Out of Twenty: Simon Van Booy, Author of The Illusion of Separateness, Answers Fifteen Questions

In this version of twenty questions, I send a list of questions to a willing victim author and they choose their own interview

Credit: Ken Browar
Credit: Ken Browar

by picking which questions, and how many, they want to answer. Simon Van Booy’s new novel, The Illusion of Separateness is getting rave reviews from bloggers and critics alike. It was a June pick at Bloggers Recommend, and it’s out today in the UK. Here is what Simon had to say about reading, writing, and an buying dresses for one of his characters, Amelia.

Would you give us a bit of introduction and let my readers know who you are, how you got started writing, and what kind of books you like to write?

My name is Simon Van Booy and stories give me a way to untie the emotional knots that inhibit my life. I write literary fiction about how random strangers are connected to one another. I was born in London, but raised in the mountains of Wales. I live in New York City now, where I often miss the fields and sheep of my youth. In fact, as I write this, someone outside is driving on the sidewalk.

I am often struck by the different ways writers respond to the process of writing a book. Linus’s Blanket refers to my use of reading and other activities as a means of escape and comfort, can you share with us any routines, food or recipes, or favorite books or rituals that help you thorough the writing process?

I really need a couple of hours alone with no phones or internet before I can even sit down to work. I have separate myself a little from the world in order to inhabit it as a ghost, and write without judgment. I drink lots of tea, and I have a desk that when not being used to write on is covered with a white sheet. It’s almost like having a sacred space. I also drink out of a 1960s Dior tea cup and saucer, which is a nice contrast to my beloved IKEA desk.

Write the question you would most like to answer in an interview, and then answer it.

Is it true that in college you rode an enormous motorcycle with purple fire on the gas tank, had long hair and wore leather pants to class?

“In Youth, we are free”

People live in stories, we are surrounded by them. What was it about this the story that made it the one you had to tell at this time?  What impact did telling this story have on your life?  Did you find that it had changed you?

Any book connected to World War II changes both writer and reader. You won’t come out unscathed. But I don’t choose my stories, they choose me.

What are you reading now? What are some of your favorite books and authors?  Has writing your own book changed the way that you read?

I’m reading: Henry V, Call me Zelda by Erika Robuck, Mrs. Dalloway, and about to start Pale Fire. I won’t allow myself to buy a book until I finish the one I’m reading….

Are you able to read when you’re writing and if so what books inspire you when you’re working your own book(s)?

I try to read poetry when I’m writing, and books that I don’t quite understand.

What was the most interesting thing that you found out while researching this book that you ultimately decided not to include?

An entire chapter about a man living in London who is connected to one of the characters, but whose life goes no further than the chapter.

The Illusion of SeparatenessIn the past I have visited a blog called Daily Routines and it’s all about the schedules of writers and creative people.  What does a typical day look like for you and how do you manage a busy schedule?

Everything depends on my daughter’s school schedule. If I’m really suffering and can’t find time to work, I start waking up at 3AM….three hours of silence in the middle of the night is wonderful–not only for vampires.

Did you know what you wanted the title of the book to be?  How involved were in choosing the name of the book?

The title is a quote from a Vietnamese Buddhist monk.

Do you ever look back at your early work? How do you feel your writing style or approach to writing has evolved since you first began?

Style evolves until you find your voice–then style becomes a variation on a theme.

What were your experiences with reading when you were growing up? Was there a pivotal moment in discovering literature when you knew that you wanted to be a writer?

I just always felt the inherent fertility of words.

How many works in progress do you have going at any one time? How do you know when one has potential and when one just needs to be scrapped?

Sadly, when something has to be scrapped, it has to be. I usually work on one fiction and one non-fiction project at a time…..

Are there other books you love or writers you admire that are from your local area?

so many!

Who was your favorite character to write, and why did you have an affinity for that character in particular?

Amelia….I love her and her life…I even bought a few dresses I thought she might like. They’re in my closet now next to the skeletons….

What’s next?

A very intense character study of two people.  And a small boat for fishing, as I’m just not catching anything off the beach.

