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Category: The Book Blog

Book reviews so you don’t have to go to Goodreads to get my opinion. Some of these were featured on Sevier County Public Library System’s page as part of the Readers Advisory.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

If you’re one of those readers who has to have a character you identify with, or at least like, this book is not for you. Come to think of it, Gillian Flynn is not for you.  The book dragged for me in the middle, hence the four stars. Otherwise, probably her best one. What a tangled web of deceit she weaves! But beyond depressing.  What is it with these families in Kansas murdered in their house? Maybe it’s just because I finished In Cold Blood the other day. I do appreciate Gillian Flynn for giving us answers and tying up loose ends…even if they aren’t the answer or the ending you want…

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

It terrifies and saddens me that I almost lived a life without Neil Gaiman. He is most wonderful and gifted and unique and I was thisclose to never knowing. If you need a vacation for your brain, if you want to slip into something more comfortable, if you’re tired of the pretentious books with parallel meanings and readers’ guides (why can’t they just say what the want to, for the LOVE), if you can’t stand the thought of another book hailed as a “gripping suspenseful novel with a twist, the likes of which have been unseen since Gone Girl” THEN READ NEIL GAIMAN. On second thought, just read him for the love of reading. Read for the childhood you think you’ve lost. It’s just there, around the bend. Step in. Step through the wall. Perhaps you’ll meet your hearts desire. Maybe you’ll catch a star.     Buy it here I don’t know why it’s not showing the picture….it’s a pretty fantastic cover. There’s a unicorn in this book, for Pete’s sake. A UNICORN…

Euphoria by Lily King

It’s a little embarrassing how much I loved this book, most especially after I was so sure I was going to hate it. Nothing like being wrong. First of all, THAT COVER. *stars in my eyes* I haven’t figured out how to do all the fancy italics and emojis on here, so you’ll just have to inject your own enthusiasm and implied meanings. This book took me by surprise by how good it was and, of course, the sexual overtones that popped up out of nowhere that ended up being the entire premise of the novel.  If you make it through the first chapters (which seem totally out of sync with the rest of the book…not sure what purpose they served) you’ll be gone up the river with them by page 50. I suppose I’ve never given much thought to anthropologists and what their work encompasses, besides being completely filthy all the time. Ick. Not for me. And a struggle for Bankston, our male protagonist, as well: “‘And I am bad luck in the field, utterly ineffective. I couldn’t even manage to kill myself properly.’” But he does get sick, as he says this. It’s almost like he brought he omen on himself, as no mention has been made to his poor health. “The spangles returned at that moment from all sides, and my eyeballs ached suddenly and painfully. The…

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Get it here. You’re gonna want to, trust me. Of course I’ve known of Rebecca for years. I’ve had it on my TBR (that’s “to be read” for those of you not down with fanatical reader lingo) list for over a year. I was going for it last year when I changed my mind to Jane Eyre for whatever reason. They’re similar, in that they’re both that of the Gothic Fiction variety, but that’s where the similarities end. This book gets right down to it, and there’s less of the fawning over the dashing Maxim de Winter, thanks be to God. Not that there’s less love, there’s just much more compelling drama and livelier characters. Mrs. Danvers took shape in my mind immediately as a former coworker of mine, Judy. I won’t go into that here. I don’t want to say too much, you should read it and wonder as I did. I had no trouble at all envisioning Manderley, the author is quite talented (obviously) at spinning a vivid portrait of the glorious estate. I wanted to sit under the chestnut tree, and walk along the shingle beach, and eat a scone in front of the library fireplace while rubbing Jasper’s silken ears. Yes, I would like to send for a new frock from London. And freshen those flowers while you…

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Well, it took me a month but I did it. I listened to all the people who said I would love it, and indeed I did, once I got past the initial hump. These big books…they gotta hook you and drag you under. I channeled my reserves, like when I committed to The Goldfinch and The Witching Hour.  This book literally has it all. While I would still probably classify it as chick lit, there’s something for everyone, if you keep an open mind. Time travel, sci-fi, fantasy, suspense, war and adventure, romance, and religion. It’s a lot to put yourself through. I read the majority in three days’ time, and I’m feeling the exertion.  But I’m glad it’s behind me and i can gush with the rest of the population, “It’s so good!!” Because it is. And Jamie Fraser is most definitely worth sacrificing hot baths and penicillin for…

