Tag Archives: reviews

Review: The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

silenceTitle: The Weight of Silence

Author: Heather Gudenkauf

Genre/Pages: Fiction/373

Publication: Mira; July 28, 2009

Rating: 3.5 BOOKMARKS

Employing multiple narrators, Heather Gudenkauf weaves a suspenseful novel about two young girls who go missing from their beds early one summer morning.

In the pre-dawn hours of an August morning in Iowa, seven-year-old Calli Clark is violently dragged into the woods against her will.  Her fear is palpable, but Calli can’t call out for help because she suffers from selective mutism.  Nearby, Petra Gregory, Calli’s best friend and voice, is lured from her own bedroom after spying something from her window.  Does she see her friend or is it someone more sinister?

As the novel progresses, the narrators shift with each new chapter.  We take in the story through the eyes of Calli, her mother Antonia, her older brother Ben, Petra’s dad, and Deputy Sheriff Louis.  Through each of their narratives, we get the backstory about Calli’s mutism, the family dynamics of the Clark household, life in the Gregory house, and Antonia’s relationship with Louis.

Gudenkauf gives Calli a voice as a narrator despite the fact that she doesn’t speak, while Petra, Calli’s mouthpiece in life, remains silent–her perspective of the story untold.  Anxiety builds as the novel progresses and suspicion is cast on several characters.  Compounding the fear is the  local unsolved murder of another little girl who went missing from her bedroom.  Will Calli and Petra meet the same end?

The Weight of Silence is such a page-turner–I read it in one night, staying up until the wee hours to finish it!  The novel is rife with symbols–the woods, the yellow house, the music note chain–and themes of family, friendship, substance abuse, and loss.   This book would be ideal for a book club selection and comes with discussion questions at the end of the novel. 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book!

 

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Book Blogs + Book Reviews=Book Sales?

As my book blog is poised to turn 6 months old, I’ve been reflecting on its purpose and potential.  People are visiting, reading, and commenting on my posts, but does that translate to book sales?  Do book blogs generate enough buzz to actually sell books? 

The book blogging community is such a supportive one, but are we reaching the masses?  Recently, I started posting my reviews on Amazon to reach a wider audience.  But is this enough?  Are their other avenues that I’m missing?

I read about 60 book blogs during the week.  In six months, I’ve read 13 books that were either reviewed or suggested by other bloggers (five of which were for my Summer Reading Challenge).   In total, I’ve been motivated to read eight books purely on bloggers’ reviews.  But my reading of these books didn’t generate new revenue for the authors because I  borrowed them from my local library.

I would love to know if book blogs, reviews, and tours have a quantifiable impact on book sales.  Do authors notice a spike in sales and interest if they market their books through blogs?  Do you think your blog (and book blogs in general) help sell books?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Review: Don’t Call Me a Crook! by Bob Moore

crookTitle: Don’t Call Me a Crook!

Author: Bob Moore

Genre/Pages: Memoir; 255 pages

Publication: Originally published 1935; republished by Dissident Books, Ltd. 2009

Rating: 2.5 BOOKMARKS

Originally published over 70 years ago, Bob Moore’s memoir, Don’t Call Me a Crook! is part sensation, part confession. 

Bob Moore lived a wild and wicked life–he was a cad and a scoundrel and who tried to rationalize his criminal hi-jinx. 

“…I thought of the guy waiting in the Shellman Hotel for me, and I thought how he had meant to fool me nicely by making me take all the risk, and then paying me off with a paltry hundred dollars while he made thousands of pounds (on loose, stolen diamonds).  I reckon he deserved to lose those diamonds…”  (Moore, 28)

He explained that when opportunity presented itself, he didn’t have to think twice about stealing.  I imagined him as a moustache-twirling villain who managed to charm most everyone–and was I ever right! 

I’m no Puritan over here, but even I was a tad scandalized by the blase manner in which Moore glibly told of swindling, bootlegging, and murder.  He amazed me by dodging one proverbial bullet after another.  He traveled the globe, often at a moment’s notice–especially when fleeing from the scene of a crime, something he did with alarming frequency.

The direction of Bob Moore’s life was led by the Grand Theft Auto moral compass–theft, adultery, and cheating were his cardinal directions.  Despite his shortcomings and criminal lifestyle (or maybe because of them), the book is an entertaining read.  As he goes from one improbable adventure to the next, the reader is left questioning how one person could live so many lifetimes in one life.

This book was not widely received after its original publishing in 1935 and was recently re-released with an introduction, afterword, and footnotes–some  superfluous and distracting.  There were many nautical references footnoted (crow’s nest, galley, stateroom, purser, list) and though I’ve never captained a ship, I’ve watched enough episodes of The Love Boat to understand the lingo.  Other footnotes, however, were necessary and helpful.

Perhaps because this book was penned so long ago (or because Moore just didn’t give a damn), prejudice is evident in a few of his interactions.  I understand that they aren’t themes of the novel, but intolerance turns me off.

Overall, Don’t Call Me a Crook! is an entertaining, albeit scandalous, read.  Moore can really tell a story–and he has the details to support his tales.  People who enjoy this genre and are interested in reading about the life and times of this Glaswegian shouldn’t hesitate to pick up this book! 

Thanks to Lisa from Online Publicist for sending me this memoir!

Review: Cutting Loose by Nadine Dajani

*Win a copy of Cutting Loose by clicking here.  Entry deadline is Monday, 6/8/09–international friends welcome!*

looseTitle: Cutting Loose

Author: Nadine Dajani

Genre/Pages: Fiction; 384

Publication: Forge Books; September 2008

Rating: 3.5 BOOKMARKS

Take a peek into the lives of three diverse women and see how their culture and life choices have brought them together.

Told from multiple points of view, Cutting Loose weaves the lives of three women into an entertaining novel with solid characters and plenty of conflict.  Offering more than just the standard ‘chick-lit’ fare, Nadine Dajani draws on her own her own exotic life experiences to create characters who struggle to reconcile their culture with life in sultry, hedonistic Miami.

Ranya, Zahra, and Rio each arrive in Miami with baggage from their other lives.  Ranya escapes Montreal and her sham of a marriage, Zahra leaves Boston and a career-ending disaster which was precipitated by a one night stand with an unrequited love, and Rio runs from the slums of Honduras and manages to climb her way to the top of a niche magazine.

From the cover, I figured the book would follow a predictable path and that the women would become fast friends despite their differences.  How wrong I was!  Each character grapples with her own internal and external conflicts but the friendships I predicted never materialized.  Instead, mutual respect and camaraderie developed. 

Ranya struggles with the deeply ingrained rules of her Muslim upbringing, while Zahra buries her emotions and feelings for her boss in work and comfort food, and Rio tries hard to stay emotionally unattached in a 5-year ‘fling’ with her boss’s younger brother. 

Religion, relationships, and personal growth are strong themes throughout the novel.  The three women try to supress parts of themselves but ultimately realize that in order to find true love and personal happiness they have to embrace their whole selves.  They are dynamic characters who change and develop with every experience.

Overall, this book was an entertaining and interesting read–perfect to get me in the mood for summer!  I enjoyed the multicultural angle, characters, and Miami backdrop.  

Thank you to Nadine Dajani for the review and giveaway copies of this novel.