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Giveaway: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy BarkerI have key words with books, and those words cause a knee jerk response of deep longing. One of those words is magic. And when combined with a cover like this one, and other words like dissertation, academia, and portals to different worlds, it is not possible for me to resist. Needless to say I am looking forward to Emily Croy Barker’s The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic.

I plan on settling in with my copy and reading the weekend away, but here’s your chance to win a copy for yourself if magic does for you what it does to me.

Publisher’s Description: Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman.  During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty.  Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.

Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora’s new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel’s student—and learning magic herself—to survive. When a passage home finally opens, Nora must weigh her “real life” against the dangerous power of love and magic.

For lovers of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians series (The Magicians and The Magician King) and Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy (A Discovery of Witchesand Shadow of Night).

Good Luck!

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Out of Twenty: Jeff Abbott, Author of Downfall, Answers Fifteen Questions

Abbott, Jeff_cropped
Credit: Amy Melsa Photography

In this version of twenty questions, I send a list of questions to a willing victim author and they choose their own interview by picking which questions, and how many questions, they want to answer. Jeff Abbott’s novel, Downfallbegins with a mother vowing to do anything to protect her child. Powerful stuff. Here is what Jeff had to say about reading, writing, and the fascinating contrast in the widening economic gap.

Would you give us a bit of introduction and let my readers know who you are, how you got started writing, and what kind of books you like to write?

I’m Jeff Abbott—I write suspense novels, both standalone and a New York Times bestselling series featuring Sam Capra, a former CIA agent who now owns bars around the world. Think Jason Bourne crossed with Rick Blaine from Casablanca. My latest novel, Downfall, is my fourteenth novel and the third in the Sam series. I got started writing because my second-grade teacher told my parents I was disrupting the class by telling stories during recess to my schoolmates and ending on cliffhangers. She suggested they get me a Big Chief tablet and a pencil for my creative urges. I like to write thrillers that have a balance between action and emotional investment. My novels are in the school of international intrigue, but always feature strong elements of family. I’m a three-time Edgar Award nominee, a winner of the Thriller Award, and am published in many languages. Most importantly, I am a husband and a father.

I am often struck by the different ways writers respond to the process of writing a book. Linus’s Blanket refers to my use of reading and other activities as a means of escape and comfort, can you share with us any routines, food or recipes, or favorite books or rituals that help you thorough the writing process?

I try to keep to a steady work routine when I’m working on a first draft, writing 2,000-3,000 words a day. I like to listen to film soundtracks when I’m writing, or music such as Muse, Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Phillip Glass, or LCD Soundsystem. My only food routine is when I’m done with a book, I have some Haagen-Dazs rum raisin ice cream. I did it when I finished my first book, not really for any reason, but it’s a ritual I’ve maintained over the years.

Write the question you would most like to answer in an interview, and then answer it.

Question: Why do you use the words that you do?

Answer: Because I am trying to create an effect that carries beyond a phrase, a sentence, a page. Because I want to be economical. Because I want to keep you turning the pages. Because, as Amy Tan pointed out to Stephen King in his introduction to On Writing, no one ever asks about the words.

People live in stories, we are surrounded by them. What was it about this the story that made it the one you had to tell at this time?  What impact did telling this story have on your life?  Did you find that it had changed you? 

Downfall is about a group of people who have taken the idea of an old boys network—one where favors are done on the sly for each other—to a cold-blooded, murderous extreme. We live in a world where the economic gap is getting wider and wider—people are not just getting rich for themselves, but at levels that could mean that their grandchildren will never worry about money. And yet most Americans don’t have three months of savings. The contrast fascinates me. I looked at this from the view not of someone with a political agenda—I have none, and my only agenda is to entertain—but in terms of the characters who could find themselves in this kind of story. What would you do to secure your family’s future? How far would you go to be sure your kids never had a worry? It’s hyper protective parenting taken to an extreme. The bad guys in Downfall think nothing of destroying a stranger’s life for their own benefit, whereas Sam will help a stranger because it’s the right thing to do. And when I have my protagonist and antagonist in such perfect balance, that is when I know I have to tell that story.

What are you reading now? What are some of your favorite books and authors?  Has writing your own book changed the way that you read? 

