Greene’s ability to create a realistic atmosphere functioned to draw me through the novel. The scenes take place in and around San Francisco’s Bay Are...moreGreene’s ability to create a realistic atmosphere functioned to draw me through the novel. The scenes take place in and around San Francisco’s Bay Area and are filled with rich and believable detail. The author spares no expense in giving her characters a grand stage to walk upon. The mystery unfolds practically flawlessly, but I found myself wanting to make more of a connection with the characters and thematic elements. Kudos to any author who can plot like Molly Greene!(less)
An enjoyable book and an insightful view into the mind of a sympathetic sociopath. Highsmith's book can be a bit too coincidental at times, but then a...moreAn enjoyable book and an insightful view into the mind of a sympathetic sociopath. Highsmith's book can be a bit too coincidental at times, but then again, Tom Ripley plight in life relies just as much on luck as anything else. Based on the first novel in the series, I will consider reading the next of the four that follow. (less)
The detail in this book truly blew me away! Brian Braden's writing really draws the reader in, and I truly admire fantasy writers and their ability to...moreThe detail in this book truly blew me away! Brian Braden's writing really draws the reader in, and I truly admire fantasy writers and their ability to create believable fictional worlds. That being said, fantasy is not a genre I read on a regular basis. As such, I get impatient with all the rich detail since I favor a more sparse writing style, but don't get me wrong, it's great detail and die-hard fans of the genre will not be disappointed. The characters were thoughtfully fleshed-out and believable, plus the religious parallels that come in toward the end of the story gave everything an interesting twist. However, the build-up seemed to take a long time, but then again, this is the first book in a series. I'm glad I read this book to gain more exposure the genre of historical fantasy. (less)
As a 2012 National Book Award winner, this book is not without merit. It's an intriguing coming of age story, and I can see why it has been compared t...moreAs a 2012 National Book Award winner, this book is not without merit. It's an intriguing coming of age story, and I can see why it has been compared to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird in terms of its thematic elements. However, I found the pacing to be a bit off at times. Also, the number of characters seemed to detract from rather than add to the story at times. Overall, this is an interesting, although not overly thrilling, read. 3.75 Stars (less)
This book disappointed me, especially when compared to the movie. The plot in the book never really brings various elements of the story-line together...moreThis book disappointed me, especially when compared to the movie. The plot in the book never really brings various elements of the story-line together in a satisfying way for the reader. Also, aside from Pat, the rest of the characters receive less than adequate characterization. Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany in the movie bears little resemblance to the Tiffany in the books. Most of all, the tone of voice the author gave to Pat did not seem to do justice to all that those who are dealing with a mental illness must go through. Pat's character struck me as sounding too childish as he grappled with his situation. It's a decent story, but the movie was much better! (less)
Anthony Loxton leads a double-life. On the one hand, he’s the undertaker of a funeral home in Kalk Bay, which is located outside of Johannesburg, Sout...moreAnthony Loxton leads a double-life. On the one hand, he’s the undertaker of a funeral home in Kalk Bay, which is located outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. On the other hand, he moonlights as Tony the Fox, a guitarist who plays the clubs around town. As a mortician, he finds solace in the silence of the dead. As a musician, he avails himself to the attention and respite offered by the ladies who frequent music venues. His life starts to change when a one-night stand of Anthony’s turns up on the slab of his morgue.
Conseulo Roland’s literary fiction novel is a fine study in character. At the opening of the book, the reader meets the young Anthony. It soon becomes apparent his family is not an ordinary family. He is the product of three generations of undertakers. Anthony often talks to dead people or takes naps in coffins in order to steal time away from his cantankerous father and emotionally-broken mother.
He is such a lonely little boy. The author deftly reveals a portrait of a sad family and how it is sometimes easier to draw into one’s self than interact with the world and risk getting hurt. As the title hints, there is nothing morbid about Conseulo Roland’s The Good Cemetery Guide. Rather it is a story of finding one’s self, as well as a story of how Anthony/Tony finds himself.
I will admit the cover currently being used for the eBook does not do the contents justice. The cover of the print version is more fitting to the beauty of a story such as this.
In addition to writing a pleasingly quirky story, Roland undoubtedly possesses a deft ear for language. Her sentences are literally a joy to read. It’s evident the author can not only spin an interesting plot, she is adept at the craft of writing as an art form. Such beautiful sentences can enrapture some readers, or cause other readers to get bogged down in the intricacy of the prose. I, for the most part, remained enraptured from beginning to end.
