“The Wife Between Us” by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Genre:        Mystery,  Thriller & Women’s FictionThe wife between us
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press
Pub. Date:  Jan. 9, 2018

No real review here, just my thoughts as a reviewer. There was so much buzz about this book. And, it received such high ratings, which may be the reason why I was so disappointed in it. So many of my book blogger friends loved this novel, making me feel very alone in my opinion. Unfortunately, I thought this book was written on an eighth-grade reading level (please don’t hate me), which makes it a very fast read. The first part of the novel held my interest but, I figured out the twist just a few pages in, which was a letdown. I found the second half plain old boring. Women’s Fiction should have been a heads up for me. I don’t really care for that genre (even though I love the old women’s classics such as, “Wuthering Heights”). But, for me, today’s Women’s Fiction is very different and often dull. So there is no way I can recommend this novel. Maybe, as an easy read beach book with a decent but strained twist at the end, but that is as far as I can go. Still, many others loved it so you might want to ignore my thoughts and give it a try.

I received this novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

Find all my book reviews at:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list…
Leave Me Alone I am Reading & Reviewing: https://books6259.wordpress.com/
Twitter: Martie’s Book Reviews: https://twitter.com/NeesRecord

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“The Fall Guy: A Novel” by James Lasdun

Genre:       Physical ThrillerThe Fall Guy
Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company

Mini Review

We meet two cousins that have a long history together.  At one point in their teens they lived together.  They have loving memories as well as buried resentments for one another.  Throw in an obsessive attraction to the wife and what you get is a murder mystery.

I enjoyed this book, but I suspect many fans of the genre, Physical Thriller, will not be.  The difference between “Fall Guy” and most other thrillers is that this is a slow paced novel, which is written taunt and (for lack of a better word) intelligently.  I often found myself having to look up the meaning of a word.  It is always nice to build up one’s vocabulary.  My major criticism is that the dialogue for obsessed cousin happens mostly in his head, which gets trying.  But, there is a twist at the end to stay true to form for this genre.

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Stoking a Hunger: The Scent of a Book

Kristen Twardowski

old_book_bindings

For many of us, the scent of a book represents windows into innumerable worlds. Chemists have tried to translate this experience and have described books as smelling grassy and acidic with hints of vanilla and mustiness.

However, that combination of scents does not simply arise through happenstance.

Traditionally printed books produce those smells as a result of the paper, ink, and glue that compose them. In their book Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez discuss this more eloquently, stating:

“Lignin, the stuff that prevents all trees from adopting the weeping habit, is a polymer made up of units that are closely related to vanillin. When made into paper and stored for years, it breaks down and smells good. Which is how divine providence has arranged for secondhand bookstores to smell like good quality vanilla absolute, subliminally stoking a hunger for knowledge in all of us.”

In addition…

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“All The Names They Used for God: Stories” by Anjali Sachdeva

Genre:         Literary Fiction
Publisher:    Random House
Pub.Date:    February 20, 201835082451

Possible Spoilers

With this title, I was expecting a novel about the horrors that have been committed in the name of God, such as the Spanish Inquisition.  But the title is misleading.  The stories are more about the concept of how we see God or any power that can change our lives.  This stellar collection is exploring humanity’s strangeness.  The stories read as ominous and compelling fiction that I would call magical realism.  The author, Anjali Sachdeva, is ridiculously creative in writing unusual and dark tales.  After each story, I thought “How bizarre.”  Still, after each story, I felt that the author hit a nerve, making the plot acceptable, even moving.

The title story presents stirring images of Nigerian schoolgirls who are kidnapped by jihadists.  The story goes back and forth between the time they are abducted till they are adult women.  It is so darn sad. As adults, they gain some sort of mystical power over the men who abducted them and they are no longer being abused.  But it is too late.  They have been beaten and raped too many times over the years. They no longer feel human.   It leaves the reader wondering what is left when one survives the un-survivable.  This story made me simultaneously think:  Is surviving even worth it when the cost is that you lose your soul?   And, hoping that in real life, battered women are able to find a way to leave their abusers and still keep their human core.

Dave Eggers, who wrote the best selling non-fiction “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” said Sachdeva’s short story “Pleiades” is “a masterpiece.”  Indeed, it is one of my favorites in this collection of heartbreaking stories. This one is about a couple who are geneticists.  Ignoring the protesters holding signs that read “Seven Deadly Sins” and “Frankenstein’s Children,” they produce seven test-tube sisters that grow to become loving and inseparable.  Unfortunately, over their childhood, teens, and womanhood they are all ill-fated.  Making the reader either hate or sympathize with the grieving parents.  I kept going back and forth thinking that they were thoughtless parents-to-be, thinking only of their careers.  Then to wondering that they were no different from other loving parents-to-be who also happened to be trailblazing scientists.

