Tag Archives: Book Review

The Art of Keeping Secrets

It seems I go through reading ‘spurts’ where I tend to read compulsively. Then I write. The last month or so has been a spurt. My latest reading, a book by an author I’ve read in the past, The Art of Keeping Secrets, by Patti Callahan Henry.

Synopsis:

Since a plane crash killed her husband two years ago, Annabelle Murphy has found solace in raising her two children. Just when she thinks the grief is behind her, she receives the news that the wreckage of the small plane has been discovered and that her husband did not die alone. He was with another woman. Suddenly, Annabelle is forced to question everything she once held true.

Sophie Parker knows the woman who was on that plane. A dolphin researcher who has lived a quiet life, Sophie has never let anyone get too close. But when Annabelle shows up on Sophie’s doorstep full of painful questions, both women must confront their intertwining pasts, and find the courage to face the truth.

Review:

This is a story about two women: one who doesn’t know the truth, and one who knows it but can’t share it.

the-art-of-keeping-secretsAnnabelle is living on autopilot since her husband died in a plane crash. She has her friends, her kids, and her job and is quite content to live a predictable life filled with memories. Sofie is trying to find her way through life. She has a job she loves, a man who loves her (even if it isn’t exactly healthy love), and a lifetime of secrets. The one thing these women have in common is that they are both weak characters. Annabelle can’t stand up for herself or to anyone, including her obnoxiously entitled daughter, while Sofie can’t fight her way out of a relationship where she is treated like the cute new puppy of a much older man.

For what the story was, it took the author a long time to get there, especially considering Annabelle found Sofie so early on. It was a bloated story filled with stiff characters. In far too many cases, the dialogue was too formal to feel real.

I hate to see one book take away from an otherwise good author, but this one did. I have read her work in the past and enjoyed it, but found little to redeem this title. The book was extremely predictable, the characters less than believable, and it took the very long way to get to the meat of the story.

I believe this is one of Henry’s earlier works. Although I haven’t read her titles in order, it seems to me that the more she writes, the better she gets – as it should be. Unfortunately, for some that isn’t the case.

This book wasn’t a horrible read. It simply did not stand up to the standards of many of her titles. Don’t let that fact keep you from picking up a Henry book, but in my opinion, make sure it was published 2012 or later.

Patti Callahan Henry is usually a 4+ star writer, but The Art of Keeping Secrets fell a bit flat at 3-stars (Just okay).

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I’ve Got You Under My Skin… by Mary Higgins Clark

I often wonder what makes two people read a book and walk away with entirely different opinions about it. Because I review the books I read, I take notes. When finished, I write my review but before posting it, I visit the book’s Amazon page to see where my review falls in line with others. Most often I agree with the masses as far as ‘stars’ go even though I differ on what worked and what didn’t. This week, it’s only me and a handful of others with the same take on this book.

I have read many of MHCs works. Some (older ones mostly) I have loved while others (newer ones mostly) have been… crap. Yes, I used the crap word.

I've Got You Under My Skin

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

First, it’s lightweight, but that is something I’ve come to expect from a MHC novel. From here, I don’t know where to begin. The whole ‘blue eyes’ subplot running through the book was lame. Unnecessary. Pointless. I struggled to get into it. Actually, I never really got into it, I struggled to keep from putting it down. It took me a solid week to read through it. It is heavy on description – of everything. What everyone was wearing, what they ate, did and thought on their way to work. Speaking of thoughts… their thoughts were long, and in first person, which totally threw me out of the story. She writes the book in third person (with occasional head-hopping), but when she comes to their thoughts, it reads like narrative in another POV. I don’t know if she was trying to be creative and failed or if she was trying to beat a deadline and threw it together. (Several reviewers suggested that she may not even be writing her own books anymore, as has become common practice with several of the more seasoned writers).

There are many characters and aside from the story itself being implausible, the facts don’t add up. Beginning with ages/timeline. I’m not going to go into a story synopsis, but should you read it, you’ll see what I mean.

Here is how other Amazon reviewers rated it:

5 stars – 986

4 stars – 341 (significant drop at this point)

3 stars – 160

2 stars – 67

1 star – 61

I am definitely in the minority coming in at 1.5 stars (only because I don’t think I’ve ever given 1 star to anyone and feel a twinge of guilt dissing the work of a successful author), but this book isn’t worth the money if you get it for free. You will spend most of your reading time trying to figure out who is speaking, what POV they are in, and is it action… or thought?

Looking for a good read? Check out my last review – Touch & Go, by Lisa Gardner. That one is still with me.

Kathy Reinhart is the author of the award-winning Lily White Lies.

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Touch & Go… by Lisa Gardner

The readers who follow my reviews know that I tend to be critical in them. It’s not done in a mean-spirited vein, but done as I would like it done to my writing. Every writer has their own style and voice and it bleeds through to each of their works. To that end, what I’m doing right, I will probably always do right, and what I’m doing wrong, I will continue to do wrong until someone points out my errors. That is probably why I tend to point out the errors first. In my simplified way of thinking, other writers want to hear what they’re doing wrong, not what they’re doing right.

Touch and Go

Touch & Go

Today, I finished Touch & Go, by Lisa Gardner. I had never read one of her books, but the blurb on the jacket flap sounding intriguing, so I bought it.

I’m not going to include spoilers in this review as I feel  it would take away from the read – should you want to read it for yourself. All I am going to offer is my opinion. Excellent! Many of the books I’ve read recently have had such slow beginnings, I was fighting with myself not to put them down and go looking for a better read. This book grabbed me from the very beginning – right in the middle of the action – and never let go.

It is told in alternating first person and third person POVs, which is a little unusual, but it worked. I found each of the main characters believable and sympathetic. The story line was plausible, the ending not rushed, but climatic and there were no loose ends to leave me irritated. At first, there seemed to be too many characters to keep track of, but about midway, I realized why the author included so many and why it worked. All of the law enforcement characters were secondary and did not need much attention from the reader. The main characters and those close to them were many. This kept me from being able to figure out the good guys from the bad guys. Superbly written, it kept me guessing right until the end. Several times the plot looked pat only to learn another fact that changed everything.

This was a well-written book with no vocabulary boasting by the author. The ONLY thing I would have changed was the use of the word ‘mothballed’ throughout the book. The last book I read did the same thing with an uncommon word and for some reason, I find it annoying. ‘The mothballed prison’… I don’t have to hear that unusual word six times to get it. I would have switched up the description a little, vacant, empty, unoccupied.

I picked this title up at BAM for $6.97 in the bargain bin, but it would have been worth every penny of the cover price. 5-stars.

K.E. Garvey (formerly and regrettably known as Kathy Reinhart) is the award-winning author of Lily White Lies.

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