The Garden of Evening Mists


The Garden of Evening Mists takes the reader on a beautiful, haunting, painful, turbulent journey. Tan Twan Eng demands that the reader pay close attention, as instead of crudely spelling everything out she slowly reveals importance aspects of the plot.  

The book is filled with intertwining themes. A central theme is the role of memory in human existence. She connects memory with guilt, particularly survivor guilt. Eng also focuses on the relationship between memory and forgetting. She illustrates brilliantly how memories are tenuous. Often one's grasp of the past is severely limited.

Art is shown as a powerful medium. Art heals, soothes, frustrates, manipulates, excites, challenges. Eng illustrates through her different characters varying attitudes towards colonialism. Yun Ling downplays the importance of nationality. Tatsuji carries post-colonial guilt. Magnus has strong memories of his home country under British rule. Finally, war is analyzed. War creates inconceivable circumstances. In a war there is no logic or reasoning.

Eng has carefully constructed her characters. This is a character driven novel. None of the characters are perfect. They have flaws and vulnerabilities.

Eng does not wrap up the story. Instead she leaves the reader with unknowns thus enhancing the richness of the novel and its believability.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is a very funny, girl read. Mindy Kaling had me laughing aloud. The picture of Kaling and her brother in which she states, this is a photo of me plotting to eat my brother is hysterical. I loved when Kaling describes breaking her best friends nose. I related to the chapter, “Why Do Men Put on Their Shoes So Slowly?" In my experience, most men are not as skilled at multi-tasking. The slow shoe analogy is perfect. This book is the ideal read for a day when you need some light, distracting, hysterical entertainment. 

The Boy in the Suitcase

The Boy in the Suitcase created by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis is written in that uniquely Scandinavian style. It is sparse, dark, uncomfortable and perplexing. I often wasn’t sure where the story was leading which is good indicator of a solid thriller. The writing was frequently choppy, perhaps due to the translation. I seem to like to blame the translator. Kaaberbol translated the book from Danish to English. (Sorry Lene.) The multiple perspectives made the book a bit challenging to start. Stay with it as the subject, characters and reveal make it worth the read. Additionally, the shifts in points of view create a suspenseful effect, as you questions how will all these characters be brought together? One implausible element is Nina Borg’s reason and hence decision not to go to the police with the strange, emotionally charged situation. Instead she goes it alone to try to manage the mystery. I guess we wouldn’t have had as interesting of book without Nina and her not so wise choices. 

Best Kept Secret


Best Kept Secret was another disappointment. The struggles and achievements of the characters are not developed and far too predictable. Harry needed to be on the New York Times Bestseller List. A few pages later the goal is accomplished. Emma wants to locate her late father’s child. Walla, it’s done. Now she wants to adopt her. Check. Sebastian is having problems socially in school. An incident occurs and abracadabra he is the hero. These examples are endless. 

Characters unknown to me but probably previously introduced in story lines created in book one are just now resurfacing in book three. So annoying! The politics were boring. Who cares about Giles, the election or the parties? There are far too many characters and many of them are insubstantial. Again, Archer’s characters are unsophisticated, unsurprising and lacking complexity. For example, an Archer villain is a diabolical scoundrel with not one redeeming characteristic. 

Jeffrey Archer has created a soap opera. The dead woman’s letter written in case the will is contested is presented in the nick of time. One hundred pages to the books end a ridiculous caper emerges. And of course, at the books completion, Archer leaves the reader with yet another cliffhanger, which is notorious technique of a good soap opera. Best Kept Secret is overly dramatic, poorly constructed, unbelievable and sadly lacking depth. I will not be continuing with the Harry Clifton Chronicles. 

The Sins of the Father


The Sins of the Father is part of the Harry Clifton Chronicles. I read the second story first.  It really must be read in chronological order, as Jeffrey Archer does not summarize the first book, Only Time Will Tell. I was handicapped by not knowing what occurred as well as who was whom.

I started the third book, but am contemplating continuing, as the writing in the second book was full of faults. The coincidences were preposterous. The characters are one-dimensional and clich├ęd. (I could care less if Harry was Hugo’s son.) Predictably Archer depicts the good people as brave, resourceful and courageous whereas the bad ones are class-conscious, vile, inept, arrogant jerks. The separate stories were disjointed. Overall the story was boring.

Archer has proclaimed he will create "at least" five books in this series. I can’t imagine there will be many readers left by the fifth; especially since I am unconvinced I should brave the third in the chronicles.

Alone


Alone featured Bobby Dodge and only briefly included D.D. Warren, the tough detective for which the series is based. This is Lisa Gardner’s first book in the series. It is quite interesting that she developed D.D. as her writing progressed versus concentrating on Bobby who was the prominent character in this book. At first I was concerned I would not connect to Bobby, but the story like all Gardner's was extremely absorbing. I really related to Bobby and his families dysfunction, which he further unravels in therapy. He struggles to accept just like I have struggled to accept a loved one's inability or in Bobby’s case lack of desire to connect or rebuild.

Alone had some missteps. The recap of the story while the deranged killer was on the loose in the penthouse suite was ridiculous. Gardner timing of summarizing the story for the reader was poorly executed and unbelievable considering what was suppose to be occurring. Additionally the connection between a number of characters or how characters deduced their next actions were convoluted.

Kindle Baby!



I did it! I purchased the Kindle Paperwhite. Although I am in the middle of The Sins of the Father I switched to a book via the e-reader. As you all know, I very much enjoy Lisa Gardner's detective thrillers. I figured I should purchase one of her books for my first Kindle reading experience as I know I would enjoy the story and hence may get use to e-reading. If I hated the first book on my new toy, my Kindle experience could have been tainted. I finished Alone last night. Reading on the Kindle isn't terrible. There are both pros and cons.

I prefer the feel of an old fashion book. I am not fond of reading from a computerized screen. I like knowing exactly how much you have left to read by visually seeing and paging through rather than a percentage of the book completed. I enjoy going to a bookstore to browse versus reading about books on-line. However, the ease of purchasing books from Amazon with a quick search and click is a luxury. I love the dictionary feature, although this first read was not comprised of challenging, foreign words. Finally for my upcoming travel adventure or possible jury duty in late August, carrying one very light machine opposed to numerous books is extraordinarily convenient.