Tuesday, April 17, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - A Noise Downstairs; Linwood Barclay

Every Tuesday Vicki @ I'd Rather Be at the Beach now hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where readers share the first paragraph, maybe two, of a book that they are reading or plan to read soon.  (Started this yesterday, very addictive story.)

A Noise Downstairs; Linwood Barclay
William Morrow - 2018


"Driving along the Post Road late that early October night, Paul Davis was pretty sure the car driving erratically in front of him belonged to his colleague Kenneth Hoffman.  The ancient, dark blue Volvo station wagon was a fixture around West Haven College, a cliche on wheels of what a stereotypical professor drove."

Would you read more?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Everything Here is Beautiful; Mira Lee and I Am, I Am, I Am; Maggie O'Farrell

Pamela Dorman Books/Viking - 2018

Everything Here is Beautiful was an impressive debut novel about sisters and mental illness.

Miranda and Lucia are sisters, Miranda is seven years old and has always been the cautious one, watching out for her ofter unpredictable younger sister Lucia.  After their mother dies of cancer, Lucia begins to hear voices and as her mental illness becomes more intense, she does some outlandish things including marrying someone she hardly knew and later even moving to a different continent.

Can Lucia ever lead a normal life, often refusing to take her meds?  Can her sister or Lucia's husband influence her and keep her safe?

Told in alternating POVs, this is a beautifully written, compelling story about mental illness and family. I will definitely be looking for future offerings from this promising new author.

Rating - 4.5/5 stars

Maggie O'Farrell
Knopf - 2018

This is a different kind of memoir in which the author describes in very short stories her, seventeen near death experiences.  The stories cover an array of experiences beginning when she was just a toddler through adulthood and follow no particular chronological order. It's not a memoir that feels like all doom and gloom and it never felt morbid or depressing. Instead, this was a book that helped me to reflect on my own life and the things that are most precious.

A few of the stories were quite intense and even felt jarring at times while a few others seemed far from threatening to me.  Overall, this book was great reading experience, I loved the quality of the writing.

Rating - 4/5 stars

Friday, April 13, 2018

2 short reviews - Trick; Domenico Starnone and Sunburn; Laura Lippman

Trick; Domenico Starnone
Europa Editions - 2018

Since I absolutely loved, Ties, by D. Starnone, I couldn't wait to read his latest book, another terrific read.

When seventy-five year old Daniele Mallarico is asked to babysit for his 4 year old grandson Mario, he is more than a little reluctant to do so. His daughter Betta and her husband need to attend a 3-day academic conference.  Not only is Daniele recovering from a recent hospital stay but, the babysitting commitment also means returning to his childhood home in Naples, the place of unhappy memories.  
Daniele is a man who enjoys his solitude and his quiet life in Milan. A one time famous illustrator, he is now working on meeting a deadline to illustrate a ghost story by Henry James, however, not wanting to disappoint his daughter, he agrees to stay with little Mario.

The 3-day visit proves to have both comical and touching moments. Mario finds ways to distract Daniele from his work, and sometimes these distractions are welcome taking the grandfather's mind off his childhood and other depressing thoughts.

This was a sweet and moving story about life, ambition, choices made and later life regrets. 

Rating - 4.5/5 stars

Sunburn; Laura Lippman
Harper Collins - William Morrow - 2018

Polly Costello (not her real name, she has many), is an attractive, bright woman with a somewhat wild and dark past.  She's also a woman on the run.  She's just abandoned her loveless marriage and young daughter Jani, while the family was on a beach vacation in Delaware.  Believe it or not, this is not the worst thing that Polly has ever done.  So, who is Polly and why has she spent much of her adult life on the run?

Much of the story is told through the POV of Adam Bosk, a stranger Polly hooks up with in a bar/diner in Bellevue, DE. (population, 2,000) while on the run. But, Adam, has his secrets as well, yet an intense relationship begins. Who is Adam and was his meeting Polly more than just coincidence?

A stand alone novel, tense and dark, had me quickly turning the pages. I loved the strong, cunning, Polly character and, when bad things happened it was hard not to suspect anyone but Polly was involved.  Best categorized as dark noir, this was a very quick, satisfying read.

Rating - 5/5 stars

Thursday, April 12, 2018

2 quick book reviews - Mercury; Margot LIvesey and The Other Girl; Erica Spindler

Mercury; Margot Livesey
Harper - 2016

I started this book over a year ago and finally decided to give it another go. It's a somewhat familiar story.

Donald and Viv Stevenson are a married couple who have drifted apart. Don is an Ophthalmologist, originally from Scotland. Now married to Viv, an American and a  former mutual funds manager, the couple lives in a Boston suburb with their two children.

Viv has given up her job to pursue her real love of horses and, she now manages a stable with her childhood friend.  When a new horse, Mercury, is boarded at the stables, Viv becomes almost obsessed with the majestic beauty, Mercury, sometimes at the financial and emotional expense of her family.  Yet, Viv can't be totally faulted for the couples separateness as Donald has become more and more distant with the recent death of his father.

Mercury, is the story of a marriage and how easy it sometimes is to do one's "own thing" often losing sight of the things that are most important.  There was an air of mystery to this story which kept me interested, yet at times I felt somewhat bored.  I am happy I finally read it.

Rating - 3.5/stars

The Other Girl; Erica Spindler
Macmillan Audio
(library audiobook)

Miranda Radar is a small town police officer in a town where not too much happens.  One day she and her partner are called to investigate the murder of a well liked English professor. The murder appears to be a crime of passion given the gruesome details.

When another man, this time a cop,  is also murdered, a common link seems to be Miranda.  She was involved in incident in her teens, 15 years earlier, which she hoped was long buried and, the dead cop was the individual involved in her case.

The Other Girl is a  story which flashes back from present to Miranda Wilder's teen days, with a few twists along the way.  I thought that this was an okay story and audio, interesting enough to hold my interest on my walks but, it's probably a story that won't stay with me for very long.

Rating 3/5 stars