JeriWB.com: 4.25 Stars (“Really Liked It”) A complimentary copy was provided by the author in exchange for this review. (less)
Wendell Mackey is no longer a man, but what is he? He is in the process of a transformation, but what exactly is he becoming? Not even Wendell knows f...moreWendell Mackey is no longer a man, but what is he? He is in the process of a transformation, but what exactly is he becoming? Not even Wendell knows for sure. The Death of Wendell Mackey begins three days into the main character’s escape from an institution where he had been held against his will in order to become a test subject for experiments of a medical nature. The author immediately whisks the reader into Wendell’s mindset and the suspense of the story begins to build.
The strongest aspect of this engrossing story hinges upon C. T. Westing’s ability to capture descriptive detail. The scenes are rendered in a cinematic style. The author leaves no stone unturned as he painstakingly draws the reader in Wendell’s dark and confusing world. Plus, the beautiful cover art complements the plot well.
The reader gets a glimpse into Wendell’s past as he hides out in his mother’s old apartment. Flashbacks reveal how he was tricked into undergoing the experiments that are now causing his skin to peel off along with his toes and teeth. The fascinating surface story invites the reader to dig into deeper implications such as the nature of man and the role of science in modern life.
The novel’s structure may strike some readers as difficult to read, not because of the writing (which is very strong and engaging) but because of the overly long chapters. Even with the streamlined nature of eBooks, readers often still find themselves hoping for manageable chapter breaks. Another issue in the novel that broke the flow of the narrative centers on paragraphs that often run the length of one, and sometimes nearly two full screens on an iPad.
The ending might possibly leave some readers wanting more, or it could strike other readers as the perfect fit. The Death of Wendell Mackey is definitely good because every reader will definitely find their own backgrounds and beliefs influencing how they interpret the story.
All in all, Wendell Mackey is a strongly drawn character the reader will feel connected to as they get to know him and all that has happened in his life. Scenes where he recalls details about his less than admirable mother certainly shed light on his character. The author keeps the narrative moving along, but it does not do the book justice to give too much of the plot away. Just know the story unfolds in a mesmerizing manner and Wendell’s mysterious transformation makes the story hard to put down.
A complimentary copy was provided by the author for this review. JeriWB.com 4.0 Stars ("Really Liked It") (less)
Many readers consider Stephen Chbosky’s coming of age novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower a modern classic. It’s easy to see why the focus on identi...moreMany readers consider Stephen Chbosky’s coming of age novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower a modern classic. It’s easy to see why the focus on identity has helped it become required reading for numerous high school classrooms, in spite of a provocative nature which frequently places it on challenged book lists. The recent film adaptation also continues to spread the story’s appeal. Yet, for all its charm, the story contains noticeable flaws.
The affecting nature of the novel is achieved via therapeutic letters that Charlie writes to an unnamed friend. He is afraid of starting high school. Plus, he is trying to deal with the recent suicide of his only friend and death of his beloved aunt. The epistolary format feels like a stretch at times, especially when it comes to conveying long passages of dialogue. Even more jarring is Charlie’s voice. Journal and letter writing is very casual and intimate. Couple that with a teenager’s unpolished writing, and some readers will likely find the prose awkward.
Charlie is more than a little lost. His shy, introspective ways stem from various psychological issues which are revealed as the story progresses. By the end of the story, it does indeed seem like Charlie has experienced every element of teenage angst imaginable, such as trying LSD, aiding in an abortion, and feeling unrequited love. Conflicts abound, perhaps more than some deem believable, but the onslaught of issues really is true to many teens’ lives.
At times it may also feel like the characters are too one-dimensional: the clichéd gay friend, the well-intentioned English teacher, the racist grandfather. Yet, part of growing up is learning how to deal with the stereotypes all people try to apply to one another. Charlie’s therapist encourages him to participate, and he eventually comes to a better understanding of why people need something in their lives worth living for.
Despite his imperfection, Charlie’s endearing qualities creep into the reader’s heart. He always gets his acquaintances the perfect gift, he loves his mom very much, and he tries to be a good friend. Toward the end of the book, his love interest tells him, “’You can’t just sit there and put everybody’s lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love. You just can’t. You have to do things.’”
So how is it that a book with such obvious flaws can be touted as being practically perfect? It’s one of those rare instances where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Even when coincidence seems to solve too many conflicts in the book, the story leaves the reader feeling like they too have survived everything right along with Charlie. By the end of the book, both reader and narrator will experiences what it means to feel infinite.
A book touted as a women’s Brokeback Mountain certainly knows it is fulfilling an overlooked niche in the world of literature. With great excitement,...moreA book touted as a women’s Brokeback Mountain certainly knows it is fulfilling an overlooked niche in the world of literature. With great excitement, I began reading Paulette Mahurin’s historical fiction novel The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, while keeping in mind Annie Proulx’s story of the lifelong love between Wyoming cowboys sets a demanding standard.
