I hate writing negative reviews, and I'm consoling myself by saying this review is not totally negative. The thing is, Karin Slaughter gets the job doI hate writing negative reviews, and I'm consoling myself by saying this review is not totally negative. The thing is, Karin Slaughter gets the job done, and done well. She is a gifted writer of commercial thrillers, and in this book as in her previous novels, she writes clever descriptions and snappy dialogue, she keeps the plot moving, and she gives us characters we can root for. However, I have to say that, even though I read many thrillers and mysteries every year and am not normally squeamish, this particular book really turned my stomach. SPOILER ALERT: I mean, do we really need another novel about a psychopath who's making torture & snuff movies with pretty young female victims? Why would a writer who is so obviously talented, and probably not hurting for money, given her bestseller status, decide to take on this topic, when it isn't even a unique one? If that's your kind of book, fine, but I'm writing this review just to warn other readers about it, because the book jacket copy really doesn't give you any sense of what's coming. ...more
When I first picked up this book, I thought, "Ugh, not another dead best friend/sister book." Seems like I've read too many of those lately. But JulieWhen I first picked up this book, I thought, "Ugh, not another dead best friend/sister book." Seems like I've read too many of those lately. But Julie Buxbaum's sense of humor, sharp dialogue, and truly masterful way of wrenching your emotions out of your control kept me not only reading this book, but loving it. I don't think I've laughed--or cried--this hard over a book in a while. Bravo. ...more
I've read all of the Elizabeth George novels in sequence. Since so many reviewers here have spelled out the plot, I won't bother with that, but I willI've read all of the Elizabeth George novels in sequence. Since so many reviewers here have spelled out the plot, I won't bother with that, but I will say that, if you're looking for a fast-paced mystery, this is NOT the book to read. It's like page 125 before anyone even dies. Having said that, though, I felt like George did a great job of creating compelling characters in an extremely dysfunctional family--the family at the heart of the mystery--and I enjoyed her portrayal of a feminist writer who isn't what she seems. The ultimate unraveling of the mystery takes a very long time, and, by the time you find out who and why and what, you may be either asleep or finding the actual circumstances so icky that you wish you'd quit while you were ahead. In addition, although Barbara Havers features promiently in this book, I felt like George's other mainstay character, Thomas Lynley, was sort of slapped in there between the sheets without giving him much to do. Really, what the heck is he doing with all of his time? And why is he so keen on that vet? ...more
I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this book, and it came at exactly the right time for me. I'd just finished several wonderful but slowI was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this book, and it came at exactly the right time for me. I'd just finished several wonderful but slow-paced novels and was feeling sluggish myself. When I cracked open The Good Neighbor, I immediately knew I was in for a treat. Yes, there are the usual conventions here—a woman starting over, comic mishaps, a romance that you know is brewing before Izzy, the main character does. But Amy Sue Nathan writes with such sharp humor and with such a big heart for her characters that the story perks along and keeps you turning pages, even as you slap your forehead and cry, “Oh, no, Izzy, don't do that! Come clean now!”
This is also a slyly clever novel that presents us with unique social media dilemmas—no surprise there, since Amy Sue Nathan is a well-regarded blogger who started the award-winning Women's Fiction Writers web site. How much of ourselves we reveal online, and how we do it, is a key cultural question, and she tackles it head-on here. I loved this book....more
This is a tense, well-crafted novel that delivers an unexpected emotional punch.
I read an advance copy of The Middle of Somewhere, and found it to beThis is a tense, well-crafted novel that delivers an unexpected emotional punch.
I read an advance copy of The Middle of Somewhere, and found it to be a unique novel in the way it straddles the genres of contemporary fiction and psychological thrillers. The main character, Liz, is in conflict over secrets she harbors and is suffering remorse over her past actions. She is also in peril due to the challenges of surviving in the wilderness, and from encountering some unexpected baddies on the trail. Yoerg has done a terrific job of blending these genres to deliver a book that will keep you reading long after you should turn out the light.
