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Broken River – J. Robert Lennon

Published February 6, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A modest house in upstate New York. One in the morning. Three people—a couple and their child—hurry out the door, but it’s too late for them. As the virtuosic and terrifying opening scene of Broken River unfolds, a spectral presence seems to be watching with cold and mysterious interest. Soon the house lies abandoned, and years later a new family moves in.

Karl, Eleanor, and their daughter, Irina, arrive from New York City in the wake of Karl’s infidelity to start anew. Karl tries to stabilize his flailing art career. Eleanor, a successful commercial novelist, eagerly pivots in a new creative direction. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Irina becomes obsessed with the brutal murders that occurred in the house years earlier. And, secretly, so does her mother. As the ensemble cast grows to include Louis, a hapless salesman in a carpet warehouse who is haunted by his past, and Sam, a young woman newly reunited with her jailbird brother, the seemingly unrelated crime that opened the story becomes ominously relevant.

Hovering over all this activity looms a gradually awakening narrative consciousness that watches these characters lie to themselves and each other, unleashing forces that none of them could have anticipated and that put them in mortal danger. Broken River is a cinematic, darkly comic, and sui generis psychological thriller that could only have been written by J. Robert Lennon.

What did I think?:

I have to admit, I’ve never heard of Broken River or the author, J. Robert Lennon before so I was delighted when it was the first book from my Daunt Books Annual Subscription that my lovely boyfriend gifted me for Christmas last year. I have made it my mission to read and review each book I receive as part of my Bookish Goals/Resolutions which I posted about in January. I’m always slightly concerned about a book subscription as I have a LOT of unread books on my shelves and I always worry that a book is going to be picked for me that I already own. Well, not only did I not already own Broken River but as I mentioned, I hadn’t even picked up on it being published so I was very excited to check out what it was all about.

It’s clearly a crying shame that I didn’t know about this book as it is a wonderful novel that is written in quite a literary style (i.e. gorgeous!) but has that edge of thriller that keeps you gripped, turning the pages quicker than you might do a “normal” literary novel. In fact, when I first started reading it, I was pretty determined that it was going to be a five star read for me. Unfortunately, I had a minor issue that stopped me from giving it the big five but I still insist that this is a fantastic book that needs to be read by more people.

Broken River is initially the story of a family – Mum, Dad and a young daughter who get into a horrific situation where the parents are killed, inches away from their surviving daughter. The perps responsible for the brutal murders are never found and brought to justice. After the daughter is taken into care, the house becomes abandoned, gathering dust, rodents and other house guests, including your typical teenagers who use it as “party central” and the homeless and drug addicts where it becomes a convenient place to sleep/get high.

This is until a new family moves into the house: Karl, Eleanor and teenage daughter Irina, all of whom have their own issues and deep, dark secrets. As we follow their story, we also learn how they all deceive each other, for one reason or another and witness the struggles of their relationships, particularly when an obsession develops with the murky history of the family that came before them and Irina’s insistence that she has found the previous daughter who saw her parents being murdered in such a terrible way. Of course, this news doesn’t stay quiet for long and the family find themselves embroiled in a now very deadly situation when some people think the secrets and crimes of the past should remain buried.

There’s so many things to love about this book, particularly the writing style and most definitely, the variety of intriguing characters that the author develops beautifully. They’re all flawed in some way, particularly the villains of the piece (of course!) and especially the father, Karl whose little ways and the mistakes he makes, potentially hurting his family forever, really got under my skin and made me cross but I literally loved to hate him. Yes I might have made a little huff of anger at him during several parts of the narrative but who hasn’t groaned at a nasty character that you can’t stand in a novel? For me, that just means that J. Robert Lennon has done his job properly and written people that I can either really connect with i.e. Eleanor, Irina or others that I just want to throw in a river.