Downfall by Jeff AbbottRight now I’m reading the massive biography Van Gogh: A Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. Vincent had parents who loved him but couldn’t understand him: I’m about 150 pages into it and I’m ready for him to start painting instead of trying and failing to be a salesman or a minister or a teacher. The whole Van Gogh family is gnashing their teeth about how he’ll turn out and I wish I could tell them: a genius walks among you, so maybe chill out a bit. I have a huge number of authors I enjoy, but am only going to list some I’ve just read recently: Harlan Coben, Kate Atkinson, Laura Lippman, Daniel Stashower, Hilary Mantel, Stephen King, Bernard Cornwell, Lee Child. . .

Are you able to read when you’re writing and if so what books inspire you when you’re working your own book(s)? 

I do read when I write. I’m not sure I can say other books inspire me, but I am certainly aware when I’m writing when I’m reading a book that is well-structured, is dealing with technical issues with a confident hand (such as introducing information in a non-boring way, rounding out characters, etc.) If I get stuck, though, I tend not to turn to books but to movies. I’ll watch a Hitchcock or a Kurosawa film and I’ll get unstuck. I think it’s exposure to a story well told that manages to oil the gears and get me going again.


What types of books would some of your characters have if they were readers?  Given their issues what book(s) would you suggest for them to read? 

Sam Capra is unusual among suspense heroes in that he’s in his mid-twenties, as opposed to be in his 30s or 40s. He’s not settled; he’s still finding out who he is, and what his life is going to be. So I think I’d have Sam read Eric Ambler, who was Hitchcock’s favorite suspense writer—Ambler’s heroes are often younger men, such as the schoolteacher accused of treason in Epitaph for a Spy. His partner, Mila, who is a mysterious woman with a damaged past, her I’d have read Laura Lippman, because Laura excels at characters who are dealing with a past disruption of their lives and the consequences of it. I’d probably start her with Laura’s fine novel What the Dead Know. And since Sam owns bars, he must have a copy of Brad Thomas Parson’s excellent book on cocktails, Bitters, which is full of amazing recipes.

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In Paperback: Noughties by Ben Masters & Giveaway

Noughties by Ben Masters

Hogarth, May 14, 2013

Originally Read: I read Noughties at the end of 2012, near the time that it was out in hard cover. I read it in e-book format.

New Cover or Old? I really like the new cover compared to the one I saw when I was reading the book. It looks a lot like several of the scenes described in the novel, which take place over a night of partying. It’s appropriate for having read the novel, but I don’t think I would pick it up based on the cover alone.

What I Thought Then: Only years of reading and watching British novels and television could have prepared me to understand Noughties as much as I did, and it still took care in reading to not miss anything. It’s definitely an immersion in British idioms and slang. It’s also the quintessential coming of age story, taking place in bars, pubs, and clubs during Eliot Lamb’s last day at Oxford college where flashbacks tell us about his history, college days, and the mysterious relationship his had with a girl from back home, Lucy.

I think I enjoyed Noughties for many of the reasons I’ve seen  it widely criticized.  It’s pretentious, the characters are self absorbed and unlikable (mainly Eliot), it takes itself much too seriously, etc. I can see all of that, but it also made sense to me when squared with the fact that the main character is a young man with class issues and overcompensates with his new friends at school and also his friends back home. He is a fish out of water trying to make the most of being accepted by people he admires but whom he feels he need to prove himself to, as well. He also thinks he’s too smart, lacks insight, is a horny young male and basically messes up, as you do when you’re 20. It was a confusing read at times, but I generally enjoyed examining this perspective.

Now, On Further Reflection: I enjoyed this one, but it’s also a book that lends itself to being recommended to readers with specific tastes. If I had time to actually re-read things, I would love to see if I would like it as much a second time around.

Book Club Pick? Noughties is one of those polarizing books that would work well in a book club provided that everyone in the club reads it. There are characters and situations to be dissected, and you will definitely love or hate some of them. Interesting observations are made about class, relationships, and fitting in, plus you can always compare your college experience to that of Eliot and his friends.

Good Luck!

