09 November 2011
I just finished two short stories by Kathleen Valentine, who is fast becoming one of my favorite new authors. These two particular short stories were bundled together on Smashwords and were perfect reads for the month of October. The first story, Home Made Pie and Sausage, was a macabre tale that reminded me of the likes of Edgar Allen Poe at his quirky best. It was deliciously horrible and the perfect Halloween read. The second tale, Killing Julie Morris, was more of a classic mystery with a bit of a thriller bent. I am glad that Kathleen bound these two stories together and offered them for the month of October as they were thoroughly enjoyable.
Although this is my first book by Michael Chabon, I have a couple of others to read and had heard a lot about him. Although I found this a pleasant read, I have to admit this book was not at all what I expected. I think that I expected somthing a little more cohesive, a little funnier, and full of some great wit and sarcasm. Instead I found a book that started very slowly and veered off course many times. For example, although the book began with the discovery of a murder, the author did not get to the meat of that story until about 200 pages into the book. In addition, that story was hidden among a lot of rambling, and sometimes confusing, discussion about the characters in the book. In my opinion, most of this discussion detracted from the actual story. Once the author actually got to the story of the murder investigation and the conspiracy surrounding it, I began to enjoy the story. It seemed though, that just as I was getting settled in, the authour would ramble off down another side track. In defense of the book, though, the characters were complex and unpredicatable, and the information on Jewish mysticism and culture was interesting. Overall, I felt the author's descriptions were colorful and engaging, and in that respect enjoyed his writing. There were a few gems in the book like when he referred to the Jewish in Alaska as "the Frozen Chosen", or his description of what it was like to sleep in a bed with a two and a four year old, or how a huge person could hurdle a tall fence. All in all, I felt it was an enjoyable read, but it just didn't quite live up to my expectations.
08 November 2011
I recently finished this aptly named debut novel by new author Katharine Britton. The main premise of the book is a story of sibling rivalry between two sisters. The younger one, Lilli, has always felt that she was living int he shadow of her eldest sister, Bea, who she viewed as perfect, a goal she herself could never attain. As in many books of this type, though, Bea is not as perfect as she seems, and she certainly doesn't see herself this way. As the story unfolds, you find a wonderful story about families and the complex relationships between sisters. What sets this story apart from the usual "sister" stories are the wonderfully complex characters that Britton brings to life and the wonderful surprises that she encompasses in her story line. From the beginning I wondered exactly what the deal was betweeen Lilli and Bea, and how the other sisters fit in. I loved the way that the author let these relationships unfold, and let you get to know the characters, from the sisters to the quirky mother, to Russell, the boy next door. From the beginning of the story I was entertained, engrossed, and in the end, surprised with the story that Britton has crafted in this book.