Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Silent Wife

by A.S.A. Harrison

This novel has been compared to Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, but I believe that is only because they are both psychological thrillers told from alternating husband/wife perspectives and not a reflection of their style. Without spending this whole review comparing the two novels, I'll just say that The Silent Wife lacks the creepiness factor and the page turning quality of Gone Girl.

The crux of the story deals with the psychological effects of a couple in the process of separating after being together about 20 years. Jodi never thought marriage was important until her live-in boyfriend Todd decides to leave her for a younger woman and she discovers that she has no claim on any assets since they never married. Todd is a philanderer whose womanizing ways come to a screeching halt when he gets caught up with a college girl. The story is laid out in a very straight forward manner, which doesn't lend to surprises in plot twists. Even though you could see it coming, the end is interesting and unique, but it does leave a lot of unanswered questions.

If you are interested in psychology you would definitely like this book, as it goes into great detail analyzing the thoughts and motives of each character and giving lots of information on perspectives of particular psychologists like Adler and Freud and Jung. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

by Michelle Hodkin

Last Fall my husband forwarded a blog post titled "9 Books Scarier Than Any Horror Movie" and this was one on the list. A few of those listed I had already read, and honestly they wouldn't have made my scariest book list. The same goes for The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. While I did not find it scary, I will recognize that the premise does have potential to be, a teenage girl discovers that her fear combined with her anger are dangerous and deadly weapons and she is racking up quite a hit list! The Unbecoming is book one of a trilogy and regarding premise, this book details Mara's coming to recognize and understand her unusual gift. I'll also give credit to the cliff-hanger at the end of the book, which was a little twist to lead in to the next story.

Unfortunately, this book is 10% plot and 90% teenage drama/romance. I debated whether I wanted to finish this one, but went ahead and breezed through, which was easy to do as it is also very dialogue driven. I think if you were a fan of the Twilight books you might also like this series, just not for me. And if you're looking for scary: It, The Omen, Silence of the Lambs I could go on....

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Prisoner of Heaven

by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

After the first two books in this series, The Prisoner of Heaven was a little bit of a let down. It wasn't really a story in its own right, but rather a connection for the previous two books and a lead-in to the next one. While you could read either The Shadow of the Wind or The Angel's Game first, you would need to have read both of them for this story to make sense.

No new characters appear in The Prisoner of Heaven, which carries on the story of Daniel Sempere and David Martin and the connection each has to Fermin Romero de Torres. The bulk of this short novel concerns Torres and Martin and their time in prison, which ultimately is The Count of Monte Cristo revisited.

If you've enjoyed the previous books, this one does have the same tone and is a very quick read. Besides, it will be necessary for the final.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The White Queen

by Philippa Gregory

This book killed two birds with one stone, it met one of the reading challenge requirements and it has been sitting on my bookshelf for about two years. If you've read any other of Gregory's novels, The White Queen is exactly what you expect, interesting history presented from a woman's perspective of that era. And while she's not the most gifted writer, she has quite an imagination in bringing the characters to life.

This book is the first in a series called the Cousins Wars (aka The Wars of the Roses) as told from the perspective of Elizabeth Woodville, wife of King Edward IV. Many believed the marriage between these two, a Plantagenet and a York, would bring peace back to England, and maybe so, but it was short-lived. This book covers the time from Edward IV's coronation and his private marriage to Elizabeth beyond his death to the disappearance of his two heirs in the Tower and ending just before the battle between Richard III (Edward's brother and successor) and Henry Tudor.

The book gets long-winded and a bit confusing since so many of these people insisted on having the same names! All the Edward's and Richard's and Henry's and Thomas' are hard to keep straight. If you liked The Other Boleyn Girl, you'll like this book.

I heard this series had been turned into a BBC tv show, but haven't seen it. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Life After Life

by Kate Atkinson

The idea of this book is pretty intriguing. A baby girl is born, she dies, she is reborn and learns from her previous life how to stay alive the next time, only to encounter a new death and be reborn again, and so goes Life After Life. I give kudos to this concept and therefore cut some slack in my review, because I like a well written book that piques my interest.

As you can imagine, the beginning of the story is rather repetitive and after a while borders on mundane. But then about midway through Ursula becomes an adult at the outset of WWII and her retreaded lives become quite interesting as she tries not only to keep herself alive, but perhaps alter history. Atkinson provides a lot of details of life in London during the war and situates her character in some unique circumstances.

Overall I liked the book, but I did wonder to what end was all this living and dying? In each life Ursula remembered some things from her previous life, which she then used to alter her next life, but she was never able to put it all together and get it just right. Then again, maybe that's the point?

At times re-reading the life story got old and the end was a little confusing then suddenly it was finished, but I'd say it's worth the read. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Six Years

by Harlan Coben

It has been years since I read anything from Coben, I think early on in book club, could it be six years? Haha. Regardless, it may be that long before I read another. Not because it was bad per se, but because it was meh. Six Years is how long ago Jake Fischer watched the love of his life marry someone else, and now that someone else has died and Jake wants to find Natalie and rekindle that fire. The only problem is that she seems to have disappeared. The story is about finding her.

Here's the thing, Six Years is a fast read, with one action event leading straight into the next, which keeps the pages turning. But the story is so predictable and weakly developed that you can breeze through this brain unengaged. If you want a little mystery entertainment where you don't have to concentrate or wonder what's coming, this is the perfect book.