might be one of those rare cases, but no. My honest take on this is that she was so excited about getting away from TS that she went overboard. There's just too much going on in this novel, and she had some trouble juggling it all. New characters, new genre, new back story x about twenty, of course it is going to be hard to pull off.
So I can only recommend this if you love paranormals and love Brockmann's style, too. Otherwise go re-read Breaking the Rules. ...more