Old dogs, new tricks

After having given up on blogger I’ve found myself reinvigorated about blogging so I’m moving to a new platform and hopefully a continued zeal  towards blogging. Here’s hoping I master a new platform! I am a reader of all things genre – mystery/thriller, speculative fiction, horror and occasionally romance,  with the occasional foray into literary and women’s fiction. A lot of these titles will be young adult since that’s an area I need to keep up with in my day job.

 

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Reading week(s) in review

A always a day late and a dollar short but I did have a great two weeks worth of reading.

Let’s start with one of my middle grade march picks.

 

endling

I am so glad I picked this one up. The Last follows a young Dairne, Byx. Dairnes are intelligent doglike beings whose numbers have radically decreased. Very early on in the book Byx’s pack and her family are all slaughtered and Byx is afraid she is the last of her kind. Byx falls in a with a wobbyk, Tobble, and saves  Tobble’s life. Tobble decides to accompany Byx as he feel he owes her a debt and must save her life three times per Wobbyk code. Byx has begun to travel north to determine if she is truly the last of her kind or if some Diarnes may still live according to stories told by her clan. Along the way they meet someone who is determined to take Byx to a scholar. She (Khara) wants the money that she’ll get by bringing a diarene to the scholar. She also thinks the scholar might know what to do with Byx. Things go horribly wrong and Byx escapes with the help of Khara, Tobble and a new ally, a felevit. They are pursued north by a fire wielding bounty hunter of sorts.

I really liked this book. I didn’t even need to channel my middle grade self. I was still quite entertained. The action is fast paced and Byx and her crew are quite sympathetic. As an aside, I desperately want to meet a wobbyk, they are beyond cute.  I also really appreciated the message that members of different species can get along with and cooperate with one another. While it is violent and possibly upsetting to some children it is still a good book not only for entertainment but also to spark thought in younger readers including cooperation with individuals unfamiliar to you and what does it mean to be the last of a species.

Moving on Three of the titles below were five star reads for me. I don’t know how I lucked out but I’m happy it was a good week reading wise.

 

395073librarybook8

I was obsessed with this book. I listened to it on audio and immediately went out and bought myself a copy. I’ve been annotating it ever since. Ms. Orlean chronicles the devastating fire at Los Angeles Public Library. Not only does she detail the investigation of the fire and the primary suspect but she delves more deeply into the history of the library itself and what types of services libraries provide. I’ve read one other book by her and I’m amazed at how everything she researches can be so fascinating, including material that could be a little dry. I’ve worked in libraries my entire adult life and there were parts that could have been written about my own experiences including being taken to the public library and then benignly left alone to browse the stacks to library staff members protesting working conditions due to excessive heat. I cried through the chapters detailing the fire at Los Angeles public as well as the chapter on wars devastating effect on libraries throughout time. I was appalled at some of the collections LA lost and how valuable some of them would have been to historians.  I was fascinated by the rebuilding of the library as well as how the library is reinventing itself to remain a current essential part of the city. Highly recommended for any book lover

 

bloodwater

I listened to this book on audio. The narrator is Xe Sands and her narration is magnificent. I’d recommend the book for the narration alone.  She doesn’t sound too old for Artemesia but the voice of Artemesia’s mother is also extremely well done. I will be looking for more audio books narrated by her. BWP is a young adult novel told in verse. It details the story of Artemisia Gentileschi. Born at a time when women artists were not recognized Artemisia works under her father- grinding his pigments, and completing his commissions. Her father hires a tutor to help Artemisia with her painting and he seems to appreciate her as an artist but then he rapes her. In order to cope with her ordeal she recounts stories her mother told her about two biblical women Susanna and Judith. In her mother’s stories neither Susanna nor Judith bow to male expectations. Artemesia finally tells her father of the rape and her father takes her rapist to court (women would not have been allowed to bring charges). In order to prove herself Artemesia is tortured. This section of the book is particularly appalling as her rapist did not have to undergo any such torture. This so one of those books where I immediately wanted to go out and read more about Artemisia and her life.  I liked reading some of the procedures involved in paint preparation but  I was particularly engaged by the slow retellings of Judith and Susanna’s stories. Artemeisia’s mother is a strong, steadying voice in Aretmesia’s memories.  Her mother gives the stories a subtle sense of female empowerment. Not being biblically literate my guess is that these women weren’t portrayed in a strong a light as the versions told to Artemesia but I loved hearing their stories told in the manner they were. .  The books overall feminist message is very well done. Please be aware that BWP does take some historical liberties. So go out and, like me, read more about Ms. Gentileschi.

