At the Water’s Edge Sara Gruen (author of Water for Elephants) Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Maddie Hyde is an American socialite who is forced to travel to Scotland during the Second World War with her husband Ellis and their closest friend Hank.
Ellis is obsessed with finding the Loch Ness monster, to prove his father’s honour as well as his own. He feels excitement and determination as he embarks on the trip, but not concern over dragging his wife into a war-ravaged Europe.
As Ellis and Hank disappear on days-long excursions, they leave Maddie to fend for herself among locals who don’t appreciate their highborn lifestyle. Maddie’s world opens up when she realizes there’s more to life than dresses, servants and controlling husbands.
MY THOUGHTS: When I finished reading the last sentence, I turned the page and thought – where’s the next 348 pages?? I did not want this story to end.
It starts off as a family fued and Loch Ness adventure. It ends as a beautiful, endearing, heart-wrenching and heart-warming, wonderful love story.
I attached myself to every single character in this book, not just the likable or prominent ones. I know I’ve said this before, but a great book ...
Knife Party at the Hotel Europa Mark Anthony Jarman Fiction
SYNOPSIS: The main character is a man whose wife has left him, whose girlfriend has left him, whose kids have grown up.
He seems lost as he escapes to Italy and into “newfound freedom.”
It turns out that it’s not an escape he was looking for.
MY THOUGHTS: I struggled with this book as I wasn't able to connect with the author and his main character. I might not have much in common with a middle-aged male character whose marriage is over and girlfriend has left him, but writing that is compelling enough should draw you in no matter what.
I also just realized that I still don’t know the main character’s name. Whether I missed it all this time, or it’s never mentioned, I don’t know.
The book isn't plot-driven; instead, it's mostly made up of memories, thoughts, and a collection of stories. Unfortunately, I often had a hard time connecting the dots.
I wish the book had more on the beauty of Italy. I was drawn to the novel because I knew the character travels to Europe. I wanted more scenery, history and culture.
This book wasn't for ...
The Half Brother Holly LeCraw Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Charlie Garrett is a young teacher at the elite Abbott boarding school.
As he gets to know the school chaplain, Preston Bankhead, he starts to fall in love with his daughter, May, a student at the school.
When May is older, they start an intense relationship that quickly comes to a disastrous end.
Years later, May is back as a teacher at Abbott. And so is Charlie’s charismatic half-brother, Nick.
Nick’s magnetism soon has most of the school flocking to him, including May.
Through all the turbulence, Charlie is hanging on to a secret that forms a dark cloud over his life.
MY THOUGHTS: Throughout the book, it seems like everything around Charlie is happening out of his control.
There’s no way for him to latch on to something and stop the out-of-control merry-go-round. You’ll be frustrated on his behalf. And you’ll wonder how anything could work out.
Then comes a moment when everything collides. It’s breathtaking and it’s heartbreaking.
As you ride the merry-go-round with Charlie, you’ll be pulled in by the centripetal force, waiting for it to finally stop.
MY RATING: 4.5 out of 5
Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto’s Last War Peter Edwards and Antonio Nicaso Non-fiction
ABOUT THE BOOK: This is the story of Canada’s “godfather” and the lead-up to his “last war.”
While Vito Rizzuto sat in a Colorado prison, two of the closest men in his life were killed – his oldest son Nick Rizzuto Jr, and his father Niccolo Rizzuto.
When Vito returned home from prison, his enemies started dropping like flies.
All of a sudden, Vito morphed from the Mafia boss who brought crime groups together to get business done, to a man with a vendetta.
Business or Blood goes through many years of history of the Rizzuto family, as well as that of other Mafia clans in Quebec, Ontario, the U.S. and Italy, that led up to Vito’s last days.
MY THOUGHTS: There is so much that I’ve wanted to say about this book as I’ve been reading it but now that I’ve finished, all I keep thinking about is the end. Unlike with fiction, I can finally talk about the end of a book in my review because what happens is factual and well known.
This is the first non-fiction book I’ve read that has ...
The Illuminations Andrew O’Hagan Fiction
SYNOPSIS: At 82, Anne Quirk has dementia. It’s not her illness, though, that has caused her to alter the reality of her past.
When she was young, Anne was an innovative photographer. What is unclear to her family is when and why she lost her art.
Her grandson Luke is a member of the British army trying to bring peace to Afghanistan. Luke questions the purpose of his presence there, and when a mission goes horribly wrong, he returns home.
Luke decides to take his grandmother on a journey through her past. They visit Blackpool, where Anne has a history full of untold stories.
MY THOUGHTS: Anne is a fascinating character. You’ll spend most of the book trying to figure her out, until her real story is revealed.
Not many people are able to show the truth of life like Anne can in her photographs. And yet she lives a dream, a life full of secrets and fictions as she hides from the truth. Her struggle with dementia only intensifies her fantasies.
Andrew O’Hagan’s writing is like an echo of Anne’s dementia. The story, the characters’ memories and thoughts jump back and forth. ...