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Letters From Skye by Jessica Brockmole – Book Review

Letters From Skye by Jessica BrockmoleIdeas of marriage tend to be highly charged with beliefs based on upbringing, religion and powerful expectations, so it’s rare to come across a novel where the romance between a married woman and a man a few years her junior. That happens in Letters From Skye, and it is a beautifully rendered romance shedding light on sibling relationships, following your heart, and the challenges of familial love versus obligation – the right to find love based on shared interests, ideals and passion.

Letters From Skye begins when David Graham, an American college student, writes Elspeth Dunn, a young married poet living on the island of Skye in Scotland. She’s intrigued by the fan mail, and when she writes back a friendship is born. They quickly become regular correspondents, sharing their thoughts and dreams and eventually their hearts. The letters between the two start shortly before, and are exchanged, throughout the First World War. Meanwhile the novel and its time period alternate with  World War II letters between Elspeth’s daughter Margaret and her fiancé Paul, Margaret and Elspeth, and Elspeth after she vanishes in the wake of a bombing; she’s searching for someone even as her daughter searches for her. Margaret seeks out Elpseth’s estranged family and finds a painful history in doing so.

Letters from Skye is a wonderful read.  So few epistolary novels are entirely made composed of letters, but this one isn’t interspersed with any narrative, and it is atmospheric and lovely. Brockmole manages to convey the picture of these sets of young lovers at war time, giving detailed information about the privations of war, the opportunities to fight, the challenges faced in the field and the toll it takes on a the family members and friends worried about their loved ones. The novel ponders issues familiar in the internet age like how true is a relationship when the bulk of it is experienced through writing, and lack face to face interaction?  How true are the selves we present, and will our imaginings of another person stand true in the face of reality?

Brockmole balances a lot of information (and very naturally) in the letters in addition to conveying the love and emotion of these relationships. It’s a thoughtful and engaging look at not only love, but also Scottish and American culture at the time of both world wars, providing valuable cultural insight as well as being filled with romances in various states of evolution. Highly Recommended.

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Giveaway: The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice &Tote Bag

The Lemon Orchard

The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice (July 2, Pamela Dorman Books – Penguin) is out this week, and it is on the list of my summer reads. In fact I read the first chapter, and not having read the book synopsis, I was stunned and completely unprepared for what happened. It quite literally starts off with a bang that the rest of the book will have to deal.
Check out my interview with Luanne Rice from two years ago and enter to win a copy of The Lemon Orchard with its own tote bag. Could it be more perfect encouragement to take on a trip to the beach?

Publisher’s Description:In the five years since Julia last visited her aunt and uncle’s home in Malibu, her life has been turned upside down by her daughter’s death. She expects to find nothing more than peace and solitude as she house-sits with only her dog, Bonnie, for company. But she finds herself drawn to the handsome man who oversees the lemon orchard. Roberto expertly tends the trees, using the money to support his extended Mexican family. What connection could these two people share? The answer comes as Roberto reveals the heartbreaking story of his own loss—a pain Julia knows all too well, but for one striking difference: Roberto’s daughter was lost but never found. And despite the odds he cannot bear to give up hope.Set in the sea and citrus-scented air of the breathtaking Santa Monica Mountains, The Lemon Orchard is an affirming story about the redemptive power of compassion and the kind of love that seems to find us when we need it most.

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The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell – Book Review

The Other TypistSuzanne Rindell’s The Other Typist is one of those novels that I can’t help picking up. It’s set in 1920’s New York, at a point in history where the city seems to be filled a special kind of glamour and style. Women wear shorter, more daring hair styles and clothing, and are entering the workforce in greater numbers, and in positions that they might have been shielded from previously. The times are full of change, and though  a later 1950’s backlash will usher in and reinforce conformity, seeds have been planted that will grow into  something approaching the behaviors, mores, and dress codes we recognize as acceptable today.

