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Joined 9 months ago

Hi! I'm delighted to find Bookwyrm. I read mostly literary fiction, but I also enjoy mysteries, fantasies, and science fiction.

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An irresistible literary murder mystery set at a remote hunting lodge where everyone is a …

Locked Room Style Mystery

2 stars

West Heart Kill is a hunting camp, decades old, run and operated by a group of families who have made this quiet, remote place in the woods their private getaway from their ordinary lives. There is just one road into West Heart Kill, so during and after a damaging storm, it would seem to be a perfect place to stage a locked room mystery. (By the way, the word kill is a dutch term for a body of water.)

This particular mystery was written in a way I’ve never encountered before. It’s a high concept sort of mystery novel, mixing points of view and passing around the narration baton. It’s also a meta novel, with the author letting us into some of the process. Reader is also a character.

For me, unfortunately, this creative style obscured the mystery. The character development in many mysteries isn’t deep, but when the writer …

reviewed Shanghai girls by Lisa See

Shanghai girls (2009, Random House) 4 stars

Two sisters leave Shanghai to find new lives in 1930s Los Angeles in this fresh, …

Engaging historical novel

4 stars

I found this to be a fascinating story that taught me a bit about a part of history that I was not aware of, which is the best thing about this type of novel. I found Pearl to be quite likable and will read the sequel because I'm concerned about her future.

reviewed Fear the Silence by Robert Bryndza

Fear the Silence (EBook, Raven Street Publishing) 3 stars

‘Do you believe Will took his own life?’

The question echoed off the white tiles …

A Compelling Mystery

3 stars

Many thanks to Raven Street Publishing and Netgalley for introducing me to Robert Bryndza. This thriller was just that, and kept my rapt attention most of the time.

Maggie and Will are middle-aged professionals living the affluent life of their dreams: Maggie is a trauma surgeon, and Will has left medicine to pursue architecture, his passion. The author quickly paints a picture of a happy life together, until Will is carried into the trauma unit where his wife Maggie is working, dying of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Maggie has a very hard time accepting the idea that Will has killed himself. She saw no signs of depression, no sign of anything amiss.

In the following days and weeks, as Maggie tries to come to grips with her new life, she travels to the vacation home they built on an island in Croatia. This is when things get scary …

reviewed 克拉拉与太阳 by Kazuo Ishiguro

克拉拉与太阳 (Hardcover, Chinese language, 2021, 上海译文出版社) 4 stars



Topical and Moving

4 stars

Ishiguro's novel about a sentient robot is very timely, thought-provoking, and disturbing. My favorite character in this story was definitely Klara, the AF (artificial friend). In some ways, this is a challenging read, since the author does not spell everything out, and there are plenty of details that are not spelled out. Klara's reasoning and sensory clues are well described, however, and the saddest aspect of this story is how much of Klara's knowledge and insights will never be explained or shared with those she cared about most. Like most of those who have been assigned by society to a subservient role, she is vastly underestimated. This is a story that will stay with me, and I do recommend it.

The Glass Hotel (Hardcover, 2020, Knopf) 4 stars

Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star lodging on the northernmost tip …

Beautiful life study...

4 stars

This novel is a creative and well-written blend of real and imagined stories involving the Bernie Madoff scandal and an interesting female protagonist named Vincent Smith. I enjoyed it very much, and admire the nonlinear storytelling style that was laced with mystery. I absolutely recommend it.

I Have Some Questions for You (2023, Penguin Publishing Group) 4 stars

Literary mystery

Beautifully Written Mystery

4 stars

This is more than a story about a mystery. It’s a beautifully written depiction of life at a small boarding school, a microcosm in the woods. What happened there, amongst the students, was not beautiful, but the way Bodie Kane looks back on some important events, as an adult, is well expressed. Much of the novel is written to someone offstage, a character the reader will learn much more about along the way.

Bodie, a successful podcaster, has returned to the Granby School, the boarding school where she spent her vulnerable teen-aged years, for a few weeks to teach a class. When she asks her students to choose a topic to investigate for their own podcast projects, one of them expresses the interest to delve into a murder that happened at the school while Bodie was a student there, decades ago. It’s a crime for which a man named Omar …

Babel (Hardcover, 2022, Harper Voyager) 5 stars

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.

Robin Swift, orphaned …

Review of 'Babel' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This memorable novel is both ingeniously creative and importantly timely in its message. R.F. Kuang weaves together a story that injects magical realism into a novel that is both historical and revisionist. That is, this is a story that asks us to imagine the road not taken at a certain time in history, and the ethics of the decisions of those in power–and question how and why such power came to be, in the first place.

