Here's a book that's easy to read, but hard to review.
It's a page-turner, thrilling while sensitive, super-serious while witty, and gutsy while insighHere's a book that's easy to read, but hard to review.
It's a page-turner, thrilling while sensitive, super-serious while witty, and gutsy while insightful. So why so difficult to review?
In the first place, I want to give my reader information about the story, but I don't want to give anything away. No spoilers.
More than that, however, it makes me feel like an appraiser of fine property confronted with an item for which there is nothing comparable. It's simply unlike anything else I've ever read.
According to the biographical notes, Melissa Yi is a Chinese-Canadian emergency physician at the same time she's an award-winning author. All those adjectives show clearly in her captivating first-person story: Chinese, Canadian, physician, and especially emergency. Suffice it to say that this thriller involves not just one emergency, but too many to count, one on top of the other.
What kind of emergencies? Without giving away any spoilers, let's just say that there's everything from birth to death, love to hate, brilliant feats of intellect to brutal acts of ignorance. And all in the space of an hour or so.
The book ends with a quote from T.S. Eliot:
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
In Stockholm Syndrome, Melissa Yi risks going too far—and succeeds in taking courageous readers where they've never gone before....more
When it comes to mysteries, some readers think murders are the most frightening crimes. Not for me. We now have a mystery genre for horror, which is nWhen it comes to mysteries, some readers think murders are the most frightening crimes. Not for me. We now have a mystery genre for horror, which is not necessarily a crime at all. Indeed, the most terrifying horror story concerns phenomena both readers and characters simply don't understand—objects that move with no known cause; voices we can hear without corporeal speakers; trusted friends transformed into monsters before our very eyes. Then, as if these mysteries were not sufficiently horrifying, people, places, and things appear and disappear without apparent cause.
As if such phenomenon were not adequate, we learn that they have been described for thousands of years in ancient documents and folktales—stories we always knew were exaggerations, misinterpretations, or outright false. Such esoterica are the "ancient shadows" Joanne Pence offers us in her book of the same name. Transfixed by its horrors, I wanted to stop reading Ancient Shadows with each new shudder, but like the hero, Michael Rempart—one of the world’s top archeologists—I was trapped.
I suppose any writer can cook up imaginary ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties. What's both rare and engaging is not things that go bump in the night. It's people's reactions to those bumps that makes a great horror tale—both the characters in the story and the reader who cannot put the book down.
I started reading Ancient Shadows after doing the supper dishes, thinking I would read for an hour before retiring for the night. Next thing I knew, I had finished the entire book.
To my relief, I noticed that the sun had risen, thankfully ridding the living room of those ancient shadows. At the same time, paradoxically, I was delighted to learn that I could read another of Joanne Pence's books. Though Ancient Echoes traces Michael Rempart's earlier adventures in the ancient lands of Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Siberia, you can read the two books in either order—just as long as you read them. ...more
My first task after reading Permanent Makeup is to thank Ms. Ziporyn for an enriching reading experience. It's not the kind of story I usually read, wMy first task after reading Permanent Makeup is to thank Ms. Ziporyn for an enriching reading experience. It's not the kind of story I usually read, which makes it even more precious for me. The writing is brilliant. I doubt if I ever had the vocabulary Ms. Ziporyn does, but if I did, I've forgotten most of it.
I was impressed with the character-building in Permanent Makeup. I didn't like any of the characters as people, yet I was fascinated by their inner worlds. In the end, I guess that's what the book is all about: playing out the lives of three generations of women and how they struggle but fail to change their lives from one generation to the next. I guess it's the story of what I call Weinberg's Law of Twins: Most of the time, no matter what we do, nothing much happens.
Permanent Makeup is a subtle, literary story, with many intertwined threads. For me, though, the central thread of the book was expressed in this sentence:
"And whatever color her hair or however smooth her skin, she was still going to die."
Perhaps mine is simply the naive male reader's point of view, though I suspect Permanent Makeup won't have many male readers of any kind. Maybe it's because I don't have the female experience, but Permanent Makeup's story-telling of a man's life seemed way off target, even as its stories of women's lives seemed right in the center of the bullseye. But that's perhaps just a man's blindness to his own life story. And to women's.
I can honestly say that if I were not writing a review, I would have been thrown out of this story dozens of times by some extremely long paragraphs and sentences. I had to reread many of them several times before grasping their sense. Eventually, though, they did make sense. And so did Permanent Makeup, though I'm afraid it will make far more sense for its female fans than even for the bravest male reader. I hope lots of women read it—and so will at least a few men who are more evolved than I....more
On her website, author Joanne Pence says, " I hope you'll enjoy my stories." That sentiment is worth noting. because nowadays, many mystery writers doOn her website, author Joanne Pence says, " I hope you'll enjoy my stories." That sentiment is worth noting. because nowadays, many mystery writers don't seem to share that hope. Instead, their writing seems to be saying. "l hope you'll find my stories disgusting, shocking, and far-fetched." Not so Ms. Pence. Her stories, and in this instance, One O'Clock Hustle, feel real and worth spending your time reading.
First of all, the settings are seem real—even to a former resident of San Francisco. The tale itself seems perfectly plausible—no need for unlikely serial killers who dine on the body parts of their victims. But most of all, Ms. Pence's characters are real and—whether good or bad—sympathetic, with plausible personal problems.
I suspect that most of her readers, like me, will have had personal experience of attraction to a person with whom they have little in common, on the surface. They may even, like the protagonist, Inspector Rebecca Mayfield, experience that attraction to a person who is supposed to be taboo. Readers who've had such experiences will find themselves unable to stop reading about Inspector Mayfield's coping with that very situation—while simultaneously attempting to solve a tangled web of murders.
I love mystery detectives who solve crimes using logic. I particularly love the ones who, in order to solve those crimes, must expand their personal definition of "logic." Inspector Mayfield does just that, and I love her for it. You will, too....more
The stories in Weinberg's Residue Class Mystery series keep getting better and better, as the team of young genius mathematicians grows more experiencThe stories in Weinberg's Residue Class Mystery series keep getting better and better, as the team of young genius mathematicians grows more experienced at dealing with villains. Still, they're more than capable of making mistakes, usually caused by outsmarting themselves.
In this episode, they pursue a professional killer who has challenged their abilities by committing "random" murders. Once again, theire ability with numbers and formulas leads the way to the killer. It's a mystery, so you can be pretty sure they'll solve it in the end, but it's the fits and starts of the trip that make the journey interesting. It's not your run-of-the mill mystery.l...more
Noir, with no light to relieve the empty plot. I quit after 120 pages, believing the good reviews must have meant something. But those reviewers mustNoir, with no light to relieve the empty plot. I quit after 120 pages, believing the good reviews must have meant something. But those reviewers must have different taste than mine.
Maybe if I had liked one of his self-pitying characters, even a little, I would have kept reading to find out what happened to them, but no such luck....more