Monday 17 September 2018

Sometimes I Lie

Sometimes I Lie
Sometimes I Lie

By Alice Feeney
Sometimes I Lie, by Alice Feeney is a psychological thriller, a genre that I rarely choose as I don’t like to sleep with the light on. However, I have recently delved into this type of book a little. Having survived The Girl on the Train, I thought I would try Feeney’s novel on the recommendation of a friend.  I did not end up checking under the bed or in the closet, but this story definitely got me thinking….thinking that I didn’t really know what to believe or who to trust.

Told from the point of view of our main character, Amber, she begins by telling us a little about herself:

My name is Amber Reynolds.
There are three things you should know about me:
1. I'm in a coma.
2. My Husband doesn't love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Amber lies in hospital in a coma hearing all that goes on around her, but not being able to open her eyes or to speak. Through her listening she begins to piece together and remember what happened in the week leading up to her current state, and the reader is learning right along with her. The chapters alternate between Amber’s thoughts in her hospital room, the events of the week before and Amber’s childhood diaries. 

There are so many twists and turns as we read along, at one point I had to go back and read a piece again as I just couldn’t believe what I had read. 

I am sorry I can’t tell you anymore without giving away the plot, but you can easily find out for yourself (and I recommend you do) as it is a quick read and a cliffhanger all the way through.

Friday 7 September 2018

The Overstory

The Overstory
The Overstory

By Richard Powers

The most wondrous products of four billion years of life need help.” (p.165)  In Richard Powers’ novel The Overstory, trees, the powerhouses of the Earth, draw in a cast of characters from vastly different backgrounds. 

There’s Nicholas Hoel, whose family has spent generations documenting the growth of the Hoel Chestnut tree with one photograph a month over a series of lifetimes; Olivia Vandergriff, whose college party days are stopped dead by her electrocution; and Mimi Ma, whose Chinese immigrant father instilled a love of trees in his three daughters.  There’s Neelay Mehta, whose fall from a tree made him a paraplegic, an accident which spurred him to create digital worlds that take gamers beyond the bounds of Earth.  And there’s Patricia Westerford, a dendrologist whose studies have brought tree communication to the attention of the scientific community and beyond.

There are many more characters as well, each of whom has a moment of insight which focuses their attention on the plight of the forests.  Each is moved to do something to save them. Nicholas and Olivia, in fact, spend an entire year living in an old-growth tree to prevent its destruction.  

When Nick and Olivia team up with Mimi, Adam and Douglas, all of whom have been inspired to join the ranks of the anti-logging movement, they begin to plan their own actions that grow more and more dangerous.  Protests lead to arson, which leads to something far beyond what they expect.

Meanwhile, Neelay continues to expand his digital worlds, realizing that the Earth can no longer meet the needs of human desire.  And Dr. Westerford continues her research, proving that trees have communication systems, can sense impending disaster, live in tandem with surrounding animals, and provide untold healing and pharmaceuticals to humans.

All of these diverse characters and stories are linked by the overarching story of the tree.  Powers fills The Overstory with scientific facts and a wealth of information about trees and the forest.  Part epic, part popular science, part political manifesto, The Overstory is a riveting and timely tale.  As each character takes a stand to protect the forests, whether it’s in the protest camp or their own backyard, readers are forced to consider their own position and whether the long term damage we inflict on the Earth can be justified by our ever-growing desire for more.

Saturday 1 September 2018

Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness

by: David Casarett 

Ladarat Patalung, nurse ethicist, widow, amateur sleuth? At the Sriphat Hospital in Chang Mai, Thailand, Ladarat is approached by a local detective to help solve a potential case of murder.  A woman brought her husband to the emergency room where he then passed away. This is nothing strange in a hospital; however, what is strange is that a staff member thinks they’ve seen that same woman come in before, but with a different husband who also died just as suddenly! As a nurse ethicist, Ladarat has a gift for communication and empathy, two talents she employs to great effect to solve this mystery.

Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness is a light, cozy mystery with an exotic setting.  Beyond the intriguing mystery of the woman with multiple dying husbands, there are also a number of smaller mysteries in the hospital that Ladarat uses her skills to solve. While there were a number of storylines happening at once, the author handles them all quite well and the story never feels disjointed.  What made this book a stand out for me was the connection it had to Thai culture. There was a lot of description of Thai food, Thai phrases, and my favourite, the different types of Thai smiles. Each smile has a Thai name and description that make it easy to envision exactly what facial expression is happening in the scene.  These added tidbits throughout the story were so fun to read. 

Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness is a good read for fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Strong female characters, exotic setting, and mystery solving based on human character rather than forensics are all characteristics of both series that make for a cozy, enjoyable read.