February 21, 2022 · 2:07 pm
I finished reading Colleen Hoover’s Verity a couple of days ago and somehow I can’t quite seem to stop thinking about it. Whether that means it’s a good book or not, I still can’t quite decide. It’s a bit like seeing The Sixth Sense, where I can’t help but wonder if the story is really as strong as I believe it was or if it’s just that the ending so completely gob-smacked me that I’m having problems seeing past it to decide about the overall quality of the entire experience.
Either way, give Hoover credit for crafting an entertainingly page-turning novel that, quite frankly, lured me in completely.
Like a lot of authors, Hoover explores the implications of being a writer with Verity. Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer whose bank account and writing career are coasting on fumes. When her agent says she’s been requested to meet with Jeremy Crawford, the husband of best-selling author, Verity Crawford, Lowen is intrigued but hesitant. Lowen has been chosen by Verity to finish her best-selling series after a car crash has trapped Verity within herself.
Moving into the Crawford home, Lowen begins to research Verity’s works and notes to try to put together the final three novels in the series. One of the selling points of Verity’s novels was their perspective — the villain’s point of view. When Lowen discovers Verity’s hidden autobiography, she begins to suspect that Verity’s characters may not exactly be fictional. The autobiography is filled with explicit descriptions and details of her relationship with Jeremey and growing feelings of antipathy and resentment toward her children.
The deeper Lowen gets into the mind of Verity, the more she starts to question things. Add in that Lowen is becoming attracted to Jeremy and you’ve got a potential powder keg just waiting to blow up.
Like any good suspense thriller, Verity feels like a ticking time bomb with things just waiting to explode. The game keeps getting ratcheted up a notch as Lowen suspects Verity is observing her flirting openly with Jermey (and he back) and that she is somehow haunting them both, even though she’s confined to her bed.
And then, we reach the final quarter of the novel with relations coming fast and furious and the Hoover pulls the rug out from under readers completely.
To say more would be to spoil the entire ending of the novel, but it’s that ending that has kept with me. I’ll give you a few moment to decide if you want to read more or not.
Continue reading →
February 10, 2022 · 3:50 pm
Novels about flawed male characters aren’t anything new, per se. But there’s just something about Charles Martin’s stories about flawed guys that get under my skin, in all the right ways.
It’s been a while since I dipped into Martin’s pool, but based on my reaction to and enjoyment of Long Way Gone I will be returning sooner rather than later.
Cooper O’Connor has a musical gift. Honed with his father on the revival tour, Coop has dreams and aspirations of making it in the world of country music. And so, leaving his father behind, Coop sets out to Nashville to make his dreams come true.
Martin’s retelling of the parable of the Prodigal Son is every bit as affecting as it should be. This isn’t necessarily a beat-by-beat copy of that story, but instead one told in the broadest of all strokes about the power of the bond between fathers and sons. Along the way, there are triumphs and heartaches — many of them achingly foreshadowed if you know the parable.
But never in the telling of the story does Martin stray too far off course and have his characters or his story not feel utterly authentic. Coop’s meeting the love of his life in up-and-coming singer and their story arc is utterly compelling as well. Even when the two meet up again years later after Coop left Nashville in what he saw as a disgrace, the big beats feel absolutely earned and authentic.
At multiple moments in this book, I felt a lump in my throat. This is a powerful, entertaining novel that has lingered with me for a while after turning the final page. It’s a story about the power of love, music, forgiveness, and a lot of other good stuff in between.
February 2, 2022 · 1:17 pm
For her first Father’s Day, my daughter gave me an engraved keychain that says, “A girl’s first love is her father.”
Listening to The Arrangement, the image of the keychain kept popping into my head time after time. I couldn’t help but feel like the young woman at the center of his novel desperately needed a positive father or father figure in her life. And that she was seeking out the father figure in all the wrong places.
Natalie is a struggling art student at a prestigious school in New York City. Struggling to pay rent and keep up with her studies, Natalie slowly finds a mountain of debt piling up on her and with seemingly no way out. Estranged from her father (he left when she was ten) and not having the greatest relationship with her mom and step-dad, Natalie is averse to taking out a student loan to finish her course work since her field of children’s book illustrator may make it difficult to pay off said loans.
Natalie finds the solution in a friend from class who seems to live in the lap of luxury as a sugar baby to rich men who want beautiful women to be seen with them around town. For a fee, a Sugar Daddy can take these women on expensive dates, trips, etc. It’s not even really prostitution (at least as Natalie justifies it to herself) because the transaction is about companionship, not physical intimacy. (But make no mistake, there can be physical intimacy if both parties desire).
Natalie sets up a profile on a sugar babies website and meets Gabe, a wealthy older gentleman, who lists himself as single but is actually still married to his college sweetheart and has a teenage daughter. Gabe is stepping out because his wife has just survived cancer and he’s not quite as attracted to her in the same way. Also, her sex drive has diminished, and divorcing her would be costly both financially and socially. Continue reading →
February 1, 2022 · 1:56 pm
Kicking off February with Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl).
This week’s literary meme asks us to ponder titles that include a name/character name. Here are some that spring to mind.
- Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
- Anne of Green Gables by L. Maude Montgomery
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
- Mort by Terry Pratchett
- Carrie by Stephen King
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle