When I read the synopsis of this book I was expecting the normal, run of the mill contemporary fiction book. In fact, what Ms. Chan has given us in her first outing as an author is more than that. She has a wonderfully descriptive writing style that is easy to read. Her descriptions of living with Social Anxiety Disorder, everyday life in a small Vermont town, and the landscape of Vermont are spot on.
The characters in the book are wonderfully developed. Most of them are flawed in some way. As Mary (the main protagonist) likes to say, "no one is perfect". It is these imperfections that Ms. Chan gives her characters, even the most subsidiary ones, that make them endearing. From early on, I felt that I was catching up with old familiar friends.
The combination of her descriptive writing and the development of wonderful characters makes this book a delightful read. I enjoyed it quite a bit and really hope that Ms. Chan will write more novels.
The bad news is that currently the book is only available as an e-book on Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble (not sure if it is other places as well). The good news is as such it is only .99, which is a real bargain for a book this good. I have no doubt as word gets around, though, that someone will want to publish it in print format.
27 September 2011
I have been trying to get to this novel for a number of weeks, ever since I downloaded it the end of July. My anticipation increased as more of my friends read the book and raved about it. When I finally got a chance to read it, I was not disappointed. This novel by Allan Leverone gripped me from the first page and held my interest all the way to the end. Serial kidnapper Martin Krall is the type of character that can really make a thriller. A total psychopath that is at times cruel and twisted, and at other times creepily pathetic. Throw in the other wonderful characters that populate this story and you become invested in their lives quite quickly. Who would't feel empathy for a man who, in trying to do what he thinks is right, ends up bringing hell into his family life. Or his daughter who, through no action of her own, is faced with every young woman's nightmare. The characters are compelling and vibrant. The story line, like all good thrillers, runs a mile a minute with twists and turns. From the beginning you have the feeling that something just isn't quite right, and as the story progresses, you get glimpses of things that only make those feelings stronger, until you get to the stunning conclusion of the book. What you end up with in the end is a real page turner with wonderfully drawn out characters and a story line that will keep you guessing. I guarantee that you will be on the edge of your chair through out this one, and you won't be able to put it down.
26 September 2011
Historical Fiction is probably my favorite genre. In addition, I love to read anything that has to do with royalty, fiction or non fiction. So a book with Eleanor of Acquitane, Henry II, Richard Lionheart, and Alais of France was right up me alley. Although Christy English was a new author to me, I expected the subject matter to be old and familiar. It was, but at the same time Ms. English was able to bring new life to an old friend. This was not just another story about Eleanor, but the story of Alais of France, a young girl who was sent from her home at an early age to live in Eleanor's court.
I have to state at the beginning, that while I expect historical fiction to be based in facts, for me it is really about the story. I get my factual data from non-fiction biographies and histories, and look to my historical fiction to draw me in with the story of the characters and times. This book certainly filled that criteria. I loved the story of Alais and how she grew from a timid little girl into a strong woman. Do I think that this story represents that total truth? No. Did I enjoy the story as it was told? Definitely. The women, both Eleanor and Alais, were strong characters. In addition, I loved the way the author made both Richard and Henry a bit vulnerable, even though, in the end, Henry stayed true to his ruthless character. Like a lot of the historical fiction that I love, this story made me want to read more about the Eleanor, Alais, Henry II, and Richard Lionheart.
Another kudo goes to the author for acknowledging and explaining her use of artistic license in telling the story contained in her book. I always read Author's Notes and Acknowledgments and was pleased to see Ms. English discuss the actual chronology or her divergences from them in her notes.
Bottom line, Ms. English is a great story teller. Her characters were well developed, the story line was interesting and compelling, and she gave the story a bit of a different focus, which made it fun to read. I am looking forward to reading her newest book about Eleanor in the near future.