Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard ~ Fiction Book Review

162085I’ve heard about the TV show, Pretty Little Liars, and while I’ve never seen an episode, I have humored the thought that in another life (younger, more time, if I knew what channel it was on) it might be a show that I’d watch. I had no idea that it was based on a book series, though, until I found it at my local Friends of the Library book sale for a quarter.  What follows are my honest thoughts about this book. (Don’t judge.)

I wasn’t particularly impressed by the writing. I was quite worried to discover that I was reading about 7th graders, then quite relieved to find the characters are only that young for the first chapter. These girls are much naughtier than the adult women in the books I normally read. (Not that I wasn’t this age myself and that I don’t realize what goes on – I claim the 5th on ever misbehaving myself in any way – but I was slightly shocked that mothers let their daughters read this, and could not decide at what age I’d expose my daughter, if I had one, to this book.) I didn’t connect with any of the characters, and was almost through the book by the time I was able to keep them straight.

BUT – I’m hooked. I have to know what happens. Who is A? What does she have in store for these girls? I couldn’t sleep after finishing this book because I was so busy listing suspects and scenarios to identify and/or explain A. I’ll admit it – I felt myself blushing when my husband looked at the cover of this book, then at me with a questioning look – but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this series is my newest guilty pleasure. 4.5 stars.

 

 

 

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris ~ Fiction Book Review

26050845This book was suspenseful. It kept my attention, my eyes racing over the pages so quickly that at times I thought I smelled smoke. I enjoyed the story very much, but there was something off, something lacking.

I can’t quite pinpoint what kept this book from being 5 stars for me. There was a lot of telling versus showing, which most writers will agree is one of those criticisms that make your eyes roll completely out of your head and onto the floor, but there’s merit in the comment. If left unbalanced, the rhythm of the text morphs into something that reads like a grocery list. It lacks sophistication, creating an, “and then, and then, and then,” feeling.

The plot was good, and I’m not one of those readers that has problems suspending belief, but there were some things that rubbed me the wrong way, like a tag abrading the back of my neck. It felt uncomfortable and wrong and I just couldn’t buy the characters’ actions. All that said, I really did enjoy the book. Parts of it were chillingly fresh and horrific! Had I read it another week, a different day, perhaps I would have rated it 5 stars instead of 4.45. A quick read and worth the time you’ll spend with it.

Borderliners by Peter Hoeg ~ Fiction Book Review

429631Although published in the 1980s, this has all the makings of a modern psychological thriller. Orphans accepted into a private, elite school for unknown reasons, some type of ‘master plan’ conspiracy, the fight against the ‘establishment’. Yet, it’s so much more.

The struggle to grow up and survive, the yearning to understand, the desire for love, the need for family – the themes run deep in this fictional story that hints at autobiography.

Peter’s growing obsession with time is the underlying current that flows throughout the book, finally surging with the force of a tsunami to the forefront at the conclusion. The science of the study of time, the history of clocks, the physics of past, present and future is fascinating – but it detracts from the story, overshadowing it. Originally written in Danish, I can’t help but wonder what, if anything, may have been lost in translation. There was a lot going on in this book. A bit too much, for my taste. I found it a touch overwhelming. Very good, but a lot to handle. 4 stars.

 

The Trespasser by Tana French ~ Fiction Book Review

28273664Sometimes, when you wait for a book long enough, it’s impossible for it to live up to the expectations you’ve developed. I think that happened here. I loved the book, loved the story, but when considered against Tana French’s other books, it paled a little in comparison.

In French’s characteristic style, she’s deep inside her character’s head. The character is well developed. She knows who this person is. But I almost got the impression that she didn’t like this character as much as the others whose point of view she’s written from in the past. Maybe it’s me, though – maybe my interpretation is skewed.

Another thing missing from this book is the hint of the supernatural. Please don’t misunderstand, French never goes fantasy  or sci-fi or horror, and maybe supernatural is the wrong word to use, but there’s usually a finely woven thread of otherness, the strange or unexplainable, that creates an added depth to her work. Still, a 5 star book that I recommend to my fellow mystery lovers.

 

 

Ironweed by William Kennedy ~ Fiction Book Review

8017741I love the endless novels out there that say what they mean, without having to dissect themes and interpret the underlying meaning of the work. I did the required work in English class, wading through weighty tomes full of many layers and hidden meanings. But . . . it’s possible that I am becoming a lazy reader. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does beg the question – what am I missing? Luckily, there’s someone out there, call her my guardian book angel, who watches out for my  literary soul by dropping books of merit into my path.

Ironweed (actually a real plant, I looked it up) is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel written by William Kennedy in 1983, during what might have been the tale end of the age of the ‘great American novel’. Is it full of themes? Yes. Does it have depth? Absolutely. Is it a mind numbing, soul crushing vortex of words that takes the fun out of reading? Not at all. It’s a story of struggle and hardship and reality and redemption. A novel that will make you think. It might even make you grow a little. It’s also completely painless. I enjoyed my time with this book. 5 stars.