Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

July 12

Comments: Add

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.

Add a comment...

July 5

Comments: 2

Memorable Scenes Monday (2): Broken by Karin Fossum

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.)

Broken This week’s scene comes from Broken by Karin Fossum, a unique thriller/mystery novel translated to English from its original Norwegian.

I am sitting in front of the computer. My fingers skate quickly across the keyboard. There are times it becomes flexible like a ribbon in my hands and I can bend and twist the language any way I please. Alvar comes up behind me, shifting nervously from one foot to the other.

“Are you really going to burden me with your sleeping problems and anxiety?” I turn around and give him a somewhat patronizing look.

“Everyone struggles with anxiety,” I say. “Can you feel how it eats away at you? In here, behind your ribs?” I tap my chest with my finger. “A cowardly rat sits in here gnawing its way through your ribs. It hurts.”

“But I’m a decent man,” he says. “I always keep my affairs in order.”

I turn off the computer, then turn around in my chair and look at him again. “Yes, that’s true. At the same time, you’re all alone. It’s dangerous to go through life without someone you can lean on. In certain circumstances it might well prove to be extremely dangerous for you.”

“In certain circumstances,” he echoes, “that you are about to put me in?”

I get up from my desk and go to my armchair, sit down, and light up a cigarette.

“What will be will be,” I say to him over my shoulder. He follows me. He stands with his hands folded. It is gray outside the windows. Heavy and wet, no hint of wind or movement.

“That rat,” I continue, “that gnaws at us all, it never feels satisfied. We constantly seek relief in every way possible. And on rare occasions it allows us a brief respite. Do you know what it’s like when everything suddenly falls into place, when that feeling floods your body? It’s like taking off from a great height. We float through the air and everything around us is warm. For a few brief seconds we think how great life can be. You’ll have such moments too, I promise you.”

He sits down on the sofa, on the edge as usual.

“Are people supposed to settle for a few brief moments of happiness?” he asks, dismayed.

“That’s a good question. It’s up to each and every one of us to decide. The majority spend most of their day looking for some kind of relief. A cigarette, a bottle of red wine. A Cipralex, going for a run. I won’t deprive you of sleep, Alvar, I promise you. But you have come to my house. I have seen you close up, and some events are inevitable. At this point in the story I’m no longer free; there is a clear structure and I have to work within it.”

-pg 55-6 (from the ARC)

Let me back up a little bit and mention that this is a book within a book. The author sees a line of people outside her door, each of them waiting to have their story told.

One evening, the author is awoken by one of those characters who pays her a visit and begs her to write his story because he’s worried she’ll die before she gets a chance to. However, he’s cut in front of another young woman holding a possibly-dead baby. Despite this, the author is somehow engaged by him and decides to start writing his story. During the process, like whenever she takes a break to eat or sleep or write letters to people, he pops in to chat her up about the progress of his story.

Frankly, that entire premise is the reason I decided to read this book. It sounded so fascinating that I couldn’t pass it up and so far, I’m not disappointed. This is more of a character study than a typical thriller/mystery, but I enjoy that. It’s pace is leisurely, but not slow and a few of the passages so far has made me stop to think…about life in general and writing in particular.

The book is scheduled for publication on August 1st, 2010, but it’s available for pre-order on Amazon.

2 Comments, add yours...

May 17

Comments: Add

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).

Add a comment...

   
 

© Copyright 2005-2019 Today, I Read…. All Rights Reserved. (Please don't steal.)