I felt that the characters were well-developed and realistically complex, making it possible for the reader to feel the emotion in their stories. The plot was also well crafted and paced.

Instead of summarizing the plot, I want to simply recommend this novel, which I knew nothing about before I started reading. Part of the magic, for me, was simply reading on to discover the shape of the world as it is created by …

The Guest List (2021, William Morrow Paperbacks, William Morrow & Company) 4 stars

Review of 'The Guest List' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This murder mystery that takes place during an extremely pretentious, extravagant wedding, and surprise, the bride and groom are both thoroughly unlikeable. Also, some of this story is predictable, while other parts seem like wild coincidences. And yet, I enjoyed this very much. The manner in which each character's story unfolds, and then how they come together, is effective and satisfying.

This was fun, and I do recommend it.

Review of 'Buzz Books 2023' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This is the first time I've perused such a fabulous preview of future publications, and I love it. The organization is helpful, as it's always exciting to see debut authors. This treasure trove will certainly guide me in selecting some of my reading this year.
Thanks to Netgalley for making this available.

Please Report Your Bug Here (2023, Holt & Company, Henry) 3 stars

Review of 'Please Report Your Bug Here' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Please Report Your Bug Here, by Josh Riedel, is a mixture of coming of age, social commentary, and fantasy novel. The protagonist is Ethan Block, who has a liberal arts background but is working on a start-up social media site called DateDate. He works with just two other people, known as the engineer and the Founder, until they are bought by The Corporation, a bigger social app that appears to be modeled on Facebook.

During his employment in social media, Ethan is witness to the dawn of certain technologies, and how, in the pursuit of wealth, this social media platform is willing to expose the general public to potential harm with features that are not completely understood. This is where it becomes part fantasy novel. The author creatively conjures up a possibility that does not seem possible in real life, at least not literally, to drive a plot about social …

Clytemnestra (2023, Sourcebooks, Incorporated) 4 stars

Review of 'Clytemnestra' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Greek mythology is usually fascinating, and this novel lives up to that expectation. I did not remember much of the Greek mythology I’d read, and certainly did not know who Clytemnestra was until reading Costanza Casati’s work.

Born in Sparta to a ruthless Spartan King, Tyndareus, and Leda, the intelligent, shrewd queen, Clytemnestra is brought up to be the same. She is trained to fight and to value power and dominance. Unfortunately, Tyndareus’s daughters would all find what is was to be their father’s pawns, traumatic for women who were trained to be strong.

Clytemnestra’s character is imagined with nuanced complexity. She rages with hatred, wanting vengeance for those she has lost, but is also capable of intense love. Clytemnestra is one well-written, solid protagonist.

Her royal family is also depicted in detail, especially Helen, who I’d incorrectly associated with Troy instead of Sparta. There is more than one version …

Fairy Tale (Hardcover, 2022, Scribner) 5 stars

Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes deep into the well of his imagination in this spellbinding …

Review of 'Fairy Tale' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

An ode to the fairy tales we've all heard, very nicely written. The characters are sympathetic and the plot moves along at a steady, engaging pace. I'd recommend it.

Review of 'Eternal Lei' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

This is an entertaining mystery set in Kaua’i, during the worst days of the pandemic, when small businesses and schools were all closed. Viewing the pandemic’s effects on a vastly different place and culture than my own was the most intriguing aspect about this story.

Actually, I feel that this novel is just as much drama as mystery. There are many characters involved, and their stories do not necessarily have much to do with the mystery, but do show the reader the everyday struggles of life on a remote island during an economic downturn.

All the background stories also highlight how important the main character, Leilani Santiago, is to so many people. Naomi Hirahara has certainly invented a strong and likable female protagonist. I found this to be a light and enjoyable read.

Thank you to Turner Publishing Company and Edelweiss+ for this enjoyable experience.

Birnam Wood (2023, Granta Books) 4 stars

Review of 'Birnam Wood' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This fascinating thriller takes its name from a forest featured in Shakespeare’s play McBeth. Like that famous play, this novel is populated with flawed individuals whose ambitions prove hard to balance with their morals. Accidents, deceptions, and cross purposes make for a complex, exciting plot.

In Eleanor Catton’s new novel, Birnam Wood is the name of a small nonprofit organization that seeks to plant crops in unused spaces, sometimes with permission, and sometimes not. There is certainly some lawlessness and trespassing going on, but the group’s members see it as a necessary evil in their mission to help those in need and to work for a more fair society. Before I read this, I was not aware of guerilla gardening.

There are four main characters in this book, plus two important supporting roles. Mira and Shelley are prominent members of Birnam Wood, and their relationship is complicated. They’ve been close …