Friday, April 12, 2013

The Storyteller

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
5/5 stars

It's no secret that I'm a huge Jodi Picoult fan. I admit, I did resist reading her for a while because I heard that her books were super sad, but after reading Salem Falls a few years ago, I was hooked. The Storyteller is her newest novel, brand new this year in fact. Before getting too deep into a summary of this amazing novel, I do want to give a disclaimer. This is a plot point not mentioned on the book's jacket synopsis, but I was glad that I heard whispers of this before I started reading or it would have caught me way off guard: This book deals extensively with Holocaust stories. I know not everyone feels comfortable reading about such tragedies (in fact, had this novel not been written by Picoult, I probably wouldn't have picked it up myself for that reason), so I just wanted to give fair warning. This book is beautifully crafted, but it is graphic and quite sad at times, so if you don't think that you would be ok reading this book, I understand. For those of you who are still interested though, you are in for a truly incredible, haunting tale.

The novel focuses on Sage Singer, a super shy young woman with a slight disfigurement from a car accident, who works the night shift at a bakery and tries to avoid human contact most of the time. However, she finds a friend in an elderly man named Josef, who also seems to be a loner. The two engage in great conversations, but then Josef reveals something dark about himself, and asks Sage for a favor (I will leave this ambiguous since I already gave away a bit of the plot :) ). Sage becomes caught in a serious moral dilemma as a result.

As the novel continues, about half of it ends up being graphic, tragic, yet beautifully written (and well researched!) flashbacks of the Holocaust from two characters' very different perspectives. At times it was hard to read, especially because I knew that these horrific things had really happened, but Picoult's style is so compelling that I couldn't put the book down.

The novel is also interwoven with a piece of short fiction that one of the characters had written as a young girl, which ends up being an interesting allegory for the Holocaust. This was a really cool touch and also helped give the reader a break from the tougher parts of the novel.

I wish I could say more about the plot, but since I already gave some away, I'd rather you all just read the book for yourselves and learn along the way as I did! It is truly a captivating tale about love and hate, hope, justice, family, and forgiveness. I won't lie, it was tough to get through at times, especially since I don't often read Holocaust literature because the subject really bothers me. However, I knew that I could trust Jodi Picoult to write a wonderful novel that would have a satisfactory ending that wouldn't leave me feeling upset or sick. Shocked maybe, but in a good, thoughtful way, as she always does.

Please let me know if you decide to read this, and what your thoughts are! This is a very different novel from anything I've read by this author, and in fact, different from what I normally read in general, but so worth it. Happy reading! =)

What I'm reading now...

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (sci fi) [I'm re-reading it :)]

2. Daddy's Gone A Hunting by Mary Higgins Clark (mystery)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dark Tide

Dark Tide by Elizabeth Haynes
5/5 stars

I'm baaaack! =) And boy do I have an incredible book to share with you all. Remember my review of Into the Darkest Corner, AKA: The Scariest Book I've Ever Read?! (If this isn't ringing a bell, you had better check out that review and read that book!!) This is the second novel by Elizabeth Haynes, British author and police intelligence analyst. As soon as I finished her debut novel, I couldn't wait to read more of her work; I was so excited to get my hands on this novel a few weeks ago from my local library, as it is brand new in the U.S.! Dark Tide had a completely different plot than her first novel, but packed just as much suspense.

 It follows the story of Genevieve, a young British woman who has recently purchased and moved into her dream home: a houseboat. Named "Revenge of the Tide", the boat is a perfect escape for our heroine, who is taking a year off to fix up the boat and take a break from life. However, after her "housewarming" party a few months after she moves in, an old friend turns up at the marina...dead. We come to find out that Genevieve has an interesting past that includes being a dancer on the weekends at a gentleman's club in London, in addition to her sales job, in order to save money for the boat. Genevieve came in contact with some shady characters while working at the club, and despite wanting to spend her year off in peace and leave the past behind, it seems that this is not an option. The novel flashes from the present back to the year or so before during which Genevieve tried to balance her two jobs, as well as figure out her relationships with those at the club...who is a friend and who is a foe? Who might be worse than a foe?

Haynes impresses once again with her suspense and multidimensional characters. Genevieve is quite different from the heroine of Haynes' first novel, but that just proves that the author has more than one good story in her. I haven't read anything like this before, and I just ate it up. The flashbacks to Genevieve's time at the club were so interesting to read about, and the present day drama that she dealt with made the book a page-turner. As you get closer to the end, the suspense and danger build, until you have to stay up all night until you finish the book and find out what will become of Genevieve and those she holds dear. The idea of having a houseboat as the main setting was definitely out of the box and I loved it. While Genevieve seems to be in her safe haven, she's also so vulnerable, out there in a marina in the middle of nowhere.

Overall, this book was a fast-paced, sexy thriller and I loved it! I can't wait to see more from Elizabeth Haynes, and I will be sure to review anything else I read by her. Happy reading! =)

Note: Haynes' third novel, Human Remains, is out in England but will likely take a few months to be released here, as with her previous novels.

What I'm reading now...

1. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Friday, April 5, 2013

“We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel... is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.”- Ursula K. LeGuin