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TTP Review of Sherlock Holmes: and the Mystery of the Broken Window by William Todd

With the possible exception of Ebenezer Scrooge, Mr. Sherlock Holmes is perhaps the most famous literary character of all time. Along with his constant companion and confidante, Doctor Watson, Holmes has been portrayed in print, on radio and television, and on stage and screen. His creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, has been dead for over eighty-five years yet the Holmes legacy lives on stronger than ever. If, therefore, you endeavor to tell a new Sherlock Holmes story you better make sure you does it right.   In Sherlock Holmes: and the Mystery of the Broken Window, author William Todd did just that.

The story is not a traditional locked room who done it. In fact, when a beautiful fifteen-year-old girl disappears from her home, the first and most obvious clue is that her bedroom window has been smashed. There are, however, no other signs of entrance or egress.   A local constable has his theory but the missing girl’s brother does not believe his assessment of the situation so he heads to Baker Street in search of Sherlock Holmes.   With Watson in tow Holmes does what he does best, investigating the scene and using his uncanny powers of deduction to perceive what others do not.  He of course solves the mystery and does so in stunning fashion.

Sherlock Holmes: and the Mystery of the Broken Window is William Todd’s first Sherlock Holmes story and I hope others will follow. In my opinion, the author does an admirable job remaining true to Doyle’s original Holmes adventures and that is no easy task. Todd crafts a pretty compelling mystery too. Give it a try and see for yourself.

 

If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to my blogs. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova. Drop me a line at author@michaelsova.com. And please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption or my latest novel, Parlor City Paradise.

 

TTP Review of WHIP HAND by Dick Francis

  Dick Francis was never much for reoccurring characters. However, there were a couple protagonists that popped up now and again during his more than five decade long career of penning bestselling, award-winning and brilliant suspense novels.

Sid Halley, a personal favorite of mine, made his first appearance with the release of Odds Against in 1965.  In case you’re unfamiliar with Sid, here’s the back story. He was a champion steeple chase jockey but that career ended abruptly when a horse stepped directly on his left wrist and left him crippled. He became a private investigator although he didn’t take to the job right away.  Sid’s left hand was later amputated following a run in with a bad guy with a steel poker and a bad temper.

I don’t know how old I was when I started reading what would be considered adult fiction but Dick Francis was one of the first authors I really latched onto. Honestly, I thought I’d read every book he wrote. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered recently that I’d somehow missed one… and it featured Sid Halley.

   In Whip Hand (1979), Sid’s investigative services are very much in demand. He’s hired to look into some suspicious racing syndicates, an alarming trend of extremely promising horses from one trainer suddenly underperforming and falling ill, and a con man who has Sid’s ex-wife facing a possible jail sentence due to her involvement in what turns out to be a bogus charity. Sid initially doesn’t make much progress on any of those fronts, and one person wants very badly to keep it that way. He not only warns Sid off but threatens him with very specific bodily injury. Bottom line, he’s told if he persists with his inquiries, he’ll be missing two hands instead of just one. The message gets through and Sid backs off, for a while, but then events conspire to throw him back into the fray and he soon discovers there are others that will go to great and painful lengths to stop him from uncovering the truth.

If you can’t tell, I am a huge Dick Francis fan and have been for as long as I can remember. In fact, he was perhaps the biggest influence behind A Shot at Redemption, my first mystery novel. I decided that, if he could write dozens of incredibly compelling and entertaining stories about horse racing, a sport I know and care little about, I should be able to craft at least one decent plot with short track auto racing as the backdrop. My readers can judge how well I succeeded. The point is Francis inspired me as a reader as well as a writer. Sid Halley remains the only Dick Francis character to appear in more than two books, and Whip Hand is one of just two novels to win the Gold Dagger and Edgar Award. In case you’re wondering, John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is the other. Dick Francis sadly passed away in 2010 at the age of 89. I assumed that had to be the end for Sid Halley too but he was resurrected in 2013 when Felix Francis released Dick Francis’s Refusal. Like all the other Sid Halley novels, it’s definitely worth reading. I encourage you to take a look at my Turn the Page review.

  

If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to my blogs. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova. Drop me a line at author@michaelsova.com. And please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption or my latest novel, Parlor City Paradise.

