Monday, January 28, 2013

White Picket Prisons

White Picket PrisonsWhite Picket Prisons by Phil Taylor
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The author is an acquaintance who asked me to review his book. If he hadn't asked me, I would have never wasted two weeks on something that obviously needs an author and an editor. There are so many things wrong with this "book" I don't even know where to start but for the benefit of the author, I'll try. There are serious POV issues within the sections. For example, in one section the story changes POV from first person character (Cooper) to third person secondary character (Chuck) which is fine until the POV cuts to first person all for the benefit of a not-so-witty commentary before flipping back to third person again. And then there's the tense - as in the story doesn't know if it's being told past tense or present tense as it seems to do alot of both depending if the author wants to impart a bit of foreshadowing or not. Poor grammar, weak jokes mostly based on homosexuality (which are not funny), sloppy writing, lazy characterizations, and a thin plot round out this book as a loser. The author's writing may be cute on his blog, but in novel format falls far short of being funny or readworthy. Don't waste your time on this self-published book, it's definitely not going anywhere.

Summary: Gooby, Chuck, Cliff and Cooper return to their old neighborhood for a funeral. For the first time they see the idyllic neighborhood of their childhood through the eyes of adults and what they discover challenges everything they thought they knew about themselves and each other. Our heroes are the guys next door, grown ups by day but the same stupid kids when they're together, humorously meeting adulthood and a murder mystery head on. The questions is not will they survive the bad guys, but will they survive each other?

Monday, January 21, 2013

The House at Riverton

The House at RivertonThe House at Riverton by Kate Morton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is exactly the kind of book that I love: gothic historical fiction. So many great books - Keeping The House, The Debutante, Water For Elephants - have followed this format and I loved them. Maybe it was because I read this one so closely to The Debutante (which I absolutely ADORED) that I instantly bonded with this book. It was only life (and simultaneously reading a Diana Gabaldon door stopper) that prevented me from reading this book quickly.

So... about the book... A great, tragic plot line. One of those where 80% of the main characters die during the story. Characterization was a little flat, but still worthy characters. The writing was a little bogged down by lengthy (and occasionally pointless) dialogue, but not poorly written. Overall I did feel that the book could have used a little less setup to get into real story and about two less subplots.

I have another book by this author on my shelf and I definitely look forward to reading it.

Synopsis: Grace Bradley went to work at Riverton House as a servant when she was just a girl, before the First World War. For years her life was inextricably tied up with the Hartford family, most particularly the two daughters, Hannah and Emmeline.

In the summer of 1924, at a glittering society party held at the House, a young poet shot himself. The only witnesses were Hannah and Emmeline, and only they—and Grace—know the truth.

The novel opens in 1999 when Grace is ninety-eight years old, living out her last days in a nursing home. She is visited by a young director who is making a film bout the events of that summer in 1924. She takes Grace back to Riverton House and reawakens her memories. Told in flashback, this is the story of Grace's youth suring the last days of Edwardian aristocratic privilege shattered by war, of the vibrant 1920s and of the changes she witnessed as an entire way of life vanished forever.
The novel is full of secrets—some revealed, others hidden forever.

Recommended Reading:
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

An Echo in The Bone (Re-Read)

An Echo in the Bone (Outlander, #7)An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First Reading:
It's always hard to review a DG book. She packs so much into each story - the details amaze me! The book was amazing, to say the least. DG took the storyline in a different direction - we followed not only Claire and Jamie's perspectives, but also Brianna and Roger, and William (Jamie's illegitimate son) and John Grey. The book ended with a cliffhanger, but I am far from dissatisfied with the ending. If anything, I'll be counting the days until the next book is released.

Second Reading:
I'm holding to everything I said after the first read. Incredibly detailed. I loved it. It did take me a little longer to get going on this one (two months, anyone?) but once I really gave reading my full attention the pages flew by. A lot of reviews complain about "too much Brianna", but I love her and Roger Mac. The only thing that really caught me off guard was the sudden ending. I had forgotten that last chapter and how one turns the page, expecting MORE and it's just.not.there. And oddly, I didn't feel dissatisfied or unfinished when I realized it was done. (Which I guess I said in the first review as well.) I am so glad I re-read this book. Now I want to find the time to do the entire series again. Motivation for 2013? We shall see...