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text 2018-10-07 22:17
Possible Halloween Bingo read
The Sandman's Eyes - Patricia Windsor

I'm doing this massive work project to add subject headings to records that don't have any, concentrating on our children's and young adult stuff (1,315 to go!), since the most knowledgeable staff member in that area is planning on retiring in a year.

 

As a result, I keep stumbling across things that look interesting. This might become one of my Halloween Bingo reads - a book about an 17 or 18-year-old who was sent to a mental institution ("school for disturbed juveniles"?) after a girl's murder. It sounds like most of his small town believes he committed the murder, and only his grandfather believes him when he says he witnessed it.

 

The 1985 Kirkus review for this says the ending is melodramatic, but I feel like a lot of 1980s and 1990s YA thrillers and mysteries had at least a little melodrama. Look at Killing Mr. Griffin (okay, it was published in 1978), which ended with a maniacal villain attempting to burn the heroine alive in her own home. And, like, all of Christopher Pike's earlier works. (Now I kind of wish I had another Christopher Pike book on hand. I don't know that an ILL request would get me one fast enough to read it before the end of Halloween Bingo, though.)

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review 2018-08-23 17:00
'Lies' is an addictive read, one with a family man as the lead character, a much-needed different perspective in this saturated genre
Lies - T.M. Logan

This was a hard one to put down, I'll be honest, even if I didn't rush to pick it up because of it being yet another psychological thriller in my hands. Immediately though, the story of Joe Lynch, English teacher, and devoted father and husband, drew me in very quickly.

 

Joe's drive home one evening with his 4-year old son William, takes a nasty turn and sets the whole book's plot in motion, when he sees his wife's car pulling into a hotel parking lot. It seems his wife Mel is meeting with another man and hiding behind a web of lies, and soon enough, Joe is pulled into a game of 'cat-and-mouse' with this man that is set to destroy everything he knows and loves.

 

From the very beginning this is an addictive read, with the action and twists never letting up from page one until the book ends, something that is vital for a successful psychological thriller. Since this is such a saturated genre (hence my earlier comment, not that I'm actually really complaining about so many thrillers), it's necessary to bring something fresh to the table.

 

Debut author T.M. Logan does several things to make this book different from the 'rest of the pack'. Perhaps drawing from what he knows best, Logan gives us a male lead over the stereotypical and usual neurotic and crazed young single female. Not only is our protagonist a family man he's deeply committed to nurturing his preschooler, is deeply aware of his environment, but he has a 'humble' teaching job and lets his wife take the job lead in the household, not minding that his wife is pursuing her career ambitions. Joe is the one who is the parenting heavyweight, and it really made a change to see this, and also write his character in a way that didn't seem contrived. 

A few other things that I appreciated: not having yet another thriller with alternating perspectives or voices (this has been done to death lately), especially since I'd like to focus on one unreliable narrator at a time. Writing one voice at a time is often the best way to dig into the mind of a character and this is where 'Lies' is successful'; Logan really gets us into the mind of Joe so well that it's hard to get out of it. No wonder his character gets so little sleep (like myself).

Technology, like computers and cell phones, plays a vital role in this novel, and the way it's used is done so cleverly that, like all books written in this day and age, makes it especially current, and since these things permeate all our lives, there's no wonder they're good fodder for literary weaponry. They certainly leaves us feeling vulnerable and with a sense of constant uncertainty.

My biggest complaint about the book is the relationship Joe has with his wife, Mel, and her character, but since Joe finds he is surrounded by lies (surprise!), and nobody can be relied upon, it's hard to like many people in his life.
I can't give too much more away about anything but Logan weaves all the lies and twists fantastically throughout this novel, and the ending really is a turn that the reader won't expect at all. I'm mostly curious to hear what other people think about it, but I can't talk about it, because I'm spoiler-free girl! You'll have to read it yourself to see what I mean!
Super clever read by another new author. Hope there's more from T.M. Logan.

*Thank you to St. Martin's Press for my early copy of this book for review.

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/37638234-lies
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review 2018-07-17 18:34
’Baby Teeth’ has a lot of bite and is not so sweet BUT it’s ‘un-put-down-able’
Baby Teeth - Zoje Stage

This amazingly creepy story from debut author Zoje Stage has got a lot of bite. The ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ complex takes center stage as Hanna, a seven-year old (supposedly) mute girl plays nice-nice in her father Alex’s company, but when she is the company of her mother Suzette, she just about unleashes horns on her head and a devil’s tail.


I’m exaggerating a little bit: there are no supernatural horns or tails although it’s way to easy to imagine them on this devil child that Zoje has so well-written for this novel. And somehow Hanna only manages to talk, now suddenly in French, just in her mom’s company, never so her dad can hear.


For years, Suzette has had to sacrifice her career by staying at home to homeschool Hanna, as she has been thrown out of preschools for bizarre and nasty behavior, but it’s behavior that her parents felt she would grow out of, and that once she was school-age, she could be handled better by an elementary school. Suzette also struggles with Crohn’s disease, which often keeps her bedridden and very ill, but it’s something that Hanna only has so much patience for but luckily her husband Alex has been sensitive to over the years.
Hanna persists in showing only one side to her father, who is Swedish to a fault, following Swedish holidays and traditions, which is something Hanna loves, including the special names Alex gives her, like Lilla Gumman, and she delights in little things like jumping in this lap and bedtime stories, shows of affection she reserves only for her father.
Alex and Suzette have not ignored Hanna’s lack of speech and antisocial behavior over the years though; they’ve taken her to specialists and had tests done, MRIs and other scans but there are no medical reasons for these behaviors. The answers start to become clearer especially to Suzette, as the behaviors become more pronounced; she questions herself, her parenting, whether Hanna is possessed, but she starts to realize this is just Hanna.


