I was overwhelmed reading this book... not because it was difficult material (which it was), and not because the complexity of the relationships and internal dialogue of the characters was so intensely emotional (which it also was), but because everything written in this story is REAL LIFE. Confronting that can sometimes be overwhelming... and I've never been happier for the experience.
D.A. Reed has created a masterpiece of Young Adult fiction with this story. From the complexity of teenage angst to the thoughts, speech patterns, and body language of teenagers, to the adult interactions... this author got it all right. As a person who has been touched by teen suicide in both my generation and my son's generation, I cannot endorse this book enough. It is poignant, it is accurate, it is raw, it is unsettling, it is tender, it is difficult, and it is necessary.
This story channels the day-to-day experiences of teenagers in a way that feels a little like voyeurism; and if that thought doesn't frighten you just a little bit, it should. The bravery these characters show reminds us that everything is worth healing when we take the time to talk and listen. The resources and discussion questions in the back of the book encourage this dialogue between friends, families, and teachers.
This is a book that should be on a bookshelf in a central part of every family home, and in every classroom. It should be a part of every educator's and religious leader's continuing education program. I am certain that all who read it will be touched and motivated to help others in some empathetic way.
When you are given the gift of seeing teen suicide from the inside, you can't help but become changed. Thank you, D.A. Reed, for giving us this profound insight into a world we must not ignore.
If you don't have tissues nearby, make sure you have them when you read this book. If you're a writer yourself, make sure you have two boxes.
I was incredibly impressed with Ms. Torre's ability to reach deep into herself, pull out the emotional angst every writer experiences at some time or another, and place it squarely on the page. From realizing you need to write a story, to realizing you can't write it, to finally realizing that there is no other solution than to collaborate with your career nemesis, the story grips strong at the heart strings and daily struggles of every writer I've ever known, myself included.
Ms. Torre has created an ideal recipe for escape reading. She begins with the hearty stock of a frustrated writer. That alone, however, isn't enough to make the story a part of the reader's soul, so she mixes in the unfailing love of a motherhood. To that, she adds the doubt of a marriage that feels somehow, "off". She then adds suspenseful spice in the form of a backstory that has missing pieces. For good measure, she throws in a couple heaping spoons full of an undercurrent threat of what comes next. Garnish it all with the necessity to maintain professional boundaries, and you have a story that digs deeper than most.
This book will take you through the beginning, middle, and end, hanging by threads you didn't know were hanging, and attached to characters in ways you didn't know was possible. The emotional connection you feel to the writing will last long after you've finished the story.
I read this book in audiobook format, on a long drive while traveling to our cabin. I listened to it while walking the trails with the dog, I listened to it while making breakfast and sitting in the hammock in the afternoon. It was sincerely, unputdownable. The narration was exceptional, and added depth to an already impressive story. Some books lend themselves very well to being read aloud, this is one of those books. I finished the story while driving home one afternoon, and was grateful for the fact that I was driving on the highway, and passing cars couldn't tell that I was crying like a heartbroken teenager at the end.
I have not read any of Alessandrea Torre's other books, yet, but you can be sure that they are on my list of must reads. I highly recommend this particular story for all of my Indie Author friends. You will NOT be disappointed!
Suspense, Humor, Mystery, A Dashing Englishmen, A Flattering Younger Man, the Wonder of a Museum's Backstage, and Chocolate... what's not to love about this story!
Luba Lesychyn is an extremely talented writer. She understands how to dangle details in ways that have you looking forward to more excitement, without anxiety. She's a comfort writer. Pull up a cozy blanket and dive right in. I immersed myself reading her pages at night, after a day of work... shunning the rest of the real world, and allowing myself to get lost in her imaginative Toronto. I regret nothing.
Theft By Chocolate is an amusing and spirited read. The story eavesdrops on the days of a chocolate addict, who is also sleuthing her way through an irresistible mystery. At every new chapter, I was impressed by Luba's expressive writing style. When her characters walk through hallways filled with anxiety, sit quietly in a cathedral, or collapse on the bed in sheer exhaustion, you experience every moment as if that character's reality was your own. Luba entices you to step into her world and live it fully.
Through the intrigue of the story, she shares valuable reminders of some of life's most important lessons, in ways you'll never forget. Yes, a spoonful of powered chocolate does affect us in exactly THAT way! Secrets are often hidden in (nearly) plain sight, so you should be keenly observant. Public humiliation doesn't always have to be the precursor to a doomed life. And most importantly, Librarians can indeed be seductively charming, in their own bashful way.
Luba Lesychyn is an author who clearly understands how to bait her literary fish and then reel them in for the vigorous PLOP on the sandy shore. But not to worry, she'll tuck you back into the water again, safely returning you to the comfort of characters you are sure you know, and environments that you wish you could visit, without ever revealing the entire mystery. And that's exactly what we want from an author.
Thank you, Luba Lesychyn, you will continue to have a place in my TBR pile!
