review: The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

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The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell is yet another example of a stunning debut author of 2013. This year has not disappointed me, and I cannot wait for more. But, onto the review…

1920s New York City. Mobsters. The Charleston. Speakeasies. Glitz and glam. Rose Baker does not fit in this culture. Rose Baker is an observer, and the self-proclaimed moral barometer of the orphange where she was raised and the police precint where she is employed. She adores her boss the honorable Chief of Police, and abhores her gossipy roommate Helen. Her life is her job. That is, until the day a stunning woman walks into the precint to interview for the job of typist. Rose takes an unnatural interest in the raven-haired Odalie Lazare, and through no act of her own, somehow becomes the new girl’s best friend and roommate.

But Odalie is perfect for the era. She knows how to talk to men, how to order a drink, to smoke a cigarette. She is a modern girl. But she is no typist. In fact, she is no good at her job, and Rose constantly corrects it for her dear friend. But the job keeps her close to the goings-on of the police department which comes in handy for a woman whose real profession is less than legal during the time of the Volstead Act. These two women could not be more dissimilar.

The relationship between these two women is story alone, but Rindell added mystery and intrigue, and all at once the pace picks up and the reader is breathless and screams No, you have the wrong person! And then the reader’s breathing slows and wonders…do they?

This is an incredible novel with twists and turns at the end, but don’t worry…getting to the end is no chore. It is fun. Rindell’s writing is descriptive and delicious. You can hear, smell, and taste the city and all of the pleasures the women imbibe. I adored the details of the era, though I wish the author would have spent more time on the historical details and the backstories of the mobs and speakeasies. Oh well, that’s for another book I suppose. (Any recommendations??)

Recommended for:
Women. I think women would really enjoy this story of two incongruous women, and love the action of the glamorous fashions, drinks, and fun described.

Read-alikes:
Gatsby.

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Wednesday reads: words & water

Today’s “Wednesday Reads” brought to you by the letter W. Water, words, and more words. Oh, and murder. Yeah, each of these books sees someone die in a gnarly way. I need a little more light reading in my life…

nailAs I mentioned in my last weekly post of titles I’m working through, I am still reading Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. But since last Wednesday I have picked up three more of his books. Okay, technically it’s the same book, just in three different formats. The first was on Sunday afternoon when I saw the stage adaptation of Neverwhere at Rorschach Theater of the Atlas Theater in DC. During the intermission I got on my handy dandy little Android phone and put the graphic novel and audiobook on hold at my library.

I went to the play with my sister and her sister-in-law, whose friend from college is the costume designer for the show. I was semi-dragged there. Don’t tell my sister. I wasn’t really interested. I ate my words mere minutes in, y’all. Go see it!!!!!!

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The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. Audiobook. Wow. I have been absolutely blown away by this, and am finding myself obsessed (hmm…interesting word choice) in Odalie’s life and Rose’s next move. And I just read that the film will star Keira Knightly. I LOVE it!

 

 

 

lexicon

Lexicon by Max Barry has me by the throat. So far it is the perfect combination of murder, pursuit, passion, and intellectual intrigue. Max Barry hasn’t failed me.

review: Bait by J. Kent Messum

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Thanks to the librarian-loving folks at Edelweiss and Penguin Group, I read a horrifying reality TV-like book on my way back from Las Vegas last month. That book is J Kent Meesum’s debut novel Bait, and this story of six heroin addicts stranded together on an island in the Florida Keys is enough to turn any addict straight, for fear of ending up in the hands of similarly sadistic vigilantes.

But, I am getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning.

Six heroin addicts wake up on a deserted island. Say what? Yeah. Addict or not, that would shock a person. They don’t know each other, but they know each other because they know themselves as addicts; as individuals who made poor decisions that led them to wake up on that island. To be pawns in the game of sanctimonious men who consider their efforts to be true and good. To be shark bait.

The 6 addicts were not left on the island to die. No, they were left on the island to fight. To gain back the very thing they had each spend considerable amounts of time and money wasting. While traversing shark-infested waters and scavenger hunts, the backstories of the six are uncovered. Readers sympathize a little, despise a lot, and gasp often. This is no gentle tale of vigilantes turning addicts into proper people again. This is a fast-paced story of intense emotions and hair-raising action.

