R.I.P.

To one of the best, I salute you. 

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“Year of Wonders” by Geraldine Brooks

Publish Date: 2001        Pages: 400

This has to be one of my most treasured historical fiction novels, hands down. I have always been fascinated by the 17th century plague and its effect on the populace, so I was very happy to have come across this piece. I have not read any of other Geraldine Brooks’ books, but have always heard good things about them (especially March).

The novel takes place in the very real village of Eyam in Derbyshire from 1665-1666. It follows the fictional villagers for 1 year while they isolate themselves from the outside world after the discovery of plague in their village. The plague arrives in clothes a traveler brought, so the villagers believe. Once it arrives it spreads like wildfire. The main character is Anna Firth, a widow, whose house the traveler stays at. She is a very kind woman, but did not seem like a strong character in the beginning. Of course that changes, but it takes some time. She along with a few other women are more rational than almost all of the male characters & hold the village together as best they can. The more I think about it, the more I realize this is a very feminist piece of literature. This novel definitely strips humanity to its core. Much like caged animals being poked with sticks, I was always amazed by the deranged things the villagers would do in their lunacy. Some of it was kind of hard to digest.

This novel is also very fast-paced. All of the things that happen in the span of 1 year will definitely stick with you after you are finished. The characters may be fictional, but the isolation they committed themselves to was real & genuine. If you love historical fiction, this novel is not to be missed!

“The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss

Pages: 662  Publish Date: 2007

About the novel~This is a sci-fi/fantasy novel which happens to be my favorite genre. It is the first in a 3 part series called The Kingkiller Chronicles. There are a couple of very interesting things this series has going for it apart from being exquisitely composed. First, it is a story within a story. Second, this novel is Day 1.

In an attempt to explain these things better, Day 1 is the day Kvothe began telling his history to a man named Chronicler. As you can probably tell by his name, Chronicler is just that. His job is to “collect” stories, and Kvothe’s is one of myth & legend. So the story within the story is the one he tells us about his extraordinary life, yet there are sporadic real-time events in play as well.

In my own words~This is the tale of a man named Kvothe. A man who came from a great, albeit very unique troupe of gypsies, became an orphan without a face in unforgiving world after tragedy (of course), then became the most gifted young magician. His story is fascinating & very noteworthy.

Patrick Rothfuss has made me love several characters apart from the protagonist. There is Denna, Wil, Simon, all of the damn professors, and the girl beneath the school, Auri. Patrick has also written a novella about Auri’s life, so I can’t wait to read that. She is a very curious character. There are also the mysterious Chandrian. These are the demons who have murdered Kvothe’s troupe & they are his primary focus. He spends his time in college trying to learn as much about them as possible. As I read this novel I began to feel how mystical they were & like Kvothe, wanted to know more.

I will say the reason I read this is because a friend that worked at Barnes & Noble at the time told me, based on my taste, I can’t go through life without reading this. He was more than right. Patrick Rothfuss is a surprisingly underrated writer. The plot, protagonist, and character development is comparable to G.Maguire, L.Grossman, & S.Clarke.

G

 

“The Dinner” by Herman Koch

the dinner

Pages: 320

Publish date: October 29, 2013

The reason I read this book is the same reason I read other mainstream novels, favorable criticism. Now I am inclined to say the human race has disappointed me yet again. Now, where to start……..

This is the narrative of a family (2 couples) who are trying to calculate the handling of a heinous crime their teenage sons have committed. Of course, the resolution will affect all of their futures.

I do believe this novel had a lot of potential. The beginning was decent and well paced, but fell flat quickly. The build up to find out what these boys did was intact, but I feel the crime was delivered to the reader too soon. Once you know what transpired, the rest of the book was a complete bore. I thought it would possibly redeem itself once they began addressing the food, but that was worse than their conversation. The main charcater seemed to do nothing but bitch about the meal and service the entire time, so I guess I am not alone with my dissatisfaction!

Overall, I feel the optimal use of this book would be an insect swatter, home insulation, fire starter, doorstop, really anything besides reading.

