The Historian

I love this novel by Elizabeth Kostova! I’ve read The Historian multiple times and I always enjoy the scholarly fictional approach to the search for Dracula. Kostova has her characters chasing each other and myths around Europe in different generations and different pairings, but its an exciting ride.

Once again a great, interesting read!

Read November 2018

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The Burning Girl

I read Claire Messud’s The Burning Girl awhile ago, and it didn’t really stick with me. I liked it at the time and there’s a lot of good scenes with Julia and Cassie as they grow and grow apart from middle school to high school. Many of the scenes made me cringe thinking back on my own adolescence and loosing friendships over big and little things. But the end of the novel made me so sad about how people can hide things and even looking back, you can’t know for sure what was happening.

Read October 2018

Educated

Holy crap, this is a phenomenal memoir!! Educated tells how someone who wants and needs education gets it when almost everyone around them is against it. Tara Westover survived a childhood that left members with severe burns, major concussions, probable brain damage, and physical abuse scars.

Westover grew up in a Mormon family whose father valued preparing for the end of the world more than the safety of his family. She grew up as a wild child who believed everything her father said as true and eschewed education and “normalcy”. When she starts venturing into her town and seeing that there’s something else out there, her desire for an education increases. On her own, with no formal training, she is accepted into college. As her education increases she ends up alienating her family. By speaking the truth about their family’s past, her family doesn’t know how to accept her and she doesn’t know if she can pretend it never happened.

Very powerful memoir of the power of family and the power of education. Ultimately, Tara has to decide what truth she can live with and accept the consequences of that decision.

Excellent read!

Read August 2018

Hour of the Wolf

Hakan Nesser allows us insight into the murderer’s mind in the Hour of the Wolf when we see the first accidental murder and the following cover-ups to hide the crime. Alongside the murderer, we follow the investigation led by Chief Inspector Reinhart, Van Veeteren’s successor. When Van Veeteren’s son turns up murdered and left in a ditch, the whole team must work tirelessly to find their mentor’s son’s killer.

The murdered confounds the police since the crimes are not decisively connected. The first murder seems completely unrelated but is the key to understanding what happened and what will happen. Van Veeteren must also come to terms with his son’s past and how it connected to his murder. The key to understanding the crime comes from him with his ability to look into a criminal’s thought process to deduce the reasoning behind the crimes.

Good read.

Read October 2017

 

The Gunslinger

I must preface this with the fact that I like Stephen King’s novels and was excited to read the first of the Dark Tower series based on the recommendation of several people who were rereading the entire series since a movie is coming out. I read the introduction in my copy of The Gunslinger which was written by King himself. In it, he talks about how he feels this was a young novelist’s book written in youth and surrounded by pretentiousness.

There’s not much that happens in this novel, but I imagine that it was written to help set up the remaining series. Not having read any of the other series, I cannot say whether it works for that or not. What I can judge is this novel by itself since that’s how I read it.

The Gunslinger as an independent book, is not exciting and incredibly drawn out. I had a hard time getting through the chapters of nothingness as we follow a character through a bleak world. I cannot tell the exact setting, but I’m guessing that its in the future after something has gone awry in the world. Some of the scenes were gripping but many others were not.

I haven’t decided if I’ll read any further in this series, but if I do, I hope the story is better than this.

Read October 2017

Little Pretty Things

In Lori Rader-Day’s Little Pretty Things, we explore the high school friendship of Juliet and Maddy. While they were the closest friends in high school, Maddy came in first in every track race they ever ran together, until suddenly they stopped running and stopped being friends. 10 years have past since they’ve seen each other and we meet Juliet in a dumpy motel on the outskirts of their hometown. She dropped out of college when her father died and she seemed to have lost all her drive and ended up in this dead end job. When in walks Maddy, beautiful, wealthy, and makes Juliet question all of her life’s choices up to this point. She sees in Maddy what she could have had, and once again she’s in second place to Maddy.

Or is she? Maddy is found murdered at the motel and Juliet is intent of finding who killed her former best friend. Juliet ends up tangled in a web of deceit that makes her realize that coming in 2nd place might be the better spot to have ended up. The entire town’s facade is ripped off as Juliet and Courtney, an investigating officer and classmate of Juliet and Maddy’s, uncover abuse that the town has been living with for decades.

A compelling read and a cautionary tale for teenage girls looking to find their way in this world on their own.

Read July 2017

 

Revolver

What a great novel! Duance Swierczynski ties so many different things together in Revolver. This is a story about race relations in Philadelphia in the 1960’s, the evolution of criminal science, how family history affects everyone and their choices, overcoming racism in a race-seperated world, police officers relationships, Polish and Black culture in America, and so many relationships that are tied together between two different families.

Revolver is set in 3 different time periods and Swierczynski rotates between the 3 with 3 different narrators for each. In 1965, we meet Stan Walchek, a police officer, and hear his story that will lead up to his death. In 1995, we meet Jim Walchek, Stan’s son and also a police officer, who in addition to another major crime investigation, he is trying to revenge his father and partner’s murder. In 2015, we have Audrey Kornbluth, Jim’s adopted daughter and a Criminal Science student, who begins researching Stan’s murder as part of her final project. In each generation, intertwined are the stories of George Wildey, Stan’s partner; George Wildey Junior, George’s son; and Lieutenant Ben Wildey, George’s grandson. The Walchek and Wildey’s stories bounce off each other in ways that even the characters don’t know about. These families have been connected to one another for decades and both have police as well as criminals in them.

This was such an enjoyable book to read and to experience an intermingling of cultures during a turbulent time in American history.

Read April 2017