Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Goat Woman of Largo Bay by Gillian Royes

The Goat Woman of Largo Bay: A Novel

The Goat Woman of Largo Bay wants to be the first book in a mystery series when it grows up.   I'm not sure it's quite there yet.  There really isn't a lot of mystery in this book.  The mystery plot is quite predictable and was really not much of a mystery.  Although the "goat woman" didn't turn out to be what I had initially envisioned when I read the title of this novel.

That said, there is much to like about this novel.  The setting of Jamaica is unusual in a main stream novel.  It also happens to be one of my favorite places on earth!  The author, Gillian Royes (who grew up in Jamaica) captures the unique flavor of the island perfectly.  Shad, the bartender, has great potential as a character in future novels.  Royes managed to avoid the stereotype of the island bartender as she developed the character of  Shad. We learn about has past mistakes and meet his family. He embodies the beautiful spirit of the Jamaica people that I find almost more attractive than  the scenery of the island. I'd like to see him play a big part in future novels.

The other characters in this book did not captivate me as much as Shad.  They seemed more one dimensional and I wasn't as invested in their stories.  I did not understand the attraction between Eric, the expat and Simone, the goat woman.  I think with more developed characters, it might work.  I just didn't "know" either of them well enough  to make it a plausible relationship.

I would like to know more about the mysterious character of the Obeah man.   He seemed to be a mix of holistic healer, village shaman and local witch doctor, complete with potions and spells.  "Obeah" is an actual Jamaican practice of the occult arts, if I understand it correctly.  He is another character I would love to read about in future books.

This is also a story about grief and how one woman finds her own path through the process.  This aspect of the book was well done.  Royes managed to capture the despair of grief and the feelings of isolation that Simone encountered and her personal journey to let go and move on with her life.

Even with it's flaws, I can recommend this novel.  I look forward to seeing what the series grows up to be!

Thanks to the author and publisher for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review of this work.

The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar

The World We Found

Everyone should have at least one friend that you can call on to start up where you left off, even though it has been years since you talked. This is where the story resumes for these four friends. They were close friends in college. They drifted apart over the years and have been recently brought back together due to the terminal illness of one of the women. 

The story is set primarily in India, however, it could take place anywhere. The theme is universal. It is an examination of how we change and evolve from the person we were in our 20's,when anything is possible and we think can change the world, to the reality that we eventually end up in as middle aged adults. Things just don't always work out the way you planned. 

This is a coming of "middle" age novel. It is hopeful and still exciting in the possibilities that we are still evolving. It is also a commentary on friendships that transcend the years even though the friends have had little contact over the years. 

Setting of the novel in India subtly infuses the novel with another layer of obstacles unique to a culture that is very different from America. It provides a glimpse into a world that many Americans have little contact with. 

This was a lovely book to read. The writing flowed well and the main characters were well written and three dimensional. It took very little effort to read this book, it was like listening to a good story told by an old friend. Perfect reading for a cold winter night! 

Many thanks to the author and publisher for allowing me the opportunity to read and offer my unbiased review this book.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pandora's Key by Nancy Richardson Fischer


Prepare to be disappointed! 
You are going to want to read the other books in this trilogy and they are not in print yet!  This is a story based on Greek mythology with a paranormal flavor but is classified as an urban fantasy. I can't wait for the other books to be available.  In a field of YA books, this one stands out.  It is a refreshing change of pace from the vampires.  This one is not just another Twilight wannbe!

The main character, Evangeline has some unusual abilities, such as smelling pictures and dreams that are a little too real.  All the characters are well written an interesting.  Teens will definitely relate to the characters, especially Evangeline.  Throw in a couple of secret sects that are more than a little interested in  Evangeline, one heirloom key necklace and a few twists and turns and you won't want to put it down.  This one will keep you guessing!   It is a fast read.  I finished it in a day and a half.   I plan to pass this one on to my 15 year old daughter.

There is just enough romance in the story, but no graphic love scenes (one of my big complaints about YA books in general).  This one is safe for 12 and 13 year old's to read! Yeah!

The cover art is unique and eye catching.  I would have picked this one off the shelf, if I hadn't received a review copy directly from the author. (I am always impressed when a book comes from the author and not the publisher.)  I am so glad that I can honestly give this one 4 stars.  I am anxiously awaiting the next book!