"This book was amazing!" Those are the first words I uttered after reading the final sentence of The Distant Hours. I woke up that night and immediate"This book was amazing!" Those are the first words I uttered after reading the final sentence of The Distant Hours. I woke up that night and immediately began thinking about it again. I kept trying to work out an alternate ending, an alternate path for the Sisters Blythe, before coming to the conclusion that there was no alternative. The story is exactly as it had to be.
The Distant Hours is narrated by Edie Burchill as she attempts to unravel two related mysteries. The first is the story of her mother's life. Edie is shocked to learn that her mother was evacuated from London to Milderhurst Castle during World War II. This, of course, leads her to the second mystery that revolves around the three Blythe sisters who still live in Milderhurst Castle fifty years later. Interspersed with the present day tale are sections set during the war told from the varying viewpoints of the sisters. The past informs the present and fills the gaps that Edie is unable to fill on her own.
Morton brings together these strands perfectly creating an extremely satisfying sense of completion. Everything is connected. Everything comes full circle. Everything is completely believable. The end is stunning. I highly recommend The Distant Hours to any reader. There are elements of mystery, history, romance, and family. There is something for everyone, and I'm sure you'll be delighted.
There are so many many seemingly disparate elements in The Ridge that it could easily turn into a disjointed train wreck of a novel. Michael Koryta isThere are so many many seemingly disparate elements in The Ridge that it could easily turn into a disjointed train wreck of a novel. Michael Koryta is much better than that though. He manages to weave together exotic cats, a mysterious lighthouse, and the failure of a small town newspaper into a compelling ghost story with ease.
Deputy sheriff Kevin Kimble and newspaper man Roy Darmus are both contacted by Wyatt French, the town drunk and keeper of a lighthouse in the middle of the woods. French seems to ramble crazily and speaks of death and suicide to both men. Darmus is so unsettled by his conversation with French that he drives out to the lighthouse to check on him. There he finds French’s body and the beginnings of a strange and mysterious story.
He and Kimble work together to put together the pieces gathered by French. At the same time, an exotic cat rescue facility opens across from the lighthouse. The cats are uncomfortable in their new environment, and Kimble is soon dealing with problems on that front too. The truth of Blade Ridge and the happenings at the rescue center are parallel tracks that soon come crashing together in an amazing finish.
When I read The Cypress House, I was sure it was going to be my favorite of Koryta’s three supernatural tales. However, The Ridge somehow grabbed me even more than The Cypress House. Koryta continues to best himself with each novel he turns out and has definitely put himself on my list of must-read authors. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
Fun & Games is the first of three pulp thrillers from Duane Swierczynski featuring Charlie Hardie, an ex-cop turned house sitter. When Charlie turFun & Games is the first of three pulp thrillers from Duane Swierczynski featuring Charlie Hardie, an ex-cop turned house sitter. When Charlie turns up for his latest gig, he gets a lot more than he bargained for. He finds an actress squatting in the house ranting about a group of men trying to kill her. She, of course, thinks Charlie is one of “them” and attacks. Charlie has to convince her he isn’t out to get her while trying to outsmart The Accident People, an elite group that specializes in making murder look like an accident.
Fun & Games moves at break-neck speed and is by turns nerve-wracking and hilarious. Charlie is a death-defying Energizer bunny with a great sense of humor despite some pretty heavy personal baggage. This thriller was a finalist for my quarterly favorite. The second in the trilogy, Hell & Gone, is burning a hole on my TBR shelf as we speak, but I’m forcing myself to hold off until closer to its release date before reading it. If you enjoy fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat, clever, witty thrillers, Fun & Games is for you.
Arthur Scott left his Kansas home as a young man after the death of his sister Eve, an event about which he never speaks. Driven out by the racial tenArthur Scott left his Kansas home as a young man after the death of his sister Eve, an event about which he never speaks. Driven out by the racial tensions of late 1960s Detroit, the Scotts are returning to the Kansas Arthur escaped. The secret of what really happened to Eve hangs around the family. When a young girl goes missing, the family is thrown into turmoil as memories and suspicions surround them. Celia, Arthur’s wife, has a hard time adjusting to Kansas and a family dynamic she can’t seem to crack. Her two youngest children also find Kansas difficult. Life doesn’t change the way they had hoped it would. Bent Road is a story of how secrets can both unite and divide a family and the evolution that can occur when a family recognizes that fact.
