I haven’t read an Alexander McCall Smith is absolute ages! It may have been close to five years, I went through a phase of reading his stuff (and it was great with all the Edinburgh references). I got this one on discount on the Kindle, and it is quite an unusual work. There are 5-6 old photographs and what he tries to do is to create a short story out of each one.
In true Smith style, there is a strong central theme, in this case ‘love’ and the author manages to weave the different kinds of love into the lives of the various characters. What I loved about the book was how the characters all seem very ‘everyday.’ They could be the people who sat next to you on the bus or served you at the till. It really brings to life the concept of everyone has a story and when we meet someone or interact with them, it really is two personal story arcs meeting briefly before diverging again.
In particular, I loved the richeness of the first story and how it presents a snapshot of the life of an ex-nun. It was beautifully crafted from top to tail and ends in a bit of a flourish. Very enjoyable reading – I may be getting into that phase again!
This book by Flynn Berry was a quick read. I picked it up because it was on a list with Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. The novel is about a girl who is about to go visit her sister, but when she gets there, finds her sister and her dog both brutally murdered. I enjoyed how the author had described the crime scene very graphically, I do like that in crime novels, it sets a strong scene.
Turns out, the sister Rachel had also been brutally attacked in the past (and nearly died) but the perpetrator was never caught. The book is then the protagonist’s attempts to find her sister’s killer. And in true, crime fiction style, there are cops with personal issues of their own. Rachel’s past begins to surface, and we find that not a lot of people knew many things about her and many suspects with strong motives begin to emerge.
Overall, the book did not impress me. I found the revelations from the past rather predictable (perhaps I have been reading too much in the genre)! I also found the ending rather bland. The initial excitement of the plot did not carry through and the repeat crime sub-plot quickly lost steam. So I’d give this one a miss if I were you, but it isn’t a very long read either way, so it was okay.
Last day of the year, last review for 2017. Impossible Depths is the second book in the Silver Lake series, following Stronger Within. This book continues on with the story of artist Lori and her now fiance Jake, the rock star. I lingered over this book for months as I was reading it off and on, amidst other books. Also, it was nice and familiar to dip into this one as I felt I knew Lori and Jake like friends.
Lori and Jake are newly engaged and very much in love. The band is doing well and both are happy in their jobs. This is one thing I love about this series, it shows characters doing actual work and spending real time doing real things, which is sometimes missing from romance novels. But despite all the success and love, tragedy lurks just around the corner. With plans being derailed completely and many hearts broken, this books packs in an emotional punch.
However, one of the things that annoyed me is how Jake calls Lori ‘lil’ lady’. Something about it ticks me off, but that is a personal thing. Overall. McCallum is a more mature writer in this book and the balance between the storylines and the sub-plots is great. I really enjoyed this one and look forward to reading the third book in the series.
Thank you all for reading in 2017. Hope you all have some downtime and the company of family and friends during this festive season. See you all in 2018 for some more books, reviews and recommendations! Happy New Year 🙂
It seems to me like after the success of Gone Girl followed by The Girl on the Train, psychological thrillers are everywhere. Not a bad thing, I say, I have read a few this year and for the most part, really enjoyed them. In particular, I See You was particularly good. On a short trip, I picked up this one, which is about a mother’s relationship with his son girlfriend, who she doesn’t really approve of, but cannot quite put her finger on why, save for a mother’s intuition.
The plot is quite straightforward, and it preys on the stereotypical weaknesses of a mother – the inability to see any other woman take centre stage in her son’s life. The writing is goo, and Frances does a good jobs of setting up the characters backstories – I enjoyed that. However, I wouldn’t really call this book a psy thriller because it was a bit too predictable. It made me root for the good guy (woman) and it was quite evident who was being played. As the plot progressed, I knew what was going to happen and there were only a couple of surprises on the way.
As a passing read, this is okay. I also got it very cheap on the Kindle because I had a discount code. But if paying full price, I would probably give this one a miss for now. Having said that, the ratings on Goodreads are on the higher side, so my caveat is that it may have just been me!
I started reading some of Matt Freese’s work a few years ago and so I jumped at the chance to read his latest – a memoir and a sort-of-sequel. I enjoy reading memoirs because I like peoples’ personal stories, there is so much more to each one of us than what is evident on the surface.
So it is with Matt. At 76 and getting on a bit now, he worries about the usual stuff, health, running out of time to do things, reconciling with his estranged child. What runs through the entire book, however, is a deep need to understand his emotions and using a mix of logic, history and philosophy. I enjoyed the interludes where he references the great words of Krishnamurthi. It continues to surprise me that it is hard to find reviewers who will review Holocaust literature. I believe it requires a special type of spineless to shy away from the horrors of history. How will we move forward as a species if we do not learn from our past collectively?
It is nice to be taken through a long life, but through its most salient parts – I still find it hard to compute what a long life holds – so many heartbreaks and smiles, tears and love, distances and horizons. And of course, dreams. Freese brings them out beautifully through his words, as in his previous works (here, here, and here). At times, the prose is a bit halting in this one, but it all lends itself well to this short work that hold the substance of a tome.
I recommend this book, especially as this time of the year is a wonderful time for reflection and looking back. To say the least, Matt is ‘felt’. It is available here.
Stronger Within is Coral McCallum’s debut novel, the first book in the Silver Lake series. Set in Delaware, it follows the lives of Lori (a.k.a Mz Hyde) an artist cum investor and Jake, a guitarist in a rock band. A chance meeting occurs and one thing leads to another as an unlikely couple come together.
The author takes her time. The build up of the characters is very slow, it is at life speed. So events happen at a very realistic speed but until an important thread in the background is revealed, I have nothing to go on. So the first third of the book is a bit slow going. But as the pace picks up and we follow the characters’ individual and collective journeys, the plot unravels masterfully.
In particular, I really enjoyed the rock band’s travels. Because they perform across the US as well as overseas, it adds an element of adventure to the novel. There is a great deal of detail in every scene and the writing is very fluid and easily read.
So it ticked a lot of boxes for me. Especially as the nights have started to draw in on this northern burgh ever so much, this book filled quite a few evenings with a big mug of tea – recommended!
I had heard a lot about this book so when I chanced upon it, I picked it up. It was meant to be a travel read, and it is a good size and weight for that. So if you are going away on holiday this summer and want something interesting, I would recommend this book.
The plot hinges on Dr. David Henry, who lies to his wife and tell her that one of their twins, a daughter, was stillborn. In reality, she had Down’s and he gave her away to the nurse to put in a home. The nurse Caroline, couldn’t bear it however, and decides to raise the child herself. The plot is a bit too iffy. There are too many coincidences and the fact that Mrs Henry is totally obsessed in her grief but manages to mother her son and have a life anyway (however grudgingly) is a bit strange. She also questions her husband surprisingly less in the initial year after her daughter’s death, even though she cannot get past it.
But, but, once you get past all that, and assume the plot is a given, the portrayal of the fragility of relationships is actually brilliant. The slow decay of the Henry marriage, the dysfunctional family unit for Paul – the surviving child, the evolving relationship of Mrs Henry and her sister, the secret between Caroline and Dr Henry, and the struggles of Caroline with her ‘dauhter’ Phoebe are all excellently handled. Life can sometimes be stranger than fiction and the various people in their individual journeys are well-bound by this strange secret – a disabled child.
The treatment of peoples’ past as well is nicely written and you can see how each character’s past shapes their thoughts and behaviour. This is generally always true for good books, but this one is particular was standout. Down’s children as well are very precocious in some ways and through Phoebe, those sentiments are nicelyconveyed. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I can see why there was a hype about it.