 

colorafter

Leigh Sanders mother committed suicide. After her suicide Leigh is visited by a huge red bird. She is convinced that her mother has transformed into this bird. On one of the birds visits Leigh finds a box on her front doorstep. The box contains letters, pictures etc. form her mother’s past. In order to find out more about her mother Leigh persuades her father that she wants to go to Taiwan, her mother’s birthplace. There she meets her maternal grandparents for the first time. We learn more about Leigh and her parents via a series of flashbacks. As the story unspools Leigh begins to understand that her mother’s illness had been an ongoing thing for far longer than Leigh had assumed. As Leigh visits the places her mother loved in Taiwan she also sees how complex a person she was. Leigh expresses her emotions via color and art and this was one of the more fascinating parts of the book for me. Both she and her friend Axel use art to convey so much. I loved reading descriptions of her drawings as they breathed so much life into the story.  While the book deals with grief and Leigh’s eventual journey towards healing I didn’t feel that the story was heavy handed. The writing can also only be described as lush, lyrical and evocative. Some readers may not care for the elements of magical realism but I felt using that device added depth and feeling to the story.  I am anxious to see what Ms. Pan does with her next book. Her debut is certainly a winner.

thetest

The last book I read was the only one I did not end up being that excited about. This is one of Tors novellas.  Set in the future immigrants wishing to become citizens must pass a test. If the test taker fails the test they and their entire family are immediately deported. We follow Idir, a kind hearted man as he takes the test. Shortly after he begins the written test terrorists storm the building. Idir attempts to assist a wounded man which aggravates the leader of the terrorist group. The leader gives the police an ultimatum, give him what he wants or he will shot a hostage every fifteen minutes. He then forces Idir to make a choice between two individuals – who should he shoot or not. Idir fails to make the decision and both people die. He then faces the same choice again. I cannot say too much about The Test without spoiling it. However, I just never felt engaged with the story nor felt any sense of urgency. I had a feeling Idir was going to have to eventually make a very hard choice and I was proven correct. I understand that Mr. Neuvel is trying to elicit some discussion as to who is worthy of life, how blind people are to each individuals qualities etc. This type of philosophical discussion has been done before I didn’t feel anything really new or exciting was brought to the party.  Quite a few people have compared this to a sort of written Black Mirror story. I have never gotten into Black Mirror but if you love that show you may very well enjoy this book. A lukewarm 3 stars for me.

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Reading Week in Review

I’m slightly tardy this week as I had 30 pages left in a book as of Monday and I wanted to include it in this wrap up. Without further ado let’s get into the pagey goodness.

 

DAUGHTERSSTORM

Daughters of the Storm follows various members of a royal family. Very early on in the book we find that the king of Almissia has been taken quite ill and may be dying. His wife tries to keep this secret but word leaks out and someone sends for his eldest daughter, Bluebell. Bluebell is quite a fierce warrior and is extremely loyal to family. Since she fears that the king might die and that ehr stepmothe rmight have ahd something to do with the king’s illness she calls her 4 sisters home. They then set out on a journey to find the king’s sister, an undermagician, in an attempt to cure the king.

As the sisters journey we learn more about their lives as well as their relationship to one another. We also learn about Wylm, stepbrother and son to the current queen.

