Mason's Retreat

Mason’s Retreat was a bland and depressing novel in which Christopher Tilghman tries to create a historical epic peppered with what if done well are meaty issues. Unfortunately Tilghman falls terribly shorts. The story takes place on a family estate on the Eastern shore of the Chesapeake. The pre-WWII time-period and themes should have led to a more dynamic tale. Sadly ideas such as a woman’s needs versus what is best for her family, the legacy of slavery in Maryland and the complicated relationship between agriculture and industrialization were introduced yet not fully developed. Another disappointing element is that Tilghman promises to reveal some great wrong in the Mason family past that has cursed the family in the present. This tainted history is never truly exposed which left me questioning why this was even introduced? Finally, the overarching sense of doom makes for a depressing read. None of the characters are happy, even when doing something of their choosing. The family from the books’ onset is dysfunctional and fractured. They all experience disappointment, frustration, resentment, lack of commonality and connection with one another. The tension as well as overall feeling of malaise is miserable. I could not wait to be done with Mason’s Retreat. My next book is Clara and Mr. Tiffany. 

The Neighbor

Lisa Gardner Detective D.D. Warren series are very entertaining, fulfilling my need for escapism. She creates mysteries that are imaginative and intricately woven. The Neighbor does contain some flaws. I could do without the details of the Detective’s desire for an intimate relationship. It’s unnecessary and her manner is overly crude. The back-stories are lacking for some of the most critical characters. Finally, the ending is wrapped up to quickly; leaving ends loose causing me to want more. Nevertheless, similar to my last Gardner read The Neighbor was hard to put down. I read until 10pm last night. Today, between meetings, waiting in my car because I am always early, I was happy for the extra free moments to read. Although I am not thrilled that her paperbacks are commonly found in supermarkets or pharmacies I am going to read Gardner’s mysteries freely and try to change my book snob demeanor. One should never judge a book by its cover, especially when so much enjoyment is gained. As a pre-teen I ate up every Agatha Christie novel available. Gardner may be my new Christie.

Reading this book made me think of Gone Girl. This particular Gardner must have influenced Gillian Flynn as the style and even the premise are similar. I would love to hear if this opinion is shared by any of my blog readers. Let me know!


Honolulu is quite different from Alan Brennert’s Moloka’i. In Brennert’s second book he is able to explore more of the Hawaii’s rich as well as seedy history, introduce a range of fascinating characters and intertwine historical events and real people. He could not do this in Moloka’i as the main character was held in isolation. Honolulu summarizes the life a picture bride, detailing the turbulence of the early 20th century. Brennert did an example job of portraying the Korean experience in Hawaii illustrating the extreme challenges and the opportunities. Honolulu had me pining for a holiday! 

Home Front

This is chic lit at it’s finest. I am a tad embarrassed to report how much I enjoy Kristin Hannah’s books. I was secretly overjoyed when I found that one of our volunteers had left me this read. Hannah writes heart-touching page-turners. They always provide a healthy dose of needed escapism. However, be prepared. Home Front was much sadder and deeper then most of Hannah’s works. She took a somber, challenging subject and did not gloss over its seriousness, which is often the case in chic literature. She made all the character suffer. Although we have a positive ending, getting there takes real work from each of the characters.

My next read is Honolulu by Alan Brennert. I really enjoyed Moloka’i, thus I have high hopes for his second novel. I’m looking forward to diving into a historical fiction book. It feels like it has been a long time. 

The Small Hours of the Morning

The Small Hours of the Morning reminded me of Patricia Highsmith’s The Cry of the Owl. The approaches to story telling and eventual reveal are old fashion. Perhaps this is because both authors were born in the 1920’s hence as they developed as writers their styles represented the time, which was gentler. You will not find the gory imagery depicted in present day mysteries. The writing is quaint and slow. All the characters are overly exaggerated. The smarmy ladies man, dense detective and clueless husband are all ridiculous characterures. I prefer modern day authors that entrance the readers were their truly terrifying, twisted tales. 

Dark Places

Gillian Flynn is incredibly talented yet twisted writer. While reading, I couldn't help but wonder, what has this woman been through personally that she can conjure up such horrifying, disturbing stories? Dark Places, just like Flynn's two other works have disgusting descriptions and extraordinarily damaged characters. The two points of criticisms would be that the parts of the mystery were predictable and many of the scenarios unlikely. Regardless, I enjoyed the read and look forward to future Flynn works.