Book Review – All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

There are a few books you read in a lifetime and think, this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Without a doubt, that’s how I feel about All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

It’s about a gemstone, an orphaned German boy set during WWII and a French girl; the daughter of a museum locksmith. The narration goes from one to the other as the events of the war culminate in a town in France, where the three finally meet.

The tale is profound and heartbreaking at times. I typically avoid anything to do with WWII, it’s just not my preferred genre, but I found this book mesmerizing and beautifully written. The only negative that I can come up with is the title. It’s just not worthy of the story inside. I understand why it’s used. I get the relationship with radio, I’m a radio operator myself, but this novel deserved something better. I don’t know what that is, but I do know what it isn’t: a long title that is so vague it’s hard to remember. Instead, one might be apt to say, you know that book by Anthony Doerr; the good one? That’s the only thing that troubles me. The rest is perfection.

The last, best book I read was Eleanor by Jason Gurley. I loved Eleanor, it was my best read of 2014. So far, this is my best of 2015 and the year is nearly half over. Somehow I don’t think I’ll find anything better; even this early in the year.

Anthony Doerr is the author of five novels and, not surprising, is a Pulitzer winner. He’s practically plastered with well-deserved literary awards. He lives in Boise, Idaho with his family. You can check out his website by clicking on his name above.

So if you’re going to read one book the rest of the year, and you’ve already read mine 🙂 read All the Light you Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

Book Review – At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Did you read Water for Elephants or see the movie? I did. I loved the book, and the movie was barely as excellent as the book; hardly. Well, At the Water’s Edge, is written by the same author, Sara Gruen.

Not surprisingly, it’s a romance novel but one with a few menacing twists and turns. It’s an adventure set during the war in a conflicting time of super wealth and utter despair under war-torn Scotland. It’s a well-written, lovely story but not too romance-ish; if you know what I mean.

I tend to write in a male driven genre, and though I do write a bit of romance into my novels, I don’t love to read serious, over the top, romance books. That’s why I found this one intriguing. I don’t find it realistic. However, I loved At the Water’s Edge. It’s a great fictional story. There is a little romance and a little fantasy involved in a menacing way. No spoilers. I can tell you, if you loved Water for Elephants, you’ll like At the Water’s Edge. 

Sara Gruen is a bestselling author with five titles to her name. You can visit her website here. (Make sure your sound is up, it’s quite enchanting.) This author is one to keep track of. I’m sure she has more bestsellers coming soon.

 

Book Review – The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

I’m still behind on the books I’d like to recommend, but I promise to catch up soon. I rarely read paperbacks anymore. It’s a shame. However, my family and I walked into a small bookstore after watching Interstellar (if you haven’t seen Interstellar, go see Interstellar) several weeks ago, and I had read a blurb about The Orchardist and wanted to give it a try, so I purchased it.

What I didn’t know at the time was the author lives in Washington state. And, I was in contact with the editor of this book before realizing she was the editor. Small world. The Orchardist is a lovely book. The book itself is beautiful. By that I mean, the physical book. It has a cover like watercolor paper, and the pages are uneven in the old style. It’s a work of art, and the story is a treasure.

I wasn’t sure I’d like the story, but that’s why we read isn’t it? You should learn something from a story that you didn’t know before or you should be gifted something at the very least. I began The Orchardist, and it turns out, the story was as lovely as the cover and the pages in between.

I will say, I wish the ending had been different, but I  loved it despite that. It’s a tragic yet beautifully written tale. I don’t think I learned anything from it, but I often find that I’m thinking of the picture Coplin painted with her words. She gifted something and for that I loved The Orchardist.

It’s a lengthy book so if you’re an impatient reader needing constant action, this isn’t for you. If you’re a male reader who loves action, this isn’t for you. If you’ve read the classics such as Of Mice and Men or Pride and Prejudice, you’ll like The Orchardist.

I still have reviews coming for At the Water’s Edge, and my current read All the Light We Cannot See, coming soon.

Author Introduction – The Pilgrimage Series by Tom Abrahams

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I met Tom Abrahams in association with the Kindle Worlds Perseid Collapse group. He’s a multitalented guy, fellow Texan and great family man. Not only is he a successful author, Tom is also a news anchor for KTRK in Houston, Texas.

He’s interviewed some of the most famous people in the world and witness both triumphs and tragedy, it’s no wonder he’s a good author as well.

I’ve read the first in his contribution to the Kindle Worlds, Crossing. Tom takes a completely different view and shows what it would be like for a vacationing family to survive the mess that is Perseid Collapse. I think he did a great job with Crossing and after reading this one, I’ve got the other two in the series on my To Be Read File.

Not only that, Tom is the author of several other full-length novels.

The tag line for his work is, Political Fiction with a Punch and Sedition leads the way. The President of The United States is dead. There is no Vice President to take his place.

