Tag Archives: Fiction

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd 2I somehow made it all the way through this book before I discovered that it is based on the lives of two sisters from our history.  Women I have never heard of, even in all the reading I had done on the women’s rights movement.   Okay, more on that later.

I picked up The Invention of Wings at the library.  Looked interesting.  Was so much more than just interesting!

The invention of Wings is told through first person narratives of a number of the main characters in the book.  Primarily through the words of Sarah Grimke, the young white debutante from an old slave owning Charleston family, who from a very young age finds issue with the owning of humans.  And Handful or Hetty, the young black slave that is gifted to Sarah on her eleventh birthday.

Hetty gives a beautiful rich texture to the story with her voice as she tells of her mother, the quilt maker, who tells stories with the appliques and stitches she loving places in each of her quilts.  The hoarding of tiny scraps of fabrics from making clothes for the family to weave into these quilts.  And teaching Hetty her art and giving her a value to the family that few slaves have.  For, mother and daughter are so good with their needles, their services are wanted by those even outside the family.

When Hetty is given to Sarah, Sarah immediately attempts to free her with a letter she leaves on her father’s desk.  When this attempt fails, Sarah begins to teach Hetty to read.  A crime for both the teacher and the student.  Sarah,is brilliant, headstrong, and set on a path to defy her family’s heritage of Southern slave owners.  Sarah dreams of defying the norms and following in her father’s footsteps and becoming an attorney and reads through his library with a fury.  However, when he learns of her teaching Hetty to read, she is given the punishment of being banned from her father’s library and furthering her education.  Her sole consolation is in becoming the Godmother to her sister, Angelina or Nina, who quickly takes more to Sarah than she does their mother.

As both girls mature into adulthood, the friendship changes and they move in different directions.  Hetty becomes involve with the black abolitionist movement after her mother fails to return from an escape excursion to meet with her love and Sarah meets an enigmatic Quaker man while travelling with her sick father.   This brings her into the abolitionist movement, though from a different direction.

She returns home after her father’s death and begins a correspondence with Israel Morris (the Quaker man she met) and after a time, returns to Philadelphia to join the Quaker church there.  There, she meet Lucretia Mott, a still famous abolitionist, feminist and Quaker minister and realizes that she also, wishes to be a voice in front of the crowds.

The Invention of Wings is different than most slavery era books I have read.  It gives you a view of history, the lives of the women,  and what life was like for them and expected of them.  Even in the least likable characters, such as Sarah’s mother, she gives a depth and range showing the lights as well as shadows that reside in all of us.

The book resonates with all the lessons of racism, religious bias and fundamentalism, sexism and the full sociological gamut that was a part of that time in our history.  The characters are believable and engaging, drawing you deeply into their world and immersing you in it.  And thankfully, a couple of them have been drawn from the annals of history so that you might delve further into their stories.

Sarah and Angelina Grimke were both major players in both the abolitionist movement as well as the early women’s movement.  They were the first female speakers in the United States.  And it was primarily the rebuking of their public speaking by the religious community, including the Quaker community, that pushed them into the feminist arena.  The fact that we have not heard their names in our history books shows again how women who defy the status quo are erased.  Thankfully, there are writers like Sue Monk Kidd that dig up their bones to remind us.

The Invention of Wings is a book I would place well into the top tier of books that should be on a required “to read” list.  The author is stellar in her use of the language (understandable, since she also wrote, The Secret Life of Bees).  And she has definitely earned a spot on my favored author’s list.



Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Ruby by Cynthia BondWow does not even begin to cover this book!  Cynthia Bond is a Storyteller of the highest degree.  She softly invites you to take a seat next to her so she can tell you something and gives you a taste of her tale.  You sit down and she slowly wraps a blanket of words about your shoulders, the sounds entering your flesh and mixing with your blood to travel to your heart.   Her lips busy speaking the words to guide more threads into the pattern.  She is not just telling you the story, she is making the story a part of your very soul.  The primal word thoughts of Ruby draw forth forgotten memories that live in all of us.  Magical words, desperate words, joyful words and painful words.

