Search

ouroborosfreelance

book reviews in 200 words

Tag

Book Review

A Guide for Murdered Children – a book review

A Guide for Murdered Children

by Sarah Sparrow

35524642

This book IS about a very difficult subject, so I realize there will be some who find this a no-go immediately. If you can get past your immediate reaction of “ew, murdered children” – you will enjoy this book!

Willow (Dubya) Wylde, the quintessential broken cop, is drawn into a world where murdered children inhabit the bodies of recently dead grown-ups for the sole purpose of seeking revenge. (Children in adult bodies? Awkward and hilarious.) Dubya has some innate psychic abilities he has spent a lot of time suppressing – leading to alcoholism and other self-damaging behaviors. But it is the disappearance of a brother and sister that ends up focusing his energy and gifts.

Plotwise, there is a train through which the children travel in the ether; a Porter to help said children; AA-style meetings for the adults and children who are sharing a body; and of course, the guide for murdered children. I feel like that is just about all I can tell you about the plot without spoiling it for you. Except that there are lots of murdered children and equal amounts of gore and very bad people.

There have been mixed reviews about this book. I feel like if you pick up a book with the title, A Guide for Murdered Children, you have to know what you’re in for. It will probably help readers if they realize there is a lot of catching up to do to understand the world the author has built, similar to reading a fantasy novel. (If you hate fantasy/sci-fi for this reason, probably skip this book.) You have to trust the author’s vision until you are able to fully understand what is happening.

I think that Sparrow was brave to trust her instincts with this story and she deals with a difficult subject matter with a lot of respect. I found the book well-written and creative. Kudos to you, Sarah Sparrow.

Rating: 80/100

Buy it now at Barnes and Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

The Broken Girls – a book review in 200 words

The Broken Girls

by Simone St. James

35305625

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James is a well-written, fast-paced, thrill-soaked ride told in (at least) two timelines.

The book opens with a young girl being followed by someone or something in the very dark on a deserted road. Who is she? Where is she? When is she?

In 1950, four troubled girls (Katie, CeCe, Roberta and Sonia) are staying at Idlewild Hall, a home for the worst troublemakers. Each has a secret that slowly unfolds as the pages are turned. Each secret is worse than the last.

In 2014, local journalist Fiona cannot let her sister’s murder go. She can’t sleep and she can’t leave the small town where the unthinkable happened. Her sister’s murder has stopped time for both herself and her father until Fiona hears rumors that Idlewild Hall, the site of the murder, is being renovated.

Woven into all of this (as though it was not enough!) is the threat of a visit in both timelines by Mary Hand, the resident woman in black and the ghostly creature who supposedly haunts the hallways, classrooms and grounds of Idlewild.

Between the two timelines, murders, disappearances and strange happenings abound. What a fun and utterly readable book!

Rating: 92/100

Buy this book when it comes out (today! 3/20) at Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

The Chalk Man – a book review in 200 words

The Chalk Man
by C.J. Tudor

35356382
The Chalk Man, C.J. Tudor’s debut novel, is told in two timelines: the first by 12-year-old Eddie; the second, by the same narrator, only 30 years older. There are multiple mysteries in both timelines and the author uses the time-switching device effectively to escalate suspense and dole out clues to you, the wary reader.

The 1986 story has a maiming, a drowning, some extremely brutal bullying and a murder. All the while, there is a big story involving the adults happening just outside the periphery of the children’s attention.

Fast forward to adult Eddie in 2016 who is dealing with a life he didn’t expect. With the reappearance of old friends, another drowning and some other strange goings-on, Eddie has no choice but to re-examine his discovery of a headless body in the woods in ‘86.

There are so many great themes in this book – the powerlessness of children, the pull of childhood friendships, growing up and not having the life you thought you’d have. Add to all of that, strange chalk drawings, an albino, an abortion doctor and a hell-fire spouting preacher and you have a weird, wild ride where you can’t take anything for granted. What a thrill!

Thanks to Crown Publishing for the ARC!

Rating: 88/100

BUY IT NOW at Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

Southern Reach Trilogy – a book series review in 300 words

Southern Reach Trilogy

(Annihilation, Authority & Acceptance)

by

Jeff VanderMeer

 

The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer is beautifully written. And, well, weird.

I very rarely buy books at full retail price anymore. But after multiple recommendations from people I trust, I decided to buy Annihilation and give it a try. (Plus, those covers – hard to resist!)

Annihilation follows a group of “explorers” as they go into an area in the southern United States called Area X. No one knows what Area X is exactly, even though it has been part of the landscape for over 30 years. Sometimes people come back from their expeditions, sometimes not. There’s a lighthouse, lots of suspicious behavior and loads of crazy developments. The book could be read as a stand alone, but there is also a cliff-hanger, so…

Immediately upon finishing Annihilation, I bought Authority and then Acceptance. Full price, at my local bookstore. Each book is written in a different style and from different character points of view. I can only say that reading these books is like an intense and beautiful fever dream. (I know I’m not giving you much of an idea about plot, but I’m not sure I could do it justice or that I fully understand what happened yet. So unhelpful.)

