Review: My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, Fredrik Backman

Published June 16th 2015 by Atria Books

Hardcover, 372 pages

Source: Library

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From the author of the internationally bestselling ‘A Man Called Ove’, a novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother’s fairy tales.

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

If you haven’t read A Man Called Ove I have to respectfully ask what the hell you’re waiting for?!  Frederik Backman broke my feelings into tiny pieces and he tried to do it again with last year’s My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You I’m Sorry.  I was afraid that Backman wouldn’t work magic twice and so I waited too long to pick this up. I was wrong.   

Elsa’s grandmother is batty – totally batty.  We meet Elsa and her Granny after they’ve broken into the zoo and granny has been arrested.  Not what you expect for a woman with her 7 (almost 8) year-old grandmother.  Elsa basically broke my heart.  She’s smart and precocious and she’s bullied and so lonely.  Granny tells her stories to help her to be brave and to fall asleep at night.  They journey every night to a fairy tale world with warriors and Beasts, dreams and magic.  Every child needs someone like Granny in their lives because she was brilliant and amazing.   

Having a grandmother is like having an army.  This is a grandchild’s ultimate privilege: knowing that someone is on your side, always, whatever the details.

But then Granny dies.  Elsa is left friendless and without her champion.  Her mother is 8 months pregnant with her new half-sibling, affectionately called Halfie, and Elsa is excited but unsure of her place in her family.  Elsa and her Granny were neighbors in an apartment building of odd characters.  There’s Alf, who drives a cab; the boy with the syndrome; and Britt-Marie, who is a nag bag to name a few.  Granny leaves Elsa with a letter for one of these neighbors with an apology and ends up leading Elsa on a quest to find magic and friendship.  Once again Backman made me laugh out loud and cry while reading.  I loved how strong and brave Granny was and what she taught Elsa along the way. 

If I can’t convince you will all of the above let me leave you with this quote:

And there’s a Russian playwright who once said that if there’s a pistol hanging on the wall in the first act, it has to be fired before the last act is over.  

Any book that references Chekov’s gun on the wall has to be a winner!  Read it!  I didn’t make the mistake of waiting to read Backman’s next book.  I’ve already devoured his May 2016 release and will review it soon!  But I will say for now that you don’t want to miss it.  Backman is magic – if magic brings both tears and laughter while reading.

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

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“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: The Passenger

The Passenger, Lisa Lutz

Hardcover, 320 pages

Expected publication: March 1st 2016 by Simon & Schuster

26154406In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it…

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

I’ll start with a confession, I bought my first Lisa Lutz book years ago –The Spellman Files– and still it sits on my kindle unread.  I will be remedying that shortly.  

Tanya finds her husband’s body at the foot of the stairs in their home after his natural – but unexpected – death.  Rather than deal with any questions from the police Tanya packs a bag and leaves town. Who does that?  Tanya calls in a favor and becomes Amelia, which is the first of many names that we’ll get to know her as.  Tanya/Amelia crosses paths with many people who both help her and hinder her passage.  Most importantly she meets Blue; and in Blue Amelia seems to have found a true friend with a plan that will free them both from their pasts.  But is it really a safe road?

There were a few scenes where things were rushed, but since the book was so fast paced it didn’t take away too much from the overall enjoyment of the read.  The emails interspersing chapters between a mysterious Jo and Ryan only made me more curious about who Tanya really was and what she was hiding from.  I won’t spoil the ending, but I will just say those were twists I never saw coming!  I loved how Lutz wrapped everything up.  Pick this up when you have time to race through it because you won’t want to put The Passenger down. 

4 stars

Thank you Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

Review: The Gracekeepers

The Gracekeepers, Kirsty Logan

Hardcover, 320 pages

Published May 19th 2015 by Crown

Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss

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As a Gracekeeper, Callanish administers shoreside burials, sending the dead to their final resting place deep in the depths of the ocean. Alone on her island, she has exiled herself to a life of tending watery graves as penance for a long-ago mistake that still haunts her. Meanwhile, North works as a circus performer with the Excalibur, a floating troupe of acrobats, clowns, dancers, and trainers who sail from one archipelago to the next, entertaining in exchange for sustenance.

