The Visitors

I’ve never read Catherine Burns before so I don’t know if this is a typical novel. The Visitors is disturbing on so many societal levels. Marion Zetland lives with her older brother John in their family home. She seems to idolize him and fear him. She is meek and scared and lives her life like an ugly, overweight middle aged woman who has no social skills would. We get glimpses of John in his prime, youth, and present and the three don’t seem to match up. A cruel older brother in childhood, a successful college student with the world ahead of him, and a strange recluse in middle age.

As details of Marion’s life emerge, the stories are unclear but theres a wake of destruction that follows Marion and John. Their parents are odd and wealthy in an area where that didn’t seem common, but as adults Marion seems to live in squalid conditions and doesn’t seem capable of working. John doesn’t seem much better and much crueler.

As the truth reveals itself slowly, its clear that things are very wrong. But when you think it couldn’t get worse, it does. Creepy and disturbing read. Im not sure if this is a commentary on cold parents, or how childhood exceptions can cause your life to go awry. No matter what, there’s some serious dysfunction and mental health conditions happening in this family.

Read May 2020

Just Between Us

Just Between Us by Rebbecca Drake started out so similarly to Big Little Lies that I was worried I would be disappointed. I don’t know if the allusion was intentional, but Just Between Us deviated from my expectations. Yes, its a group of mothers who share a friendship because their kids attend the same school. Yes, one of them shows signs of domestic abuse and is super secretive about it. But then everything changes. And when we think this small group of suburban moms couldn’t surprise us, holy shit they do. And then again. And again. So many strange twists with the characters, their back stories, and their present circumstance is not what you expect from a group of coffee drinking Pittsburg moms.

Good read.

Read May 2020

Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng shows what its like to live in a perfectly planned world. Shaker Heights, OH is a community that plans everything. Including having duplexes look like single family homes, so they’ll “avoid the stigma of living in a duplex house”. Elena Richardson grew up in Shaker Heights and believes in its purpose and rules, even planning the births of her 4 children. Mia Warren moves in to Elena’s duplex and brings with her a nomadic existence, many art projects and an unknown past.

The teens from the 2 families go to school together and end up spending time at each other’s houses. Its almost as if the “normal” kids end up in the structured Richardson home and the “troubled” kids take turns with Mia. Ng really captures the struggles of teenagers living in a perfect world or a world that doesn’t conform to the Shaker Heights ideal. There are some huge events that lead up to the Richardson home burning to the ground, and it almost feels like the house needed to burn. Nothing is perfect. No one is perfect. And sometimes no matter how hard you plan, your kid burns your house down.

Fun, quick read.

Read March 2020

The Stolen Girls

Any book that deals with human trafficking is bound to have difficult scenes to read. The Stolen Girls, by Patricia Gibney, starts with war crimes and continues with human trafficking with such detail many pages were almost impossible to read. The War in Kosovo had many atrocities, and this novel begins with one that rips at your heart. The absolute disregard for human life is appalling and deserves to have a spot light on it. The crimes that continued after the war and travelled around the world, also need to be spotlighted. There are people whose entire lives have been affected and will continue to cause harm for generations and I think Gibney does a great job showing that.

Detective Lottie Parker is a flawed hero and her family life is a mess. But she’s raising good kids who jump in and try to do the right thing.

A hard book to read with important stories about how war can continue years after the truce is called.

Read March 2020

Pretty, Nasty, Lovely

Pretty, Nasty, Lovely, by Rosalind Noonan tells of Emma Danielski, a Theta Pi at an imaginary university in Oregon. Emma’s a neglected daughter of a musician who’s mother died right when she needed her. She pledged Theta Pi to have a new family around her while at university. When one of her “sister’s” dies by suicide, Emma tries to understand how one of the bitchiest upperclassman threw everything away. Emma soon becomes entangled in the police investigation, and she must figure out who’s been hiding what in the sorority, when it seems not all the sisters are as sisterly as they should be.

Quick, fun read.

Read January 2020

The Shadow District

The Shadow District by Arnaldur Indridason, is a novel set in Iceland during World War II and the present day. A young woman is murdered during World War II. A man in present day is murdered and one of the few possessions he had was a newspaper cutting about the murder over 60 years ago. Are the two events related? How?

This is an interesting murder case, when the detectives are solving 2 seemingly unrelated murders. But its also interesting to learn how World War II modernized Iceland and had many farmers, who’d been living their lives not too different than their ancestors, moving to urban areas due to the war effort. Found women found themselves having more freedom than prior generations could imagine and how that changed Iceland.

Interesting read.

Read November 2019

The Child Finder

I bought this book at a silent auction and really didn’t want it. I assumed someone would outbid me and the author would have been a friend of someone at the auction. But I was wrong.

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld was a great read! Its told by the private investigator Naomi who’s trying to find the missing child, and the missing child herself who tells whats happening to her through fairy tale language. The differences of the narrators makes this a speed read to see what happens next. I really enjoyed the story and the way it was told.

Great read!

Read November 2019