I Love You More by Jennifer Murphy – a Review

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2013 was the year of the dysfunctional marriage novel (see: Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, Where’d You Go Bernadette), and it looks like 2014 is shaping up to be the year of the polygamous/polyamorous marriage plot. I just finished Jennifer Murphy’s, “I Love You More,” and am eagerly awaiting Alice LaPlante’s “Circle of Wives.”

Told for the most part from the perspective of twelve year old Picasso Lane (can we talk about how fabulous that name is for a second?), daughter of the recently deceased Oliver Lane,  “I Love You More” slowly unravels the mystery of how Oliver managed to amass a trio of wives and separate families. Oh, and don’t forget of course, who is responsible for his recent murder.  One of the most charming protagonists/junior detective characters I’ve run across, Picasso is wise beyond her years but in a way that is believable and charming.

While not quite a thriller, this mystery moves at a steady pace and its resolution left me feeling satisfied. The plot can feel predictable in some places, but twists and turns in ways that keep the story fresh. For a novel of many characters, I felt Murphy did a good job of giving them each their own individual traits and voices (despite an interesting narrative choice—you’ll see). The only person who I wish I had better understood was Oliver, but perhaps that’s the issue at the heart of the book anyway…

A solid 3.5 out of 5 stars. Available for pre-order from Amazon.com and on shelves June 17th, 2014.

xo The Book Bird

Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this novel for review courtesy of the publisher.

The Reunion by Amy Silver, a Review

cover35722-smallGive me an “ensemble” style book that reunites a group of old friends who have been divided by a “terrible” event in the past, and I am SO there. Unfortunately, my passion for these “Secret History” / “Topics in Calamity Physics” style novels, often leads me to be disappointed… such as in the case of Amy Silver’s “The Reunion.”

As a fan of this “genre”, I typically can overlook the predictability of the characters (the rebel, the goody-two-shoes, the creative), and it’s what often draws me to these titles. However, while the group dynamic starts out interestingly, it quickly became too “Circle of Friends” for my likes. Where was the twist?

Silver does a good job of creating alternating narratives and deftly weaves in email correspondence inbetween each chapter, and I think she nicely handles the transitions between past/present. Her writing is good, and the book reads well, except for the extremely predictable plot.

Overall, a nice vacation read but not nearly exciting enough for me. Get this one from the library 🙂

That said, I just realized this book is currently only in print in the UK– more info to come around a US release date!

xo The Book Bird 

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided to me via NetGalley for a fair and honest review by the publisher.

I Sincerely Doubt This House is Haunted….

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Like many gothic house novels John Boyne’s “This House is Haunted” left me feeling far from chilled. Having come off the creepy ride that was Marisha Pessl’s “Night Film” and the excellent “After Her” by Joyce Maynard, I was hoping that “This House is Haunted” would require me to keep a light on while I read, however I was sorely disappointed.

Let’s be real– writing a gothic novel that centers around a decrepit, possibly haunted, house is hard. In my experience as a reader I have only encountered one or two novels that have done this well. While I was willing to forgive Boyne for not living up to this part of the bargain, the complete blandness of his characters made me put this one down after about 30%. I mean this in the kindest way possible, but some authors should stick to writing protagonists who share their gender.

Unfortunately life is too short to waste time on mediocre novels. Will I ever know if the house was haunted? Probably not. Do I care? No, not really.

“This House is Haunted” will be available from retailers October 8th, 2013.

xo The Book Bird

Disclaimer: An advance copy of this novel was provided to me for review by the publisher via NetGalley. 

“After Her” by Joyce Maynard Reviewed

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A solid coming of age story with a few flaws, I enjoyed “After Her.” The novel tells the story of two sisters growing up outside of San Francisco whose formative years coincide with a serial killer’s rampage in the hills behind their home. Maynard does a wonderful job painting vivid, believable characters, and what I enjoyed most about the book was the way she gracefully captured the narrative of her teenage protagonist then and now. (Side note: I forgot how rough it is to be a teenage girl, BTW.)

While not as heart-pounding as some of the summer’s other thrillers, “After Her” is a nice mix of character study and mystery. The few flaws I found in the book most related to the awkward re-telling of some anecdotes that seemed to be out of order. ex. A favorite restaurant is mentioned and then given more of a description/context later as if it is the first time you are going there. A little annoying and confusing, I was surprised with the inconsistencies.

Overall, a solid recommended read that is the right length for a weekend!

Available from the New York Public Library or for purchase from Amazon.com.

xo The Book Bird