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Showing posts from January, 2011

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Remarkable Creatures is not the first Tracy Chevalier novel that I've read, and I'm sure it won't be the last.  Previously I've read The Virgin Blue and possibly another one.  I find that I always enjoy her novels and often they are hard to put down despite the long chapters.  Usually long chapters annoy me because I like to read a book by chapter, and I don't like to go away from it or put it down in the middle of a chapter.  Indeed sometimes long chapters are enough to put me off a book entirely.  And don't even get me started on Hemingway's The Old Man And The Sea--an entire book made up of ONE chapter: it was enough to drive me to distraction.

Set in early nineteenth century England, the chapters alternate between two narrators: Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot.  Anning and Philpot are two female historical figures that influenced fossil science despite the restrictions set upon their gender by nature of the time period.  The novel tells the engrossing…

Apart From The Crowd by Anna McPartlin

This is McPartlin's second novel after Pack Up The Moon (which I have not read yet); it is also the second McPartlin novel I've read.  Alexandra, Gone, the first one I read, is actually her fourth novel.  I can tell the difference between the two novels as far as writing craft goes, and Apart From The Crowd is slow getting started until it sets up its characters and its story.  The story takes a good hundred pages or so to get rolling, but once it goes the reader will be glad they hung in there because the sparks of sharp wit and vivid characterization that ran so thoroughly through Alexandra, Gone are present in this one.  Music plays an integral role in the characters' lives as it did to the plot in Alexandra, Gone.

The novel alternates between the third person perspective of four characters: Penny, Ivan, and Mary, all Irish; and Sam, an American.  Each character has their own demons and past tragedies and misfortunes that need exorcising and that have in different ways …

Come Sunday by Isla Morley

Come Sunday is the debut novel by South African ex-patriot Isla Morley, who lives in California.

Abbe grew up in apartheid South Africa while the country was rumbling painfully toward progressive reform and revolution.  The daughter of an alcoholic, controlling, malicious, violent and abusive father and a mother whose spirit, heart and family are broken and trampled down to dust by her husband and unhappy marriage, Abbe fell for the opposite type of man for her husband: Greg.  A methodist preacher-man, Greg lives his life by the tenets of Christ: forgiving, quiet, dispassionate and forever turning the other cheek and refusing to fight back.  Now a wife and mother and years into her marriage Abbe longs for passion and a reprieve from the boredom that permeates her marriage and her life in idyllic Hawaii where her husband shepherds a reluctant and increasingly mutinous flock.

Upon returning to a friend's house where they left their three year old daughter while they went to a movie…

Alexandra, Gone by Anna McPartlin

This book has made me a fan of Anna McPartlin.  There's only one other title by McPartlin in the county library system, and after I've read that one I either have to track the others down through ILL or recommend her other titles be added to our library.  Unless I hate the one at home in which case I won't bother with the others.  McPartlin is an Irish writer; she lives in Ireland and her novels are set in Ireland.  In Ireland and the UK Alexandra, Gone was published as So What If I'm Broken and apparently, according to her website, McPartlin hated the latter title and much preferred the title under which the novel was published in the US.  I don't know that I hate the UK title, but the US title makes more sense.  Having read the novel, I'm not really sure the UK title fits the story and we all know how annoying it is when a title has no connection to the story--please see The Dead Travel Fast's review from a couple weeks ago for a refresher.

As girls Alexa…

Once Upon A Day by Lisa Tucker

This is apparently the second novel by Lisa Tucker that I've read.  This realization only dawned on me when I was at least halfway through the book.  Previously I've read and reviewed The Promised World which was released after Once Upon A Day.  Both novels share similar themes of a terribly dysfunctional family with tragic secrets long buried in the past that are the key to resolving the issues the families face in the present.  This was a thoroughly absorbing book and turned out to be quite the page turner.  However, in a way I feel as if the ending left me hanging just a bit.

Dorothea and her brother Jimmy were raised in total isolation and seclusion from the modern day world, society and people by their father who is controlling and overprotective in the extreme.  One could argue that his brand of overprotective borders on abuse or neglect as it is left both children extremely ill prepared to deal with and relate to the outside world.  Then Jimmy moves to the city and when…