TTP Review of EXTREME PREY by John Sandford

I published my first novel in early 2014 and I’m now at work on my third. They are all stand-alones because, although I believe I create interesting and well developed characters, I have yet to conceive of a character or storyline that extends beyond the pages of a single novel. A series, at least at this stage of my young literary career, feels slightly out of reach. Of course, there’s no telling what the future might hold. Plenty of authors try it and to varying degrees of success.   But in my opinion, the true master of the long-running series is New York Times bestselling author John Sandford

extreme-prey_sandford    Extreme Prey is the latest addition to Sandford’s highly acclaimed Lucas Davenport saga. Following the events in Gathering Prey, Lucas is no longer employed by the Minnesota Bureau for Criminal Apprehension and finds himself at something of a professional crossroads. Of course, he still has friends in high places and that includes the governor. There is a supposed plot against a politician with presidential aspirations. Lucas is brought in to investigate whether or not the threat is real. In doing so, he uncovers a network of potentially dangerous political activists and soon finds himself in the crosshairs.

Rules of Prey, the first novel featuring then police detective Lucas Davenport, came out in 1988. There have been twenty-five subsequent novels in the Prey series, all bestsellers, plus another 8 novels featuring Virgil Flowers, one of Davenport’s sidekicks. Those were bestsellers too and deservedly so.

It’s no secret that, once a fiction author achieves a certain level of popularity, landing on the bestseller’s list becomes a whole lot easier.  Name value carries a lot of weight in the literary world. I don’t want to point fingers but, in my opinion, certain authors have taken advantage of that and kind of taken their foot off the gas. In other words, their books just aren’t as good as they used to be. Sandford, however, continues to prove why he’s been so adored for so long. Extreme Prey is every bit as solid as any of the novels in the series. I give it five stars and I’m looking forward to the release of Golden Prey in the spring of 2017.

 

If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to my blogs. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova. Drop me a line at author@michaelsova.com. And please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption or my latest novel, Parlor City Paradise.

 

TTP Review of READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline

I have been writing and publishing Turn the Page book reviews for a few years now. I have nearly 150 to my credit and a good ninety percent of them fit into one of two categories: mysteries or thrillers. Those are the sorts of books I write so my reading is mostly limited to those genres. That’s not to say I won’t venture beyond that. I will, on occasion, read historical fiction, non-fiction, horror, fantasy, and with some coaxing, even science fiction. So, when it was suggested I give Ready Player One by Ernest Cline a try, I didn’t even hesitate. Okay, fine. I did hesitate a little bit. I downloaded the book and it sat on my cyber shelf for a good six months before I finally cracked the virtual cover. And now I wonder why I waited so long.

The year is 2045 and the world has seen better times. There are shortages of fuel, food, water, suitable living space, and only the wealthy have much more than the most basic necessities of life. A growing number of people choose to take refuge in OASIS, a revolutionary virtual world that, in many regards, is far better than the real thing. The eccentric OASIS creator has died, leaving his vast fortune to the first person who can find the Easter egg he’s left behind. Clues are few; and as the hunt continues, one powerful group proves they not only have their eyes on the prize but will stop at nothing in order to get it.

 

 

ernest-clineAuthor Ernest Cline has called Ready Player One the geekiest book ever written. It’s full of video games, avatars, role playing, and a whole lot of 80’s pop culture. If you still have fond memories of Atari, Colecovision, the Commodore 64, Family Ties, Square Pegs, The Breakfast Club, War Games, MTv, Billy Idol and the B-52’s, this is the book for you. In fact, if I didn’t know ahead of time that the book would deliver such a heavy dose of nostalgia, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with it. I already told you I’m not real into sci-fi, and the real futuristic stuff really isn’t my thing. That said I enjoyed the book thoroughly. Is the storyline believable? Not even a little bit. It is, however, creative, engaging, intriguing, suspenseful, witty and just plain fun. Drop a quarter in the slot and give it a try.       

  

If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to my blogs. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova. Drop me a line at author@michaelsova.com. And please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption or my latest novel, Parlor City Paradise.

TTP Review of THE BONE TREE by Greg Iles

The Bone Tree is the fifth Greg Iles novel featuring fiction author and politician Penn Cage, and the most explosive so far. If you are at all familiar with Iles’ work, you know that’s really saying something.