In a world divided between those inhabiting the mainland (“landlockers”) and those who float on the sea (“damplings”), loneliness has become a way of life for North and Callanish, until a sudden storm offshore brings change to both their lives–offering them a new understanding of the world they live in and the consequences of the past, while restoring hope in an unexpected future.

This was a very strange book.  It was I think a future on Earth in which water has taken over most of the world.  We have the damplings who live on boats vs. the landlockers who live on what islands are left or what they can build out from those islands.  North dances with her bear on a circus boat and Callanish is a Gracekeeper.  If this had been a story just about the Gracekeepers I might have been into it.  The Gracekeepers perform ritualistic burials at sea for the damplings – this was still odd but kind of beautiful.  I think more worldbuilding in the beginning might have set me up to enjoy this book more.  I felt like I was just dumped onto a boat without enough perspective.

North was born to circus life, while Callanish chose to leave her island and live in a hut at the equator to perform restings.  What exactly brought Callanish to this decision was never totally laid out which frustrated me.  North’s path seems fraught with danger and I read with a feeling of dread throughout.  Oddly enough that’s what kept me reading, but that really didn’t pay off for me.  I knew something terrible would happen, I just thought something amazing could still come from it.  The writing was beautiful at times, but this book was just not for me.  All around I just would have liked more – what was given of each character’s story could have had so much more depth and too many questions were left unanswered.

The sea was an endless battlefield, and the deeper you went the worse it got, because everything that died had nowhere to go but down.  In its darkest depths, the sea was nothing but an endless rain of bone, teeth, scales and flesh.

2 stars

Thank you Crown and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion.

All quotes taken from an unfinished copy in advance of publication.

Review: The Guest Room

The Guest Room, Chris Bohjalian

Published January 5th 2016 by Doubleday

Hardcover, 336 pages

Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss

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When Kristin Chapman agrees to let her husband, Richard, host his brother’s bachelor party, she expects a certain amount of debauchery. She brings their young daughter to Manhattan for the evening, leaving her Westchester home to the men and their hired entertainment. What she does not expect is this: bacchanalian drunkenness, her husband sharing a dangerously intimate moment in the guest room, and two women stabbing and killing their Russian bodyguards before driving off into the night.

In the aftermath, Kristin and Richard’s life rapidly spirals into nightmare. The police throw them out of their home, now a crime scene, Richard’s investment banking firm puts him on indefinite leave, and Kristin is unsure if she can forgive her husband for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, faces a much graver danger. In one breathless, violent night, she is free, running to escape the police who will arrest her and the gangsters who will kill her in a heartbeat.

I read The Guest Room in a day – not a stay at home reading day – granted a ridiculous train commute added to my reading time – but I worked all day and found time to finish.  That’s how compelling this book was!  Chris Bohjalian tweeted at me when I said I was in shock, “My books walk a tightrope between heartbreak and hope.  Never sure on which side they will end up.”  That’s a pretty accurate summation of my feelings at the end of this one.  Heartbroken and hopeful both.  

Richard is kind of an idiot for offering to host his brother’s bachelor party in his family home – and from that bad decision many others play out.  Another friend arranges for strippers to be at the party, but they didn’t expect the strippers to be sex slaves who kill their bodyguards and run.  I feel like this book could have been turned simply into a simple mystery with a lot of action and gore – it is what makes Bohjalian so great that this was an extremely emotional read while still tense and compelling.  

We follow Richard, his wife Kristin, and their young daughter Melissa as they each try to deal with what happened and recenter their family after such a violation of their home – both by Richard and by the murder.  We also follow Alexandra and learn how she went from an Armenian school girl to a victim of an international slavery ring.  Her story is all the more heartbreaking when you realize how disgustingly common it is.  Alexandra’s story pulls no punches – the language is graphic and her life is violent.  This was a strong juxtaposition to the chapters from the point of view of Richard’s spoiled 9 year-old.  What very different lives for these girls.  I was really surprised at how invested I felt on both sides of the story though – I worried about Richard’s future nearly as much as I worried about Alexandra.  And oh his poor wife!  How do you stay married?!  What do you do? Clearly I’m definitely still reeling from this book and the ending.  This would be a great book club book – I very much need to talk it over with someone!  

