Rating is more 3.5 stars. I loved The Dog Stars, but the protagonist in this book was so hard for me to care about and that colored my reaction to theRating is more 3.5 stars. I loved The Dog Stars, but the protagonist in this book was so hard for me to care about and that colored my reaction to the book. The writing is beautiful, and that's what pushes the book to 4 stars but I cannot say I enjoyed reading this the whole time. I really struggled....more
Cartwheel is a novel loosely based on the real murder trial of Amanda Knox. For those who don’t know Amanda Knox is an American student charged with kCartwheel is a novel loosely based on the real murder trial of Amanda Knox. For those who don’t know Amanda Knox is an American student charged with killing her roommate while studying abroad. Although I was aware of the case I didn’t follow it enough to know the ins and outs of the crime, so whatever the author chose to portray, change or leave out wasn’t relevant to me. In point of fact this is less about the crime than about the way the media can manipulate people’s perceptions, and how these perceptions can be changed multiple times.
The author’s focus is mostly on the psychological impact of this alleged crime on the accused and her family and a few friends. It also exams how we perceive ourselves can be at odds with how others see us. I think this was her greatest strength. I did have a few problems with her structure, which was often confusing. Flashbacks occurring over a few months alternating with ‘current’ storylines that also occurred over several months. Her writing was frequently beautiful, however the habit of throwing in pretentious dialogue really broke up the flow since I had to stop and look up the words, often multiple times in one sentence. It got very annoying. Nobody talks like that – nobody.
I also had issues with her introduction of characters and leaving tantalizing hints about them and then not following through on them. The ‘boyfriend’ had parents who probably were not who they seemed; the family that hosted Amanda and her roommate may have ties to a criminal element; the prosecutor has a wife who comes and goes with no bearing on the story. All of this just added to a feeling of everything left hanging, especially the resolution (or lack thereof) of the central mystery.
Overall I was disappointed in the execution of what started out as a tantalizing story but fizzled out in the end. I would however try another book by the author because I did love a great deal of her writing – just not enough. ...more
This isn't my full review, that will come later. I have to say the comparisons with Gone Girl are somewhat valid, but it's a very different book - alsThis isn't my full review, that will come later. I have to say the comparisons with Gone Girl are somewhat valid, but it's a very different book - also a psychological thriller with a husband and wife that you don't much care for. I started this book yesterday and read it every chance I got. It's dark, it's got some black humor, and it's a book I can't stop thinking about. So the subject matter may not be for everyone but I enjoyed every twisted moment especially the unexpected ending. ...more
In 1747 Katie O’Toole is living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania when ‘savages’ attack her home and two Indians take Katie away. One of these men tells herIn 1747 Katie O’Toole is living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania when ‘savages’ attack her home and two Indians take Katie away. One of these men tells her that he is a seer and he has been seeking her, a creature with hair of fire and eyes of ice.
The Spirit Keeper is a journal written by Katie as she recounts her travels with her two captors, Syawa and Hector. I’m a fan of fiction that features Native Americans, but this book fell a little flat for me. The books is not labeled young adult but it seems like a book that would appeal to a teenage girl. I found the story to be repetitive and I never connected to the three main characters. The overall story seemed rather improbable and although the tale picks up after the first half it wasn’t until the last hundred pages that I became pulled more into the story. The ending was disappointing, it seems as if there is the possibility for a sequel as there isn’t a satisfying ending to the quest that Syawa and Hector embarked on, although at this point I’m not sure I would read it....more
The Anatomist’s Apprentice is a story of the early days of forensic pathology. Thomas Silkstone is a 25-year-old anatomist. Born in America he is at O The Anatomist’s Apprentice is a story of the early days of forensic pathology. Thomas Silkstone is a 25-year-old anatomist. Born in America he is at Oxford. When Sir Edward Crick dies under mysterious circumstances Dr. Silkstone is called in to investigate the death. He soon gets caught in a web of lies, deceit and more death.
This was a fairly enjoyable mystery set at about the time of the American Revolution. Sometimes it was a really graphic look at forensics. At other times it was an over-ripe love story. It reminded me of those Victorian novels where the damsel is always in distress and needs rescuing. The mystery was actually good, with lots of red herrings and suspects, but the end was a little bit over the top, with bodies dropping like flies.
The book wasn’t that well written but I both listened to the audio and read the book; I very much preferred the audio version. The narrator is Simon Vance, a truly gifted reader and he was able to make the book sound better than it probably was. Still I enjoyed it enough to probably read the next book in the series – well maybe I’ll just listen to it if Vance is the narrator again. ...more
Joyland is a Stephen King novel, but it is not a typical Stephen King novel. First and foremost it’s short – just under 300 pages. Second, although thJoyland is a Stephen King novel, but it is not a typical Stephen King novel. First and foremost it’s short – just under 300 pages. Second, although there is a ghost and a young boy who could be psychic, that’s not the heart of the book. The heart of the book is Devin Jones, a college student who has recently had his heart broken. Taking a summer job at a second rate amusement park called Joyland Devin becomes obsessed with the story of the ghost of a young woman who was murdered in the park several years earlier. Along the way he learns all about carny life, makes life-long friends and meets a unique little boy who ‘knows’ things and helps Devin in his search for the “Carny Killer”.
