I loved Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, so I was looking forward to Jamie Ford’s new book. However I was disappointed in Songs of Willow Fros...moreI loved Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, so I was looking forward to Jamie Ford’s new book. However I was disappointed in Songs of Willow Frost.
It’s 1934 and William Eng is living in Sacred Heart Orphanage in Seattle. He has been there since his mother died 5 years earlier. When William sees a movie starring Willow Frost he is convinced that the actress is his mother, so he sets out to find her.
While the premise of the story is good the execution is not. There are a number of stereotypical villains; a cruel nun, a vicious stepfather, uncaring stepmother etc. The story was frequently melodramatic and was so bleak at times it was hard to read; after a time I became inured to all the terrible things that happened to Willow.
William is supposed to be 12 years old, but he often thought and spoke as an adult and that was off-putting. I also found it hard to believe that a boy and his young blind companion could roam the streets of Seattle for days without arousing suspicion.
It’s clear that a lot of research went into this book and a lot of the information about the movie business at that time was very interesting, but overall the book fell flat for me. (less)
I loved Maris de los Santos’ first two books, Love Walked In and Belong to Me, so I was looking forward to her newest novel. While enjoyable it did no...moreI loved Maris de los Santos’ first two books, Love Walked In and Belong to Me, so I was looking forward to her newest novel. While enjoyable it did not live up to my expectations.
Cat, Pen and Will met in college and became fast friends, doing everything together, virtually to the exclusion of everyone else. When Cat leaves the trio to get married it causes a rift in the relationship. Six years have gone by when an e-mail from Cat to both Will and Pen arrives; Cat is asking for help and a meeting at their ten year reunion. When Cat doesn’t show up it sets in motion a series of events that lead to an exploration of the meaning of love, friendship and growing up.
As usual the book is well written and the dialogue and bantering between friends is entertaining, but herein lies a problem. It just seemed improbable that after a rift of six years everyone was able to pick up almost right where they left off. Many changes had occurred in their lives but it was hard to distinguish the youthful students from their adult counterparts. I also found it hard to believe that both Will and Pen would drop everything in their lives in an effort to find Cat, it just didn’t seem realistic. I did enjoy the book, but it was more along the lines of like and not quite love.(less)
It’s always a good feeling to start a book and to be engrossed right from the start; it’s an even better feeling when you close the book completely sa...moreIt’s always a good feeling to start a book and to be engrossed right from the start; it’s an even better feeling when you close the book completely satisfied. This was my experience with “Sister”.
At first blush the premise seems rather mundane, Bee’s sister is missing. When Tess is found dead and her death is declared a suicide Bee refuses to accept it. The idea isn’t unique; but what sets this book apart is the author’s way of telling the story; the book is in the form of a letter from Bee to Tess. This open letter concept really lets us in on Bee’s thought process as she tries to tie all the threads of Tess’s story together.
The story is rich in details and character development and the writing is excellent. I did figure out part of the mystery but Lupton throws in a twist at the end that I did not see coming – although there were several clues along the way.
I am a huge fan of historical fiction so I was really looking forward to this book.
Based in part on a true story the Diva of the title is Erika, a gi...moreI am a huge fan of historical fiction so I was really looking forward to this book.
Based in part on a true story the Diva of the title is Erika, a gifted singer who dreams of going to Italy to pursue her dream of becoming an opera singer; but she also yearns to have a child. Her husband Peter is a successful business man and world traveler. When they consult Dr. Ravell, a doctor who has had some success with treating infertile couples, they hope he is the answer to their prayer. He does help the couple; but in a way that is very deceitful. When the pregnancy ends in tragedy the couple again seeks out the doctor, who has retired to South America. After another attempt Erika does become pregnant, returns to America where she makes a sudden and shocking decision, one that changes everything.
The story started off really well; I found the information on infertility treatments in the early part of the 20th century fascinating. However in the middle of the book the story got bogged down in too much detail, so much so that I found it hard to continue on at times. In addition the three main characters, in spite of some good intentions, were so selfish I found it difficult to like them. The only one I had any real sympathy for was the child, Quentin.
Each adult in this book made choices without really considering the ramifications and although at times a compelling story in the end it was more disappointing than enjoyable.
Daughters of the Witching Hill is a fictionalized account of the so called “Witches of Pendle Forest”, who were found guilty of witchcraft in England...moreDaughters of the Witching Hill is a fictionalized account of the so called “Witches of Pendle Forest”, who were found guilty of witchcraft in England in the early 1600’s. The main focus of the story is Elizabeth Southerns, a cunning woman, who had been helping the people of the area for some 50 years by using herbs and charms to cure ills in exchange for food for her family. Both her daughter and granddaughter have the same talent for curing, but choose not to pursue their talent, and the family’s eventual downfall forms the crux of this story.
I usually enjoy stories of this type, but I found that at times this book went on and on describing walks to and from various homes of the townspeople. The bleakness of the lives these people led was often hard to read about, that isn’t a criticism of the writing, it’s just a statement that the book was often depressing. I also had a hard time connecting with the characters, with the exception of Alizon Device, the granddaughter; to me she was the most fully realized character in the book. It was hard to follow time frames, years seemed to go by with the turn of a page. After all the time spent setting up the story, the eventual imprisonment and trial seemed very rushed. Although it’s clear that a lot of research went into this I never ‘felt’ the story. (less)
False Mermaid is the third book in a series that began with Haunted Ground and continued through Lake of Sorrows. All three books fo...moreRating: 3.5/5*****
False Mermaid is the third book in a series that began with Haunted Ground and continued through Lake of Sorrows. All three books focus on Nora Gavin, an American pathologist who has been living in Ireland studying bog bodies, those bodies that have been trapped and preserved in the bog land of the country. In her work she has come to care for Cormac McCarthy, an archaeologist. An undercurrent in the first two books is the story of Nora’s sister Triona, who had been murdered several years earlier; a murder Nora is convinced was carried out by Triona’s husband. Realizing that she cannot move forward in her life Nora returns to America to try and find out the truth about her sister’s death. This search forms the basis for False Mermaid.
I very much liked both Haunted Ground and Lake of Sorrows, they were beautifully written and the mysteries in both books were very layered and interesting. Unfortunately False Mermaid did not equal the lyricism of the earlier books. The main problem is the book is set in Minnesota, which doesn’t allow for a lot of the atmosphere that the books set in Ireland were filled with and it doesn’t incorporate as much history and archaeological procedures that were incorporated into those books. It is probably therefore no surprise that for me the book doesn’t pick up until Nora returns to Ireland in the latter third of the book.
One of the other problems with this book were the overwhelming prevalence of coincidences; there were so many of them, from finding a book in a library that had not been moved in 5 years, to the appearance of a homeless person wearing a sweatshirt that once belonged to Triona’s husband and appears to be stained with blood (again 5 years later). There were enough of those moments to take me out of the story. There is also an old mystery that Cormac is intrigued by, concerning the fable of selkies, supposed half seal - half human beings. The constant seal sightings or stories about seals and the mysticism surrounding them overwhelmed the storyline and again seemed just too coincidental and too piled on.
I gave the book 3.5 stars because there were moments of very good story telling; just not as fine as her previous books. If she does return with a fourth book I hope she keeps it in Ireland and focuses more on the anthropological mysteries; Ms Hart does those much better than this run of the mill murder mystery. (less)