Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Book Review Club (November 2014)




It's November.  I honestly can't believe it. I will not frighten you off with a countdown of the number of shopping days left till the holidays. I will tell you that November is National Pomegranate Month here in the US. Ignorant of this, I nonetheless bought a pomegranate the other day. As per the all-knowing Wikipedia, the pomegranate originated in the area between the Himalayas and Egypt. I'm actually planning to plant a dwarf tree.  And onto books... (there was no graceful way to segue)



I'm sure you remember KELLY HAYES, one of my Denny's Chicks critique partners? Out of the goodness of her heart, Kelly offered to write this month's review. She'd read a good book and wanted to share it with you. Plus, she owes me money. JOKE! She's just a generous person who reads a lot and likes to promote books.  Thanks, Kelly!

THE SECRET PLACE by Tana French
Tana French’s fifth novel in the Dublin Murder Squad Series was like a long-awaited meal, to be devoured and savored all at once.  As soon as I got it, I cleared my reading calendar in hopes that it would live up to my sense of anticipation and high expectations. Well, I have to say, it did. In spades.

After reading the first fifty pages or so I looked up from the book and sighed, wondering if I had the time and patience required for this level of detail. Because, as anyone who has read one or more of her novels  can attest, a flare for detail is one of French’s many literary talents. I reminded myself that my time investment has always paid off before with French’s novels, and went back to my reading.

And that was the last I thought about time investment versus payoff. I was pulled into the darkly rich world of eight teenage girls in an Irish all-girl boarding school, where a popular boy from the neighboring boy’s school was brutally murdered.  

If you’ve read Faithful Place, the third book in the series, you might remember Stephen Moran, the ambitious young detective who assisted Frank Mackey. Since then he’s moved up on the professional ladder and is now firmly entrenched in the cold case division. But he’s not satisfied and when new evidence in the cold case at St. Kilda’s school drops into his lap, he jumps at the chance to work with lead Homicide detective,  Antoinette Conway.

Conway is a tough nut with an inner city Dublin background and an extra large chip on her shoulder about it. She has no respect for these children of privilege, and it shows. Which is one of the reasons she failed to solve the case a year ago.  She spots Moran’s sensitive guy demeanor and decides it might be just the approach she needs to crack this complex case. 

So she sits back and plays silent bad cop while Moran asks all the questions and tries to unpick the web of lies the girls have woven around themselves. And what a tangled web it is. The dynamics and psychological interplay among the eight girls will make your head spin. And you might even feel a chill or two.

I admire French’s many gifts as a writer, but when I realized that this 452 page book spans just one day, I have to admit, I said to myself, “She can’t possibly pull this off. Can she?” When I finished the last page and felt like I’d been through the wringer, just like those two detectives had, I knew the answer. She can pull it off. And she did. 

Dear FCC: Kelly Hayes borrowed this book from the library. I promise she was not compensated for this review. Most definitely not by me! Please do not harass her. It's a real treat for all of when she posts. And we want to have her back again.

 And now....onto the rest of our reviews. Please click through. You won't want to miss a single one!

MIDDLE GRADE/YOUNG ADULT FICTION BOOK REVIEWS

Sarah Laurence: BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson (MG, memoir)


ADULT FICTION BOOK REVIEWS

Linda McLaughlin: SO BIG by Edna Ferber

Patti Abbott:  BROKEN HARBOR by Tana French (mystery)

Prairie Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden: CRITICAL MASS by Sara Paretsky (mystery)

Stacy Nyikos: ANCILLARY JUSTICE by Ann Leckie (science fiction)


NONFICTION REVIEW

Jenn Jilks: ALL ABOUT CARPETS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW by Glenn Revere




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...

Thanks for hosting, Barrie! My book is actually Middle Grade not YA.

Kelly, that is impressive to milk 452 pages out of one day. Your review makes me want to take a look, although I doubt I'd be willing to read four earlier books to get to this one, unless it stands alone.

Stacy Nyikos said...

Yum! A long detective read. I have to take a look!

Linda McLaughlin said...

Thanks to Kelli for the great review. Sounds like a good read.

Barrie said...

Hi Sarah, I changed your book to MG. And, yes, you could definitely read this as a standalone. All of Tana French's book could be read as standalones. Nice feature! :)

Rose said...

Thanks to Kelly for such a great review! You know I'm a big mystery fan, Barrie, so I'm always on the lookout for a new author to read--this sounds like the perfect choice. 452 pages to cover one day?? That has my curiosity piqued!

Suzanne Pitner said...

I LOVE Tana French's books, and I didn't realize she had a new one out. Thanks for this stellar review. I'm going to get that book right now. She's an author who can keep me up all night reading, and at my age, there aren't many who can do that! :-)

Barrie said...

Tana French keeps me up at night, too, Suzanne. Thanks for visiting!

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

Thanks for hosting. I suppose I'lll have to read Tana French now!

Caryn Caldwell said...

That does sound good! I've seen the book around but haven't read it yet. Maybe I'll give it a try. In a bit, at least, since I'm too scattered right now to pay attention to all those details.