This was so incredibly different than Bohjalian’s last book Close Your Eyes Hold Hands – which I also really enjoyed and also left me emotionally all over the place.   Last, if you check out his website you can read about the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking and the work they do – check it out!

5 stars!

Thank you Doubleday and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion.

Review: Crimson Bound

Crimson Bound, Rosamund Hodge

Published May 5th 2015 by Balzer + Bray

Kindle Edition, 448 pages

Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss

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When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

This is an extremely overdue review for a book that I really enjoyed.  There were a few books that I read to keep sane last year while doing some very stressful hospital visiting and Crimson Bound was one of them.  Wouldn’t you agree that a book that kept me focused while in an ICU waiting room sounds pretty compelling?  

This will be short since I did read this forever ago – but Rachelle was an awesome Little Red Riding Hood.  She’s not facing a Big Bad Wolf per se but something else that can devour her whole.  This was a dark story and much, much more than a girl and a huntsman facing down one villain.  That was what I loved about it!  But in the face of it all Rachelle is so brave!  She’s giving everything she can to her kingdom, while facing a terrifying future herself.  Basically, she’s a badass.  The romance moved a bit faster than I would have liked, but I liked the way it all played out in the end.  The players were all in tense situations all the time, so I’ll credit for that for intensifying emotions.

This was a beautifully written book that became much bigger than I expected from the description.  I highly recommend if you like fairy tale retellings!

4 stars!

Thank you Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion.  

Review: The Japanese Lover

The Japanese Lover, Isabel Allende

Published November 3rd 2015 by Atria Books

Hardcover, 336 pages

Source: ARC from publisher

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In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco’s parents send her away to live in safety with an aunt and uncle in their opulent mansion in San Francisco. There, as the rest of the world goes to war, she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the quiet and gentle son of the family’s Japanese gardener. Unnoticed by those around them, a tender love affair begins to blossom. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two are cruelly pulled apart as Ichimei and his family, like thousands of other Japanese Americans are declared enemies and forcibly relocated to internment camps run by the United States government. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichimei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love that they are forever forced to hide from the world.

Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to come to terms with her own troubled past, meets the elderly woman and her grandson, Seth, at San Francisco’s charmingly eccentric Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, eventually learning about Ichimei and this extraordinary secret passion that has endured for nearly seventy years.

I am a huge fan of Isabel Allende.  I started in college with Daughter of Fortune and started reading everything I could.  The House of the Spirits is magical.  The book about her daughter, Paula broke my heart.  Her family history completely fascinates me.  Allende’s stories have moved from Chile to the United States – which makes sense as she’s now settled in California and an American herself.  I admit that while I love her earlier works the most I was still extremely eager to dive into the Japanese Lover.  

The Japanese Lover definitely tells a good story.  We bounce between Alma, a resident at a San Francisco home for seniors, and her assistant Irina, an immigrant with a mysterious past.  We also follow Alma’s grandson Seth, who is in love with Irina and in cahoots with her to try to understand where Alma disappears to on weekends.  The setting was great – there could have been so many more stories to tell in Lark House about all of the aging residents and the staff.  As Allende takes the reader into Alma’s past arriving in California after fleeing the Nazis in Poland we meet her young friend Ichimei and his family.

Alma, Irina and Seth are all entwined researching history for a book that Seth will write and chapters are interspersed with letters from Ichimei to Alma over the years.  The young friends are separated when Pearl Harbor is bombed and Ichimei and his family are sent away.  The contrasts between Alma’s family’s fortune and Ichimei’s journey to a Japanese internment camp are stark – as are the differences in upbringing for young Irina and Seth.  It was definitely unsettling to read about the Japanese camps at a time of so much hate in the news.  Scary really.  That being said, I enjoyed the back and forth between the stories – I feel like I could have read a book focused on just one of these couples.  I definitely didn’t like Alma’s choices all the time, but she was entertaining to read about.  