Bluebell probably has the most interesting story of the five sisters and seems to be the most fleshed out of the characters. She fully expects to be King (not queen, don’t make that mistake with her) after her father dies.  She is fierce and loyal but frequently  makes plans for her family without consulting their desires. We also hear her opinions about her sisters and they are not always favorable. Ash and Rose also have interesting life stories. Ash acts as mediator for various members of the family and apparently may have the biggest and most problematic destiny in her future. She realizes that she has powerful magical talents but is unable to control them.  Rose was married to a man to cement relations between two kingdoms but has fallen in love with the king’s nephew. Her daughter may well be the most important thing in her life as she discovers at the end of this book. The two youngest sisters, Willow and in particular, Ivy, seem to be the least thought out of the sisters. Willow does provide the perspective of a convert to a new religion – the Trimartyrs. Her actions are motivated by her newly found religious beliefs. She hears voices, in this world she may really be hearing the voices of the gods or she may be slightly mad. As the sisters branch off from each other each of their lives changes, some quite profoundly. Wylm, the stepbrother, is also quite complex. He appears to be weak (in this world, in our world he would just be a gentle, kind man)  and he covets power. I suspect he covets power more so that he will feel safe and not because he truly wants it.  Bluebell and he are antagonists and Wylm is, deservedly so, quite frightened of Bluebell. Some of his actions are motivated by this fear including murder. Wylm shows a surprisingly sympathetic side when he chooses to keep and care for a blind, simple boy. This isn’t a fast paced novel but, overall, I found the sisters and their relationships with one another to be entertainment enough. The world building is slight and the author assumes that readers are familiar with the trope of feudal kingdoms.

I’m looking forward to reading the second. I am hoping that the younger sisters in particular will become more fully realized. Ash is my favorite of the sisters so I expect great things in the next installment!

poisonWhy did I read so long to read book 2, why? The first novel in the series must be read to understand what is going on in this one. Read the goodreads synopsis if you want to know more about A Shadow Bright and Burning, the first in the series.  My thoughts are for Poison Dark and Drowning only. I loved this instalment. It does not suffer from sophomore slump. Stakes are raised quite a bit – Rook is still veering toward the dark side. Henrietta is still keeping this a secret from everyone else and she keeps fighting for the person she now admits to loving. She also continues to practice her magician skills and a new character is introduced, Maria Templeton. I cannot say much about her without spoilers other than she is a healer and she is trying to help Henrietta and Rook.  We also find out quite a bit more about Blackwood’s father and R’hlem. The 7 ancients are becoming more relentless and are having a grand old time destroying various English cities. There are so many great action scenes. One of the most vivid for me was the fight with Nemneris (sp) the great water spider. There is lots of action in this book and I loved every minute of it. As an aside here, I think this may be the first YA novel in which I sense a debt to Lovecraft. I could be wrong but any one of the ancients would fit well with Lovecraft’s creatures.  The author paints things so vividly that I wanted to keep reading way past my bedtime.  This is also a YA novel where I think the various potential love entanglements worked. They didn’t seem forced to me and I could understand why the only young lady in the Sorcerers circle might incite thoughts of love. I am very excited to read the last book in the series.

ashprincess

My only disappointment for last week was Ash Princess. I’d like to say a little bit about the narration as I listened to this on audio. While the narrator was fine and I would definitely listen to her narrate other books but… she sounded a little too old to be playing a teenager. There are lots of great narrators that sound younger and I think it would have been helpful to hear a younger sounding narrator.

As for the story itself, the plot is familiar – teenage girl must save her world, there is going to be a love interest, and so on. Sometimes reading a book with a familiar plot can be comforting, much like putting on a warm comfy robe. You don’t expect a lot other than a satisfying read. Conversely it may also be like noticing that your comfy robe has holes that you just can’t ignore anymore. If I were still a teen I would probably have enjoyed but not been overwhelmed by Ash Princess. However, as an adult, I keep noticing the loose threads and holes in the story.