Recommended for:
I cannot wait to recommend this to older teen boys who will understand that the drug references and situations should be taken seriously, not as just a thing to get through to get to the shark fights. I’ll also recommend this to adults who need something new and fresh. This is unlike any adult novel I’ve read in a long time. Messum definitely did not follow a typical story formula.

Read-alikes:
I truthfully cannot think of anything. I’ll say Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell and The Contortionists Handbook by Craig Clevenger, if only because of the gritty realism.

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I find it extremely fitting that this book debuts a mere week after the conclusion of the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. I love the timing, and need to ask my bff and Shark Week aficionado Michelle if Penguin ran advertisements for this novel during any of the particularly gruesome Shark Week shows.

If you’re interested in interviews and such, follow him on his book blog tour this month and next.

review: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

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The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes was scary. It wasn’t as horrifying as Chase Novak’s Breed (I’ve never read anything that scary) but it was close. It was brutal, it was gory, it was somewhat surprising. I liked it, and cannot wait to recommend it!

Each chapter begins with a date and a name, transporting readers into a different body and different era. The only time-traveler in the book is Harper who is compelled to kill women he has dubbed his “shining girls” based on the name he has scrawled onto the walls of the house he travels through, and his ability to track them down, knowing little more than their name. He senses them when they are young and tells them that he will return for them. Most of the girls forgot about the strange man. One girl shot into a downward spiral. One girl fought back.

Kirby recovered from Harper’s attack and dedicated all of her time to finding the limping man who maimed her, using skills she acquires as a sports journalist’s intern. Their relationship is full of witty and mature dialogue, dulling the line between intern and boss, but not in a trashy manner.

I thought Beukes’ writing was done well, and the pacing was perfect. I don’t read many mystery novels because I find them to be very formulaic, but this was different.  I wish the time-traveling chapters had included more elements of historical fiction. I wanted to know more about Alice and the traveling circus of the 1940s, About Margot and the sexual revolution of the 1970s. About Zora being the only female and only African-American working as a welder in Chicago in the 1940s. I would’ve accepted another 100 pages if I could’ve read more about that.

Recommended for:
I will absolutely be recommending this to older, mature teen readers as well as adults who like violent mysteries.

Read-alikes:
The Diviners by Libba Bray, for it’s historical fiction, crime-solving, and magical realism.

Book 58: I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

I Am Not a Serial killer by Dan Wells is the story of John Wayne Cleaver, a self-described sociopath whose mother and aunt are morticians, running the family business on the basement level of their home. John has spent many years establishing rules for himself in order to not let his serial killer tendencies take over. If he thinks a murderous thought about someone, he goes out of his way compliment them. If he finds himself following/tracking someone, he ignores them for a week. He is doing quite well, and is pleased with his progress! That is, until a real serial killer comes to the small town of Clayton. John knows that he is the best person to find and stop the killer, because he, too, has the mind of a murderer.

This was it. This was what I had never felt before- an emotional connection to another human being. I’d tried kindness, I’d tried love, I’d tried friendship…and nothing had never worked until now. Until fear.

This book was in a pile of free galleys being given away at ALA in June. I picked it up, not knowing it was actually published in 2010 and that all 3 books in the trilogy were already published. Then I started researching the book and reading reviews, of which there are many positive ones. So, why give out free copies of an old title? No clue. I’m not complaining! Really! But still…I found it odd.

I liked the book. The action was great, and it was creepy yet exciting to be inside the mind of someone who believed himself to be capable of being a serial killer. The skills he exhibited were like those found in spy novels, while the embalming scenes were straight from the TV show Bones, part medical part just downright disgusting. I think a lot of teenaged boys would like this, because the main character is relateable. NOT in the serial killer sense, but because John is struggling to be normal yet also to be true to himself. He struggles between good and evil, right and wrong. There are a few young men who I will be strongly recommending this book to.

I did not quite love the story enough to continue with last two in the trilogy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! The blog A Motley Vision: Mormon arts and culture interviewed Wells. Check it out: