Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Those Secrets We Keep (Emily Liebert)

When you’re headed out for a day on the beach, be sure to throw Emily Liebert’s Those Secrets We Keep in your bag next to your towel and sunscreen.  It’s a quick read, making it perfect for a weekend away, and the plot is exactly as the title describes: three friends who are keeping huge, life-altering secrets from each other as well as from their own families.

Sloane, whose sister has just recently passed away from cancer, invites her pal Hillary to her aunt’s house on Lake George for a girls’ weekend.  On their way there, Sloane gets a call from her wild old friend, Georgina, who strangely invites herself along on the trip.  Also at Lake George is Sloane’s ex-flame, Luke, an ultra-rich businessman; Sloane is already feeling bored in her marriage to Eddie, so having Luke there is of course a major temptation.  Hillary and Georgina also have a few secrets of their own.  Why didn’t Georgina contact Sloane after her sister’s death?  What's going on with Hillary and her struggle to have a child?

Besides finding Georgina’s plot and the fact that most everything is wrapped up in a neat little bow slightly implausible, I found Those Secrets We Keep an enjoyable read.  I look forward to reading more from Emily Liebert.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Gilead (Marilynne Robinson)

I've been wanting to read the Pulizer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award winner Gilead for years, but I never got around to it.  I was excited to finally pick it up, but I'm sorry to say that this is one of those books that I just understand the hype about. At. All.

Reading a simple synopsis of Gilead, you'll probably think that it's going to be a wonderfully inspirational novel. Reverend John Ames, slowly dying from a heart condition, is an elderly pastor who is putting an account of his life into writing for his young son. The inherent problem with Gilead is that it seems like one big stream of consciousness at times, with Ames's rambling going on for pages and pages.  I found myself reading a page and then losing my train of thought, only to find myself a few pages later not knowing what I just read.

Judging by the amount of four- and five-star ratings on Goodreads, my review seems to be in the minority.  But Gilead just didn't stick with me when it was over, and to be absolutely honest, I couldn't wait for it to be done.


Monday, May 18, 2015

The Gracekeepers (Kirsty Logan)

It’s difficult to describe Kirsty Logan’s The Gracekeepers, and to be honest, I’m not even entirely sure what I just finished reading last night.  Treating its elements of fantasy as totally normal while giving the reader a strange sense of foreboding, The Gracekeepers attempts to cross genres, but not all that successfully.

North and her beloved bear are part of a traveling circus, and the circus itself is made up of “damplings,” people who stay on the water. These damplings go from island to island to entertain the “landlockers,” and the relationships of the circus performers are really what make this novel interesting.  Logan is not as successful in telling Callanish’s story; Callanish is a hybrid per se, who lives on the land, but goes out into the water to do “restings” (water burials).  Her chapters seemed to weigh this book down.

Unfortunately, at no time did I really feel invested in The Gracekeepers.  It was difficult to understand exactly what was going on at any given moment, especially when the “gracekeepers” themselves came into the story.  If reading a book feels more like work than it should, I have to give it a lower-than-average rating.