Reading Hanna’s side of it (as the novel goes -effectively - back and forth between what is going on for Hanna and Suzette, as if they are making an argument for their case) is just so incredibly disturbing. As she makes ‘plans’ for things she is about to do, and as she reasons ‘why she should’ do things, you’re allowed to see inside a very sad and twisted mind. As the book progresses so does her negativity towards her mother, and her need to push her mom out of the way to get closer to her father becomes greater.


The methods she does it by made me literally gasp out loud and sent my own child running (with questions for me), so that’s a good sign for me when it comes to a book.
In terms of how Suzette and Alex were able to handle Hanna: I will say that if you’re not a parent, you may have the view that it would have been easy to think ‘call the police’, or do certain other drastic things at times, but once you’re a parent, your perspective changes. You try everything else first. You want to try and help your child and do what you can, or you don’t believe they’re doing these behaviors. Your love for your child makes you run through all other avenues of help first, or in Alex’s case, stay in denial or in oblivion.


For many readers, this book may have gone too far; I know of many reviewers who passed on it because of the subject material, and it wasn’t for them. But it was totally right for me. I had been waiting for a book to be this daring for a while, and if it turns some people away, then you’ve at least elicited a visceral reaction to your work, whatever it is. In this case, it was because it was something that was going to make them feel uncomfortable or scared. I’d read that some people also got the wrong idea about the book, that it contained sexual abuse: it’s a shame people jump to conclusions before they actually have any real information.
Even if I didn’t know that the author Zoje used to work in film (as I also did) I probably could’ve guessed, as this would hold up so incredibly well as a movie; I had so many scenes in my head when I was reading this! Pure magic for the camera. Especially with the right Hanna.
The characters were so fascinating, and well-written, and I loved all the little bits about Sweden, Zoje did a fine job making these characters unique, especially for a thriller in a crowded genre. But then again, the whole book is unique, right down to the crushed lollipop on the front of the book.


And since at the center of this book is the ‘Daddy’s Little Girl/Electra’ complex, I found this fascinating. I don’t think I’ve seen a book personally written about this to this degree. It made Alex so blind to his daughter’s behavior, although it also made me question whether the ending was realistic.
The ending did kind of peter out a bit but I was satisfied with it; overall the book was such a page-turner, and kept me so enthralled, it was thoroughly ‘unputdownable’. I want more of this from Zoje!


*Warning: it might make some people question whether they want a ‘Little Girl to spoil’ after reading.

**Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for my early copy! 

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review 2018-07-17 12:01
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight - Jennifer E. Smith

This is a nice little book that covers the space of a day. (American) heroine and (English) hero end up sitting together on a flight from the United States to England, both ducking across the pond for family events.

 

Heroine Hadley’s family was torn to pieces when her father fell in love with an Englishwoman and abandoned them, and now she’s expected to attend the London wedding. This story is as much about family as romance.

 

As for the romance, I think the author managed the culture clash aspects well, and didn’t push things too far over such a short timeframe.

 

A sweet little book overall, though I’m not sure the father deserved to be so easily forgiven!

Source: nataliaheaney.wordpress.com/2018/06/22/the-statistical-probability-of-love-at-first-sight-by-jennifer-e-smith
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review 2018-07-15 20:44
Literary horror novel 'The Grip of It' leaves me with too many questions...or does it?
The Grip of It: A Novel - Jac Jemc

This book was a pick for my Litsy horror postal book club, and the second in a row that had the theme of a haunted house (this came on the back of the classic 'The Haunting of Hill House', which almost isn't fair, since that book is so well-known, and it was hard not to think of it).
'The Grip of It' was on my radar for a while after I noticed its cover, which is covered in the 'drawings' that show up mysteriously inside the house that the young couple, Julie and James, buy when they move to a small town outside of the city. There are lots of things that mysteriously go on inside the house (or do they?), after they move in, and the couple learns of the family that used to live there (or was it next door?), and they have so many questions that they start to run together...and largely are unanswered. ALL the way through to the end of the book. That was ultimately my biggest problem with 'The Grip of It': not ever feeling like questions were answered. The two main characters were also so similar (and weak, in my opinion), that their perspectives ran together, so the storytelling device of different chapters being their alternating different voices was ineffective. Whether or not this was intentional or not as a device to show that they were becoming of 'one mind' as the house took over, it was very confusing to read as the book continued.
I mostly enjoyed the literary prose and new approach to a 'horror' novel but occasionally I was a annoyed with the short sentences, which broke up some very beautiful writing, and very quotable prose.
And like most horror stories, the couple, Julie and James do frustratingly keep going back to this house that is obviously causing them to drift apart and for Julie to become ill (ergot poisoning? seizures?), yet the house sells quickly, so even though it seems that in general we have a no-nonsense 'literary' horror novel, we still have these silly tropes that don't make sense after all.
And what on earth happened to Rolf? ?
Still, I read this quickly, and it was a page-turner, it kept me engaged. It just could've been so much better.

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