The Other Typist captures the essence of this moment with its protagonist Rose Baker, a young stenographer working for the New York City Police Department. Initially Rose’s story seems to be straight forward and uninteresting. She’s an orphan, was brought up at a Catholic school and home for girls. She takes her work very seriously, and though she has crush on her Sargent, she would never dream of making her feeling known – she likes that he seems to walk the straight and narrow, and respects that he has a family. Enter Odalie Lazare, she’s pretty much the antithesis of Rose. She is hip and modern, with stylish clothes, bobbed hair and a charming manner that puts everyone at their ease. Rose is by turns intrigued, disdainful, and smitten by the sensual Odalie, and bit by bit is drawn into her dangerous underground lifestyle.

The Other Typist is an engaging read, but one which was ultimately unsatisfying. Rose elicits many different emotions and musings as her character is revealed and as the story progresses from one surprising turn to the next. It makes it very easy to keep the pages turning very quickly. What’s her deal exactly? Where did she come from? Can I trust her to tell me the truth of her story? I think in the end there was just too much going on too make it plausible and tangible. I’m all for ambiguous endings, but I had no idea which way was up. More disturbingly, I didn’t feel as if Rindell knew either, and the scenarios she presented did not add up to anything substantial. There were holes there, and a little too much cleverness without being able to connect the dots.  That’s frustrating after investing 400 pages in a book.  I also didn’t think that if I read it again, it would have made more sense.

Though it turned out to not be my cup of tea, it’s utter bizarreness (probably making up a word) lends itself well to book club discussions. I chatted about it with my Twitter Book club, The Hashtags, and that was an enjoyable experience as we tried to figure out what the hell was going on, and still keep the public convo spoiler free. Yet again, I didn’t get the feeling that any of us understood what happened.

Anyhow folks, it’s hard to guide you on this one. I thought the story had promise, and engaging writing, but there were ultimately TOO many crazy plot twists and holes to make it worthwhile for me. Many people have loved it for the same reasons, and hey, they’re making a movie.

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Out of Twenty: Scott Elliott, Author of Temple Grove, Answers Five Questions

In this version of twenty questions, I send a list of questions to a willing victim author and Scottelliott-210they choose their own interview by picking which questions, and how many questions, they want to answer. Scott Elliot’s novel, Temple Grove, is about the chance meeting of father and son who are on opposite sides of environmental issues. One is a logger, the other is an activist dead set on protecting the forest. Here is what Scott had to say about reading, writing, and giving up binge writing for his kids.

Would you give us a bit of introduction and let my readers know who you are, how you got started writing, and what kind of books you like to write?

I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. I fell in love with reading and storytelling at a young age and made a commitment to writing and teaching, as opposed to other paths I might have taken, when I was an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University and took workshops with Walter Sullivan and Mark Jarman. It amazed me that one could write and put writing at the center of one’s life while making a living discussing craft with dedicated students. Following an epiphanic experience after reading a Raymond Carver story at the Indiana University of Writing Conference one summer, I reified the life course I realized I’d been on all along, followed that path along its winding course. For the past nine years I’ve taught writing and literature at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.

I write stories, essays, and novels, and some poems that rarely see the light. I think I’m at heart a novelist with a not-so-secret penchant for poetic language. My first novel Coiled in the Heart is a self-consciously southern gothic novel set in Tennessee. It’s an homage to a rich southern literary tradition.  A father and son who’ve made a lot of money in the computer industry buy back, tear down, and return to earth, subdivision houses that have cropped up on their family’s antebellum estate. The first person protagonist, Tobia Caldwell, wants to transform himself into a yeoman farmer, to use the computer money to help him go back in time. He wants to learn the names of things in the natural world and to escape from a dependence on the chain of chain stores that have crept over the farmland. He’s also struggling with the guilt he feels at leading a neighbor boy who’s moved into the first subdivision house, a boy who’s also the twin of a girl with whom he later falls in love, into a deadly encounter with a cottonmouth in a creek down the hill from their old house when they were seven years old.