The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck

This is a book about a lie that never ends. I like almost all books set in the south, so it’s no surprise I enjoyed this one (makes me wonder why it took me three and a half years to finally reading it after I purchased it). I wonder if I would have rated it five stars if I hadn’t read it on the coattails of The Stranger in The Woods, but I don’t think so. There were a few discrepancies that I find hard to ignore, mostly with the weather. I find it hard to believe that it was chilly enough on Christmas Eve in Florida to warrant a fire. And the heat is barely mentioned, although I know for a fact Florida is positively stifling in the summertime. And Lord at the bugs. But anyway. The book lags for the first third, and to me, didn’t become truly compelling until about halfway. However, don’t write it off because it’s worth a read. And it goes fast! I love how the maid is named Blanche, I can see her clearly. I love how Miz Ora Beckworth grows and develops even as she ages outwardly. I absolutely ADORE her sharp tongue. I wish I had been witty enough to use her one-liner: “Nice day, idnnit?” “It was.” She taps all the Southernisms right on the head, right down to the closeness of families…

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

Here’s the requisite amazon link I love it when I finish a book in a day. I could have read it in a few hours, had I been fully committed and devoted, but Easter. Not that my family is unaccustomed to me having my nose stuck in a book the majority of the time, I do try to pretend to be in the mix of things on holidays. I always read the one star reviews on Amazon. Always. I find they are more honest than the gushing five stars. Also, you can tell by the grammar and spelling whether their opinions are valid. Additionally, a surprising number of people don’t seem to understand the star system, or perhaps they get too excited and hit one when they mean to choose five. Whatever. The disparaging reviews came from two types of people: Gossip mongers who read primarily tabloids who found the research about hermits through the years tedious, and people who thought the book was an invasion of privacy. ………the question begs to be asked: Sooooooo why did you buy it? Obviously Mr. Finkel planned to capitalize on the story. He may have donated some funds to Christopher’s family, but from what I read, they would have instantaneously rejected it. I found the book fascinating, as I knew I would after coming upon an article about him on Facebook last year. From that moment I had hoped a book would come out…

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

Buy Me on Amazon (But if I were you I’d rent it from the library….I am a horrible salesman) One thing’s for sure…I would have been a crappy secretary in 1952. I mean, let’s face it, I’m not the greatest in 2017. My typing “skills”, be that as they may, is my left hand does almost all the work, and I peck with my right index finger occasionally. And I have to look, unless I’m typing STRAW or “Thank you for your interest. Please see the attached quote Brian prepared for you. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.” because I have typed those words thousands of times. My hair is constantly a mess, no matter if it’s tied up in a knot or down. The only time I wear gloves is if it’s in the single digits. My back is rarely ramrod straight, and it would never occur to me to cross my ankles. Demure is not in my vocabulary. The only thing I would excel at is my telephone etiquette, as I’ve never had trouble with volume 🙂 The deafest customer never had a problem hearing me at Co-op. All that aside, this book had great premise, but came off reading like a sixth grade romance novel. Neither story was plausible, as she strove to hard for parallelism between Darby in…

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

You like twisty plots? Warped characters? Page turning suspense? Then this is what you need to pick up. Right freaking now. You can’t figure it out, I promise you that. What an insane read. Unbelievable. This is the best book I’ve read in forever. And it’s drawn out and it makes you want to scream at Louise for not handling things differently; a kind of “Don’t go in the basement with the guy wearing the hockey mask” type of helpful advice, but you won’t be able to put it down, I assure you that. And you wonder…as far fetched as it sounds…could it happen? Don’t the best books make you wonder that? Make you second guess all the things you think you know? I mean, if it rocked Stephen King’s world, isn’t it good enough for you? And look, the author is wonderfully private:  Everybody’s talking about the ending. Don’t you want to know?? Buy it here NOW &nbsp…

The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg

When I was in seventh grade, I had a teacher who could be described as a feminist…or as close as you could be to one in the hills of Tennessee in the early 90’s. She made us watch “Not Without My Daughter” starring Sally Fields. Long story short, Sally is married to a Persian man who wants to take his family to his homeland for a few weeks for a vacation. Sally has her reservations, but eventually caves. Once they get there-Surprise!- he reveals he isn’t leaving, which was his plan all along, of course. She has to wear the head scarves and submit to his every will or risk beatings and all the worst things imaginable. She tries to leave and finds it impossible to take her daughter. High drama. So this book is set in the same type of environment: strong women trying to escape brutal, illiterate, powerful men. And they will do ANYTHING for a few moments’ reprieve…including, but not limited to, dressing like a man. And who can blame them? These girls are frequently sold-that’s right-SOLD to the highest bidder (often their first cousin) for a sum of a few thousand dollars or some desolate dusty desert land by the time they are fourteen. Earlier, if they achieve puberty. And many of them try to hide that little nugget from their family in fear of what comes next: you are…