Piranesi

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke is a beautifully written fiction novel for adults.

The House reaches from the sea to the clouds. It has an infinite number of rooms, more hallways than can be counted and statues line the walls, each unique and telling in their own way. In this House, lives a young man the Other has named Piranesi.

Piranesi understands the tides an patterns of the house, the labyrinth he calls home and he believes his purpose is to explore the house. Alone in the house, except for the dead and the Other, Piranesi helps to assist the Other with his research for A Great and Secret Knowledge. But when evidence of another becomes apparent, Piranesi will question the only home he has ever known–the only life he knows of.

God this book was wonderful. It was magical and lyrical and just so different. Yes, I read the first few pages really not knowing what I was getting myself into and then I realized, it didn’t matter. I didn’t need the how and why, I was going to go along for the ride and see where it all ended up. And I am glad I did.

This world Clarke created was beautiful, the writing was almost poetic in areas and the characters developed in such an interesting way. I think one of the things I enjoyed most about this book was that one minute you are enjoying the halls and general scenery of Piranesi’s life and then the plot shows itself and suddenly, your invested in the outcome.

This won’t be a book for everyone, especially for those who find it hard to loose themselves in the prose. But for those who can and for those who stick with it until the middle mark where the plot really comes through, I think you will really enjoy it.

This one gets 5 stars from me!

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Exiles

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline is a historical fiction novel that follows the life of three women in the nineteenth century.

Evangeline, is a naïve young governess in early nineteenth-century London. When she is seduced by her employers son and then accused of theft and attempted murder, she is fired and sent to Newgate Prison. After discovering she is with child and months of cramped quarters and fetid conditions, she is sentenced to transportation to the continent of Australia for 14 years.

During the journey, Evangeline befriends a young girl named, Hazel, who has a way with herbs and folk medicine. The two strike an unlikely friendship and face trying circumstance while on board the Medea.

Meanwhile, on Van Diemen’s Land, the colonists look down upon the Aboriginal people as savages. When the orphan daughter of one tribes chief, Mathinna, is taken by one of the colonists to be “re-educated,” she is both distraught and fascinated.

As these three tales intertwine, the story of Australia’s colonization is revealed in a new and interesting light.

I swear, about a third of the way through this book I decided which narrators chapters I liked best and literally in the next chapter she dies. Sigh. There were parts of this novel I really liked. Evangeline and Hazel’s paths taken to being thrown on the transportation ship and their subsequent bond. I like Evangeline’s naivety and quick adaptation to the life thrust upon her. I even liked Olive’s brusque but ultimately loyal manner.

Mathinna’s chapters, on the other hand, started out strong and then felt like they were overshadowed by the rest. When she does eventually make an appearance after a while, I’d almost forgotten where we’d left off. And the conclusion of her story, felt a little bit of a throw away, at the least unresolved.

I do feel like I may be short changing this one a little bit. I did learn a lot and it was fascinating to read about the process of transportation and how Van Diemen’s Land eventually becomes a land of “reformed” “criminals.”

This is a book my personal book club picked, so I will be interested to get their take on it. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Dark Archive

The Dark Archive by Genevieve Cogman is the 7th book in The Invisible Library series.

Irene is back and in more trouble than ever. After several assassination attempts threaten, not only her life, but her position within the Library, she is determined to find the source of these attempts.

Meanwhile, Irene’s new Fae assistant is proving to be more difficult than she anticipated. When yet another assassination attempt threatens, Irene is forced into bringing her assistant directly into the fray.

In order to stop these attempts, Irene, Val and Kai must search for the truth and uncover the real threat waiting in the shadows. But when an old foe returns from the dead, will our band of protagonists overcome the shock or will they buckle in the face of a seemingly unbeatable force?

The Invisible Library is just a fun series. Each book could passably stand on its own, but it is even better when read in sequential order, following our protagonists through each adventure. Even though each book is its own mystery/run in for Irene, Kai and Val, you can see that there are pieces coming together for a eventual end game. When that end game is coming, who knows but I am enjoying the ride.

I have to say, I have been waiting for “the bomb to drop” and we finally get it in this book. Religious followers of the series, know what I am talking about. I can’t wait to see how Irene reacts to this in future books, especially in light of the epilogue.

I also enjoyed the additional of Irene’s Fae assistant. It seems apropos for Irene to have a rebellious teenage as an assistant, and a Fae one at that. I was not as big of a fan of Kai’s brother and hope he isn’t going to be a big regular to the series.

The only thing that could have made this one better is more Library time. We didn’t get much of the Library and I missed Irene’s interactions with her peers and supervisors.

This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

American Dirt

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummings is an adult fiction novel about a Mexican mother and son forced to flee to American.

Lydia Pérez lives a quiet life in the Mexican city of Acapulco with her husband and eight-year-old son Luca. And while the cartels are always a problem, Lydia and her family have never felt outright threatened.

When Lydia forges a friendship with the overdressed and suave Javier, she had no idea she was talking poetry with the head of Acapulco’s newest cartel. What’s worse, her journalist husband is publishing a “tell-all” profile about the man and the repercussions will change Lydia and Luca’s lives forever.

Transformed into migrants overnight, will Lydia and Luca make it to America with their souls intact?

My book club picked this one as our next read. It is not one I would normally pick up on my own, so for that I am grateful to read outside the box. But, and I may be the majority here, I did not overly enjoy the book. I felt like the author walked the middle of the road instead of pushing the boundaries one way or the other. Either go too cautious or too graphic; for a title like this, about this topic, trying to play both sides, just doesn’t work.

But the real thing that bugged me about this book, was that the final confrontation between Lydia and Javier was both unbelievable and lacking. The entire book was about Lydia’s relationship with Javier and escaping his wraith. The reader waits the whole book for a final confrontation and what we get… well it didn’t do anything for me.

I also needed a more satisfying ending. Again, it felt lukewarm–probably due to the missing confrontation I just mentioned. But seriously, they are on this whole journey and it just never felt like it ended. The ending didn’t feel like an ending but more of a place to stop.

This wasn’t a bad book and it was neat to read a book I’ve seen getting tossed back and forth in the news, but it was only OK in my opinion.

This one gets 2.5-3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix is a standalone adult fiction book.

Patricia Campbell gave up being a nurse to become a homemaker and mother in a respectable community–white picket fences and all. She cooks, cleans and looks after the children. The only thing she really has to look forward to is her monthly book club, a group of southern mothers like herself, who share a mutual interest in true-crime and mystery novels.

When a single bachelor, with some strange habits, moves into the neighborhood, Patricia ropes her book club into a different sort of mystery. And when children in the poorer neighborhoods begin to go missing, Patricia begins her own investigation. But what she uncovers is even more horrible than she could ever have imagined. Will Patricia and the girls be able to fight this monster and still get dinner on the table by five?

Sorry, I had to add that last line. God this was weird. I went through several different emotions while reading this one. First, I was stoked because I didn’t actually read the blurb about the book and was pleasantly surprised to find out that there was actually going to be a vampire that the girls had to fight. Then, I got a little bored. Finally, things got waaaay too graphic and I was pretty much grossed out and happy to get it all over with.

There’s some real twisted moments in this book and the way they are described is just… icky. I normally don’t have a problem with dark books, even those that deal with some pretty horrendous stuff. But I sort of felt like I was being fooled a little bit here. The author goes to so much trouble to make the reader feel like the book is going to be a peachy, easy going book with a vampire or two thrown in. And then BAM out of know where, it gets dark, gritty and graphic.

Some people are going to love this book but it was not for me. I’m not even sure why I am giving it three stars, I disliked it so much, but I am.

That’s all for now!

-M-