Perhaps one of my biggest complaints was the lack of certain, to me, vital facts. Throughout the book we learn that the gems give power to certain individuals. Blaise (childhood friend and crush #1), for example can cause earthquakes. So I would have liked a little background, did the guardians, those who could control the gems power, put up a fight when the Kalovaxions came and if so what happened?

Some of the plot also didn’t make sense. At about mid book Blaise  decides that Thora’s friend Cress and her father the Thane need to be killed.
Killing Cress makes no sense, and Theodosa (Thora) rightly points out that since an Astrean poison is being used that she will be the primary suspect and the Kaiser might very well kill her. At this stage of the book there is no escape plan discussed after Theo does the poisoning.
My final wish would have been that Theodosa would have been more complexly drawn. We are also told that Thora has been tortured and beaten since she was six years old so I wanted to experience some real character building. Instead Thora suddenly turns into Theodosia (I will save my people) after she kills the man who probably was her father. Someone who has to be beaten down for so long suddenly grows a spine.  Wouldn’t it have been more interesting for her to have gradually, painfully and fearfully become the savior of her people? I think so. The adult me also did not care for the awkward insta love Theo had for both the Prinz and Blaise at all.

The teenage me probably would have enjoyed the romantic possibilities though me being me even at that age would have gone for Erik, The Prinz’ half brother. I also would have enjoyed the heck out of the descriptions of the clothing and would have loved to have had Cress, literature translating, reader girl, as my friend. Unlike Theo though I could not have conceived of killing her.
I’m afraid this particular YA fantasy just wasn’t for me. Many other readers really enjoyed it though. If you’ve read it what did you think?

 

Happy almost spring reading week, ya’ll.

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Reading week in review

I was bit at sixes and sevens with my reading last week. This is not due to a slump but rather too much book goodness. I’m very intrigued by two fantasies I’m currently reading and should just decide to finish one before delving back into the other one. If I try to do that then I start thinking about the characters in the other book and what they are up to. Hopefully I will finish one or the other by the end of this week. In the meanwhile I did finish one middle grade book right in time to start middle grade march.

dragonpearl

Dragon Pearl follows a 13 year old girl, Min, who is a fox spirit. Users of fox magic are distrusted so Min’s mother makes sure that none of the family uses it.  Min chaffs against this restriction along with the endless chores at home. She wants to go into space like her brother Jun and explore the thousand worlds. When an inspector arrives to tell Min’s mother that Jun was a deserter who left to find the mythical dragon pearl Min doesn’t believe it. She decides to run away and clear her brother’s name. The small freighter Min has taken refuge in is hijacked by pirates but she is rescued by the very battle cruiser her brother served on. Using fox magic she impersonates a young cadet who had been killed in the skirmish. She makes friends with two other cadets who had also been friends with her brother, a young dragon (Haneul) and a goblin (Sujin).

There are some great scenes including Min’s trying to understand exactly how she should act as a cadet and, at times, failing miserably. I loved the scenes where the three friends interacted and now desperately want Sujin’s magical spork, deliverer of junk food. There is plenty of tension as well and Min gets into quite a few scrapes, discovers secrets about the captain and ultimately about the dragon pearl itself. This book is also an excellent introduction to space opera type stories.

Read this book if you like learning about Korean mythology and like lots of action. It goes without saying that the writing is great.

Stay dry kiddies and read!

 

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March TBR – It’s a middle grade thing

March TBR

 

I have almost given up trying to stick to a TBR but BooksandJams on booktube is doing middle grade march with some other folks and I went on a middle grade bender sometime last year. I’d like to get at least two titles read and off my TBR. Below are a few of the titles I am considering.  For some odd reason British and Australian middle grade always looks so appealing. I think I might pick one of these two titles

roseraventhorpe

Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Black Cats and Butlers. Who can resist this synopsis? When Rose Raventhorpe’s beloved butler is found (gasp!) murdered in the hallway of her own house, she’s determined to uncover the culprit. Especially since he’s the third butler to die in a week!
Rose’s investigation leads her on a journey into a hidden world of grave robbers and duelling butlers, flamboyant magicians and the city’s ancient feline guardians.