Ruby is the story of a young woman, a victim of abuse her entire life, given over to a brothel where the black girls are sold and rented for the men to do any dark intents to.  She learns to survive by internally fracturing, leaving her body to be used in whatever way their sick desires lead while she lets her mind wander.  When the men take her in the streets or gutters or behind the store counters, she retreats, merging with her environment, the nearby trees, rocks, streams.  She speaks with the ghosts of the children lost to abuse, drawing them to her and inside her to protect them.

Ephram sees her in a way no one else ever has.  He is untroubled by her past, understands the things she does are the only way she has ever known how to survive.  Ephram’s father was the Reverend, a harsh cruel and abusive man that had dark secrets.  Found hanging from a tree when Ephram was still young, Ephram was raised by his sister Celia.  He is docile and obedient to Celia until he meets Ruby again.

Ruby is told in scattered time frames.  The memories of the past merging into the events of the present.  Ephram and Ruby are introduced as children when they visit a Voodooein who sends them both off with poppets.  They don’t meet again till years later when Ephram sees Ruby laying in a puddle of mud in the gutter in town as the townspeople make fun of her.  He becomes enraptured with her and follows her quietly home where he begins to care for her as no one ever has, beginning with cleaning the filth and squalor of her home as well as her body, restoring her to the beauty that she is.

Ruby is a hard book to categorize.  Its a love story, sort of. Its a ghost story, but not like most ghost stories.  Its about the supernatural, magic, religions, superstitions, family, prejudice, abuse.  Its about just about everything that is ugly in humanity and everything that is beautiful in it.  Its about how nothing and no one are how they really appear to be, how things are more complex than they seem at the surface and how the complex can be viewed in simpler terms as well.  Its the paradox that life is, was and probably always will be told in imagery that emblazons your mind, words that ring through your ears and invades every sense with its magnificence and subtleties.

I keep very few novels on my shelves after reading them nowadays.   Only those whose words I know I want to revisit again and again.  There are not many that I feel that way about.   Cynthia Bond has become one of those few authors whose pages will find a permanent place on a shelf.  Her book, I doled out in small doses, savoring the words, for she is a master with them.  This is a book where you wish there were extra credit stars or some way to mark it as a truly exceptional work.  Alas, you are left with only giving it the highest marks that are in a standard rating.

The book jacket says Ms. Bond teaches writing to street people.  That is enough to make you want to pack up and move out into her streets to beg to sit for her classes.

June 15, 2015


No Book but the World – Leah Hager Cohen

No Book but the World - Leah Hager CohenThis was a very unexpected book!  I’m not sure where I learned of it.  I believe it was through Kirkus.  At any rate, I remember that the description was a bit elusive but for some reason caught my attention and it got put on my “to read” list.  And I am very glad I did.

Ava and Fred are siblings being raised on a farm/ex-commune by parents who “free-ranged” them.  Believing that children will thrive best in such an unfettered environment to learn in their own ways and their own time.

Fred has always been uncommunicative for the most part.  Rarely talks, avoids eye contact and touch, sucks his thumb, flaps his hands and likes to wander the woods alone.  It becomes quite obvious early on that he suffers from quite probably some form of autism, and though the author alludes to this herself, she never really states it flat out.  I think this may be because she didn’t want to single out a specific disorder, or add another shadow to an already misunderstood disorder.

The story is told in dual time frames, when they were children on the farm and the current day.  Fred has been arrested for a horrific crime and Ava is trying to figure out what happened, if he really did it,  And as she begins to try and work with his attorney to help in the case, she also realizes that her parents free form parenting that precluded having Fred diagnosed has added to the difficulty in presenting a defense for him.

During her stay near the prison, she begins to reminisce about their childhood, offering a glimpse into the mind and shaping of Fred.  Including an incident where play with a young boy almost resulted in tragedy that shines a beam of genuine understanding into the naivete of the mind of one like Fred and how often the story is much more than it seems to be.

The book is a fascinating glimpse into life and scratching the surface of the mind of autism.  But, not only of autism, but simply how another mind can so differently process the world around them.  It is also about the families of the “challenged”, the fears and realities of what could befall them when they are left behind with the parents die, when they are turned over to the care of strangers, or turned out by society.

There seems to be a lot of people who didn’t like this book and I have to wonder if they really gave a chance to the story that it really told and not the one they expected to hear.  Or maybe because the story was a difficult one to open to.  Giving humanity to the discarded is often difficult for many to accept.  We want the simple and quick judgement, not the understanding that takes time and patience.  Or maybe it is that we are afraid if we take the time to truly explore beneath the surface to understand, we may find the differences between us is not so great as we previously imagined.

