Of only moderate quality; not very good: “a mediocre actor”.
Which perfectly describes The Drowning House by Elizabeth Black. After suffering a personal tragedy, Clare Porterfield decides to meander across the country back to Galveston Island, Texas, in her decrepit station wagon, leaving her husband behind in Washington, D.C. She’s been offered the opportunity to direct a photography exhibit about the Island, and uses the chance to try to reconnect with an old “friend,“ as well as research local lore about Stella Carraday, the girl who drowned during the great hurricane of 1900.
I did like The Drowning House, please don’t mistake my rating for not liking it. It was a captivating interesting novel, with an interesting setting and interesting characters. While reading, I did feel like I could step into the pages and feel the hot blast of heat off the sandy beaches, or reach down from the rails of a fishing boat and stroke the top of a stingray. Black’s writing is gorgeous.
But the writing, while fluid and beautiful, is too meandering for me to hold my attention. I believe it took me three weeks to finish The Drowning House and that isn’t a good thing. A good book needs to grip me, it needs to rip me from my seat by my collar and command me to pay attention and dance. The Drowning House is kind of like the meek guy at the really fun party; you see him out of the corner of your eye and if you pay attention, you know he’s pretty cute, but he’s not interesting enough to go talk to.
I did not feel like I got the point of the book, either. Was it about finding out what happened to Stella, or was it about finding Patrick, her long-lost best friend, or was it about reconciling with herself her rotten childhood (and why it was so rotten)? Maybe it was all these things, but I never did feel like the focus was on one of them enough to truly make me pay attention to the story. At best, I wasn’t bored, I just wasn’t interested.
What’s truly maddening is the outcome of the book: I was not in any way satisfied, and left with more questions than I had going in. Like how do you not get incarcerated for shooting someone? Dude. The ending made me feel like there was no real ending, or objective for Clare, just that I was along for the ride of her story for a little while. A little frustrating.
The characters themselves are interesting and pretty profound. All of them have many different sides, as well as stories, to have kept me interested enough to continue reading. If it wasn’t for the characters, I would have quit reading it very early on.
This is a book for the dedicated and die-hard Southern Gothic/Mystery fans. Otherwise you may want to check out other reviews before you consider purchasing.
**The publisher provided this copy in exchange for my unbiased review.(less)
Beautiful Lies lied beautifully to me…all the way through to the end. I’m still not sure how I feel...moreThis review is also posted at The Bawdy Book Blog.
Beautiful Lies lied beautifully to me…all the way through to the end. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Did I love it? Did I hate it? This review is going to help me figure that out, so let’s go on a little adventure!
Rachel and Alice are identical twins. They are so identical, in fact, that their aunt and uncle cannot tell them apart. They are a rare kind of twin that shared an amniotic sac in utero, when typically the survival rates of such twins are low. It’s mentioned briefly in the beginning of the novel that twins run in their family – four sets of twins were born in three generations (although not all are necessarily identical).
Since Rachel and Alice are so rare, they share a connection that seems to go beyond the deep connections twins usually already possess: when something happens to Rachel, Alice feels it (and sometimes it actually happens to her, too – like if Rachel chokes on something, Alice feels the choking sensation as well). It’s like they are the same person. They can communicate to each other through dreams, without words, across distances. It’s endlessly fascinating for someone who is not a twin, but has twins all over her family (I’m talking about me here). I’ve found twins and the idea of twins captivating all my life. To start out life from the very beginning with someone else is really something special; we’re usually born alone, and we usually die alone. But there have been stories of twins who have died on the same day, within hours of each other: Julian & Adrian Riester died at age 92, and Joan & Patricia Miller died within what authorities believe to be hours of each other as well. And Google will bring you dozens more stories. There is something sacred in knowing you’ve got someone else forever.
What if you could be a fly on the wall and find out what other people really felt about you? If you were a twin and you could switch places, and nobody would know the difference, would you do it? Even if the intent isn’t to find out what people think, that’s still an outcome you have to know will happen, so is it really worth it?
So I’m telling you all that because I’m not sure if Beautiful Lies was trying to be a book about paranormal twins (you know, twins with all kinds of weird, freaky sh*t happening to them), or trying to be a young-adult thriller. Rachel, the “good” twin, goes missing while the twins have switched, and Alice feels she must continue to pretend to be Rachel in order to find her. And why not, you know? No one can tell them apart. She has her reasons.