If for some reason I don’t get stuck into this title then I might try Last Chance Hotel by Nicki Thornton. Another one with cats and mystery – Seth is the oppressed kitchen boy at the remote Last Chance Hotel, owned by the nasty Bunn family. His only friend is his black cat, Nightshade. But when a strange gathering of magicians arrives for dinner, kindly Dr Thallomius is poisoned by Seth’s special dessert. A locked room murder investigation ensues, and Seth is the main suspect.

One of the middle grade march prompts is to read a book with a nonhuman character in it and I have two potential titles for this bracket.

endling

Endling the Last  – Byx is a member of a rare doglike species. When her pack is wiped out she sets out on a quest to determine if she truly is the last of her kind. Along the way she meets and befriends other creatures to form a new sort of family.

There is also The Rose Legacy by one of my favorite authors Jessica Day George. Anthea goes to live with her long lost uncle who breds horses. Horses have been outlawed for centuries but Anthea can sense horses thoughts and feelings and must eventually cooperate with them to save her kingdom.

 

 

 

For those interested in following the middle grade prompts this year here they are:

  1. A nonfiction or book based on true events
  2. Book with a nonhuman main character
  3. A fantasy
  4. Book written in verse
  5. A diverse read

My final possible march TBR book is not middle grade but I am going to read it,  dang it! I’ve talked about My Plain Jane before and now it’s time to shut up and read.

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Reading Week in Review

I had a mixed bag of books this past week. One nonfiction, one adult and one middle grade. Alas, two of the three were a disappointment. Let’s talk about the title that was really good first.

octopus

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. Sy Montgomery is a naturalist who has written books for both adults and children. In this work, aimed at adults, she gives the reader a glimpse into the rather unique workings of the octopus. She observed and bonded with three different octopus in the New England aquarium as well as looking at some of these animals in the wild. She delivers facts about these wonderful creatures, as well, as some of their tank mates in a very accessible manner. What is even more fascinating though is her interactions with the octopus at the aquarium and her observations about each of their personalities. By the end of the book I felt as if I too knew each octopus and was saddened to hear of their deaths. Narrative nonfiction at its best. Highly recommended.

 

 

I also finished as an audiobook Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

lethalwite

I suspect I tolerated this novel a little better on audio than I would have in print. The novel opens at Robins wedding. Strike and Robin come to an agreement that she’ll return to work as a partner. One of the first cases they begin to work together is to determine who is blackmailing the Minister for Culture, Jasper Chiswell, and Robin goes undercover in his office. In the meanwhile a schizophrenic young man has turned up in Strikes office claiming to have seen a young girl strangled to death when he was young.  The young man bolts but the admission bothers Strike so he sets out to find the young man’s brother. Not surprisingly there turns out to be a connection between Chiswell and the brother. Turns out the brother is the one potentially blackmailing Chiswell. The mystery itself was okay but most definitely not as enthralling as the Silkworm, my favorite in the series. The author looks very closely at Robin and Comoran’s underlying feelings for one another. I am not a fan of “let’s get Strike and Robin together romantically” so I found that whole bit of the story to be annoying.  I also found Strike to be almost unlikable in this book. He treats his current girlfriend horribly and we still had to have a subplot with him and his ex Charlotte. In the meanwhile Robin is having problems with her new husband. I got a little tired of the personal relationship issues and the book could have used a bit of a trim. It was overlong in my opinion. Those rooting for Strike and Robin to get together will probably enjoy it more than I did.

chickenlegs

 

