Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth TaleThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dark and intriguing. All the stories that simultaneously run through this novel are fascinating and the way they all come together at the end really did surprise me. I did not expect a few of the twists that happened.

My favorite part of the novel though is the many elegant references to reading and the life of the reader. It is like a love letter to us (the reader) from the book itself for brining it life with our reading.

The only thing I both appreciated but also disliked was the wrap up at the end. I became a little exhausted hearing how everyone had faired. Sometimes to be left with a mystery at the end is not a bad thing.

View all my reviews

Saturday, March 21, 2015

New Book Releases April 2015

April has a few noteworthy books that readers will want to put on their “to be read” lists. Here are a few that I have on my own list:

Miss Julia Lays Down the Law: A Novel by Ann B. Ross
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Group (Viking Adult)
Book Description (from NetGalley):
It’s up to Miss Julia to sort out the murder of a hoity-toity newcomer in the latest addition to the New York Times bestselling series

Ann B. Ross’s most recent addition to the series, Miss Julia’s Marvelous Makeover, was the first to hit the printed New York Times bestseller list, so Miss Julia fans both new and old will be especially keen to get their hands on the next one. The sixteenth in the series, Miss Julia Lays Down the Law is guaranteed to be the steel magnolia’s most exciting adventure yet.

It’s November and Miss Julia is looking forward to some quiet time before the holidays. That is until snobby Connie Clayborn and her rich husband move to town. At first, Miss Julia and the other ladies are pleased to be invited over for coffee, but the afternoon turns into a slap in the face when their hostess spouts nonstop criticism about Abbotsville. Why, how dare she? Days later, Miss Julia decides to confront Connie woman to woman, but when she arrives, Connie is lying on the kitchen floor—lifeless in a pool of blood. Who could have done this? Miss Julia will need to find out fast—particularly because her fingerprints are now all over the crime scene. . . .

Aunt Dimity and the Summer King by Nancy Atherton
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Penguin Group (Viking Adult)
Book Description (from NetGalley):
Cozy mystery lovers’ favorite paranormal sleuth is back with her twentieth otherworldly adventure.

There’s trouble in Finch. Four recently sold cottages are standing empty, and the locals fear that a developer plans to turn their cozy village into an enclave of overpriced weekend homes. But for once Lori Shepherd can’t help.

Her infant daughter, her father-inlaw’s upcoming wedding, and the crushing prospect of her fortieth birthday have left her feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. Until, that is, she has a chance encounter with an eccentric inventor named Arthur Hargreaves. Dubbed the Summer King by his equally eccentric family, Arthur is as warmhearted as the summer sun. In his presence, Lori forgets her troubles—and Finch’s.

But Lori snaps out of her happy trance when she discovers detailed maps of Finch in the Summer King’s library. Next, a real estate agent comes knocking. Is Arthur secretly plotting Finch’s demise?

With Aunt Dimity’s other worldly help—and her new daughter in her arms—Lori mounts a crusade to save her beloved village from the Summer King’s scorching greed.

The Savage Professor by Robert Roper
Publication Date: April 15, 2015
Genre: Literature/Fiction & Mystery/Thrillers
Publisher: Asahina & Wallace (IBPA)
Book Description (from NetGalley):
Professor Anthony Landau, renowned epidemiologist, returns to his home in the Berkeley Hills to find a woman, a former scientific colleague, naked and quite dead in his bed. Her death sets in motion a chain of events—and murders—that will have the locals terrified, UC Berkeley's academics pointing fingers, the cops under pressure to solve the crimes, the tabloid press crying for blood, and Landau as everyone's number-one pick for serial killer of the year.

In Montmartre by Sue Roe
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Genre: Art/History/Travel
Publisher: Penguin Press
Book Description (from Advance Reader's Copy Jacket):
In Montmartre is a colorful history of the birth of modernist art as it arose from one of the most astonishing collections of artistic talent ever assembled. It begins in October 1900, when a teenage Pablo Picasso, eager for fame and fortune, first makes his way up the hillside of Paris's famous windmill-topped district. Over the next decade, among the studios, salons, cafes, dance halls and galleries of Montmartre, the young Spaniard joins the like of Henri Marisse, Andre Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck. Georges Braque, Amedeo Modigliani, Constantin Brancusi, Gertrude Stein, and many more in revolutionizing artistic expression. 

A thrilling account, In Montmartre captures an extraordinary group on the cusp of fame and immortality. Through their stories, Roe brings to life one of the key moments in the history of art. 

The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
Publication Date: April 28 2015
Genre: Teens/YA
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Publishing Group (Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR))
Book Description: (from NetGalley)
Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world. 
When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy's life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options—confess her deception or live her sister's life.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Lucky Alan and Other Stories by Jonathan Lethem

Lucky Alan: And Other StoriesLucky Alan: And Other Stories by Jonathan Lethem

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Lucky Alan and Other Stories is a collection of short stories in which Lethem explores the mundane and their often times self-defeating pursuits. Although all the stories seem to share the same tone and I suppose you can say theme (tragically mundane lives of people who inhabit Lethem’s world) they are all slightly different in structure. Their mere presence on the page can be intrigue the reader, even if they never really read the words written. Each story has an ending that will confuse the reader and sometimes shock them. Many lack in their beginnings. More often than not they do not have strong beginnings that draw the reader in, which is critical in a short story, because unlike a novel you have to win the reader right-away, else they might abandon the narrative sooner than they might a novel.

Rather than go into detail about each of the stories found in this collection I will simply give you a brief outline of one of the better stories in the collection. “Traveler Home” the third story in the collection is about a man who, during a snowstorm, walks his dog out into the woods to discover seven wolves who deliver to him a basket inside which lies a baby boy. Taking the boy home, they make it through the night planning on setting out in the morning once the roads have been plowed for supplies. When morning comes Traveler finds that the roads are plowed so with baby in tow sets out only to encounter a road block of seven women, the daughter of the Plowman. Rifle in hand they question him and eventually take the baby. Traveler seems undisturbed by the encounter; although at some point we do sense slight disappointment that he lost the baby. The most interesting point in the story is when Traveler asks one of the women if the find was “Wolf’s wrong delivery” and she states that yes you could say that.
The structure was interesting in this story with its short, abrupt sentences. There are no names ever mentioned or any in depth descriptions of anyone or anyplace. The oddness of it makes it feel like this could be any small town with any people while at the same time not really.

The whole collection was just a little to, for lack of a better word, odd. It was not as compelling as I hoped it would be based on the jacket and advance praise. I do have to say this, if a reader wanted to dissect a story or the whole collection they would more than likely have a great time doing so. From structure to illusions and metaphors I am sure an erudite reader would be able to produce an excellent study. For this reader though, it was too much and yet not enough.

Note: I received this book from the publisher. In no way did that fact effect my opinions stated in this review.

View all my reviews