Bone Tree_Iles  The Bone Tree is the second novel in a trilogy that began with Natchez Burning and will culminate with the 2017 release of Mississippi Blood.   As much as I’m looking forward to that final volume, I honestly can’t imagine how Iles can improve upon what he’s already done. I don’t know what the statute of limitations is on spoilers but I’m going to drop a couple right here.  At the end of Natchez Burning, a local newspaper reporter dies in spectacular fashion taking one of the bad guys with him, and Penn and his fiancée barely escape with their own lives. The Bone Tree picks up right where that left off, and for the next 880 pages, the level of tension only increases. Penn’s whole world crashes down around him. He should be busy preparing for his wedding. Instead, his father is on the run in connection with two different murders, his betrothed, an incredibly driven journalist, continues to peel layers off a decades old story with deadly implications, and a network of ruthless and powerful people, including some high ranking law enforcement officials, prove they will go to any lengths to protect their interests and keep their secrets buried. If you’re looking for a rainbow that ends at a pot of gold, this is not the book for you. It’s dark, ugly, incredibly compelling and, in my opinion, Greg Iles’ strongest work to date.

 

With some book series, you could start with volume two, three, or seven and really not have missed a heck of a lot. I wouldn’t recommend that in this case. The trilogy that begins with Natchez Burning reads like a single continuous storyline. The second novel picks up right where the first left off, and the characters barely have time to take a breath before they are thrown back into the fire. I’m speaking literally and figuratively, as readers of book #1 may have already surmised. Iles probably broke things up where he did because of writer’s cramp and because he knew a single volume totaling somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,400 pages would get a tad weighty and cumbersome. He was giving his readers a break too. The novels are explosive to say the least. Our collective blood pressures might not be able to handle it if all that action was packed into one.

In fairness to the author, Iles does do a masterful job opening The Bone Tree with a summary of the preceding events.  You could, if you were pressed for time or something, begin with The Bone Tree and it wouldn’t take you too long to get up to speed. However, as I’ve already suggested, I really wouldn’t advise it. The books are brilliant. Do yourself a favor and read them all. I can’t wait for the release of Mississippi Blood to find out what happens to….   Never mind. That would be too much of a spoiler.

 

If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to my blogs. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova. Drop me a line at author@michaelsova.com. And please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption or my latest novel, Parlor City Paradise.

 

TTP Review of YOU by Caroline Kepnes

Second person narrative is a fairly common technique for things like song lyrics, guide books, how-to books and role playing games. You (the most common pronoun in second person narrative) encounter it a whole lot less often in literary fiction. It isn’t unheard of, though. It’s also very definitely not my preference. In fact, I will typically not even bother with a novel if I know that’s how it’s written. Maybe that is shortsighted on my part. I won’t apologize for my taste in books. I will, however, very gladly give credit where credit is due.

A few months ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to a webpage. I don’t remember the details, but someone had compiled a list of ten must-read novels with descriptions of each. I don’t know if they were all psychological thrillers but that was a common theme. One of the Tana French books was on the list. I am a big fan of her work, as you’ll see if you read my Turn the Page reviews of Faithful Place or The Likeness. Tana being there immediately gave the other novels credibility, and that was the main reason I downloaded You by Caroline Kepnes.

 

 

 

As the title suggests, although I didn’t pick up on it at the time, You is written primarily in the second person. I must admit that I almost gave up on the book by the time I finished the first sentence. “You walk into the bookstore, and you keep your hand on the door to make sure it doesn’t slam.” The plot summary sounded really interesting, but second person narrative usually feels so…awkward.   I didn’t know if I could deal with it for the next 440+ pages. However, I could tell right away that the protagonist had some serious issues. I was curious to learn his story. Some other intangible kept me going too. The further I got, the more fascinated I became and the more I realized second person was the ideal voice for the story.

Joe is a bookseller. He’s likewise judgmental, obsessive, compulsive, manipulative, and he’s got some real anger management issues. It’s also possible he’s flat out crazy. He’s fallen in love before… and it didn’t end well. There’s absolutely no reason to think it will be any different this time around. Yes, Joe has a new sweetheart but she’s got a boyfriend, sort of, and a best friend with problems of her own. Of course, if you know Joe, you also know nothing and no one will prevent him from getting what he wants.

You is fascinating, compelling, and one of the most intriguing psychological thrillers I’ve read in quite some time. As I said, the second person POV Kepnes chose for this book is a bit off-putting at first, at least it was for me; but I very quickly got lost in the story. Before long, the flow of the narrative not only felt natural but absolutely perfect. Five stars for this novel. I’ll give another five to the author for winning me over.

 

If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to my blogs. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova, or drop me a line at author@michaelsova.com. And please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption or my latest novel, Parlor City Paradise.

TTP Review of THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA by Michael Pollan

I am sorry to say that the following book review will not be terribly appetizing. That’s because I just finished digesting the super-sized helping of largely unpalatable facts and figures presented in The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Before I go any further, I think it’s necessary to point out that I read the young reader’s edition because that’s what my daughter was assigned in her 8th grade English Language Arts class. I am very thankful she’s not yet taking college level courses. I’m not sure I could stomach the adult version of the story of what Pollan calls our “industrial food chain.”