“No Book But the World” is an amazing work of fiction.  A wonderful and heart wrenching view into both the darkness and light in the depths of human experience, in love, family and responsibility.  Leah Hagen Cohen is a beautiful voice in the land of literature and I look forward to reading more of her in the future.


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The Fledgling by Octavia Butler

fledgling Octavia ButlerI don’t remember where I came up with this book on my reading list, but I am aware of the notoriety of Octavia Butler.  Fledgling is an interesting novel and I have admittedly very mixed feelings about it.  I do have some reservations about being totally frank about my feeling about this book because of her place in literature and as a cultural icon.  And the reality is that they are my feelings and needn’t be representative of anyone else’s.

Fledgling is a dark fantasy about a race that exists with humans and either evolved at the same time or prior to humans.  Octavia has redefined vampires as a creature that lives symbiotically with humans, mostly forming a lifelong family with their symbiots and only taking when needed but also giving long and healthful life to the humans.   However, the Ina bite also gives something akin to a drug that the symbiots become addicted to.   Its sort of a addictive/poly-amorous vampire story.

The main character, Shori, is a product of genetic engineering by her family.  Bred with human DNA so that she could remain out in the daylight and not fall into the deathlike slumber of her kind during the day.  The human symbiot whose DNA is blended with her parents Ina genes is of African descent which gives her a much darker skin tone than the rest of her kind.

Shori’s mother clan and father clan are all murdered by what is believed to be another clan of Ina.  As she begins to collect a new group of symbiots and learn about herself and who and what she is, she begins to solve the mystery of who murdered her family.  She begins to relay what she comes to know to her first symbiot, Wright as she pieces things together.  They begin to travel to a clan that she learned has the Ina sons she was promised to be wed to with her sisters before her family was killed.  Yeah, that made it a bit more interesting trying to figure out how that one works out.  Sisters of one family marry the brothers of the other.  Takes the polyamory concept to a rather bizarre level.  Interesting, but bizarre.

With her newly found family, her growing family of symbiots, they begin to piece together an investigation into who, or what, is killing off her people.

I mostly liked the book, but did find that it drug a bit in a lot of places.  The concept was intriguing though, portraying vampires as being in a symbiotic relationship with humans.  Though, there was one area where I did have some issues and that was in Ms. Butler’s insertion of racial bigotry into the story line.  Though I do understand the importance of such an issue, I felt it detracted from the story line she was developing and did nothing to aid the story.  In truth, I felt it weakened it.  I think that if she wanted to create a bigotry illustration, she would have been better served to have done it within the Ina people.  Much like was done in Enemy Mine when the alien race was used to show inequality.  But, that is just my personal opinion.

All in all, it was a very interesting novel that challenged ideas about conventional morality, norms and lifestyles.  Its a shame that it will be the last of what looked to be on the way of becoming a very interesting series.




The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

The Little Stranger by Sarah WatersThe first book I read of Sarah Waters was Tipping the Velvet.  I was fascinated with her style and the rich and complex characters she created in its pages.  Its taken me a while to get around to another of her novels, but I have finally come back to her.

Little Stranger is a very different novel than Tipping The Velvet.  Its a haunted story about an old family living in a very old manor that is falling into disrepair.  Its enchanting in that it is told in the old gothic horror story that slowly draws you into the mystery of the tale and introducing each of the characters through the eyes of Doctor Faraday whose mother was a maid for the manor when he was a child and his earliest memories of it was taking a token from the plasterwork in one of the rooms.

Dr. Faraday begins to spend more and more time with the Ayres family after being called out to minister to their maid Molly.  He forms bonds with all the members of the family, particularly the daughter Catherine, a very plain spinster who is full of energy and has the strength and fearlessness of most men (and nearly the build).

The book is told in a style that is almost reminiscent of the true Victorian Gothic horror stories.   It rich in the detail of the surroundings and slow in building up the suspense.  For much of the book, you are unsure if its trying to be a love story, a drama, or a mystery with the slightest hint towards a ghost story.

