Saturday, October 19, 2013

Envy by Kathryn Harrison

Envy I'm not sure where to begin. With the plot?  It is difficult to describe the plot without it sounding convoluted.  I’m not saying Envy is convoluted, but that my description of it would it be.  It is a complicated story, at the center of which is Will, a man in his mid to late forties.  He is married to Carole and father to Samantha and Luke.  Will has a nearly identical twin brother, nearly identical because Mitch has a birthmark covering 60 percent of his face.  The twins haven't spoken to one another in 15 years and Will isn't sure why that is.  There is a lost child, a lost brother, and the possible discovery of a previously unknown a child.

In a strange way, the details of the plot don’t matter.  Envy is about more than a series of events.  It is a psychological family drama involving sexual tension and competition, obsession, betrayal, and profound loss.  It is crazy and disturbing...and its enthralling.  Envy is the fourth book I’ve read by Kathryn Harrison.  Her other books include Exposure, The Kiss (a memoir), and Thicker Than Water.  When I finished Envy I went and looked at my old book journals to see what I wrote and found that I was just as captivated by Harrison’s writing then as I am now.  Her books tend to veer into  uncomfortable territory, so be warned.  It can be rough journey, but it is such a good one.

Also recommended: Exposure and The Kiss
I'm not not recommending Thicker Than Water, but to be honest I don't remember much about it, whereas these other two books I remember very clearly.
Exposure   The Kiss

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

Witches of East End (Beauchamp Family Series #1)Witches of East End is the first book (excluding the prequel) in a series about three witches living in the small Long Island town of North Hampton.  The three witches in question are sisters Freya and Ingrid Beauchamp, and their mother Joanna.  For centuries they have lived as ordinary human beings, forbidden from practicing witchcraft.  But the day comes when the three Beauchamp women decide to stop concealing who and what they really are.  Revealing their true selves has consequences, good and bad. 

I picked this up after watching the first episode of the new Lifetime series that is inspired by this book series.  Figuring that the book is usually better than the movie, or in this case the tv show, I figured I would give the books a try. 

The first three-quarters of the story is pretty good.  This is the first book I have read by de la Cruz and I can see why she has sold so many books.  The three main characters were intriguing.  I wanted to know more about their histories and how they handled having to suppress their powers for so long.  Where it began to fall apart for me was when the other supernaturals decided to join the party.  First there was talk of zombies.  Next the vampires came to town.  Then came Loki, some gods from Asgard, and a bunch of other characters from Norse mythology.  It was a bit too much.  I wish de la Cruz had stuck with the witches and explored that more.  Freya (love that name), Ingrid and Joanna were interesting enough without all of the other supernaturals thrown in.  Not that there couldn’t be a universe with all sorts of supernaturals.  Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire / True Blood series does this quite well in fact.  But Harris didn’t introduce them all in one book.  Adding in all these other characters and mythologies at once without exploring any of them in depth made them all seem a bit dull, and vampires and witches should never be dull.

So far only one episode of the television series has aired and I have only read this first book in the series.  Right now it is a toss up as to which version I'm going to like better, but I'm intrigued enough to keep watching and reading both.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Killing Me Softly by Nicci French

Killing Me Softly  Killing Me Softly is an intense psychological thriller.  It all starts with Alice.  Alice Loudon has a pretty great life.  She has a job that she likes and is good at.  She has friends, good friends that she spends time with often.  Alice's best friend is her boyfriend's sister.  Speaking of which, Alice has a great boyfriend called Jake.  They live together.  They haven't exactly said it out loud yet but eventually they'll probably get married, have 2.5 kids and a dog.  Alice's life is on track for a happy ever after ending, or as close as one can expect to get.  That all changes when she meets Adam Tallis.

Alice and Adam meet randomly on a London street.  The attraction is instantaneous.  They end up in bed together so quickly, it is almost comedic.  At first Alice feels guilty about her indiscretion and vows never to see Adam again.  She goes back to Jake and their perfect life together, but it's no use.  Adam is a famous mountaineer who has scaled a bunch of mountains and has been hailed as a hero after saving a bunch of people who nearly died trying to scale one such mountain.  Everyone who meets Adam seems to fall under some sort of spell.  People—men and women—can't help but adore him.  Even Alice's seemingly perfect and fulfilling life cannot save her from Adam's intoxicating presence.  It isn't long before Alice leaves Jake and marries Adam.

The full title of title of this book is Killing Me Softly: A Novel of Obsession.  Alice and Adam are indeed obsessed with each other.  Adam's obsession is possessive and hurtful.  He repeated tells Alice that he doesn't want to injure her, he just wants to hurt her.  Nevertheless, Alice is hopelessly in love with her husband.  Adam adores her and Alice loves that.  She loves the attention.  She loves feeling so very wanted.

Alice's obsession starts out more innocently.  She simply wants to know everything about her new husband, his past, his adventures in the mountains, his family, his friends, basically who he is when he is not with her.  They relationship got so intense and so serious so quickly that they skipped over the getting to know and like each other stage of their relationship.  Adam, however, is of the opinion that nothing matters except his and Alice's life in the present.  He tells his wife that they are the kind of the people who don't care about each other's lives outside their house.  This does not work for Alice, who starts trying to learn all she can about her husband's past.  Her understandable desire to get to know the man she married turns into an obsession with finding out all she can about the women Adam dated before her.  It's here that the novel takes a very dark turn as Alice finds out some things she probably would have liked to have never known.  Digging into her husband's past forces Alice to think about just what kind of man it is she married and what that means for her future.

Killing Me Softly grabbed me from page one and didn't let go.  The relationship between Alice and Adam is passionate, but twisted.  Adam's reticence to talk about his past seems evasive.  Alice's investigation into her husband's past seems intrusive.  They clearly both have issues to deal with, but it isn't clear at first which one of them is to be trusted.  It was fun figuring that out.  I would definitely recommend this book for people who like mysteries and thrillers, especially those who like a little romantic suspense (if you can call it that) thrown in.

Fun fact, Killing Me Softly was made into a movie in 2002 starring Heather Graham and Joseph Fiennes. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Someday, Someday, Maybe  I have never quite understood terms like "beach read" or "summer read" because my reading choices are generally not determined by the seasons or the weather.  Further, when I go on vacation I like to bring one big, involved book (plus a second book because having backup book is necessary) rather than short, uncomplicated stories since if I planned the vacation I will likely plenty of uninterrupted reading time.  Notwithstanding my lack of a proper understanding of what a beach or summer read is, I imagine Someday, Someday, Maybe might be what people mean when they use those terms.

Someday, Someday, Maybe is the debut novel of actress Lauren Graham.  The story centers around an aspiring actress in New York named Frances (Franny) Banks.  She has given herself three years, the length of time it will take her college boyfriend to finish law school, to make it as an actress.  At the start of the novel, Franny is six months away from her self-imposed deadline and has no agent or acting jobs on the horizon. 

One of the things I liked is that the story doesn't end with everything wrapped up in a nice bow.  For every step forward, there seems to be a step or two backward, professionally and romantically.  She learns life lessons, forgets them, relearns them, kind of gets it, and slowly moves forward.  It is a light, funny, and quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

P.S. I can totally see this being made into a movie, at least a television movie.