Book Review: The Imperfects

The ImperfectsThe Imperfects by Amy Meyerson

“Compassionate, thoughtful, and surprisingly moving, this dysfunctional family saga will satisfy fans of Maggie Shipstead and Celeste Ng.” —Booklist

From the bestselling author of The Bookshop of Yesterdays comes a captivating new novel about a priceless inheritance that leads one family on a life-altering pursuit of the truth.

The Millers are far from perfect. Estranged siblings Beck, Ashley and Jake find themselves under one roof for the first time in years, forced to confront old resentments and betrayals, when their mysterious, eccentric matriarch, Helen, passes away. But their lives are about to change when they find a secret inheritance hidden among her possessions—the Florentine Diamond, a 137-carat yellow gemstone that went missing from the Austrian Empire a century ago.

Desperate to learn how one of the world’s most elusive diamonds ended up in Helen’s bedroom, they begin investigating her past only to realize how little they know about their brave, resilient grandmother. As the Millers race to determine whether they are the rightful heirs to the diamond and the fortune it promises, they uncover a past more tragic and powerful than they ever could have imagined, forever changing their connection to their heritage and each other.

Inspired by the true story of the real, still-missing Florentine Diamond, The Imperfects illuminates the sacrifices we make for family and how sometimes discovering the truth of the past is the only way to better the future.

Review:
This was an interesting story of a very dysfunctional family and the fallout of the death of the secretive grandmother. One of the granddaughters inherits a 137 carat diamond — something unheard of. There is mystery involved: How did their grandmother get the diamond? Did she steal it? Who does it really belong to?
All the while, there are family squabbles of an authentic sort. The 3 grandchildren are all very different. They could each use some money. They each have their secrets. Then there is their mother who has not been a model parent.
I like the play on the title, The Imperfects. The diamond is imperfect, which is how they can authenticate it. Also, the people in the family are imperfect.
This is a well conceived family drama that looks back to the war, trying to piece together the grandmother’s life. The characters feel well rounded. There is also a certain almost thriller like tension around who the diamond actually belongs to and who will claim it in the end.
That being said, the ending is clever (and that’s all I’ll say so as not to give anything away).
Thank you to Netgalley and Park Row for the review copy.
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Book Review: Things in Jars

Things in Jars with bookmark and catThings in Jars by Jess Kidd

Bridie Devine, female detective extraordinaire, is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors trading curiosities in this age of discovery.

Winding her way through the labyrinthine, sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing a past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where spectacle is king and nothing is quite what it seems.

Blending darkness and light, history and folklore, Things in Jars is a spellbinding Gothic mystery that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhumane times.

Review:
I really enjoyed this unique historical fantasy book. The writing is absolutely gorgeous and the author has an amazing vocabulary, often creating sentences that I stopped to re-read.
Bridie is a fantastic character. I love her no nonsense attitude. She’s smart and unconventional and the kind of character I enjoy. She does things on her own terms. I also especially liked her housemaid. The supporting characters added so much to this book.
The author also does an interesting job in weaving in myth and the paranormal into Victorian life. She has clearly done her research on early medicine, which I found it fascinating.
The pacing of the book did suffer a little in the middle, but all of the wonderful characters amply made up for that.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy.
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Book Review: The Familiar Dark

The Familiar DarkThe Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

Set in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks, in a small town with big secrets, The Familiar Dark opens with a murder. Eve Taggert, desperate with grief over losing her daughter, takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened. Eve is no stranger to the dark side of life, having been raised by a hard-edged mother whose lessons Eve tried not to pass on to her own daughter. But Eve may need her mother’s cruel brand of strength if she’s going to face the reality about her daughter’s death and about her own true nature. Her quest for justice takes her from the seedy underbelly of town to the quiet woods and, most frighteningly, back to her mother’s trailer for a final lesson.
Review:
This is a hard and gritty thriller about a woman trying to find out who killed her daughter.
However, this book was not for me. I was curious enough to finish reading and appreciate that the book was interestingly told with some good writing — it is hard to put into words why I didn’t like the book.
There are a lot of cliches and a lot of darkness. I didn’t bond with the main character at all and got annoyed at times. Others love this book so this may simply be a case of nothing is for everyone.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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Book Review: Trace of Evil

Trace of EvilTrace of Evil (Natalie Lockhart #1) by Alice Blanchard

A riveting mystery that introduces a bold and audacious rookie detective assigned to hunt for a killer who is haunted by the past in this gripping murder case…

Natalie Lockhart always knew she was going to be a cop. A rookie detective on the Burning Lake police force, she was raised on the wisdom of her chief-of-police father. These cases will haunt you if you let them. Grief doesn’t come with instructions.

But the one thing her father couldn’t teach her was how to handle loss. Natalie’s beloved sister was viciously murdered as a teenager, and she carries the scars deep in her heart. Although the killer was locked up, the trace evidence never added up, and Natalie can’t help wondering―is the past really behind her?

As the newest member on the force, Natalie is tasked with finding nine missing persons who’ve vanished off the face of the earth, dubbed “the Missing Nine.” One night, while following up on a new lead, she comes across a savage crime that will change everything.

Daisy Buckner―a popular schoolteacher, wife to a cop, and newly pregnant―lies dead on her kitchen floor. As Natalie hunts for Daisy’s killer in the wake of the town’s shock, her search leads to a string of strange clues―about the Missing Nine, about Daisy’s secret life, and reviving fresh doubts about her sister’s murder.

As the investigation deepens, Natalie’s every move risks far-reaching consequences―for the victims, for the town of Burning Lake, and for herself.

Spellbinding and gripping, Trace of Evil is a novel of twisting suspense that will leave you breathless.

Review:
The premise of this book was great and there was a lot that was interesting about it. However, I also found that for some reason, the book dragged a bit for me. There were a lot of story lines and they were interesting and the author wove it all together really well.
I even liked the characters. Natalie is interesting and tenacious. I loved her niece.
I think there was just a lot of “info dumping”. There were lots of long passages of telling background, instead of weaving it in. Also, there was a lot of repetition.
Still, this is a promising start to a detective series.
Thank you to Netgalley and Minotaur Books for the review copy.
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