Again – Allende always tells a good story.  I just feel like this time I was simply told a story rather than having been immersed into one.  The characters were interesting, but could have had much greater depth. Allende touches on so many topics – World War II, racism, child abuse, immigration and poverty, living with disabilities and aging – but she could have gone so much further into any of them.  

I’m going to find myself rereading the House of the Spirits soon to find that Allende magic.

3 stars

Thank you Atria for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!

Review: Cop Town

Cop Town, Karin Slaughter

Published June 24th 2014 by Delacorte Press

Kindle Edition, 384 pages

Source:e-ARC from NetGalley

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Atlanta, 1974: As a brutal murder and a furious manhunt rock the city’s police department, Kate Murphy wonders if her first day on the job will also be her last. She’s determined to defy her privileged background by making her own way—wearing a badge and carrying a gun. But for a beautiful young woman, life will be anything but easy in the macho world of the Atlanta PD, where even the female cops have little mercy for rookies. It’s also the worst day possible to start given that a beloved cop has been gunned down, his brothers in blue are out for blood, and the city is on the edge of war.

Kate isn’t the only woman on the force who’s feeling the heat. Maggie Lawson followed her uncle and brother into the ranks to prove her worth in their cynical eyes. When she and Kate, her new partner, are pushed out of the citywide search for a cop killer, their fury, pain, and pride finally reach the boiling point. With a killer poised to strike again, they will pursue their own line of investigation, risking everything as they venture into the city’s darkest heart.

This book was definitely gripping in the beginning.  A young cop, running for his life while carrying his partner’s body – will they live?  Is it too late for his partner?  

Unfortunately for me the mystery was lost in the totally misogynistic setting.  I’ll believe that Slaughter did her research and that this is what Atlanta’s Police was like for women of this time – and OMG they are amazing bad asses for surviving it if so – but the unrelenting sexism, racism, violence and homophobia of this book was just too much for me.  It felt like there was honestly nearly nothing uplifting that happened.  I can take a dark mystery, but give me a little levity please!

The bright side was that yes, Maggie and Kate, the two brave young women on the Atlanta Police Department were able to join together and search for the killer together despite the old white men’s club keeping them down.  I just wish they’d been richer characters that I really could have supported.  They were so downtrodden and there was so much darkness I just could barely root for them.

I was intrigued by the Shooter at first and trying to understand his motivations, but then those too felt too varied.  The resolution felt rushed, leaving the explanations flat for me as well.

Based on the reviews I’ve seen of Slaughter’s crime series I may look for those at the library when I need a thriller- but Cop Town was just not a win for me.  Based on the detail she put into this setting I’d like to try on of her books that’s set in a different time – maybe that would be a bit happier!

Thank you Delacorte Press and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Supervillains Anonymous

Supervillains Anonymous, Lexie Dunne (Superheroes Anonymous #2)

Published June 30th 2015 by Harper Voyager Impulse

ebook, 192 pages

Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss

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Goodreads

New superhero Gail Godwin, the one and only Hostage Girl, is in big trouble: her nemesis Chelsea is loose, someone close to her is dead, and everybody thinks Gail did it. To make matters worse, Davenport Industries has thrown her into a prison that just happens to be full of the very same supervillains who used to kidnap her on an almost daily basis.

Outside, things aren’t going all that great either. There’s a conspiracy that runs all the way to the bedrock of the superhero community, and it’s affecting everybody Gail loves. With her friends in the crosshairs, it’s up to her to escape and get to the bottom of things. Subterfuge, crime-fighting, and running away from everybody you know should be a cinch, right?

Wrong. Gail faces off against hero and villain alike just to stay alive, and you know what they say about supervillains. If you can’t beat them…join them.