 

Have you ever wondered, as you stroll the aisles of your favorite grocery store, where any of that stuff came from and how it got there? Have you ever pondered why a Big Mac is cheaper than a head of cabbage? Why do you suppose the volume of a standard soda keeps increasing while the price remains about the same? It all boils down to one simple yet startling statistic. Over the past forty years, our daily consumption of high fructose corn syrup has increased by roughly seventy percent. Our use of corn products in general is beyond mind boggling. In addition to recognizable foods such as canned corn, frozen corn, corn chips and taco shells, corn byproducts find their way into almost every processed food imaginable. Some of those same byproducts can be found in wallpaper paste, penicillin, cosmetics, ethanol, plastic, oil and glue. So, who’s hungry? From a nutritional standpoint, corn has almost nothing to offer but government subsidies make it nearly impossible for many farmers to grow any other crop. Here are a few more tid-bits to chew on.

A big percentage of the corn supply ends up in animal feed.  It makes sense. The livestock’s gotta eat too. However, corn isn’t always supposed to be on the menu. I’m sure you’ve heard of corn fed beef? It sounds really impressive and even healthy. Here’s the thing. Cattle don’t actually eat corn, at least not naturally. They are born grazers. That’s a slow process, though, and the industrial food chain doesn’t have the patience. So they are given a diet that includes a whole lot of corn plus a bunch of other garbage. On the plus side, it keeps beef affordable. The negatives are too numerous to mention.

Omnivore's Dilemma_Pollan     Even with the relatively low cost of a nice steak, beef is still more expensive than pork or chicken. That’s because cattle require far more food. How, then, are fast food restaurants able to sell burgers so cheaply? Hold on to your stomach. A lot of those burgers actually come from old dairy cattle. That’s why the all beef patty part of your Big Mac really doesn’t have much flavor. Thank God for special sauce.

Step up to the meat counter and, alongside the corn fed beef, you’ll see all those nicely wrapped packages of “free range” chicken. No doubt that label is supposed to elicit the sorts of images that make you feel very good about your Sunday dinner. Picture this instead. Those cherished chickens are only given the opportunity to range during the final two weeks of their lives. By then, they are so used to being confined that they don’t bother going outdoors. And often, they can’t do so anyway because their legs are too weak to hold up their own over-fed bodies.

On second thought, maybe we’ll skip the Sunday barbecue this week in favor of a nice egg brunch.    Here’s the problem with that plan. The “farms” where egg-laying hens are raised are sometimes on the level of concentration camps. The hens are confined to tiny cages and in such close proximity to each other that they often get combative. Their beaks are then removed so they don’t become a danger to themselves or each other. How do hens continue to produce eggs under such conditions? In many instances, they don’t. They are then starved which spurs a brief period of increased egg production right before they die.

This story doesn’t have a happy ending. The industrial food chain is cheap and that’s what keeps it going. If you want to buy lunch for a dollar some sacrifices have to be made. The less you know about those sacrifices the better.  And the more you know the worse that food is likely to taste. We can all make better decisions. We can all try to make a point of eating healthier and more naturally. Just know that it will be more expensive, more limiting and often more difficult. That, my friends, is the Omnivore’s Dilemma.

 

If you like what you’ve read,visit me at michaelsova.com, or find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova. You can also pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption or my new suspense novel, Parlor City Paradise.

TTP Review of SUSPECT by Robert Crais

Suspect_CraisThe two main characters in Suspect by Robert Crais are Maggie and Scott. They both suffer severe symptoms of PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder. Scott is a cop who was badly hurt during an unexpected and horrifying shootout. In addition to his own life threatening injuries, he had the extreme misfortune of watching his friend and partner die. Maggie took bullets in Afghanistan and was nearly killed herself. And like Scott, she also witnessed her partner’s sudden, violent and bloody death.   Here’s the big difference. Maggie is a German shepherd. She was a service animal with the United States Marines. If you’re wondering if dogs really can suffer from PTSD, the unequivocal answer is yes.

