Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"Woman No. 17"

“Woman No. 17”
Written by Edan Lepucki
Review written by Diana Iozzia

          In the beginning of “Woman No. 17”, I found myself developing a serious love-hate relationship with this book. As I continued on, it mainly became the latter. This book screamed at me: “mysterious, sexy, sinister, noir”, but I was left with “whiny, alcoholic, sad, and slightly pathetic”, but this wasn’t a good thing. Sometimes, when I read books that claim to be all of the things this book does, I can be pleasantly surprised when the book turns out to be different and better than the description. For example, “The Roanoke Girls” by Amy Engel was very similar to the good side of what you weren’t expecting.
          This reminds me of a Sunset Boulevard pathetic vibe, but mixed with a “these people need to grow up and stop acting like 15 year olds” 90210 vibe. We read about S (Esther) an artist who becomes a nanny for a divorced mother who only likes one of her children. Imagine how creepy and sinister this could be? Nope. S and Lady are 22 and 40 respectively, but they act like thirteen year olds. They drink excessively and don’t properly take care of the child. Lady’s older son is mute and has a sexual relationship with S, the nanny, which is a borderline-interesting relationship at best.
          Lady struggles to understand her feelings after her divorce. I think the most interesting thing about this book is that Lady and S mirror each other well. I think this is a summer, read-in-your-beach-chair novel at best. This is in no way as dramatic and sinister and interesting as I had hoped it would be. This was a serious let-down, unfortunately.

          I received this book as a complementary reader’s copy from Blogging For Books.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

"Long Black Veil"

“Long Black Veil”
Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney BoylanWritten by Jennifer Finney
Review written by Diana Iozzia

                I was thoroughly disappointed with the book, “Long Black Veil”. I had received this as a complementary advanced reader’s copy, and I was very hopeful based on the description. The book blurb tells that this fictional story is about a group of friends who had broken into the Eastern State Penitentiary. However, one of them didn’t make it out alive. Then, years later, a mysterious woman named Judith finds her way into this murder investigation.
            This sounded like an interesting murder mystery/thriller. I admit: the first chapter of this book is very intriguing. The first paragraph hook is fantastic, really setting up the scene for the beginning of the book. There are many characters introduced very quickly, and it becomes very confusing to keep track of these characters.
            This book becomes more about the woman, Judith, who has a connection to these friends that is later revealed. In addition, you find the answer to the mystery half-way through the book! This doesn’t create a thrilling conclusion, it just ruins the surprise. It’s not even that a great surprise, who killed the victim and why. Just bland.
            I enjoyed the creepy and eerie chapters where the characters are walking around the Penitentiary. The characters had done this in the eighties, and the murder investigation kicks off in the 2013-2015 range. I had visited these penitentiary ruins last summer, so it was great to read a book about the place, but it was hardly about the prison. The main story is the murder investigation, but it hardly feels like that. It’s basically just Judith’s past and present story and how it relates to everyone else. (Spoiler: it’s not that interesting a connection.) I found myself often skimming this, because I just wasn't that interested.

            The positive points are: LGBT friendly, lots of suspense in the prison exploration, some twists and turns, and the characters Maisie and Rachel. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

"The Only Child"

“The Only Child”
Written by Andrew Pyper
Review written by Diana Iozzia
The Only Child by Andrew Pyper 
            “The Only Child” is very reminiscent of horror classics that I have read thus far in my life. It takes inspiration from “The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, “Frankenstein”, and “Dracula”. Andrew Pyper has created a horror classic, and it’s only a few months old.
            We read about our main character, Lily, a criminal psychologist who isn’t living a very happy adult life. She talks about her lack of sexual interest, her drinking, and she seems to choke it up to her childhood tragedies. She meets her newest client, who tells her that he is the monster who inspired the classic stories I’ve mentioned above. He also tells her that he is her father.
            This is a whirlwind of a tale. Pyper has created a new monster, that is unlike other monsters I’ve read before, but exactly like other monsters. Without any further detail, (I feel I may spoil this), this is one of the best monster horror books I’ve read in a very long time. I am a longtime fan of Stephen King, who often makes his humans the monsters, but Andrew Pyper makes his monsters very human.
            This is a brilliant read, but there are some duller parts. The opening chapters are very reminiscent of the beginning of “The Silence of the Lambs”. I liked drawing the comparison, but it’s very obvious and not that thrilling. The last quarter of the book, including the climax, was very thrilling, and I couldn’t stop reading. However, I can’t lie and say the rest of the book was one where I couldn’t put the book down. I could, but when I picked it back up, I was happy to jump right back in.

            There are many characters, and they can get a bit confusing. One of my favorite quotes is “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” I remembered this quote often as I read this book.