I'd give this 2.5 stars, but I'm rounding down because I realize how little I was impressed. Even though it is clear Brooks put hours of research intoI'd give this 2.5 stars, but I'm rounding down because I realize how little I was impressed. Even though it is clear Brooks put hours of research into each intricate detail, I just could never get into the plot and the characters themselves. The chapter "A White Hair" was the only saving grace in the entire book, and I wish she had been allowed to be the novel's narrator instead of the annoying Hanna, who despite her estranged relationship with her mother, never earned my sympathy.
Shame, really. I had higher hopes because of the book's recognition. ...more
Wait a minute! What happened to the end of this book? What happened to the entire book, period? I am so confused. Shoot, I don't even know what to thiWait a minute! What happened to the end of this book? What happened to the entire book, period? I am so confused. Shoot, I don't even know what to think. I was so caught up in the suspense...I think I just realized Jody Shields dragged me along for 300 pages, only to arrive at a fall apart ending.
Well, now that I have my initial exclamation out of the way, let me confess that as much as I want to be angry at this book's ending, the rest of the read was so engaging that I'm liable to forgive Shields. A murder in Vienna, adulterous adults, an inspector and his wife...I still am befuddled how this all went wrong. Still, I'll give it three stars since it was an enjoyable ride nonetheless. I would recommend this book to people simply because I want to know more people's thoughts on it. Seriously, I think it will make you either angry or irritated, but I need to know.
This is a terrible review, isn't it? Oh, well, I don't care. I just wasted three days of reading, so you can waste three paragraphs reading my two cents. Good Lord my confusion has even infected my reviewing methods. ...more
Lately, I have been attracted to the dark, macabre books of my library. This book certainly filled both of those qualifications, along with "extremelyLately, I have been attracted to the dark, macabre books of my library. This book certainly filled both of those qualifications, along with "extremely disturbing" and "books that make me cry." (Come to think of it, that last one should be a new shelf, since crying at the end of the book is something I have been doing a lot lately.)
This book is not for the faint of heart. Hansel and Gretel, although young and innocent, are possibly the most delicate yet wisest characters I have come across in many readings. However, some of the terrible, tragic circumstances they are forced to endure are so vivid that I physically squirmed. (I'm one of those people who can't stand the thought of having blood drawn. That is exactly how I felt during some events of this book - unfortunate for me but a compliment to the author for making me truly *feel* these horrors.)
I was captivated by Murphy's writing style: vivid and eloquent, yet traumatizing at all the right moments. I was very impressed with how she described World War II horrors without being unnecessarily gory or crass. The scenes still carried the right balance of emotion, and I was captivated by so many of the characters - whether they were victims or antagonists. This book left me so emotionally worn, yet I am genuinely glad I took the time to read it. Not only was it a quality piece, but it left me eager to read more of Murphy's work, to better understand Nazi occupation of Poland, and to seek out more texts in this era - not to mention I was completely satisfied with the story's telling. The only thing that really held me back from giving it five stars was because I felt some of the character back stories could have been better fleshed out, but then again that probably would have made the book 500 pages long. I also felt that outcome of some of the circumstances were a a little bit convenient, such as a few particular getaways. However, I feel survival during this time often hinged directly on the luck of the draw.
Still, this book was completely worth my time. I definitely feel that it complemented my reading of The Book of Lost Things completely, which is another book I must recommend that you check out....more
Louis Bayard does a spectacular job capturing a youthful Edgar Allan Poe, and I enjoyed every turn of events in this mystery novel with an historicalLouis Bayard does a spectacular job capturing a youthful Edgar Allan Poe, and I enjoyed every turn of events in this mystery novel with an historical twist. Poe is such an engaging character, and this book has further encouraged me to read more of his own real-life work. He more than springs to life under Bayard's pen, which made him all the more likable and impish in the confines of West Point Academy.
While the book's main character is not Poe, Detective Landor shares his own dark secrets that make him an ideal partner for the sprightly poet. I suppose what surprised me the most (and what really engaged me, despite the fact that I originally thought this book would be too military focused) is how West Point is portrayed. If anything, Bayard's interpretation reminded me so much of J.K. Rowling's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and its neighboring village of Hogsmeade in the Harry Potter series, which made the reading of this book an even greater delight. Everything, even West Point, has a magical element to it, which perhaps is all the spell of the Poe influence. If so, Bayard certainly bewitched me; his writing style is so eloquent but succinct that it honors and respects the Poe legacy extremely well.
The book's plot is easy enough, but what really made this rise above the three-star rating was the friendship of Poe and Landor. Creating a chemistry between two completely fictional characters is difficult enough, but to build it between a person who actually lived and a character of complete fiction is all the more compelling. I loved the dialogue between the two, and Bayard fully and warmly delivers....more
Well, even though the book didn't knock my knickers off, I think I might have found a new favorite author.
Like The Pale Blue Eye, Bayard has once agaiWell, even though the book didn't knock my knickers off, I think I might have found a new favorite author.
Like The Pale Blue Eye, Bayard has once again crafted a novel of historical suspense with a character who is known the world over: Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol's Tiny Tim, all grown up and more maturely called Timothy Cratchit.
The book follows much of the same formula that Bayard used for Eye: a sentimental protagonist, stained by his past relationships, seeks redemption in his salvation of a young, energetic young mind, who quickly becomes a sidekick and a lovable character as they seek to conquer an even greater, darker, evil force. In this book, Tim's young sidekick is Colin the Melodious, who to me sang a very similar tune to Dickens' the Artful Dodger (from Oliver Twist). Bayard is so talented at paying his respects to the originators of his updated character versions, and I think Dickens himself would have approved with what Bayard has done here with some of his classic characters. Mr. Timothy is a little racy at times, but it still is an adequate page-turner with sympathetic characters and well timed dialogue. (I hate it when authors don't know how to put words into their characters' mouths. Bayard, on the other hand, never squanders a word. Every sentence seems very carefully crafted, and as a reader I really appreciate that Bayard does not waste my time when there is a story I'm itching to continue.)
All this said, Mr. Timothy has a very mature depth to it, but the plot itself never completely drew me in. I think because even though Tim is a former cripple with a recently passed father, he lacked the humor and wit that Bayard's characters wielded in The Pale Blue Eye. Tim is a hero and a victim, but I suppose I kept waiting for him to exponentially grow. For a plot that wasn't all that convoluted, I think I just wanted even more depth to the character development.
But from what I've read by Bayard already, I think my review is more of a challenge to him than it is a critique. Since Mr. Timothy met my expectations for what I thought Bayard could achieve, I suppose I should be thankful that Bayard raised the bar on his own work with The Pale Blue Eye. I've been so impressed with Bayard's writing, and the fact that I believe he met my expectations with a nicely rounded story is really quite an accomplishment for any author. ...more