My Return Review Extravaganza!
Well ladies and gentlemen, I am back at last. I took a bit of a break from the site; I had started a new job and was having some trouble getting adjusted to the new schedule (I am not a morning person). Now that I’ve been at it a few months, however, my brain is starting to allow coherent thought once again. I’m not sure if I will have the same Monday-Friday posting schedule that I used to have, but I will work my hardest to post a few times a week at least.
One of the things that I did during my break from the site is something very important: I read. I read before work, on my lunch break, and for a few hours when I got home. I’ve managed to churn through quite a few books in that time, so I thought I’d try something a little different in terms of reviews. Rather than write a long review on each book, I’m going to combine them all into one mega-review and write just a few lines on each. Some of them may eventually get their own full review, but we will see. Alright, let’s get started.
All of Jasper Fforde’s novels for adults- the entire Thursday Next series (books 1-7), both books in the Nursery Crime series, and Shades of Grey (which has nothing to do with 50 Shades of Grey, before I get any sassy comments to the contrary)
Ahh Jasper Fforde, my new love. My only regret is that I took so long to discover his books, because they are magically, wonderfully weird. He combines high-brow literary references, random absurdity, crass innuendo, and groanfully wonderful pun-play in a way that makes him impossible to compare to any other author. It is no wonder that he has garned enough followers over the years to warrant his own festival (the Fforde Fiesta) in which devotees of Fforde gather to celebrate and recreate the worlds of his many works. If what I’ve described so far sounds good to you, I’d recommend that you start with the first book in the series, The Eyre Affair, in which the heroine of the series, Thursday Next, has to work to foil a super villain who has kidnapped Jane Eyre, leaving the future of the novel Jane Eyre in jeopardy. Yes, I am aware how strange that sounds, but trust me. It will be worth it.
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Kate Morton is working with familiar territory here–a family with a dark, hidden secret that spans across decades–but still makes it seem fresh. The basic plot is this: when she was sixteen, Laurel Nicolson witnessed her mother do something terrible, something that the family never spoke of again. Now fifty years later, her mother is near death and Laurel returns home to say her goodbyes. While there, Laurel starts to uncover the truth about her mother’s past, and understand what really took place that fateful day. Again, I realize that the plot may not sound particularly unique, but Morton has a certain way with crafting her settings that really draws you in and makes you feel like you are reading this plot line for the first time. There are surprises to be found in this book, I recommend giving it a read.
The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe
This one was a fun read. The main focus of this story is Sibyl Allston, an upper-class Boston woman who is still dealing with the deaths of her mother and sister, who perished on board the Titanic a few years prior. Left with only her cold father and good-for-nothing brother, she takes solace in attending local seances. During one visit with her medium, Sibyl is gifted a crystal ball, and soon she discovers she may have gifts of her own. Some parts may be a bit over-the-top, but The House of Velvet and Glass is certainly never boring.
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
Once of the most anticipated books of the year, I admit that I am one of those that pre-ordered The Casual Vacancy with taking a glance at the plot summary. All that I needed to know was that it was by J.K. Rowling. I was fine with the fact that it wouldn’t be another Harry Potter book, but I wasn’t quite ready for just how un-Harry Potter like it would be. (The phrase “fucking cunt” is used fairly early on in the book, for example.) It is about how the unexpected death of a man, Barry Fairbrother, affects life in a small English town. It’s about small-town politics, race-relations, class-struggles, and listening to Rihanna (the song “Umbrella” is a reoccurring plot device). It is not a perfect novel, but it is a powerful one, and certainly well worth reading. I could say more, but I will cut myself off. This may be one I turn into a full review after all.
Sleep, Pale Sister by Joanne Harris
Harris has a gift for re-creating sensation for her readers. With Chocolat she gave us hunger and lust, and in Sleep, Pale Sister, she gives us desire, rage, and fear. It is about a fictional pre-Raphaelite artist, who keeps up an appearance of purity but hides dark and dangerous lusts. It is about his child-bride, who grows more discontent with her life the older she gets. It is about a secret from the past that may already be tearing them both apart. It was dark and lovely in a traditionally Gothic sense. I wholeheartedly recommend this one.
Well, that’s it for now. Thanks for sticking with me.