G

“Horns” By Joe Hill

horns

Pages: 397           Publish Date: February 16, 2010

After reading the synopsis I knew this was a novel I had to decipher, but wasn’t sure what to expect as I had never read anything by this author before. This novel is written by Stephen King’s son Joe Hill (Joe Hillstrom King). I can tell you that he is not as good as his father, but I believe in time he could accomplish the suspense and horror his father contributes to literature. That being said, I am only giving this opinion based on this novel, not of his other two. Joe has two other novels I have not read but will, eventually.

This is a narrative of Ig (our protagonist), his love & loss of a girl, and his spiral into madness. After an immense tragedy, a community is torn & therefore looking for a scapegoat. Throughout the novel Ig is said scapegoat. There are many characters involved that are complex, but none so complex that it takes away from the story. One of my favorite characters is Lee Tourneau. He is everything you hate, but a character developed so perfectly you kind of admire him.

I will never look at a shopping cart the same.

My admiration of Joe Hill is at a 3 ★ (out of 5), but as I said before, he could be the next great suspense / thriller writer of our time. Actually I’m going to add a 4th ★ due to the fact that his movie adaptation was better than any of his father’s.

Ending (yes most important) was somewhat hard to read. I think it is one  that is not absolute. Everyone can philosophize on what it means. So, my dear friends, I will let you draw your own conclusions & leave my hypothesis out of this one.

Au revoir.

“Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn

Pages: 252         Publish Date: September 26, 2006

I know my last review of a Gillian Flynn novel (“Gone Girl”) wasn’t the greatest, but I decided to give the author another chance. The reasons being I felt she had potential and the areas where her stories are set I am familiar with. Previously I did not speak highly of her as a writer. This novel has been a total redemption of her writing ability, which is striking because this was her debut novel. I now hold Gillian Flynn in a higher esteem than I would most modern-day novelists.

 

“Sharp Objects” is a story about a woman named Camille, who is a reporter for a newspaper in Chicago. She gets an assignment about a series of murders of young girls due to the fact that they occurred in her hometown. Camille has a history of being a cutter (of a unique variety) and very much dreads the return to see her family, with very good cause. The cast of characters are all believable and relatable, albeit crazy in their respective ways. The emotions and relationships conveyed in this novel are very engaging as well. They seem to be so real in fact, that I wonder how many of the characters are based on actual relationships. She also touches on Munchausen by proxy, which was a nice and rare twist.

 

I do not wish to divulge any spoilers, so I will leave you with my thoughts on the ending (as usual). There are so many persons of interest that I had trouble deciding who I thought the killer was, but the ending was refreshing and did not embitter me in the least!

 

“Inferno” by Dan Brown

Pages: 480            Publish Date: May 14, 2013

This is one of the few novels I anticipated so much that I pre-ordered it. I think Dan Brown has considerable talent & I always look forward to his next project.  I will admit I got myself very worked up counting down the days until I could tear into it.

Now to the ugly truth. I was less than impressed with Dan Brown’s writing in this, his fourth novel in the Robert Langdon series. He usually mixes the perfect concoction of history, drama, suspense, & visuals. The major problem I had with this novel was his formula was asymmetrical. He focused too much on giving the reader visuals, so much so that at points I was bored & wanted to skip pages. At times it actually almost felt like a guidebook rather than historical fiction. I know he travels a lot for his research & this undeniably had a Frommer’s feel to it. The story in it’s base form was highly entertaining, although the symbology & hunt for said symbols was not as good as in “The DaVinci Code”. High points? It did have a skillful & flawless ending. Dan Brown also managed to provoke thinking on the ever present issue of overpopulation.

It was on the NYT bestseller list for 17 weeks (11 of those weeks at #1) which I find truly remarkable because of the mixed reviews it received. In the end, I miss the sense of urgency that Dan Brown is known for, so I give it a 3 out of 5 stars. I will invariably look forward to Dan Brown’s future work & what secrets it may have the world contemplating.

~Geneva