Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

July 28

Comments: 5

Review: Broken by Karin Fossum

by Ann-Katrina

Broken Cover

Title: Broken
Author: Karin Fossum
ISBN: 978-0-1510-1366-1
Story Length: 272 pages
Genre: Adult Literary Fiction

Back Cover of Broken

A woman wakes up in the middle of the night. A strange man is in her bedroom. She lies there in silence, paralyzed with fear.The woman is an author and the man one of her characters, one in a long line that waits in her driveway for the time when she’ll tell their stories. He is so desperate that he has resorted to breaking into her house and demanding that she begin.

He, the author decides, is named Alvar Eide, forty-two years old, single,works in a gallery. He lives a quiet, orderly life and likes it that way—no demands, no unpleasantness. Until one icy winter day when a young drug addict, skinny and fragile, walks into the gallery. Alvar gives her a cup of coffee to warm her up. And then one day she appears on his doorstep.

Three Quick Points About Broken

  • Point 1: Where’s the mystery? A quarter of the way through, I realized this wasn’t a traditional whodunit mystery—it wasn’t a traditional mystery in any sense.
  • Point 2: It’s about characters under a microscope. Flawed but hauntingly natural characters crafted with aplomb.
  • Point 3: Smooth prose and pacing, for a translation. Lost in translation isn’t a cliché for nothing, but if anything was lost in this translation, I didn’t miss it. Continue reading »

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May 25

Comments: 6

Teaser Tuesdays: Tarnished Infidelity

by Ann-Katrina

Teaser Tuesdays Happy Tuesday! It’s time again for another edition of Teaser Tuesdays

Here are the rules:

  • Grab your current read
  • Let the book fall open to a random page
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • You also need to share the title of the book where you get your teaser from…that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given
  • Please avoid spoilers

Bird in Hand This week’s teaser:

"And then, when his mother got cancer for the second time, though Charlie knew about the chemo and the radiation and the lymph nodes, it was months before anyone acknowledged how serious it was. She was dying by the time Charlie’s sister called and urged him home." pg. 53 Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline

This is one of those books that’s been sitting on my TBR stack for ages that I’ve been meaning to read for just as long and always shove aside for one reason or another, but now I’m focused on finishing it.

I’m about halfway through now and I’m wondering why I waited so long. It’s the story of four people struggling through their individual and coupled lives in the wake of a tragedy.

I love character studies (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before)–just stick a bunch of interesting people in a pressure cooker together and see what happens–and this book is shaping up to be an interesting one. Infidelity and a car accident in which a young boy dies. That’s what I call a pressure cooker if ever there was one.

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May 17

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Memorable Scenes Monday (1): Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

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 it in the comment itself. (Please remember to include the book’s title and author so our wishlists and TBR piles can grow. Also, if your scene is a spoiler, please clearly mark it as one.)

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens Without further ado, my first installment comes from Still Missing by Chevy Stevens—the story of a woman, Annie O’Sullivan, who was kidnapped and held captive for a year.

The Freak was careful with the books—I was never allowed to place them facedown when they were open or dogear a page. One day when I was watching him carefully stack some books back on the shelf, I said, “You must have read a lot as a kid.” His back stiffened and he slowly caressed the binding of the book he was holding.

“When I was allowed.” Allowed? A strange way to put it, but before I could decide whether I should ask about it, he said, “Did you?”

“All the time—one of the bonuses of having a dad who worked at the library.”

“You were lucky.” He gave the books a final pat and left the cabin.

When he paced around, ranting about a character or plot twist, he was so articulate and passionate I’d get caught up in it and reveal more thoughts of my own. He encouraged me to explain and defend my opinions but never flipped out, even when I contradicted him, and over time I began to relax during our literary debates. Of course, when reading time ended, so did the only thing I did that made me feel like a human being, like myself.

–page 68 (from the ARC)

Up until this moment, I kept thinking of The Freak as a monster (and in a sense, he truly was), but this scene painted him in such a human light and it shocked me when I felt a little bit sorry for him. It also gave me a glimmer of hope that Annie’s situation wasn’t completely hopeless.

My Still Missing review is officially online (and it mentions how you can read the first two chapters of the book for free).

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May 17

Comments: 4

(Overflowing) Mailbox Monday

by Ann-Katrina

I haven’t done a Mailbox Monday post in a long while because I’ve been giving the books individual spotlights as they come into my home through my recent arrivals series. But I’ve been slacking a bit and am many, many books behind; doing an individual post for each would take days. So, I’m just going to do a quick round-up post highlighting all the new additions to my TBR pile.

The Deadly SisterEverlastingLife, AfterI Now Pronounce You Someone ElseRumor Has ItSelloutSilent ScreamStrange NeighborsStill MissingThe Unwritten RuleLingerThe Adoration of Jenna Fox

The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer Everlasting by Angie Frazier Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman
I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell Sellout by Ebony Joy Wilkins
Silent Scream by Karen Rose Strange Neighbors by Ashlyn Chase Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott Linger by Maggie Stiefvater The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

I’ve already finished (and loved!) Still Missing by Chevy Stevens; the review is forthcoming. I actually set aside Stolen by Lucy Christopher in order to read it. The two books run along similar lines—kidnap victims and the aftermath, though Stolen is for a younger audience and Still Missing is purely adult. Another difference between the two is the pacing: Stolen is slow going and Still Missing flew by at breakneck speed.

After finishing Still Missing, I decided to try my hand at Stolen again and after another thirty agonizingly slow pages, I decided to set it aside (…for the second time) and picked up Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell. While this book took more than a few chapters to get into, I’ve warmed up to the story and the characters. Frankly, though, the Anglicisms are tripping me up and I’m not overly fond of the writing style—but the story is shaping up to be a good one.

And a quick note about the cover of The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson…the image does it no justice. It’s absolutely beautiful and the blue is a lovely hologram-y type of material that reflects and changes as it bends and shifts. Words cannot describe.

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January 21

Comments: 4

Recent Arrivals: Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline

Bird in Hand

First line: For Alison, these things will always be connected: the moment [...]

Initial thoughts: I have to admit that I’m a sucker for character exploration. In that sense, I’m a voyeur. Sometimes I’ll get into a mood where I just want to read about people–interesting people, mind you–and the choices they make and how it affects their lives. In that regard, Bird in Hand seems like a perfect choice. Plus, I’ve heard so many people raving about its writing that I couldn’t help but resist…and from the first couple of chapters I’ve read, I’d say they are right.

Book description:

It was an accident. It was dark, it was raining, Alison had only had two drinks. And the other car ran the stop sign. But Alison finds herself trapped under the crushing weight of grief and guilt, feeling increasingly estranged from her husband…

Charlie, who has his own burdens. He’s in a job he doesn’t love so that Alison can stay at home with the kids (and why isn’t she more grateful for that?); he has a house in the suburbs and a long commute to and from the city. And the only thing he can focus on these days is his secret, sudden affair with…

Claire, Alison’s best friend. Bold where Alison is reserved, vibrant where Alison is cautious, Claire has just had her first novel published, a thinly veiled retelling of her childhood in North Carolina. But even in the whirlwind of publication, Claire can’t stop wondering if she should leave her husband…

Ben, an ambitious architect who is brilliant, kind, and meticulous. And who wants nothing more than a baby, or two–exactly the kind of life that Charlie and Alison seem to have…

Book Details: 288 pages; William Morrow; Pub. August 11, 2009

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