I was drawn into Lori Roy’s story within sentences. I could immediately envision what she described. Her writing has a painterly quality to it, which makes it beautiful and haunting. There is nothing prosaic about her style. You will feel as if you know the characters and the landscape that she portrays. Though the true story behind Eve’s death is contemplated throughout the novel, I didn’t know what that truth was until it unfolded before my eyes. Lori Roy’s Bent Road is a truly masterful novel. I'll be keeping an eye on Lori Roy's career after this powerful debut. I highly recommend Bent Road to any reader.
You Know When the Men are Gone is a collection of short stories by Siobhan Fallon. Fallon herself is an army wife, and this firsthand experience allowYou Know When the Men are Gone is a collection of short stories by Siobhan Fallon. Fallon herself is an army wife, and this firsthand experience allows her to write meaningful and believable stories about life in the military. Each story is loosely connected with the others. Some of the main characters pop up in other stories as ancilliary characters and vice versa.
It is hard to pick a favorite, but I have to say mine was "Camp Liberty." In this story, David “Moge” Mogeson struggles with the decision of whether or not he will leave the army when his tour is up. He struggles with identifying with his wife at home while paired with a female interpreter who understands exactly what he is going through. He is a good soldier who cares well for the men in his command. Will he leave them to their fate with another leader and return to his civilian life or stick with them and risk his entire life? It’s just the guilt-ridden, life and death decision soldiers make every day.
Fallon’s stories give life to the anxiety, uncertainty, and doubt that I imagine every soldier and soldier’s spouse experience at some point. Several of Fallon’s stories brought tears to my eyes and some elicited chills. I read You Know When the Men are Gone over the course of two weeks. I felt the need to space out the stories because of the highly intense emotions they evoke.
Regardless of whether or not this is your typical reading fare, you should read this book. It will touch you and give you new insight into the military life that the brave few face.
The Cypress House is Michael Koryta's second novel with a supernatural bent but the only one of the three set in the past. It takes place during the DThe Cypress House is Michael Koryta's second novel with a supernatural bent but the only one of the three set in the past. It takes place during the Depression and focuses on a CCC worker named Arlen Wagner. Arlen has a gift. He can see death on people before it strikes.
The novel opens with Arlen and junior CCC worker Paul Brickhill on a train to the Florida Keys and a CCC bridge project. Then Arlen sees death on everyone around him and knows they have to get off the train. He and Paul don't reboard at the next stop. A hitched ride eventually leads them to the Cypress House where it quickly becomes obvious they've traded one danger for another. Together with the owner of the Cypress House, Rebecca Cady, they must defeat that danger before death comes for them again.
Koryta creates a solid, believable voice for each of his Depression-era characters. He was able to make them inhabit the era without sounding forced. And talk about tension. For the last quarter of the book especially, I was pinned to the edge of my seat as everything came to a head. I had no idea who would survive or if they would succeed at all. The Cypress House was a joy to read. If you liked So Cold the River, I'm confident you will love The Cypress House. Despite my affinity for the setting of So Cold the River (I am a born and bred Hoosier after all.), The Cypress House quickly became my new favorite Koryta novel. If you haven't read it yet, go get it now!
The Fates Will Find Their Way charts the lives of those left behind after the disappearance of a neighborhood girl, Nora Lindell. Nora was sixteen wheThe Fates Will Find Their Way charts the lives of those left behind after the disappearance of a neighborhood girl, Nora Lindell. Nora was sixteen when she went missing, and the mystery is never solved. The boys she went to school with grow into men, but Nora and her possible fate always lurks in their minds. I was surprised and yet not at all surprised by the draw she continues to have on these men. Through the voice of an unknown male narrator, Hannah Pittard shares their speculations on Nora’s possible endings and the fates of all those who knew her. The narrative bounces back and forth between childhood memories and adulthood, and it works perfectly.
What I found amazing about The Fates Will Find Their Way was Pittard’s ability to convey the hold Nora and her family held over these boys/men at the same time showing how their lives all unfold in a very normal, suburban way. Despite their fascination and continued reflection on Nora, she really has very little effect on their own fates. Even Nora’s younger sister, Sissy, is somehow able to construct a normal life for herself.