It’s hard enough to characterize an animal in human terms. Crais not only pulls that off flawlessly, but takes it to the next level by giving Maggie what’s typically viewed as a human disorder. Scott deals with his PTSD with the help of psychiatrists. He’s able to talk through his problems and address his fears directly. Maggie obviously can’t do that and has to deal with her issues mostly on her own. She ends up in the canine unit with the LAPD but is viewed as damaged goods. She’s on her way to being taken out of action altogether but then Scott, also new to the canine unit, sees something in her and a cautious friendship is born. As Scott and Maggie heal and get more comfortable with each other, they begin to investigate the murder of Scott’s former partner.

Robert Crais     I am a big Robert Crais fan, as evidenced by my Turn the Page reviews of The Watchman and Hostage.   His most popular book series features private investigator Elvis Cole and his mercenary partner, Joe Pike. There are over a dozen of those novels and they’re great—well crafted and packed with suspense. Some of them are told from Cole’s point of view and other’s from Pike’s. That leads into what impresses me most about Crais and that’s his versatility. To date, he has released four standalone novels and they are all vastly different from the Cole/Pike Series. Suspect is perhaps the best example of that. It’s brilliant and daring and, in my opinion, an absolute must read.

 

f you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to this blog or my Wishful Thinking blog. Visit michaelsova.com, or find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova. Also, please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption, and look for my new suspense novel, Parlor City Paradise, due out in 2016.

TTP Review of THE PRESIDENT’S SHADOW by Brad Meltzer

The mysterious Culper Ring has been around since the Revolutionary War. They work in secret and have just one mission—to protect the presidency. To them, the Office is even more important than the person who holds it at any given time. However, despite their good intentions, the Culper Ring has enemies at the highest levels of the government.

     “There are stories no one knows. Hidden stories. I find those stories for a living.” That’s how New York Times #1 bestselling author Brad Meltzer describes his work, and the passion he devotes to that task is plainly evident in his Culper Ring series. The President’s Shadow is not only the most recent installment but it’s by far the most powerful.

President's Shadow_Meltzer  It wasn’t long ago that archivist Beecher White was completely unaware of the Culper Ring’s existence. And now? He’s not only a member but one of the only ones left. When a severed arm is discovered buried in the rose garden at the White House, President Wallace calls on Beecher for help. Tensions rise at once because Beecher knows Wallace on a very personal level. He knows things about his past and just how far he’ll go to protect his own interests. He also knows Wallace would love to destroy the Culper Ring and that he absolutely cannot be trusted.  There are plenty of reasons someone might want to kill the president. This time, however, it appears Beecher White might be the true target.

The President’s Shadow is non-stop action and Meltzer’s strongest novel to date.

 

If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to this blog or my Wishful Thinking blog. Visit michaelsova.com, or find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova. Also, please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption, and look for my new suspense novel, Parlor City Paradise, due out in 2016.

TTP Review of FINDERS KEEPERS by Stephen King

A bad book by Stephen King is still far better than most authors could ever hope to accomplish. Please keep that in mind when I tell you I didn’t think Finders Keepers was one of his best efforts. The novel is a sequel to Mr. Mercedes, which was excellent. Feel free to take a look at my Turn the Page review. In the opening scene of Mr. Mercedes, someone drives a car straight into a crowd at a job fair, killing several and injuring many more. Finders Keepers takes place both before and after that horrifying event.

Finders Keepers_King    Young Peter Saubers’ father was in that job fair crowd. He survived, but both of his legs were badly damaged. The Saubers family was already struggling, but in addition to their financial problems, they then had to cope with depression, frustration, and mounting marital strife. They’re speeding down the road to ruin when Peter finds a buried trunk not far from the family home. It contains thousands of dollars in cash, along with dozens of notebooks filled with unpublished work from a famous author who’d been murdered decades earlier. That author also happens to be one of Peter’s personal heroes.

Morris Bellemy is a big fan too, to the point of an unhealthy, even psychotic obsession. He was directly responsible for the author’s death as well as the buried trunk. To him, the stolen notebooks are far more valuable than the cash. However, before he gets a chance to read them, he’s sent to prison for a crime he doesn’t even remember committing. He spends the next thirty-five years behind bars, but never forgets about the trunk or its contents.

Finders Keepers tells the story of all the bizarre connections between Peter Saubers and Morris Bellemy. Despite a nearly fifty-year age difference, their paths seem destine to cross. They lived in the same house, hung out in the same places, and idolized, even worshiped the same author. Then, incredibly, Peter finds the old trunk Bellemy was so careful to hide. And when Bellemy is suddenly released from prison, which you knew had to happen, he wants his property back and it isn’t long before he zeroes in on Peter.

