Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

July 18

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[TSS] Is it Ever Possible to Leave the House Without Coming Back with a Truckload of Books?

by Ann-Katrina

Fresh on the heels of finishing both Pharos by Alice Thompson and Stolen by Lucy Christopher (finally!), I discovered another book, Plain Kate by Erin Bow, waiting for me in my mailbox on Saturday and I couldn’t resist starting it.

Pharos by Alice Thompson Pharos was an intriguing read. The best part about the book was the prose. It was evocative, (usually) spare, and eloquent. The story itself wasn’t bad, but I still need to digest it a bit before I try to express my opinions coherently.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher Stolen. Oh, Stolen. What can I say about that book? Well, first I’d say that it’s agonizingly slow in the beginning and although it does pick up somewhat around the later middle and end, it’s still relatively slow throughout. That said, I did like the story. Basically, I kinda wish it was written by someone else. But that one is also digesting so I can write a cogent review.

Plain Kate by Erin Bow I’m about two thirds of the way through Plain Kate and I’m enjoying the journey. There is so much to love about this book so far: it’s a fairytale without gratuitous sugarcoating, there’s talk of witchcraft, there’s a blood-sucking ghost, and the protagonist isn’t handed all of her heart’s desires on a silver platter—she actually has to work for it. That said, I’ve spotted a couple of (minor) problems which I’ll address in the review, but as of now, this one’s a winner. (I’m totally in love with Taggle, Kate’s cat, because he’s just plain hilarious.)

Assuming I finish Plain Kate today (which I’m positive I will), I’ll take in a few short stories or possibly read one of the new books that came home with me today.

And speaking of new books, I’m now of the belief that it’s darn near impossible to leave the house without coming back with a bucket-load of books. This morning while grocery shopping, I noticed that they were having a 75% off sale, so I decided to rummage through the remains and have now added 3 new books (technically 4, but one of them is a craft book) to my library. I’m not really complaining though because they were only a buck apiece.

The Third Option by Vince FlynnThe Wire in the Blood by Val McDermidThe Distant Echo by Val McDermid

I hadn’t realized I’d picked up two books by the same author, but I’m hoping that I really like her style because she’s a new to me author (both of them actually).  Also, I hadn’t realized that The Wire in the Blood is the second book of a series, so I’ll have to scout out the first one before reading it.

If anyone has read Flynn or McDermid or these books specifically, I’d love to hear about your experiences with them.

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July 12

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Memorable Scenes Monday (3): Pharos: A Ghost Story by Alice Thompson

by Ann-Katrina

Every so often I come across a scene that is so potent that it lingers long after I’ve finished reading it. That’s where the idea for this feature came from. Each Monday I intend to share with you a memorable scene from one (or more) of my reads.

If you like the idea I invite you to join me in sharing a memorable scene on your blog and link to it in a comment or just share the scene in the comment itself. (Please remember to include the book’s title and author so our wishlists and TBR stacks can grow. Also, if your scene is a spoiler, please clearly mark it as one.)

Pharos This week’s scene comes from Pharos: A Ghost Story by Alice Thompson.

The next day the pain from the burn developed into a fever and she was forced to retire to bed. Late afternoon, someone knocked on the door and she lifted her head from her pillow to see the young assistant keeper enter. Her heart sank. His looks disconcerted her. He had a very still face with green eyes that reminded her of a snake or wild creature, something from the sea. His hands moved delicately, like anemones. As if they had a life of their own, quite apart from the rest of his body, which was lithe and fluid like an acrobat’s. His body looked as if it were always alert, as if it were about to jump up and do a somersault in the air, that sitting down never quite satisfied it. But he was sitting down in front of her in the small, round room, on a wooden chair, his hands nervously twisting in his lap.

She wondered what she looked like to him. But she hardly cared and neither, it seemed, did he, as he was acting as if it were quite normal for him to come into a strange, ill woman’s bedroom and make conversation.

‘Would you like to see a trick? It might help while away the time for you.’

She tried not to smile. Being cooped up in a lighthouse must make people strange, she thought. She nodded.

He bent towards her and at first she thought he was coming towards her to kiss her, until she saw him keeping on bending, clasping his hands over his head. He moved himself over and round until he was a circle in the middle of the room. He rolled around in the center of the room like a wheel.

‘That’s not a trick,’ she said rather disappointedly.

Then she watched as suddenly, to her astonishment, he seemed to catch fire. Flames were coming out of his body as he was turning, now on the spot, as if he had been transformed into a Catherine wheel. He lit up the room in the encroaching twilight. Bright red, orange flames spun out of his curved body as he turned and she could no longer see where his head met his hands or even his body at all. He had turned into a wheel of fire.

-pg 26-7

This book had been sitting on my TBR stack for a while and for some strange reason, I was struck with a desire to read it. So far, Thompson’s writing has a tactile quality to it, which engages all the senses. It really is rather beautiful. The story is shaping up to be a mind-bending one as clues have been dropped that not everything on Jacob’s Rock is as it seems.

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