If you enjoy experimental fiction, alternate realities, strange events, science fiction, mysteries, really excellent writing, conspiracy theories, monsters and/or unexplained phenomena, and if you are totally okay with stories with no definitive ending or an absolute explanation of what has happened, you will enjoy this trilogy! And even if you don’t currently like these things, you should still try this out – just for fun!

When you are done, you can go join the conversation online about what really happened and what you actually read. Also, look for the movie when it is released later this year.

Rating: 90/100

 

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman – a book review in 200 words

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

 

images

“Over these many years, I have observed both profound folly and breathtaking wisdom among humankind. They balance each other like dancers in the throes of a passionate tango.” – The Thunderhead

I don’t remember ever loving the second book in a series more than I love this one. The world that Shusterman introduced in Scythe is taken to an entirely different level in Thunderhead.

The continued adventures of Scythe Lucifer (Rowan) and Scythe Anasthasia (Citra) have incredible consequences for the Schythedom and the rest of North Merica. All of the characters from the first book have returned; and the introduction of a new character, Greyson Tolliver, and the Thunderhead as an actual “character” in the novel changed my perspective on this entire near-future Earth – in a way I could not have anticipated.

What happens when the world is threatened but humanity is too complacent to pay attention or even care about what is happening? You will see.

This smart, thoughtful, action-packed series will make you think about your place in the world. If you believe there is not tremendously great teen fiction out there, this series will change your mind. Unfortunately, the third in the series does not even have a name yet – so I will wait in frenzied anticipation for the wrap-up to this story. Hurry up, Neal Shusterman, I need to know how this ends!

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

Rating: 92/100

Buy it January 9, 2018, at Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

IMG_20180107_072651

An Echo of Murder – a book review

An Echo of Murder

by

Anne Perry

33656215

I cannot believe I have never read a William Monk mystery before! There are over 50 Anne Perry books and An Echo of Murder is the 23rd book in the Monk series. A fact for which I am incredibly grateful now.

Anne Perry’s William Monk series is set in Victorian London and really, reminds me of the BBC show, Ripper Street. (Or more accurately, Ripper Street reminds me of Anne Perry.) The central character is the sensitive and tough Commander Monk who is aided by his street-smart second-in-command, Hooper, and his brave wife, Hester, who worked with Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War. Monk is also surrounded by an eclectic collection of supporting characters ranging from a reformed shyster to an unlicensed doctor and, of course, a beloved street urchin.

In this installment of the series, the Thames River Police, headed by Monk, must rely on the Hungarian community’s own people for access to and legitimacy in the immigrant neighborhood where a terrible murder has taken place. When it becomes obvious they are dealing with a serial killer, the Hungarians are equal parts suspects and victims.

“We’re not taking people’s jobs. You’ve got to make them see that. We’re just taking care of ourselves, like everybody. We’ve got a right to do that. Englishmen have gone all over the world, where they had no business. Can’t they make room for us here?”

Two themes emerge quickly after the discovery of the first victim: the plight of the immigrant and the home life of soldiers after wartime. Both of these topics are particularly relevant right now and it is both interesting and disheartening to realize how little we have learned throughout history when it comes to both subjects.

“There are things you can’t share, except with those others who were part of it. The people at home don’t want to know. They can’t take it away from, they can only feel useless. There are not words created to describe the horror of some things. and why would you want to burden them with it anyway? They cannot help, and they cannot carry it for you.”

I actually read a second book in the Monk series over the weekend and found it just as enjoyable. And, now I have a third Anne Perry book waiting for me on my shelf! If you are a fan of serial mysteries or just really good fiction, you should try this series.

Rating: 89/100

Buy this book at Barnes and Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

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

Glass Houses

By

Louise Penny

33602101

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 Epiphany Machine – a book review in 200 words

The Epiphany Machine

by

David Burr Gerrard

32814691

What would my epiphany tattoo be? What would yours be?

“The worst possible thing you could think of to say about someone will almost certainly be your epiphany.”

The epiphany machine tattoos on the forearm a one-sentence “truth” about the person receiving the tattoo. You know, that one thing about someone that everyone knows – except the person themselves.

“Everyone else knows the truth about you, now you can know it, too”

Venter Lowood is the POV character in this book. His fascination with the epiphany machine starts young; his mother abandoned him as a baby to work with Adam Lyon, the man who runs the epiphany machine. We follow Venter from childhood to middle age, and as the world changes around him, so does the public opinion of epiphany tattoos. John Lennon gets a tattoo, as does a 9/11 terrorist. The tattoos can be bought with $100 or with no monetary exchange and then commercialized epiphany tattoos are the norm. In the beginning, one tattooed person says of their unflattering epiphany:

“You should only feel shame before you feel shame. Once you feel shame, you know that you have to change. When you feel shame, you should really feel relief. You should say: ‘Hurray! Now I know that I have to change.”

By the end, another says,

“Shame is basically hypocrisy redirected against yourself-it’s holding yourself to a higher standard than you’re capable of meeting, rather than holding other people to a higher standard than you’re capable of meeting.”

This book is beautifully written in many distinct voices – the main narrative, short stories from a book about the epiphany machine, and accounts by those who have received epiphany tattoos.

As this is only Gerrard’s second novel, I predict you should expect further great reads from this writer!

Now – I want an epiphany tattoo.

 

Rating: 92/100

Buy this book:

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Find it local at Indie Bound

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