I wasn't as interested in this one as I thought I'd be. The synopsis suggested that there would be more of a creepy factor than there was; yet still, the overall story was okay.
The layers that authors add to psychological thrillers is what draws me to the genre. Although this one has a couple that caught me off guard, it was a bit anti-climactic. The tension just wasn't there for me. The secret from the main character's past that I was hoping would be tremendously revealing, was that... but the problem was that it was revealed in the beginning of the book. A bit of a let down. Throughout the story, I suspected what was happening, and so when it turned out I was right, I wasn't as impressed as I wanted to be.
There was a particular subplot character, who I thought would be instrumental in the big reveal at the end, but that character wasn't explored or woven into the story line with the kind of depth that would have required. His character and underlying creepiness was there... but just peripherally. I would have liked to have him more involved with the final twist. In the end, he was an obvious red herring. The secondary characters were also less dynamic that I would have liked... they felt more like filler than impact - even the one that was supposed to be the motivational history.
The best thing about this story... The dog doesn't die!
According to GoodReads.com, this author is a popular writer, and I seem to be in the minority. This was my first read of her; and I'll give her another chance; but I'm guessing this novel isn't her finest work.
Treat yourself to to this book. It's a ghost story that well defines the genre.
This book was sincerely, "un-put-down-able". I was pulled into the story and didn't want to leave. The characters were rich and vibrant, even those who were more than a hundred years old. The storytelling was full in it's detail - and when necessary - just as strong in its withholding. There were times I felt precariously dangled from a cliff and other times I felt snuggled up warmly with the comfort of canine sentinels. As a Michigan resident, I felt quite at home with Halcyon and her family's house. I have a very strong urge now, to visit the island to seek out the places... emotional and physical, real and imagined.
I listened to the audio book version. The narrator was exquisite in captivating story, character, and the intent of the author. Her cadence and rhythm were spot on... the only error I found was the single mispronunciation of 'Mackinac' (she's probably not a Michigan native).
This story was pretty much all-consuming for me from the time I started with page one, until the last word. Wow! From the synopsis, I thought this was going to be an interesting read, and I was not disappointed. A psychological thriller with so many twists and turns, and and ending that, literally, I had to read TWICE... this is a book not be missed if you enjoy the genre.
At every new chapter, I had a clear understanding of what was happening. My sympathies were in line with the right characters, and I was, just like the narrator, confused and beyond curious about the motives behind such an unspeakable act. As the story progressed, it made sense that the patient would want to remain silent. The story was confusing for her, too. Anything she would have to say wouldn't fit; in her mind, nor in anyone else's.
The subplot characters made perfect sense. Their motives were beyond reproachful understanding, although at times, I thought they should have or could have done more to save the victim... or at the very least, offer a bit of stronger protection. One detail that certainly drew me in was the introduction of the patient's journal and artwork. What Mr. Michaelides does with those two plot devices, how he intertwines them, working them into the main plot line, is extraordinary.
When, at the last couple of chapters, my understanding of EVERYTHING in this story became unraveled, I had no where to turn for answers. I discovered that my logical brain had stepped out, and I simply couldn't make sense of it all on my own. I had to wait for the author to give me the final clues, and the final confession. This story is so well crafted. The confession offered, veiled, unmasked, and in the end, turned inside out. It's a book that had me staring off into space at the end of the last sentence, trying so hard to remember every detail, and figure out how I had missed so much along the way. It is an "oh my goodness, but that's good," kind of ending.
This book is super popular, and with good reason. This is a debut novel from Mr. Michaelides (although he's written successfully for film); and I hope, and hope again, that he will write more!
At just 103 pages, this isn't an awful novella. If you're interested in the vampire vein of storytelling (see what I did there), you'll enjoy this one. The thing I found most interesting is that it reminded me of Shakespeare''s writing. Okay, now you're wondering how I made that leap, aren't you? Well, in this tale, the two main characters, Carmilla and Laura have a very intense, um, friendship. Much like in Shakespeare's stories, same sex intensity doesn't seem to phase anyone. The dialogue is intimate and melodramatic, and there seems to be a lot more physical sensuality than one might expect for a book written in this period; 1872.
The other thing that struck me is that none of the characters seemed overly shocked by the news of a vampire in their midst. No doubting Thomas' and no questions of the scientific minds that make the suggestion that this might, indeed, be the logical conclusion to the mystery. I don't know about you, but "logic" and "vampire" (unless its "vampire bat") aren't usually heard in the same conversation among friends who are medical professionals. Authors, perhaps; but usually not physicians. The fact that nobody questions this as an option, except for a rival physician who is trying to protect his own reputation, strikes me as odd.
All in all, it's an entertaining story, mostly because this time, the vampire is a woman - not usually something you see in Gothic tales written from this time period. I suppose feminism is older than we thought. Would I recommend it? Sure, if you need something to tie up a few free hours. But it wasn't really something I'd rave about. It was just okay. I'm sure it would be a good foundation or as research material if you're interested in writing a vampire story.
