Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

This is her newest book since 2005's hit THE HISTORIAN, and unfortunately, I do not think she was quite as powerful this time around. Of course, I still loved it and devoured it in three days.

Andrew Marlow is the psychiatrist assigned to artist Robert Oliver, after he is arrested for attempting to stab a painting in the National Gallery of Art. Oliver refuses to speak, and so Marlow begins to contact those in his life around him for answers. We learn about the man Robert was then and is now through the voices of these people - mostly women who loved him - and watch as Marlow becomes enveloped in the life of his new patient.

THE SWAN THIEVES is full of very interesting characters, with well written mini histories as part of a larger story. Learning about Robert from the women who loved him was a bit like watching a car crash - I knew it was not going to end well and yet I could not keep from turning the pages. Mental illness is never easy to read about, but Kostova writes with grace and beauty that brings new life and even a certain amount of cleanliness to Oliver's decline.

Elizabeth Kostova proves again that she is a master at storytelling.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Husband Tree by Mary Connealy

Belle Tanner has been married more times than she cares to remember. So when her latest husband Anthony passes away, she swears off men forever. Unfortunately, she can't do this year's cattle drive with only the help of her hard-working daughters. She needs to find some men to aid them. When she goes into town, she meets Silas Harden, who instantly convinces her he is the help she is looking for. Still wary about all men, Belle tries to keep her distance. And yet Silas is not like the others...

In book one, MONTANA ROSE (reviewed here), I felt Belle was a fascinating character, as she was so incredibly tough-willed and strong-hearted. I could not wait to read more about her curious life. It was nice to see glimpses from Cassie and Red Dawson, and following along with Wade Sawyer was also a pleasure. I enjoyed reading about ranch life - Connealy writes with such vivid detail that it is easy to imagine yourself there.

No one else can write a story quite like Mary Connealy. She has a knack for writing harsh and frightening scenes side by side with tender, humorous ones. Look for the third book in the Montana Marriages series, THE WILDFLOWER BRIDE, due out in May 2010!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

It might be cliche to say that this book had me hooked from page one, but it most definitely had my undivided attention at page 6.

Grace and Jude Divine haven't seen their childhood friend Daniel ever since he disappeared one mysterious night three years ago. Then he turns up one day in Grace's AP art class, and she is immediately reminded of how much she liked him. But then terrible things start happening in the neighborhood and it looks like Daniel may know more about that than he lets on. Grace will have to figure out her feelings for Daniel while she avoids the growing danger and learns the truth about what happened to her brother that fateful night.

THE DARK DIVINE is extremely gripping and engaging mystery unfolds. The characterization and dialog is so realistic and natural that it makes you believe it could really have happened, despite the paranormal elements. There is a delicious brooding man in Daniel that will appeal to all Edward Cullen fans. Despain is a debut author to watch!

Plus, the ARC came with matching nail polish, which is now on my toes!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley

Peter and Ann Brooks are married but separated when H5N1 Avian Flu hits the global human race. The virus travels and mutates so quickly that is kills 1 out of every 2 people it touches and causes communities all over the world to take drastic matters in order to survive. When their own sleepy town goes into quarantine, their two girls, Kate and Maddie, have a hard time dealing with the isolation and many deaths around them.

This is a gripping story- very sad, and all too close to home, thanks to the recent H1N1 news. The story quickly builds to the pace of a feverish thriller and keeps you on edge until the very end. The Things That Keep Us Here deals with a distinctly scary issue that makes you think about your own family and how you would react if someday this shocking situation was a reality.

Buckley will make you believe in the triumph of the human spirit through the worst of times.