Despite the sometimes white-knuckled pacing of the book, Yoerg also manages to weave in some profound observations about life, love, and the healing power of being in the natural world as Liz continues on her quest to understand and redeem herself. Here is one of my favorite passages: "This was why she had come. Not to think, or learn, or seek absolution. She had come to enter into a world of pure perception, to explore this canvas of gray and blue. It was a place beyond reckoning, beyond sin. If she could exist there, she could bear the weight of existence completely inside herself. This, she believed, was necessary for love." ...more
I usually steer away from "cute" novels that seem to feature animals as near-characters, and I've probably read dozens of novels about women recoverinI usually steer away from "cute" novels that seem to feature animals as near-characters, and I've probably read dozens of novels about women recovering from grief after losing a spouse or child (or, in this case, both). However, I have to say that The Dog Year is truly wonderful. Ann Garvin delivers quirky characters, lovely writing, and tangled relationships aplenty. While those qualities might make this a terrific "four star" read among novels in this genre, I have to say that Garvin's snappy humor, particularly in the dialogue, really sets this book apart from the rest. The terrific writing and original characters carry us through this heartfelt story. And, yes, I cried. ...more
It's difficult for me to judge this novel, because so much of it was exquisitely tense, and yet it left a rather sour taste in my mouth. The tension iIt's difficult for me to judge this novel, because so much of it was exquisitely tense, and yet it left a rather sour taste in my mouth. The tension in the narrative comes from Jane Shemilt assured, often beautiful writing. She moves seamlessly back and forth as we follow the main character, Jenny, and her search both for her daughter in the present day and in the past; much of the tension comes from beautifully rendered landscape imagery that ramps up the emotions in the mood, and the sense of the protagonist's extreme heartache and isolation. Here's an example:
“I put my hand on the wall. The surface is rough and cold. The dark crevices must be full of spiders you never see, thick with webs and trapped things. My feet leave hardened patches in the stiff white grass as I walk back to the cottage. The air is clear and cold; it will be a day of sun and ice underfoot.”
However, this wonderful book is marred by having its moral center be a woman who regrets having worked too hard and not noticed things happening with her children. Sure, all moms who work feel guilty, but I felt like that sense of guilt and despair was laid on too thickly without enough movement forward in this particular conflict. Never once, for instance, does Jenny think that her husband should have been around more, even though he was working even longer hours and having an affair besides. While of course this fact about Jenny—that she often shut her kids out, so that she could work and paint—makes her nicely flawed and very human, the fact that she never resolves that particular emotional conflict by the end of the novel is enough to make working moms either want to jump out a window or slap her silly for being so myopic.
Having said that, though, this is a great debut novel that kept me up at night, turning pages, long after I should have put out the light and gone to sleep, and the writing is remarkable in places....more
This is a fascinating novel. It's not a thriller or a mystery in any traditional sense, but the tension grips you like icy fingers pressed against youThis is a fascinating novel. It's not a thriller or a mystery in any traditional sense, but the tension grips you like icy fingers pressed against your throat, because Ashworth is so skilled and brave a writer. She dares to knock off a character who is vulnerable, and she is observant and courageous enough to write about teen girls who are darkly conflicted about everything from their friendships to their sexuality. I can't say that I enjoyed reading this book, but the protagonist's voice is unique and I admired Ashworth's imagery and characterizations enough to keep me turning pages. Have a look at this description of one of the girls by the narrator, for instance, and you'll see why some reviewers have compared Ashworth to Tana French--in fact, I'd say Ashworth gets into the heads of teen girls even better than French:
"She looked terrible. Her hair was so dull it looked sticky, and there was sleep in her eyes, yellow crusts along her eyelashes that reminded me of a sick dog Donald had found once, and insisted on keeping in the shed until it was better and could be 'released into the wild' to go back to foraging in bins. She was skinny too—as skinny as she'd ever wanted to be—which made her look sickly and pale and more ill than she'd looked when she'd been in hospital. She didn't look pretty anymore, but I still didn't want to cross the kitchen and stand next to her. Didn't want my thighs next to hers for a comparison." Overall, this is a bleak book, but the writing is so compelling that it's worth reading....more