After a series of terrible nightmares Yeong-hye decides to become a vegetarian. Now, for many of us, this doesn’t sound like that big of a deal. It’sAfter a series of terrible nightmares Yeong-hye decides to become a vegetarian. Now, for many of us, this doesn’t sound like that big of a deal. It’s not even that different from my own decision to stop eating meat so many years ago. But that’s where the similarities end. While my own family may not understand my choice, or tease me about it, in Yeong-hye’s home country of South Korea her decision is an act of subversion. Her family and her husband aren’t simply confused by her decision, they’re angry and at times violent. And things only continue to spiral out from there.
Angus and Sarah have two stunningly beautiful girls – Lydia and Kristie. They’re identical twins,This review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Angus and Sarah have two stunningly beautiful girls – Lydia and Kristie. They’re identical twins, from their pale blonde hair, to their crystal blue eyes. Sometimes even their own parents can’t tell them apart. But their seemingly ideal family is shattered to pieces one day when Lydia falls from a balcony and dies. Sarah is distraught and guilt ridden, Angus starts drinking too much and Kristie…well let’s just say Kristie hasn’t been quite the same since.
So when Angus loses his job, both parents decide the best thing would be a change of scenery. To get away from the city, and the memories, and move to the small Scottish island Angus’s grandmother had left him in her will. As an extra bonus the house on the island needs a lot of work, so they’ll have a project to lose themselves in while they try to learn to live with their grief.
A wrench is thrown into their plans however, when not long before they move Kristie makes a startling confession to Sarah – she’s actually Lydia and it was Kristie who had died that day. Sarah doesn’t know what to think. Is her daughter confused? Driven mad by grief? Or have they made a horrible mistake? This confession is only the first of many twists in the novel, each one making you question who is telling the truth and the overall sanity of the parties involved.
I won’t go too much into the plot of The Ice Twins because I don’t want to risk giving anything away. I will say however, that Sarah and Angus are difficult people to love. They’re frustrating, and moody, and their motivations were not always sound. In fact, I raised an eyebrow more than once at their decisions and the reasons they had for making them. Sarah in particular was frustrating because she read like almost every other female character I have ever come across in the thriller genre – she was needy, hysterical, unhinged…but at the same time sexual and dangerous. An idea of a woman whose only purpose is to ruin the life of the man stupid enough to fall in love with her. (Not that Angus is any better.)
This novel is really more about the twists than the characters and as a result, at a certain point, they stop feeling like real people. If you’re able to suspend your disbelief that people would ever act like this, you’ll probably find it a more enjoyable read.
One thing I really enjoyed about The Ice Twins was the setting. A damp, windy, island off the coast of Scotland, where storms could last for days, people were isolated and Celtic mythology ran deep through the local culture? What better place is there to set a thriller? It’s the kind of setting that helps blur the line between what is actually happening and what isn’t. The kind of place that makes you wonder if ghosts are real or if your mind is just playing tricks on you. It lent a very spooky atmosphere to the book and made and otherwise generic thriller more enticing.
If you read a lot of thrillers you’re probably not going to find anything groundbreaking in The Ice Twins. But it is a page turner. It keep you on your toes are you try to untangle all of the lies and deception and find out just what happened that day and which twin it really is sleeping in the other room....more
So far, 2015 has been the year of the reading slump.
We’re more than half way through February and I’ve barely finished anything. I’ve started a lot of books but nothing has really held my interest. There’s a stack beside my bed of perfectly good, half-finished or even quarter-finished books. It’s tragic – there’s nothing worse than wanting to read a book but not actually wanting to read (fellow book-lovers I’m sure you understand this dilemma).
The Long and Faraway Gone broke my reading slump. When a book opens on the mass shooting of a bunch of movie theatre employees it’s impossible to put said book down again.
The story of The Long and Faraway Gone is actually two stories running parallel to one another. The first belongs to Wyatt. Wyatt was the only survivor of the movie theatre murders in 1968. He has since moved away from his home town of Oklahoma City, and is now a private investigator in Las Vegas. But circumstances and fate intervene, and eventually he finds himself saddled with a case that requires him to return to O.C. Once there he can’t help but deal with the question that has been haunting him for years – “Why was I spared?”