The House with Chicken Legs was a book I really, really wanted to love. It is currently on the 2019 CILIP Carnegie Medal longlist. I loved the cover and I really love Baba Yaga folklore so I had high expectations for this story. I’d like to start with the parts I did enjoy about the story. The concept of the Baba Yaga as a guide for the dead and how important that role is was fascinating. Jack, Marinka’s pet jackdaw, is also great fun and I’m sure there are going to be some kids out there looking for one as a pet after reading this book. I also loved the character of the house itself. The house acts as both a playmate and as a sort of mother figure for Marinka. It was somewhat surprising when Marinka abuses her house, sometimes kicking it or shouting at it. This actions seemed more like that of a toddler than a 13 year old. I understood her desire to just be a regular girl with living friends and to not being boxed in with a predetermined fate. However, as the story progressed it became a little repetitive. Marinka would seem to understand her actions and then a few pages further in revert to a petulant child.  Also somewhat surprising was the actions of her baba. Her Baba Yaga, in essence, abandons her to assist the spirit of a young dead girl with no explanation or advice for Marinka. Granted this does explain a lot of Marinka’s behavior but I would l have liked to have seen her express her frustrations in a different manner other than shouting and kicking. . While I did not always care for Marinka my guess is that story will be enjoyed by its target audience.

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Books I LOVED with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads

Here are some of my favorite books that need more love. Some of these are horror novels so it is less surprising to me that they have low ratings but others shocked me. Let’s start with the horror novels shall we?

missinglangan

Sarah Langan is a three time Bram Stoker winner. I enjoyed both her novels in the keepers series but especially enjoyed the second entitle The Missing (1,390 ratings.) Like Stephen King she sets her novels in a small town. In The Missing the  town becomes infected by a sentient malevolence which infects everything in the form of a viral infection either immediately killing or changing its host. As I recall this one was a page turner for me.

 

 

 

Travelers Rest by Keith Lee Morris (437 ratings.) Like most horror novels this can be compared to another King novel.  There is a superficial similarity to The Shining in that there is a creepy hotel and unrelenting snow. Reality and sense of self is key to surviving in this atmospheric tale. It isn’t your typical horror novel so, if you choose to read this, give it a chance to stand on its own merits.

Now on to some speculative fiction

Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell (1019 ratings) is a near future ecologically themed hybrid SF/ thriller. I’m a huge sucker for climate themed science fiction and enjoyed the heck out of this one. I believe Buckell is comparatively well known so I was a little surprised that not too many people had picked this one up.

admiral

Admiral by Sean Danker (1,176 ratings. This one hurt my heart. Militaristic science fiction with tons of action, a snarky main character and creepy arachnid beasties. There is a very small cast of characters and I enjoyed watching their relationships develop as they attempted to survive on a deserted planet. Tightly plotted , this is an absolute gem of a rollicking sci fi adventure. Also, I mentioned the snark, right? Loved the Admiral as a character.

 

 

 

Venturing across the aisle to mystery related matters we have The Blue by Lucy Clarke. This is a wee bit of a cheat as it has 2,465 ratings which I feel is too low for this book. Two friends chuck their stagnant lives in London and end up in the Philippines. By chance they end up on a yacht called The Blue. At first idyllic we know something has gone wrong as the story shifts back and forth in time and one of the girls ends up alone. For a change the blurb “…At turns gorgeously scenic and entirely haunting, The Blue is a page-turning thriller about friendship, freedom and wanting to leave the past behind” does the book justice.

seehowsmall

See How Small by Scott Blackwood (1,483 ratings)  is a novel inspired by the true life events yogurt shop murders in Austin TX in which four young girls were killed. The way the story is told will not be for everyone as the story is told non linearly and the reviews are very mixed but I  found it to be a beautiful, eerie, and at times dreamlike book.

 

 

 

My third mystery bent novel is The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon (896 ratings). A young girl is found dead at a boarding school. It is clear that she had recently given birth but the baby is missing. There may or may not be a secret society involved in her death. This may not have grabbed people as it is more character driven than plot driven. While I found the ending to be a bit rushed I still quite enjoyed it. I have not read Donna Tartt’s The Secret History but evidently the Twisted Thread has the same type of vibe.