In “Robert Greenman and the Mermaid,” there is a fisherman, a mermaid, and a shark.  Of course, the fisherman is bewitched by the mermaid.  What makes this story so original is the shark.  The mermaid loves to watch the big fish feed on its prey.  She feels that the shark represents all that is beautiful in the deep sea.  The fisherman wants nothing more than to escape or kill the twenty-foot long hunter.  It is a sweet sad story leaving you to ponder why humans are so afraid of anything different from themselves.

The story that creeped me out the most and haunts me still is “Manus.”  In this story, aliens replace human hands with metal appendages.  This neatly sums up this story, but without producing the Heebie Jeebies feeling. The aliens are called The Masters.  The story begins with a couple looking at their neighbor when he is opening his mail and begins to cry.   He’s just received his draft card.  In this story, getting a draft card means that within two weeks, you must go for an “Exchange Apparatus,” known to humans as the “Forker.”  For the surgery, the human holds out their hands and inserts them into pneumatic cuffs that shut around their wrists.  After removing, the hands are replaced with metal fingers that look like forks.  Ugh.  When it is time for the man in the couple to be forked, I actually wept for him.  When it is his girlfriend’s turn, she rebels.  She does not get forked.   However, to keep her body metal free she self-mutilates. Leaving her body just as gross (I won’t explain more so you can be just as shocked as I was) as if she was forked, shades of the title story, was it worth it?

Sachdeva is clearly talented in her craft.  I usually do not care for the genre magical realism, but this author makes me realize that the genre is about the human condition and how we are conditioned to feel.  I so enjoyed the book, “Love in the Time of Cholera,” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which I am now guessing is magical realism.  I suspect this reviewer must examine the genre more carefully.   Nevertheless, there are other stories in the collection also showing the damaging results of abusive power.   All the stories in this collection have a unique and thought-provoking prose.  Just know that she also writes like Rod Serling on an acid trip.

I received this novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

Find all my book reviews at:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/4793025-martie-nees-record?shelf=read

Leave Me Alone I am Reading & Reviewing: https://books6259.wordpress.com/

Twitter: Martie’s Book Reviews: https://twitter.com/NeesRecord

 

 

“The New Neighbors” by Simon Lelic

Genre:          Mystery and Thrillers
Publisher:    Berkley Publishing Group
Pub. Date:    The New NeighborsApril 10, 2018

Mini Review

Why do I keep accepting Advance Review Copies (ARC) books that I suspect I will not like?  I am sure many other readers and reviewers will enjoy this novel.  For me, it is a real stinker.  Okay, I don’t think the first half of the book is so terrible.  A young couple in their twenties buys a home together.  The previous owner leaves them all his belongings.  This consists of cheerless junk and his dead stuffed pets, making the house downright creepy.  At first, I thought I was reading a haunted house story.  The author does a good job of keeping it spooky.  I also enjoyed the prose, which is an open journal that the couple is writing for each other.  Alternately, one would write a segment on what is happening to him or her in their weird home and then give it to the other to read and reply.  It did get a tad confusing; still, it is an interesting format.  I often chuckled on how the couple would see the same incident so very differently.  Think “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.”

The reader knows in the first half that the woman has toxic parents.  She had a very abusive childhood.  In the second half, we learn how and why.  She escaped her parents in her teens by running away.  Now in her adult life the parental abuse begins again. Honestly, the abuse as an adult is hard to buy.  If I explain more it would be a spoiler. However, you need to know that this reviewer was once a court-appointed Social Worker who helped put abusive parents in jail.  I have worked in the trenches with many violent families.  I tell you this so you can understand just how illogical and far-fetched the plot became.  Additionally, it doesn’t take the reader long to figure out that they are reading a murder mystery.  Alas, the “who done it” is also unbelievable with predictable twists.  For all these reasons, I cannot recommend this book.  Still, you might want to give it a try.  As I said, I know many will gobble this one up.   Readers seem to love a page-turner that will keep them up all night.   I’m guessing the unrealistic feel won’t bother them.   Psychological thrillers are not my favorite genre.  But, I can enjoy a page-turner, only if they are intelligent as well as unsettling.

I received this novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

Find all my book reviews at:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/4793025-martie-nees-record?shelf=read