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.

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.

 

 

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld ~ Fiction Book Review

18142324This book! Powerful prose oozing with ominousness, the pages practically sticky with sinisterness! The timeline was a little jumpy, disconcerting at first, but the pattern is quickly established and I soon developed a strange appreciation for it. The chapters alternate present and past, with the present moving forward, the past lapsing deeper and deeper into days gone by.

The reader is filled with anticipation while being unable to pinpoint the cause of suspense, knowing only that menace lurks somewhere in the shadows nearby. It was literary without being dull or boring, the refined edges sharp enough to cut yourself on. I can’t say I understood all of the slang, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the main character, an Aussie living on a remote island off the coast of Britain. A quick read that portrays a perfect example of how to break the rules of grammar the right way. Impactful writing, eloquent imagery, a beautiful work of art. 5 stars!

 

Descent by Tim Johnston ~ Fiction Book Review

wpb12This was a good book with a compelling plot, but as a whole, it failed to draw me in and hold my attention as it should have. The characters were interesting, but I didn’t identify with or feel anything for any of them. The writing was good, at times beautiful, but was overly ornate, detracting from the story and slowing the pacing. I never felt suspense or an overwhelming need to find out what happens. The timeline skipped around and was at times hard to follow.

I don’t believe that there was anything necessarily wrong with this book – I just failed to connect with it. I enjoy elegant prose and I enjoy intense suspense and thrillers, but mixing the two together is a delicate balance that is hard to pull off. The end verdict is that it’s not for me, but it may be for you. Four stars.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green ~ Fiction Book Review

wpb11I don’t often read YA books, but I’m wondering if I should change that, because every one I read turns out to be an unexpected delight. Although I haven’t seen the movie, I heard enough about this book – both good and bad – to be familiar with the general plot. Sick girl meets sick boy, romance and tragedy ensue.

I knew I was in for a depressing ride, but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Although a heavy tale, there was something light and fluffy about the wisdom I took away from this book. The writing was beautiful in its simplicity, the dialogue was catchy and engaging, and, as a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed the story.

Was it realistic? That was one of the biggest complaints that I had heard going in. No, it wasn’t entirely realistic. But neither is Harry Potter, and I’ve heard far less complaints there. The other major issue other readers (all adult) of this book have shared with me is that they couldn’t identify with the characters. As an adult who is not dying of cancer, I didn’t try. I just accept the book for what it was, and I feel like I was reward with an engaging story in return. Five stars.

Gone for Good by Harlan Coben ~ Fiction Book Review

bookHarlan Coben is a best selling author. He is also a prolific writer. So why haven’t I read anything by him before???

The book was immediately good. It was well written, the pacing was spot on, the characters were believable, and more important, like-able. But I just couldn’t get settled in. At one point I even thought to myself, ‘This is a very guy book,’ which is absurd, because there are tons of ‘guy’ books that I love. Then I realized – there’s something about the way this book is written that is intimate. Not in a romantic sense, but in a the writer considers you a friend way, which I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced before. Once I was able to put my finger on it, I settled comfortably into the story. (Apparently, my stranger danger alarm from childhood is still ridiculously high.)

I really enjoyed this book and will definitely read more by Coben. I’m not even going to touch on the plot because there were a couple of twists that I never suspected, which rarely ever happens. I love being blindsided!!! More, please. Highly recommend. 5 stars.

Faithless by Karin Slaughter ~ Fiction Book Review

book20.jpgKarin Slaughter is a #1 internationally bestselling author of mystery and crime with over twenty novels under her belt – and yet, surprisingly,  I’ve never read anything she’s written until now. I jumped right in with #5 in the “Grant County” series, and quickly fell into stride – she includes enough of the backstory from past books in the series that I never felt lost or struggling to catch up.

I enjoyed the plot more than the characters, but this may be due to picking up a book in the middle of a series – I didn’t ‘grow’ with them from the start. The writing is fast paced, easy, and enjoyable. The subject matter is hard, not as brutal as Mo Hayder, but definitely violent. The book left me feeling satisfied. Should I stumble upon another book by this author in my travels, I won’t hesitate to read it. Five stars.

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult ~ Fiction Book Review

book19Another good book by dependable author Jodi Picoult. Not amazing, but a good story with solid characters and a well thought plot that makes the reader both think and feel. As usual, Picoult picks a controversial subject, in this instance a wrongful birth lawsuit for a child born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bone disease), and argues the case from every possible angle by everyone involved.

It’s basically the same formula she used in My Sister’s Keeper, although I seem to have developed more of a connection with those characters. Still, this was a good book, and I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a book that makes you think twice about your own gut reaction to a moral dilemma – it might be more complicated than you think.

The Gathering by Anne Enright ~ Fiction Book Review

book15The Gathering by Irish author Anne Enright was the 2007 winner of the Man Booker Prize. Reading the book eight years after, I’m a little late to the game, but I figured I was in for some elegant prose and maybe a few out of date pop culture references. What I was really in for, it turns out, was a huge surprise.

There’s no doubt about Anne Enright’s talent as a writer. Her words evoke imagery that is both beautiful and grotesque. But that’s pretty much the sum of my understanding of this book – I get the words, but not the point. This is one of those books that you either love or hate.

The narrator of the book is unsure of anything. She takes the reader on a ride, tells us it didn’t really happen, then that it might have happened, then that it probably didn’t, and on and on, one instance after another. This seems to be the character’s way of working through some psychological mayhem that she is experiencing; but then again, it may not be. It may be, but probably not. And on and on.

At the end of the novel, I was left wondering what I had just read. Which is the way some people like their books, written along the delicate line where literature crosses the line into art, subject to each individual’s interpretation. Which I guess explains how 39 chapters of semi-sensical musings on death, sex and religion equate a prestigious literary award.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult ~ Fiction Review

book9I picked up this book not knowing anything about it but the author. I had no idea about the plot or the significance of 19 minutes. I was pleased to find myself immersed in a controversial subject ripped from the headlines – something that Picoult does well.

Jodi Picoult is a storyteller. I love the way she writes, the way she puts herself (and the reader) in the shoes of such a wide array of characters. I especially love it when she pushes you into the uncomfortable position of considering circumstances from a point of view you’d rather not experience.

The good news, besides really enjoying this book, is that I finally made it through a Jodi Picoult book without crying! The bad news is that once I finish one of her books and pick up something written by another author, it tends to pale in comparison because Picoult has mastered the trifecta of fiction writing – the plot, pacing, and emotion always work together to create a dynamic vehicle that drives the reader to race through the book, unable to put it down.