I really enjoyed this book. The main character was really likeable and King portrayed his broken hearted angst perfectly. And the book ending packs an emotional wallop. It was a perfect summer read and if you are a King fan you will enjoy this departure from his usual horror fare. Even if you aren’t a fan of King I recommend the book, it’s not scary at all. ...more
The Light in the Ruins is a hard book to classify. It’s part historical history and part murder mystery. What it definitely is is a haunting story aboThe Light in the Ruins is a hard book to classify. It’s part historical history and part murder mystery. What it definitely is is a haunting story about the ravages of war and a chilling tale of revenge and murder.
The opening to this book grabs you immediately as it is told from a killer’s point of view, it was one of the best openings to a book I’ve ever read and it made me want to find out what has compelled someone to commit such a terrible crime.
The events of the book unfold in two different years, 1944 when the war came to Italy and 1955, years after the end of the war but the start of a well-planned act of revenge.
The Rosati family lives a life of privilege in their villa in the Tuscan hills. For the most part they are untouched by the war raging around the world. When two Nazi officers come to the villa, which is the home of an Etruscan tomb, their lives become entwined with that of the Nazis’ who are in the habit of plundering ancient art. Slowly, inexorably the Rosati’s way of life begins to unravel.
In 1955 we meet Serafina Bettini, a woman who has her own scars from the war. She is the police investigator assigned to the murder of Francesca Rosati. When another murder occurs it is clear that some one has a vendetta against the Rosati family.
I enjoyed the story; I loved the characters, all of which are not perfect and I thought the writing was excellent. I found myself wondering what I would do in a similar position as the Rosati’s, caught between factions in the midst of war. I was riveted to the mystery and the small clues that were sprinkled throughout. My only complaint is that the revelation of the murderer, while believable, seemed a little out of left field. Outside of that minor complaint this has been my favorite book by Bohjalian. ...more
I have a lot of conflicting feelings about this book. On the one hand it’s a well-written look at family relationships in varying connections; siblingI have a lot of conflicting feelings about this book. On the one hand it’s a well-written look at family relationships in varying connections; siblings, husbands and wives and parent and child. On the other hand it’s very dark, with really unlikeable characters and some improbable scenarios.
The story takes place during the course of a dinner at a very exclusive restaurant. Two brothers, Paul and Serge and their respective wives Claire and Babette are having a night out, but it becomes clear that this is anything but a casual dinner. There are undertones and hints of something very serious involving their children, cousins that seem to have done something very bad and most likely of a criminal nature. The book is told through the voice of Paul, who seems rather staid and unremarkable. It soon becomes clear that Paul has secrets that are slowly revealed and lead to the questioning of his reliability as narrator.
At the start of the book I was very engaged and felt that this would maybe turn out to be the psychological thriller that was advertised. The story soon became bogged down in so many details of the dinner and the restaurant that the suspense slowly drained away. I really didn’t need to know the name of every dish and drink ordered, descriptions of the manager, the serving people, the owner and how the food was prepared, ad nauseum. I found it peculiar that people would leave the table for what seemed like long periods of time and nobody remarked on it. It just started to get tiresome, waiting for something, anything to happen. By the time things to start to happen it’s a just a little too late and I didn’t care very much.
While the book does provide some interesting topics to contemplate, including the lengths a parent will go to protect a child, for me it was a slog to get there and in the end I found the resolution a little unbelievable. ...more
The Sandcastle Girls is a split time frame story. In the present time is Laura, wife and mother who begins to research her grandparent’s history afterThe Sandcastle Girls is a split time frame story. In the present time is Laura, wife and mother who begins to research her grandparent’s history after a friend sends her a photo of a woman bearing her family name of Petrosian. In the past is the story of Armen and Elizabeth, two people from entirely different worlds who meet during the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
I find it astonishing that I knew nothing of the death of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman’s in the early years of The Great War. Apparently I am not alone because Bohjalian calls the genocide “The slaughter you know nothing about”.
Although very bleak in it’s subject matter the story is also about love, hope and survival. The horrors of the genocide are told in unflinching detail, the inhumanity of war is heartbreaking in its savagery. To be able to find love and hope in the midst of so much despair is a testament to the human spirit. Bohjalian is of Armenian descent and it is clear that this history is important to him- he refuses to let us close our eyes to the tragedy of this genocide He asks us to bear witness to both it’s violence and it’s lasting impact on the generations to come.
I love historical fiction; it is perhaps my favorite genre. I enjoy learning about the past in believable stories that impart knowledge by wrapping it around an engrossing story. The author is able to do this by making us care about the characters he introduces, they are well developed and real. We are invested in finding out what happens to them. Unfortunately some of the suspense of knowing the outcome is taken away by Laura’s story in the present. We know almost from the start that Elizabeth and Armen survive the war and go on to build a life together. I would rather have not known that, I think the story of Armen and Elizabeth, as good as it was, would have been more powerful if we don’t know that going in. My other small complaint is the ending. I’m not a fan of coincidences and so the ending seemed a little melodramatic.
Overall I found The Sandcastle Girls to be a very satisfactory and worthwhile read. I found the book hard to put down while reading the story set in the past; I was far less engaged or interested in Laura’s story. Most important of all it opened my eyes to a segment of history I knew nothing about and am now interested in learning and reading more about that time period. ...more