The Lake House by Kate Morton

The Lake HouseThe Lake House: A NovelThe Lake House: A Novel by Kate Morton by Kate Morton

It’s so hard to write about this book without giving spoilers, so this will be very superficial. I loved this book. It’s not one I’d normally read – the kidnapped or missing child is one of my “do not read” triggers – but I trusted Morton (plus it was a book club book), and I am so glad I pushed past my initial hesitation.

As is Morton’s trait, it’s another alternating timeline book, and you get the story from multiple perspectives – including a brief view from the missing baby.

There are layers of mysteries here, and my one real complaint might be that it’s perhaps a bit too tidy in how everything is resolved. It does make it satisfying in many ways as a reader – there were only two real questions I had after finishing the book – but part of me thinks it gets to be a little too ridiculous having so much wrap up in the final chapters. And precisely HOW some of it gets resolved also gets a big “Really?” from me. No specifics because that would be a great big spoiler.

No matter, it was still a compelling read, and a great start to the book club year. It’s one that I highly recommended as a book club book – it provides a lot to discuss.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

Book Details

Title: The Lake House: A NovelThe Lake House: A Novel by Kate Morton
Author: Kate Morton
Category: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: How to Blog for Profit without Selling Your Soul
Two years ago: Books Read in 2013

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Goodbye StrangerGoodbye StrangerGoodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead by Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead is a phenomenal storyteller. Her Newbery winner When You Reach Me is amazing, and Goodbye Stranger stands up to the lofty comparisons that are sure to arise. While not quite as layered as When You Reach Me (for reasons which would involve spoilers for When You Reach Me so I’m not going to detail them), it’s still much more layered and thoughtful than the stereotypical middle grade book.

There is plenty of meaty content in the book, but it’s never explicit, and I wouldn’t hesitate to share this book widely. It would be easy for the book to become harsh with the topics and themes it addresses, but Stead manages to keep it more gentle almost.

I think this works as a middle grade or young adult book. It opens up many avenues of discussion with children who read it – the nature of friendship, bullying, cell phone use and abuse (including sexting), the challenges of growing up (especially the perils of 7th grade), and more.

Despite my praises and saying it’s surprisingly gentle considering the content, I’d still be careful before giving the book to super precocious readers. Know your readers and what they can handle!

Highly, highly recommended. I finished it and then immediately wanted to re-read it, to better appreciate the way Stead wove the story together.

Publisher’s Description:
Bridge is an accident survivor who’s wondering why she’s still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody’s games–or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade?

This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl–as a friend?

On Valentine’s Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight?

Book Details

Title: Goodbye StrangerGoodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Author: Rebecca Stead
Category: Fiction
My Rating: 5 Stars
Buy the book: Print | Kindle | Audible

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

The Color of Our Sky

The Color of Our SkyThe Color of Our SkyThe Color of Our Sky: A novel set in India by Amita Trasi by Amita Trasi

A heartbreaking story that is beautifully written but so hard to read at times. I liked the alternating story lines, and appreciated how that structure helped ease the emotional weight.

There are a few plot holes and implausibilities, and some great secondary characters, who end up getting dropped as soon as they fill their purpose (which also relates to the implausibilities as mentioned).

Do I recommend it or think it’s worth reading? Maybe. It’s heart-rending, which is my biggest caution. The writing is lovely, while the story is horrendous. Tara is … aggravating. Mukta is too good to be true. It’s also only $4.99 on Kindle, so not a big investment. All in all, worth $5 and the reading time? Yes, I think so. Just be aware of the emotional content. I could only handle a few chapters at a time.

Some aspects of it reminded me a bit of A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea, and it seems to have a lot of similarities to The Kite RunnerThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini based on the description, if that impacts your reading decisions.

Publisher’s Description:
A sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends—one struggling to survive the human slave trade and the other on a mission to save her—two girls whose lives converge only to change one fateful night in 1993.

India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old girl from the lower caste Yellamma cult of temple prostitutes has come of age to fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute. In an attempt to escape this legacy that binds her, Mukta is transported to a foster family in Bombay. There she discovers a friend in the high spirited eight-year-old Tara, the tomboyish daughter of the family, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara introduces Mukta to a different world—ice cream and sweets, poems and stories, and a friendship the likes of which she has never experienced before.As time goes by, their bond grows to be as strong as that between sisters. In 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room.