As the nation slips into a constitutional crisis, a small group of disenfranchised neo-patriots conspire to violently seize power.
They have the will. They already have someone on the inside. And they have the explosives.

Standing in their way is a woman who listens to conversations not meant for her to hear. She reads mail not intended for her to see. She knows their intention. But can she stop them in time?

SEDITION is a smart, fast-paced, modern day political novel woven in reality and based on the 1820 British plot, The Cato Street Conspiracy.

It navigates the thin line between good versus evil and patriot versus traitor, proving there’s always a reason behind treason.

So if you like the realism and historical context of a Dan Brown thriller, mixed with research of a Tom Clancy novel…you’ll love SEDITION.

Allegiance is another series Tom has underway. And the description starts like this,

Beer, Redheads, And Politics…  Jackson Quick should have known better.
First, he trusted a Texas politician.
Then he fell for a leggy woman.
Worst of all, he drank a beer that tasted funny.
Now he’s running for his life, trying to piece together how he fell into a battle over something so small it takes a high-powered microscope to see it.

I think reading these novellas is a great introduction to new writers and their work. It’s a small investment of both budget and time to read a novella. Once you’ve completed reading you get a sense of the author and if you really enjoyed their style, check out their mainline work. I’ve enjoyed each and every one of these novellas and I hope you will too.

Book Review – Departure by A. G. Riddle

At some point, I will catch up on the books I’ve recently read and want to recommend. This one was an easy recommendation, no vacillating on the issue. Departure by A. G. Riddle is a beautifully written book involving a plane crash, time travel and a mystery with a struggle of who to trust with your gut instincts.

Actually, it’s somewhat more complicated than that. A. G. Riddle is from the same technical career as my husband, and they’ve both come to realize there’s a laser edge to all the technical gadgets we’ve come to love and depend upon. Technology can be a precarious and evil thing with too much dependency and reliance. I think most brilliant people in this field come to this conclusion at some point, it’s an aha moment, but that’s beside the point. Departure is an excellent stand-alone read and one I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

Not only that, the novel is slated to become a movie by 20th Century Fox. I love that when I find out after I’ve read a great book that I’ll also get to enjoy it as a movie. It’s about time the film industry turns their attention to a host of creative and often intriguing indie books instead of the same old thing.

Author A. G. Riddle is also the author of the bestselling, The Atlantis Trilogy. His success with that series has led to many opportunities. I’ve only recently met this author, but he’s a great guy and I hope you’ll enjoy his work as much as I do.



 

Author Intro – Sean T. Smith – Sunshine Patriots

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I met Author, Sean T. Smith in correlation to Steven Konkoly’s Kindle Worlds Perseid Collapse release. (That’s a long title) I’d never read anything by Sean before and so after reading his contribution for the PC Worlds (Ha! PC, not.) I thought, heck, this guy can write! And, I mean it. He really can write well.
Sunshine Patriot’s has a smooth lyrical voice. The pacing works. You feel for the characters. I all, I enjoyed it and know you will as well. I think it’s perfect for both male and female readers too.

These PC novellas provide us with a great way to try out new authors without committing to an entire novel. After reading Sunshine Patriots I looked into his other works and then I recognized his covers. Our series often play hop-scotch with one another  when ranking. I love the cover art and I know the story within is great if it’s anything like Sunshine Patriots.

Sean also blogs about writing religion and the apocalypse. I’m not certain in that order but well here’s his website where you can check him out.

Book Review – The Martian by Andy Weir

Okay, first off, Wow! If you haven’t yet read The Martian by Andy Weir, please do. You’re missing something. I loved this book! And…it’s going to be a movie, so read it quickly before all the previews ruin it for you.

This is going to make one heck of a movie. I can’t wait to see how they manage some of the um…aspects. (I don’t want to give anything away.)

This is a book written by a self-proclaimed nerd. What a better way to make a great story? You can check out Andy Weir’s website here. He’s a great simple guy in a nerdish world. When I find books like this written by folks like him, I’m so happy for their success.

Here is a description of The Martian from Amazon. 

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

The description didn’t really convince me to read the book though. I tried the Look Inside feature and after getting to the end, I bought it immediately.

The story is unique in that it’s written in frist person and the astronaut is actually there. You feel his disappointment and pain. You’re hoping for him. You’re on the edge of your seat nearly the whole time. The best thing of all, he’s included real life humor both the sad kind and the best kind.

Of all my book recommendations…this one is required reading!

You’ll thank me!

The Martian also comes in Audio!

Author Intro – Ian Graham & The Amsterdam Directorate

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I met author, Ian Graham during one of our many interview collaborations for the launch of the Perseid Collapse Kindle Worlds. He’s a great guy and has his own success story. He’s the author of several works including a series, anthology contributor and published two novellas for the Perseid Collapse Kindle Worlds cause. He’s a busy guy.

I read The Amsterdam Directorate and, right away, I was impressed with Ian’s writing. We all have our own ideas about what would happen in a disaster like Perseid Collapse but I’ve got to say, Ian’s rendition in this novella was much like my own. As I did, he went for the personal gut wrenching day to day affect survivors would go through.

His main character is a man of religion that has to contront bad guys. He does it with remorse but does it remarkably well all the same. I very much enjoyed this novella and to my surprise he came out with a part two to the story just recently. It’s making it’s way up on my to be read list.

Ian is also the author of several other novels and this novella is a perfect introduction into his work. His most popular work is the Black Shuck Thriller series

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I know Ian is working on new projects to keep his fans in reading material. You can take a look at his website and keep up to date on his new released too.

Book Review – Wayward Pines Trilogy by Blake Crouch

Holy moly! This is one of those series that keeps you up at night, through the next day and into the following week. The Wayward Pines series is unlike anything I’ve ever read. It’s billed as a cross between Twin Peaks and The Twilight Zone.

After I finished with the first one I recommended it to several people. Typically when you do this, they come back to you later and say, “yeah it was good…but not that good.” Well, that didn’t happen this time. It’s a great series and I definitely recommend you read it right away because, IT’S ALSO AIRING MAY 14TH ON FOX!!! And guess who directed it? M. Night Shyamalan. Yep… Here’s a link to Fox’s site, check it out. That’s right! Matt Dillon is playing the lead character and I think it’s a great fit for the Ethan character. (That guy does not age, BTW.) I don’t watch that much television, but I can’t wait to see how true they stay to the story. 

Blake Crouch is a great writer and I admire his work. Here’s a description of the series from Amazon.

The international runaway bestseller is now a Major Television Event from executive producer M. Night Shyamalan, starring Matt Dillon and premiering May 14th on FOX.

Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive.

2013 International Thriller Award Nominee – ” ~Amazon

You can also get this as a trilogy. Trust me when I say, this is a keeper. You won’t want to miss this series and it’s also a Kindle Worlds. I almost forgot to mention that. Kindle Worlds: Wayward Pines

As you can see, my buddy Steven Konkoly wrote a three novella series for the Kindle Worlds: Wayward Pines series. After I read Wayward Pines, I read Konkoly’s novellas and enjoyed them very much.

Book Review – Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I’m behind a few book reviews so I’ll try to catch up this week. I read The Girl on the Train a few weeks ago. I’m a voracious reader and with that said, I tend to pick books in a variety of genres by all kinds of authors. I guess you could say, I’m an equal opportunity reader.

I also tend to read books occasionally from the bestseller list. There are many lists, New York Times Best Seller List, USA Today, Amazon Best Sellers, take your pick. This book ranks near the top of them all currently and I have to ask myself as a writer, what elements of a book make it a bestseller?

I mean, I read The Goldfinch… I don’t get it. The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction last year. That astounds me. It was certainly a thick novel, I’ll give it that. It was repetitive and descriptive in ways that made me put it down and regret my reading time.

I don’t do bad reviews however. If I can’t say something nice about a book, I don’t say anything at all. That’s just my method to the madness, you don’t have to follow suit.

The Girl on the Train, isn’t The Goldfinch. I looked forward to reading it. I wanted to finish it. I admired how the author wove certain elements into her story, but it did remind me of The Goldfinch in the shock and awe category. The shocking alcohol abuse ad nauseum. I know it’s harsh, but it’s an element running through those books at the top. It’s like the publishers got together and decided that was the topic to promote. Adults at their worst selves ever. Flawed, drunken, strung-out individuals….yes, those are the ones we want to exploit this year. We don’t see enough of the harsh side of life? Really?

I’ve got say, I think we do. Reading is supposed to be an escape from reality and if you’re lucky you come away from it a better person than you were before you picked up that book.

So am I recommending The Girl on the Train which has some elements of The Goldfinch within? Yes, I am… Besides the shock and awe factor, it is a good story. It’s very well written. Maybe it’s me but I guessed the ending. (My family gets annoyed that I do that when we partake in a new movie. “He’s the killer!” Yes, it drives them crazy.)

Here’s the description: Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.”

I can see the “Hitchcokian thriller” bit. I would agree with that. It’s a story about sorrow, murder and betrayal at it’s deepest level.

There are lives like this…I remind myself. I’ve seen them in time, like slinking shadows kept upright in dark places. I keep myself away from them for a reason. Their torment is self-imposed but it’s a prison they cannot afford to escape from. They already own the label. It would be too much work to change…

If you’re looking for a book of gritty human agony, read The Girl on the Train. Did I come away from it’s pages a better person? No…I came away with a reminder of what I’ve seen in the past. Something, not worth remembering.