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book reviews in 200 words

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May 2017

The History of Bees – a book review in 200 words

The History of Bees
by Maja Lunde

The History of Bees

The History of Bees follows three distinct characters in three wildly disparate timelines:  

  • The whiny but lovable William, England (1852). A scientist with a large family and a seeds shop – he has been bedridden for an undetermined amount of time.
  • George, a taciturn and stoic beekeeper, Ohio (2007). He hopes his son will join the family business after graduating college. The son has other plans.
  • Tao’s job is to pollinate flowers, individually, China (2098). This work leaves little time for her to enjoy her son, Wei-Wen.

Honestly, I expected this book to be a three-prong diatribe on colony collapse disorder. Happily, Lunde weaves together three very human stories with amazing characters, writes about real relationship issues that affect everyone, and has such a light touch when including information on the honeybee decline that I barely noticed.

Though there are three story lines carried throughout the book, each individual story could have been unrelated and I still would have enjoyed it. The fact that all of the characters and story lines relate to each other in a beautiful, uncomplicated, completely natural way was an unexpected pleasure.

This book does not go on sale until August. Please put this on your to-buy, to-read list!

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Rating: 90/100

Buy in August 2017.

The CallThe Call by Peadar Ó Guilín

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I actually listened to the audiobook, which I’m sure has colored my feelings about this story a bit. The narrator on the audiobook does not do a very good job of differentiating between the POV characters so I feel like I was semi-lost for most of the first half of the book. I may actually go back and read this again in paper format so I get the complete story arc. That being said, the last half of the book is truly fantastic. Once there are fewer characters to keep track of, the story really gets moving, and I gasped aloud a couple of times at important plot points.

It’s a pretty simple story, really – the Sidhe (pronounced “shee”), or fairies, have decided that they need to take revenge upon the humans who took away their rights to reside in Ireland. They do this by stealing teenagers and doing terrible things to them while they are in the Sidhe lands. Each teen is taken by surprise and is in the Sidhe lands for a little over 3 minutes in human time. But they are in the Sidhe lands for long enough to be played with, taunted, tortured and killed in terrible ways. The few who survive their time with the Sidhe and return home are maimed and horribly disfigured for life (in fun and entertaining ways if you are a horror fan!). By the end, you understand why some are returned home and what the Sidhe’s real game is.

Because this book deals with teens, you have the usual teen angst, cliques, and crushes. But, because of the time they live in, you also get some truly terrifying situations that will make your skin crawl. My favorite parts of the book happened while the teens were “called” – descriptions of humans shaped into horses and screaming overcoats made out of human mouths anyone? So, if you like your horror with some high fantasy thrown in, you could definitely do worse than this book. Just don’t try to listen to the audiobook unless you are able to solely focus on it to the exclusion of everything else.

View all my reviews

Since We FellSince We Fell by Dennis Lehane

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second book I’ve read by Lehane (the other being Shutter Island a ways back). I’d forgotten what a smart, smart writer he is. Very seldom is there a book that makes me read every single word. I’m a skimmer when I can be. With Lehane you must read every word, or you will miss something. Even something big.

Since We Fell is a great read! Starts out as a book about a sort of troubled young women trying to figure out who her father is. She ends up becoming a TV news reporter until she covers Haiti after the earthquake (2010); and, her life is never the same again. Then some bad things happen, some good, some terrible, and then…I can’t tell you any more. Just when you think you know what this book is about, there’s another twist – and it’s another type of book altogether. In the end, what you think is going to be a story about a crazy girl’s search for belonging ends up being a crazy good book about betrayal, your sense of self, trust, and belief. Oh, and murder.

You should read it while I go pick out my next Dennis Lehane book!

View all my reviews

love, from the author

Interactions with my favorite authors? Yes, please!

So smart that authors watch their social media and take the time to respond. I work in a bookstore and find that I often recommend books by authors who interact with readers. Just another level to consider when writing your own book!

Natasha pulley tweet
Natasha Pulley payed attention to a couple of my tweets regarding her book, The Bedlam Stacks. Read it if you get a chance. It comes out in August 2017.

 

Touchstone Books Tweet
Even publishers are getting in the game! Touchstone Books liked my tweet about The History of Bees coming to bookstores in August 2017.

 

One of my favorite authors, Jennifer McMahon, commented on my Instagram.

 

My tweet about her book, Alice, was liked by the author, Christina Henry.

This is the full Instagram post for the tweet above.

Into the Water – a book review in 200 words + an outrageous cast list

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

download (1)

Into the Water (ITW going forward) by Paula Hawkins is a book about two women who have drowned in…the Drowning Pool. It is here, legend holds, that witches were drowned and countless women have committed suicide.

Early in ITW, Hawkins uses a compelling story-telling device. She tells the story in one character’s viewpoint, in the next chapter shows us the same events from another’s perspective, and then that character takes over the story until the next chapter. If this way of writing was sustained throughout, ITW would be spectacular!  Unfortunately, this is not the case. Paula Hawkins, she of Girl on the Train fame, has written ITW from the point of view of ALL of the following:

Danielle ‘Nel’ Abbot (deceased) – via a manuscript of her unpublished book
Jules Abbot – sister to Nel Abbot (also called Julia often/confusingly)
Lena Abbot – daughter of Nel Abbot
Mark Henderson – teacher
Erin Morgan – inspector
Nickie Sage – charleton or medium
Helen Townsend – wife of Sean
Patrick Townsend – father of Sean
Sean Townsend – inspector
Josh Whittaker – brother to Katie
Louise Whittaker – mother of Katie
Lauren, Libby and Katie (deceased) – drowned women
(Feel free to print this list and use it while reading the book. It may be the only way you can remember everyone and how they relate to the story.  I found myself looking back to earlier chapters to figure out who was speaking well into the middle of the book.  While compiling the above list, I had to refer back to the book to figure out the cast and how they related to each other – even after finishing the book!)

Hawkins would have better served her characters, and her readers, had she focused solely on Jules’ and Lena’s viewpoints and Nel Abbot’s manuscript.

Having just finished reading, I can tell you that I am truly, deeply disappointed with this ending. The only real twist in ITW was related to the reason behind the two sister’s bitter, long-lasting feud.  After this first startling reveal, I expected sweeping revelation after sweeping revelation to close out the novel. Unfortunately, I was only to be let down by the resolution of the rest of the story lines – and no remaining shocks, surprises, or twists to hold my attention to the end.

 

Read it? Let me know if you agree with my review in the comments below!

Rating: 55/100

Buy In the Water at Barnes & Noble

Buy Into the Water at Amazon

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