Julianna’s story is a bit different but there are some significant parallels. She is also struggling with something that happened in Oklahoma City in the summer of 1968. One cool evening, her older sister had taken her to the fair and then unexpectedly vanished. She was never found, and many people believe she simply ran off, but Julianna has never stopped looking.
These two character arcs were one of my favourite parts of the book. Wyatt and Julianna are both survivors and as such they both suffer from some severe survivor’s guilt. They’re also both on a quest for answers – Why wasn’t Wyatt killed too? Why was Julianna’s sister taken and not her? But despite the similarities between them, they both deal with their situation in very different ways. By the end of the novel I truly felt like I had gone on a journey with these people.
However, I do feel as though more time was spent with Wyatt than with Julianna. This is likely because Wyatt’s chapters need to deal with two major events – the mass murder he survived, and the case he’s been hired to work on now. I never felt as though I was getting too much of Wyatt. He’s an interesting character and his employer Candace – a woman who has recently inherited a bar – is hilarious and spunky. But I also really liked Julianna and wish we had a little more time to explore her and what her life has been like.
But this is a mystery, so it’s not all about the characters. The Long and Faraway Gone is suspenseful, but not in the way I’ve come to expect from the mystery genre. I was never really worried about the novel trying to shock and surprise me in gruesome/disturbing ways. It’s not that kind of mystery – the central crimes happen very quickly in the opening chapters. What makes this book so suspenseful is the waiting to see how everything that Berney has set up is going to play out. It came from knowing a piece of information was significant but not knowing which clues would end up belonging to which mystery – the movie theatre, the missing girl or the present day case Wyatt is looking in to.
The Long and Faraway Gone is a complex book. Lou Berney has a lot of balls up in the air throughout it, but he never dropped one. Not even once. It’s a solid mystery for long time fans of the genre, but also welcoming enough for those more casual mystery readers. Or those who almost never read mysteries and just want to curl up with some really interesting characters....more
Based on a traditional Japanese ghost story, The Girl from the Well is the extremely creepy storyThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Based on a traditional Japanese ghost story, The Girl from the Well is the extremely creepy story of a young girl who was murdered centuries ago. Now she walks the earth in a threadbare shift and long, black matted hair. She has one purpose – vengeance. She looks for men who have other dead children tied to their backs and she sets those children free. She moves from city to city, country to country, leaving a string of inexplicable murders in her wake.
Until she meets Tark, a teenage boy covered with strange tattoos. And he’s being possessed by his own ghost. She doesn’t know exactly why she is drawn to him and his cousin, but she decides to stick with them and watches as Tark struggles with his possession.
I really enjoyed the narrative style of this novel. It’s told from the girl’s point of view and she has a unique voice. She’s invested in and curious about what’s happening but she’s also a little unstable and emotionally blank. She observes but she doesn’t really comment, leaving you to draw your own conclusions about Tark, his cousin and his mother (the person who gave him the tattoos). I enjoyed the freedom of making up my own mind about these characters, rather than having the narrator’s opinions thrust upon me.
Though I liked all the characters in this novel, Tark was easily my favourite. Despite is dire circumstances he was always quick with a joke or a bit of sarcasm. For example, “Dad says there are more than three thousand letters in the Japanese alphabet, which could pose a problem. There are only twenty-six letters in the English alphabet, and I get into enough trouble with them as it is.” This attitude helped lighten up some of the darker parts of the novel. The Girl from the Well can be quite gruesome at times, so I enjoyed these brief interludes.
In addition to a rather unique narrator the writing style itself is unlike most YA books you’ll find today. It was very atmospheric and lyrical in nature. There is a rhythm to the text, which would probably make an excellent audiobook. It’s a short book but you’ll still lose yourself in the story. It’s so suspenseful and since the “monsters” are ghosts/demons they were extremely unpredictable. I wanted the best for all of these characters, but always feared for the worst.
If you like horror movies like The Ring or The Grudge or just regular dark and suspenseful tales, I recommend The Girl from the Well....more