I was interested in reading The Fates Will Find Their Way because the story seemed reminiscent in theme and style to The Virgin Suicides, a book I read years ago and enjoyed a great deal. While it is similar, Pittard’s writing stands fully on its own. I was fascinated by this book and sped through it on Christmas Eve day. The Fates Will Find Their Way is a truly wonderful book. I highly recommend you read it as soon as possible.
I truly loved this book. Though only one chapter is identified as a love letter, the entire book is full of them. My Reading Life is Pat Conroy's tribI truly loved this book. Though only one chapter is identified as a love letter, the entire book is full of them. My Reading Life is Pat Conroy's tribute to the people, places, and books that have shaped his reading and writing life. These tributes are sprinkled with beautiful turns of phrase and heartfelt emotions that brought me to tears on several occasions. Conroy's love for his mother is palpable in the opening essay. The first real tears I shed, however, were during an essay titled "The Teacher." The impact one teacher can have on a life is enormous.
It feels as if Conroy hides nothing of himself in this book. He bears all. I've never read a book by Conroy so I was initially shocked by his candor regarding his relationship with his father. Of course, I soon realized he's written an entire book about it (The Great Santini).
You do have to be careful about some literary spoilers if you haven't read all the great classics. I accidentally learned who dies in several books I've been intending to read. There are also essays that talk about Gone with the Wind and Look Homeward, Angel. I haven't read either of these books, and the Gone with the Wind essay goes particularly in depth. It was my least favorite in the entire book, but I blame that on my own ignorance, not Pat Conroy's writing.
I am rarely moved to buy a copy of a book after reading the ARC, but I will definitely be purchasing a copy of this to treasure. I'm also looking forward to delving into Conroy's earlier books. If you share my love of reading, you will most definitely enjoy this book. I encourage you to go get it now.
Darling Jim is, as the cover says, a story of "three sisters, three tales, and a secret, dark as night." Two sisters, Fiona and Roisin Walsh, and theiDarling Jim is, as the cover says, a story of "three sisters, three tales, and a secret, dark as night." Two sisters, Fiona and Roisin Walsh, and their Aunt Moira are found dead in the aunt's home, while another sister has simply vanished. A short time later Niall, a wayward postal worker, discovers Fiona's diary in the dead letter bin. He is immediately entranced by her story and sets out in search of the truth behind the brutal deaths.
Reading Fiona's diary reveals that the sisters' lives were forever changed by the appearance of Jim, an itinerant storyteller, who they rapidly realized harbored darks secrets beneath his charming facade. Niall finds himself risking his own life in order to unravel the mystery surrounding the sisters and "Darling Jim." As he follows where the story leads, learning the fate of the third sister, Aiofe, becomes the ultimate prize.
I first started reading Darling Jim a year or more ago and couldn't get beyond the prologue where the horrible state in which the bodies are found is described. I'm glad I finally made a second attempt. The book flawlessly flows between the narrative of Niall's journey and the diaries of Fiona and Roisin. All three have distinct voices which give their characters personality and depth.
The resolution is all you could hope for in this tragic story. When Niall's journey finally came to an end, all I could say was "wow." Darling Jim haunted my dreams when I set it down at night, and I've been thinking about the story ever since finishing it last night. If you haven't read Darling Jim, I highly recommend you run out and find it now. Christian Moerk, whose previous works are in Danish, is a gifted storyteller, and I'm glad he's brought his gift to America.
Spycatcher is the debut novel of Matthew Dunn, a former MI6 field officer. The main character is Will Cochrane, the top MI6 agent of his age. His MI6Spycatcher is the debut novel of Matthew Dunn, a former MI6 field officer. The main character is Will Cochrane, the top MI6 agent of his age. His MI6 handler assigns him to a joint MI6 / CIA mission to capture an Iranian terrorist mastermind code-named Megiddo. Megiddo is so masterful that only Cochrane has any hope of getting to him before he unleashes a monstrous attack. The mission soon becomes both personal and professional as Cochrane tracks Megiddo across Europe and to the U.S. while avoiding his own execution.
Matthew Dunn obviously has the expertise to create a realistic tale of international espionage. Luckily for the reader, he is also an excellent writer and weaves a compelling and heart racing narrative. Cochrane is a natural agent who follows his own instincts even when they run counter to his direct orders. The twists and turns kept me at the edge of my seat until the very end wondering if Will could really succeed in defeating Megiddo and his men with only his own wits and a small, out-manned band of American soldiers.
