TITLE: The Bellwether Revivals
AUTHOR: Benjamin Wood
GENRE: Literature/Fiction (Adult); Mystery
FORMAT: Digital ARC via NetGalley
RELEASE DATE: May 28, 2013 (Penguin Group)
(From Goodreads) The Bellwether Revivals opens and closes with bodies. The story of whose bodies and how they come to be spread about an elegant house on the river near Cambridge is told by Oscar, a young, bright working class man who has fallen in love with an upper-class Cambridge student, Iris, and thereby become entangled with a group of close friends, led by Iris’s charismatic, brilliant, possibly dangerous brother. For Eden Bellwether believes he can heal — and perhaps more — through the power of music.
Iâm not even sure where to begin with The Bellwether Revivals, because itâs impacted me in a really wonderful but simultaneously horrible way thatâs difficult to describe. Writing is like that â youâre trying to describe feelings and you depend a lot on skill but also on luck. Some days youâre more fortunate than others, and you can describe these very complex, subtle emotions and sensations with a few words or many, but always quickly, and without too much thought â it comes naturally, like the feelings themselves. But other days you sit there and think, and think, and think, and nothing comes to you â so you have to sort of awkwardly tough it out.
Iâll cheat and quote Bukowski: âFind what you love and let it kill you.â
Every Friday, we’ll be reviewing one of our past favorites that never made it to the blog. (Hey, life happens.) Check back once a week for some of our most highly recommended reads!
TITLE: The Secret Keeper
AUTHOR: Kate Morton
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Mystery
For Laurel Nicholson, the memory of one particular summer afternoon in the English countryside is still as fresh and vivid as ever, even after fifty long years. All she has to do is close her eyes and once again she’s sixteen years old, dreaming of a bright future in her childhood tree house. Those dreams are cut short by the shocking crime Laurel witnesses from her hidden perch — a murder, and a deep secret, that challenges everything she thought she knew about her family. Half a century goes by before Laurel finally returns to put the pieces of the puzzle together. What she uncovers is the long-buried history of three strangers whose paths collide in the years before and during the Second World War, and whose intertwining fates will ultimately lead to the indelible events of one summer afternoon in 1961.
As a huge Kate Morton fan, I was beyond excited for this book — she’s a gifted storyteller whose characters remain with you long after you turn the final page. I have to say this is her best work yet, and my favorite so far. The Secret Keeper is a beautifully rendered tale of family secrets, unconditional love, and new beginnings set against the dramatic backdrop of wartime London.
TITLE: What We Saw At Night
AUTHOR: Jacquelyn Mitchard
FORMAT: eBook, 218 pages
The world is different at night. Allie and her two closest friends, Rob and Juliet, know this better than anyone. The three all share the same genetic condition: Xeroderma Pigmentosum, a fatal allergy to sunlight. The only world they can truly live in is the one that emerges when the sun goes down. They have been friends forever, banding together against the disease that has every possibility of claiming their lives before they can even begin to truly live. But being unable to tolerate daylight doesn’t prevent the trio from trying to get as much out of life as they possibly can. They explore the streets and unearth buried secrets by the light of the moon, having the run of Iron Harbor from dusk until the last few hours before dawn. But it’s when they take up parkour, a stunt sport involving climbing and vaulting off tall buildings, that the thrill factor hits the ceiling. And it’s because of this need for a thrill that they find themselves witnessing something they shouldn’t have seen, what no Daytimer would ever have known about: murder.
The idea behind this book is, I think, brilliant. It covers rarely explored territory, promises a suspenseful plot. This is why I was drawn to it in the first place. And it isn’t that the plot lacks action or mystery, because it has those things — it just all suffers from poor execution. What We Saw At Night falls victim to a lot of tension that ultimately fizzes out far too soon.
TITLE: The Book of Blood and Shadow
AUTHOR: Robin Wasserman
FORMAT: eBook, 450 pages
There are books I’ve read, long books that pivot back and forth between the past and the present, that nevertheless make you feel like the dense number of pages is nothing at all. The story flies by, those pages slipping by one after another until suddenly the story has ended and you’re left wondering where the time went. (No joke — I have had black hole moments like this while reading. “I started reading at 2pm and now it’s bedtime… what?”) There are books that you just get lost in.
Unfortunately, this book was not one of them.
I hate to say it, because I really expected myself to enjoy this. Nora Kane, the kind of girl who does jumpy-claps over dusty leatherbound first editions of ancient manuscripts, really seemed like someone I would be kindred spirits with. She parses through Latin translations as a calming exercise while others her age probably indulge in things like bubble baths or spa pedicures. She’s got a great group of friends, it’s senior year at a school she fought hard to even attend, and now she’s got a new gig: translating Latin for a college professor’s mysterious, mind-boggling pet project. When Nora is handed the bundle of letters written by a woman named Elizabeth Weston in a century long past, she has no idea that everything is about to change. The letters, after painstaking translation on Nora’s part, begin to reveal several lifetimes worth of secrets — secrets that plunge Nora into a quest and a conspiracy that has existed for centuries. Blood is spilled, lives are lost, and everything thought to be true must suddenly be questioned.