Wednesday, August 12, 2020

(2) interesting but just so so reads - The Operator; Gretchen Berg and The Party Upstairs; Lee Conell

The Operator; Gretchen Berg
Harper Audio - 2020

The premise of this novel really appealed to me:  small town, 1950's, nosy switchboard operator  and secrets exposed. 

Set mostly in the 1950's (some 1920s), in the small town of Wooster, Ohio lives Vivian Dalton, husband Edward and daughter Charlotte.  Vivian works as a switchboard operator for Bell.  Although it's against company policy, one day Vivian listens in on a call of Betty, a woman who thinks she's better than everyone. What she hears involves Edward, Vivian's husband so she is shocked to say the least but, she's determined to get to the bottom of the rumor.

What I liked about the story was that it took me back to my childhood (born in the 1950s); we too had a party line and could listen to conversations of the other party although I don't think we knew who the other party was. I liked the small town references and happenings of those earlier times but, overall the writing felt choppy and slow. The (2) timelines were a tad confusing as well on audio.  Although I am not sorry I tried this one, overall it was somewhat disappointing. The audio narrator: Allyson Ryan did a good job.

Rating - 3.5/5 stars

The Party Upstairs; Lee Conell
Penguin Press - 2020

Set on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where Martin, his wife Debra and their 24 year old daughter Ruby live in a windowless basement apartment where Martin has worked as the building's superintendent for over 30 years, catering to the needs and complaints of the building's elite residents. Martin's a hard-working but bitter man who likes to meditate each morning before things get busy in the building (he's on call 24/7)

As the story begins he has asked his daughter Ruby to join him in some meditation. She has an art history degree but is unemployed and has plenty of college debt.  She's about to interview for her dream job with the Museum of Natural History, while her affluent childhood friend, Caroline, who has lived in the penthouse apartment prepares for a big party that evening. Caroline is also unemployed.

Played out over the course of 24 hours, The Party Upstairs is an interesting look at social classes and the class divide. Some of the characters are arrogant and just plain obnoxious and others hostile and offensive. I also found the writing style a bit off-putting at times.  This is another book that I had high hopes for but, I ended up underwhelmed.

Rating - 3/5 stars

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Caretakers; Eliza Maxwell

Welcome to
 First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book Reviews. Each week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read soon.

The Caretakers; Eliza Maxwell
Lake Union Publishing - 2020


"The screams have long since died away.  The bloodstains, like the memories, have faded brown with time, obscured beneath a fine layer of dust.  Mildew creeps along the the peeling floral wallpaper. The window frames are soft with rot.

A skylight of colored glass softly illuminates the slow and steady decay.

Once, laughter filled the spaces between the tired walls.  Running feet and mother's hugs and whispers under covers at night.  Hearts beat, as hearts do, then broke, then beat again. Until they didn't"

What do you think - read more or pass?

I started this one yesterday and liked the writing so far (first 50 pages thus far).

Thursday, August 6, 2020

In Case of Emergency; E.G. Scott

Dutton - 2020

Charlotte was once a brilliant neurosurgeon but, after one surgery went terribly wrong, she now has an acupuncture practice in Long Island, NY, where she works along with her friend Rachel. Charlotte is also involved in an online support group for trauma survivors.  If things have not been bad enough for her, she also has a strained relationship with her mother and a missing boyfriend, Peter, who she met online and hasn't heard from in a while.

When she gets a call from the police asking her to come to the station to identify a body in a suspicious death case, she thinks maybe it's Peter but, it's a woman who she doesn't seem to know. The deceased woman carried an "In Case of Emergency" card that lead police to Charlotte after her name and number appeared on the card. Now Charlotte becomes a suspect in a murder investigation as the police aren't sure she's being truthful.

This was a near perfect psych thriller that kept me turning those pages. Charlotte is one hot mess; her past, her insecurities and anxiety make her an interesting character for this kind of story. There are two police detectives, Wolcott and Silvestri which were great additions to the story as well; a dynamic duo of good cop bad cop.  A great story with a surprising ending and even though I felt there were a few minor plot elements that didn't feel right, it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the story.

Rating - 4.5/5 stars

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Anxious People; Fredrik Backman

Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book Reviews. Each week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read soon.

Anxious People; Fredrik Backman
Atria - 2020


"A bank robbery. A hostage drama. A stairwell full of police officers on their way to storm an apartment.  It was easy to get to this point, much easier than you might think.  All it took was one single really bad idea.
This story is about a lot of things, but mostly about idiots.  So it needs saying from the outset that it's always very easy to declare that other people are idiots, but only if you forget how idiotically difficult being human is.  Especially if you have other people you are trying to be a reasonably good human being for."

I've enjoy quite a few books by this author so couldn't wait to preview this one which will be released in September of 2020. Would you read more or pass based on the intro?

 (eGalley provided by Edelweiss)