Llew's Reviews

Archive for August, 2008

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008 by Miss Laura

Preparing For Christmas Season In The Harried Book World: Book #6

“Rural Mississippi just after the Second World War is a hard and muddy place. Hillary Jordan’s novel Mudbound evokes the era brilliantly–returning soldiers trying to find their way after the brutality of the war, some facing the continuing brutality of a racist America. A very compelling story.” Cathy Langer on Indie Bound’s Indie Next List (March 2008 Pick)

You know how I’m lazy right? So lazy I might consider doing these book reviews via Twitter. I usually only have a few sentences to say about each book any way.

  • 23:33 finished Black Tower, am now reading Mudbound. Am I seriously reading a book w/ phrase “he took me from behind”? Who do I recommend that to?
  • 23:35 and that was a rhetorical question. We all know the answer: customers in turquoise velour track suits
  • 00:54 Finished Mudbound & need therapy. Was so emotionally tumultuous. No wonder Vamp novels sell well: they have NO FEELINGS & they’re Dead Sexy.




The Black Tower by Louis Bayard

Sunday, August 24th, 2008 by Miss Laura

Preparing For Christmas Season In The Harried Book World: Book #5

Although this is a pick for September’s Indie Bound’s Indie Next list the blurbs for next month aren’t up on-line yet. Thus, you will have to make do with the book description for now:

“Hector Carpentier, a medical student, lives with his widowed mother in her once-genteel home, now a boardinghouse, in Paris’s Latin Quarter, helping the family make ends meet in the politically perilous days of the restoration. Three blocks away, a man has been murdered, and Hector’s name has been found on a scrap of paper in the dead man’s pocket: a case for the unparalleled deductive skills of Eugene Francois Vidocq, the most feared man in the Paris police. At first suspicious of Hector’s role in the murder, Vidocq gradually draws him into an exhilarating–and dangerous–search that leads them to the true story of what happened to the son of the murdered royal family.

In ‘The Black Tower,’ Bayarddeftly interweaves political intrigue, epic treachery, cover-ups, and conspiracies into a gripping portrait of family redemption–and brings to life an indelible portrait of the mighty and profane Eugene Francois Vidocq, history’s first great detective.”

Now I know the first thing most people think of when they think of me is “epic treachery” but to be honest – this isn’t the kind of book I normally read or like. However, I was quite taken with this one. I didn’t adore it wholeheartedly but I was quite smitten with Bayard’s style of writing. In fact, I know I have one of her earlier novels, “Mr. Timothy”, on my bookshelf and as soon as Christmas season (and the tireless prep of reading books to recommend for people during Christmas season) is over I shall pick it up. Although, seeing as that book is based on Timothy Cratchit from A Christmas Carol fame perhaps I should get to it BEFORE the holidays.

ETA: Here’s the Indi Next List blurb

“In The Black Twoer, a ne’er-do-well medical student is surprised by the founder and chief of a newly created Paris plainclothes police force and is asked to help solve a mystery involving French royalty, with surprising and dangerous results. Bayard’s talent for spinning a suspenseful story along in the margins of known history makes his books irresistible.” — Carol Schneck




The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Fiery Barrows

Sunday, August 24th, 2008 by Miss Laura

Preparing For Christmas Season In The Harried Book World: Book #4

“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is a gem. Just after WWII a writer is contacted by a fan on the island of Guernsey. As events unfold and she goes to Guernsey, she learns of the misery, bravery and ingenuity of the locals when Guernsey was abandoned by the British to be captured by the Germans. Because it’s told in letters, it’s bound to be compared it to 84 Charing Cross Road. But Guernsey Literary is like no other book I’ve ever read and it’s outstanding.” — Elaine Petrocelli in Indie Bound’s Next List

This is one of those feel good happy books – that happens to cover a few non-feel good happy subjects (the devastation WWII wrought on the people, the land, and their hearts). I’m really going to enjoy hand selling this one during the holidays because it really is a fantastic book to recommend to others (to give to someone else). It’s clean, insightful, and has a lot of humorous moments. Thus, I was thrilled to see this one in the holiday catalog and have already grabbed an arm full to give away as presents myself.

One is going to my grandmother – and it’s really that type of fare. Really, I wouldn’t suggest it to the hand full of people who comment somewhat regularly on this blog. A little to run of the mill for you selective readers.




The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Sunday, August 24th, 2008 by Miss Laura

Preparing For Christmas Season In The Harried Book World: Book #3

“What a wonderfully complicated and rich novel! Set in past and present Salem Massachusetts, the story takes off immediately, interspersing splendid detail about the history of lace makers as well as the famous witch trials, with the modern story of a family’s intricate history and the manifestations for the present generation. The novel is packed with interesting characters (including modern witches) and many plot lines which come together magnificently at the conclusion. A truly amazing and riveting read.” — Karen Frank in Indie Bound review

I read the ARC of this one a couple months ago and quite liked it. I didn’t love it, but it was interesting story that I found myself unable to stop in the middle of. It (and especially the ending) reminded me of Anita Shreve’s stories – which isn’t a bad thing.

I was pleased to see this title made it into our regional holiday catalog as I think it will be a fun book to hand sell.




The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008 by Miss Laura

Preparing For Christmas Season In The Harried Book World: Book #2

“This is an unusual story about the power of love to transcend physical limitations and to transform ugliness into beauty. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder, as we are often told. This book makes you believe that simple truth.” Miriam Sontz from Indie Bound’s August 2008 Indie Next List

I really adored this one, but I can’t think of one single person who I would recommend it to. With a severely burned former porn star as its main character it’s not exactly the wholesome feel good story one likes to suggest to customers. But the people in the book who are on the cusp of “normal” society are just so intriguing, likable, and easy to relate to – whether it’s the gay viking or a fallen nun in the 13th century.

It’s part The Burn Journals (by Brent Runyon) and part “the last will and testament of a crazy homeless man.”  It doesn’t have a neatly tied happy ending, but the way this story wrapped up didn’t make me feel cheated either.




The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008 by Miss Laura

Preparing For Christmas Season In The Harried Book World: Book #1

Evidently the dust jacket to this book features a book description that gives away a major plot point that doesn’t occur until halfway through the book. Shame on you dust jacket!

Fortunately, I don’t read dust jackets prior to reading books! Unfortunately, I did read the letter from Stephen King praising the book that was included in the front of the advance reader’s copy of this title. It compares it to a story which not only gives away the plot but also the ending as well.

Even though I knew how it would end based on this comparison, I still feel sucker punched by it. I completely loved the entire book until the end which made me take all of my feelings of love and adoration back. It’s been over a month since I finished this one and I’m still steaming mad over the ending. I don’t know if it was worth it. I feel as if the author made me love Edgar Sawtelle and his story, only to manically destroy everything I loved with an evil cackle.





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