2016 Reading Challenge · book reviews · reviews

Book Review: A Little Life

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

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A Little Life was the first book I chose from my 2016 Reading Challenge, a book recommended by a librarian or bookseller, and what a way to start! I am normally able to get through a novel of this length in a couple of days, depending on what else is going on in my life; I began this on January 11, and didn’t finish until March 22. It isn’t a difficult novel to read in the sense that the prose is complicated or confusing; it was hard for me to get through simply because of the challenging plot. The main character, Jude, is a heartrendingly broken man, and the story of his brokenness was, at times, too much for me.

A Little Life is the story of four college classmates, who move to New York to make their way: JB, an occasionally cruel painter who is trying desperately to make it in the art world; Malcolm, the genius architect; Willem, kind, handsome aspiring actor; and Jude, a brilliant litigator with a tortured past and a disabled body he refuses to acknowledge. As the years go by, each of these men achieves huge success in their fields: Willem becomes a world-famous movie star, JB’s paintings of his friends are shown in galleries all over, and Malcolm is designing buildings on every continent, while Jude is the head of his law firm. Their relationships through the years have deepened and grown, and the men themselves go through addictions, sickness, love and death. Through it all, we see Jude become continue to crack along the lines formed by a horribly traumatic childhood. He is haunted by his past, sure that if he tells the people he loves about what happened to him, they will not only judge him, but turn away or worse. His scars define him, and just when he is healing for real, the universe kicks Jude in the teeth once again.  After years of friendship, Jude and Willem have fallen in love, and are happy together. Jude’s myriad health problems are finally on the mend, after some major surgery, and their life is good. For the first time in his life, Jude is happy. And then BOOM!  Jude’s life is blown to smithereens once again.

“This, he thinks, is his punishment for depending on others: one by one, they will leave him, and he will be alone again, and this time it will be worse because he will remember it had once been better. He has the sense, once again, that his life is moving backward, that it is becoming smaller and smaller, the cement box shrinking around him until he is left with a space so cramped that he must fold himself into a crouch, because if he lies down, the ceiling will lower itself upon him and he will be smothered.” (p 804)

While this novel truly broke my heart, it’s easy to see why it was recommended by so many, and nominated for so many awards. I’d recommend it gladly, as long as you aren’t looking for something to cheer you up.

book reviews · books · mystery · plot twist · reading · reviews · thriller

Book Review: Potboiler

Potboiler by Jesse Kellerman

potboiler Twice this week I’ve read a book in one sitting, and both books came from the same DNA. The first was the newest Alex Delaware book by Jonathan Kellerman; the second was written by his son, Jesse Kellerman.

This novel, ‘Potboiler,’ is a strange twist on a post-Cold War spy novel, combining the intrigue of conspiracy theory and fancy techno-gadgets with the annoying literary babble of academia.
The story opens with the death of a famous writer, and his long-time friend, our narrator, attending his memorial service. Arthur then discovers that an unfinished, unread manuscript has been left behind, and he takes it. Unable to resist temptation, Arthur edits it a bit, and publishes this as his own; it becomes a bestseller, and he soon discovers lots of things he did not know about his dear departed friend Bill. For example: he’s a spy, and his novels are carefully coded to give instructions to agents around the world. By changing his last book, Arthur has messed things up, and now must either go to work for The Boys, or pay the price.
With character names I can’t spell, let alone pronounce, a fictional communist country divided over the burial place of a hero from their national poem, and lots of root vegetables, I was drawn in by the story, and yet had occasion to laugh. James Bond would never glue his false mustache on upside down; then again, Bond wouldn’t need a false mustache!
I will be looking forward to the next book from Mr. Kellerman, and checking every “beach read” from now on for spy code, just in case.

 

Aurora Teagarden · books · Charlaine Harris · ebooks · Hitchcock · mystery · plot twist · Real Murders · reviews · Sookie Stackhouse

Book Review: Real Murders

Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden, #1)Real Murders by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After waiting months for a library copy of Real Murders, I finally broke down & bought my own copy for my eReader, and proceeded to finish the novel in one juicy sweep. I do love Charlaine Harris’ books, and now that the Sookie Stackhouse series is almost finished, I’m happy that I have a new-to-me series to jump into. Aurora Teagarden is a delightful heroine, both smart & funny. I’d have appreciated a bit more of a plot twist at the end, but let’s be honest– I’m not expecting Hitchcockian story lines from these books.

All in all, I found Real Murders a real satisfying read.

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