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review 2017-11-06 06:08
Mystery and Witches
The Fifth Petal: A Novel - Brunonia Barry

A multiple murder from the past that remains unsolved and a current death that may or may not be murder in a town whose very name is synonymous with witches. Add to that a growing suspect list and a boatload of secrets. Brunonia Barry is quite talented and that shows in The Fifth Petal. The writing is descriptive, the characters are interesting, and the suspense builds as the story progresses. The supernatural element does add something to the mystery, and most of the solving process is done through visions and memories rather than actual investigation. Nevertheless, Chief Rafferty is an engaging character in spite of having little to go on with these cases. I did have trouble warming up to Callie, but she did grow on me as her story unfolds and the author does a good job of eliciting sympathy for her situation. The story does tend to ramble at times with unnecessary information and some chapters end rather abruptly, both of which become a distraction from an otherwise good story. On a positive note, I did enjoy the bits of history from the witch trials sprinkled throughout the book, and the twists and secrets revealed kept me turning pages to find the answers.

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review 2017-05-15 18:03
Knots not worth untangling
The Lace Reader - Brunonia Barry

Copy obtained through local public library.  I don't know the author nor have I ever had any communication with her about this book or any other matter.

 

I began reading the book a couple of weeks ago, but only got a few pages into it before being interrupted.  I set it aside, then went back and started over when I was sure I would have more time.  By page 103 of 385, I knew the struggle wasn't going to be worth it.  I always think it's my fault that a book isn't working, so I checked out some of the other reviews -- I almost never read reviews before I read the book -- and found I wasn't alone.

 

No spoilers here, because I didn't finish the book and I'm not likely to.

 

Towner Whitney, whose real name is Sophya, comes back to Salem, Massachusetts, after 15 years in California.  Her grandmother/great-aunt Eva has disappeared.  I think Towner was raised by Eva, but I'm not sure.  Towner admits she lies a lot, and also that she doesn't remember things well because she had a nervous breakdown after her sister Lyndley died.

 

I think Towner's mother is May, who lives on a little island and rescues abused women and their children, but the family relationships aren't really clear.  Auntie Emma is Eva's daughter, I think, but again I'm not sure.  Beezer is Towner's brother.

 

Quirky characters are great if you can keep them straight and each becomes a real person.  None of these people did, not even Towner.  Her quirks were too inconsistent, too unexplained.  She can read people's minds and she hears voices -- especially Eva's and Lyndley's -- and she can read lace (it's kind of like reading tea leaves or some such) but there doesn't seem to be any purpose to it.

 

Towner dwells on her mental illness but doesn't really seem to care very much about it.  She doesn't have any direction or motivation or even any emotion.  And yet I got the impression that she wanted people around her to care about her.  I'm not sure that that's the impression author Brunonia Barry intended to convey, but it's the one I got.

 

As a result, I just didn't like Towner, and it's difficult for me to continue to read a book when I don't give a shit about the main character.

 

The book is well written in the technical sense, and I'm assuming the details of Salem and its environs are accurate, but everything fell flat for me.  It's like a book that a bunch of ladies read for their Tuesday afternoon book club, and they all think it's wonderful and deep and literary and quirky, but they really don't understand it and aren't sure they even like it.  They read it to impress their friends.  The sexy parts embarrass them -- though to be honest, I hadn't encountered any really sexy parts in the first 103 pages -- or horrify them, but for the most part they really don't understand the sexy parts.  They read books like this because it makes them feel somehow superior, even though as soon as they reach the end and move on to the next book, this one is forgotten.

 

I'll probably forget it, too.

 

Also posted at

https://fearlesslyintelligent.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-lace-reader-by-brunonia-barry.html

and I may expand it there.

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url 2017-03-18 20:50
The Fifth Petal
The Fifth Petal: A Novel - Brunonia Barry

Take witchcraft and new age healing practices. Add some mythology. Place it in a historic Salem, Massachusetts setting. Throw in an atmospheric country estate. Write in an eclectic group of strong female characters. Stir in a mystery and a dash of a love story. Orchestrate everything through a police chief with a history and a story of his own. The end result is an entertaining tale – The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry.

 

 

Reviewed for LibraryThings Early Reviewers program.

 

Source: www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2017/03/the-fifth-petal.html
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review 2017-03-01 04:22
The Fifth Petal
The Fifth Petal: A Novel - Brunonia Barry

You know what I like reading about almost as much as plagues? Witches. I loved Brunonia Barry’s first book, The Lace Reader, so much that when I saw another book was coming out, I jumped on it. I am not generally a series reader, though I will often read the first one in a series and nothing else (yes, I’m a quitter, I admit it.) But Barry sucked me in last time, so this time I was a willing victim. I completely believed her tales about the lace readers, and honestly, I was stunned that she made everything up (sorry, spoiler alert). I was completely convinced, and I am telling you that so when she tricks you with her voluminous knowledge of old Salem and throws in a bunch of hooky, you will not feel bad like I did. You’re welcome.

 

So anyway, here’s what you need to know. Read this book. There is high drama, grave danger, horrible childhoods that need to be redeemed and reclaimed and also, witches. Did I mention that? What could be better? Nothing. It takes place in Salem and surrounding areas, so of course there are witches. There are also regular people, unfortunately, with all kinds of unmanageable, overwhelming problems. There are bad characters I kind of liked, and good ones who do the wrong thing, so basically, it’s perfectly balanced. And don’t worry if you didn’t read the first one – this one stands alone just fine. (But I’d read The Lace Reader anyway, because really, aren’t you better than that?)

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review 2017-01-31 20:01
The Fifth Petal
The Fifth Petal: A Novel - Brunonia Barry

The Fifth Petal is the second book in The Lace Reader series.  I really enjoyed the first book, especially with its setting of Salem and the witch history.  This novel is set several years into the future and it features some new characters along with some from the first book.

 

Callie is at the center of this book, having come back to Salem after decades away.  Salem holds a lot of memories for Callie, many of them too horrible to want to revisit.  But coming back forces her to confront her demons, both inside herself and those around her.

 

Like the first novel, the story blends magic, history, and thriller elements to create a rich story.  The characters are so quirky, even if you didn't like them.  The local witch at times seems harmless and at other times the femme fatale.  The romantic hero is one moment the privileged son of wealth, the next passionate about his work.  Callie is a healer, who uses sound and singing bowls as her healing modality.  And there is even a bit of old world feuding that has persevered for centuries, manifesting itself in unexpected ways.

 

I loved the story, but there was a lot going on at times that made it a lot to track.  There really were two major plot lines, that while they overlapped from time to time, could really have been two different stories.  One other thing to love... I loved Towner in the first novel so seeing her character's life now was wonderful.  She was such a tragic character in the first that it was good to see her happy in the second.

 

All in all, a great read!

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12323
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