Except…why? Alice is the bad twin. People expect bad things from her. You learn this very early in the book so I’m not spoiling anything for you. Why not just out yourself so there is a sense of urgency to find Rachel? The more I think about it, the more this didn’t make sense to me, weird paranormal happenings, mental disorders and psychosis aside (say what? Yeah, just read it). The reasons for doing this were spelled out, but I didn’t buy them.
This book overall is very complicated and web-weaving…I really don’t want to go too much further into it (even though I have a LOT to say about it!!!), because anything I could say would spoil the whole thing for you. However, I did have a gut feeling I knew who the bad guy was, and I was right (so…always trust your gut!). But there were a lot of other surprises in this book that blew me away.
Jessica Warman’s writing is superb. It just flows naturally from page to page, with a nearly lyrical quality to it. I had a hard time putting Beautiful Lies down, for the writing and just wanting to find out what the hell was going on. Her characters are realistic and keenly felt; my heart broke for them as she delved into their histories.
I actually gave serious thought to not reviewing this book at all. I think my thoughts are coming across as jumbled and, well, just not linear. I’m normally better than this, but this book took me for a wild roller coaster ride and I still feel like throwing up a bit. I do not recommend this book for people looking for a light read. Not at all. I think I want a whiteboard so I can draw out all the characters and relationships and timelines. I’m dead serious.
Okay, I didn’t hate it. Any book that makes me think that hard…I can’t hate it.
The ending… Jessica Warman has some big cajones to mastermind an ending like that.(less)
Deadly Cool is one of those weirdly good books I wasn’t sure I was going to like, but then….I did.
Hartley Featherstone is your typical Californian tee...moreDeadly Cool is one of those weirdly good books I wasn’t sure I was going to like, but then….I did.
Hartley Featherstone is your typical Californian teen: good looks, jock boyfriend and divorced parents. She’s not full of herself (read: has slight confidence issues, but not too many), gets pretty good grades and has a couple of close friends. She’s close to her mother, whom she lives with, and yet still thinks her mom is sometimes whacky. Her life is normal and she couldn’t ask for anything more. That is until she hears the rumor that her boyfriend is cheating on her and then she finds the body of his “mistress” in his closet (let’s just forget the pesky detail that she sort of broke into his house, shall we?). I think Gemma Halliday has hit the jackpot with a YA/Murder-Mystery/Comedy trifecta series because Deadly Cool was delightful. Hartley is a witty, snark-filled character with a pocketful of cohorts to spar with at every turn. Sometimes I had a hard time with the plot. Several people are murdered, sometimes by something as simple as a pair of iPod earbuds (come on, those cheap wires are KNOWN for snapping) and the detectives can’t figure it out, but a trio of teenagers can? However I’ll suspend reality for the sake of the story, because overall it was a fun read. Gemma Halliday loves her some alliteration: Herbert Hoover High (and the Herbert Hoover High Homepage – say that five times fast), Courtney Cline, Caitlyn Calvin, Kaylee Clark… I was simultaneously entertained by this and a little disturbed. I’m not sure why. Chase, the Dark & Dangerous Sexy Guy is…dark and dangerous and sexy. He’s a year ahead of Hartley, dated a goth chick once and drives way too fast for her liking (but I think she secretly likes it). As a character, he was probably my other favorite, besides Hartley, because he had this real quality to him… Overall, there are a lot of cliches in this book, but the plot is fast enough, the characters entertaining enough that you just don’t care because it’s damn FUN and entertaining.(less)
I don’t know about you, but I look at life and I laugh…a LOT. I snort in derision at the news, I find...moreThis review is also posted at The Bawdy Book Blog
I don’t know about you, but I look at life and I laugh…a LOT. I snort in derision at the news, I find the things others do comical and as you may have guessed, I have a very sarcastic nature. I also like politics, but I’m wary of politicians….and I TOTALLY DIG VAMPIRES. When an author can hit all those sweet spots, they’ve won a fan in me. Christopher Farnsworth has managed to do that through not one, or even two, but THREE novels in his Nathaniel Cade series, and I’d place bets that his fourth will follow right behind (Chris, can you hurry up and write it already?!). It’s as if these books were made for me.
Red, White and Blood chronicles the third year Zach Barrows and Nathaniel Cade have been working together in above top-secret capacity to rid the United States (and sometimes the world) of paranormal threats against humanity. Cade, being the oath-bound vampire he is, is sworn to protect the President and his country – and all that entails. Zach, even though he’s in his third year on the job, still catches himself in a state of disbelief – that, you know, his life is THIS F*CKING SH*T. Gone is the simpering, egotistical staffer and in his place is a guy who would just like to get laid once in awhile…
Red, White and Blood is just so LOL funny. I mean that literally! The repartee between Zach and Cade is simply unmatched in any other book I’ve read. The best movie duo I can compare it to is Agents J and K in Men In Black. Zach is still as witty and sarcastic as ever and Cade….well I just love Cade. If Zach is in your face funny, Cade’s humor is subtle and understated, so much so that he might be funnier, without even trying. These two men – I’m sorry, scratch that – this man and this vampire are such a dynamic duo, that one is simply less without the other.
