Catch Me

Lisa Gardner creates addictive, satisfying crime thrillers. My eyes hurt from hungrily devouring the pages. Catch Me is my third Gardner read. Her stories unfold well and she creates dynamic characters. Gardner often uses the prologue to depict part of a murder or in Catch Me exposing a critical interaction with characters. The prologue influences the rest of the story. The reader can’t help but refer back to this introductory passage to try to uncover the villain. Gardner is not perfect. Many aspects of her books are too convenient or far-fetched. Nevertheless the three books I have read have been very enjoyable. Gardner is my go to for a solid mystery that will keep me entertained. For my next trip, I plan to fill my suitcase with all the Gardner books I have not read. 

Orphan Train

 Orphan Train provides a glimpse into a little-known period of American history where between 1854 and 1929 more than two hundred thousand homeless children were transported by train from the east coast to the mid-west to be adopted. Often instead of being embraced as part of the family, the child would be forced into indentured servitude. Christina Baker Kline creates a fast moving story of two woman living similar circumstances nearly a century apart. Kline employs a double narrative to expose the parallels between the character’s stories. 

Orphan Train is a story that broaches themes such as unwanted children, social services in the past and present, cultural identity, belonging and fate. The present day social services picture did not seem very accurate, however, I have not had much experience with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). My experience is primarily with Adult Protective Services (APS). From what I do know of DCFS it seems that they would be aware of a foster family receiving funds but not actually caring for the child. Perhaps Kline was taking creative license. Regardless of this small criticism Orphan Train was an interesting, good read. 

The Leopard

The Leopard is nothing like Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman. This book took forever to finish with its countless tiresome twists, ridiculous number of characters and implausible, deadly situations that both Harry and Kaja survive. The story was too far fetched. It was as if I was reading a Norwegian soap opera not a crime novel. I did not care for Nesbo’s style of connecting The Snowman and The Leopard. If a reader choose The Leopard first, The Snowman would be ruined. Additionally two side story lines were lacking full exploration and eventual explanation. Perhaps as Nesbo did in this book, he continues to expose aspects of these characters in his next mystery. The Bellmen situation may be revealed, but I’m done with this author. Unfortunately, Nesbo disappointed me.

Fly Away Home

Fly Away Home is an extremely dull read. Jennifer Weiner is predictable creating extremely uninteresting story lines that readers have come across hundreds of times. Weiner’s stories are always the same featuring a character that struggles with her weight resorting to rich, salty and of course high caloric foods for comfort. She loves to incorporate sex to try to excite and capture the reader. Unfortunately, the sex descriptions are poorly done and cheesy. Hurried sex in an exam room with your lover who is pretending to be a patient. Come on! Lame! Weiner is also quite fond of portraying sisters that are extreme opposites and at odds until the very end when the story is wrapped up and all live happily ever after. One sister seems to be all together from outwardly appearances but actually is a complete mess. The other sister has had past challenges, which makes her the identified patient, yet she is the sister that saves the day rallying the entire family. This is just badly written chick lit. Luckily I fly through this type of read. I am looking forward to my next book The Leopard by Jo Nesbo.

Clara and Mr. Tiffany

I usually enjoy historical novels, yet I found Clara and Mr. Tiffany slow, even a bit boring at times with far too much emphasis placed on the artistic process and creation. The story gets too bogged down by long descriptive passages that painfully detail the entire process of creating artistic pieces. These descriptions are repeated over and over each time Clara becomes obsessed with a new idea or project. It became tiresome to read.

Susan Vreeland obviously did her research. She developed a story that focuses on the not well known until hopefully now, Clara Driscoll, who led the "Tiffany Girls" who were responsible for the amazing designs and manufacturing of the famous Louis Comfort Tiffany’s glass lamps. Vreeland gives the reader an unexposed and unexpected view of the studio but also the story of changing women's roles in the early part of the twentieth century. Additionally, Vreeland does an exceptional job of illuminating an exciting era filled with a diverse cast of characters that reflect the evolving time period. Clara interacts with bohemians, immigrants, gays and high society. She is living in New York City, which is vibrant and bustling with exciting innovations as well as ways of thinking. The history was fascinating, but again, the story was too slow for my taste.