I can understand why some people were not drawn to the story, as it is slow.  But, that was one of the magical things to me.  Its a nice change to get lost in the atmosphere of a well crafted tale that is as much about mood and details as it is about plot.  Having a fondness for the Gothic Horror, I was enchanted with the book and loved the curiosity of the slow pace in trying to figure out what the next unfolding would be.

I am thinking I need to read more of Sarah’s works, for this shows the diversity she is capable of.  She loves the history of her novels and wraps you in the details so you can be right there to breath in the dank air of the old mansion, the dust flying through the air from a room years past use and a family where times seems to have stood still.

Its a book that you can get lost in and be transported to another time.  She weaves it beautifully and if you don’t demand the every page must be action packed, but writing as it used to be, then grab it, find an overstuffed chair to curl up in and some soft music to play in the background while the rain taps the roof and you step through her time portal.

April 2015


The Weird Sisters – Eleanor Brown

Pink HouseThe Weird Sisters is a novel by Eleanor Brown about the Andreas family, particularly the three sisters, Cordelia, Rosalind and Bianca.  Their father speaks in Shakesperian verse.

I wanted to like this book.  And its not that I disliked it.  I had a mixture of both.  There’s not a great deal going on in the book to make up for the off putting aspects is the biggest problem.

All of the girls come home because their mother has breast cancer.  Rose never left.  But, the story isn’t really about her.  She’s what brought them together.

The book is told in what appears to be a collective voice of all three, but again, not entirely.  So, you lose track of if its the communal voice or a sort of individual voice.  This is without a doubt the most confusing part of the book.  But, though there are part of the story where it is interesting, it keeps losing it.  To be honest, I am not sure why I kept reading it.  I generally lose patience with books that I don’t care for.  Which probably explains why there are so few that I review with bad marks.  I can’t make it all the way through.  Well, I suppose since I made it through this one, I owe it at least a 2 star, but that is a bare 2 star.

March, 2015



The Execution of Noa P. Singleton – Elizabeth L. Silver

The Execution of Noa P. SingletonThe Execution of Noa P. Singleton was a very interesting and unique book.  Its about a woman, Noa P. Singleton who is on death row for killing a pregnant woman.  Its told in the first person, by Noa herself.  She is unapologetic and seemingly unremoreseful.  She has 6 months left till her execution date.  During her time in prison, she has had very few visitors save the media and attorneys.

Then she is visited by Marlene Dixon, the mother of the woman she is on death row for killing and a high powered attorney.  She says she has had a change of heart and no long believes in the death penalty and wants to help Noa’s sentence be commuted to life imprisonment instead.  Marlene brings with her a young man named Oliver to help her.  They want her to tell her story on the reason that it will help them in building the case that could spare her life.

The story is told in the form of journal entries and Noa speaks of her life on death row, the tedium of being kept in a cell for 23 hours of the day and allowed outside for 1 hour.  She seems to be indifferent to this as she seems to be about everything.

Marlene does add another voice later in the book as she begins to write letters to her deceased daughter Sarah.  And in these letters, you begin to see a very calculating and vindictive person.  This creates another level to the mystery and you begin to start questioning what really happened.

Noa begins to tell her life story to Oliver, slowly unfurling to him a far more complex person than he originally thought.  He begins to do his own investigating and what he discovers leads him to believe that Noa didn’t get a fair shake and hopes to try and get her a new trial with what he uncovers.

I have noticed that a lot of people seemed to dislike this book or only slightly like it.  Mostly because of the vagueness and indifference of Noa, and not enough from the other characters.  I disagree with this.  I found the book to be written in a very unique and haunting voice and wonder if this is what might be expected of a woman who was this close to her execution on death row.

I think its that people want a more “likeable” character in Noa.  Or, they want her to be a true sociopath.  What they find is neither of these, but a woman who is resigned, indifferent, bored.  Its only in her journal that the story of what happened begins to fully unfold.  Her father finding her just shortly before the murder.  The victim, his young lover, a girl her age that he met while he was trying to track her down.

She learns about Sarah when she meets Marlene, who wants her to break the two of them up because she doesn’t feel Noa’s father is good enough for her daughter.  More and more layers begin to develop as the story progresses.

I found it to be a very complex story told in a very authentic voice.  I would not be surprised to find there are many in prison that would have a similar tone.  Noa would be barely likeable to most people as she doesn’t even seem to care much about her father or anyone else in her life.  So, in that way, she was a sociopath.  But, she was not only lacking in empathy, but lacking in emotion almost entirely.  Its a haunted tale about how things are rarely how they appear and guilt and innocence are often a multi-layered thing on the same coin.