If you are a fan of thrillers, you will certainly love Spycatcher. Matthew Dunn has certainly made his mark on the genre, and I can’t wait to see what he gives us next.
Audrey Niffenegger is best known for her novels, The Time Traveler's Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry, but she has also published two illustrated novels,Audrey Niffenegger is best known for her novels, The Time Traveler's Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry, but she has also published two illustrated novels, The Three Incestuous Sisters and The Adventuress. The Night Bookmobile is her first graphic novel.
I don't normally read graphic novels but the author and the story of this one were a combination I couldn't resist.The Night Bookmobile quickly follows Alexandra through years of her life focusing on her encounters with the night bookmobile. Alexandra stumbles upon the bookmobile and it's librarian, Mr. Openshaw, late one night and finds that it contains all the books she's ever read, children's books, novels, textbooks, and even her girlhood diary. I was just thinking about whether books you didn't finish would be on the night bookmobile - would there be partial books sitting on the shelves? - when that question was answered. (You'll have to read it yourself to find out what the answer was...sorry.) Alexandra becomes obsessed with finding the bookmobile again and eventually goes to library school to become a real librarian. That's as much as I want to say about the story.
Despite the short format, Niffenegger hits on a number of important ideas - the state of libraries, the role of reading in our lives, having a love of reading, and burying oneself in books. She nails the passion for reading but conveys the important message of not letting books take over your life. This message really struck me because the very afternoon I read this I was reluctant to go out because I wanted to read. Needless to say, after reading The Night Bookmobile, I left the house.
Niffenegger first wrote The Night Bookmobile as a short story, which she then adapted into a serial graphic novel for the London Guardian. According to the "After Words," The Night Bookmobile is the first installment in a larger work called The Library. This first installment packed such a big punch in so few pages that I can't wait for the next installment to appear.
Though the decisions made in Heart of Lies have far greater consequences, I found some similarity between it and the last book I reviewed, The PrivileThough the decisions made in Heart of Lies have far greater consequences, I found some similarity between it and the last book I reviewed, The Privileges. Both are the story of a man doing what he thinks he must in order to protect the people he loves. In Heart of Lies, we follow Leo Hoffman from 1919 shortly after the close of World War I to 1939 and the dawn of World War II. The future Leo expected for himself vanishes following World War I. When an opportunity for advancement comes his way, he takes the chance. Unfortunately for Leo, things do not work out the way he planned. Instead, he must flee to Shanghai and find a way to rebuild his life with the woman he loves.
Malcolm did a great deal of research to ensure the historical accuracy of the novel and it shows. The horrible events of the era are faithfully depicted and make the extremely difficult decisions Leo must make easier to accept. There were moments when I was on edge waiting to see if Leo could survive the setback currently facing him. The final pages had me sobbing. Despite Leo's flawed character, I found myself rooting for him every step of the way.
I didn't realize until the end that Malcolm was setting up a series of books. The next is called Heart of Deception and comes out in April 2011. I look forward to following the saga of Leo's life and hope you will join me on his journey.
The story is set during World War II. Die Nadel, or The Needle, is a German spy who learns of a great hoax the Allies are perpetrating in order to decThe story is set during World War II. Die Nadel, or The Needle, is a German spy who learns of a great hoax the Allies are perpetrating in order to deceive the Germans. This hoax is crucial to the Allies success in the war. Hot on his tail are the spy-sniffers of MI5. Also crucial to the story are a young married couple, David and Lucy Rose. The novel follows all of these characters until they come finally come together in a gripping resolution. It isn’t until the very last pages that you find out whether or not Die Nadel will be successful in communicating his knowledge to Berlin.
I had a hard time getting into Eye of the Needle, but decided to follow Nancy Pearl’s Rule of 50. Right around the 50 page mark, Part Two of the book started so I forced myself to continue into the new section. I’m so glad I did. Once you get past all the character introduction of Part One, Eye of the Needle turns into a great book. I was on the edge of my seat wondering whether good would triumph over evil.
Eye of the Needle is a remarkable piece of historical fiction. As Follett says in the Preface, it is entirely possible that something of this nature really did happen during the course of World War II. The Edgar Awards Reading Challenge has been very rewarding so far. I’ve read two great mystery novels that I wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to experience. I’ve always heard great things about Ken Follett in particular and am now eager to read more of his work.