Tag: mystery

Grist Mill Road

Author: Christopher J. Yates
Published: January 9, 2018
339 pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: January 1-15, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 1 star

Book Description from Amazon:

The year is 1982; the setting, an Edenic hamlet some ninety miles north of New York City. There, among the craggy rock cliffs and glacial ponds of timeworn mountains, three friends—Patrick, Matthew, and Hannah—are bound together by a terrible and seemingly senseless crime. Twenty-six years later, in New York City, living lives their younger selves never could have predicted, the three meet again—with even more devastating results.

Here is a triple helix of a story structure, a sharp-edged love triangle complete with an Atonement style revelation. Character-driven, gorgeously written and wrenching, it exposes the poisonous resentments, sexual longings, and reservoirs of violence that roil just below the orderly surface of small town life.

Jessica’s Review:

Grist Mill Road was a book that was not a good fit for me.  The premise was strong and promised to be one I would not want to put down. In actuality, it was anything but that. I will try to review as best I can without giving away spoilers.

The opening shows the true horror of a crime that occurs that involves children.  Remember this fact. Our protagonists Patch, Hannah, and Matthew are a young ‘twelve’, thirteen, and an ‘older’ fourteen years old.  The crime is barbaric and it is described from the first line that you won’t forget.

There are two time periods in Grist Mill Road: 1982 and 2008.I found the 1982 time period more thought provoking than the 2008 time period. I also found myself losing interest in the middle of the novel. What kept me reading was wanting to find out the motive of this crime.  The crime is a very heinous one and ultimately not forgivable.  Yates tried to make us feel empathetic for the guilty party based on other things done to this person, but he was not successful.  I understood the pain the person felt, but I felt no empathy. The crime is too extreme and there was nothing redeeming in this novel for me.

There are many themes including secrets and trust which becomes very important in 2008. I felt like I did not get to know Hannah well in her narrations as the main focus seemed to be her partner.  I wanted to get to know more about Hannah.

The biggest difficulty for me with Grist Mill Road was the lack of quotation marks. They are not used in the entire book. This  made it difficult to distinguish who was talking. It became distracting for me.

I wanted to like this book, but sadly this was not the case. I would like to thank the publisher Picador for my copy I was granted. I wish I could give a positive review. I would be willing to give Yates another chance and read his first novel Black Chalk.

I would like to say that I love the cover of Grist Mill Road! It is perfect for this novel. It is so simplistic, yet accomplishes what it needs.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Anatomy of a Scandal

Author: Sarah Vaughan
To Be Published: January 23, 2018
400 pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 25-December 9, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description from Amazon:

An astonishingly incisive and suspenseful novel about a scandal amongst Britain’s privileged elite and the women caught up in its wake.

Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.

Most people would prefer not to try to understand what passes between a man and a woman when they are alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in an elevator… Or alone in the moonlit courtyard of an Oxford college, where a girl once stood before a boy, heart pounding with excitement, then fear. Sophie never understood why her tutorial partner Holly left Oxford so abruptly. What would she think, if she knew the truth?

Jessica’s Review:

It seems like we are hearing daily now of sex scandals and the issue of consent in the entertainment and political arenas.  Anatomy of a Scandal deals with this issue as well in the political field in Britain. It is told through multiple points of view: James, Sophie, and Kate. Scandal also moves between past and present.  It is clearly shown who the narrator is and when, so it prevents reader confusion.

It is a character driven novel and we find out how the past affects who people become.  It was intriguing to read how one event can shape a whole person’s life.  It is a slow moving novel but I found myself interested in the court case.  You wonder throughout the novel if James is guilty or not. We do get the answer to this question.

I felt for Sophie throughout the novel as she tries to decide what she is going to do: Support her husband or not?   She wonders did he do this or not? I liked Kate a lot. She is a very tough barrister that I would like to see more of.  She did have to grow on me but she became my favorite character.

Though slow moving, the plot twists keep you going. I had difficultly reading it because it was almost too glacial for me, but then we would get a twist and it would keep me wanting to read it. I absolutely loved the end!  I wanted more when I was finished. The ending was very satisfying for me.

Anatomy of a Scandal is recommended. Special thanks to Atria Books and Emily Bestler Books for sending me a print arc copy!

Pre-Order Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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The Shadow Land

Author: Elizabeth Kostova
497 Pages
Published: April 11, 2017

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars

Description from Amazon:

A young American woman, Alexandra Boyd, has traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping that life abroad will salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. Soon after arriving in this elegant East European city, however, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi—and realizes too late that she has accidentally kept one of their bags. Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name: Stoyan Lazarov. Raising the hinged lid, she discovers that she is holding an urn filled with human ashes.

As Alexandra sets out to locate the family and return this precious item, she will first have to uncover the secrets of a talented musician who was shattered by political oppression—and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger. Elizabeth Kostova’s new novel is a tale of immense scope that delves into the horrors of a century and traverses the culture and landscape of this mysterious country. Suspenseful and beautifully written, it explores the power of stories, the pull of the past, and the hope and meaning that can sometimes be found in the aftermath of loss.

Kim’s Review:

Elizabeth Kostova is one of those authors that I will read no matter what. The Historian is one of my all time favorite books and The Swan Thieves was also excellent. Somehow, she managed to publish a book in April and I missed it until the beginning of December . . . sad I know! But as soon as I saw it, I didn’t even read the description, I automatically bought it. I tried very hard to not compare it to The Historian; I didn’t always succeed, but I did try!

From the beginning, I liked Alexandra. There were some times that I got a little tired of her letting one event, an important event, long in her past, define her present. Other than that, her willing and helpful spirit was very refreshing. She didn’t give driving all over Bulgaria for a family she only interacted with once for a short time, a second thought. Bobby, became one of my favorite characters! I was so disappointed when I found out that he was gay! (ok, calm down snowflakes, I’m not homophobic!) He and Alexandra had such cute chemistry and even a bit of a physical relationship that could have blossomed into such a good romance!!! I kept waiting to find out that Alexandra had turned him straight!!

The history in this story was fascinating! I’ve always loved Eastern European/Russian history, but I’d never studied Bulgaria specifically. Kostova was able to combine her easy story telling skills with history that kept me turning the page. The scope wasn’t nearly as big as The Historian, but I felt that The Shadow Land was the more emotional of the two. The one thing that keeps me from giving this book 5 stars is the odd relationship that exists between Alexandra and Neven. I don’t want to give anything away, I’ll just say that it seemed to be a stretch for me. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone looking for great historical fiction. I would also recommend this to every single older teenager, especially the ones who look at communism thru rose colored glasses. This book did a great job of showing just how bad communism is on a practical level.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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