Its an excellent novel and even more so given its a first novel.  Well worth the time to read.  I, for one, will watch for the next book from this young author.

February 2015


The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

The Book ThiefI actually saw the movie before I read the book on this one.  The movie was quite good, and I realize that a movie can never do justice to a book, but the movie but scratched the surface of the book.

The Book Thief is a story told from the viewpoint of Death as he follows her through her life from where she loses her brother in a train accident when they were on the way to live with foster parents till their mother could get on her feet.  At her brother’s funeral, she steals her first book, The Gravedigger’s Manual and keeps it hidden.  Liesel can’t read or write, but she holds the book as a thing of value, a connection to her brother.

Her new foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, are an odd pair.  Rosa is loud, harsh and often vulgar with her tongue, admonishing as swiftly with her words as she is with her wooden spoon.  Hans is gentle and quiet, sitting by Liesel’s bed till she falls to sleep at night.

Hans discovers Liesel’s book and so begins her journey to learn to read under his gentle tutelage.  Chapter by chapter, they work their way slowly through the pages of the book and day by day, their life becomes more strained as the war begins to take more and more from them.

Hans brings in his friend Max one night, a Jewish man, half starved and looking as if he won’t make it through the night.  He is moved to the cellar where they make a room for him.  At first, Liesel is afraid of this strange man, but in time they begin to talk and form a friendship.

All the while, you listen to the voice of Death as he speaks of what he sees, the people he takes in his arms.  He speaks of his life and what he has seen.  Though he gives special notice to what he sees in this war where there are days when he takes hundreds of souls into his arms.  Most, he is relatively disinterested in.  Its just what he does, what he has always done.  But, there are a few people he has come across that have left a mark.  And Liesel is one of them.

I have read a few of the reviews on this book.  One said that not enough horror was given to what was done at this time. I will disagree with that.  I don’t think all books about Nazi occupied Europe need to be filled with all those horrors.  There are enough books already that have more than covered it.  The horrors are covered just enough so that you don’t forget what was going on while the story of the lives of these people unfolds.  So, you realize how people made do with less and still found ways to make life.

How sometimes the horror was forgotten for a brief few moments while a young girl named Liesel read to you the pages from a book while the bombs were exploding overhead.  How a simple gesture like that distracted you till the shelling stopped and took you to another place where there were no bombs and life had normal desires and fears.  Where starving Jews weren’t marched down your main street on the way to their death.

It’s a brilliant, wonderful, heartbreaking and uplifting story.  It tears your heart out of you and then hands it back to you with a smile again and again.  The lyrical prose of it will tickle you memory for a very long time after you close the book.

February 2015


The Book of You – Claire Kendal

The Book Of You - Claire KendalI can’t remember a time when a book has so disturbed me as much as “The Book of You” by Clair Kendal.  I listened to the audio version of it so I am not sure how much of the credit I can give to the writing and how much to the reader.  (Orlagh Cassidy).  Admittedly, her slow, methodical voice in the beginning almost made me lose interest, but I gave it a bit more time and then I was hooked.

Clarissa is chosen to serve on a jury for a trial about a young prostitute that was gang raped by some street thugs.  At the same time she is being stalked by a man in the building she works, Raif.  She learns that she had spent a night with him after he had slipped a drug into her drink.  She begins to put this together initially from little comments and notes from Raif.  At one point she attempts to call emergency to complain about it and though the woman on the other end is sympathetic, she realizes that there isn’t any help for her.  She has no proof of a crime committed, only her knowledge.

Serving on the jury shows her how little protection a woman has when she brings charges against an abuser/abusers as she witnesses the woman seeming to be the one on trial.  That the burden of proof is on her that she was in fact a victim and not a wiling participant.    Serving on the jury shows her that she must have so much proof that there is no choice in their need to believe her.

Raif somehow seems to know everything about her.  Even the fact that she had wanted a child with her former husband and his near infertility, their attempts to increase the chances medically and the eventual failure which also ended in the failure of their marriage.  He feeds her these bits of information through notes, in her ear as she is waiting for the train home, on the phone.