Now there is a killer stalking President Curtis’ 2012 campaign trail, someone something Cade not-so-lovingly refers to as The Boogeyman. The Boogeyman is such a great character. He is evil for the sake of being evil, and sometimes we just need a Good vs. Evil fight to the death (or….in this case Undeath?) to know what’s right in the world.
Farnsworth deftly introduces more characters in Red, White and Blood, while resurrecting a few oldies but goodies (not telling!) who would like to see their vengence fulfilled. He also continues to include the mini-prologues at the beginning of each chapter, something I absolutely love. There is one in particular – rally signs for a political campaign – that had me in such stitches, I had to read them to my stepmother over the phone. I love how Farnsworth can take current events (and even our history) and twist it with his imagination and still make it seem so real. The flashback scenes are so well done that it never disrupts the flow of the book and only aids in the telling of Cade’s story and the plot.
If Christopher Farnsworth quit writing books tomorrow, he could take up political journalism. His – for lack of a better word - mockery of American politics is stupendous, and all the while, he’s tossed in supernatural elements and it made the rallies and the campaign serious and funny all at the same time. I can’t begin to describe how much I loved the scenes on the campaign tour buses, or at the events, and all the while, I was nodding along, thinking, “This is absolutely perfect.” It never becomes a political novel, though, so don’t worry if you are someone who avoids things like that. Farnsworth simply uses politics as a means to an end in Red, White and Blood.
So now we’ve had:
Piecemeal Veteran zombies (Blood Oath) Snake-head virus (The President’s Vampire) The Boogeyman (Red, White and Blood)
What supernatural disaster will the author think up next? I impatiently await!
The ending…left me speechless. As it will you. Well played, Chris, well played.(less)
I absolutely love love LOVED The Restorer and I finally got to read Amanda Stevens' novella, The Abandoned, prequel to The Graveyard Queen series. I'm...moreI absolutely love love LOVED The Restorer and I finally got to read Amanda Stevens' novella, The Abandoned, prequel to The Graveyard Queen series. I'm a huge fan of Stevens' writing style - it's sexy, fluid and darkly beautiful and The Abandoned doesn't disappoint if you love her for that alone. She is an exceptional writer, a magician with words, invoking emotion and thought at her own whim. She is THE Queen of creepy. So while I really LOVED The Restorer, I really LIKED The Abandoned, and let me tell you why: it didn't prominently feature Amelia and Devlin! I know, I know, you get that from reading the blurb, so I did know that going in, but I was still a teeny bit disappointed because I do love those characters and this is a prequel to the series. However, that's the only grumble-factor for me, because I still liked it a whole heckuvalot. I also get what she did here: instead of featuring Amelia and Devlin, she featured the town itself, prior to Amelia receiving the grant, so we get a little back story and a bit of a teaser. And oh does Amanda Stevens tease us - with sleepwalking, more ghostly fingers and passion! Oh the passion! She knows just how to skirt the edge before dancing back with her words, leaving you yearning for more. I really loved the back story to the town and some of the supporting characters from The Restorer. I definitely had an opportunity to get to know them better than before. She also writes Ree and Hayden so perfectly; both are fleshed out and incredibly realistic, especially considering this is a ghost story. In short, if you've read The Restorer, go grab this novella for a quick fix until her second Graveyard Queen book comes out! (less)
A month later, I'm still blubbering over Shadow of the Wind. That's how amazing it is. It grabs hold of you and doesn't let go. It demands your though...moreA month later, I'm still blubbering over Shadow of the Wind. That's how amazing it is. It grabs hold of you and doesn't let go. It demands your thoughts in exchange of nothing. That's right, it gives you nothing in return, except sleepless nights, shock and a sense that few other books will ever hold a candle to this one. Carlos Ruiz Zafon writes an amazing piece of literature in Shadow of the Wind and the English translation is nothing short of brilliant (although admittedly, I don't speak Spanish, so I can't really compare). It was flawless and beautiful and all of the adjectives in the world cannot describe how I felt about it. I'm years late to this party, but if you haven't jumped on this bandwagon yet, hop aboard. It is simply one of the best books I've ever read.(less)