Eleven years later, Tara who blames herself for what happened, embarks on an emotional journey to search for the kidnapped Mukta only to uncover long buried secrets in her own family.
Moving from a remote village in India to the bustling metropolis of Bombay, to Los Angeles and back again, amidst the brutal world of human trafficking, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and redemption—which ultimately withstands the true test of time.

Book Details

Title: The Color of Our SkyThe Color of Our Sky: A novel set in India by Amita Trasi
Author: Amita Trasi
Category: Fiction
My Rating: 4 Stars
(It’s hard to give this a star rating. I’m giving it 4 stars which means “I really enjoyed it” and “enjoyed” is not exactly the word that fits this sort of story because of the content.)

Disclosure: I received this book for free from NetGalley for review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Book of Speculation

The Book of SpeculationThe Book of SpeculationThe Book of Speculation: A Novel by Erika Swyler by Erika Swyler

Let’s get the comparison out of the way: yes, this reminds me a bit of The Night Circus. Too much so in a way, as it’d be hard for any book to live up to that sort of comparison.

The book is engrossing, and very well-written. The premise is fascinating, and it’s got a librarian/archivist as the main character – always a plus to this former librarian. As much as I enjoyed the book (and I did enjoy it), ultimately it fell a little flat at the end, and I found myself a bit disappointed in it overall. However, that’s partially because it started out so well, and pulled me into it so completely, so the ending stumbles were jarringly unexpected.

I generally liked the alternating time lines (I usually do), although I wanted a bit more closure with the historical story. That was a very minor complaint however.

A bigger issue for me is that while I wanted to like the main character, I never fully connected with him, and some of his antics horrified me (that would be the librarian in me coming out). Having Simon be the narrator also removed some of the tension and connections of the past – it’s all about the women in his family, and the threat to his sister felt too removed.

Despite these small issues, overall I liked it enough to recommend it, It’s not a GO OUT AND READ THIS RIGHT NOW sort of recommendation, more of a “if it sounds appealing, you should definitely give it a try” kind of recommendation. And a heads-up to keep an eye on this author: this is her debut novel, so I’ll be watching to see what else she writes in the future.

And, if you’re at all curious, there’s a fun book trailer for it:

Publisher’s Description:
Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone in a house that is slowly crumbling toward the Long Island Sound. His parents are long dead. His mother, a circus mermaid who made her living by holding her breath, drowned in the very water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, ran off six years ago and now reads tarot cards for a traveling carnival.

One June day, an old book arrives on Simon’s doorstep, sent by an antiquarian bookseller who purchased it on speculation. Fragile and water damaged, the book is a log from the owner of a traveling carnival in the 1700s, who reports strange and magical things, including the drowning death of a circus mermaid. Since then, generations of “mermaids” in Simon’s family have drowned–always on July 24, which is only weeks away.

As his friend Alice looks on with alarm, Simon becomes increasingly worried about his sister. Could there be a curse on Simon’s family? What does it have to do with the book, and can he get to the heart of the mystery in time to save Enola?

In the tradition of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, The Book of Speculation–with two-color illustrations by the author–is Erika Swyler’s moving debut novel about the power of books, family, and magic.

Book Details

Title: The Book of SpeculationThe Book of Speculation: A Novel by Erika Swyler
Author: Erika Swyler
Category: Fiction
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: I received this book for free from NetGalley for review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Book Review: A Sound Among the Trees

Sound Among the TreesA Sound Among the Trees: A NovelA Sound Among the Trees: A Novel by Susan Meissner

Multi-generational stories fascinate me, so I was hoping that Meissner’s book would pull me into that world. And she did, somewhat. The contemporary part of the story? Not that interesting, and it felt draggy.

I liked Adelaide. I liked Marielle (although her character development was virtually nonexistant, which was a disappointment). I liked everyone. But the mystery of the house didn’t interest me and I found myself nit-picking bits – the relationship between Marielle and her new stepchildren that seemed unrealistic, a geographical mistake by the author.

Then I arrived at the historical section of the book – about a hundred pages of letters from Susanna Page just before and during the Civil War. I read that portion of the book in one night, pushing bedtime back later and later, because I was caught up in her tale. The abrupt ending made me regret having to come back to the contemporary story.

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