Abundant Books

The blog of a self confessed book addict. Reviews and musing about what, where and how I read.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Lace Reader
By Brunonia Barry

Look into the lace... When the eyes begin to fill with tears and the patience is long exhausted, there will appear a glimpse of something not quite seen... In this moment, an image will begin to form... in the space between what is real and what is only imagined. Can you read your future in a piece of lace? All of the Whitney women can.

The Lace Reader retains the strange magic of a vivid dream, though Barry's portrayal of modern-day Salem, Massachusetts - with its fascinating cast of eccentrics - is reportedly spot-on. Some of its stranger residents include generations of Whitney women, with a gift for seeing the future in the lace they make. Towner Whitney, back to Salem from self-imposed exile on the West Coast, has plans for recuperation that evaporate with her great-aunt Eva's mysterious disappearance and drowning. Fighting fear from a traumatic adolescence she can barely remember, Towner digs in for answers. But questions compound with the disappearance of a young woman under the thrall of a local fire-and-brimstone preacher, whose history of violence against Whitney women makes the situation personal for Towner. Her role in cop John Rafferty's investigation sparks a tentative romance. And as they scramble to avert disaster, the past that had slipped through the gaps in Towner's memory explodes into the present with a violence that capsizes her concept of truth.

Told from opposing and often unreliable perspectives, the story engages the reader s own beliefs. Should we listen to Towner, who may be losing her mind for the second time? Or should we believe John Rafferty, a no nonsense New York detective, who ran away from the city to a simpler place only to find himself inextricably involved in a psychic tug of war with all three generations of Whitney women? Does either have the whole story? Or does the truth lie somewhere in the swirling pattern of the lace?

A really good read. When you get to the ending, you will re-evaluate everything that you read previously in the novel. I really enjoyed this book.

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The House of Lost Souls
By F.G. Cottam

The Fischer House was the scene of a vicious crime in the 1920s - a crime which still resonates as the century turns. At its heart was a beautiful, enigmatic woman called Pandora Gibson-Hoare, a photographer of genius whose only legacy is a handful of photographs and the clues to a mystery. Paul Seaton was lured to the house ten years ago and escaped, a damaged man. Now three students will die unless he dares to go back. Something at the house wants Paul back but this time he has Nick Mason at his side, and maybe Mason's military skills and courage will be enough for good and hope to prevail.

A good enough mystery novel, with enough in it to keep you guessing until the very end. A good holiday read and an author that I will keep an eye on.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Beneath a Rising Moon (Ripple Creek, Book 1)
By Keri Arthur

Keri Arthur once again creates a believable alternate reality in which the paranormal exist among us. In this, the first of the Ripple Creek novels, Neva Grant, a golden werewolf with psychic powers, investigates the assault of her twin sister Savannah. Savannah is a ranger on the werewolf reservation and was attacked by a silver werewolf while investigating a series of murders. Neva infiltrates the stronghold of the silver werewolves and becomes involved with one of them to further her investigation. It quickly becomes apparent that both she and Duncan are in danger from the murderer.

Duncan and Neva find themselves falling in love, even though Neva is terrified to admit it, and she has good reason: Duncan has a reputation of being wild, never staying with one mate for more than a week, and getting thrown in jail. Will Duncan convince Neva that she is his soul mate? More importantly, will Neva have the courage to look beyond Duncan's reputation and acknowledge her love for him before the moon phase is up and he leaves her life, possibly forever?

While I enjoyed this book, my one complaint is that, for being a book about werewolves, I didn't think that Arthur went into enough detail on her idea of a werewolf. For example, she didn't describe the change from human to wolf and back again in enough detail. What happened to their clothes when they changed? Was the change painless, fluid, etc? I thoroughly enjoy some of her other books, but this series is primarily a romance with supernatural characters - a nice little "bodice-ripper" and a very quick book. Great for an afternoon escape.

Will I read the next in the series? Haven't made up my mind yet - if I run out of other reading material, maybe.

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The Birth House
By Ami McKay

I chose this novel for a BRA book club selection, having read a review on it somewhere and thinking that it sounded really interesting.

When Dr. Gilbert Thomas, self-proclaimed expert in hygienic, pain-free childbirth, opens a practice in a Nova Scotia coastal village during the World War I years, it sets the stage for a classic conflict between long-held traditions and modern medicine. Seventeen-year-old Dora Rare, the only Rare daughter within five generations, improves her lot in life by becoming the apprentice of Marie Babineau, the independent but caring Acadian midwife who helped bring several generations of Scots Bay residents into the world. The women of the village (not to mention their husbands) grow bitterly divided when Dr. Thomas calls the health and safety of expectant mothers into question. His vengeful actions toward Dora herself - a young woman looking for guidance with her own love life - turn particularly personal as well. Dora's development into a strong, independent woman is extremely gratifying.

McKay has fashioned what she terms a "literary scrapbook," reproducing and re-creating historical news clippings, advertisements, and letters within the text. This sensitively written novel of women's birthing rituals, strengths, and friendships will appeal to readers who enjoy gentle humour and plenty of homespun wisdom.

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The Sleeping Doll
By Jeffrey Deaver

Kathryn Dance, an investigator with the California Bureau of Investigation is the lead cop handling the escape of psychopathic killer Daniel Pell, dubbed "Son of Manson" by the press for his "family" of young runaways and his most horrendous crime, the murders of computer engineer William Croyton, Croyton's wife and two of their three children. The only child left alive, nine-year-old Theresa, is known as the Sleeping Doll. Pell, charismatic and diabolically intelligent, continually eludes capture, but Dance, a specialist in interrogation and kinesics (or body language), is never more than a few suspenseful minutes behind. Dance is nicely detailed, and procedural scenes where she uses somatic cues to ferret out liars are fascinating. The book sags in its long middle, but toward the end Deaver digs into his bottomless bag of unexpected twists and turns, keeping readers wide-eyed with surprise.

This is a BRA book club selection and I don't normally read crime. The Sleeping Doll is a ripper of a yarn. Great characters with terrific development through the book, fast paced, you won't want this read to end but you won't be able to keep from devouring each line.

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My Holidays

I've been on holidays and caught up with some reading. I'll be reviewing the books as soon as I can. I certainly enjoyed reading in the sunshine and Australian landscape.

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