The novel is undeniably compelling. It’s also Stephen King so you know it’s well written. To me, there were just too many coincidences for the storyline to really be believable. Perhaps that was deliberate, though. It is at least possible the full story has not yet been told. Do you remember the bad guy from Mr. Mercedes? He’s still alive, and he might still have some work to do.

 

If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to this blog or my Wishful Thinking blog. Visit michaelsova.com, or find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova. Also, please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption, and look for my new suspense novel, Parlor City Paradise, due out in 2016.

TTP Review of GRAY MOUNTAIN by John Grisham

We’ve all heard the expression. Ignorance is bliss. That saying is about as cliché as it gets but sometimes has the disturbing ring of truth. I was reminded of that recently when I read Gray Mountain by John Grisham.

Strip mining is bad. You heard it here first, and I was able to draw that stunning conclusion without ever giving any thought to the actual subject matter.   I did not, for example, fully understand exactly what the practice entails or how it’s conducted. I likewise had no way to comprehend the devastating environmental, ecological and human repercussions. If, like me, you live hundreds of miles from where any strip mining takes place, you can perhaps forgive my ignorance.  If you want warmth, you adjust the thermostat. If you want light, just flip the switch. The miracle of energy is right there at your fingertips. There’s really no need to think about where it might come from, or how obtaining the resources necessary for energy production can be a life or death gambit.

Gray Mountain_Grisham   In Gray Mountain, Samantha Kofer, a young New York real estate attorney, becomes a casualty of the financial crisis of nearly a decade ago. She loses her job, and ends up signing on with a non-profit legal aid clinic in Virginia. In doing so, she’s forced to relocate to a rural town with fewer residents than her big city firm had lawyers. At first, Samantha wants nothing more than to serve her time and get the hell out of there. Then, things get complicated. She gets to know the people she represents. They are all poor and most have, in one way or another, been screwed over by the coal industry. She also learns how powerful the coal companies are, and how far they will go to protect their interests. Many are made to suffer; others die and there doesn’t seem like there’s much hope anything will ever improve. I’d tell you more but I don’t want to give too much anway. This is definitely one you should read for yourself. The story is incredibly compelling in typical John Grisham fashion. Really, my only complaint was that there was no author’s note at the end. I was really hoping to learn what event or events inspired him to craft such a tale. Alas, I was left to wonder.

 

If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to this blog or my Wishful Thinking blog. Visit michaelsova.com, or find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova. Also, please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption, and look for my new suspense novel, Parlor City Paradise, due out in 2016.

TTP Review of THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett

Have you ever had a book that, for whatever reason, you just weren’t in a hurry to start reading? It seems like pretty much everyone I know read The Help by Kathryn Stockett years ago. The novel was a huge bestseller and has already been made into a major motion picture. Everyone raved about it. Over 9,000 people have posted reviews on Amazon and 93% gave it at least four stars. Yet, it remained in my someday pile, every so often being re-relegated to the bottom. Why? I’m ashamed to say that, at least in my head, I’d categorized it as chick lit. or women’s fiction, which are both horrible labels by the way. I knew most of the key characters were women. I knew a lot of those were maids. It just didn’t sound like my cup of tea. Heck, I don’t even like tea. So I missed the bandwagon on this one. Chalk it up to ignorance. I suppose that’s appropriate since that’s the predominant theme of the book.

The Help_Stockett    I’m not going to waste a lot of time on a plot summary. You probably know it already. The novel is set in 1960’s Mississippi and deals largely with racism, repression, fear, civil rights, social injustice and the aforementioned ignorance. Imagine hiring someone to raise your children even though you had a deep-seeded mistrust and revulsion for that person.   Imagine, deliberately or not, turning your children against the very people most responsible for their upbringing. Imagine having a maid clean, shop and prepare meals for your family, but also believe that maid was so dirty and disgusting that separate bathrooms were not only appropriate but necessary. And finally, imagine what that must have been like from the maid’s point of view. Stockett tells that story.

The Help is a work of fiction but the subject matter is only too real. In crafting her tale, the author draws on personal experience and exhibits a true knack for storytelling. Her characters are complex, vivid and often conflicted (see also vindictive, sympathetic, compassionate, spiteful, sarcastic, ill-tempered, well-meaning, ignorant, haughty, humble, fearful and sometimes downright nasty). If, like me, you always meant to read the book but kept finding reasons to put it off, don’t put if off any longer.  And whatever you do, don’t eat the pie!

 

If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to this blog or my Wishful Thinking blog. Visit michaelsova.com, or find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova. Also, please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption, and look for my new suspense novel, Parlor City Paradise, due out in 2016.