Well Lent has come and went once again (Happy early Easter everyone!). For those of you who don’t remember, instead of giving something up, which I always fail horribly at, I pledged to do more of the things that make me happy, less stressed, and a more loving person who puts positive energy into the universe. The top three were read more, write more, and exercise more.
As you can tell by my absence, I didn’t quite succeed at writing more and the empty tub of Ben & Jerry’s in my trash can is a clear sign of my dedication to fitness…
But! Lucky for you I did read quite a bit, finishing 3.5 books over the last 40ish days. So on that note, let me give my two sense on each (besides the 1/2 book which was London, which you already heard about…I hope.. please read my blog…please?).
The first book I finished was Since You’ve Been Gone by Anouska Knight. You have probably never heard of this book, because it is not on any list that I know of, but it was received as a gift and had baked goods in pretty pastel colors on the front;right up my alley! Actually, I was a little concerned of what I was getting myself into as this is published by Harlequin Press, which has a reputation for Fabio-esque romance novels.
Since You’ve Been Gone did have its “over the top imagery” moments, if you will, but it was not the whole focus of the book, so I was still able to enjoy it. The main character, Holly, is in a rut, or bit of melancholia really, after the sudden loss of her husband. Putting her focus into her business, a cake shop, she lives day to day rather than in the moment. That is until she starts receiving orders from one particular client who time will tell if he is trouble or a tasty treat.
Since You’ve Been Gone is nothing spectacular. Its plot line is a simple as it seems: Girl looses boy, girl meets boy, silliness ensues, and then… well I don’t want to ruin the ending or anything, but I think we all know there isn’t any plot twists here. If you need something light and fun, and you’re low on cash (you will probably find this one in the bargain section), then you will thoroughly enjoy. Overall, given the genre, I give it 4 out 5 stars.
The second book I finished was The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Another gift, but this one I though looked a little more promising. It is touted as a thriller, with the cover of my copy quoting Stephen King saying, “The #1 book of 2009…Several sleepless nights guaranteed.” With that sort of recommendation I was ready for some Gone Girl-esque suspense.
The Little Stranger focuses on the remaining residents of Hundreds Hall, a once vibrant Victorian edifice, that is quite literally sinking into the ground in the Post-War era. The widowed Mrs. Ayres and her adult children, Caroline and Roderick still live on the estate, hanging on to a lifestyle and a status that has long gone by.
After a chance encounter with the simpleton Dr. Faraday, the family takes him in as a friend and he becomes attune to the fact that something within not just the Ayres’s home, but the family members themselves, has gone amiss. Are they cursed, haunted, or simply going mad after remaining stagnant for so long? That is the mystery posed.
However, this mystery is not at all that thrilling, and actually turns out rather predictable and dull. Certainly not as chilling or gripping as a Stephen King novel. The writing was well done and helped progress the novel forward, but was not a page turner due to its mystery.
I did enjoy The Little Stranger, but was disappointed. But for those who like a period piece, this was Ms. Havisham meets Downton Abbey, then you might enjoy it. I’m giving this a 3 out of 5 stars.
The final book I read is the showstopper! Devil in the White City by Erik Larson is the true history of how the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair came to be and the sub-story about the terrifying serial killer that lived there under the radar. Reader’s will follow architectural mastermind Daniel Burnham as he struggles to out do Paris in the building of the World’s Columbian Exposition, with far less time and far less resources. One of the biggest concerns is what can be built that can surpass Eiffel’s tower?
Flip over to the story’s other mastermind, this one criminal, who has many aliases but is most accurately known as Dr. H.H. Holmes. With an “entrepreneurial spirit” Holmes comes to the World’s Fair to create several shell companies which will help him hide his true identity and his true intentions. With his sparkling blue eyes and school boy charm, how could anyone accuse him of being a ruthless psychopath?
Larson does a fabulous job of telling both sides to this story which reads like fiction but is amazingly a great piece of history. Even those that do not tend to stray from fiction should give this book a try. It is flawless in its ability to captivate the reader and send a chill down your spine! I am very interested in reading Larson’s other works, especially In the Garden of Beasts.
If that review still doesn’t have you running out to by this book, also take into account that you might want to read this before Leo takes to the screen as Holmes. No release date has been set, but he and Scorsese are diligently at work!
Obviously giving this a 5 out of 5 stars!
So Happy Easter everyone, and happy reading!