Tuesday, April 23, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The River; Peter Heller

Each Tuesday, Vicki, from I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read.  Here's an except from a book I've been looking forward to. What do you think?

The River; Peter Heller
Knopf - 2019


"They had been smelling smoke for two days.

At first they thought it was another campfire and that surprised them because they had not heard the engine of a plane and they had been traveling the string of long lakes for days and had not seen sign of another person or even the distant movement of another canoe.  The only tracks in the mud of the portages were wolf and moose, otter bear."

What do you think? It's been getting some great reviews.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Club, Takis Wurger

TITLE: The Club
AUTHOR:  Takis Wurgen
PUBLISHER:  Grove Press
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING:  Germany; England
RATING - 4/5

The Club, is a work of fiction that tells the story of a group of elite, privileged, young men at Cambridge University's Pitt Club, behaving badly.

Hans Stichler, grew up as an orphan. He was shy and bullied and learned to box early on as a way to defend himself.  An invitation from aunt Alex to spend time at Cambridge university where she teaches art history will ensure him a place at St. John's College.  In exchange, aunt Alex needs his help. She needs him to find out more about a secret society, referred to as, The Pitt Club.  The Pitt Club was a long time fixture at Cambridge where the very rich and often very obnoxious, felt as if they could do whatever they pleased without consequences.

Hans, because of his boxing background and likable ways is able to gain access to the club, despite his upbringing and social class being so different than the other club members.  What he discovers is shocking.

This is a very short, concise, well-written novel (fewer than 200 pages). The characters were surprisingly complex for a short work as well.  The book does contain some off-putting passages which include racist overtures, rape and other acts of violence, making this a book some readers might want to avoid.  It does, however, leave the reader with plenty to think about.  The translation, overall, was very good and it's the type of book that can be easily read in one sitting.  I'm happy I had a chance to try it.

A Ladder to the Sky; John Boyne

AUTHOR:  John Boyne
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  Germany, Amalfi Coast, NYC and London
RATING - 4.5/5

Just who is Maurice Swift, the protagonist and sociopath, of this delightful literary novel?  We first meet him in 1988 when he is working as a waiter at a West Berlin hotel's restaurant.  He's a guy who wants to a writer but, he's lazy and has no talent; he does have charm though.  He figures he doesn't have to give up on his dreams to become a success, why not just find another way to achieve his goal.

His first opportunity to achieve that literary success is when he meets a somewhat famous, but lonely, older novelist named Erich Ackermann.  Maurice is full of charm and compliments and quickly has won the trust of Ackermann who in a weak moment shares some private, secrets from his past which Maurice sees as excellent material for a successful novel. He takes what he's learned and turns it into his own successful book. He isn't satisfied just yet either,  he's certain he's capable of even more literary success, and you can be sure he'll find another unsuspecting, talented victim soon.

I thoroughly enjoyed this delicious novel. The handsome, but sinister Maurice is not a character I will easily forget. Was he unlikeable, yes, but memorable all the same. This is a guy who knows when and what buttons to push to manipulate others for his own personal gain. There were a few parts which were a bit slow, but overall, this a pleasant treat. I must say that I loved the ending as well. Try It!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Wingspan; Chris Bohjalian

TITLE: Wingspan
AUTHOR:  Chris Bohjalian
PUBLISHER:  Knopf/Doubleday 
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING:  Transatlantic flight from NY to London
FORMAT:  -  eGalley
RATING - 4/5

I've read most everything Chris Bohjalian has written so I was naturally curious about this novella.  At first I though it might be a prequel to The Flight Attendant, but it was not.

Originally a one act play staring Grace Experience (Bohjalian's daughter) and K.K. Glick, it's a very quick read, basically dialog between two flight attendants. There's veteran attendant Karen and  a newbie, Emily who is on her first transatlantic flight from NY to London. Emily is extremely nervous about this flight and starts talking pretty much non stop, unloading her secrets in the process.

I read this from start to finish in bed the other night and thought it was enjoyable enough to recommend.

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Club; Takis Wurger

Each Tuesday, Vicki, from I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read.  Here's an except from a book I've been looking forward to. What do you think?

The Club, Takis Wurger
Grove Press - 2019

"In the south of lower Saxony is a forest called Deister, and in that forest there was a sandstone house where the forest ranger used to live.  Through a series of chance events, and with the help of a bank loan, this house came into the possession of a married couple who moved there so the wife could die in peace.

She had cancer, dozens of little carcinomas lodged in her lungs, as if someone had fired them in with a scattergun.  The cancer was inoperable, and the dozens of doctors said they didn't know how much time the wife had left, so the husband left his work as an architect to stay by her side.  When the wife became pregnant, the oncologist advised her to have an abortion. The gynecologist said a woman with lung cancer could still bear a child.  She gave birth to a small, scrawny infant with delicate limbs and a full head of black hair.  The man and the woman planted a cherry tree behind their house and named their son Hans.  That was me."

Would you read more or pass?

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Other Woman; Sandie Jones

AUTHOR:  Sandie Jones
PUBLISHER:  Macmillan Audio 
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  England
FORMAT:  -  audio/library (9+ hours)
RATING - 3.5/5

Emily Havistock is fresh out of a bad breakup. When she meets Adam in a bar one night, it isn't long before she thinks that he is the man of her dreams. But, it isn't long before she realizes she has some competition -- Pammie, Adam's manipulative, medaling mother who Adam seems to defend at every turn. At first Emily likes Pammie, but things quickly change when the couple gets engaged and plan to move in together. She then goes out of her way to be mean and to embarrass Emily in an attempt to breakup the relationship. She even goes out of her way to push Adam's younger brother James on Emily and to fake a cancer diagnosis.

This is a story with plenty of secrets and twists -  what really happened to Rebecca, Adam's former fiancee who is now dead? 

Told from the POV of Emily, this was what I'll have to call a sometimes entertaining psycho thriller, but, it's certainly not without flaws.  The twist at the end seemed kind of odd and came out of nowhere.  You might want to consider this for a beach read this summer, but, probably not at the top of your must-read list.