Monday, April 1, 2019

Book Reviews March 2019

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton.  I really enjoyed reading this.  It is very much a Kate Morton novel, in that there are multiple parallel storylines going on that all take place in different times but share a connection.  In this novel the connection is a house out in the countryside in England that was first an artist’s retreat in the late 1800’s, and then a school for girls in the early 1900’s, and then a refuge for a family whose home was bombed in London in WWII.  The daughter of the title, who is one of the main narrators, is a ghost (which you learn right away so I’m not being a spoiler in revealing it).  She, known as Lily, was the muse of the painter who lived in the house in the 1860’s, and was trapped there after an incident which had reverberations for years to come.  It’s hard to explain without giving too much away, so I won’t.  But all of the characters are interesting and well written and it is easy to get invested in their stories and fun to piece all the parts together.  I recommend.

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. I kept hearing good things about this book and was not disappointed.  It’s a light, quick read – more a novella – and simply done.  Korede is the narrator, and she is a hard-working nurse at a hospital in Nigeria.  She is the opposite in looks and temperament from her sister, Ayoola, who is a beautiful serial killer.  When the book begins, Korede has been called to clean up after Ayoola’s third murder.  As her sister’s caretaker, she does, but when Ayoola shifts her attentions to a doctor at the hospital at which Korede works – and a doctor who Korede has feelings for – Korede is torn between helping her sister stay out of trouble and helping the doctor.  It is fast-paced and stripped down.

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman. This is the third Fredrik Backman novel I’ve read and I am quite fond of them.  His books are sweettarts – sugary treats with a sour narrator and generally happy endings.  This book follows the tradition of A Man Called Ove, and Britt-Marie was Here, in that they have a slightly on the spectrum narrator who likes things just so.  In this case, however, the narrator is a 7 year old, Elsa, who is teased at school for her oddness and rigidity, and who has a wild granny she adores.  Her granny is fighting cancer, and leaves Elsa a series of letters to deliver to various people in her neighborhood, who then tell Elsa their story.  Britt-Marie lives in Elsa’s building (her novel comes after this one in sequence), and is as OCD as ever, making sure people don’t put signs up or let their dogs bark, etc.  I thought it would be a good novel to read after reading about a serial killer, and I was right.  It’s fun, and although Backman definitely has a formula, his books are quirky and enjoyable.  I will continue to read them.

Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths.  This was a fun ghost story/thriller read.  It's a "stand alone" book and not part of any of Griffiths' series.  Clare is a high school teacher and is also working on a book about an author of a famous ghost story.  A fellow teacher and friend of Clare's is murdered, and the whole community is thrown for a loop.  When a second teacher is next to die, things get serious!  The point of view rotates between Clare, her teenage daughter, Georgie, and Harbinder Kaur, the detective in charge of the case.  Interspersed throughout is also the full text of the ghost story, which begins to run parallel to the events Clare is living through.  I did figure out who the murderer was pretty early on -- and if I did, then all of you will figure it out much faster -- but that did not inhibit my enjoyment of the book.

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