Most recently finished:
Saints at the River by Ron Rash.
When a young girl drowns in a heavily protected river, the small town bearing the river's name makes front page news. The parents, of course, want to bring their daughter up from the dark water, but the local fanfare surrounding the sanctity of the river means to derail their plan of giving the little girl a proper burial. Wrought with feeling, emotion, and one over the top (albeit convincing) tree-hugging character, Saints at the River is a solid read. I appreciated the stream-of-consciouness that opened the novel and set the stage for the growth of the community throughout the work.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
It's not a far cry from modern day society for a group of lying teenage girls to turn an entire community upside down. Arthur Miller's The Crucible skillfully uses the backdrop of the Salem Witch Trails to write artfully about the Red Scare and McCarthyism of the 1950s. The ever-avenging Abigail Williams is front and center in this gripping drama about the power of words, of accusation, of lies, and of deceit. A classic for a reason, The Crucible delivers realistic drama wrought with deception leaving the reader questioning not only the world back then, but the world now.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Yep - another dark and twisted mystery from Gillian Flynn. This one didn't have quite the same grit as Dark Places or Gone Girl, but I still liked it. The protagonist, Camille Preaker, just out of the white walled building, is plunged back into the depths of her small hometown life when the murder of two little girls garners big city attention and her boss wants her to cover the story. Camille sets to simply report on the task, but by virtue of her past, becomes deeply entangled within the web capturing victims. Returning to her roots, and particularly to her mother, proves to be almost more than Camille can swallow. However, her ever attentive mother seems to always find a way...
Dream with Little Angels by Michael Heibert
Narrated by an eleven year old boy, Dream with Little Angels has a touching southern tone reminiscent of narrators such as Scout Finch. If you understand my love for To Kill a Mockingbird you'll know this comparison is of a high honor from me. Set in Alabama, Abe Teal traces the steps of a long past serial killer that has haunted his mother for many years. Weaving in and out of Abe's inner monologue, his journey is a true coming of age story, and the close bond he shares with his mother is a touching addition to the layers of the book. My only complaint was the attempt by the author to downplay corporal punishment. Without giving too much away, I assure you that if my daughter snuck out of the house, a slap across the face would be the least of her worries. But I digress. The novel was a great read and had me turning pages well into the night. Abe level-headed intuition coupled with his mother's nose for clues leads the reader on a journey to save lives; even it was too late for Ruby Mae Vickers.
What I'm reading now...
The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman
From Amazon.com: In the calm before the storm, Christine Bölz soaks in an idyllic morning in her small German town, basking in her new relationship with Isaac Bauerman, son of the wealthy Jewish family in whose house she works as a domestic servant. The glow of their new love is quickly tested as Hitler’s armies begin to move, and restrictions are placed on interactions between Jews and non-Jews. Spanning the pre- to postwar years, the novel follows Christine and her family as they endure the hardships of war. Persevering through threats from the Gestapo and the horrors of Dachau, Christine keeps her hopes for a future with Isaac alive.
I love novels set during the time of the Holocaust. It is a such a historically volatile period of actual human suffering, it reaches deep into my heart. One of the novels I'd like to write myself is based on the concentration camp of Birkenau (but that's for another time...) So far I'm enjoying the story and look forward to finishing the book.
City of Bells by Kim Wright, Book Four in the City of Mystery Series. I've reviewed the entire series and you can read about the firs three books by clicking the links below: