Sunday, November 24, 2013

Help for the Haunted

by John Searles
October 28-Nov19, 2013

What a waste of three precious weeks of reading time. I can't remember now what made me want to read this book, but it had to be something significant because this genre is never chosen by me. I'm just not a fan of mystery or suspense. And while I think a book can accomplish way more than a movie can, I found myself thinking that this book will be way scarier if (when) it gets made into a movie.

Since I'm not going to recommend Help for the Haunted to any of my book friends, spoilers will abound in this review. Please keep reading though because I'm telling you it's not worth your time anyway.

The whole time I was reading, I felt as though I stepped into the middle of the conversation. It's not like when chapters leave you hanging in suspense, but more like I wasn't in on the secret, which was incredibly frustrating. I just never found my stride. The gist of this book is that Sylvie and her sister Rose are left orphaned after their parents are murdered. Sylvester and Rose Mason have the unusual, but highly publicized career of helping those who have been haunted in one way or another. Sylvie has been coerced by her evil, cruel sister to give the police a story which leads them away from Rose being the prime suspect, but Sylvie can't help but think that there is another side to the story. From here the book drags and drags, weaving from present to past and throwing in a handful of stories meant to throw the reader off. I found myself bored, but not really giving up because I had to find out who the murderer was. And if I'm being honest, Searles writing style is easy to read. But the creepy stuff and learning more about the Mason's "healing" work didn't seem to accomplish its task ... to scare me, the reader. There's a doll at the crux of the story that had ill-effects on its owner until the Masons came and removed it. The doll then proceeded to bring chaos and sickness to Sylvie's mom, until they locked it away in a rabbit cage in the basement. This is where I think visuals would be more successful.

I could continue to ramble on, but I made my point about the scattered story line. Still, I pressed on, sure that the payoff would be worth it. And then, AND THEN, it turns out the Masons were fakes!!!! No one or nothing was haunted and they healed no one!! Seriously?! The father just drugged people making them believe they were being possessed. All in the name of publicity!! There's even an undercurrent of homophobia and intolerance connected to Rose. What a giant waste of time!!!! If I'm going to pick up a book that promises suspense, mystery and the supernatural, WHY do I want it to turn out to be a hoax after all?? Waste. There's three weeks I will never get back. Lesson learned.

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Sunday, November 17, 2013


by Liz Moore
August-October 2013

The genius of audiobooks are their use of multiple readers for main characters. You really feel like the story comes alive with each different voice. In this case, it was practically imperative.

The other bonus of audiobooks is that I'm essentially reading two books at once: one on "paper" (literally or virtually), one in my ears. As a slow reader, this allows me to stay somewhat current on my never-ending book list.

Imagine a man; smart, sensitive, but not-so-good-looking, with a bit of a damaged family history. As a college professor, Arthur Opp falls for a student. They are instantly compatible, but between the age difference and his emotional issues, a real relationship never comes to pass. They do, however, write letters for many years. Charlene's life takes another direction, but she continues to write to Arthur. Until she suddenly stops. Meanwhile, Arthur, over the years, "feeds" his feelings with food. So much food that he weighs over 550 pounds and has not left his house in years. The letters were all he had. Then out of the blue Arthur receives word from Charlene and everything changes. Enter the other side of the story, told by Kel, Charlene's son.

I can't even begin to express how much I enjoyed this book. Chapters woven between Arthur's and Kel's narratives, stories from present day and past; each one more interesting than the next. I never once guessed where Heft was going and was eager to find out. I was left thinking about what really constitutes a family, and how important it is to have loved ones who care.

I googled "awards for Heft by Liz Moore" and was surprised to find very little. Such a great book deserved more praise (although I admit, I'm not the best googler, and may have missed something). Even on Moore's own site, awards are scarce. I'm so surprised. The only one I found was the Beverly Hills Literary Escape's Medici Book Club Prize ... aka, Totally New to Me. A book like this certainly deserves more praise. You should read it and get the word out.

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Husband's Secret

by Liane Moriarty
October 13-27, 2013

I allowed myself a rare treat with this one. A fall and winter favorite of mine is waking up on a Sunday morning, early, only to make coffee and hop right back into bed and read. Delightful. I hadn't allowed myself this simple pleasure since last year, but what better book to snuggle up with than The Husband's Secret. I read over half of it in this one sitting ... just don't tell anyone I stayed in bed until one o'clock in the afternoon!

Moriarty has some similarities to Maeve Binchy, and this I loved. The ability to weave so many characters into a story and still make it completely believable. Humor and tears in just the right doses. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end. And the secret? Well, I never would have guessed. I feel like I should have though, but even then, I wasn't any less intrigued. The twists and outcomes were perfect, and the "what-ifs" left me thinking long after I finished the last page.

It's crazy, but I can't think of much more to say about this book. Mainly because I don't want to give away a thing. It's that good. That surprising. That compelling. That good. One of the best books I've read in a while.

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