Thursday, January 31, 2013

Three Graves Full

by Jamie Mason
I have discovered a new author to add to my favorites list.   I read this entire book thinking this was a male author and was blown away to discover it was a female.  I don't know that I am always able to distinguish one from the other but usually I know something about the author going into a book and quite often the name provides that information.  Not that I care one way or the other - I have both male and female authors in my favorites list - but I just assumed this author was a man.  And, frankly, the book read like it was written by a man.
I loved this book!  Absolutely, loved it.  The writing was spot on. I felt like I was watching a movie instead of reading because I could see and sense the action that well.  A few weeks ago I couldn't stay involved with a book because I was working on a quilt.  This week I was at the finishing stages of that quilt, which usually holds my undivided attention but I was forced to divide my time between it and this book.  I wanted to pull my hair out because both were calling me with equal draw.  
Three Graves Full made me laugh, bite my fingernails, and turn pages as fast as I could go.  One of the best books I've read in the last several years.  And to think it's a debut novel.  Amazing!  I can't wait until Mason's next book.  Here's the write-up from Net Galley that enticed me to request a copy of this book for review:
There is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard.”With this memorable first line, we meet Jason Getty, a regular guy in every mild sense of the word. But extraordinary circumstances push this ordinary man to do something he can’t undo...and now he must live with the undeniable reality of his actions. And just as Jason does finally learn to live with it, a landscaper discovers a body on his property—only it’s not the body Jason buried.As Jason’s fragile peace begins to unravel, his life is hitched to the fortunes of several strangers: Leah, an abandoned woman looking for answers to her heartbreak; Tim, a small-town detective just doing his job; and Boyd, a fringe-dweller whose past is about to catch up to him—all of them in the wake and shadow of a dead man who had it coming.With the tense pacing of a thriller and the language and beauty of a fine literary novel, Three Graves Full heralds the arrival of a stunning new voice in fiction.
I usually don't suggest mysteries/thrillers for bookclub but this one I would recommend.  There are so many good literary passages with insight into the human psyche, bullying, self-doubt, truth & lies.  I highlighted many.  I bargained with my husband that if he would read Three Graves Full, I would relinquish my hold on the Kindle until he finished it.  I'm that desperate to have someone to discuss it with me.  Let me know if you read this book and what you think.  It goes on sale Feb. 12, I believe.  Watch for it.  This is an author you will hear more about.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The German Suitcase

by Greg Dinallo

I loved this book.  The story is told in two different time periods ~ present day and 1944.  In present day an advertising firm gets a hold of an old German suitcase that was sitting on the curb with the garbage.  They decide to use the suitcase in an ad campaign and try to locate the owner.

In WWII Germany we learn about the people who owned the suitcase and the events of their lives.  At one point it belongs to an SS officer and later to a Jewish medical student on the run from the SS and Gestapo.

There's a bit of mystery that easily figured but I think that was the author's intention.  I don't usually figure out mysteries so I was a little surprised that it was so easy but by the time I figured it out there was the tension of what might happen to that character if I was right.  The author created a greater concern for the reader than solving the mystery.

I learned more about the evils of the Nazi regime and the atrocities they carried out.  At the same time I learned more of the Jewish culture and I enjoyed that part.  This book relieves the horrific by switching back and forth between time periods and stories.  I appreciated that because it gave me time to contemplate and to catch my breath.  There were times when the scene shifted and I didn't want it to because I wanted to find out what was going to happen next, but I prefer books that tell more than one story at a time that are connected in some way.

The German Suitcase reminds me that I can't make broad generalizations about people or circumstances.  I need that reminder on a regular basis.  Sometimes, as humans, we think we can sum up a person's motives in a single, overreaching judgement.  People are complex and so are their lives. I'm working at righting my grandfather's history and I have to be so careful to not draw conclusions but to just report events and hope they let those who read about him to feel his humanity, his time period, and his struggles.  I hope I never say that he did this because of that.  The only ones who know that is him and God.   Kind of wandered away from the book, but that is one insight the book provided me.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in history, WWII, or a well-written and intriguing book.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Speaking From Among the Bones

by Alan Bradley

I have heard and read many good things about the Flavia de Luce series.  Enough so that I bought the first three books but, alas, they set on my bookshelf unread.

That is one of the problems with accepting galleys to read ~ I always feel pressed to read the next in line so I don't pick up and read the lovely books languishing on my shelves.  I suppose if I was a faster reader I could do both.  Or if I didn't get so wrapped up in quilting, genealogy, or gardening then I would be able to read more.  The only plausible solution is to sleep less but then I would be miserable as would be those who had to live with me.

When Netgalley offered book four in this series I requested it.  Not the ideal situation ~ to read book 4 first but I thought it would provide the push I need to fall head over heels in love with this series so that I could not wait to go back and indulge in the earlier three.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

I was not prepared for a 12-yr-old heroine or the fact that these read like Young Adult fare.  I was not captivated enough to want to read when I could be working on my beautiful quilt.  I probably would have quit after 20 or 40 or 60 pages if it wasn't for the good reviews I had read on the earlier books.  Somewhere along the line I became intrigued but still didn't carve out time to read very often.  By the end I decided it was an okay book and I had grown quite fond of Favia.  And there was an interesting bombshell right at the end that makes me want to read book five in the future but I'm really not crazy about this series.  Since I own the other books I suspect I will get around to reading them someday but I don't feel compelled to get to them sooner than later.

I highlighted a few good passages.  This one from our young Heroine who is precocious and a budding chemist.
I had found by experience that putting things down on paper helped to clear the mind in precisely the same way, as Mrs. Mullet had taught me, that an eggshell clarifies the consomme or coffee, which, of course, is a simple matter of chemistry.  The albumin contained in the eggshell has the property of collecting and binding the rubbish that floats in the dark liquid, which can then be removed and discarded in a single reeking clot: a perfect description of the writing process.
Wouldn't those be fun sentences to diagram?!  Another quote from Flavia.
Antigone smiled at me like a Madonna who had just had a foot massage.
I do love the covers and they look quite nice stacked on top of each other just across the room from where I sit at my computer.  The first, The sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, is green.  The next yellow and the third is a pretty purple.  And the last is blue.  I may take them to the quilt store and see if I can find those pretty colors in fabric.

This book will be available in bookstores on Jan 29.