Archive for September, 2012

Trust Your Eyes

I am a HUGE Linwood Barclay fan. I’ve read all his books, and I think Trust Your Eyes is his best by far. I didn’t just read this book, I inhaled it! I couldn’t get enough. He put so much suspense and intrigue into this thriller that it was next to impossible to put it down. Holy cow – it’s fantastic!! Set in Promise Falls New York, Thomas Kilbride is a young man with serious psychological issues, in fact he is a map-obsessed schizophrenic. His favourite pastime – his only pastime – is memorizing every street IN THE WORLD while hooked up to a program called Whirl360 on his computer. He has a photographic memory and can tell you how to find a bakery or a barber shop in a certain city half way around the world, even though he hardly ever steps outside his front door. Some would say this is amazing, some creepy, and some downright dangerous. Which it turns out to be when Thomas spots what he thinks is a murder being committed in New York City one day while whirling through the internet. How does he convince his brother Ray that what he saw is real, and not just the victim of his disturbed immagination. And how does Ray convince the authorities that something really nasty has taken place and this should be checked out. Thomas is full of paranoid theories, and it takes all Ray’s energy and intelligence, in the midst of dealing with their father’s death, to sort out fact from fiction. There are bits in the story about politicians and their handlers that really make you think – heavens, if any of this stuff is related to the real world – we are in deep do-do. And the best line I’ve read in a long time certainly has to be… “You don’t need brains to hold office; you only need votes.” (Ha ha, it made me think of a certain mayor.) If you’re not already a Linwood Barclay fan, read this book and you will be hooked. If you are a Linwood Barclay fan – what are you waiting for!

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The Chaperone

This is a wonderful book… no, I mean a fantastic book! The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty is historical fiction set in the 1920s. It is inspired by the life of silent film star Louise Brooks. Fifteen year old Louise leaves Wichita in 1922 for a summer in New York City to become part of the Denishawn school of dance. As society dictated at that time it was unthinkable for her parents to allow young Louise to head to New York City on her own, so they hire Cora Carlisle, the middle-aged wife of a prominent Wichita lawyer, and mother of two grown sons, to accompany Louise to the Big Apple. No one except Cora’s husband knows that Cora has reasons of her own to head to New York. Everyone assumes her mission is just to make sure that Louise doesn’t get herself into too much mischief, and to act like a respectible young lady in the 20s should act. But Louise has way too much spunk and nerve and she has no intention of following the rules of behaviour set out by not only her parents and Cora, but the dance troup as well. To add to this, she is drop dead gorgeous and heads turn everywhere she goes, making Cora’s job way more difficult that she originally thought. So while Louise is off at dance class hoping to make the cut to become part of the permanent troup of dancers by summer’s end, Cora goes on a mission of her own to discover a part of her past that has remained a secret all these years. It is a fascinating story, full of historical bits about life during that era, how attitudes and morals change over the course of decades, and Moriarty paints a wonderful picture of New York City, the gritty as well as the glamourous. Honestly, I didn’t want the book to end, I liked it that much. It’s a real winner. It’s definitely destined for the Top 10 list. I had never heard of Laura Moriarty previous to reading this book, now I definitely intend to check out the other three she’s written.

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Above All Things

This is a lovely book. Above All Things by Tanis Rideout has the gentle feel of by-gone days, yet deals with the harsh reality of bitter circumstances and unbelievable hardship. I am always in awe of someone who can write great historical fiction. They have to do their research well and combine fact with a plausable story to make their book believable. And Rideout has done this remarkably well. In 1924 George Mallory sets out for his third attempt at climbing to the summit of Mount Everest. His previous two attempts resulted in failure and this is his last attempt to conquer the mountain, for King and country, so he assures his wife Ruth. With his team at the ready he leaves Ruth and  3 young children in Cambridge to await his fate. Rideout is such a great writer that we feel the bitter cold, lack of oxygen, and relentless fatigue seeping into our bones just as it does those unfortunate souls attempting to scale the highest mountain on earth. Intertwined with this is the story of Ruth as she is left to tend to everyday life with children and society’s expectations such as they were in the 1920s. In this day and age, with all the instant messaging we take for granted, it’s hard to believe that  a simple letter between Ruth and George could take upwards of 4 weeks to wend it’s way to the recipient. Imagine having to wait that long. Ruth carries on, keeping up appearances, though not always with ease, and George soldiers onward and upward towards his goal all the while thinking of Ruth and his children, hoping against all odds that he accomplishes this almost impossible task. I knew very little about George Mallory before reading this book, and I’m glad Rideout has written about his time and place in history. This is a wonderful book, you won’t be disappointed if you choose to read it.

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