Book Review | The Slave by Anand Dílvar

slave coverOriginally published in Spanish as El Esclavo, this English translation is set for publication in January 2018. The Slave, our narrator, finds himself in a coma after an accident. Trapped within his mind, unable to move or blink after a debilitating accident, he endures a range of emotions, eventually discovering a guide within himself. Though the plot may sound similar to Johnny Got His Gun, it is quite a different tale.

This book is on the unobtrusive end of self-help books. The idea is that through reading the book, you’ll join the narrator in his discoveries that help to “free” him from the guilt, blame, anger and other negative emotions experienced. It provides a way of coping with or reacting to stimuli in a more focused and proactive manner. The book is not clearly labeled fiction or non-fiction. It works as a novella in that it shares an experience with the reader in a somewhat engaging way. I could see how some people might benefit from ideas shared within, but to me it was just a quick read with nothing very profound or enlightening.

I received an advance reading copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

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Book Review | The Clairvoyants by Karen Brown

clairvoyants karen brown.jpgAfter growing up on the Connecticut coast, Martha moves to Ithaca to further her photography skills at Cornell. Before long, she is joined by her younger sister, Del, and they fall in with a group of gals from the neighboring town of Milton. Martha’s curiosity regarding the disappearance of one Milton girl grows after she sees the girl’s spirit outside her apartment. After thinking she’s found love, Martha is at a loss when she finds out she’s been courting the missing girl’s beau.

The Clairvoyants is an enjoyable and thought provoking read. Brown’s writing is clear, offering a plot that’s easy to get involved in. Though I didn’t particularly like any of the novel’s characters, their stories were interesting and kept me constantly engaged. The supernatural aspect of the plot, while ever-present, is not overdone. This book would appeal to fans of gothic or women’s fiction. Check it out from a library near you!

I received an advance reader’s edition of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*If you’ve enjoyed reading The Clairvoyants, you may be interested in An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman (2014).

Book Review | The Room : a novel by Jonas Karlsson

the room book coverUnder less than perfect circumstances, Björn transfers to a new job at the Authority in Stockholm. He sees himself as a man of the future who is destined for greatness, though his coworkers think he’s quite a jerk. Björn thinks he is better than the lot of them and plots his rise to management. When his colleagues report him for improper behavior, he is forced to examine his own mental state and choose a new path to the top – and balance the time he spends in a special room at work that the others claim doesn’t exist.

Karlsson has penned a winner with The Room. Although Björn is an unlikable protagonist, he serves as an entertaining narrator. This quick read starts strong and keeps the pages turning. The direct writing style clearly depicts scenes and settings. The book takes place in Sweden, but could easily have occurred elsewhere, as the cultural references are limited. The Room is an enjoyable office fiction read and would work quite well for book clubs or to spark a dialogue about workplace ethics. Check out this new release from a library near you.

Book Review | The Transcriptionist : a novel by Amy Rowland

book cover The transcriptionist : a novel / Amy Rowland.This debut novel by Amy Rowland of The New York Times examines a fictional slice of life of a transcriptionist working for a major NYC paper. Main character Lena is in her 30’s and single, living at a Salvation Army residence for women. Her simple life involves little human interaction as she walks and busses to and from her job as sole transcriptionist at renowned paper, The Record. Each day she listens to the recorded voices of strangers as she types their words in preparation for printing. Mostly Lena notices details that have been omitted from the final articles, but it is the inclusion of one article in particular, about a blind woman mauled by lions, that prompts her to reexamine her role and the role of the newspaper overall.

The Transcriptionist has received positive reviews from major sources including Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal. Personally, I’d give the book a 2 or 3 out of 5. It took a long time to get somewhat interesting. Around 70 pages in, I was still considering quitting. The story lines and main character are fairly plain and I just didn’t care what, if anything, was going to happen. Certain parts of this book reminded me of Téa Obreht’s novel The Tiger’s Wife, but that book was actually worth the struggle to get into it. If you’re still interested in this new book about a melancholy lady with a sense of ethics, check it out from a library near you.

Book Review | Il Silenzio dell’onda (The Silence of the Wave) by Gianrico Carofiglio

book cover Il Silenzio dell’onda (The Silence of the Wave) by Gianrico CarofiglioTold with alternating focus between a man and a boy, The Silence of the Wave is a story about a man’s struggle through a tough time in his life. After working for many years as an undercover agent involved in international organized crime, Roberto suffers a breakdown that renders him unable to continue his work. While frequenting a psychiatrist during his health leave in Rome, he meets a woman patient in whom he becomes interested. As they get to know each other, details from his past resurface while he deals with issues during therapy. The woman’s son Giacomo is the boy character with whom the protagonist is linked.

I was not expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. It was a well written and interesting novel. The story of Roberto was a mostly straightforward, clear path to follow with events that were real and emotions that were understandable. Giacomo’s story was more surreal with him receiving information in his dreams. Carofiglio did an excellent job of describing those dreams realistically and I was even reminded of previous Haruki Murakami works I have read. The story constantly kept my attention and I would definitely consider reading other works by this author. Check a library near you for The Silence of the Wave.

Book Review | The Silent Wife : a novel by A. S. A. Harrison

book cover The Silent Wife : a novel by A. S. A. HarrisonNew York Times Bestsellers aren’t usually what I find myself reading, but despite an overdose of adjectives and more SAT vocabulary than I’ve encountered since high school, The Silent Wife was a decent read that kept me interested. I appreciated how the author alternated focus evenly between the male and female protagonists a chapter at a time. Though most of the events and actions taking place were rather commonplace, Harrison’s writing somehow made them more involved. This was not a book I tore through, but I did find myself thinking about getting back to reading it while I was doing other things.

The plot can be mostly summarized in a few sentences. Man and woman have lived together as a couple for 20 years in a Chicago lakefront condo. The man becomes depressed, and though his wife is a shrink, he finds more of a cure in an affair with his close friend’s daughter. The mistress becomes pregnant and sweeps the man up, convincing him to move out of his condo and get an apartment with her while she avidly plans their wedding. The shrink feels her world crumbling before her and takes matters into her own hands to settle the score. Holds abound, check your local library for a copy.