She keeps a journal of these interactions, her days, her feelings.  And it is mostly through these journal entries that the story unfolds.  It is through these journal entries that you get into the head of what it is to be stalked, to be the subject of someone’s unwanted obsession.  Raif has seeped into everything, every thought, every moment.  She looks for him around every corner, in every room, on every street.  He leaves her packages, presents.  She realizes that she cannot send them back, that she needs to keep them.  They are evidence that she can one day provide to prove his obsession.  They are evidence to prove that it is not her imagination.

She begins to take sleeping pills to help her sleep and they become a nightly ritual.  She knows there is a real fear that if this knowledge ever gets out, it could harm her case against Raif.  It can be used to make her look like she is unstable.  She realizes that almost every thing she does can be used to make her look bad.  She sees this fact each day in court as the attorneys do this to the young prostitute.

Her only relief through all of this is a man she meet on the jury, Robert, a fireman.  They become attracted to each other and it provides her with something positive to provide moments of relief from the ever present thoughts of Raif.

As you move through the book, you become tied into the fear, the terror that has become Clarissa as she writes “The Book of You”, the name she has given the book she keeps her notes in.  The terror of this novel is particularly close to many women, given how many have been on the receiving end of a stalker.  The truth in the story that most know their stalker, most have had some form of personal relationship with the stalker, even a romantic relationship.  For those that have been on the receiving end of such a situation, this book is even more terrifying because it pulls you deeply into the emotional disintegration you succumb to the longer the stalker comes at you.  It reminds you how vulnerable you are, how little real help is out there.

Its easy to become Clarissa as you read the pages.  Or listen to the pages being read.  Orlagh gives a haunted voice to Clarissa.  You feel the helplessness and terror.  You feel  the grasping for answers, the desire to protect those you love from this man’s abuse.  The isolation that comes from stepping away from them to protect them.  The fear of disbelief if you tell your story.  The pain that comes when you actually meet that disbelief with someone that you love.

I don’t know if Claire was ever herself a victim.  If she was not, she at least must have known someone intimately who had been.  This is not a happy story.  Though there is a love story woven in its pages, it is a story of terror and one that is so very common.  It is told with a beautiful haunted voice.  It is told with words that seep into your heart, into your soul and into your mind.  It is a story that will haunt your dreams for a very long time after.  And it is a story that should be read so more people might understand how devastating it is to be a victim.  It should be read so that people believe that person when they say they are being stalked.  It should be read so that they are not alone.  And it should be read so the stalker receives no pity and is seen for what he truly is.  It just plain should be read.



Dark Places – Gillian Flynn

Dark PlacesHaving read the other two books by Gillian, the last one (though I think this is actually her second book) was a given.  Gillian Flynn has rapidly soared to my top list of authors.  I bow deeply to any mind twisted enough to create some of the characters and story lines that she does.

That said, I have to say that Dark Places was probably my least favorite of her books.  Not that it wasn’t good.  I don’t know if this woman could write a bad novel.  Only that it didn’t seem to twist and sneak up on you quite the same way the other two did.  But, it was chock full of creep factor and seriously demented and tortured souls.

LIbby Day, whose family was murdered when she was seven, supposedly by her brother Ben, possibly while she watched.  Her brother, reputed to have been deeply immersed in a satanic cult with demons instructing him to do the killing.  Who has spent his life in prison for the “satanic ritualistic” murders, murders so violent, they have made the annals and history books of mass murders.  And Libby, who has spent her life living off the charity of donations of those who felt sorry for her after the tragedy, whose luck is running out and is no longer the sweetheart of the bleeding hearts club, now finds herself in the position that she will soon have to begin to fend for herself for the first time in her life.  This brings her into contact with “The Kill Club”.

The Kill Club is a group that are fans of murder stories.  Sometimes of the condemned, often believing them innocent.  Some are amateur sleuths, trying to solve or re-solve what the police did not.

Libby begins a journey initially to make a few extra buck to eventually try and learn the truth of what happened that night and whether her brother is really the monster that killed her family or was it someone else.

It is an excellent book.  I guess I just liked the twists in the other two books a bit more than this one.  Not that this doesn’t have its share of surprises and scenes that make you gasp.  Her explorations into the psyche of her characters always sets her heads above most writers in her genre.

January 2015