Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Book Review Club (January 2013)

Happy New Year! Welcome to our virtual book club. We meet the first Wednesday of the month. Have been since Feb. 2009, which means we're almost to our FOUR-YEAR ANNIVERSARY! Now, that's some dedicated reading and critiquing! Be sure to click through the links under my review. They'll take you to everyone else's reviews. Happy reading. Here's to a great year in books!

FAITHFUL PLACE by Tana French

I feel a bit odd reviewing this book because Kelly Hayes reviewed Broken Harbor by Tana French last September, and Ellen Booraem reviewed The Likeness in November. I generally try to choose a book/author that one of our gang hasn't reviewed with an aim to cover a wider territory. But...it was precisely because of the above two reviews that I picked up Into the Woods, Ms. French's first mystery. That is, picked it up and never put it down. Then, went directly to The Likeness without passing go and onto Faithful Place. That's how much I enjoyed these mysteries. Faithful Place is my fave, thus far.

In a nutshell: Undercover Detective Frank (Francis) Mackey is drawn back into his inner-city Dublin neighborhood when his childhood girlfriend's suitcase and then murdered body shows up twenty-two years after she disappeared. He's gone out of his way for years to avoid this neighborhood along with his dysfunctional family (complete with sibling rivalries, an abusive and alcoholic father, a critical and guilt-tripping mother). Frank was a supporting character in The Likeness. He's smart, acerbic, hard-drinking, witty, and more than willing to bend the rules. Here's an interview where the author explains why she changes protagonists for each book. It certainly keeps the series fresh.

What I loved: I felt like I was IN the story, especially in Faithful Place, Frank's working-class neighborhood. The details, the descriptions, the sights, the sounds, the smells from the dingy neighborhood bars to the rundown apartments to the food to the arguments. All of it was perfect. The characters were so incredibly real. I almost expected Frank to order me a Guinness and plunk it down on my table, warm foam dripping down the side of the mug. Also, I'm a sucker for good dialogue, and it's phenomenal in this book. Perhaps because Ms. French trained as an actress? Look at this: I said, "Kennedy's no mate of mine. He's just a little poxbottle I have to work with every now and then."

What I didn't like: It's small, but Frank's nine-year-old daughter didn't ring true for me. And in a book where the characters jump off the page (to be cliche), well, you can't help but notice a weak one. Still, it's definitely no deal breaker in a book I had trouble putting down.

I'm really looking forward to reading Broken Harbor.

The links below will lead you to wonderful reviews. Please click through. It's a great way to start the new year!

MIDDLE GRADE/YOUNG ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

 Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: THE STAR OF KAZAN by Eva Ibbotson (fantasy, middle grade)

Stacy Nyikos: THE MIGHTY MISS MALONE by Christopher Paul Curtis (middle grade)

Sarah Laurence: THE TRAGEDY PAPER by Elizabeth LaBan (young adult)

ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Patti Abbott: TRUST YOUR EYES by Linwood Barclay (thriller)

Beth Yarnall: PLAY NICE by Gemma Halliday (thriller)

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS by Hester Browne (women's)

NONFICTION REVIEWS

Linda McLaughlin: AMERICAN NATIONS: A HISTORY OF THE ELEVEN RIVAL REGIONAL CULTURES OF NORTH AMERICA by Colin Woodard


Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!




9 comments:

Sarah Laurence said...

Happy New Year! I think it's cool that 2 reviews led you to read 3 books by an author new to you. I don't read much mystery, but I'd be inclined to try this author too. I like the idea of changing perspectives in a series.

One of my gripes with some adult fiction would be unrealistic child or teen voices. Sometimes they remind me of Renaissance paintings in which children are depicted as miniature adults. Then again YA fiction also has the problem of undeveloped adult characters but that is intentional.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

She is SUCH a brilliant writer, isn't she?

Barrie said...

Sarah: I do think it's cool how I pick up ideas for my reading list from our reviews. I'm curious to hear if anyone else was bothered by the 9y.o. Could've just been me.

Barrie said...

Green Girl: She really, really is! Happy New Year to you!

Ellen Booraem said...

Oh, I can't wait to read this one! Interesting about the nine-year-old, Barrie--don't think I've seen her write a kid character before. I'll keep an eye on my own reactions and let you know.

Love the notion of keeping things fresh by changing protagonists. It's also fun to see characters from varying points of view.

alyssa goodnight said...

I love finding a new author and then feeling desperate to read all of his/her work! Glad you found a good one! :)

Happy New Year!

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

I love her work. I picked her up from a book review, too. I haven't time/energy this month. I'm sorry to miss out.
Cheers from Cottage Country!

Suzanne Lilly said...

I'm glad to hear you liked Faithful Place. Like you, I picked it up and could not, absolutely could not, put it down. Just when I thought I figured out who killed her, there would be a new twist. I raved about this book and passed it along to friends who said, "Meh." There's no accounting for taste. This is a fabulous book!

Barrie said...

Suzanne, I couldn't agree more. Reading taste is so subjective. I can't wait for Tana French's next book to come out!