Monday, January 30, 2012

#2 (2012)

PropertyProperty by Valerie Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The year is 1828

.....a sugar plantation in Louisiana, where Slavery is in flower for both the slaves and slave owners

The Slave Owners see “slave rebellions” around every they should, since their entire way of life is dependent on the labor of their “lowly blacks”.....and, our “heroine” Manon Gaudet, is no exception...though she is but the wife of a boorish “Massa”, Manon is not stupid...just crippled by her social status (she is “chattel” to her husband, as much as his slaves) and her relationship to Sarah (her personal slave..and her husband’s mistress..mother to his bastard children)

This is not a pretty story....and Manon’s situation isn’t new (how many women do you know who resent their husband’s cheating...but, merely, seethe...rather than kick the bastard out??)...but I admire Ms Martin’s delivery here..

The story is told in Manon’s “cold” voice...full of anger and frustration... I actually felt sorry for her

Sarah?......had a taste of Freedom....was captured and returned

I find the last pages painfully ironic...where Manon is “dumbfounded” by certain aspects of Sarah’s oh-so-short Freedom


4 Stars

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

#1 (2012)

The Quiet TwinThe Quiet Twin by Dan Vyleta

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

...captures the paranoia endemic to society in Vienna..October 1939

What begins as an investigation into the killing of a neighbor's dog.....leads one Doctor Beer into the darker aspects of the lives of his neighbors. The diversity of social classes living in one apartment complex...surrounding a courtyard..

In this time and place...everyone had secrets..and would kill to keep them

Doctor Beer treats a young woman with sexual issues...a neighbor across the courtyard is caring for a "mentally defective" sister....the little girl, around the way...the humpbacked with an alcoholic father (and keeps a groundhog as a "pet")....and Doctor Beer has homosexual issues of his own....and the official, Nazi-endorsed "spy" is always On Duty

This is where I stop....if you're out this is a Wonder

4 1/2 Stars

***this was a Net Galley***

Sunday, January 15, 2012

#25 (2011)

Pure (Pure #1)Pure by Julianna Baggott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the Apocalypse (here, quaintly termed THE DETONATIONS) society was divided into those inside THE DOME (the "Pures", the perfect ones, the "hope" for the future) and those outside (the wretches, the ailing, the magnificently disfigured)

Pressia and Partridge are two young people trying to escape their Fate...Partridge from inside THE DOME..where everything isn't as "perfect" as it seems..and Pressia from outside...where life is Hell no matter how hard one squints

Given that they both face the same Fate...conscription into the Military, where they will, literally, be turned into Super Soldiers or, failing that, be killed....Flight is the only option

When these two meet (and compare notes) an Apocalypse of another sort ensues..which makes for a great read

No spoilers here...just say that these young people have lived under a dark cloud of lies..regarding Family

This would be a great book for Book Club reads...if only to discuss the whole issue of "purity" as it concerns race and class....and Governmental control of the people...and lies, again

I think this is so much more than a YA title...and recommend it to anyone who favors Dystopian fiction...and doesn't mind being smacked in the face by fine writing...Ms Baggott did a grand job here..and i love her for it

4 Stars...well deserved

**This was a Net Galley**

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 14, 2012

#22 (2011)

Ashes to Dust (Þóra Guðmundsdóttir, #3)Ashes to Dust by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thirty years after the volcanic eruption on Heimaey (the only populated island of Iceland's Westman Archipelago) the archeologists excavating the homes that had been buried in ash.....discovered three corpses and a discrete head, in the basement of a house belonging to one Markus Magnusson. Mr Magnusson enlists the help of his attorney, Thora Gudmundsdottir, whose lot in life seems to be the defense of eccentric clients. Markus, already a suspect in the death of a childhood friend, is also a master of the Tall Tale...and the one he spins is full of family secrets and/or outright lies..

Needless to say this story is complex..full of the aforementioned secrets and lies...fear of social stigma...sexual perversion and inadequacy...the whole boiling stew that makes for a good murder story. And it is that...with just enough of Thora's personal life thrown in to make the reader aware her life outside murder, mayhem and the Law...

However, I found the comparison to Steig Larsson's MILLENIUM TRILOGY a little off putting. I saw more of P D James' Adam Dalgliesh, and that series of police procedurals, visible here...Liz Salander is nowhere to be found in this book (though Thora's PA is a bit of a Goth Girl)....and the thrills are kept to a dull roar. Our Thora may no be glamourous, but she's a decent detective/lawyer

Recommended for mystery buffs and those who enjoy their ScandiCrime with more brains than brawn.

I haven't read any other of Ms Sigurdardottir's work, so I don't know how this book compares to her other titles

4 Stars

**This was a Net Galley**

Saturday, January 7, 2012

#24 (2011)

Unraveling IsobelUnraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Isobel's life starts to unravel after her Mom marries a man she met Online....and continues after "the family" moves to Step Dad's "estate" on some godforskaen island off the coast of Washington state. Add a hunky, but Untouchable step brother..and you have the makings for some serious Teen Angst (with a side of Paranormal, after the dead step sister begins visiting, and raising questions about the deaths of her and her mother)

All of which would be unbearable, and probably unreadable...except for Isobel's edgy sarcasm and native Good Sense...and an honest fear of Mental Illness/Instability. Her natural father , the schizophrenic artist, is both a source of fear and regret...a heavy burden for any seventeen year old to bear..

That being said, I see this as a story, not so much of Isobel unraveling, as the fabric of her life being shredded by forces, and people, beyond her control..That she survives with her sense of humor intact can be chalked up to moxie...and her keen eye for people...who to trust..who to ignore.

The best Coming-of-Age stories don't preach...they let the character live their lives and work things out for themselves...mistakes and all. This is one of the best I've read in quite a while....I hope there are many Isobels out there.

3 Stars

****This was from Simon & Schuster Galley Grab****