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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

AT THE WATER'S EDGE by Sara Gruen....A hard book to review.

From the book's blurb:
"After disgracing themselves at a high society New Year’s Eve party in Philadelphia in 1944, Madeline Hyde and her husband, Ellis, are cut off financially by his father, a former army colonel who is already ashamed of his son’s inability to serve in the war. When Ellis and his best friend, Hank, decide that the only way to regain the Colonel’s favor is to succeed where the Colonel very publicly failed—by hunting down the famous Loch Ness monster—Maddie reluctantly follows them across the Atlantic, leaving her sheltered world behind.

The trio find themselves in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, where the locals have nothing but contempt for the privileged interlopers. Maddie is left on her own at the isolated inn, where food is rationed, fuel is scarce, and a knock from the postman can bring tragic news. Yet she finds herself falling in love with the stark beauty and subtle magic of the Scottish countryside. Gradually she comes to know the villagers, and the friendships she forms with two young women open her up to a larger world than she knew existed. Maddie begins to see that nothing is as it first appears: the values she holds dear prove unsustainable, and monsters lurk where they are least expected.

As she embraces a fuller sense of who she might be, Maddie becomes aware not only of the dark forces around her, but of life’s beauty and surprising possibilities."

                                                                     ***

My thoughts:
I am having a hard time writing this review.
I didn't like the book, but I did, finally.
I didn't care about the characters, but I did, finally; well at least about a couple of them.
I didn't think the plot plausible, crossing the Atlantic to hunt for the Loch Ness Monster in the middle of a world war... but I kept reading.

Get the picture? 
The forward was beautifully written and promised so much more. However, from Chapter 1 the writing was sophomoric, and I wondered if the same person wrote both the forward and the novel itself. Then, again the writing changed and improved as the novel continued. 

The initial plotline was so insipid, that I almost stopped reading, but I didn't for I had promised my friends a review. As I reached further into the book, a second plotline emerged. This one was plausible, gripping, and entertaining.

As I reached the last 1/4 of the book, I couldn't stop reading. Then when I finished it, I was sorry that I had hurried through the ending. Much to my amazement, I kept thinking about the characters, those from the second plotline, for days.

This may not be the most helpful review one will ever read, but as I said, it is a hard review to write for it was a hard book to get through, but I'm glad I did.

I did not read WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, so I do not know if this is typical of Gruen's writing. As for AT THE WATER'S EDGE, you be the judge.




Thursday, March 12, 2015

DEAD WAKE: Is anything but dead. What an engaging presentation of this historical event.

Erik Larson's DEAD WAKE is the talk of the literary world at the moment. As it should be. Because of that, I will not write a long review. To do so would be a repetition of the coverage of the release this week of this work. The scope of the book, the thoroughness of the research, and the advance praise are now known by all.

For my friends, I would just add that I have never given a numbered star rating. I find that so hard to do. I will do so now, for there is no doubt it is a first class 5 Star book. The scenes were so well written that when, as I know it will be, the rights to a movie are sold, the scriptwriters will have an easy time of it.

I should note that I have tried to read some of Larson's other works, but never finished one. I completed this book in a day and a half. (353 pages, 6/9 format).

Enough said: READ THIS BOOK, for history, for great writing, and for a good story filled with improbable events. (Some of those people didn't seem to be thinking too far ahead!)
Available at all brick and mortar book stores and at online bookstores. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy, but I don't remember through what avenue.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sea Witch is a Winner. I'm not the only one in love with Jesamiah Acorne!

I am repeating this review because today it was announced that SEA WITCH won the Prize for Favourite Fantasy Novel. What a way to celebrate World Book Day. Congratulations Helen Hollick.



The Sea Witch has bewitched me. I'm in love with a Pirate!. Thanks for introducing us Helen Hollick.

If you like mystery, fantasy, adventure, and love, and you  haven't read this book, you should.
 
Real men laugh, cry, swear, love unconditionally and sometimes behave badly. I know because that's how Jesamiah Acorne behaves and he is a real man. It is truly refreshing to read the story of such a strong yet tender character. Yes, he is a pirate. Yes, he loots and shoots. And yes, he hurts and bleeds like everyone else. Hollick has written a complete character, with all his likes, dislikes, failures and accomplishments rounding him out so that he is believable and even lovable.

Sea Witch by Helen Hollick is not your typical bodice ripper of old. This is a complete, beautifully written tale of life upon the sea for a singular group of men during a particularly rugged time in our history. As such, the sea is as much a character as is Jesamiah and Tiola, the lady who becomes his love. The ships, both pirate and merchant, are characters in themselves. Seas and ships are artfully described so that even land lovers can picture the action.

The setting is during the golden age of piracy, 1716, upon sea and land in the pirate grounds from Africa to the Caribbean.  Jesamiah Acorne has escaped the bullying of his elder half brother by becoming a pirate. At the beginning of the story he has only two loves---the sea and his freedom. Ah, but the Sea Witch changes that.

The Sea Witch. A beautiful ship? Or the beautiful woman with supernatural powers who steals Jesamiah's heart?

The author sent me a copy of this book when I agreed to 'try' it. I will admit that I was not sure I would like this book. Pirates and their environment do not usually attract my attention. Nevertheless, recently on a sunny winter's day sitting by one Gulf, I opened the book and began reading. Soon I was transported to another time and another Gulf. And I was lost in a wonderful historical action, love story. Thank you Helen Hollick for Jesamiah, Tolia, and the other characters. I will read the second book on my next trip to the Gulf. Hope it's soon!

Sea Witch is available from Amazon as a Kindle or paperback book in both the US and UK.