Additionally, I thought it was fantastic that he gives some of his more villainous characters quite a human edge and you can really see their regrets about what they might have done in their past and the sticky situation that they feel they can’t run away from in the present time. Personally, there were only a tiny, minuscule part of this novel that I didn’t quite connect with and stopped me from giving it five stars. There were a few chapters interspersed between the main narrative from the point of view of The Observer. He/she watches certain events as if he is with the character at the time and gives a whole new perspective of their actions. Now I really enjoyed this at the beginning and thought it was quite frankly, a genius move by the author. However, the chapters nearer the end starting getting a bit too philosophical for my liking and sadly, it didn’t evoke the same emotions in me as it did at the beginning. Apart from this, I would urge anyone with an interest in literary fiction and crime to try this book, it might just surprise you. It definitely surprised me.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

 

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Bookish Resolutions And Goals For 2018

Published January 8, 2018 by bibliobeth

Image from: http://msbookish.com/2015-goals-bookish-goals-for-the-new-year/

Hello everyone and welcome to a post that I don’t normally do but for some reason, I thought it might be nice to do for 2018. I don’t normally like to make too many rules and regulations for my blog but due to the sheer volume of the books that I own, the back-list of reviews I still have to write etc. I thought it might be time to set some things down, just to give me some sort of direction for the year ahead. I’ve written down TEN major resolutions and then I’ve slotted in another FIVE general ones (just because once I started I found it quite difficult to stop…oops!) So, here we go!

1.)  Put less pressure on myself to blog every day.

I came a little way to doing this last year when I was ill. I did get to the stage where I just thought: “Oh *%$* it!” but there was still that residual guilt when I didn’t get a post done every day. 😦

2.) Gradually reduce review back-list by continuing to do mini-pin it reviews.

I came a long way doing this last year – to date I’ve done 16 mini-pin it reviews which means sixty-four books that were originally on my review back-list are GONE! Definitely will continue this.

3.) Use notebook to make notes on titles “currently reading” so when I come to review them, things are fresher in my memory.

I recently bought a lovely notebook from Faye at Daydreaming Designs and used it to compile this list and a few other things already this year in the attempt to make me a little more organised!

4.) Be honest with myself if I’m unable to take on a review title especially those requested by authors directly that are not really my cup of tea.

When I first started blogging, I used to love that authors requested me to read their books and used to accept EVERYTHING. Then I realised how stupid this was and that I couldn’t possibly do this and read the things I WANTED to read as well. I have got better at refusing review requests but need to stop feeling bad about it too.

5.) Be better about commenting on other bloggers reviews.

Again something I have got a little better with last year but I still perhaps don’t comment as much as I should. Sometimes I think I’ve got nothing else to say except “Great review!” but even if I just say that it’s letting the blogger know I enjoyed their post.

6.) Attend more bookish events/author talks.

I love doing this and unfortunately chronic illness slows me down in this A LOT. I work in London and there is the potential to attend events after work however if I do that and get home late I’m likely to knacker myself for work the next morning. However, once in a while wouldn’t hurt!

7.) Continue with “Shelfie by Shelfie” meme and hopefully encourage others to participate.

I’ve really enjoyed developing my little meme last year, something I thought I could never do. I have a lot of shelves so there are many, many more shelfies to come and hopefully I can inspire someone else to join in too.

8.) Experiment with making reviews a little “fresher” i.e. use of images relevant to post.

I love bloggers that use images/GIF’s which highlight their content and break up the text a little bit. I’ve been thinking of doing something like this myself but we’ll see how it goes…

9.) Read some of those books I’ve been meaning to get to for years.

For example, A Song Of Fire And Ice by George R.R. Martin, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty and Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters. Some of these books have been on my shelves/Kindle for FAR too long!

10.) Start doing some buddy reads/join an online bookclub.

I’ve never done a buddy read before and it looks like such fun! I already have tentative plans with the lovely Janel from Keeper Of Pages to read The Fireman by Joe Hill this year so I’m really hoping that takes off. Just saying it right here, right now, if I mention a book and you’re open to a buddy read with me – let’s do it!

OTHER CHALLENGES:

  • Increase NetGalley ratio to a more acceptable level. – you don’t want to know my ratio…it’s shameful.
  • Participate in Mount TBR challenge. – I saw this on Jo’s Book Blog and it looks like a lot of fun!
  • Continue to enjoy Banned Books and Kid-Lit with Chrissi. – this should be easy, I’ve done this every year since I started blogging.
  • Read and review Richard And Judy book club picks. – also something I’ve done every year since I started blogging.
  • Read and review Daunt Books from annual subscription each month. – my wonderful boyfriend got me a Daunt Books Annual Subscription for Christmas so I get one new paperback each month. I’m determined to read and review them each month they come in. Let’s see how I do.

So everyone….

Image from: https://www.appbrain.com/app/wish-me-luck/com.Starlab.WML