Finally I’ve got three non genre picks.

coffinslittlehope

Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert (1,355 ratings) This is another small town novel. Our narrator is an elderly writer of obituaries. There are stories within stories and quirky characters galore. I wonder with the success of A Man Called Ove whether this book might receive a better reception in today’s publishing climate.

 

 

 

Outside Boy by Jeanine Cummins (1092 ratings) – This is a coming of age novel about a young boy. Set in the 1950s in Ireland it follows a group of Irish Pavee (gypsies). I loved hearing the story of Christy, the young boy and the language made me swoon. This is just one sample ”… and it seemed to me that we was like seafarers, and the tober was the ocean. We was passing the landlubbers by. We gawped at each other, us from our ships, and them from their shores, but the gap between us was so big we couldn’t cross it. It was high tide or low tide, or whatever tide would prevent us from dropping anchor and rowing out to them, to exchange gifts and brides, gods and diseases.” Please give this one a try.

 

365058maryb1

Mary B : An Untold Story of Pride and Prejudice by Katherine J. Chen (816 ratings). I thought this one might have had higher rating because of die hard Janeites reading and probably disagreeing with the story. Ms. Chen imagines what the life of Mary Bennett would have been like. Set both before and after the events in Pride and Prejudice we get to hear the voice of Mary as she becomes her own person and finally making a place for herself outside the influence of her sisters and of society. I ended up liking Mary very much.

 

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Reading Week in review – It was thrilling

This past week was one for reading fast paced female in jep thrillers. Perfect for the rainy, dreary weather we’ve been having.

woman window

The Woman in the Window was a buddy read to fulfill one of the Popsugar prompts to read a book being made into a movie. The book follows Anna Fox, a once prominent child psychologist who is now housebound, unable to leave due to events that are eventually revealed to us in flashback. Since Anna cannot leave she spends her days pursuing various on-line activities including involvement in a support group for agoraphobia as well as obsessively watching black and white movies. She also obsessively watches her neighbors. One day she sees the new neighbor she had just met stabbed to death. She calls the police only to be written off as a pill abusing alcoholic. Like Jimmy Stewart in Rear window Ann persists in investigating.

This book is, without a doubt, a compulsive read. Chapters are short, the story flows fairly well and I enjoyed the use of the movies to reflect on or give clues to Ann’s thought processes. What I was less thrilled with was yet another first person unreliable alcoholic woman. I understand totally why Anna has issues and she certainly is engaging in her way but I needed to feel more vested in her. Even in her pre traumatic life she seemed to be a bit cold. After reading the book I then learned of the controversy surrounding both the author and the book so while I did enjoy the book at the time I read it I feel  I cannot recommend it because of the potential plagiarism issues. I do find it interesting that the movie version has a still of Amy Adams in a leg brace to more closely echo Jimmy Stewart in Rear Windows. I don’t think this is necessary but it does highlight that the plot is not highly  original.

freefall

Freefall is told in two alternating viewpoints. Allison seems to have finally found a comfortable spot in life. Engaged to a rich man she appears to want for nothing after her previous life as a “hostess” at a bar. When the story opens her fiancées plan has crashed and we learn that she must keep moving because “they” will be after her.

Maggie is her estranged mother who decides to learn more about her missing presumed dead daughter. The two had a falling out after Allison’s father died. Maggies’ part of the story is told in present time only while Allison’s tale alternates between present time and flashbacks of her life pre crash.

This is most definitely a popcorn, escapist read. Like the Woman in the Window the chapters are short and keep the story moving. Alison’s story parcels out just enough information to keep the pages turnings. Both woman were interesting though I could relate more to Maggie and her reasons for not reaching out to her daughter made some sense to me. I really could not understand why Allison chose the career choice she did over contacting her mother for help. Read this one if you need a getaway type of read.

 

 

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