Therapeutic Reading: The Obsession

The Obsession, Nora Roberts

Hardcover, 464 pages

Published: April 12th 2016 by Berkley

26236956

Source: ARC won from publisher giveaway

Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.

It’s all very well and great to read deep and intense books like Hausfrau or Fates & Furies but sometimes all I really want is a Happy Ever After.  A glass of wine, alone time and a good story with romance and happiness in the end.  When I want reading for mood therapy I almost always turn to Nora Roberts.  Opening the mail to find this ARC a few days into January was like Christmas Day all over!

The Obsession continues my Nora streak of total happiness in a book.  Romance, murderous tension, just enough smut, plus talk of books and a true and loyal pooch.  I liked the slow buildup of the romance and the friendship between Naomi and Xander.  I think there could have been more to the mystery – it was actually a pretty short part of the book itself – but it was still satisfying in the end.  So when you need a happy read, I highly recommend the Obsession and a glass of wine – that’s my book therapy prescription!

4 stars!

Thank you Berkley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

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Review: Jane Steele

Jane Steele, Lyndsay Faye

Published March 22nd 2016 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Kindle Edition, 427 pages

Source: Penguin First to Read

25868918

“Reader, I murdered him.”

A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until escaping to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement.  Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess.

Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents—the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, and the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose history with Mr. Thornfield appears far deeper and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him—body, soul, and secrets—without revealing her own murderous past?

“Reader, I murdered him.”  

Who doesn’t want to read this book based on that line?  So let me tell you, Reader, it was amazing.  I was a bit unsure at first as I read, wondering just how beloved Jane Eyre could be turned into a murderess.  Then Jane Steele herself holds Eyre up as a model of nearly all goodness and I realized how very different these characters would be.  Jane Steele is orphaned and is sent by her aunt to away to school, these facts and that she later becomes a governess are pretty much where her similarities to Jane Eyre end.  Jane Steele is funny!  She’s smart.  She’s quick on her feet.  Most importantly she realizes violence is necessary to save herself at times.  

As excited as I was to read this book I did not think I would get too attached to our murderess but I really did.  I was expecting a cold-hearted sociopath.  What Faye delivers is a child who is lost without her mother, preyed on by a creepy cousin and then delivered into a school that sounds like hell.  No wonder she turns to murder!  Really when you consider what she’s been through she is very brave!  Jane is also loyal and remarkably honest.  She grows into a remarkably thoughtful young woman, despite her views of herself.  

I’ve seen some complaints in reviews about the second half of the book where Jane returns to Highgate House being slow.  I thought this half was nearly faster than the beginning and the gothic feel much lighter.  I loved the addition of the Sikh party at Highgate House and how comfortably teaching Jane about their religion and history in India flowed with the story.  The romance was sweet and completely appropriate for the book.   I was nervous for Jane while she wrestled with the question of how to meld her past and  her hopes with  Mr. Thornfield (and I loved Thornfield!).  In the end I was just delighted and completely entertained.

Now that I’ve read my second successful Jane Eyre related book (Re Jane was another great book!) I am definitely going to have to go back to the classic.  

4 stars!

Thank you GP Putnam and Penguin First to Read for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!

review: what is not yours is not yours

what is not yours is not yours, helen oyeyemi

Hardcover, 336 pages

Published March 8th 2016 by Riverhead Books

Source: Galley giveaway from Publisher

25810500

Playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. “‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” involves a “house of locks,” where doors can be closed only with a key—with surprising, unobservable developments. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don’t You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).

Oyeyemi’s tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation? What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours captivates as it explores the many possible answers.

My issue with short stories is often -What the heck?!  I want more!  Or often -What the heck – that was so short why was it a story?  

I definitely did not have that issue with this new collection by Helen Oyeyemi.  Some stories like “books and roses” or “drownings” I could have read much more of to get into the worlds she created.  I would love to know more about the wolf present in “dornicka and the st. martin’s day goose”.  But even though I would have read had I had more pages I was completely satisfied with what I read.  The stories were so rich and detailed and captivating.  Even while the puppets weren’t my favorite I still was swept up in the drama and the characters.  The magical realism in these stories definitely carried me away.

The writing was beautiful and mystical and I have so many questions about what I just read. Definitely a book I will be taking time to reread and savor.  The stories were both haunting and delightful.  I definitely will not be looking at my keys in the same way for a while.  

4 stars

Thank you Riverhead Books for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.