TempleGrove-Elliott-210My new novel Temple Grove is set on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. It’s an attempt to sing a place I love while also telling a story that unfolds with the inevitability of an ancient myth. The great conifers of the Pacific Northwest; the snarl of ranges that constitute the Olympic Mountains; the rivers with good names; the ocean beaches; the lushness of the understory with its moss, giant ferns, huckleberry, and salal; the constant rain—all of these are given their own kind of awareness in the novel. The story concerns a father son chase that becomes more than a chase into the wilds of the Olympic National Park. The father is an independent logger. The son is an environmental activist. The mother is coming to terms with her Makah identity. The novel is also about the mother’s love for her son and about transcending ready-made, seemingly intransigent categories. It’s also about a lot other things! A giant Pacific Octopus has a role, and there’s a scene of an old ship being beached on a beach in India for scrapping, and another scene of a fight between Hells Angels and loggers.

Both novels are interested in the wonders of the natural world; in the palimpsest of myth, folklore, personal, natural, and more general human history that come to define a place. Both novels are also concerned with guilt and possibilities for atonement and redemption; conservation; loss; tenuous, valuable connections between people; and a lot of other things I hope readers will find in them and let me know about. The novel (as a genre) is a magpie’s nests in which lots of seemingly disparate pieces come into meaningful, resonant (sometimes dissonant) contact with one another.  I’ve found that there’s a great time in the writing of a novel when the whole enterprise starts to hum, when all of the little thematic and other careful connections the writer has limned in come to life and begin to speak to one another, light up in such a way that, as the creator of this thing that until that moment had seemed lifeless, you feel you can stand back and watch the creation walk off on its own, take flight.  

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Life After Life, Five Days in Skye, The Yonahlossee Rising Camp for Girls, The Good Sister – Short Reviews

I can be a bit of a book juggler, which means that often times I have several half finished books laying around, waiting patiently to be finished. This weekend I made it my priority to finish up some books that had been lingering.

Life After LIfe by Jill McCorkle

Life After Life by Jill McCorkle – Life after Life takes place in and around a nursing home in North Carolina. There was quite a bit of reflection for me on my own life as I read this, as almost everyone is staking stock and wondering about the  choices they made as they try to make the best of the time they have left. It took a while for me to get into this book. There are many, many characters, and the style was rambling as they flitted from thought to thought about their current situations as well as their regrets. I wish that the voices were more distinct. My interest waned as everyone seemed to run together in a litany of missed opportunities, complaints and mistakes. As the story unfolds it becomes more clear how all of them are interlinked, and I enjoyed the unraveling of some of those connections. McCorkle has many wonderful insights and poignant moments that were almost lost to me in the way the story was structured, but I have to admit to feeling moved by the end.

Five Days in Skye

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano – I picked up Five Days in Skye on a whim. After reading Jessica Brockmole’s Letters from SkyeI was curious to see another story set on this island in Scotland, and Laureano features it and its beauty as much as she does the romance between a driven American business woman (with secrets!), and the equally driven Scottish businessman who sets out to lower her defenses and win her heart. Billed as Christian fiction, faith is a small part of the whole picture and not at all overbearing in this novel of mostly light and sweet romance, and yummy cuisine. I really enjoyed this story. Recommended.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton Disclafani – The first fifty pages of this tale of a fifteen-year-old girl exiled to a North Carolina boarding school and horse camp got off to a slow start for me, but it’s one that I ended up enjoying immensely. While it’s very much about an affair of the heart gone wrong, and the immense consequences at stake for a young girl, it also says a lot about the detrimental effects of sheltered isolation, and how parents can engineer their children’s downfall in an effort to keep them safe. Though young, Thea is a strong and insightful heroine who recognizes the opportunity for her own salvation, though it comes at a price so steep that few would be willing to face and pay it. Disclafani does a fine job portraying the heartbreak and confusion in  awakening and transitioning from girl to woman. Recommended.

The Good Sister

The Good Sister by Wendy Corsi Staub – Similar in plot and style to a Mary Higgins Clark novel of mad men, and missing and murdered girls and women, this felt like a throwback to the thrillers and mysteries I read in my youth. Likewise I think this probably would have been more satisfying to me when I was younger.  This was pretty heavy-handed with its message of getting off the internet and talking, which could be (is probably) true, but also a bit antiquated in the face of the ways we communicate these days. The execution of the crimes and the motives and rational were pretty thin,  but I did like the interactions between parents and tens. That’s probably a knee jerk reaction to all the absentee parents in fiction whenever teenagers are involved, so, yay parenting!

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