So, when I first came across this book, I wasn't going to read it. I was one of the few people on the planet who was not overly impressed with Ms. Meyer's "Twilight" series. But after a few months of watching it continue to show up on the shelves of my local bookshop, I decided that I should give it a try. I'm pleased that I did.
As a complete departure from her previous work (with the exception that her book revolves around a female lead), it seemed to me that the author had matured a great deal in her writing. The subject matter was very different, and the approach to characters and their choices, for me, seemed different, too. This was a "real life" story, with a plausible set of characters, skill sets, and motivations. Even their flaws seemed much more realistic.
The tension was well delivered, on a good balance with the romance, and mystery elements. The love story was slow, deliberate, and intentional - much closer to real life than vampires and werewolves, for my tastes. I enjoyed the clandestine elements, and the "spy vs spy" with just the right number of innocents added to the mix to make it intelligent.
I think that Ms. Myers has come a long way in her storytelling acumen with this novel - though I believe, and hope, that she continues to write and do better.
***Spoiler: I'm NOT impressed with the death of the dogs! I understand it's probably what would have happened - but I still didn't enjoy reading those passages.
I found this a very entertaining read... an alternate origin story set in present time with present-day technology, with a vibrant, though not overbearing flashback to get you going. This book, subtitled, "A Technothriller", pulled me in the moment I read the tag at the top of the cover. "Hell is about to break loose... for real". And, of course, the cover art helped, too. Creepy and impossible to ignore.
This book has so many wondrous little twists and turns, it's extremely difficult to put down. Fast paced, and with a set-up at the beginning that doesn't mire the story foundation in too many details, it's a fascinating read. This is one of those stories that makes you wonder... maybe. It's also one of those stories you know the Alien Astronaut Conspiracy Theorists would LOVE! Just enough science to make it plausible... just enough fiction to make it fun.
The characters are multi-layered, with their own agendas, sometimes intersecting for mutual benefit, sometimes not. There were a couple of characters, in fact, that I thought I could count on to be stable and reliable... and then, suddenly, they weren't. It was like hot chocolate with a little kick of brandy; really delicious and a bit misleading after half a cup.
I'm not blown away by the subplot "minions". I think the main antagonist with his "special" gifts would have been enough. But I also understand why the author needed to infuse them into the story. They expanded each individual character arc while simultaneously adding a physicality the story needed, given that the tension had to be controlled in a single location. It might have been overdone in a few places... just a tad... but in the end, it worked.
There's an insidiousness to this story that offers to question religious dogma, while also shining a big spotlight on the motives of humanity and the drives that underlie everything we do. Does altruism really exist... could it... ever... on any level? Be careful what you wish for, you may get it; and the price may be more than you're willing to pay. The biggest problem is, the invoice comes thirty days later, with no returns.
Part science fiction, part religious tumult, part love story, this book is a unique ride. It is more "technohorror", I think than "technothriller". A large measure of Creepy with a generous side of Bloody Gore is indeed the driving force in this one. Not enough blood to make me turn my head... just enough to make me keep watching.
Now my challenge... to read the other five books in the series. There I go... sucked in to another series. Thankfully, this one doesn't necessarily need to be read in order!
Like thousands of other readers on the planet, I was enticed to read “Inspection” after having read “Bird Box”. My curiosity was tickled by the idea of what this unconventional author might come up with next. Also, he’s a Michigan native, and I’m always interested in reading home-grown literature. Both books, to my mind, might be considered “present day dystopian” novels. What I mean by that is that they have storylines that seem to have events that take place in another time – but through closer attention – could actually take place in the here-and-now. It wouldn’t be that big a stretch.
This was my experience of “Inspection”. It’s a bizarre thought, raising children in a protected space… feeding them selective information and emotional understanding, cut off from the rest of society. Yet, when I consider the idea more closely, it’s what many cultures are doing already, and have been doing for centuries.
The most striking part about this book for me was the idea that revolution, insurrection, and redemption are (or can be) discovered through the pages of a book. That simple idea, that the printed word might change an entire community’s concepts of self and others, is profound in my head. Mr. Malerman takes this possibility, dumps it upside down, and allows all the gooey stuff to seep from his characters into his readers, achieving a cacophony of silent defiance.
Two small warnings: this book includes some graphic violence involving pre-teen children near the end chapters, so I wouldn’t recommend it for readers younger than fifteen. And, as with Bird Box, the story doesn’t definitively end… so if you like tightly wrapped packages, you may want to skip this one.
I listened to the audiobook version, and I think it was beneficial to have two narrators, one male and one female. I’m not sure the nuances of characterization or setting description would have struck me in the same way, had there been a single narrator, or had I read the printed page in my own voice.
I’m curious to see what Mr. Malerman comes up with next.
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