Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
paperback 272 pages
published by Harper Perennial June 1st, 2011
ISBN-13: 9780060594671

Type: {Airplane Read: makes time fly.}
Rating: {An Unputdownable: Couldn’t eat or sleep until I finished this book.}

Why You’re Reading It:

  • You enjoy a well written book and a compelling plot
  • You find unique characters refreshing
  • You love the South, and the books that feature it as a character
  • A well thought out mystery keeps you turning pages

What I Thought:

Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I have been texting my friends telling them to go get a copy of this book for book clubs, airplane trips, or just sitting on their porch and reading this weekend. I devoured every word of this; part character study, part mystery, part exploration of a small town in Mississippi. How to get you to read this? I’m not sure what to say that would convey the message.

This story explores how misconceptions can break a person but not their soul; how important it is to tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth; how sometimes the most beaten down people can be the most loving — and how sometimes they can be the most disturbed. It will make you feel love for someone who, if you actually lived in this fictional town, you would probably fear. It will make you wonder who you are ignoring, neglecting, judging. It will make you think about how much you ridicule and isolation you could endure if made to do so.

Interwoven in the richness of the characters and their plights is a mystery; about a girl who went missing 25 years ago and another who went missing in the past few weeks. What happened to these girls, why it happened, and the effect it caused on the people left behind will have you tearing through the pages of this incredibly readable, short novel.

Please read it — and do so before they make the movie; the rights have been bought and it is being optioned (thanks to Jaydek for giving me the insider info on that). It will make an incredible film (I see awards here), but there is so much that they won’t be able to capture. So read it this summer, you won’t be sorry.

*One last thing: I will forgive Tom Franklin for using my name the way he did. But looking forward to someone, someday naming a charming, lovely, female character ‘Wallace’. 

About Tom Franklin  

Tom Franklin is the author of Poachers, Hell at the Breech,and Smonk. Winner of a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship, he teaches in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program and lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife, the poet Beth Ann Fennelly, and their children.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be part of this, and to the publisher for sending me a copy of the book. See links to more reviews of this book here.

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
paperback 399 pages
published by Harper Perennial in 2006 (first published 1999)
ISBN-13: 9780061120251

Type: {Weekend Read: a book to curl up on the couch with.}
Rating: {I’m Lovin’ It: Very entertaining!}

Why You’re Reading It:

  • You are a fan of Isabel Allende
  • You enjoy rich characters
  • You enjoy Historical Fiction
  • You like stories that incorporate different cultures
  • Stories involving places as characters (in this case Chile and California) add to the story in your opinion

What I Thought:

In Isabel Allende’s novel about Eliza Sommers, she brings together a cast of characters so well developed that you forget they aren’t real. The story begins in Chile, where Eliza is taken in by Rose Sommers and her brother Jeremy, and follows her through growing up and leaving for the gold country of northern California.

Not only is this a story involving the adventure of Eliza, it explores the unrational way that our first loves can conquer us, what we learn through them, and how powerful they can be in setting the course for our lives. Weaving in the beauty of both Chilean and Chinese culture and incorporating a myraid of characters that make this story engaging, Allende takes the reader for a well-paced ride through the 19th century beginnings of San Francisco as we know it. Attention to the details of class, culture, prejudice, and customs of the time make for an incredibly interesting reading; as does the glimpse into the world of the very few women, most of whom were “soiled doves”, and how they were able to survive (and sometimes flourish) in a mostly male dominated area.

This is a fantastic book to read while on vacation.  I kept wondering why it was taking me so long to read since it was such an interesting story, and decided that though roughly four hundred pages, the type is quite small and the book could easily be much longer if it were written in a larger font. Though the beginning was a tad slow going, the speed picked up significantly as soon as the author introduces Tao Chi’en and never slowed down from there. This is the only reason that this work does not garner the Unputdownable ranking. I highly recommend it for summer reading, as you will be thoroughly entertained and have the benefit of looking to the author’s large published, well-liked collection for follow ups after you are finished with this title.

About Isabel Allende 

Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is the author of many bestselling novels, including Ines of My SoulZorro, Portrait in Sepia, and Daughter of Fortune.She has also written a collection of stories; three memoirs, The Sum of Our Days, My Invented Country, andPaula; and a trilogy of young adult novels. Her books have been translated into more than 27 languages and have become bestsellers across four continents. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Allende lives in California.

Find out more about Isabel, her books, and her foundation at www.isabelallende.com.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be part of this, and to the publisher for sending me a copy of the book. See links to more reviews of this book here.

The Confession of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn

The Confession of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn
paperback 304 pages
published by Harper Paperbacks April 2011
ISBN-13: 9780062011473

Type: {Beach Read: fluffy, mindless, or easy to read.}
Rating: {Me Likey: Enjoyable! Particularly for fans of this genre.}

Why You’re Reading It: 

  • You adore the Tudor time period
  • You love historical fiction

What I Thought:

I’m a fan of most things Tudor, so I tend to be willing to give books like this a try. I enjoy learning while I’m reading — and if an author has done their job, they are usually able to teach while entertaining. It did seem that Dunn had researched her topic, and it was fun to see a version of this story told in this medium (for those of you who like to watch the Tudors). However, it seems she tried too hard to capture a modern audience. The language read more like a chick-lit novel than a story taking place in the 1500’s. This does not enable the reader to fully immerse herself in the story and believe that she is back in time with these characters.

Also, the title makes one believe that the story will be told through Katherine’s perspective. It is not. It is told by Cat Tilney’s (a distant relative of hers) point of view. This was a little disappointing for a reader who wanted to see the story through Katherine Howard’s eyes. The relationship between these two women didn’t gel for me, unfortunately, even though Dunn has an ability to write about the human condition and give nice glimpses into the behavior of these characters.

Dunn switches between Katherine’s childhood and present life, so that the reader can get a fuller understanding of who she is. It was interesting to see how she ended up as a wife of Henry VIII, and some of the events leading up to it. If you are a big fan of Tudor history, and don’t mind the modern tone then this book may be for you.

*****

Suzannah Dunn is the author of ten previous novels, all of which have been critically acclaimed. She has      written three historical novels: The Queen of SubtletiesThe Sixth Wifeand The Queen’s Sorrow.

Visit Suzannah at her website.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be part of this, and to the publisher for sending me a copy of the book. See links to more reviews of this book here.