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book reviews in 200 words

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August 2017

Glass Houses by Louise Penny – a book review in 200 words

Glass Houses

By

Louise Penny

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What is a Cobrador? Why is one in Three Pines, standing in absolute stillness and silence for days? Why is Gamache on the witness stand?  And who exactly is on trial? These are the questions racing through your mind as you start this newest book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny.

I think this may be the best book in Penny’s series to date. As always,  she weaves together seamlessly: obscure history with fabulous fiction, the lives of her recurring characters with new people (be they friends or suspects), and the quiet life of Three Pines with the ongoing struggles against corruption within the Sûreté du Québec.

I sell a lot of Penny’s books to my customers for two reasons. One, her plots always contain great mysteries where the endings never disappoint. And, two, I want to live in Three Pines and be friends with everyone who lives there!

Penny’s characters come alive again in this 13th book as we learn about the roots of a Spanish tradition still in existance today, a plot meant to heap untold pain on too many humans, and a daring plan that could mean the end of many Sûreté careers. ENJOY!

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

Rating: 97/100

Buy it tomorrow at Barnes & Noble / Amazon / IndieBound

Lincoln in the Bardo – a book review in 200 words

Lincoln in the Bardo

by

George Saunders

download (2)

I stayed away from Lincoln in the Bardo for a long time, even after several recommendations from readers I respect. I did read the first few chapters (a couple of times) and was bothered by the way the book was setup. Why all these quotes? And conflicting quotes? What is happening?

Then I heard it was long-listed for the Man Booker prize, and gave it another go.

And I love it!

Lincoln’s son, Willie, has died and Lincoln comes to his son’s tomb for a last visit in the middle of the night. What Lincoln cannot see is the full and vibrant “afterlife” that is happening around him – the men and women who are stuck in a sort of purgatory (the Bardo) where thoughts can change everything and the spirits don’t know they are dead.

This book is a touching portrait of Lincoln, the mood of the United States in the Civil War’s early years, and the moments we most regret when we leave the living.

Be prepared for a difficult slog at the beginning but you quickly get used to it. Hang tough, because in the end, the ride is completely worth it.

Rating: 92/100

Buy it at Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound

The Bedlam Stacks – a book review

 

The Bedlam Stacks

by Natasha Pulley

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What a stunningly magical book! Merrick (Em) travels to Peru on a mission for the India Office (formerly that of East India Company villainy). He is to bring back the quinine wood that treats malaria – a plant that grows in the heart of Peru and is protected by a local monopoly. When he finally arrives in the village of Bedlam, nothing is as it seems. Glass roads, moving statues, candle ivy, the history of the place, and its current residents – all combine to make Bedlam and the surrounding lands a place out of a fairy tale. And, not the watered down princess-saving fairy tales we tell our children now. The original ones!

I won’t tell you more so that I don’t ruin the book for you. Suffice it to say, you will not be disappointed when you pick up this book. Do keep a dictionary handy. Ms. Pulley has a firm grasp of the (British) English language. Do keep a computer handy to google things you haven’t heard of before, i.e. Schwarzwald-ish, Pyrrhic victory, shibboleths.

This is a swashbuckling, moving, brilliant, funny, touching story that I highly recommend!

Rating: 95/100

Buy this book at Barnes & Noble or Amazon

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