I really enjoyed Dunne’s first book Superheroes Anonymous – where our heroine Gail goes from being a perpetual hostage being rescued by superheroes to finding her own super strength, some true friends and a chance at romance.  There was a major cliffhanger ending to the first book which was a bummer – so I was happy that Supervillians Anonymous jumped right into the action.  Gail is in supervillian prison after being falsely accused of murdering her friend Angelica.  

My first review called the book The Incredibles for adults and I think that stays true – though aside from some violence they’re a pretty PG read.  We find out what a jail full of supervillians is like in Lexie Dunne’s world (amazing) and just how hard it would be to break out of one.  Gail gets more answers to what set her up to become hostage girl and finds she has both more friends and enemies that she realized.  Dunne kept on surprising me at the escapades Gail both gets into and can get out of.  

Again, not a complicated read but a fun and fast book.  I liked Gail and her wit and I will keep an eye out for Dunne’s next book to see what kind of trouble she gets into next. If you like superheroes I would totally check these out for a fun read.

Thank you Harper Voyager Impulse and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!

Review: The Library at Mount Char

The Library at Mount Char, Scott Hawkins

Published June 16th 2015 by Crown

Hardcover, 388 pages

Source: Blogging for Books

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From Goodreads…

Carolyn’s not so different from the other human beings around her. She’s sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for.

After all, she was a normal American herself, once.

That was a long time ago, of course—before the time she calls “adoption day,” when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.

Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible.

In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn’t gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient Pelapi customs. They’ve studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power.

Sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.

Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library—and with it, power over all of creation.

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her.

But Carolyn can win. She’s sure of it. What she doesn’t realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price—because in becoming a God, she’s forgotten a great deal about being human.

I’ll be honest, if you give me a book and compare it to a Neil Gaiman book then I am most likely going to take a chance on it. So when I heard Gaiman comparisons and read that this was about a creepy library I couldn’t pass up a chance to read The Library at Mount Char.  I think this is the strangest book I have ever read – stranger than a Gaiman book for sure!  I mean, we have a male murderer who wears a tutu all the time – and that is no where near the strangest thing in this book.   I don’t know that I agree with the comparisons to Gaiman, it wasn’t on that level for me, but it was a really entertaining read.  

To go back to the beginning – the Library is inhabited by 12 librarians – each of whom has a separate catalog- and their Father. To name a few of the librarians: David’s catalog is war and fighting, Jennifer’s is healing, Michael speaks with animals of all kinds, Margaret can talk to the dead, and Carolyn’s catalog is all of the languages on Earth ever spoken.  No one is allowed to delve into a subject that is not in their catalog, if you do the punishment is terrible.  The books in the Library are even color coded by subject so there can be no innocent mistakes – though I’m not sure there are any innocents in the Library.  

When we meet Carolyn she is “blood-drenched and barefoot” and she’s smiling about it.  Her Father is missing and the Library has locked everyone out.  Carolyn has to work with her siblings to figure out who might be acting against their Father and how to find their way home.  This is not a book for the squeamish.  Once you get past the gore and the violence (and the tutu) though there’s humor and hope, bravery and kindness, and a library that sounds kind of amazing despite the scariness.  

I’ve realized the best comparison I can think of – The Usual Suspects, a movie I completely love.  

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Something about the feeling of “WHAT THE EFF just happened” that you have at the end of the movie combined with the realization that every piece of the plot was nearly perfectly orchestrated – that’s kind of how I felt at the end of The Library at Mount Char.  No one realizes they’re being manipulated until it’s too late.  I have to say I loved the revelation of where the title came from – loved how it came about!  I was really impressed at how Hawkins wrapped all his threads of the story around in the end – I’m very curious to see where he’d go if there is a sequel in the works.  I would love to know more about the catalogs- not David’s though. I’m done with him and his tutu.  

Shania at Shania Reads was one of the bloggers that had me curious to read this book and had a fun Q&A with Hawkins.  If you want more about this book you should definitely check it out here!

Basically to sum this up- this book was crazy, it was magical, it was violent, it was funny, it was smart.  You should read it!  I’m going to need to read it again soon so you should talk to me about it!

4 stars!

Thank you Blogging for Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review!