The premise of Mahurin’s story involves two women who are living together as lovers in small town Neveda circa 1895. Mildred, the protagonist, is portrayed as a rather ugly, but wealthy woman, who generously helps others while keeping mostly to herself. Her cousin Edra, who was brutally raped at nine years of age, gives her love willingly to the cousin she trusts and grew up with.
Oscar Wilde’s trial for “gross indecency” serves as Mildred Dunlap’s inciting incident. Each chapter begins with an appropriate quote from Wilde. Throughout the book, the town’s citizen’s gossip and react to the news of Wilde reported in the newspapers. This book definitely makes me want to learn more about Wilde’s trial, but I also found myself wondering if Wilde’s case really would be the shot heard all the way around the world in small town Nevada?
Once the town gossip starts to fly, Mildred starts to concoct a plan to get Charley, a recent widower to show interest in her, so as to deflect attention away from the living situation between her and Edra. Josie serves as a main source for gossip that serves to persecute Mildred. The reader is told this too many times, and not shown the details. Or perhaps it is just the action hinted at in the title did not match the connotations I associate with persecution.
As a reader, issues began to arise for me early on when the narrative viewpoint began to switch between characters. As a result, I never felt like I really got to know the characters well enough to form an attachment to their lives since the story flitted from one point of view to the next. Another issue presented itself in how the story feels so modern. At most times, aside from a few setting details, the scenes and dialogue read like it could be set in the present day.
A character named Gus serves at the voice of reason, but for 1895, the sentiments he expressed felt very modern day. At times, he shared his reasoning on tolerance with other characters, but it comes across like the author giving the reader a lesson how humanity ought to treat each other with understanding and respect.
Overall, I liked this book, but feel it could be molded into so much more. It’s fascinating that this story was inspired from an old time photo, which is also featured on the book’s cover. Mahurin book does serve to enlighten readers, and she certainly practices what she preaches as all proceeds from the book go to help animal rescue.
A complimentary copy was provided by the author for this review. JeriWB.com 3.25 Stars(less)
Nick and Amy Dunne are made for each other, but theirs is not a fairy tale romance. Rather, their relationship tells the story of a marriage’s descent...moreNick and Amy Dunne are made for each other, but theirs is not a fairy tale romance. Rather, their relationship tells the story of a marriage’s descent into utter depravity. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s widely popular thriller, suggests people can never really truly know one another. The story serves as an extreme example of how the personality we show others is often a fabrication. In this case, the identity struggle faced by husband and wife brings dire consequences.
Some of the plot points later in the book seem overly coincidental. Plus, by the time the reader gets to the end of the book, it seems like the story just stops. All in all, the book effectively captures the voice of two completely despicable characters, which is why I can imagine this fairly engaging read also has quite a few negative reviews.
Ava, the debut novel of indie author Ashley Barron, marks the start of a series slated for 26 books where each chronicle will focus on the situations...moreAva, the debut novel of indie author Ashley Barron, marks the start of a series slated for 26 books where each chronicle will focus on the situations experienced by a different character. Barron’s Priya group of women live, love, and work in Washington, D.C. and the depth of their bonds know no bounds.
Admittedly, I began the book with some trepidation. The scope of the novel is huge, but the author’s careful plotting shows. This first book centers on Ava, a woman in her early 30’s, who is the successful owner of an event planning business. As such, along with a high-powered family, Ava maintains ties to very important people. Those ties bring the inevitable ploy for money and domination which drives the many twists and turns of the plot.
Ava’s decision to step-down from her business coincides with a situation that places her life in peril. Along the way, the reader follows the well-crafted clues regarding a missing employee, computer hackers, and Ava’s rekindled romance with Kader Thornton. The sudden decision to want to drop her trappings of success didn’t feel completely in line with Ava’s character, which may leave readers to wonder if the decision is being used as a plot device to drive the action of future books in the series.
The choice of an all-knowing narrator is perhaps the riskiest aspect of the novel. Barron handles the intricacies required by an omniscient narrator amazingly well. However, since the story centers on Ava, a limited third-person point of view could have tamed the occasional unwieldiness of the narrative a bit. At times, it felt like huge passages could be omitted if it were not for the choice of narrator. I also found the consistent use of word repetition intended to add emphasis and heighten the drama of the story did just the opposite.
Ashley Barron has an uncanny ability for communicating the intricacies of human relationships. For that reason alone, I am looking forward to her next installment. Her growth as a writer, marketer, and blogger has been, and will continue to be, fascinating to watch.