The Bay of Foxes

The story line in The Bay of Foxes was very familiar and predictable.  Sadly, Sheila Kohler has not crafted an original tale. This book has been touted as exploring issues of sexual politics, colonialism and race. It did not go into great depth on any of these issues and hence does not deserve to be praised so highly. I wish the book had developed Dawit’s personal history more fully. These parts were very interesting, but they were just brief glimpses. Additionally, there are no shocks and thrills although the jacket promises, an erotic, compelling tale of passion, control and murder. I guess when the front cover alluded that this novel is similar in writing style to a Patricia Highsmith novel, I should have put the book back as I was very disappointed by Highsmith’s so-called psychological thriller titled The Cry of the Owl. I hope my next read is more engaging. 

Hiding in the Spotlight

Each time I dive into a well written personal account that explores tragic historical events I am shocked, disgusted, overwhelmed by the compassion displayed by heroic people and amazed by those that survive and go on to flourish. This is a fascinating true story of two Russian-Jewish, piano prodigy sisters surviving the horrific ethnic cleansing of WWII by assuming false identities and performing underneath the noses of Nazi officers. Hiding in the Spotlight should be suggested reading for teens as these incredible stories need continual exposure and sharing. Another interesting aspect of this book is that most Holocaust survivor stories involve Western Europeans. Gaining knowledge of the Ukraine during this time was enlightening as this is a historical context I was unfamiliar.  

Love You More

I am a bit of a book snob. I can admit it. My mom gave me Love You More with a few other reads. It’s the type of book sold at the market or CVS. I immediately commented, “I’ll take the others, but this one does not look like my type of book.” My mom told me it’s a crime read that I would enjoy. I am glad I caved and embraced the book. It took twenty pages to be fully engrossed. Again, don’t let the cover, trashy paper book grocery store read turn you away.  This is a well-crafted crime/mystery. I was second-guessing myself to the very end. Lisa Gardner you surprised me! 

The Sea

This is a well written but depressing story where every character is having difficult expressing and coping with their grief, losses and new identities. Samantha Hunt does a great job colliding fairytale with the stark reality of life after horrendous occurrences. Hunt’s creative approach is especially illuminated through the narrator’s weak grasp on reality when she is faced with multiple losses. The narrator is too afraid to face her story that she creates the mermaid narrative to give order to her chaotic grief. These types of stories are hard for me as I want to escape when I read, not dive into dealing with life after multiple suicides. Unfortunately, I know too well what can transpire in people dealing with the aftermath of a suicide. What occurs to this character, from my experience, is not far fetched. When there is a suicide you don’t just lose the person who commits the act, sadly you also lose parts of everyone around that person. The survivors are forever changed and often a part of them are lost. 

The Cry of the Owl

Patricia Highsmith’s story telling style in The Cry of the Owl is dated. It just was not thrilling, psychological or creepy enough.  Additionally I thought the mystery should have gone an entirely different direction with Jenny stalking Robert. That angle could have been far more interesting. Perhaps this crime thriller is not as strong as her other stories since I did enjoy the adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley. I am not ruling out reading another Highsmith novel.