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Search tags: Literary-Fiction
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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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review 2018-07-13 17:50
THE POWER by Naomi Alderman
The Power - Naomi Alderman

Wow! Imagine a world where the women take over. Men are controlled by women and women make the decisions. No man is permitted to do anything or go anywhere without a woman's approval. That's the premise of The Power.

I liked it. A lot. Roles are reversed. The thoughts and words have changed gender. Men control very little and only with the approval of women.

I was so into the story I forgot that it is a story that will be a novel of the time when the world changed from men leading to women leading. The set-up to and from the novel is done through letters from the author to a friend. Since he cannot tell the history as history, he does it as a novel. It works very well this way. I forgot it was a novel and was looking at it as ...hmmm, what if?

I liked how it is done by years and each year is seen from the main characters point-of-view. I liked Roxy. She's tough and a survivor. Allie started to believe her PR. So does Margot. I'm not sure whether the two of them become hinderances or return to the light. Allie's voice makes me wonder--serpent or angel. I also enjoyed Tunde and his male point-of-view of what is happening to the men and will they survive.

A well done novel that will make you question your beliefs. Lots of discussion points for book clubs. I know I'm recommending it for mine.

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review 2018-06-27 15:55
The Woman Behind the Waterfall
The Woman Behind the Waterfall - Leonora Meriel

For the seven years of Angela's life, her mother has seemed sad. When mother Lyuda's sadness reaches its peak, Angela uses her intense imagination and her Nightguide to transform and seek out help from her deceased grandmother who now resides in the willow across the stream. Angela doesn't know if it her absent father, the deaths of her grandparents or some other lost dream in her mother's life that causes the sadness. It seems like too much for a seven year old to handle. With the help of the spiritual world, Angela will go on a quest to help her mother find happiness, even if she is not a part of it.

A story of heartbreak and depression told through the eyes of a child who shouldn't have to experience that pain. This story took me a while to get into; the writing is lyrical and poetic with a lot of language and metaphor. It was difficult for me to find the story through the words in the beginning. The writing is beautiful, but I didn't have any context for what it meant. For example, a passage that stuck out to me:

"I am an intricate construction of fibres held together by the pull of beauty, a strange gravity suspending colours and filaments and cambia through long, sunshine moments."

This didn't make any sense till much later in the book. There were also lush description of the Ukrainian countryside, a setting that I found very interesting to explore within Angela and Lyuda's spirituality, cooking, environment and lifestyle. Once I was able to get into the story, I found Angela's character enchanting with her transformation into birds in order to escape and her conversations with her deceased grandmother in the willow tree in order to understand what is happening around her. Then I was able to realize that this is a story of sadness, grief and regret. For at least two generations, the women in Angela's family have passed down the sadness for their role in settling into lives they believed were unfulfilling. Angela takes on a unique role through magical realism in bringing her mother through depression and helping her realize that her childhood dreams can grow and change as life moves on. Overall, this is a distinctive book that deals with many difficult issues while blending contemporary fiction and magical realism. The writing style may not be best for every reader, but if you stick with it, the writing take you on a journey.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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review 2018-06-25 22:33
THE MERCY OF THE TIDE by Keith Rosson
The Mercy of the Tide - Keith Rosson The Mercy of the Tide - Keith Rosson

This is not a book I would have picked up had I not been participating in the Traveling Book Journey.  I cannot describe exactly what genre it is.  However, the prose is beautiful.  Mr. Rosson has a way with words and can paint a picture with them so you know exactly what he means and sees.  His character development is wonderful.  Four characters are followed through the book and you get to know them through their thoughts and contact with others as well as one another.  The story cannot be described.  It is more a series of vignettes of the four main characters--Sam, a 16-year old boy, Trina, his 9-year old deaf sister, Sheriff Dobbs, and his deputy Nick Hayslip.  The story reveals itself in the last 40 pages and is exciting but tragic.  I have to admit I do want to know what happens to them and how each adjusts in the end.

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review 2018-06-17 18:14
THE ROMANCE READER'S GUIDE TO LIFE by Sharon Pywell
The Romance Reader's Guide to Life: A Novel - Sharon Pywell

This was totally different from what I expected. It is part murder mystery, part magical realism, part contemporary romance, part historical romance, and some things I cannot name because I do not know how to name them.

From the beginning you know Lilly is dead. Neave, her sister, needs to know how. Much of the story is told through Neave's eyes but Lilly fills in her parts when it would clarify what is happening. Then you get Mr. Boppit's view. I liked Neave and Mr. Boppit (loved him actually) but Lilly should have been paddled and Neave would never have been put in danger.


As a young teen, Neave read for a neighbor lady and she "borrowed" a forbidden romance which is interspersed through the story. It parallels Neave's life and paves the way for her to grow into her life. She is stronger than she realizes and has talents she develops as they are needed.

I liked this book. It was different and fresh, not cliched.

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